Netflix Rolls Out Top 10 Lists on Site

Netflix Feb. 24 rolled out top 10 designations on its site.

“In addition to the overall top 10 list, you’ll also be able to see the top 10 most popular series and top 10 films when you click on the movies and TV shows tabs,” read a blog from Cameron Johnson, product innovation. “Whether you love books, music, films or TV, top 10 lists are a great way to find out what’s popular. So today we’re rolling out a new Top 10 feature on Netflix.”

The new row enables subscribers to see what is most popular on Netflix in each country, according to the blog.

“It will be updated every day and the position of the row will vary depending on how relevant the shows and films are to you,” according to the blog post.

Shows and films that make these lists will also have a special “Top 10” badge wherever they appear on Netflix, according to the blog.

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“We’re constantly looking for ways to make Netflix better,” read the post. “It’s why we’ve been experimenting with top 10 lists in Mexico and the U.K. for the last six plus months. Members in both countries have found them useful, so we are now rolling them out to even more.”

Sandra Oh to Star in New Netflix Series “The Chair”

Sandra Oh will star in Netflix’s “The Chair,” a new six-episode, half hour dramedy centered around the chair of an English department at a major university.

Oh (“Killing Eve,” “Grey’s Anatomy”) will also executive produce.

Jay Duplass (“Transparent,” Outside In) also stars.

Oh currently stars in and is a co-executive producer of BBC America’s “Killing Eve” for which she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series, a Screen Actor’s Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series, a Critic’s Choice Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series and received Emmy Award nominations for Lead Actress in a Drama Series (2018 and 2019) and a BAFTA TV Award nomination for Best Leading Actress. Additionally, she co-hosted the 2019 Golden Globe Awards alongside Andy Samberg. She won a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award for her role as Dr. Cristina Yang on the hit ABC series “Grey’s Anatomy,” as well as received multiple Emmy Award nominations. Previously, Sandra starred in the Fox Searchlight feature film Sideways, for which she won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.

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Duplass began acting in 2012, when Jill Soloway cast him as series regular Josh Pfefferman in her Amazon TV series “Transparent.” The show won a Golden Globe for best comedy series and multiple Emmys, and Jay was nominated for a Critics’ Choice Award in 2016 for best supporting actor. Jay has starred in feature films including Lynn Shelton’s Outside In opposite Edie Falco, Pink Wall with Tatiana Maslany, Gillian Robespierre’s Landline and Miguel Arteta’s Beatriz At Dinner. Jay was also a recurring character in “The Mindy Project” and “Search Party.”

‘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.

‘Dishing With Julia Child’ to Stream Feb. 28 on PBS Living and PBS Passport

“Dishing With Julia Child,” a new six-part series from PBS, will be available to stream Feb. 28 on PBS Passport and PBS Living, available on Prime Video Channels and Apple TV.

“We are more than excited to be bringing original content to PBS Living for the very first-time,” said Andrea Downing, co-president of PBS Distribution, in a statement. “Julia Child pioneered what cooking shows have become today and to get a once-in-a-lifetime look at how she inspired the master chefs of today is truly a treat.”

PBS Living is available at $2.99 a month. PBS Passport is an added member benefit.

Eric Ripert in “Dishing With Julia Child”

In “Dishing With Julia Child,” nine respected chefs — José Andrés, Rick Bayless, Carla Hall, Vivian Howard, Sara Moulton, Jacques Pépin, Éric Ripert, Marcus Samuelsson and Martha Stewart — gather together to screen favorite episodes of Child’s iconic show “The French Chef,” which debuted in 1963. As they watch, they share personal reminiscences, anecdotes and a few laughs as they discuss the immeasurable impact she had on their lives, careers and the American food scene.

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Jose Andres in “Dishing With Julia Child”

The series, which will also be broadcast on Fridays April 3-17 on PBS, is part of the PBS 50th anniversary celebration of the iconic personalities that shaped both broadcast history and pop culture.

