HBO Hires ‘Human’ Content Recommendation

Netflix more than 10 years ago created algorithm-based content recommendation software. Many streaming services tout curated content selection in an attempt to differentiate from the competition.

HBO is taking a different approach: It’s paying people to hype programs such as “Game of Thrones,” “Chernobyl” and “Divorce,” “Euphoria,” “Big Little Lies,” and “Succession,” among other originals, as part of a “Recommended by Humans,” marketing campaign.

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The promotion, which bowed Aug. 6, features a website (humanreco.hbo.com) featuring access to free episodes of HBO current and catalog shows with accompanying program shout-outs by real (okay, paid) fans.

When Netflix switched focus from rental discs to streaming video, it sought mathematical algorithms to recommend content to subscribers. It briefly offered a $1 million “Netflix Prize” to anyone who could increase predictions on user ratings for content.

HBO is taking a less expensive path, using social media (Twitter) and paid-for testimonials to generate content buzz in advance of parent WarnerMedia’s launch of a new (HBO Max) subscription streaming service.

While the “human” campaign has an April Fool’s feel to it, that appears to be part of its intent.

“We paid them for their time because we’re not monsters,” read the website.

WarnerMedia Eyes Global Footprint; Names Giorgio Stock President of Europe, Middle East Operations

WarnerMedia Aug. 2 announced the appointment of Giorgio Stock to the new role of President, WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks, Distribution and Advertising Sales, EMEA and APAC.

With immediate effect, Stock, previously President, EMEA, for Turner, takes on responsibility for all entertainment networks, distribution of all networks, advertising sales and the kids networks operations in Europe, Middle East, Africa and the Asia Pacific region.

Stock will continue to be based in London and reports into Chief Revenue Officer Gerhard Zeiler.

Giorgio Stock

In his new role, Stock will be supported by the leadership team of Ricky Ow, President Turner Asia Pacific, Hervé Payan, CEO HBO Europe, and Jonathan Spink, CEO HBO Asia, all of whom now report into him.

“In his previous role as President, Turner EMEA, Giorgio transformed the organization and built a strong team who together invested in excellent premium content, created new revenue streams and optimized business operations,” Zeiller said.

The appointment represents WarnerMedia’s decision to give Europe and Middle Eastern operations singular leadership through the existing strengths of the Turner and HBO businesses, while also equipping them for further collaboration and growth.

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In addition to Stock, the international executives reporting to Zeiler are Whit Richardson, President Turner Latin America, and Rani Raad, President CNNI Commercial.

Stock joined the company in 2013 as President Turner EMEA with executive oversight of all Turner kids and entertainment networks in the region, including digital and media services of core brands such as Cartoon Network, Boomerang, TNT and TCM as well as kids streaming service Toonix, available direct-to-consumer and via a partnership with HBO Nordic, the network’s over-the-top video service .

His role also included the distribution of CNN’s services, and licensing and merchandising activity in Europe, the Middle East and Africa as well as international L&M liaison.

Stock joined Turner after a 15-year career with Disney where he held publishing and content leadership roles out of Paris, New York, Milan and London overseeing television, publishing, retail, music and gaming.

 

 

 

Season Six of ‘Strike Back’ on Disc, First Season of ‘Euphoria’ on Digital Coming From HBO in August

Season six of “Strike Back” on disc and numerous programs on digital, including the first season of “Euphoria,” are coming from HBO Home Entertainment in August.

Strike Back Season 6 will bow on DVD and Blu-ray Aug. 6. When a Russian bomber crashes in the South China Sea, the covert special-ops soldiers of Section 20 — Thomas “Mac” McAllister (Warren Brown), Samuel Wyatt (Daniel MacPherson) and Gracie Novin (Alin Sumarwata) — are sent to investigate. There, they cross paths with Katrina Zarkova (Yasemin Allen), a rogue Russian operative with questionable loyalties. Under orders of the new commanding officer, Col. Alexander Coltrane (Jamie Bamber), Section 20 pursues stolen contents of the Russian jet across Southeast Asia.

Due on digital Aug. 12 is the documentary Song of Parkland. When Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School drama teacher Melody Herzfeld heard the fire alarm on Feb. 14, 2018, she was in rehearsals with her students for their annual children’s musical. Moments later, a Code Red sounded. Herzfeld rushed her 65 students into a storage closet while a shooter killed 17 teachers and students nearby. Filmed in the months following the shooting, when the Florida school community is grappling with the tragedy, the documentary chronicles the dedication of Herzfeld and her theater students as they return to school and resolve to continue with their production.

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Also coming Aug. 12 on digital is The Many Lives of Nick Buoniconti, which captures the 78-year-old NFL Hall of Famer by taking viewers through his journey as a linebacker, lawyer, sports agent, broadcaster, executive and philanthropist. The son of a baker from the south end of Springfield, Mass., Buoniconti’s early inner drive propelled him to find great success on the field and in the workplace. But after his son’s crippling accident in 1985, he dedicated the latter part of his life to philanthropy and soon after co-founded The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. Today, thanks in large part to his singular devotion, more than a half-billion dollars has been raised for spinal cord research.

