Report: “South Park” Creators and Viacom Poised to Reap Half a Billion for Streaming Rights

“South Park” creators and Viacom could reap between $450 million and $500 million by selling the streaming rights to the irreverent animated series, according to a Bloomberg report citing people familiar with the matter.

The news outlet reported that as many as a half dozen companies are bidding for exclusive U.S. streaming rights to past episodes of the show, according to the sources.

The show has recently been available on Hulu, now controlled by Disney.

Viacom and “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone hope to ink a new deal by the end of 2019 with a decision on the winner that could come as soon as this weekend, said the anonymous sources.

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Past seasons of popular TV shows have been a hot commodity as the number of streaming services have proliferated, with such shows as “The Office” and “Friends” set to move from Netflix to Comcast’s Peacock and WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, respectively, for eye-popping prices. For its part, Netflix just picked up worldwide rights for “Seinfeld” for a half billion.

“South Park” is the longest-running show on Viacom’s Comedy Central and has been renewed for another three seasons.

Disney+ Unveils Nonfiction Programming Plans

Disney+ Oct. 18 gave the documentary filmmaking community at the International Documentary Association an inside look at the streaming service’s nonfiction content strategy, including announcing titles and filmmakers involved in the programming.

Disney+ is now available for pre-order in the United States for $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year, although certain discounted plans are available. The service launches Nov. 12.

Disney+ has acquired the worldwide distribution rights to the documentary Howard. Directed by Don Hahn (Beauty and the Beast), Howard is the untold story of Howard Ashman, the lyricist behind Disney classics such as Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and creator of musicals including Little Shop of Horrors. The film will stream exclusively on Disney+ in 2020.

“People & Places” relaunches the original Walt Disney documentary short film series from the 1950s and 1960s. Following in Walt Disney’s footsteps, the series will focus on real-life stories of extraordinary people and places from around the globe that embody the Disney ethos — all told by a mix of up-and-coming and established filmmakers.

Disney+ will also be the exclusive global streaming home for National Geographic’ documentary film Science Fair, which will be available when the service launches on Nov. 12. The winner of audience awards at Sundance Film Festival and SXSW Film Festival, the film follows nine high school students from around the globe as they navigate rivalries, setbacks and, of course, hormones, on their journey to compete at The International Science and Engineering Fair.

Also on tap is an untitled Mickey Mouse documentary from award-winning producer Morgan Neville (Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, 20 Feet From Stardom) and director Jeff Malmberg (Marwencol, Shangri-la). The film will work to decode Mickey’s deeper significance, getting to the core of what his cultural impact says about each of us, and about our world, according to Disney.

Wolfgang, directed by Supper Club co-founder David Gelb (Jiro Dreams of Sushi), will be an intimate portrait of the life and work of the original “celebrity chef,” Wolfgang Puck.

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Actress/filmmaker Gillian Jacobs will direct the first episode of the previously announced “Marvel’s 616” series. From the perspective of what it means to be a woman in what’s perceived to be a male-driven industry, “Higher, Further, Faster” will shine a light on the trailblazing women of Marvel Comics and explore how they found ways to tell stories of representation and inclusion. Other episodes will focus on a range of topics, including taking an intimate look at the cosplay community, exploring Marvel’s influence and relationship with hip-hop, visiting illustrators who live and work internationally, and following a high school theater production of Marvel and Disney’s “Spotlight” program. “Marvel’s 616” will stream exclusively on Disney+ in 2020.

The showcase featured Ricky Strauss, president, content and marketing, Disney+, along with Disney+ executives Agnes Chu, SVP, content, and Dan Silver, VP, originals — unscripted, as well as discussions with executive producers behind launch originals, including Kristen Bell (executive producer, “Encore!”), Jeff Goldblum (“The World According to Jeff Goldblum”), and Leslie Iwerks (director, “The Imagineering Story”).

Executive Producer Kristen Bell shared the first extended look at her unscripted series “Encore!.” The series brings together former castmates of a high school musical, tasking them with re-creating their original performance in a high school reunion like no other. Each episode follows a new cast of returning alumni as they attempt to pull off a standing-ovation-worthy performance of beloved musicals such as The Sound of Music, Beauty and the Beast and Annie. “Encore!” will stream exclusively on Disney+ Nov. 12.

Academy Award and Emmy Award-nominated director and producer Leslie Iwerks (The Pixar Story, Citizen Hearst) gave a look inside the production process of her documentary series “The Imagineering Story.” The six-hour saga chronicles the 67-year history of Walt Disney Imagineering, and streams exclusively on Disney+ Nov. 12.

