Disney+ Renews ‘World According to Jeff Goldblum’ for Season 2

Disney+ is renewing “The World According to Jeff Goldblum” for a second season on the streaming service.

Produced by Nutopia, “The World According to Jeff Goldblum” is the service’s first original series from National Geographic and will conclude its freshman season on Jan. 24.

“Jeff has captured the imagination and curiosity of our audience with his distinct perspective and illuminating adventures,” said Ricky Strauss, president, content and marketing, Disney+. “We can’t wait to see where Jeff and our partners at National Geographic take us in season two.”

After premiering on Nov. 12, subscribers have followed host and executive producer Goldblum across the country as he unravels the fascinating truths behind familiar objects we all know and love. The first season explored a spectrum of topics from ice cream and sneakers to denim and RVs. In the 10-episode second season, Jeff will bring viewers on an entertaining and insightful ride around the world as he unearths a new batch of everyday objects.

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Courteney Monroe, president, National Geographic Global Television Networks, shared the season pick-up as part of National Geographic’s Television Critics Association presentation.

“Jeff’s genuine curiosity in the world make him a natural fit for the National Geographic brand. There is something special and intangible about Jeff and his fascination with the world is infectious,” said Monroe. “We’re thrilled to be able to share his humor and sensibilities to a broader audience on Disney+.”

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Netflix Opens New Paris Office

Netflix has opened a new Paris office in the 9th arrondissement.

“This new office reflects Netflix’s long-term commitment to France’s creative community, including over 20 French productions in 2020,” according to a company press release.

The French HQ is Netflix’s fourth office in Europe. Netflix France currently employs 40 people, across films and series, partnerships and marketing.

“It is a real honor to be in France, with its rich culture and history of storytelling,” said Reed Hastings, founding chairman and CEO of Netflix, in a statement. “This office is a sign of our long-term commitment to the country and will enable us to work even more closely with the French creative community on great shows and films that are made in France and watched all around the world.”

Netflix has, since launching in France in 2014, developed 24 French titles, including six films, nine series, five stand-up shows, three documentaries and one unscripted series, according to the release.

“2019 was a year of great success for original stories in France,” according to the release, citing the horror and YA sci-fi series “Marianne” and “Mortel,” comedies “Plan Coeur” and “Family Business,” the film Banlieusards, and the documentary series Grégory.

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French content executives unveiled several original shows to be produced by Netflix over the coming years as well as a range of series and films made by production partners for Netflix. They include:

  • BigBug, the new film by César Award Winner Jean-Pierre Jeunet that is a comedy set in the future with a cast including César Award Winner Elsa Zylberstein, César Award Nominee Isabelle Nanty, and Manu Payet;
  • A six-part series being developed by screenwriter Fanny Herrero following the lives of four young comedians trying to make it in the Paris stand-up scene.
  • The renewal (Season 2) of the original YA Sci-fi series “Mortel.”
  • Sentinelle, an action film starring Olga Kurylenko, directed by Julien Leclercq (Braqueurs and La Terre et le Sang).

This adds to a range of original shows already announced for 2020:

  • “Arsène Lupin,”starring Omar Sy, and created by George Kay in collaboration with François Uzan.
  • “La Révolution,” a historical thriller series created by Aurélien Molas.
  • “The Eddy,”Damien Chazelle’s series created by Jack Thorne, that reunites Leïla Bekhti and Tahar Rahim.
  • “Vampires,” starring Oulaya Amamra and Suzanne Clément, and created by Benjamin Dupas and Isaure Pisani-Ferry.
  • Two documentaries, one about Nicolas Anelka, developed by Franck Nataf, and the other featuring Maître Gims, directed by Florent Bodin.

“We are incredibly proud of the productions we’re currently filming, the ones we are developing and the ones we’ve unveiled today. The establishment of a new French creative hub brings new opportunities for us to work with the best and most exciting creative talent in France and to bring diverse genres and content to everyone who loves French storytelling,” added Damien Couvreur, Netflix’s director of series in France, in a statement.

