Netflix, HBO Dominate Primetime Emmy Noms, With Disney’s Original Streaming Series ‘The Mandalorian’ Grabbing 15 Noms

It’s the Netflix/HBO Primetime Emmy Awards slugfest with the two media giants generating 267 combined nominations, including Netflix’s record 160 nominations for the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards, which were announced July 28 in Los Angeles. HBO held the previous record for nominations with 137 in 2019.

HBO’s “Watchman” generated the most nominations with 26, with Amazon Prime Video’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” was next with 20. Netflix’s “Ozark” and HBO’s “Succession” trailed with 18 nominations each. Notably, upstart Disney+ scored 15 nominations for Jon Favreau’s breakaway original hit “The Mandalorian.”

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Other standouts included Netflix’s “The Crown” and “Hollywood,” with 13 and 12 nominations, respectively. Others include: Unbelievable,” and “Unorthodox,” and comedies “Dead to Me” and “The Kominsky Method,” as well as its competition series “Nailed It.” NBC (47) and ABC (36) led all broadcasters with 83 combined nominations.

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WarnerMedia Entertainment received 112 total nominations, which included TBS (4) and truTV (1). In addition to “Watchman” and “Succession,” the former Time Warner company generated 11 nominations for “Westworld,” 9 nominations for “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” eight noms for “Insecure,” six for “Euphoria,” five for “Big Little Lies.” “McMillion$” generated five, followed by “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” with four; “A Black Lady Sketch Show (3); “Bad Education,” one nomination for “I Know This Much is True,” one for “The Outsider,” one for “The Plot Against America”; “Catherine the Great,”  “Silicon Valley (1); “Ballers” (1); “We’re Here” (1); “The Apollo,” (1); “We Are The Dream: The Kids of the Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest (1) and one for “Moonlight Sonata: Deafness in Three Movements.”

Jimmy Kimmel is scheduled to host the live show on Sept. 20 from Los Angeles.

CEO Stankey: ‘Still Have Work to Do’ Building HBO Max Subscriptions

One month after launching on May 27, WarnerMedia’s subscription streaming video platform, HBO Max, had 4.1 million subscribers who’d activated their Max app. By comparison, Disney+ had 10 million app activations after one day.

Disney’s foray into SVOD was greatly assisted by a strong brand and promotional campaign with Verizon, the latter affording the telecom’s 115 million wireless subs free 12-month access to Disney+. HBO Max has no similar jumpstarter.

While AT&T CEO John Stankey makes the usual upbeat comments (“It’s the early days”) and claims the average number of weekly hours spent viewing Max is 70% more than on HBO Now, which launched in 2015, the underlying message remains: Convincing consumers and existing HBO subs to join Max is a work in progress.

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“We still have work to do to educate and motivate the exclusively linear [HBO] subscriber base [about Max], and we’ll continue to work with our wholesale partners to drive these activation rates,” Stankey said.

AT&T ended the fiscal second quarter with 36.3 million combined HBO and HBO Max subscribers compared with 34.6 million at the end of 2019.

The CEO said there’s been “positive pull-through” combining Max with AT&T wireless and fiber plans, and expects that ongoing 5G handset upgrades will be one of the key drivers growing wireless service revenue in the second half of the year.

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Yet, while AT&T has worked overtime making Max available to consumers through nearly every content distributor in the U.S., it has failed to get assistance from Roku and Amazon Fire TV — which represent about 70% of all standalone streaming media devices in the U.S., according to Parks Associates.

Indeed, rival SVOD services Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu all have distribution on Roku and Fire TV. Negotiations between WarnerMedia, Roku and Amazon have reportedly stalled over control of user data, among other issues.

“We’ve tried repeatedly to make Max available to all customers using Amazon Fire devices, including those customers that have purchased HBO Now via Amazon [Channels],” Stankey said. “Unfortunately, Amazon has taken an approach of treating Max and its customers differently on how they’ve chosen to treat other [SVOD] services.”

WarnerMedia: HBO and HBO Max Subs Top 36.3 Million

Following the May 27 launch of HBO Max, observers have been on high alert for any subscriber data from the upstart subscription video-on-demand platform. They’ll have to keep waiting for now.