Maria Full of Grace, also due on digital Aug. 12, follows 17-year-old Colombian Maria (Catalina Sandino Moreno). Pregnant and with a large family to care for, she’s forced to leave a demanding job after an altercation with her boss. Needing work as soon as possible, she encounters charming Franklin (John Álex Toro), who offers her a dangerous job as a drug mule. With cocaine pellets in her stomach, Maria flies to New York for the drug drop-off, but finds her new line of work may be far riskier than it initially seemed.

Boycott, also coming on digital Aug. 12, is a dramatization of the live of Rosa Parks (Iris Little-Thomas), who defiantly refuses to take a back seat on the bus. She sets into motion a tumultuous string of events centered around the 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala. Using archival footage to establish the strained atmosphere of the era, this dramatization of that chapter of the Civil Rights Movement’s history shows her interactions with such major figures as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Jeffrey Wright), Coretta Scott King (Carmen Ejogo) and Ralph Abernathy (Terrence Howard).

Coming on digital Aug. 12 also is In the Gloaming, a drama that marked the directorial debut of Christopher Reeve. It follows 33-year-old AIDS sufferer Danny (Robert Sean Leonard) who returns to his parents’ home in the New York suburbs to spend his final days. While his father, Martin (David Strathairn), finds it difficult to accept his son’s sexuality, and his self-concerned sister, Anne (Bridget Fonda), avoids the issue, his mother, Janet (Glenn Close), forges a deeper and more honest relationship with her dying son.

Due on digital Aug. 19 is Los Espookys Season 1. It follows a group of friends who turn their love for horror into a peculiar business, providing horror to those who need it, in a dreamy Latin American country where the strange and eerie are just part of daily life. The group is led by the noble, kind, and naïve Renaldo (Bernardo Velasco), and joined by Ursula (Cassandra Ciangherotti), a tenacious dental assistant who eventually handles the logistics and execution of all projects; Ursula’s sister Tati (Ana Fabrega), who juggles several (very) odd jobs while acting as the group’s test dummy; and Renaldo’s longtime best friend Andrés (Julio Torres), the brooding heir to the chocolate empire, who unlocks secrets to his past while avoiding his trophy boyfriend, Juan Carlos (José Pablo Minor).

Next up on Aug. 19 is VICE: Special Report: The Future of Work. Hosted by VICE News correspondent Krishna Andavolu, with contributions from correspondents Gianna Toboni and Michael Moynihan, the special looks at how entire industries are being disrupted and how these changes are creating ripple effects throughout the global economy. VICE’s correspondents sit down with a wide variety of experts, including Nobel Laureate economists, CEOs, and workers whose jobs will radically change in the years to come. They document how industries that long seemed immune from automation, such as fast food, contract law and long-haul trucking, are rapidly being automated, with workers replaced by AI and algorithms.

Also on Aug. 19 on digital comes Year and Years, following the day-to-day lives of the Lyons family beginning on one crucial night in 2019. The story chronicles one family’s determination to survive the future as society changes faster than ever before, focusing on Stephen Lyons (Rory Kinnear), a financial advisor, who serves as the family’s peacekeeper; his wife Celeste (T’Nia Miller), an ambitious accountant; his brother Daniel (Russell Tovey), a housing officer; Edith (Jessica Hynes), their radical, calculating and potentially dangerous sister; Rosie (Ruth Madeley), their spirited youngest sibling, who was born with spina bifida and is a single mother of two; and their grandmother, Muriel (Anne Reid), the family’s opinionated matriarch.

Euphoria Season 1, coming on digital Aug. 26, is an American adaptation of the Israeli show of the same name. It follows the troubled life of 17-year-old Rue, a drug addict fresh from rehab with no plans to stay clean. Circling in Rue’s orbit are Jules, a transgender girl searching for where she belongs; Nate, a jock whose anger issues mask sexual insecurities; Chris, a football star who finds the adjustment from high school to college harder than expected; Cassie, whose sexual history continues to dog her; and Kat, a body-conscious teen exploring her sexuality. As the classmates struggle to make sense of their futures, the series tackles the teenage landscape of substance-enhanced parties and anxiety-ridden day-to-day life with empathy and candor. It stars Zendaya.

Also due on digital Aug. 26 is Share, a cautionary tale about social media. It follows 16-year-old Mandy, who, after discovering a disturbing video from a night she doesn’t remember, must figure out what happened — and how to navigate the escalating fallout. Rhianne Barreto leads as Mandy, alongside Charlie Plummer (“Boardwalk Empire”) as Dylan, Poorna Jagannathan as Kerri, J.C. MacKenzie as Mickey, Nicholas Galitzine as A.J., Lovie Simone as Jenna and Danny Mastrogiorgio as Tony.

HBO Max Announces Original Content Team

WarnerMedia July 18 announced the creative, business operations and strategy teams responsible for original programming and acquisitions for HBO Max — the media company’s pending subscription streaming video service launching in early 2020.

The group of veteran executives, who has been involved in developing and producing film and television content for the past 30 years, reports to Kevin Reilly, chief content officer, HBO Max and president, TNT, TBS, and truTV.

HBO Max will feature originals, library and acquired programming totaling more than 10,000 hours of content.

The original programming group tasked with building on the HBO core audience by targeting younger adults as well as kids and families is led by Sarah Aubrey, head of original content.