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Netflix also announced a series of partnerships with major French creative institutions. Those partnerships include:

  • Strengthening Netflix’s existing partnership with La Fémis by supporting their Residency program, an 11-month full-time training course that helps young people from disadvantaged backgrounds get into film and TV.
  • 1000 visages, an association founded in 2006 by Houda Benyamina, which provides a number of training programs in the visual arts and promotes access to jobs within the creative industries. Netflix will become the main partner in the program dedicated to series’ screenwriting, to be launched in January 2020. Houda Benyamina is also the director of two episodes of “The Eddy.”
  • Since 2019, Netflix has partnered with GOBELINS L’École de l’Image, giving one graduate every year the opportunity to work alongside Netflix’s animation experts in Japan. In addition, Netflix will now contribute to Gobelins’ training program by funding four-year scholarships for five students as part of their Master of Arts in Character Animation and Animated Filmmaking.

Peacock Streaming Service Launching April 15 with AVOD and SVOD Options

NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke Jan. 16 announced the April 15 launch of branded subscription streaming video service Peacock on Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Flex video platforms before bowing nationwide on July 15, offering more than 600 movies and 400 series and ranging from free (ad-supported Peacock Free app) to $4.99 and $9.99 (in 4K UHD).

Peacock Platinum will target 24 million pay-TV subs, including Comcast Cable and third-party partner Cox Communications priced at $4.99 monthly. The company expects to reach 30-35 million active accounts by 2024.

Speaking from Studio8H at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan, Burke highlighted the advantanges of over-the-top video by the recent return to “Saturday Night Live” with Eddie Murphy, which he said saw a 31% uptick in viewership due in part to streaming.

“On-demand vieweing has generated larger and  larger audiences, but we don’t know how to monetize them well,” Burke said. “We don’t the control the consumer experience.”

The executive said that with Peacock there’s “a clear opportunity” to create a streaming property “we control and own.”

Burke said the ad-supported business is a proven business model. Working with Sky’s Now TV, which will provide the technology backbone to the Peacock service, Burke said Comcast, NBC Universal and Sky offer a great business opportunity entering the OTT ecosystem.

Peacock’s AVOD launch sponsors include Eli Lilly and Company, State Farm, Target and Unilever.

Linda Yaccarino, chairperson of NBC Universal Advertising, said the streaming service would help advertisers reach consumers at a lower cost.

“Without scale you can’t have impact,” Yaccarino said, adding that Peacock would have the “lightest ad load” in the OTT industry, with just five minutes of ads per hour of programming.

“[The] best possible environment for consumers and advertisers,” she said.

Tina Fey, who credited her start in show business to NBC, came on stage to announce her new original series, “Girls5Eva,” about a one-hit-wonder girl group from the 90’s that reunites to give their pop star dreams one more shot.

The platform will be the non-exclusive streaming platform to more than 1,000 episodes featuring “Law and Order,” “Law and Order: SVU,” “Law and Order: Criminal Intent,” and “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago Med” and “Chicago P.D.” franchises from creator Dick Wolf.

The platform also inked a deal for “Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud” comedy series.

Peacock will also stream Paramount Network series “Yellowstone,” the Kevin Costner drama, licensed from ViacomCBS. Additionally, “Two and a Half Men,” and “The George Lopez Show” from Warner Brothers were announced.

Noteworthy original series in development for Peacock include: “Expecting,” from Mindy Kaling, “Division One,” from Amy Poehler, “Clean Slate,” from Norman Lear and “MacGruber,” from Will Forte.

Previously announced Peacock scripted originals include comedies such as “Rutherford Falls,” “Saved by the Bell,” “A.P. Bio,” “Punky Brewster,” and the movie spinoff “Psych 2: Lassie Come Home,” as well as dramas “Dr. Death,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Brave New World,” “Angelyne,” and “Armas de Mujer.”

Movie selections will be curated by online ticket service Fandango, which is owned by Comcast. Peacock will have the exclusive streaming rights for the 2020 Universal film slate and beyond in the network window. Films will include live action feature films, including Fast & Furious 9 and Jurassic World 3.

