Netflix last week was the object of envy and fear. The firm that’s evolving from DVD-by-mail provider to Web video subscription service showed in latest quarterly earnings that it’s growing at an astonishing rate. By charging as little as $7.99 a month, Netflix signed up 3.6 million new subscribers in the first three months of 2011, giving it a total of 23.6 million. That’s a 69% increase in just one year and puts Netflix ahead of Comcast and Sirius XM. Still, media executives don’t know what to make of the company. Is it friend or foe? Is it just another customer for studio-produced movies and TV shows looking to complement existing broadcast and pay TV providers? Or is Netflix poised to become a competitor to existing channels –- and even a formidable new gatekeeper for Internet entertainment?
The most realistic fear is that Netflix will amass enough subscribers so it can dictate prices to studios that want to transmit their entertainment over the Web to PCs, smartphones, and tablet computers — as well as living room TV sets. If Netflix keeps its subscription price low, then it also may devalue all entertainment: A $4 charge for a VOD movie would look out of whack when you can watch an entire month of interesting shows for just twice that amount. But some industry forecasters say Netflix could do far more damage to existing business models if it drives a consumer stampede away from pay TV. … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Starz has decided not to renew comedy series Party Down and Gravity. I hear the pay cable network may make the announcement later today. Both shows were developed and launched by Starz’s previous regime, but new president and CEO Chris Albrecht has stated repeatedly that he is big fan of Party Down. While the off-beat comedy has become an instant cult classic, I hear at the end of the day its appeal was deemed not wide enough to keep the show beyond its recently concluded Season 2. Consider this: The Season 2 finale of Party Down and Season one close of Gravity last week drew a 0.0 rating in adults 18-49 each and total audiences of 74,000 and 54,000, respectively. That is miniscule even for pay cable standards. And the writing has been on the wall: some of the actors on Party Down have already taken other jobs, like Adam Scott, who recently joined NBC’s Parks & Recreation. Starz’s slate has evolved following the breakout success of period drama Spartacus. The pay cable network has focused on dramas with big, recognizable title like the upcoming series Camelot, Torchwood and the Spartacus prqeuel as well as limited series The Pillars of the Earth. Additionally, Starz is developing an U.S. version of the hit Australian mob drama Underbelly.
UPDATE 12PM: Stephan Shelanski, executive vp programming for Starz Entertainment, issued a statement confirming the cancellations. ”After careful consideration, we’ve … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Claire Forlani and Peter Mooney round out the main cast of Starz’s 10-episode drama series Camelot, joining previously cast Joseph Fiennes, Eva Green, Jamie Campbell Bower and Tamsin Egerton. Written by Michael Hurst and Chris Chibnall, the series – to be co-produced and distributed worldwide by Graham King’s GK-TV – is a fresh take on the tale of King Arthur (Bower). Paradigm-repped Forlani will play Arthur’s mother, Queen Igraine, while SMS-repped Mooney will play Kay, Arthur’s brother and right-hand man. Filming on Camelot is starting this week in Ireland for an early 2011 premiere on Starz. Forlani also is set to film indies Deauville and Crossmaglen.