Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Friday, April 9th, 2021

Post by: Rick Ellis 09 April, 2021

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Friday, April 9th, 2021. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by Werther's Candy and ginger ale.

Digiday is reporting that Roku is pitching a new video ad unit called "Roku Recommends" to advertisers:

Roku will tease Roku Recommends through the display ad that appears on the right side of the platform’s home screen. After a person clicks on the banner, a video will play in which a host will highlight certain programming available from apps across Roku’s platform. The video is expected to run for five to seven minutes and will be presented by a sponsor — for example, “Roku Recommends, brought you to by Brand X” — with the brand’s logo also appearing on the display ad that links to the video, the agency executives said.

Roku has not detailed to agency executives what specific TV shows and movies will be promoted from which services or how that programming will be selected for inclusion, but the executives said they expect major streaming services like Netflix, Disney+ and HBO Max to be included as well as Roku’s own The Roku Channel. 

I don't want to be one of those people who constantly touts their predictive powers, but it is worth noting that a few months ago I suggested that Hulu produce genre-specific original videos which would look very much like this idea. 5-7 minutes that highlight some programs or movies that might be under the radar of subscribers. There were some differences in my idea. The videos would be weekly, so subscribers could add the video to their feed so they wouldn't miss the latest edition. I also strongly suggested that the programs be editorially independent. In other words, the programs being highlighted aren't being selected by the advertisers.

I still like the idea and I believe it would be very helpful for subscribers overwhelmed by choices. As well as being a way to remind subscribers why Hulu is such a great deal. 

Roku Recommends could be a similar type of content discovery tool. But it sounds primarily more like another way to deliver ads. And if that is the way it is approached, it might be a good deal for advertisers, but it will just be more clutter for viewers.

Yesterday's big media news was the deal between Sony Pictures Television and Netflix that was giving the streamer a Pay-One window for a number of Sony films beginning in 2022. It also includes an unspecified number of older catalog Sony films.

But if you're wondering why the deal was limited to the U.S., the simple answer is that Sony has a patchwork of local and regional output deals globally, all of them expiring at different times. It's not easy to figure out the scope and details of the deals from public pronouncements, but here are a few details I've put together for a longer piece I'm posting next week. These are just a few random notes, to give you an idea of the complications involved in trying to cover Sony's various international deals.

* In July of last year, Sony Pictures Television renewed a deal with Sky gives the Comcast-owned pay-TV operator access to Sony’s movies across the UK and Ireland, Germany, Italy, Austria and Switzerland. At the time, it was described as a "long-term" deal that built on an earlier 2016 agreement. It doesn't appear to be a first-run deal, but it apparently includes a package of better-known recent titles that would be appear on Sky Cinema as well as a package of older titles. To complicate matters even more, the UK part of the deal also includes some Sony TV titles, including The Blacklist, The Good Doctor and S.W.A.T.

* In 2017, Sony Pictures Television signed a deal with the Alibaba Group-owned Chinese online video service Youku, which appears to include some sort of Pay-One window as well as access to a number of other Sony films. It's not clear if it included any TV titles and while the duration of the deal wasn't revealed at the time, it appears to still be in effect. The two companies had signed a previous licensing deal in 2015, but that agreement only made the Sony films available for purchase.

* Because Sony has such an extensive portfolio, no one streamer or pay network has access to all or even most of the Sony Pictures Television catalog. Which makes it extremely difficult to decide whether any specific deal is a good one. Sony frequently seems to license individual movies or TV shows globally instead of including them as part of an overall larger package. One good example of this is the TV series Alex Rider, which was licensed in over 100 territories in a complicated mix of deals:

Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT Group) has picked up the series for their streaming service Viaplay in Sweden, Denmark and Norway.

Lionsgate-owned streamer Starzplay has licensed the show for broadcast in multiple territories across the Middle East and North Africa, while MNET has acquired the series for Showmax across Sub-Saharan Africa including South Africa.

Across Asia, buyers include Sony Liv in India, Korea Telecom in South Korea, and U-Next bringing the series to Japan. TVNZ are streaming the series in New Zealand. Last week, SPT revealed the series will air Amazon Prime Video in the U.K. from June 4.