Matt Strauss, chairman, Peacock and NBCUniversal digital enterprises, said consumers are watching more premium content than in the history of television. But the rise in streaming video challenges include content fragmentation, endless scrolling and prices.

He that while 65% of time people know what they want to watch. Peacock will have robust on-demand content offering. Borrowing from Spotify, Peacock will have channels of content, trending playlists, and dedicated channels of programming for specific users.

“We see this as an opportunity with Peacock,” he said.

Seth Meyers, who opened with a Theranos joke (for the investor audience), said Studio8H has been incubator for televised comedy and conduit for Peacock’s comedy slate.

Jimmy Fallon announced that his “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Late Night with Seth Meyers” would stream early for the firs time (an hour early at 8 p.m.) on Peacock each night.

The platform will also figure prominently at the Tokyo Summer Olympics, featuring live coverage of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies before they air on NBC in primetime. The service will stream three daily Olympic shows, including “Tokyo Live,” “Tokyo Daily Digest,” and “Tokyo Tonight.” Peacock will also stream Olympic documentaries and specials.

“Nothing brings the world together than the Olympics,” Mike Tirico, primetime host of NBC’s quadrennial coverage, told attendees.

Peacock will be home to live breaking news coverage, including the 2020 presidential election. NBC News Now, the newly launched streaming network, will bring Peacock viewers “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” as well as original video from “Today” and across the NBC News portfolio.

The longest running show in television history will also be part of the newest streaming platform – with an original offering from “Meet the Press with Chuck Todd” on Peacock each weekday. In addition, NBC News will create original documentaries for Peacock – delving deep into politics, biographies and history. Peacock will also be home to full episodes of “Dateline” – the true crime original.

HBO Max Announces Animated ‘Aquaman,’ Wolfgang Puck and Adam McKay Series, Deal With Steven Soderbergh

HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer service debuting in spring 2020, announced a smattering of content deals during the studio’s Television Critics Association day.

The service has greenlit a three-part, animated miniseries Aquaman: King of Atlantis that will be executive produced by James Wan (Aquaman and the upcoming Malignant) through his Atomic Monster production company. Based on the classic DC character created by Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris, each of the standalone episodes will have a unique storyline following the adventures of Aquaman as protector of the deep.

“This DC property is a fan favorite rich with well-known characters and dynamic storylines,” said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content, HBO Max, in a statement. “On the heels of Warner Bros. Pictures’ box office smash hit, we are certain AquamanKing of Atlantis will be an exciting addition to our already robust slate of kids and family programming.”

At the same event WarnerMedia announced that filmmaker Steven Soderbergh has signed a three-year deal to develop content for both HBO Max and HBO, which shall be exclusive in all forms of television and a first-look for features. Soderbergh’s first project with HBO Max is the previously announced feature Let Them All Talk, starring Meryl Streep, Candice BergenDianne Wiest, Lucas Hedges and Gemma Chan. It’s the story of a celebrated author (Streep) who takes a journey with some old friends to have some fun and heal old wounds. The film will launch on HBO Max in 2020.

“This arrangement grew out of talks Michael Sugar and I were having with Sarah Aubrey during the negotiations for Let Them All Talk, and there were four things tractor-beaming me toward this deal: One, I have a history with both HBO and Warner Bros.; two, my definition of a good product, a good process, and a good working culture is shared by the WarnerMedia family; three, the wide range of potential outlets aligns with my range of interests, and four: I get to witness and participate in the building of something new at a very large scale. Oh, and there is a financial aspect, so that’s probably five,” said Soderbergh.

“Steven is a groundbreaking filmmaker who not only tells unique, irresistible stories, but is also a master of so many genres,” said Aubrey. “In many ways, he is the anti-algorithm constantly surprising, never predictable and his career is living proof that one gifted filmmaker can impact our culture again and again. I can’t wait for the projects that we’re working on together to premiere on HBO Max.”

