CEO: Apple TV+ Looking for Original Content, Not Re-Runs

Apple’s foray into subscription streaming video via Apple TV+ is all about original programming — not expensive re-runs. That’s according to CEO Tim Cook in response to a question during the Feb. 26 shareholder meeting about why the tech giant hasn’t gone after well-known catalog fare such as “Friends,” “The Big Bang Theory” or “The Office,” among others.

“We love ‘Friends.’ Who doesn’t love ‘Friends’? It’s not what Apple TV+ is about, it’s about original programming,” Cook said. “It doesn’t feel right for Apple to go out and take a rerun. It doesn’t feel like Apple.”

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AT&T’s WarnerMedia Entertainment reportedly paid $85 million per year for five years ($425 million) securing the exclusive streaming rights for “Friends” away from Netflix.

NBCUniversal paid more than $500 million for streaming rights to “The Office,” while Netflix paid about the same for “Seinfeld.”

Apple TV+ launched Nov. 1, 2019 with 24 original series, including Golden Globes winner “The Morning Show” for Jennifer Aniston. Other series include “Home Before Dark,” “Amazing Stories,” “Truth Be Told,” “Trying,” “See,” and “Dickenson,” starring Hailee Steinfeld (Bumblebee).

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“We’re going to be focused on original programming,” Cook said, adding that Apple TV+ is off to a “rousing start” without elaborating additional details, including subscriber numbers.

Apple giving away a free year of the service with any purchase of an Apple hardware product.

‘Friends’ Cast to Reunite for Special on HBO Max

The “Friends” cast will be reuniting exclusively for an untitled unscripted special for HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer offering debuting in May 2020.

The subscription streaming service will cost $14.99 a month.

Series stars Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer will return to the comedy’s original soundstage, Stage 24, on the Warner Bros. Studio lot in Burbank for a celebration of the show. The unscripted cast reunion special, along with all 236 episodes of the Emmy-winning series, will be available to subscribers at the launch of HBO Max.

“Guess you could call this the one where they all got back together — we are reuniting with David, Jennifer, Courteney, Matt, Lisa, and Matthew for an HBO Max special that will be programmed alongside the entire Friends library,” said Kevin Reilly, chief content officer, HBO Max and president, TBS, TNT, and truTV, in a statement. “I became aware of ‘Friends’ when it was in the very early stages of development and then had the opportunity to work on the series many years later and have delighted in seeing it catch on with viewers generation after generation. It taps into an era when friends — and audiences — gathered together in real time and we think this reunion special will capture that spirit, uniting original and new fans.”

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Ben Winston will direct the special and will executive produce along with “Friends” executive producers Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane. Aniston, Cox, Kudrow, LeBlanc, Perry, and Schwimmer will also executive produce the special.

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To get caught up on original “Friends” episodes, sister WarnerMedia network TBS recently announced that for the next four weeks every episode of “Friends” will air on TBS and livestream on the TBS app, weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Additionally, the network has curated an experience for fans offering the best of the series on their digital platforms.

Netflix Expands Adam Sandler Production Deal

Fresh off the release of Murder Mystery, Adam Sandler’s most popular Netflix film to date, the SVOD behemoth extended its deal with Sandler and Happy Madison Productions to make four more films.

Netflix said subscribers have spent two billion hours watching Sandler films since 2015 — the year The Ridiculous 6 premiered.

“Whether you know him as Sandman, the Water Boy, Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, Nick Spitz or simply Adam, one thing is clear: our members can’t get enough of him,” Ted Sarandos, chief content officer, said in a statement. “They love his stories and his humor, as we saw with Murder Mystery. So I could not be more excited to extend our partnership with Adam and the Happy Madison team and deliver more laughs around the world.”

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Sandler is currently starring in Josh and Benny Safdie’s critically acclaimed Uncut Gems, which is being released in U.S. theaters by A24. The film was released globally (excluding the U.S.) on Netflix on Jan. 31. Sandler was named Best Actor for his portrayal of Howard Ratner by the National Board of Review, Las Vegas Film Critics Society, Boston Society of Film Critics, Oklahoma Film Critics Circle, St. Louis Film Critics Association, Austin Film Critics Association, AARP Movies for Grown Ups and is nominated for an Independent Spirit Award.