The series has also been picked up by Moviestar Plus in Spain, Kinopoisk HD in Russia, and will air on Nova in Greece, and DSmart in Turkey. AXN will broadcast the series across multiple European territories, including Portugal, Hungary, Romania, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.

* All of this is complicated by the fact that Sony operates a large number of television and digital channels internationally. No two channels seem to have the same access to Sony Pictures Television content and because at least some of Sony's licensing deals seem to be non-exclusive, it's pretty much impossible for the outside to figure out which package of films and/or TV is licensed to a specific service.

But to be honest. I am less interested in the details of any specific deal than I am with how global licensing is structured and how it's evolved over the past few years. As an example, for Western Europe is a very different market than Eastern Europe and South Korea is very different from The Philippines. The licensing chalklnges are very different depending on where you are and while Netflix & Amazon might be the only truly global streaming services (for now), some local streamers dominate their markets. This Sony/Netflix reminds me that there is a lot in this segment of the industry that is under-reported in the entertainment press  and I one of my goals in the medium-term is to bring some clarity to the global streaming markets for the readers of this newsletter and

1) Doing The Most With Phoebe Robinson Series Premiere (Comedy Central)
It's a talk show, but instead of sitting down on plush couches for a few minutes of banter about her guest's latest project, they're taking their discussion out into the world.

2) Ed Gein: The Real Psycho (Discovery+)
Sixty years after arrest of serial killer Ed Gein, documentary film producer and paranormal investigator Steve Shippy and world-renowned psychic medium Cindy Kaza travel to Gein’s hometown in Plainfield, Wisconsin, to conduct investigations of the most haunted locations connected to the infamous killer. For the first time in history, cameras are allowed on the Gein property where the gruesome evidence was first discovered. Shippy and Kaza also meet up with local residents who provide insight on Gein and discover never-before-seen artifacts believed to be used by this malevolent monster on his helpless victims. With each investigation, the team reveals more evidence to determine what was behind his drive to kill.

2) Heaven Official's Blessing (Netflix)
Banished to the mortal realm to exorcise ghosts, a deity must reckon with a demon and soon uncovers a dark secret behind the heavenly gods.

3) Have You Ever Seen Fireflies? (Netflix)
Rebellious, irreverent wunderkind Gülseren navigates loneliness, love and loss against the current of political turmoil and social change.

4) Night In Paradise (Netflix)
Hiding out in Jeju Island following a brutal tragedy, a wronged mobster with a target on his back connects with a woman who has her own demons.

5) Secrets In The Woods (LMN)
Sandra is excited to go on a romantic cabin getaway in the woods with her new boyfriend, Brant. Everything is going well until Sandra begins to feel like someone is watching them. Brant dismisses her worries as a city girl out of her element. But when Sandra sees a strange man lurking, she runs for her life. Unable to escape, she learns the man is Brant’s father, Langley, who’s been using his son to lure women into the cabin to hold them captive until they agree to assume the role of his deceased wife. 

6) Them Series Premiere (Amazon)
Produced by Lena Waithe and created by writer Little Marvin, the small screen's latest horror anthology will devote each season to a single, stand-alone story. This debut season, subtitled Covenant, centers on an African-American family that moves from North Carolina to an all-white (and, apparently, haunted) L.A. neighborhood in 1953. 

7) Thunder Force (Netflix)
Two childhood best friends reunite as an unlikely crime-fighting superhero duo when one invents a formula that gives ordinary people superpowers.

8) Two Distant Strangers (Netflix)
All he wants is to get home to his dog. But when he steps out the door, the worst day of his life begins....over and over again.

9) We Children From Bahnhof Zoo (Amazon)

This newsletter is called "Too Much TV" because....well, it's hard to keep track of all the new television premiering everyday. To help you prioritize your viewing, click here to see our list of more than 400 upcoming television premieres, movies and finales. You'll find listings from more than 70 networks, as well as streaming services and web shows.

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I'll be back with another one tomorrow. If you have any feedback, send it along to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and follow me on Twitter @aysrick.

Last modified on Friday, 09 April 2021 15:13