Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
During a morning producers panel at TCA that focused on the brave new world of web television, a handful of pros held court to talk about all of the ways the Internet is changing the content game and taking the programming monopoly away from the living room. The five included Jane Espenson and Jeff Greenstein, producers of the Internet sensation Husbands (along with many network series); Mike Rosenstein and Stuart Cornfeld, exec producers of the web reality dating spoof Burning Love; and Ryan Lewis, exec producer of the web series Chosen. The beauty of fledgling form, all agreed, was how freeing the medium is in releasing writers and producers from the tyranny of their network overlords. “We are answerable only to ourselves,” boasted Greenstein, whose credits include Desperate Housewives, Friends and Will & Grace. “Yet we hold ourselves to the same standard as we’re held to when we’re doing network shows. We work really hard on the jokes and research and the look of the show. We try to make it as polished as possible. It’s completely on us if it’s good or bad, and that’s exhilarating after 20 years of receiving network notes.” Espenson agrees that the lack of notes is revelatory in itself. And yet she insists that the work involved, the writing, the production values, all are the same as if she were producing for regular TV. “We want it to have precisely the look and style of a traditional sitcom,” Espenson said. “More and more, television is not a word for a box that sits in your living room but simply a word for filmed entertainment that you enjoy.” Read More »
You might wonder about that when you see how many people seem to prefer watching shows on tiny smartphone screens instead of an HDTV. But quality still matters according to a survey of more than 3,000 people in … Read More »
It’s a shame that the general public usually can’t read industry reports from Bernstein Research’s Craig Moffett. When he’s on, which is frequently, his stuff is as thought provoking and engagingly written as anything you’d see in The Atlantic or The New Yorker. So I’ll consider it a public service to summarize his compelling effort this morning to bust one of the tech world’s most fervent beliefs: that that some company — perhaps Google, or Apple, or Netflix — will topple the pay TV oligopoly by offering cable programs or channels, possibly a la carte. Microsoft recently backed away from its dream of offering a cable-like service through its Xbox game console. Others will also give up, Moffett says, because the problem isn’t that Comcast or DirecTV are ignoring consumer demand to break up the expanded basic package. Six companies — Disney, News Corp, NBCUniversal, Time Warner, CBS, and Discovery — account for 90% of all viewing hours. They demand that their channels be sold in packages, ”and only that way,” Moffett writes. Didn’t the music industry try to do much the same thing with CDs before it had to back down and sell individual tunes for 99 cents? Yes, but the music industry had to respond to Napster offering songs for free. The danger of that happening to TV channels “is nothing like what the music industry faced ten years ago (at least, not yet),” Moffett writes. Read More »
Rivals of Carlos Slim are protesting to government regulators his delivery of TV programming over the Web in Mexico, Bloomberg reports. Grupo Televisa CEO Emilio Azcarraga complained last month and TV Azteca has filed suit against Slim’s companies as well as complained to the nation’s phone regulator over Web broadcasts such as last month’s Pan American Games. Slim’s America Movil and Telefonos de Mexico are forbidden from using their networks to offer TV service under the terms of their telecommunications license that was acquired in a 1990 privatization sale. Slim has tried unsuccessfully to reverse the ban, especially as Televisa has begun offering phone and Internet service to lure away his customers.
Banning web videos without a broadcast license would also affect companies such as Netflix, which has begun streaming services in Latin America, and Mexican phone company Maxcom, which started an online TV plan in September. Jose Otero, an analyst at Signals Telecom Consulting based in Uruguay, said that “if you’re going to need a broadcasting license to offer video streaming, you’re going to need to block a lot of companies.” America Movil is already the biggest pay-TV provider across all of Latin America, with 12.5 million subscribers, mostly in Brazil, compared with DirecTV’s 10.3 million. And America Movil is moving aggressively toward delivery of pay-per-view and streaming of Hollywood movies. Read More »