Sandler was Emmy nominated for his Netflix original comedy special 100% Fresh and for his “Saturday Night Live” hosted episode this season. Murder Mystery, which co-stars Jennifer Aniston, won The People’s Choice Award for Best Comedy of 2019.

Later this year, Sandler will star in the Netflix family film, Hubie Halloween alongside Kevin James, Julie Bowen, Ray Liotta, Maya Rudolph, Rob Schneider, Kenan Thompson, Steve Buscemi, Michael Chiklis, Tim Meadows, Noah Schnapp, Paris Berelc, China Anne McClain and Shaquille O’Neal, and has animated feature film that he will write, produce, and star in as a voice actor in the works at the studio.

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The Ridiculous 6 was the first film Sandler made with Netflix, followed by The Do-Over, Sandy Wexler, The Week Of, Murder Mystery and stand-up special “100% Fresh.” Additionally, Happy Madison has produced Father of the Year and the upcoming The Wrong Missy.

Sandler, whose films have grossed more than $3 billion, dominated box offices around the world with such films as Grown Ups, You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, Billy Madison, Big Daddy and The Waterboy. In 2014, the multi-hyphenate actor, writer, producer and occasional singer-songwriter set his sights on conquering the streaming world and his films have found enormous success on Netflix.

Sandler began his career as a stand-up comedian and joined Saturday Night Live as a writer and featured player before founding Happy Madison Productions. He went on to star, produce and write numerous films which went on to become box office hits.

By the Numbers:

  • 2 Billion: Since 2015, the year The Ridiculous 6 premiered, members have spent more than two billion hours watching Adam Sandler on Netflix.
  • 83 Million: The number of households that picked Murder Mystery in its first four weeks on Netflix.
  • #1 Most Popular: Murder Mystery was the most popular title on Netflix in the U.S. last year, and its most popular film. It was also the number one most popular title in eight other countries including Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Singapore and UAE.
  • 6: The number of films Sandler has made with Netflix: The Ridiculous 6, The Do-Over, Sandy Wexler, The Week Of and Murder Mystery. Family film Hubie Halloween will be released later this year.
  • 22 Years: Last year, Sandler released his first stand-up special in 22 years, “100% Fresh,” which The New York Times said found “pitch-perfect emotionalism” and reminds everyone why he’s so beloved and one of the funniest comedians of our time.

 

A Casualty of Streaming Wars, ‘Friends’ Sees Spike in Disc, Digital Sales

“Friends” is giving the transactional side of the home entertainment business a very happy new year.

The landmark sitcom that helped birth the TV DVD category nearly two decades ago is once again a top DVD and Blu-ray Disc seller — and this time the sales boost is also being felt in digital sales, commonly known in the industry as “electronic sellthrough.”

The catalyst: the disappearance of “Friends” from its longtime exclusive on-demand home, the Netflix subscription streaming service. With streaming wars accelerating, AT&T, which owns the Warner Bros. studio that produced “Friends,” made plans for the show to come off Netflix once the license expired Dec. 31, 2019, and reappear on its own streaming service, HBO Max, which is launching in May 2020.

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In the meantime, “Friends” is only available for on-demand viewing on disc and for digital purchase or rental — and that’s led to a significant spike in sales.

Jeff Brown, EVP and GM of Television and Animation for Warner Bros.’ home entertainment division, said sales began to rise shortly after the announcement in July 2019 that “Friends” would be leaving Netflix at the end of the year.

Through the end of 2019, he said, sales of the season and complete series sets more than tripled. And since the official departure of “Friends” from Netflix on Jan. 1, Brown said, sales have spiked even higher, on both physical and digital formats.

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“Not bad for a 20-year-old TV show,” Brown said. “The discs really started selling well in the summer, when we announced the show was coming off Netflix and we launched a 25th anniversary promotion — but the digital really took off after the first of the year, once the show was off Netflix.”

The top seller is the complete series set, which Warner re-released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD in September. The package contains 10 seasons’ worth of shows, or a total of 236 episodes. On Amazon, the complete series set retails for $69.99 on DVD (40 discs), and $109.16 on Blu-ray Disc (21 discs).