Jeff Goldblum, who executive produces and stars in “The World According to Jeff Goldblum” from National Geographic, premiered the “Tattoos” episode. Each episode of the series is centered around something we all love‚ like sneakers or ice cream‚ as Jeff pulls the thread on deceptively familiar objects and unravels astonishing connections, fascinating science and history, amazing people, and surprising big ideas and insights. “The World According to Jeff Goldblum” streams exclusively on Disney+ Nov. 12.

“Disney has a rich history in nonfiction storytelling that dates back to the 1940s,” said Strauss. “The projects announced and showcased here today reflect Disney+’s commitment to building on Walt’s storytelling ethos and core values of creativity, innovation, and exploration.”

‘Finding Your Roots,’ ‘Simply Ming’ and Doc on Artist Mark Rothko Streaming in October on PBS Living

Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr. Season 6, Simply Ming Season 17 and American Masters — Rothko: Pictures Must Be Miraculous are streaming in October on PBS Living from PBS Distribution.

The PBS Living Prime Video Channel is $2.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription. PBS Living is also available on Apple TV Channels in the Apple TV app at $2.99 per month.

Season 17 of “Simply Ming” includes eight episodes of the cooking series hosted by Ming Tsai. In Season 17, some of Ming’s guests include French chef Jacques Pépin, king of fusion cooking Susur Lee, home cooking proponent Sara Moulton, Top Chef contestant and soul food-lover Carla Hall, Israeli chef Avi Shemtov, and “Bizarre Foods” expert Andrew Zimmern.

Season 6 (16 episodes) of “Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr.” begins streaming this month with two new episodes premiering in October 2019, eight episodes premiering in January 2020, and six episodes premiering in October 2020. It features 27 new guests with family histories that illustrate the power and diversity of the human experience. Using every tool available, from cutting-edge DNA research to old-school genealogical sleuthing, the program reveals long-buried secrets in these guests’ family histories. Among the guests are actors Jeffrey Wright, Sigourney Weaver, Melissa McCarthy and Sterling K. Brown; director Jordan Peele; Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi; journalists Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell; musicians Queen Latifah and Jon Batiste; fashion designers Diane von Furstenberg, Narciso Rodriguez and Zac Posen; as well as a host of other luminaries, including Jeff Goldblum, Anjelica Huston, Isabella Rossellini, Terry Gross, Marc Maron, Eric Stonestreet, Issa Rae, Amy Ryan and Justina Machado. Some of the guests whose stories are revisited in this season include actors Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore and Marisa Tomei; journalist Lisa Ling; radio talk show host Joe Madison; musician Questlove; and late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel.

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Streaming beginning Oct. 26 is American Masters — Rothko: Pictures Must Be Miraculous. One of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Mark Rothko’s signature style helped define Abstract Expressionism, the movement that shifted the center of the art world from Paris to New York. This is an intimate portrait of the celebrated painter whose luminous canvasses now set records at international auctions. Interviews with Rothko’s children, Kate and Christopher, as well as leading curators, art historians and conservators present a comprehensive look at the artist’s life and career, complemented by original scenes with Alfred Molina in the role of Rothko. Molina performs segments from Rothko’s diaries, and the documentary features clips from the six-time Tony-winning play Red.

HBO Max Hires Trio of Execs for Original Scripted Drama

WarnerMedia’s impending SVOD service HBO Max, scheduled to launch in spring 2020, has tapped three executives to lead original scripted drama.

Joining the drama team are Roberto Alcantara, VP, drama; Chika Chukudebelu, VP, drama; and Mark Tuohy, VP, drama. All executives report to Joey Chavez, EVP, original drama, who oversees creative development.

“The premium drama bar is set high, and I have no doubt this talented team will deliver and be great creative partners to great creators,” said Kevin Reilly, chief content officer, HBO Max, President, TNT, TBS and truTV, in a statement.

“We are proud to have a drama team that reflects a variety of voices, tastes and points of view,” said Chavez in a statement. “Bringing together the best people who come from studios, networks and various genres, gives us a great mix of backgrounds to tap into. It’s this collective of skills and diversity that will create the kind of signature dramas that will be unique to HBO Max.”

Alcantara most recently was VP, comedy development and programming, for FOX Entertainment, overseeing the development and production for the network’s comedy slate, including popular hits “Last Man Standing,” animated series “Bless the Harts” and talk/comedy show “What Just Happened??! With Fred Savage.”