“From Behind the Candelabra, to The Knick and Mosaic, we know first-hand that Steven Soderbergh’s creative genius knows no bounds,” said Casey Bloys, president, HBO programming.  “An indefatigable innovator, we couldn’t be more excited to continue our relationship with Steven and provide a home for his future projects.”

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The service has also ordered eight episodes of “The Event,” an unscripted documentary series featuring a look behind the scenes of events created by Wolfgang Puck Catering and restaurateur Wolfgang Puck.

“Wolfgang is one of the most accomplished chefs of our time and for decades has been the go-to restaurateur and caterer for the biggest names and events in Hollywood and across the country,”said Kevin Reilly, chief content office, HBO Max, and president, TNT, TBS and TruTV. “This series will usher viewers into a world of opulence and luxury and showcase the unpredictable challenges he and his team encounter while executing the biggest and most exclusive A-list events we all wish we were invited to.”

“We are really excited to share a behind the scenes look at planning our most creative and complicated events with HBO Max subscribers,” said Puck.

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In addition, HBO Max has greenlit writer-director Adam McKay’s “The Uninhabitable Earth,” an anthology series inspired by David Wallace-Wells’  best-selling book and New York Magazine article of the same name. It will be comprised of stand-alone fictional stories covering a wide range of genres and possible futures that could result from the rapid warming of our planet. McKay (The Big Short), who recently closed a five-year, overall television deal with HBO and HBO Max, is attached to write and direct the first episode.

“Adam is one of the rare artists who can deliver a pointed, impactful message in a piece of great entertainment,” said Reilly. “I can’t wait to see what he does with this material, as there is no timelier and more relevant message than a wake-up call on climate change and the growing impact on our lives.”

“I’ve been chomping at the bit to get this show going. I’m very happy that HBO Max stepped up and made the commitment. There’s obviously no subject as vast and daunting,” said McKay.

Netflix Inks First-Look Deal With ‘Big Bang Theory’ Co-Creator

“The Big Bang Theory” co-creator Bill Prady has entered a first look deal with Netflix for scripted series programming.

Prady will work with Netflix to develop, write and produce TV series across a range of genres including, drama, fantasy, science fiction and comedy.

“The opportunity to partner with Netflix is about more than just the support and creative freedom they have enthusiastically offered,” said Prady in a statement. “Their approach to television and respect for the viewer allow for the kind of in-depth storytelling I have long been a fan of. We are excited to not only develop and produce our own projects, but also to find and champion new voices with new visions.”

“Bill Prady is a renowned storyteller, and with ‘The Big Bang Theory’ he created characters who have defined a generation and will transcend the test of time,” said Netflix VP of original content Channing Dungey in a statement. “We’re excited to tap into his treasure trove of ideas and bring his next slate of projects to life.”

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Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Prady began his work in entertainment in 1983 at Jim Henson Productions (then Henson Associates Inc.). Working with Jim Henson, Prady wrote a wide variety of projects, the last being “The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson,” a posthumous tribute to the late puppeteer for which he received one of his five Emmy nominations.

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Following his work with Henson, Prady wrote for a number of television comedy and drama series. His first produced episode of series television was an episode of “Married… With Children” in 1991; his first staff writing job was on the HBO series “Dream On” in 1995. In 1997 he joined the writing staff of “Dharma & Greg,” rising to executive producer and taking over as showrunner in 2001. In 2007, Prady co-created the CBS series “The Big Bang Theory” with television veteran Chuck Lorre. He served as an executive producer of that series until its finale in May 2019.

TiVo: Ad-Supported VOD Gaining Traction

The subscription streaming video market is getting crowded. Pioneering behemoths like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video dominate, spending tens of billions of dollars on original content to lure and retain subscribers in the face of newcomers Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock and Quibi, among others.

As a result, ad-supported VOD content is attracting greater market share, according to new data from TiVo, which found the average U.S. household had 6.9 streaming services in the fourth quarter 2019, up from five services during the same period in 2017.