Bundles of all 10 seasons also are available digitally through other retailers, like Apple iTunes and Walmart’s Vudu. They, too, are leading sales.

Individual season sets are also available for purchase on disc and through digital retailers, including Amazon Prime. DVD season sets sell for $13.19 on Amazon, with digital season sets going for $19.95. Consumers who want digital versions also can buy individual episodes at $1.99.

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During the five months in which “Friends” is absent from the streaming world, Brown said, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will mount a “robust” promotional campaign he hopes will drive sales even higher.

 

Netflix Unveils its Top 10 Programs in U.S.

Netflix via Twitter unveiled the top 10 most popular series, films and documentaries released on the service in the United States in 2019.

The feature comedy Murder Mystery, starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, topped the overall list. It was also the top movie.

The lists are based on titles released on Netflix in 2019 and are ranked based on accounts that choose to watch 2 minutes or more of a title during its first 28 days on the service this year. The service noted that titles released this month may incorporate viewing predictions.

The top 10 most popular releases:

  1. Murder Mystery
  2. “Stranger Things 3”
  3. 6 Underground
  4. The Incredibles 2
  5. The Irishman
  6. “The Witcher”
  7. Triple Frontier
  8. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile
  9. “The Umbrella Academy”
  10. The Highwayman

 

The top 10 most popular series releases:

  1. “Stranger Things 3”
  2. “The Witcher”
  3. “The Umbrella Academy”
  4. “Dead to Me”
  5. “You: S2”
  6. “When They See Us”
  7. “Unbelievable”
  8. “Sex Education”
  9. “13 Reasons Why: S3”
  10. “Raising Dion”

 

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The top 10 most popular movie releases:

  1. Murder Mystery
  2. 6 Underground
  3. The Incredibles 2
  4. The Irishman
  5. Triple Frontier
  6. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile
  7. The Highwayman
  8. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  9. Ralph Breaks the Internet
  10. Secret Obsession

 

The top 10 most popular documentary releases:

  1. Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes
  2. Our Planet
  3. Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
  4. Homecoming: A Film by Beyonce
  5. Don’t F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer
  6. Abducted in Plain Site
  7. The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann
  8. The Family
  9. Street Food
  10. Kevin Hart: Don’t F**k This Up

 

For more Netflix U.S. top 10s see the Twitter thread.

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Apple Makes Golden Globe History with ‘The Morning Show’ Nominations

Upstart Apple TV+ made history of sorts becoming the first SVOD service to receive Golden Globe nominations (“The Morning Show”) in its first year of service.

The service received a Best Television Series — Drama nomination in addition to dual nominations for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series — Drama for stars and executive producers Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. The series also stars Steve Carell.

The awards will be presented at the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 5, 2020.

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Apple TV+ ($4.99) launched Nov. 1, representing the tech giant’s foray into OTT distribution.

“The Morning Show” explores the cutthroat world of morning news and the lives of the people who help America wake up in the morning. Told through the lens of two complicated women working to navigate the minefield of high-octane jobs, while facing crises in both their personal and professional lives.

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The nominations are also the first drama TV actress nominations for both Aniston and Witherspoon. Aniston is now only the fourth person in history to receive Golden Globe nominations for both TV Comedy and Drama, Lead Actress.

“Thank you to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for today’s historic nominations,” Zack Van Amburg, Apple’s head of worldwide video, said in a statement. “[T]oday’s nominations are a true testament to the powerful storytelling that went into ‘The Morning Show,’ as well as all of our Apple Originals.”

Despite reported struggles gaining consumer traction (in comparison with Disney+), Apple said “The Morning Show” is resonating with audiences globally.

“We cannot wait to continue exploring the world of ‘The Morning Show’ into season two,” said Jamie Erlicht, Apple’s head of worldwide video.

“The Morning Show” streams exclusively on Apple TV+ on the Apple TV app, with new episodes premiering worldwide every Friday. The season finale premieres on Dec. 20.

‘The Mandalorian’ Gives Disney+ Early Streaming Edge Over Apple TV+ Programming

The streaming wars have begun and early returns suggest Disney’s $6.99 branded subscription streaming service, Disney+, scored the first programming hits in comparison to Apple TV+ ($4.99).

