‘FX on Hulu’ Bowing March 2

When Disney last year announced it would transition FX Networks programming to Hulu, including edgier original content, the strategy was considered a shrewd competitive move designed to elevate the SVOD platform’s status against perennial frontrunner Netflix.

Speaking Jan. 9 at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif., John Landgraf, chairman of FX Networks and FX Productions shed new light on the move, including when 1,600 episodes of FX programming would begin arriving on Hulu: March 2.

Cate Blanchett

Original programs, which will debut over the course of several weeks, include miniseries “Devs,” “Mrs. America” with Cate Blanchett playing anti-feminist Phyliss Schlafly, “A Teacher” (Kate Mara) and “The Old Man,” starring Oscar winner Jeff Bridges.

“We see this as a transformative opportunity for the FX brand,” Landgraf said.

While most existing FX (and FXX) programming will appear on Hulu, notable exception includes “American Crime Story,” which remains on Netflix due to a prior licensing agreement.”

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“Nearly the entire FX brand will be available in one place,” Landgraf said.

The executive said FX had peaked with about 85 million pay-TV households and considers the collaboration with Hulu’s 30 million households a positive. Working together with Hulu CEO Randy Freer, “FX on Hulu” will debut original shows the day after their TV broadcast.

New comedies on “FX on Hulu,” include “Breeders,” bowing March 2, and “Dave,” debuting March 4.

“Both our brands together will make Hulu a stronger platform than either could alone,” Landgraf said. “I think [the combination is] going to make the FX brand even more valuable.”

Disney Stops Running Netflix Ads on its Networks

The streaming video wars are heating up.

With Disney set to launch a branded $6.99 subscription streaming video service (Disney+) on Nov. 12, it has reportedly begun circling the wagons around its media brands — denying Netflix ads from airing on select entertainment networks.

Netflix, in a shrewd marketing move, had apparently upped running ad-spots specifically on Disney networks.

Impacted properties include ABC (notably the Oscars), FX, Freedom and National Geographic. Disney will still accept Netflix advertising on ESPN since the SVOD pioneer does not stream live sports.

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In a statement first reported by The Wall Street Journal, Disney said that as the “direct-to-consumer business has evolved, with many more entrants looking to advertise in traditional television, and across our portfolio networks … [it has] “reevaluated our strategy to reflect the comprehensive business relationships have with many of these companies, as direct-to-consumer is one element.”

While rival media/tech companies also ready proprietary streaming services, it is unknown if their marketing has been impacted by Disney’s move.

But then they aren’t Netflix, which with more than 150 million subscribers worldwide, dominates the SVOD ecosystem.

In 2017, Disney began pulling back original movies (i.e. Star Wars, Pixar) and select Marvel programming from Netflix as it began assembling Disney+. The move was noteworthy considering the two companies in 2015 inked a landmark distribution deal making Netflix the exclusive pay-TV distributor for Disney movies.

In a related move, Disney CEO Bob Iger removed himself from the board of Apple as the tech giant readies a reboot of its Apple TV platform to include subscription streaming video and original content.

 

Fox Fetes ‘Mayans M.C.’ Season One DVD

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment celebrated the DVD release of FX’s Mayans M.C.: The Complete First Season with a party Aug. 18 at Heroes Motors in Los Angeles. “Mayans M.C.” is the next chapter in Kurt Sutter’s “Sons of Anarchy” saga. The show takes place in the same fictional universe, and deals with the Sons’ rivals-turned-allies, the Mayans Motorcycle Club. (Photos by Dan Steinberg)

Disney Shuttering FX+ Streaming Service

To make room for its pending Disney+ subscription streaming video service and global expansion of Hulu, Disney — as expected — has begun informing subscribers that 20th Century Fox’s FX+ streaming service will shut down Aug. 21.

Launched in 2017 as a $6 monthly add-on to pay-TV subscribers, Disney says FX+ viewers can still access catalog programing and catch-up shows on the FXNow app or at FXNetworks.com.

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With Disney’s $71.3 billion acquisition of 20th Century Fox, merger synergies are affecting more than Fox personnel. And Disney clearly is putting its resources behind Disney+ and Hulu, which it now owns outright.

That much was clear during Fox’s upfront presser in May.

“I think the possibilities of a platform like Hulu are much more exciting to us in the long run than trying to scale up a stand-alone version,” John Landgraf, CEO of FX, told the media. “It really expands the dimensions and what we can do.”

Hulu, FX Getting Lionsgate Movies

Disney-owned Hulu and FX reportedly are getting pay-TV access to select Lionsgate movies beginning in 2020.