Chukudebelu most recently was VP of development of NBC Universal’s Universal Content Productions, where she was responsible for the development of cable and streaming television series, as well as actively engaging writing, directing and acting talent to mine potential collaboration opportunities for the boutique studio and portfolio of networks, including Peacock, USA, Netflix and Quibi.

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Tuohy recently served as VP of Creative Affairs for A+E Studios, where he developed scripted dramas including “Project Blue Book” for History and “Reprisal” for Hulu. He also worked for Fox International Channels as director of scripted entertainment, a role in which he helped develop “Outcast” for Fox International Channels and Cinemax.

The new hires join David Poynter, VP, drama, and Maura Feerick, director, drama, to comprise Chavez’s drama team.

Kevin Sayar Appointed CEO of Free Video Streaming Service Kanopy

Veteran higher education executive Kevin Sayar has been named CEO of Kanopy, the free video streaming platform for critically acclaimed films and  documentaries offered with the support of libraries and universities.

Sayar succeeds Olivia Humphrey, who is relocating with her family back to her native Australia. Humphrey will remain as Kanopy’s executive chairman of the board.

Sayar has an extensive background as a leader and innovator in the higher education industry, according to a Kanopy release. He joins Kanopy from ProQuest, a provider of content and software solutions that supports critical research within the global academic market. During his tenure at ProQuest, Sayar served in multiple roles, including SVP and GM of ProQuest Books, as well as SVP and GM of the software business unit, ProQuest Workflow Solutions.

Sayar spearheaded innovations that transformed how libraries and patrons discovered, acquired, accessed and utilized e-books, according to the release. Under his leadership, ProQuest Books grew to over $200 million in revenue and remains the market leader.

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“I am honored to be named the second CEO in Kanopy’s history,” Sayar said in a statement. “Under Olivia’s leadership, Kanopy has grown from an ambitious dream into a critical digital media resource for library patrons worldwide. I look forward to working with the company’s talented team to further its impressive growth by delivering value that exceeds the expectations of our library customers, content partners, and users.”

Prior to joining ProQuest, Sayar was the president and co-founder of ebrary, one of the first electronic book internet companies. From its founding in 1999, ebrary grew into the leading e-book platform to libraries and researchers worldwide, with the largest scholarly catalog of e-books from academic, trade and professional publishers, according to the release. The company was acquired by ProQuest in 2011.

Kanopy has added more than 200 new library partners in the last three months alone. Earlier this month, the company announced the appointments of Dave Barney as CTO and Chase Rigby as chief product officer.

In her new role, Humphrey will focus on Kanopy’s international expansion.

“It has been a great honor to serve as the CEO of Kanopy since founding the company 12 years ago and I am incredibly proud of everything our team has accomplished together, but this transition is about my family,” Humphrey said in a statement. “Kevin is the right leader to continue Kanopy’s rapid growth and he will be able to apply his significant experience working with libraries to deepen relationships with our partners.”

HBO Max to Create Series Based on ‘Grease’

WarnerMedia’s impending SVOD service HBO Max will produce “Grease: Rydell High,” a musical series inspired by the 1978 Golden Globe nominated film Grease.

Set in and around the world of 1950s Rydell High, the show reimagines the hit movie with returning and new characters.

Grease is an iconic pop-culture phenomenon that works for every generation, and I’m thrilled that our friends at Paramount were excited about the idea of opening up the show and putting it on a larger canvas for a weekly series,” said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content, HBO Max, in a statement. “This is high school and life in small-town USA told on the scale of a big rock ’n’ roll musical. It’s Grease 2.0 but with the same spirit, energy, and excitement you immediately think of when you hear any of these iconic songs.”

Grease is one of the most beloved Paramount titles and it’s a thrill to be re-imagining it for today’s audience with our good friends at Temple Hill and Picturestart,” said Nicole Clemens, president of Paramount Television, in a statement. “When Bob Greenblatt called about bringing it to television, we knew we would be in the perfect hands because of our great working relationship with HBO Max and Bob’s genuine passion for musicals and Grease in particular.”

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Picturestart and Temple Hill will serve as executive producers and Paramount Television and Picturestart will produce the series. Additionally, Temple Hill, Picturestart and Paramount Pictures are in development on a feature film prequel to Grease, entitled Summer Lovin’.

Parrot Analytics Unveils Most in Demand Shows So Far in 2019

Data analytics company Parrot Analytics gave attendees a sneak peek of the most in-demand shows of 2019 so far Oct. 15 during the MIPCOM global TV conference.