“As we celebrate PBS icons like Julia Child during our 50th anniversary, audiences will also get an exciting look at how these legacies will shape and inspire the future of PBS,” said Jerry Liwanag, VP, fundraising programming, in a statement. “This nostalgic series is just one example of the rich food and culture programming that PBS makes available to audiences across multiple platforms.”

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“’Dishing With Julia Child’ showcases how pioneering and timeless Julia Child’s television teaching is,” said Eric W. Spivey, chairman of The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts. “The Foundation is thrilled PBS has connected some of Julia’s iconic episodes to the streaming age through the eyes of chefs who embody her legacy.”

Episode titles and broadcast premiere dates (ET):

No. 1 “The Whole Fish Story” (April 3, 10:00-10:30 p.m.)

No. 2 “The Good Loaf” (April 3, 10:30-11:00 p.m.)

No. 3 “Your Own French Onion Soup” (April 10, 10:00-10:30 p.m.)

No. 4 “Boeuf Bourguignon” (April 10, 10:30-11:00 p.m.)

No. 5 “The Potato Show” (April 17, 10:00-10:30 p.m.)

No.6 “To Roast a Chicken” (April 17, 10:30-11:00 p.m.)

Vizio Adds Disney+ to SmartCast Smart TV Platform

Vizio has launched Disney+ on its SmartCast smart TV platform.

While Vizio users have been able to stream Disney+ on SmartCast through Apple AirPlay 2 and Chromecast built-in, the update allows viewers to launch the app and search for Disney+ content directly from the SmartCast home screen.

Disney+, which offers movies and TV shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, in addition to exclusive Disney+ originals, costs $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year.

The Disney+ app is available on the SmartCast platform in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Users in these locations can find and subscribe through the apps row on SmartCast Home or through the SmartCast Mobile app.

“At Vizio, we are always working to provide the best home entertainment experience for our users,” said Vizio chief technology officer Bill Baxter in a statement. “We are excited to bring Disney+ onto the SmartCast platform to give viewers access to even more content to enjoy.”

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SmartCast allows users search for content using their voice via compatibility with Siri, the Google Assistant and Alexa-enabled devices. It also includes Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit, along with Chromecast built-in, so users can stream, control and share shows, movies and content.

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SmartCast also includes WatchFree, a free-to-use streaming service, with no login or subscriptions required. New to WatchFree is the ability to designate specific channels as “Favorites” and navigate by genre. WatchFree, powered by Pluto, offers access to more than 150 channels with news, sports, movies, TV shows, and music that the whole family can enjoy.

New SmartCast apps are available on Vizio SmartCast TVs dating back to 2016.

HBO Max Orders Competition Series Featuring Real Housewife Bethenny Frankel

HBO Max has ordered eight episodes of “The Big Shot with Bethenny” (working title), a new competition series from MGM Television, Mark Burnett, and reality TV veteran, and producer Bethenny Frankel and her B Real Productions.

In each half-hour episode, the contestants will compete for a chance to be second-in-command to business tycoon and Skinnygirl founder Frankel and win a position working on her executive team. Through a series of real-life tasks and challenges, each aspiring mogul will be tested to see how far they can push their creativity and determination to rise to the top.

“I first met Bethenny when I put her on the first season of ‘The Real Housewives of New York City’ and she’s always both impressed and entertained me,” said Jennifer O’Connell, EVP of original non-fiction and kids programming, HBO Max, in a statement. “It’s incredible to see her empire continue to grow and I know that candidates will be clamoring to work for her.”

“Bethenny is that rare talent whose creative instincts are equal to her business acumen and working with her to create this series has been an amazing collaboration,” said Barry Poznick, MGM’s president of unscripted and alternative television and Orion Television, in a statement. “We’re giving fans what they want, access inside Bethenny’s businesses so they can see how she runs her empire, all while offering one fan the chance of a lifetime to join her executive team. We’ve found the perfect home in HBO Max to bring this exclusive opportunity to viewers.”