WarnerMedia July 23 disclosed it had 36.3 million combined U.S. subscribers to HBO Max and HBO, up from 34.6 million on Dec. 31, 2019. It isn’t clear whether the 1.7 million sub increase is related to Max exclusively or a combination of HBO, HBO Now and HBO Max. In the quarter, WarnerMedia announced it would shutter HBO Go, which enabled HBO pay-TV subs on-demand access to programming.

WarnerMedia is the company formed by AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner, including Warner Bros., HBO and Turner.

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Regardless, the coronavirus pandemic continues to negatively impact entertainment companies not named Netflix. WarnerMedia reported second-quarter operating income of $1.9 billion, which was down 18.4% from operating income of $2.32 billion during the previous-year period. Revenue plummeted 23% to $6.8 billion from $8.83 billion last year.

Warner revenue for the quarter dipped 3.9% to $3.3 billion from revenue of $3.43 billion in the previous-year period. The decline was driven by the absence of theatrical releases, lower video game and other revenue, partially offset by higher television revenue, including internal sales to HBO Max — WarnerMedia’s new subscription streaming video-on-demand platform.

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Studio operating expenses totaled $2.6 billion, down 11.1% from $2.92 billion last year. The decline was primarily due to the production hiatus and lower marketing expenses partially offset by higher film and production costs associated with HBO Max sales.

HBO revenue dropped 5.2% to $1.6 billion from $1.68 billion, driven by lower subscription revenue due to domestic linear subscriber declines, partially offset by growth in digital and international, including HBO Latin America following WarnerMedia’s May acquisition of the remaining interest in this entity.

Content and other revenue also decreased as a result of lower content licensing. HBO operating expenses totaled $1.5 billion, up 32.5% versus the second quarter of 2019, driven by increased programming expenses related HBO Max.

Turner revenue for the second quarter dropped 12.4% to $3 billion from $3.42 billion, driven by lower advertising revenue primarily from the postponement of the NBA season. Subscription revenue declines were also down due to lower regional sports network revenues and unfavorable foreign exchange rates.

Operating expenses totaled $1.4 billion, down 37.2% from $2.23 billion last year, driven by the timing of sports costs associated primarily with the delayed NBA season.

HBO’s ‘Bad Education’ on DVD Sept. 8

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the HBO original movie Bad Education on DVD Sept. 8. A Blu-ray will be available through the Warner Archive Collection. The movie is already available for digital sellthrough.

The darkly comical film is inspired by the true story of a multi-million dollar embezzlement scheme that rocked the public education system in Roslyn, New York. Hugh Jackman stars as superintendent Frank Tassone and Allison Janney plays assistant superintendent Pam Gluckin, who reign over a popular Long Island school district on the verge of the nation’s top spot, spurring record college admissions and soaring property values. Between them, they racked up over $11.2 million dollars in extravagant personal expenses.

The cast also includes Geraldine Viswanathan, Alex Wolff, Rafael Casal, Annaleigh Ashford and Ray Romano.

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Extras include the featurettes “Based on a True Story,” a detailed breakdown of the true story that inspired Bad Education; “The Perception of Perfection,” in which Jackman discusses playing the superintendent; “Hugh Jackman & Allison Janney: Virtual Conversation,” in which the stars discuss their performances and provide insight into the real-life characters they portrayed.

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Netflix, HBO, Hulu Dominate 2020 TCA Award Nominations

Netflix and HBO, and notably Hulu, dominated the Television Critics Association (TCA) nominations for the organization’s 36th annual TCA Awards celebrating the best series, creators and actors of the 2019-20 season on broadcast, cable and streaming outlets.

The TCA presents awards in several different categories honoring outstanding achievements in news and information, youth, reality, drama, comedy, miniseries, and sketch/variety shows. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there will not be a formal in-person awards presentation. Winners will be announced later this summer.

HBO leads the pack for the second consecutive year, scoring 16 nominations. Netflix follows with 10 nominations, while FX/FX on Hulu earned seven noms. Hulu and PBS/PBS Kids are tied for fourth with six nominations, and NBC has five. Rounding out the rest are AMC and Pop TV with three nominations each; CBS/CBS All Access and Disney+ with two; and ABC, AppleTV+, Bravo TV, Comedy Central, ESPN, MSNBC and TBS, which each have one.