Epix, the pay-TV channel owned by MGM Studios, currently has the rights to Lionsgate movies, which include Oscar winner La La LandThe Hunger Games and Saw franchises, among others.

The John Wicks franchise starring Keanu Reeves is licensed separately to HBO through 2021. Twentieth Century Fox, which Disney recently acquired, also has a deal with HBO through 2022.

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Lionsgate co-owned Epix with Viacom and MGM, until selling its stake to the venerable studio in 2017.

The two-year deal, first reported by The Information, enables Santa Monica-based Lionsgate to migrate its movies to Starz Play, the subscription streaming service launched in 2016.

Lionsgate acquired Starz in 2016 for $4.4 billion.

Notably, it was Starz that started licensing studio movies to OTT services through an exclusive deal with Netflix in 2008 that gave the SVOD pioneer access to 2,500 movies for pennies on the dollar from Disney, Sony Pictures and others.

Six years later, then-CEO Chris Albrecht would call the Netflix agreement “terrible,” as it helped the streaming service generate subscribers looking for cheaper access to Hollywood movies.

“For a very low price [Netflix] got access to all our stuff and it devalued our wholesale and resale prices,” Albrecht told an investor group. He left Starz earlier this year.

France’s Canal+ Launches New SVOD Service; Encourages Password Sharing

Seeking to combat Netflix’s rising popularity in France, pay-TV giant Canal+ March 12 launched a new subscription streaming video service, c+Séries, featuring local and international TV content, including original programming.

In a twist, Canal+ is marketing the €6.99 ($7.90) monthly service without movies through a campaign that encourages users to share their password with up to four people — the latter based on the €14 ($15.90) plan.

The service is accessed through the existing “myCanal” app, which is available on Apple iOS and Android platforms.

Frank Cadoret, deputy CEO of the C+ Group, said the service targets younger demos by offering episodic dramas and multiple distribution options.

“We are totally in tune with the new aspirations of the public,” Cadoret said in a statement.

Indeed, with Netflix recently surpassing 5 million subs in France, Canal+ is trying to appeal to a consumer that is moving away from traditional linear TV distribution and toward over-the-top video.

In addition to more than 150 series, c+Séries streams content from CBS-owned Showtime and Fox’s FX, including “Billions,” “SMILF,” “Pose” and “What We Do in The Shadows,” the platform offers StudioCanal original series “The Lawyer” and “Moscow Noir.” Catalog series “The Americans,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “24,” “Dexter”and “X-Files” also are available.

 

 

The Shield: The Complete Series

Fans of “The Shield” won’t want to miss this new Blu-ray edition of the gritty cop drama, featuring all 88 episodes remastered into a nice-looking high-definition presentation that maintains the raw, textured look that helped give the series its unique flavor. Michael Chiklis shines as corrupt cop Vic Mackey, who set the stage for the arrival of some of television’s great antiheroes in the years to come. 

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Mill Creek;
Drama;
$229.98 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Stars Michael Chiklis, Catherine Dent, Reed Diamond, Walton Goggins, Michael Jace, Kenny Johnson, Jay Karnes, Benito Martinez, CCH Pounder, Glenn Close, Cathy Cahlin Ryan, David Rees Snell, Paula Garcés, David Marciano, Forest Whitaker.

Before “Mad Men.” Before “Breaking Bad.” Before “Fargo.” There was “The Shield.”

The gritty 2002-08 cop drama put FX on the map for original content and helped turn basic cable into a hub of prestige television, before Netflix and other streaming services would come along to further blur the lines of distribution.

The show focused on an LAPD precinct in a fictional, gang-ridden neighborhood of Los Angeles. The division serves as the headquarters for an anti-crime strike team led by Det. Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis), a corrupt cop whose thuggish methods draw the ire of his captain and internal affairs. However, his ends-justify-the-means approach to law enforcement earned him a reputation as an antihero among viewers who resented the characters tasked with bringing him down in the name of doing things by the book. This made him somewhat of a precursor to complicated but morally ambiguous characters such as Don Draper and Walter White who would become icons of the new Golden Age of Television that emerged in the early 21st century.

Mill Creek’s new Blu-ray edition of the show features all 88 episodes remastered in 4K from the original 16mm film elements, preserving the grainy texture that reinforces the series’ gritty flavor.

The 18-disc set includes all seven seasons and two bonus discs, carrying over bonus materials from previous DVD releases from Fox and Sony Pictures. The discs come in sturdy digibook packaging with a slipcover containing a magnetic clasp to hold everything in nice and snug.