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“Aside from motherhood, what truly defines me as a person is being a driven, passionate and hard-working woman determined to make the impossible possible,” said Frankel in a statement. “My mantra is to come from a place of ‘yes’ and to find and create the solution. I am an executor of visions, and I share and impart that information to those who work with me. MGM has been neck-in-neck with me with ideas and their execution. I couldn’t be more thrilled to continue my longstanding relationship with Mark Burnett on this series and pay this American Dream story forward.”

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Frankel is a self-made businesswoman, TV producer and multiple New York Times bestselling author. A frequent collaborator of MGM Worldwide Television Group Chairman Mark Burnett, Frankel appeared as a shark on two seasons of ABC’s series “Shark Tank,” and was the series’ highest-rated guest shark to-date. Frankel is the founder and CEO of Skinnygirl, a lifestyle brand offering practical solutions to women, and former star of the popular Bravo series “The Real Housewives of New York City.” In 2011, she was named one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Celebrities by Forbes.

“The Big Shot with Bethenny” is produced by MGM Television, B Real Productions and Big Fish Entertainment. Executive producers are Mark Burnett, Barry Poznick, Bethenny Frankel, Dan Cesareo and Lucilla D’Agostino.

Netflix to Bow Limited Scripted Series ‘Painkiller’ About Opioid Crisis

Netflix is producing Painkiller, a scripted drama and limited series about the origins of the opioid crisis.

Sports Emmy Award winner Peter Berg (The Leftovers, Friday Night Lights) will direct all eight episodes of the limited series. Eric Newman (Children of Men) will serve as executive producer as part of his overall deal with Netflix where he is showrunner on “Narcos” and “Narcos: Mexico.”  Emmy Award-nominated writing duo Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, “Transparent”) will write and serve as showrunners and executive producers. Academy Award and Emmy Award winner Alex Gibney (Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) will serve as executive producer.

Patrick Radden Keefe (Dirty Money) who wrote New Yorker’s “The Family That Built an Empire of Pain” and Barry Meier, Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and author of the book Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America’s Opioid Epidemic, will both consult on the series. Their respective works will serve as underlying material for the series.

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“A tragedy decades in the making, the opioid crisis has become one of the most devastating public health crises of our time,” said Newman in a statement. “Unlike other drug epidemics, born from underground manufacturing and covert smuggling, this epidemic began by prescription — dispensed by doctors, approved by government regulators, and promoted by a family-owned pharmaceutical giant that made billions while betraying the trust of patients and the public. I’m grateful to Micah & Noah, and Alex for bringing this story to me.  Noah and Micah’s narrative of how it happened, based on the spectacular reporting of Patrick Radden Keefe and Barry Meier, is heartbreaking and terrifying.  I’m honored to be working with the great Alex Gibney and I’m thrilled that Peter Berg is coming on to direct it.”

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“I am really charged to be a part of such an in depth exploration of the genesis of the opioid travesty,” said Berg in a statement. “Companies that profit off of death and addiction are fair game to me when it comes to illuminating the realities of how they go about their business.”

“Eric Newman has masterfully chronicled the drug trade for years and now I’m excited to see him join forces with the incredible Alex Gibney, Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster to take a more expansive view of the opioid epidemic,” said Cindy Holland, VP, content, Netflix. “Combined with the directing of Peter Berg, Painkiller promises to be a powerful look behind the headlines of a tragedy happening in real time.”

Streaming Service FlixLatino Now Available on Amazon Prime Video Channels

FlixLatino, a subscription video-on-demand service geared towards the U.S. Hispanic population, is now available on Amazon Prime Video Channels to Prime members.