Her new team includes Joey Chavez, EVP of Original Drama; Jessie Henderson, EVP of Original Feature Films; Jeniffer Kim, SVP of International Originals; Suzanna Makkos, EVP of Original Comedy and Animation; and Jennifer O’Connell, EVP of Original Non-Fiction and Kids.

The business operations and strategy group driving deals and managing the full scope of programming available on the service includes Eric Besner, SVP of Business Development and Strategy; Sandra Dewey, President of Business Operations and Production; Meredith Gertler, EVP of Program Strategy and Planning (who reports into Casey Bloys, president, HBO Programming, with a dual function on HBO Max); and Michael Quigley, EVP of Content Acquisitions and Strategy. Patrick Kelly, EVP of Business Affairs, will report into Dewey.

“HBO Max is committed to delivering IP of the highest quality by closely collaborating with top talent to bring their ideas to life, and then strategically managing that content to build and sustain lasting cultural impact and value,” Reilly said in a statement.

“Kevin has assembled a stellar creative team for new originals and acquisitions that will make our HBO Max service second-to-none,” added Robert Greenblatt, chairman, WarnerMedia Entertainment & Direct-To-Consumer. “With these originals and the full force of the vast WarnerMedia portfolio, including the might of HBO, I couldn’t be more proud of the content we are bringing together across this company that will appeal to everyone in the household.”

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In addition to these teams, the development and production groups at HBO — overseen by Casey Bloys, president of programming, and Glenn Whitehead, EVP, business and legal affairs, will also supply HBO Max with a vast array of unparalleled content, with the entirety of HBO’s current slate and extensive library — everything from “The Sopranos” and “Sex and the City” to “Veep” and “Game of Thrones” — included in the service.

HBO Max will also offer key licensed third-party programming and an array of content that spans across WarnerMedia’s portfolio of brands that includes HBO, Warner Bros., New Line, DC Entertainment, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, The CW, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, Hello Sunshine, Looney Tunes and more.

Max Original series previously announced include:

  • “Gossip Girl,” eight years after the original website went dark, a new generation of New York private school teens are introduced to the social surveillance of Gossip Girl.
  • “Dune: The Sisterhood,” an adaptation of Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson’s book based in the world created by Frank Herbert’s book Dune, from director Denis Villeneuve
  • “Tokyo Vice,” based on Jake Adelstein’s non-fiction first-hand account of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police beat starring Ansel Elgort
  • “The Flight Attendant,” a one-hour thriller series based on the novel by Chris Bohjalian, which will star Kaley Cuoco, who is also executive producing alongside Greg Berlanti
  • “Love Life,” a 10-episode half-hour romantic comedy anthology series starring Anna Kendrick, who will also executive produce alongside Paul Feig
  • “Station Eleven,” a postapocalyptic limited series based on Emily St. John Mandel’s international bestseller, adapted by Patrick Somerville and directed by Hiro Murai
  • “Made for Love,” a 10-episode, half-hour, straight-to-series adaptation based on the tragicomic novel of the same name by Alissa Nutting, also from Somerville and directed by S.J. Clarkson
  • “Gremlins,” an animated series from Warner Bros. Animation and Amblin Entertainment based on the original movie

Deals with Warner Bros. Television and others for HBO Max previously announced include:

  • The exclusive streaming rights at launch to all 236 episodes of “Friends” — one of the biggest hits on television and in streaming
  • The exclusive streaming rights at launch to all episodes of fan favorites “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” and “Pretty Little Liars”
  • The exclusive streaming home to a string of new Warner Bros.’ produced dramas for The CW beginning with the fall 2019 season, including the highly-anticipated new DC Entertainment series “Batwoman,” and “Katy Keene” (spinoff of “Riverdale”)
  • New exclusive movie production deals with Greg Berlanti, one of Hollywood’s most prolific and successful producers, and Reese Witherspoon, Academy Award and Emmy Award-winning actress and producer; Berlanti will produce an initial four movies focused in the young adult space, while Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine will produce at least two films

The executive leadership team is as follows:

Sarah Aubrey, Head of Original Content

Sarah Aubrey

Aubrey heads up Original Content for HBO Max, presiding over a robust slate that will offer programming options for every audience segment in the household.

Previously, Aubrey was Executive Vice President of Original Programming for TNT, where she played an integral role in the network’s evolution into one of the premier destinations for prestige original dramas such as Patty Jenkins’ “I Am the Night,” “Claws,” “Animal Kingdom” and the award-winning “The Alienist.”

Under her leadership, the number of women holding jobs at the highest levels on the average TNT scripted project more than doubled. TNT also jumped an impressive 320% on the annual GLAAD TV report rankings for LGBTQ representation.

Prior to joining TNT, Sarah was a prolific television and film producer, responsible for such projects as “Friday Night Lights” and “The Leftovers” while at Film 44, and films including “Bad Santa” and “Lars and the Real Girl” before that.

Eric Besner, SVP, Business Development and Strategy

Eric Besner

Besner leads large-scale priority content initiatives for HBO Max, overseeing strategic content partnerships, content expansion and innovation, and business operations.

Prior to joining HBO Max, Besner held top positions at Warner Bros., as SVP and head of strategic partnerships for Digital Networks; Spotify, heading up content expansion and acquisition; and Netflix, where he was VP of original programming.