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This year’s nominees reflect the expansiveness of the TV landscape, fueled by first-year series such as “Watchmen,” “Ramy” and “A Black Lady Sketch Show,” as well as stars and creators such as Issa Rae, Regina King, and Ramy Youssef, among others. This was also a strong year for newly launched streaming services Disney+ and AppleTV+, whose original offerings “The Mandalorian,” “Encore!” and “The Morning Show,” respectively, earned the platforms their first nominations in their inaugural seasons.

The 2020 TCA Awards are headlined by the Program of the Year category, presenting an intriguing matchup that pits three newcomers against three established favorites. The contenders include: HBO’s “Watchmen,” Netflix’s “Unbelievable,” and FX on Hulu’s second wave feminism docudrama “Mrs. America.” Also in contention is HBO’s comic media dynasty drama “Succession,” AMC’s “Breaking Bad” spinoff “Better Call Saul,” and Pop TV’s sitcom “Schitt’s Creek.”

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“Watchmen” and “Unbelievable” lead all programs with four nominations apiece and find themselves in direct competition in three out of four categories. “Watchmen” seeks to secure wins for Outstanding New Program, as well as for series star Regina King who will face off against “Unbelievable” standouts Kaitlyn Dever and Merrit Wever in the Individual Achievement In Drama category. The two series will meet again as they vie for accolades in Outstanding Achievement In a Movie Or Miniseries and the prestigious Program of the Year award.

“This was an incredible year for television, offering a variety of groundbreaking new series with fresh perspectives and renewed vigor for some veteran favorites,” Sarah Rodman, TCA president, said in a statement. “Although we sadly will not have the opportunity to gather to honor these creative achievements in person, we look forward to sharing our selections for the season’s top programs when the winners are unveiled later this summer.”

Individual Achievement in Drama
Cate Blanchett, “Mrs. America” – FX on Hulu
Kaitlyn Dever, “Unbelievable” – Netflix
Regina King, “Watchmen” – HBO
Mark Ruffalo, “I Know This Much Is True” – HBO
Rhea Seehorn, “Better Call Saul” – AMC
Jeremy Strong, “Succession” – HBO
Merrit Wever, “Unbelievable” – Netflix

Individual Achievement in comedy
Pamela Adlon, “Better Things” – FX
Christina Applegate, “Dead to Me” – Netflix
Elle Fanning, “The Great” – Hulu
Catherine O’Hara, “Schitt’s Creek” – Pop TV
Issa Rae, “Insecure” – HBO
Ramy Youssef, “Ramy” – Hulu

Outstanding Achievement in News and Information
“60 Minutes” – CBS (2012 Winner in Category)
“Frontline” – PBS (Eight-time Winner in Category)
“Hillary” – Hulu
“The Last Dance” – ESPN
“McMillions” – HBO
“The Rachel Maddow Show” – MSNBC

Outstanding Achievement in Reality
“Cheer” – Netflix
“Encore!” – Disney+
“Holey Moley” – ABC
“Making It” – NBC
“Top Chef All-Stars L.A.” – Bravo
“We’re Here!” – HBO

Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming
“Carmen Sandiego” – Netflix
“Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” – PBS Kids (2016 Winner in Category)
“Molly of Denali” – PBS Kids
“Odd Squad” – PBS Kids
“Wild Kratts” – PBS Kids
“Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum” – PBS Kids

Outstanding Achievement in Sketch/Variety
“A Black Lady Sketch Show” – HBO
“The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” – Comedy Central
“Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” –TBS
“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” – HBO (2019 and 2018 Winner in Category)
“Late Night with Seth Meyers” – NBC
“Saturday Night Live” – NBC

Outstanding Achievement in Movie and Miniseries
“Little Fires Everywhere” – Hulu
“Mrs. America” – FX on Hulu
“Normal People” – Hulu
“The Plot Against America” – HBO
“Unbelievable” – Netflix
“Watchmen” – HBO

Outstanding New Program
“The Great” – Hulu
“The Mandalorian” – Disney+
“The Morning Show” – AppleTV+
“Never Have I Ever” – Netflix
“Watchmen” – HBO
“Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” – NBC