At more than 73%, YouTube remains the most popular source of free streaming content, followed closely by Facebook (62.3%). Free video from network sites has skyrocketed in popularity (up 31.9% from the previous-year period), while Crackle (+2.4%), Tubi (+3.8 %), The Roku Channel (o.2%), Xumo, Vevo (+5.4%) and Twitch (+3.3%) also gained viewers.

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Indeed, 37.5% of respondents from a fourth-quarter online survey of 6,145 participants in the United States and Canada, said they were “very satisfied” with AVOD, up from 35.4% during the previous-year period. That compared to 33.1% who said they were “very satisfied” with SVOD, down from 33.5% last year.

As expected, the report found that most respondents still find new movies and TV shows to watch through SVOD services Netflix (34.7%) and Prime Video (25.2%), followed closely by free YouTube videos (23%) and pay-TV (21.2%).

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For TV series that consumers watch regularly, it’s a different story. TiVo said pay-TV dominates, with 35% of respondents indicating they find new episodes of their regularly watched series through cable or satellite TV.

Notably, respondents cited transactional VOD services such as iTunes, Amazon, Redbox On Demand, Vudu, and Google Play, among others, as go-to platforms in search of new movie content. That was ahead of platforms such as Hulu, Showtime OTT and Starz.

Another 54% of respondents say they find out about new shows or movies from commercials or ads that run within their current pay-TV or AVOD content.

“Consumers are increasingly ready and willing to adopt innovative (yet simple) technology, devices or services that can serve as guides on their quest to find what they want to watch,” read the report. “They need technology that adds value to their lives, whether by helping them efficiently locate the content they’re looking for or by leading them to the video pathways that suit their needs and desires.”

NBC Universal Holding Peacock Investor Event Jan. 16

Comcast subsidiary NBC Universal is set to unveil on Jan. 16 further details about its branded Peacock subscription streaming video service in a special investor event at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City.

Longtime Comcast executive Matthew Strauss and other senior executives are expected to shed additional light on the service the media company heretofore has been tight-lipped about. Indeed, the price points for Peacock (reported to be $9.99 and $4.99 for an ad-supported option) remain officially unknown.

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The SVOD service is a big step for Comcast, which heretofore has eschewed streaming video for traditional pay-TV and on-demand programming. The cable giant in 2016 embraced Netflix and YouTube in efforts to keep Xfinity subscribers in the fold.  In 2018, it added Netflix to Xfinity cable bundles.

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With Apple and Disney launching competing services last year, and WarnerMedia bowing HBO Max in May, the SVOD market has quickly expanded beyond Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, including jumpstarting an ad-supported VOD market.

Comcast has hinted at offering Peacock for free to Xfinity subs, but no official word whether that will indeed be an option.

Netflix Orders Dark Animated Comedy Series ‘The House’ From Nexus Studios

Netflix has joined forces with BAFTA award-winning Nexus Studios on “The House,” a stop-motion animated dark comedy.

The project centers on a house and the surreal tales of three generations of families who made it their home.

Nexus is behind Academy Award-nominated short This Way Up and the Emmy- and Annie- nominated Back to the Moon.

Three of the leading directors in independent stop frame animation will direct episodes.

Emma de Swaef and Marc James Roels will direct one chapter of “The House.”  The Belgian creator’s most recent film, This Magnificent Cake!, was an official selection at Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, Toronto International Film Festival, Telluride and Animation Is Film Festival and received an Annie Award nomination, the André-Martin Award at Annecy and the top feature animation prize at the Ottawa Animation Festival.

Swedish director and animator Niki Lindroth von Bahr will direct one chapter. Her 2017 short film The Burden received top prizes at Annecy and the Toronto International Film Festival among others. Von Bahr was named one of the Top 10 Animators to watch by Variety in 2018.

Paloma Baeza will direct one chapter. The creator behind BAFTA and Annie award winning short film Poles Apart, she was also named one of the Top 10 Animators to watch by Variety in 2018.