“The Mandalorian,” the Disney+ exclusive “Star Wars”-themed original series, generated nearly 20 million “demand expressions” on its first day of release (Nov. 12), according to Parrot Analytics. That was nearly five times the first-day “demand” for the high-profile Apple TV+ series “The Morning News,” with 4.3 million “expressions” on Oct. 30.

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“Morning News” features Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carell’s return to episodic TV. The series also stars Reese Witherspoon.

Parrot, which compiles its weekly proprietary “expressions” yardstick across social media posts, chatter and related metrics, disclosed the data to Business Insider.

The data does not necessarily reflect actual viewership numbers, including time spent streaming programming. Disney and Apple have not disclosed that information.

“Mandalorian” from producer Jon Favreau, bested Apple’s entire original programming slate, which includes “For All Mankind” (11.6 million expressions); “Dickinson” (8.4 million), and “See” (6.2 million).

It remains to be seen if “Mandalorian” bested Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” which has topped Parrot’s digital originals chart for 20 consecutive weeks.

Did Netflix’s ‘El Camino’ Run Out of Gas?

Netflix’s big-budget “Breaking Bad” movie sequel (El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie) from creator Vince Gilligan offers a lengthy tale of morality and redemption through the gritty eyes of Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) — the meth-cooking partner-in-crime to high school chemistry teacher Walter White (Bryan Cranston), whose character perished in the 2013 series finale.

El Camino — name of the 1978 Chevrolet Pinkman made his escape in the series conclusion — premiered on Netflix Oct. 11, reportedly generated 8.2 million viewers in the United States opening weekend, including an average of 6.5 million per minute, and 2.6 million per minute opening day, according Nielsen.

The viewership was on par with the “Breaking Bad” series run, with opening day streaming of El Camino topping the 1.5 million average household views for “Breaking Bad” episodes.

Some media reports say the data portended a strong theatrical weekend if Netflix bothered to distribute original movies via industry norms.

The data made news largely based on the “Breaking Bad” legacy and the fact Netflix remains secretive about ratings data of original programming.

Netflix has downplayed Nielsen data in the past contending it is limited to TV households and excludes portable devices and international viewership.

It also suggests the possibility El Camino hasn’t generated as much traction with subscribers as might be expected compared with other high-profile Netflix movies. Or perhaps Nielsen disclosed incomplete data.

Regardless, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and CCO Ted Sarandos made no mention of the movie during the service’s Oct. 16 fiscal webcast — which was noteworthy.

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The service last year said a lot early about Bird Box, Sandra Bullock’s dystopian thriller that attracted 45 million households during its first week of release.

Kevin Costner’s Bonnie & Clyde thriller, The Highwaymen, generated 40-million first-month views, and Ben Affleck auctioneer Triple Frontier attracted 52 million households in 30 days.

The Adam Sandler/Jennifer Aniston original comedy Murder Mystery set an all-time weekend Netflix streaming record with 30.87 million views. Another 20 million streamed The Christmas Chronicles, starring Kurt Russell as Santa Claus.

On the Oct. 16 webcast, however, Sarandos just talked about pending movie releases 6 Underground, The Irishman, Marriage Story and The Two Popes, among others.

“It’s our first time we’ve seen the scale and this volume of films in one quarter, so we’re really excited about it,” Sarandos said.

So where’s the El Camino excitement?

Netflix: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston Comedy ‘Murder Mystery’ Sets Biggest Opening Weekend with 30.8 Million Views

Netflix June 18 disclosed that its new Adam Sandler/Jennifer Aniston original comedy, Murder Mystery, set an all-time weekend streaming record with 30.87 million views.

The second Netflix comedy movie starring Sandler and Aniston — which launched June 14 — generated 13.37 million views in the United States and 17.5 million worldwide through June 15.

Netflix disclosed the info on Twitter.

The SVOD behemoth, which is typically reticent disclosing viewership data, has opened up this year revealing streaming data on select original movies, including Will Smith’s Bright with 11 million views; Bird Box with Sandra Bullock (45 million views) and The Christmas Chronicles (25 million) with Kurt Russell.

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Stars Bite on Apple Streaming Service

Stars and filmmakers from Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams to Steve Carell, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Oprah turned out March 25 to help Apple launch it’s new streaming service Apple TV+.