Joey Chavez, EVP, Original Drama

Joey Chavez

Chavez oversees creative development for HBO Max original drama series, tasked with bringing in distinctive and diverse projects from notable storytellers.

The slate already includes projects from Tokyo Vice, a multilingual crime series written by JT Rogers, starring Ansel Elgort, and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, sci-fi epic Dune: The Sisterhood from writer John Spaihts and director Denis Villeneuve, and an adaptation of the acclaimed novel Station Eleven adapted by Patrick Sommerville and director Hiro Murai.

Prior to joining HBO Max, Chavez served as SVP of Original Programming at TNT, developing such series as the Emmy® Award-winning The Alienist, which was 2018’s #1 new cable series, and the critically-acclaimed, top-ten cable drama Claws, which explores the nuance of race, class, gender and sexual-orientation.

Before joining the WarnerMedia family, Chavez was VP of Drama Development where he was named one of Hollywood Reporter’s 35 under 35 in 2012. Chavez is also a mentor to rising junior executives with the Los Angeles chapter of the Hollywood Radio and Television Society (HRTS).

Sandra Dewey, president, business operations and productions

Sandra Dewey

Dewey serves as head of business operations for HBO Max with oversight of WarnerMedia Entertainment’s business affairs and production teams for HBO Max, TBS, TNT and truTV. Dewey also continues to play a key role in the cable networks’ ongoing transition from a linear television company to omni-platform media brands with numerous revenue streams.

Prior to her current position, Sandra served as Executive Vice President, Head of Business Affairs for Turner Entertainment Networks and Cartoon Network Originals. In that role she was heavily involved with the growth and strategic evolution of the networks’ original programming, as well as its expansion in the global market.

She is also a longtime champion of various gender and diversity initiatives at the company, including her role as the founding member of WarnerMedia’s Feminist Fridays, an initiative dedicated to empowering, informing and mentoring women across the organization.

Meredith Gertler, EVP, program strategy and planning

Meredith Gertler

Meredith Gertler is Executive Vice President, Program Strategy & Planning, responsible for developing programming strategies across HBO Max, HBO and Cinemax streaming and on-demand platforms, and linear networks. In addition, she oversees Program Scheduling, Promotion Planning & Scheduling and Program Planning Operations.

Gertler joined HBO in 2004 on HBO Video’s Marketing team, where she developed and executed strategic business and marketing plans for original programming on DVD.

In January 2009, she was named Vice President, Product Management, Operations & Production for HBO Home Entertainment, responsible for the short and long-term planning and profitability in North America. In 2012, she made the move to Program Strategy & Planning and helped craft the content planning and scheduling framework in support of the launch of the company’s HBO NOW direct-to-consumer product in 2015.

Prior to HBO,Gertler worked in publicity at Miramax Films and account management at the ad agency Ogilvy & Mather.

Jessie Henderson, EVP, original feature films

Jessie Henderson

Henderson heads up creative development and production of original feature films for HBO Max and is developing a film slate designed to appeal to all audience segments.

Prior to HBO Max, Henderson formed and served as co-president of Feigco Entertainment with Paul Feig, where she produced film and television projects including The Golden Globe®-nominated “Spy” and such cultural and critical hits as “A Simple Favor” and “Someone Great.”

She also executive produced the female-led reboot of “Ghostbusters.” Among her upcoming projects include the rom-com anthology series “Love Life,” which will star Anna Kendrick and premiere on HBO Max.

Before her tenure at Feigco, Henderson held positions at Universal Pictures and Chernin Entertainment, where she co-produced “The Heat,” which was 2013’s highest domestic grossing comedy. Earlier in her career, the Emerson College alum worked on such series as “Chappelle’s Show.”

Patrick Kelly, EVP, business affairs

Pat Kelly

Kelly serves as EVP of Business Affairs, overseeing the day-to-day deal making for HBO Max’s forthcoming slate of Originals.

Reporting to Sandra Dewey, Kelly also continues to play a key role at TBS, TNT and truTV expanding their original programming slate, and works closely with Dewey to formulate business strategy for the networks. Kelly joined Turner in 2002 handling all business affairs for Turner’s entertainment networks, working on such hits as “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” “The Last O.G.,” “Miracle Workers,” “The Alienist” and “Claws.”

Prior to joining Turner in 2002, Kelly was vice president, business affairs, at Columbia TriStar Television (now Sony Pictures Television).

Jeniffer Kim, SVP, international originals

Jeniffer Kim

Kim will lead International content development for HBO Max, working in tandem with the U.S. originals team, and will be responsible for finding co-production opportunities in the non-U.S. markets. She will also continue to work on U.S. comedy originals, focusing on comedy standup specials.

Prior to joining HBO Max, Kim served as SVP of Original Programming for TBS, playing an integral role on the rebrand of the network and earning a reputation as a trailblazer, working on such culturally resonant series as “Search Party,” “Angie Tribeca,” “American Dad” and the Emmy®-winning “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” among many others.
Kim began her career in 2002 as a comedy coordinator at Touchstone Television (now ABC Studios), supporting the comedy team from pilot-to-production of new series.