Parrot Analytics will host the Global TV Demand Awards for the second year at NATPE Miami Jan. 21, honoring the world’s most popular shows in several categories for 2019.

Among the 12 award categories are the Most In-Demand Superhero, Comedy, and Documentary Series in the World, as well as the Most In-Demand Exports from Latin America, Asia and Europe.

Most In-Demand Superhero Series in the World (in order) are:

  • Arrow
  • DC’s Legends of Tomorrow
  • Doom Patrol
  • Gotham
  • Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • Marvel’s Daredevil
  • Marvel’s the Punisher
  • Supergirl
  • The Flash
  • Titans


Most In-Demand Comedy Series in the World (in order) are:

  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  • Friends
  • Modern Family
  • Orange is the New Black
  • Shameless
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • The Good Place
  • The Office
  • This is Us
  • Young Sheldon


Most In-Demand Documentary Series in the World (in order) are:

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
  • Blue Planet
  • Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
  • Dynasties
  • Leaving Neverland
  • Nova
  • Our Planet
  • Planet Earth
  • Surviving R. Kelly
  • Wild Wild Country


Most In-Demand Export from Latin America (in order) are:

  • 3%
  • A Fazenda
  • El Chavo
  • El corazón nunca se equivoca
  • El payaso Plim Plim, un héroe del corazón
  • Galinha Pintadinha
  • La Rosa De Guadalupe
  • MasterChef Brazil
  • Porta Dos Fundos
  • Soy Luna


Most In-Demand Export from Asia (in order) are:

  • Attack on Titan
  • Dragon Ball Super
  • Mirzapur
  • My Hero Academia
  • Naruto
  • Naruto: Shippuden
  • One Piece
  • One Punch Man
  • Pokémon
  • Sacred Games


Most In-Demand Export from Europe (in order) are:

  • Black Mirror
  • Doctor Who
  • La Casa De Papel (Money Heist)
  • Peaky Blinders
  • Peppa Pig
  • PJ Masks
  • Sherlock
  • Strike Back
  • The Grand Tour
  • The Last Kingdom


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“As we’re getting into the last quarter of 2019, Parrot Analytics is taking a look at how some of the biggest series in the world are doing thus far. It’s a race to the end of the year and we are looking forward to soon revealing the most in-demand series in the world,” said Rebekah Zabarsky, director of marketing, Parrot Analytics, and awards executive producer in a statement. “At the Global TV Demand Awards in January at NATPE, we’ll celebrate the impact of these shows with a formal presentation of all the winners. For now, we’re highlighting six of the 12 categories to showcase how the TV landscape continues to change with new premieres and established series battling it out for viewers’ attention across all platforms and around the world.”

Parrot Analytics uses a 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.

Netflix’s ‘Big Mouth’ Again Top Binge, CW’s ‘Batwoman’ Top ‘Show on the Rise’ on TV Time Charts

Netflix’s “Big Mouth” took the top spot on the “Binge Report” for a second week, while The CW’s “Batwoman” led the “Shows on the Rise” on the TV Time charts for the week ended Oct. 13.

TV Time is a free TV viewership tracking app that tracks consumers’ viewing habits worldwide and is visited by more than 1 million consumers every day, according to the company. The weekly “Binge Report” ranks shows with the most binge sessions. A binge session is when four or more episodes of a show are watched and tracked in the app in a given day. The “Shows on the Rise” chart is calculated by determining the week-over-week growth in episodes watched for a given program.

The third season of “Big Mouth,” an animated series aimed at adults, hit screens Oct. 4. It follows pre-teens and teens experiencing the wonders and horrors of puberty.

“Batwoman,” which premiered on The CW Oct. 6, stars Ruby Rose as Kate Kane, who is seeking justice as Batwoman in Gotham City.

Two Netflix shows, “Insatiable” and “The Hook Up Plan,” took the silver and bronze spots on both charts. “Insatiable,” the second season of which hit screens Oct. 11, was the No. 2 binge and No. 3 show on the rise. It follows a once-overweight beauty queen seeking revenge. “The Hook Up Plan,” a French series, was the No. 2 show on the rise and No. 3 binge. Set in Paris, the series follows a group of friends who hire a male escort to date their perpetually single friend Elsa. In the second season, which also debuted Oct. 11, Elsa returns to Paris after four months away.