Prime subs can get direct access to a catalog of movies, series, documentaries and animated content, all available in Spanish for $ 2.99 per month. The SVOD was launched in 2018 by Somos Next, an upstart company developing and commercializing audiovisual content in the Spanish OTT

Most content is also available with English subtitles to appeal to independent cinema lovers and multi-language homes. Movies are top-grossing theatrical-releases in their country of origin, originally produced in Spanish, from all over Latin America and Spain.

Subscribers can watch FlixLatino on compatible smart televisions, mobile devices, tablets, and computers.

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“Becoming available on Prime Video Channels gives FlixLatino important exposure and reach,” Luis Guillermo Villanueva, COO of Somos Next, said in a statement. “We are confident that this will enhance our growth, and further support our mission to provide quality series, movies, documentaries and animation for the U.S. Hispanic market.”

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Indeed, Prime Channels has been a godsend for streaming services such as Starz OTT, HBO Now, Dove Channel and Acorn TV, among others. In return, Amazon extracts a fee and/or revenue-sharing with each platform depending on the business arrangement. The third-party OTT platform has been replicated by Apple TV+ and other media conglomerates.

Netflix to Bow Documentary Series on Tennis Star Naomi Osaka

Netflix will bow an untitled documentary series on tennis star Naomi Osaka, in association with Uninterrupted and produced by Film 45.

The series follows multiple-Grand Slam-champion Naomi Osaka, who became the first Asian player to reach the No. 1 singles ranking after winning her first Grand Slam at the U.S. Open in 2018 and second at the Australian Open in 2019.

The documentary series also gives audiences a window into the life of a global tennis superstar. It will cover Naomi’s pivotal year, from the U.S. Open in August 2019 and on tour with the tennis star as she plays in each of the Grand Slams and prepares for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. With a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, Osaka emigrated from Japan to the United States as a child, where she rose to become the first Asian player to reach the heights of international tennis. The series follows Naomi to Japan to understand her connection with the country she represents and the reflections of her multi-cultural identity.

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“To be able to tell my story and let people in during this big year, working with a team that really understands me, has been a rewarding experience,” said Osaka in a statement. “It won’t look like a traditional sports documentary, and I’m so excited to share it with everyone.”

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The series is directed by Garrett Bradley whose short film Alone was shortlisted for an Academy Award. At Sundance 2020, Bradley won Best Director for her U.S. documentary feature in competition TIME.

AVOD Service Tubi Grows Monthly Users to 25 Million

AVOD service Tubi saw its monthly active users reach 25 million in December with a total view time (TVT) of more than 163 million hours watched — a year-over-year TVT increase of 160%.

The company plans to grow content spending in 2020 to “exceed nine figures to further expand its current library of content from major studios, indies, and TV producers from around the globe,” according to a press release.

Tubi presently works with more than 250 content partners, which include Warner Bros., Paramount and Lionsgate.

Year-over-year in Canada and Australia, Tubi saw a 357% increase in TVT. In the coming year, Tubi will launch in additional territories, including Mexico and the United Kingdom. Recently, Tubi announced a partnership with one of the largest broadcasters in Mexico — TV Azteca — to provide Spanish language content.

Tubi also recently announced a global deal with TV manufacturer Hisense to include Tubi as part of its Vidaa platform.

In 2019, Tubi increased its headcount to more than 229 full-time employees, an increase of 78% from 2018.

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Tubi CEO Farhad Massoudi

“Our growth over the last year is a clear testament to the success of our focused strategy in a now-cluttered marketplace,” said Tubi CEO Farhad Massoudi in a statement. “We’re excited people globally have embraced Tubi as a complement to subscription video and aim to deliver an even larger library of premium content in 2020.”

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Tubi is available on Android and iOS mobile devices, Amazon Echo Show, Google Nest Hub Max, Comcast Xfinity X1, Cox Contour, and on OTT devices such as Amazon Fire TV, Vizio TVs, Sony TVs, Samsung TVs, Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Android TV, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4, and soon on Hisense TVs globally. Consumers can also watch Tubi content on the web at www.tubi.tv.