Suzanna Makkos, EVP, original comedy and animation

Suzanna Makkos

Makkos leads creative development for comedy and animation, with shows ranging from anthology rom-com series and millennial satire to stand-up comedy specials and new takes on legacy animated properties.

Makkos joins HBO Max from Fox Broadcasting, where she was EVP of Comedy Programming & Development, creating such series as the Golden Globe-winning “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Bob’s Burgers,” “New Girl,” “The Last Man on Earth,” and “The Mindy Project.”

Makkos began her career in development and current programming at Walt Disney Television/Touchstone Television and Regency Television. She serves on the board of Girls Inc. Los Angeles.

Jennifer O’Connell, EVP, original non-fiction and kids

Jennifer O’Connell

O’Connell leads original non-fiction and kids programming, developing a unique slate that encompasses live action, animation, scripted and unscripted fare. Expect a broad range from compelling docuseries to children’s-focused projects that leverage WarnerMedia’s portfolio of nostalgic brands.

Before HBO Max, the Lionsgate alum oversaw the development and production of the studio’s unscripted slate across all platforms as EVP and Head of Worldwide Alternative Programming, including TNT’s forthcoming revolutionary “Chasing the Cure” anchored by Ann Curry.

O’Connell has also held positions at NBCU, Core Media Group, Shed Media U.S., Disney Channel and the Family Channel, guiding and developing such projects as the Emmy Award®-winning “The Matthew Shepherd Story,” “The Biggest Loser,” “Who Do You Think You Are,” “The Real Housewives of New York City,” Kevin Hart’s “What the Fit,” and “Selling Sunset.”

O’Connell was recently a mentor for The Hollywood Reporter and Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Women in Entertainment Mentorship program. She is on the Emerson College Alumni Board and has launched an advisory program that links alumni with students studying in Los Angeles.

Michael Quigley, EVP, content acquisitions and strategy

Michael Quigley

Quigley heads up content acquisitions and strategy and content strategy for HBO Max, an expansion of his role that also includes TBS, TNT and truTV. His focus is on curating and catering programming to a wide range of different audience segments.

He is responsible for buying and licensing the most prized film and television titles from within WarnerMedia’s expansive library, as well as from third-party partners as he builds a profound content offering for HBO Max, as well as TNT, TBS and truTV. Quigley also oversees film acquisitions for HBO. Additionally, he is responsible for programming for TBS, TNT and truTV, and closely collaborates on programming for HBO Max.

In his prior role at WarnerMedia, the seasoned media executive served as EVP of Commercial Operations, Content Strategy and Monetization at Turner and, before that, as SVP of Content Distribution.

Post Subscriber Hiccup, Netflix Piles Praise … on HBO

After disappointing Q2 subscriber growth numbers, Netflix senior management on the fiscal webcast took the high road deflecting the subscription streaming service’s first domestic quarterly decline (since 2011) while adding only half of projected international subs.

CEO Reed Hastings said it might be easy to “over-interpret” the lack of sub growth but that under similar circumstances three years ago  management also could not be confident of any specific reason for the slowdown.

“Then, we were $2 billion in quarterly revenue,” Hasting said. “Now, we’re $5 billion. We’re just executing forward and trying to do the best forecast we can.”

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When Netflix launched streaming video 12 years ago, there were three competitors (Hulu, Amazon and YouTube). Now, media giants NBC Universal, Disney, Apple and WarnerMedia are launching high-profile competitors – and taking their Netflix-licensed content with them.

Regardless, Hastings said Netflix remains in excellent position as the No.1 SVOD service in the world with more than 151 million subs.

“If investors believe in Internet television … then our position in that market is very strong,” he said.

Chief content officer Ted Sarandos said the service continues to focus on creating original content developed in local markets with global appeal.

He said recent releases “How to Sell Drugs Online” (Germany), “The Rain” season 2 from Denmark and “Quicksand” from Sweden, have generated upwards of 15 million combined viewers globally.

Netflix is expecting a similar reception to the second season of India’s “Sacred Games,” which launches this quarter.

“What’s been amazing is [that the shows have] been deeply relevant in the home country, traveled the region very well and found global audiences,” Sarandos said.

With WarnerMedia set to launch SVOD competitor “HBO Max” in early 2020, it was interesting to hear Netflix brass sing praise for the venerable premium pay-TV channel. Indeed, Hastings said most Netflix employees subscribe to HBO.

“We love the content they do and that spurs us on to want to be even better,” he said. “So, it’s a great competition that helps grow the industry.”

Sarandos congratulated HBO for re-taking the Primetime Emmy Award nominations title, which Netflix claimed from the network for the first time in 2018 after 17 years.

“They continue to be the gold standard that we chase, and we’re really thrilled for them,” Sarandos said.

HBO Reclaims Primetime Emmy Award Nominations Lead from Netflix

HBO July 16 received a record-breaking 137 Primetime Emmy nominations for the upcoming 71st Primetime Emmy Awards on Sept. 22. HBO’s previous record was set in 2015 with 126 nominations.

Netflix in 2018 broke HBO’s 17-year nomination crown with 112 noms compared to 108 noms for HBO.

As expected, “Game of Thrones” again led all shows with 32 nominations, the most of any program, while “Chernobyl” received 19 noms, “Barry” received 17 nominations and “Veep,” “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” and “True Detective” each received 9 noms.