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“The House is a collection of cinematic stories that are intelligent, witty, inquisitive, warm and yet packed with offbeat humor,” said Charlotte Bavasso, co-founder and producer, Nexus Studios, in a statement. “For this project, Nexus are bringing together, for the very first time, three of the most unique and multi-awarded voices in independent stop motion animation today in Niki, Marc & Emma and Paloma. This production is an organic collaboration between brilliant and like-minded storytellers. We’re thrilled to have found in Netflix such a perfect home for The House.”

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“Nexus Studios has a remarkable history of working with the best animators from all over the world,” said Mike Moon, head of adult animation for Netflix. “We’re thrilled to partner with Nexus and their incredible directors to bring The House to life.”

Amazon Studios Greenlights ‘Jack Reacher’ Series

Amazon Studios has ordered “Jack Reacher,” a series based on the character from Lee Child’s best-selling books.

Produced by Amazon Studios, Skydance Television and Paramount Television Studios, the series will be written and executive produced by Nick Santora.

The first season will be based on the first novel The Killing Floor.

Paramount Pictures previously produced two feature films starring Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher.

“Lee Child has created an incredible character and world; it will be the goal of every writer, producer, actor, executive and crew member to capture the essence of Mr. Child’s books — and luckily Lee has been there, and will continue to be there, to help guide us along the way in this series. He is the pulse of Reacher,” said Santora in a statement.

“It’s been great so far, but really, the fun starts here. By now I know these guys, and Reacher is in the perfect hands, believe me,” said Child in a statement.

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“Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books series is a global phenomenon with one of entertainment’s most well-known heroes, and a perfect fit for Amazon Studios’ slate of bold, character-driven series,” said Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, in a statemtn. “We look forward to expanding the of the Jack Reacher universe and bringing more thrilling action to our Amazon Prime Video audience.”

In addition to Santora, the series will be executive produced by Child, Don Granger, Scott Sullivan and Christopher McQuarrie, with David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Marcy Ross executive producing for Skydance. Carolyn Harris oversees the series for Skydance.

Netflix’s ‘You’ Again Tops TV Time’s Binge Chart

Netflix’s “You” was again the top binge show on the TV Time chart for the week ended Jan. 12.

The psychological thriller series, season two of which hit screens Dec. 26, also topped the previous week’s chart. Meanwhile, “The Witcher,” Netflix’s fantasy series starring Henry Cavill, repeated at No. 2. It debuted on screens Dec. 20.

Traditional broadcast shows took the top two spots on rising shows chart with CBS’s “FBI: Most Wanted” at No. 1 and ABC’s game show “Jeopardy!” at No. 2. The classic quiz contest, hosted by an ailing Alex Trebek (who has Stage 4 cancer), has been airing a “Greatest of All Time” series pitting three of the show’s top competitors against each other.

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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 service. 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.

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Top Binge Shows Week Ended Jan. 12 by Share of Binges:

  1. “You” (Netflix) — 6.81%
  2. “The Witcher” (Netflix) — 2.37%
  3. “Friends” (NBC) — 2.10%
  4. “Spinning Out” (Netflix) — 1.99%
  5. “Anne With an E” (CBC) — 1.89%
  6. “Jane the Virgin” (The CW) — 1.67%
  7. “Brooklyen Nine-Nine” (NBC) — 1.25%
  8. “Titans” (DC Universe) — 1.23%
  9. “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC) — 1.19%
  10. “Lucifer” (Netflix) — 1.16%

 

 

Top Shows on the Rise Week Ended Jan. 12 by Rise Ratio:

  1. “FBI: Most Wanted” (CBS) — 99.9%
  2. “Jeopardy!” (ABC) — 99.8%
  3. “Fear by the Lake” (TF1) — 97.3%
  4. “Sam” (TF1) — 94.5%
  5. “Infinity Train” (Cartoon Network) — 94.4%
  6. “Plunderer” (Tokyo MX) — 94.1%
  7. “Zumbo’s Just Desserts” (Seven Network) — 92.4%
  8. “The Bachelor” (ABC) — 92%
  9. “Party of Five” (Freeform) — 90.4%
  10. “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” (Bravo) — 86.7%