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Top Binge Shows Week Ended Oct. 6 by Share of Binges:

  1. “Big Mouth” (Netflix) — 3.88%
  2. “Insatiable” (Netflix) — 3.13%
  3. “The Hook Up Plan” (Netflix) — 3.o7%
  4. “Friends” (NBC) — 2.37%
  5. “Peaky Blinders” (BBC One) — 2.24%
  6. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (NBC) — 1.94%
  7. “The Big Bang Theory” (CBS) — 1.53%
  8. “Elite” (Netflix) — 1.39%
  9. “Lucifer” (Netflix) — 1.33%
  10. “Disenchantment” (Netflix) — 1.30%


Top Shows on the Rise Week Ended Oct. 6 by Rise Ratio:

  1. “Batwoman” (The CW) — 99.9%
  2. “The Hook Up Plan” (Netflix) — 96.9%
  3. “Insatiable” (Netflix) — 96%
  4. “Haunted” (Netflix) — 92.8%
  5. “Coronation Street” (ITV) — 87.8%
  6. “All American” (The CW) — 86.9%
  7. “Legacies” (The CW) — 86.9%
  8. “Super Dragon Ball Heroes” (YouTube) — 84.9%
  9. “Riverdale” (The CW) — 80.2%
  10. “Mr. Robot” (USA) — 76%

Parks Associates: User Interface Important in Video Service Satisfaction

Almost three-quarters (70%) of U.S. broadband households with a major video service consider its user interface to be good, with 48% rating it “very good,” and these scores impact their willingness to recommend the service to others, according to research from Parks Associates.

Analysis of consumer responses reveals quality of the user interface and the ease of finding content are the most likely factors to drive willingness to recommend a video service.

In addition, one-fifth of households cancelling an OTT subscription cited an inability to find something to watch as a factor.

“Consumers are interested in finding particular shows or genres of content and have less interest in browsing by channel,” said Kristen Hanich, senior analyst, Parks Associates, in a statement.

The new report UI Preferences and Content Discovery examines consumer preferences related to new UI options and the ways that consumers find, and want to find, entertainment content. It also explores preferences by owners of various in-home devices and examines interest in new innovations such as smart speakers, personal assistants and voice interaction.

“User interfaces are a key factor driving satisfaction for OTT services, and Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon — the big three in OTT streaming — have largely set the standard for content navigation and ease of use,” Hanich said in a statement. “Other services have had to follow similar structures established by these three, but as new OTT services launch with greater and greater expectations, innovations in UIs could be an even greater differentiator contributing to their success or failure.”

Other findings include:

  • 70% of CE purchasers said ease of use is a “very important” purchase consideration;
  • when searching for something to watch, 12% of OTT users consider recommendations from the service as their first step; and
  • Apple TV owners give high marks to the device’s UI.

Faith and Family SVOD Service Pure Flix to Bow Sitcom Starring Donna Mills

Faith and family subscription service Pure Flix ( Oct. 24 will debut a new sitcom “Mood Swings,” starring Donna Mills and Crystal Hunt.

New episodes will be released every Thursday for eight weeks on the $10.99-per-month service (following a free trial).

In the comedy, created by Hunt (“One Life To Live,” “The Guiding Light”), four generations of women are thrown together by circumstance to live under one roof and survive in Los Angeles. Newly divorced from her mega-successful, controlling and philandering husband, Farrah (Hunt) is awarded the couple’s Malibu mansion along with an enormous mortgage and minimal financial support to take care of herself and 8-year-old son Ryder. Recognizing she needs an income, she decides to rent out rooms in her house in order to pay the bills.

In addition to Mills and Hunt, the series stars Robin Riker (“The Bold and the Beautiful,” “General Hospital”), Sophia Gasca (“Ballers”), Christina DeRosa (Bad Moms), Scott Bailey (“The Bay,” “Ray Donovan”) and Jason Earles (“Hannah Montana”) and Dyan Cannon.

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The series is written by sitcom veteran Bob Colleary (“Golden Girls,” “The Facts of Life,” “Touched by an Angel”), Danielle Bisutti and Hunt, and directed by Sean Lambert (“The Larry Sanders Show,” “Kickin’ It,” “Grounded for Life”). Hunt is the executive producer.

“We felt there was a need for a great female ensemble comedy,” said Hunt in a statement. “Right now, you can only watch reruns of shows like ‘Golden Girls’ and ‘Designing Women’ to enjoy a female-driven show. Our thinking was to embrace the legacy of these programs while adding a modern twist.”

Scottsdale Ariz.-based Pure Flix features faith, family-friendly and wholesome entertainment in the United States and Canada, according to the company, with a vision “to positively influence the global culture for Christ through media.”