HBO will soon spearhead WarnerMedia’s pending subscription streaming service, HBO Max.

“Game of Thrones” nominations include Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Kit Harington), Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Emilia Clarke), four for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Gwendoline Christie, Lena Headey, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams), three for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Alfie Allen, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage), Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series (Carice van Houten), three for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series (David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, David Nutter, Miguel Sapochnik) and Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series (David Benioff & D.B. Weiss).

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“Chernobyl” includes Outstanding Limited Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie (Jared Harris), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie (Emily Watson), Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie (Stellan Skarsgård), Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series or Movie (Johan Renck), and Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special (Craig Mazin)

“Barry” includes Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Bill Hader), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (Sarah Goldberg), 3 for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Anthony Carrigan, Stephen Root, Henry Winkler), 2 for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series (Alec Berg, Bill Hader) and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series (Alec Berg and Bill Hader).

“Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” includes Outstanding Variety Talk Series, Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series (Paul Pennolino), Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series and Outstanding Interactive Program.

“True Detective” includes Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie (Mahershala Ali).

“Veep” includes Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Tony Hale), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (Anna Chlumsky), Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series (Peter MacNicol) and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series (David Mandel)

Deadwood: The Movie is up for Outstanding Television Movie.

Sharp Objects noms include Outstanding Limited Series, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie (Amy Adams) and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie (Patricia Clarkson).

Leaving Neverland includes Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special and Outstanding Directing for a Documentary/Nonfiction Program (Dan Reed).

“Succession” includes Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series (Adam McKay) and Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series (Jesse Armstrong).

Other HBO nominees include “Ballers,” “Brexit,” “The Case Against Adnan Syed,” “Flight of the Conchords: Live In London,” “Game of Thrones: The Last Watch,” “Insecure,” “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley,” “Jane Fonda in Five Acts,” “The Many Lives of Nick Buoniconti,” “My Dinner with Hervé,” “The Sentence,” “Song of Parkland” and “When You Wish Upon a Pickle: A Sesame Street Special.”

In addition, the Cinemax series “Warrior” received a nomination for Outstanding Main Title Design.

WarnerMedia Names New Streaming Service ‘HBO Max’

WarnerMedia July 9 unveiled HBO Max as the name of its new subscription streaming service launching in 2020.

The service will be anchored by HBO and will be “Maximized” with an extensive collection of exclusive original programming (Max Originals) and the best-of-the-best from WarnerMedia’s portfolio of brands and content libraries.

New deals with Warner Bros. Television and others for HBO Max announced include exclusive streaming rights at launch to all 236 episodes of “Friends” — one of the biggest hits on television and in streaming (currently on Netflix).

The exclusive streaming rights at launch to all episodes of “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” and “Pretty Little Liars.”

The exclusive streaming home to a string of new Warner Bros.’ produced dramas for The CW beginning with the fall 2019 season, including new DC Entertainment series “Batwoman” and “Katy Keene” (a spinoff of “Riverdale”).

New exclusive movie production deals with Greg Berlanti and Reese Witherspoon.

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Berlanti will produce an initial four movies focused in the young adult space, while Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine will produce at least two films.

HBO Max, scheduled to launch commercially in spring of 2020, is anticipated to premiere with 10,000 hours of premium content.

“HBO Max will bring together the diverse riches of WarnerMedia to create programming and user experiences not seen before in a streaming platform. HBO’s world-class programming leads the way, the quality of which will be the guiding principle for our new array of Max Originals, our exciting acquisitions, and the very best of the Warner Bros. libraries, starting with the phenomenon that is ‘Friends,’” Robert Greenblatt, chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-To-Consumer, said in a statement.

“Under the leadership of two of the strongest creative visionaries — Casey Bloys (HBO) and Kevin Reilly (original content and acquisitions) — and two of the most experienced digital experts — Tony Goncalves and Andy Forssell — I have no doubt they and their dedicated teams will deliver the world’s best storytelling to audiences of all ages wherever and whenever they want it.”

Max Original series previously announced include:

  • “Dune: The Sisterhood,” an adaptation of Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson’s book based in the world created by Frank Herbert’s book Dune, from director Denis Villeneuve.
  • “Tokyo Vice,” based on Jake Adelstein’s non-fiction first-hand account of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police beat starring Ansel Elgort.
  • “The Flight Attendant,” a one-hour thriller series based on the novel by Chris Bohjalian, which will star Kaley Cuoco, who is also executive producing alongside Berlanti.
  • “Love Life,” a 10-episode half-hour romantic comedy anthology series starring “Pitch Perfect” star Anna Kendrick, who will also executive produce alongside Paul Feig.
  • “Station Eleven,” a post-apocalyptic limited series based on Emily St. John Mandel’s international bestseller, adapted by Patrick Somerville and directed by Hiro Murai.
  • “Made for Love,” a 10-episode, half-hour, straight-to-series adaptation based on the tragicomic novel of the same name by Alissa Nutting, also from Somerville and directed by S.J. Clarkson.
  • “Gremlins,” an animated series from Warner Bros. Animation and Amblin Entertainment based on the original movie.