The episodes aren’t offered with a “play all” mode, which might annoy some binge-minded viewers. Episodes can be viewed with an optional commentary and many include deleted scenes.

The final disc includes three new extras that take a look back at the show 10 years after its finale.

First up is a 2018 cast reunion with series creator Shawn Ryan that runs about 56 minutes and gives most of the actors a chance to reflect on what drew them to the show and what made it connect with fans.

The hour-long “ATX Festival Panel: The Shield Writers Room” features a 2016 gathering of many of the show’s writers, who discuss how it redefined what basic cable was able to achieve in terms of providing an avenue for storytelling akin to what HBO was doing at the time.

Finally, the 19-minute “Beyond the Badge” retrospective offers more of a typical look-back of interviews mixed with series highlights.

“The Shield”

Amazon’s ‘Mrs. Maisel,’ HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ Lead Way at 70th Emmys

For the second year in a row, a show from a streaming service won the Emmy for best series in its category.

While last year Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” won Outstanding Drama Series, this year it was Amazon Video taking the top prize in the Outstanding Comedy Series category with the first season of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

“Maisel” ended up with eight Emmys, including Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Rachel Brosnahan as the title character, and Outstanding Supporting Actress for Alex Borstein (who won another Emmy this year for her voiceover work on Fox’s “Family Guy”).

The 70th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards were announced Sept. 17 at a televised ceremony in Los Angeles and at the Creative Arts ceremony a week earlier.

Netflix and HBO ended up tied as the top networks with 23 wins apiece.

Outstanding Drama Series again went to HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” this time for its seventh season, which is readily available for digital download or on Blu-ray and DVD.

“Game of Thrones” previously won the Best Drama Series Emmy in 2015 and 2016 for its fifth and sixth seasons, respectively, but a quirk in its production meant the show didn’t air during the 2017 eligibility period, opening the door for “Handmaid’s Tale” to win last year.

“Thrones” won nine Emmys this year, including Peter Dinklage winning his third trophy for Outstanding Supporting Actor for the role of Tyrion Lannister (previously won in 2011 and 2015).

FX’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story won seven Emmys, including Outstanding Limited Series. The nine-episode miniseries is available for digital download.

Among some other notable categories, HBO’s “Barry” (on DVD Oct. 2) won Outstanding Actor and Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for Bill Hader and Henry Winkler, respectively. Matthew Rhys won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for the sixth and final season of FX’s “The Americans,” coming to DVD Oct. 23 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. Claire Foy won Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for playing Queen Elizabeth II in the second season of Netflix’s “The Crown.” And Thandie Newton won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for season two of HBO’s “Westworld,” which will be available on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Dec. 4 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

For a complete list of 2018 winners, visit Emmys.com.

Comcast Returns ‘Watchathon’ Binge-Viewing Week

Comcast Cable April 11 announced it is bringing back the “Xfinity Watchathon Week” April 16-22, affording subscribers non-stop, on-demand access to thousands of hours of content – including over-the-top.

Launched six years ago as a TV Everywhere antidote to Netflix and OTT video, Comcast for the first time is offering Watchathon to Xfinity Internet-only subscribers and programming from Netflix and more than two dozen SVOD services, such as Acorn TV, AMC Premiere, FX+, Lifetime Movie Club, History Vault and even DOGTV, which offers a selection of programming made just for man’s best friend.

Eligible subs can also watch thousands of movies and TV shows from more than 50 networks, including AMC, FX, HBO, MTV, NBC, Showtime, and Starz.

Comcast will also offer a subset of programming to its Internet-only subs via the Xfinity Stream app and portal.

“This year, we’re … offering X1 customers a unique opportunity to sample and explore the best programming from dozens of traditional networks and studios, streaming services and emerging SVODs,” Daniel Spinosa, VP, video entertainment services, Comcast Cable, said in a statement.

Xfinity Internet-only subs have access to back episodes of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” and ‘Westworld,” Showtime’s “Billions,” and “Homeland,” and Starz’s “Outlander,” and “Power,” among other programs.

The promotional week will enable Xfinity subs the option to explore dozens of third-party SVOD platforms, such as Acorn TV’s British hits, AMC Premiere, CuriosityStream’s documentary films and series, Daily Burn’s workout class, select shows from FX+, Gaiam TV Fit & Yoga fitness videos, History Vault’s historical and educational content, and Stingray Karaoke’s collection music.

“With voice control and the ability to surface our programming seamlessly within their experience, X1 provides networks like us with a unique platform for discovery alongside some of the best and most popular programming available today,” said Matthew Graham, GM, Acorn TV.