HBO Nabs 10 SAG Award Nominations

HBO received 10 Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for the upcoming 26th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, which will be presented Jan. 19, 2020, in Los Angeles.

Nominations included:

Three for “Game of Thrones”: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series; Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series (Peter Dinklage); Outstanding Action Performance By A Stunt Ensemble In A Comedy Or Drama Series.

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Two for “Barry”: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series; Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series (Bill Hader).

Two for “Chernobyl”: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries (Jared Harris); Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries (Emily Watson).

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One for “Big Little Lies”: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.

One for “True Detective”: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries (Mahershala Ali).

One for “Watchmen”: Outstanding Action Performance By A Stunt Ensemble In A Comedy Or Drama Series.

‘Big Little Lies’ Second Season on Disc Jan. 7

The second season of HBO’s “Big Little Lies” will be released on DVD Jan. 7 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. A Blu-ray version will be released by Warner Archive.

The returning cast includes Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern and Zoё Kravitz. In season two, the “Monterey Five” bond together to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives after the events of season one, while Perry’s grieving mother (Meryl Streep) comes to town in search of answers about her son’s death.

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The home video release will include all seven episodes, plus the featurette “The Lies Revealed: A Conversation With the Cast.”

Warner is also releasing a DVD two-pack containing both seasons of the series. The show is also available to own through digital retailers.

 

‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Big Little Lies’ Drive HBO Nordic Sub Growth

Scandinavia (especially Sweden) has long been a hotbed for subscription streaming video. HBO launched its first over-the-top video service — HBO Nordic — long before the domestic rollout of HBO Now in 2014.

HBO Nordic remains a formidable competitor to Netflix and other local SVOD services notably this year thanks to “Game of Thrones” and “Big Little Lies,” among other programming.

New data from Mediavision contends the final season of “Thrones” and second season of “Lies” jumpstarted HBO Nordic subscriber growth to more than 200,000 members in Sweden in the second quarter (ended June 30) — up 50% from the previous-year period.

By comparison, market leader Netflix grew 14% year-over-year.

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Mediavision believes the sub growth can also be attributed to new seasons of “Big Little Lies,” and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” — the latter available in the U.S. exclusively on Hulu. HBO’s original (created by Comcast-owned Sky) miniseries — “Chernobyl” — also received a strong reception from both Swedish audiences and critics.

As is the trend globally among OTT and traditional media distributors, original content is driving subscriber interest. But it’s not just global services that are increasing their content investments.

In Sweden, both C More and Viaplay have launched new drama series, in addition to extending existing episodic programming. Viaplay’s owner NENT has announced that it intends to launch six new original series in 2019.

Netflix, of course, has taken original content one step further. Its Swedish original series, “Greatest of all,” is produced for Netflix by the Swedish production company FLX — a strategy the SVOD pioneer is emulating in markets worldwide.

“We are moving towards a period where the value of many and strong titles is likely to increase further,” Marie Nilsson, CEO of Mediavision, said in a statement. “The hunt for new customers is also learning to intensify, as major players such as Disney and Apple are ready to enter Sweden, too. This will help drive the streaming market further.”

AT&T CEO: WarnerMedia Looking to Partner SVOD Service With Pay-TV Operators

WarnerMedia’s pending fourth-quarter soft-launch of a branded subscription streaming video service will look to partner with — rather than antagonize — third-party pay-TV operators.

Speaking May 14 at the JPMorgan Global Technology, Media and Communications  Conference in New York, Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, said the service would be centered around HBO and be included with a pay-TV subscription.

“The MVPDs, Comcast, we think are going to be an important partner to all of this,” Stephenson said. “If you’re a Comcast subscriber and you acquire HBO, you will get this [OTT video] capability with your HBO subscription on Comcast.”

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The proposed symbiotic relationship between SVOD and linear television distribution is significant considering the former was launched in part to replace pay-TV.

Indeed, Dish Network launched pioneering Sling TV in 2015 in an effort to offset declining satellite TV subscribers. AT&T followed with DirecTV Now.

Yet, online TV subscriber growth has cooled. Sling added just 7,000 subscribers in the most-recent fiscal period, and DirecTV Now lost 83,000 subs compared to a gain of 312,000 subs last year.

Stephenson said the new SVOD service is projected to generate “tens of millions of subs” — a figure dependent upon AT&T sustaining its base of DirecTV and U-verse subscribers.

The strategy is not dissimilar with Comcast, which plans to launch an OTT service free to Xfinity subscribers, with non-subscribers charged a monthly fee.

“Keeping the satellite, the U-verse customer base in check and stable is really important because it’s going to be a major distribution platform [for SVOD],” Stephenson said. “And then we want to just continue to push digital distribution on top of that as well.”

Much of that distribution will be centered around HBO, which is currently generating strong viewership through the last season of “Game of Thrones”.

Stephenson said content investment at HBO has “stepped up considerably” this year with the second seasons of “Big Little Lies” and “Succession” slated to follow “Thrones,” in addition to new series, “Chernobyl”.

“We’ve got a lot of really great content coming online as ‘Game of Thrones’ winds down,” he said.