Highlights of HBO programming previously announced for 2020 and 2021 include:

  • Stephen King’s “The Outsider,” a dark mystery starring Ben Mendelsohn, produced and directed by Jason Bateman.
  • “Lovecraft Country,” a unique horror series based on a novel by Matt Ruff, written and executive produced by Misha Green, and executive produced by Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams.
  • “The Nevers,” Joss Whedon’s new science fiction series starring Laura Donnelly.
  • “The Gilded Age,” the opulent world of 1885 New York from “Downton Abbey’s” Julian Fellowes.
  • “Avenue 5,” high satire aboard a space-bound cruise ship from Armando Iannucci (“Veep”), starring Hugh Laurie and Josh Gad.
  • “The Undoing,” a psychological thriller from David E. Kelley, directed by Susanne Bier starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant.
  • “The Plot Against America,” reimagined history based on Phillip Roth’s novel written and executive produced by David Simon and Ed Burns, starring Winona Ryder and John Turturro.
  • “Perry Mason,” the classic legal drama for a new generation, executive produced by Robert Downey Jr. and Susan Downey, with Matthew Rhys in the title role.
  • “I Know This Much Is True,” a complex family drama starring Mark Ruffalo playing twin brothers, one of whom has schizophrenia, based on the best-selling novel by Wally Lamb, written and directed by Derek Cianfrance.

Casey Bloys, programming president of HBO, continues to oversee content on the HBO service, with investment in HBO original programming having been increased 50% over normal spending.

Kevin Reilly, president of the Warner Media Entertainment Networks that include TNT, TBS, and truTV, also serves as chief content officer of HBO Max overseeing all new Max Originals and library content.

Tony Goncalves, CEO of Otter Media, now oversees the development of HBO Max with Andy Forssell, also from Otter Media and formerly CEO of Hulu, as the general manager.

Some of Hollywood’s most successful creators and producers are looking forward to the new service, including the following who are either producing for HBO and/or an upcoming HBO Max Original:

“WarnerMedia has three things going for it with this new streaming service. One, they have an incredible history and legacy of storytelling. Two, they’re super future-focused and trying to be the best. And three, they’re letting people like me embarrass myself episode after episode until I find love. I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this family,” Anna Kendrick said.

“Back in 1991, after a decade in television, I began writing a series of novels that I knew would never be filmed,” said George R.R. Martin, creator of “Game of Thrones.”

Martin said his show was too big, too complex, too dark, too sexy, with a cast of thousands, gigantic battle and massive castles for a feature film and too expensive for television.

“I should have remembered, ‘It’s not television, it’s HBO,’” Martin said. “Working with HBO during the past decade has been a dream come true. What they did could not be done, but they did it anyway. And now they are embarked on a new venture.”

The author hinted he hopes the platform will help him return to “my world of Westeros.”

Season 2 of ‘Big Little Lies’ Among HBO’s July 2019 Digital Release Slate

Big Little Lies: Season 2 and Gentleman Jack are among the titles on HBO’s home entertainment slate for digital release in July.

Available July 8 for digital download is Gentleman Jack. Set in 1832 Halifax, West Yorkshire, Gentleman Jack focuses on landowner Anne Lister, who is determined to transform the fate of her faded ancestral home, Shibden Hall, by reopening the coal mines and marrying well. The charismatic, single-minded, swashbuckling Lister — who dresses head-to-toe in black and charms her way into high society — has no intention of marrying a man. The story examines Lister’s relationships with her family, servants, tenants and industrial rivals and, most importantly, would-be wife. Based in historical fact, the real-life Anne Lister’s story was recorded in the 4 million words of her diaries, and the most intimate details of her life, once hidden in a secret code, have been decoded and revealed for the series.

Due for digital download July 22 is Big Little Lies: Season 2, which follows the exploits of a collection of mothers in the tranquil seaside town of Monterey, Calif. Everything seems the same. The mothers continue to dote, the husbands support, the children remain adorable and the houses are just as beautiful. But the night of the school fundraiser changed all that, leaving the community reeling as the “Monterey Five” — Madeline, Celeste, Jane, Renata and Bonnie — bond together to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. The new season explores the malignancy of lies, the durability of friendships, the fragility of marriage and, of course, the vicious ferocity of sound parenting. The digital release also includes the behind-the-scenes bonus feature “The Lies Revealed: A Conversation With the Cast of ‘Big Little Lies,’” featuring cast members Meryl Streep, Shailene Woodley, Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Zoe Kravitz and Laura Dern.

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Coming via digital download July 29 is Ramy Youssef: Feelings. In his first HBO stand-up comedy special, Youssef shares candid anecdotes about his life as an Egyptian-American comedian, writer, actor and director. He shares his thoughts on a number of subjects, including the best day of the week to pray, his father’s immigration story and connection to Donald Trump, his complicated love for Lebron James, whether dogs are really man’s best friend, and how sometimes he wishes he had never had sex. The exclusive presentation was taped in front of a live audience at the landmark Chicago Cultural Center

Available now for digital download are Deadwood: The Movie, Warrior and Master of the White Crane Fist.

Continuing the story begun in David Milch’s Emmy-winning HBO series, Deadwood: The Movie follows the characters of the series, who are reunited after 10 years to celebrate South Dakota’s statehood. Former rivalries are reignited, alliances are tested and old wounds are reopened, as all are left to navigate the inevitable changes that modernity and time have wrought. The release includes the bonus featurette “Deadwood: The Unspoken Subject.”