Outstanding Achievement in Drama
“Better Call Saul” – AMC (2019 Winner in Category)
“The Crown” – Netflix
“Euphoria” – HBO
“The Good Fight” – CBS All Access
“Pose” – FX
“Succession” – HBO

Outstanding Achievement in Comedy
“Better Things” – FX
“Dead to Me” – Netflix
“The Good Place” – NBC (2018 Winner in Category)
“Insecure” – HBO
“Schitt’s Creek” – Pop TV
“What We Do in the Shadows” – FX

Program of the Year
“Better Call Saul” – AMC
“Mrs. America” – FX on Hulu
“Schitt’s Creek” – Pop TV
“Succession” – HBO
“Unbelievable” – Netflix
“Watchmen” – HBO

‘Game of Thrones’ Complete Series on 4K Disc Due Nov. 3

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Game of Thrones: The Complete Collection on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc Nov. 3. The set, listed at $254.99, will include all 73 episodes of the HBO series in UHD for the first time to own on disc, plus more than 15 hours of bonus content, and a digital copy of the episodes.

The extras include material previously released in the “Game of Thrones” complete season sets and the 2019 complete series on standard Blu-ray, included a two-part reunion special hosted by Conan O’Brien; the documentary Game of Thrones: The Last Watch chronicling the making of the final season; Conquest & Rebellion: An Animated History of Seven Kingdoms; and audio commentaries, deleted and extended Scenes, behind-the-scenes featurettes and more.

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Best Buy’s 4K ‘Game of Thrones’ Steelbook set

The 4K Ultra HD discs of Game of Thrones: The Complete Collection will feature Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos soundtracks.

All eight seasons of the show are available for purchase in standard HD from digital retailers.

A 4K “Game of Thrones” complete-series set will also be available in an exclusive limited-edition version at Best Buy at $285.43 with all eight seasons featured in individual Steelbooks and housed in an individually numbered metal case.

Best Buy’s 4K ‘Game of Thrones’ Steelbook set covers

Season Three of HBO’s ‘Westworld’ on Disc Nov. 17

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Westworld: Season Three — The New World on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack Nov. 17 (order date Oct. 13).

The latest eight episodes of the HBO series pick up following last season’s massacre in the Westworld theme park, as hosts Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), Maeve (Thandie Newton), Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) have left the park and explore the real world to discover who they will become in the wake of their liberation. Returning cast members also include Ed Harris, Luke Hemsworth and Simon Quarterman. Joining the cast this season are Aaron Paul, Vincent Cassel, Lena Waithe, Scott Mescudi, Marshawn Lynch, John Gallagher Jr., Michael Ealy and Tommy Flanagan.

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The Blu-ray editions will include a digital copy of the episodes. The 4K Ultra HD discs of Westworld: Season Three will feature Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos soundtracks.

The discs will include more than two hours of bonus featurettes:

  • We Live in a Technocracy (exclusive to disc)
  • Rico (exclusive to disc)
  • A Vision for the Future (exclusive to disc)
  • Westworld on Location (home entertainment exclusive)
  • Escape from Westworld
  • Exploring War World
  • Creating Westworld’s Reality: Parce Domine
  • Creating Westworld’s Reality: The Absence of Field
  • Creating Westworld’s Reality: The Mother of Exiles
  • Creating Westworld’s Reality: Genre
  • Creating Westworld’s Reality: Decoherence
  • Creating Westworld’s Reality: Passed Pawn
  • Creating Westworld’s Reality: Crisis Theory
  • Welcome to Westworld: Evan Rachel Wood & Aaron Paul – Analysis
  • Welcome to Westworld: Evan Rachel Wood & Aaron Paul – Who Said It?
  • Welcome to Westworld: Thandie Newton & Tessa Thompson – Analysis
  • Welcome to Westworld: Thandie Newton & Tessa Thompson – Who Said It?

 

Amazon Rolls Out ‘Watch Party’ Platform Enabling Prime Video Members to Watch Content Socially Connected

Amazon Prime Video has joined Hulu, Netflix, HBO and other digital platforms in unveiling a social media campaign, dubbed “Watch Party,” that enables users in the United States to live-chat with other connected viewers during a movie or TV show.