Based on the writings of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, Warrior is a crime drama set during the brutal Tong Wars of San Francisco’s Chinatown in the second half of the 19th century. The series follows Ah Sahm, a martial arts prodigy who emigrates from China to San Francisco under mysterious circumstances. After proving his worth as a fighter, Ah Sahm becomes a hatchet man for the Hope Wei, one of Chinatown’s most powerful tongs (Chinese organized crime family). Over the course of the season, Ah Sahm crosses boundaries inside and outside Chinatown.

Directed by Guo Jian-yong, who also directed the first two instalments, Master of the White Crane Fist is set in ancient China during the late Qing dynasty and tells the story of four constables escorting a criminal crossing paths with a theater troupe and a mysterious priest, setting off a series of events that will lead to the murder of a constable. Amongst them is the legendary Master of the White Crane Fist, who will unravel the consequences of greed, revenge, betrayal and opium smuggling.

Available on demand July 23 is the two-part documentary Leaving Neverland, which explores the separate but parallel experiences of two young boys, James “Jimmy” Safechuck, at age 10, and Wade Robson, at age 7, both of whom were befriended by Michael Jackson. They and their families were invited into his wondrous world, entranced by the singer’s fairy-tale existence as his career reached its peak. Through gut-wrenching interviews with Safechuck, now 37, and Robson, now 41, as well as their mothers, wives and siblings, the documentary crafts a portrait of sustained abuse, exploring the complicated feelings that led both men to confront their experiences after both had a young son of their own.

As previously reported, a remastered version of the space program miniseries From the Earth to the Moon will be released digitally July 15 and on Blu-ray July 16, details of which are available here.

‘Stranger Things’ Tops All TV Shows on Parrot Analytics’ Demand Charts

With days to go before the July 4 premiere of its third season, Netflix’s “Stranger Things” not only topped Parrot Analytics’ digital originals rankings the week ended June 29, but also the data firm’s overall list of TV series from any platform, including broadcast and cable.

A “digital original” is a multi-episode series in which the most recent season was first made available on a streaming platform such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Hulu.

“Stranger Things” grabbed 94 million average daily Demand Expressions, the proprietary metric used by Parrot Analytics to measure global demand for TV content. That was up 11.9% in expressions compared with the previous week, when it returned to the top spot following the release of its final season-three trailer.

It also passed “Game of Thrones” to take over the top spot among all TV shows. The HBO fantasy series had been the top overall series all year, but has been declining since its final episode aired in mid-May. It was the No. 2 overall show for the week with 91.6 million expressions.

Netflix’s “Black Mirror” remained in the No. 2 spot on the digital originals chart with 38 million expressions, down 23% from a week earlier.

Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” jumped up a spot to No. 3, though its demand expressions dropped 8% to 37.9 million.

Netflix’s “When They See Us,” the controversial miniseries about the Central Park Five that was created, co-written, and directed by Ava DuVernay, slipped to No. 4, its Demand Expressions dropping 16.6% to 34.9 million.

Rounding out the top five on the digital originals chart was Netflix’s “Lucifer,” maintaining the No. 5 spot from the previous week. The series, based on a character from the DC Comics comic-book series “The Sandman,” dropped 13.9% in expressions to 34.2 million.

Netflix’s German-language series “Dark” moved  into the top 10 at No. 10, with 24.4 million expressions following the June 21 premiere of its second season. That’s a 64.7% increase over the previous week, when it was No. 23.

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The Demand Expressions metric draws from a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

Media Play News has teamed with Parrot Analytics to provide readers with a weekly top 10 of the most popular digital original TV series in the United States, based on the firm’s  proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

Spain Lawmakers Seeking 8% Tax on Foreign OTT Video Services

Lawmakers in Spain are looking to impose an 8% tax on over-the-top video services operating in the country, including Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, Sky Now and DAZN.

The so-called RTVE (Radio Television Espanola) tax is aimed at funding Spain’s ad-free public broadcaster, which has been undermined in recent years by plummeting advertising sales among commercial broadcasters, who contribute about 1.5% of their revenue to RTVE’s budget.

The proposed tax is incorporated in the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, which aims to level the playing among broadcasters such as Atresmedia and Mediaset, pay-TV operators/telecoms (Movistar, Telefónica España, Orange and Vodafone) and now OTT video.

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The updated law would impose a 5% tariff on in-state SVOD revenue earmarked toward domestic film production, and another 3% directed toward RTVE.

According to Spanish media site El Español, the tax would apply to revenue generated by an OTT service’s Spanish subscribers. As a result, HBO would be charged a percentage of the revenue generated by its 475,000 Spanish subs, instead of the company’s reported revenue based on the location of its tax-incentivized fiscal headquarters.

The tax  could become law by the end of the year.

Separately, local and national governments worldwide continue to search for ways to tap into the lucrative OTT landscape — with varying degrees of success.

Georgia lawmakers in February backed away from imposing a 4% tax on subscription streaming video services. The tax is still on the table for music services, video games and e-books.

“People didn’t like what has become known as the Netflix tax, so we took that off,” Rep. Bill Werkheiser told the media. “The effort initially was to help fund broadband. It won’t do that without the Netflix or streaming services tax.”