Prime members will be able to choose from thousands of titles available on the platform’s SVOD catalog (titles available at no additional cost to Prime members), including Amazon Originals such as Emmy Award winners “Fleabag” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” “Hanna,” “Mindy Kaling’s Late Night,” “Donald Glover’s Guava Island,” “Troop Zero,” Academy Award-nominated The Big Sick, “The Boys,” “Homecoming” and “My Spy,” among many others.

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Titles feature a special “Watch Party” icon/link that can be shared with up to 100 other Prime members and accessed when clicking on the link. Co-viewing content has become popular as segments of the country remain sheltered-in-place during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Netflix Party” (on Google Chrome only) and HBO’s “virtual theater” enable multiple viewers to share access to a title or episodic program on portable devices. Amazon first tested the “Watch Party” concept this past spring on its Twitch video game streaming platform.

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Prime members will be able to host and participate in Watch Party, providing synchronized playback, which the host controls, and a chat feature to communicate with participants along with built in stickers. Watch Party will accommodate up to 100 participants per session (each participant must have a Prime membership or Prime Video subscription and must be based in the U.S.).

HBO’s ‘Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel’ Tackles Racial Injustice, COVID-19 in Sports

HBO’s longtime documentary series “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” examines how systemic racial injustice and the coronavirus pandemic have converged to create an unprecedented moment in sports. The new episode debuts June 23 on HBO and is also available to stream on HBO Go, HBO Now, and via HBO Max and other partners’ platforms.

The “Real Sports” segment includes “Black in Bellaire Revisit.” Robbie Tolan dreamed of following in the footsteps of his father, Bobby Tolan, a former big leaguer and World Series champion. But in the early morning of Dec. 31, 2008, those dreams were upended in a violent confrontation with police in his hometown of Bellaire, Texas. Wrongly suspected of being a car thief, Tolan was shot by a police officer in front of his own home, his parents looking on in horror. Eleven years later, Gumbel revisits the  case amid the backdrop of recent racial injustices.

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Separately, Gumbel, joined by athletes, coaches, broadcasters, activists and writers, including artist and activist Killer Mike, Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace, Hall of Fame baseball player Hank Aaron, Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, former NBA player and activist Stephen Jackson, NHL star P.K. Subban, WNBA star Candace Parker, tennis icon Billie Jean King, Pulitzer Prize winner Taylor Branch, New York Times best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell, and Ibram X. Kendi, author of How To Be An Antiracist, orchestrates a series of one-on-one interviews to create a dialogue around the two pressing issues and their impact on sports in America.

HBO Downsizes Apps, Increases Confusion

As expected, WarnerMedia is consolidating its HBO Go, HBO Now and HBO Max apps in an attempt to declutter the brand’s over-the-top video offerings to consumers. In the process, however, the corporate umbrella to Warner Bros., HBO and Turner has seemingly complicated matters.

With the high-profile HBO Max spearheading WarnerMedia’s OTT aspirations, the former Time Warner conglomerate June 12 announced it is phasing out HBO Go (on July 31), the OTT on-demand platform for HBO pay-TV subscribers. WarnerMedia will meld Go users into Max at no extra charge.

HBO Now, the 5-year-old standalone SVOD service ($14.99), will simply be called HBO. This, despite the fact Now subs who access the platform through HBONow.com, Google or Apple TV will be automatically switched to Max at no extra charge.

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And HBO Now subs who access via Roku, Amazon Prime Channels or third-party ISP must download the Max app and re-register. Go users who access HBO via Prime Channels are out of luck unless they download the Max app separately.

Max, which has generated upwards of 1.8 million app downloads, is also available via AT&T TV, Hulu, YouTube TV, Comcast, Charter/Spectrum, Altice (Optimum and SuddenLink), Verizon, Cox Communications and NCTC (WOW, Atlantic Broadband, RCN, Grande Communications & Wave and MCTV). Due to negotiation issues, Max is not available via Roku or Amazon Fire TV — while HBO Go is. But Max is available via the Android and iOS app, Samsung TV, Android TV, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Google Chromecast.