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.

NBA TV Streaming Service Now Available as Standalone Product

With the 2019-2020 NBA season about to start, the league for the first time is selling its NBA TV streaming service without a requisite pay-TV contract.

NBA TV, which affords subscribers live access to out-of-market games, costs $6.99 monthly or $59.99 annually, which comes out to $4.99 per month.

The league also offers NBA League Pass priced from $119.99 to $249.99 annually, which afford subs access to commercial free live streaming, archived games, condensed game replays, radio broadcasts, VR access and NBA Finals, among other features.

Launched in 1999 as a 24-hour cable channel, NBA League Pass began offering streaming video access to select games in 2006. It became available on Dish Network’s Sling TV online platform in 2018.

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Netflix Brass Doubles Down Indifference to Pending SVOD Competition

With Disney and Apple just weeks away from launching branded subscription streaming video services, Netflix remains defiant to the pending competition, which includes service launches from WarnerMedia (HBO Max) and NBC Universal (Peacock) early next year.

Speaking on the Oct. 16 fiscal earnings webcast, CCO Ted Sarandos walked back any apparent corporate weakness regarding comments CEO Reed Hastings made in the United Kingdom last month about a whole new world in over-the-top video awaiting come November.

“I think I got the subtlety of the brave – the whole new world Aladdin reference,” Sarandos quipped. “Everyone else took it pretty literal.”

Many on Wall Street had taken Hastings’ comment to suggest Netflix was concerned, especially after HBO Max and Peacock took away Netflix streaming rights to popular reruns of “Seinfeld” and “The Office,” respectively.

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“From when we began in [2007] streaming, Hulu and YouTube and Amazon Prime Video were all in the market,” Hastings said. “All four of us have been competing heavily, including with linear TV, for the last 12 years. So fundamentally, there’s not a big change here.”

Hastings said he found it “interesting” to see both Apple and Disney launching services in the same week after 12 years of not showing much interest in SVOD.

“I was being a little playful with a whole new world in the sense of the drama of it coming,” Hastings added. “But fundamentally, it’s more of the same, and Disney is going to be a great competitor. Apple is just beginning, but they’ll probably have some great shows, too.”

Indeed, until just recently, Disney exclusively licensed original movies and rights to create original Marvel TV series to Netflix.

The Netflix co-founder reiterated that the SVOD market remains more in competition with linear TV than within its market. He said OTT video is still a relatively small player compared to broadcast TV.

“So, just like in the [shareholder] letter … [writing about] multiple cable networks over the last 30 years not really competing with each other fundamentally but competing with broadcast TV, I think it’s the same kind of dynamic here [with streaming video],” Hastings said.

 

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.

Report: Kids Multitask While Watching Video

Children are consuming increasing amounts of content from a wider variety of sources, and often multi-tasking to fit more in, according to new data from Futuresource Consulting.

In a study of 9,800 consumer interviews carried out with children aged between three and 16 years in Brazil, China, France, Germany, Mexico, the U.K. and U.S., London-based Futuresource found  multi-tasking is becoming the norm for entertainment consumption, with 52% of children in the survey saying they engage with another device while watching TV.

Of these, 61% play video games, 32% watch video on a second screen and 28% are on social media.

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“Children are constantly finding more time for entertainment consumption,” Carl Hibbert, associate director at Futuresource Consulting, said in a statement. “From watching online video, to playing video games; from consuming music, to interacting with social media, the hours of engagement continue to climb.”

Despite a rise in non-video activities, this does not seem to be cannibalizing TV viewing on a large scale. Linear TV is still reported as the most popular viewing platform in China, France and Germany across all age ranges, with free online video becoming increasingly important for kids of 11 and above.

In the U.K. and U.S., SVOD and free online video consumption is becoming comparable to free linear TV. In Brazil and Mexico, there is a significant migration towards new media, with free online video the most popular viewing platform across all ages.

According to the study, 45% of parents stated ease of use was the main feature as to why their child used a specific video platform. It ranked number one across kids that used linear TV, free online video and transactional video services, ahead of the quantity of content available recognised/preferred brand and safer content.

“As an example, our survey shows that children who interact with TikTok, the free social media app that lets you watch, create, and share short videos, [most respondents] are looking for a combination of consumption and creation,” Hibbert said.

 

DVD, Streaming Video Up Aussie Home Entertainment Spending 4% in 2019

Packaged media is not dead down under. Consumer spending on TV and video in the home in Australia is projected to increase 4% in 2019, according to new data from Futuresource Consulting.

The London-based research firm said Australian consumers continue to show a preference for entertainment ownership, with electronic sell-through of movies to own (EST) continuing to outperform transactional VOD movies.

Notably, physical media (DVD, Blu-ray Disc) continues to play a role, generating nearly two-thirds of transactional home video spend in 2019. However, following global trends, the Australian market is moving towards digital with transactional digital spend exceeding physical by 2021.

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“The Australian market is delivering a solid overall performance, but despite the continuing upsurge, its key components are experiencing wildly varying fortunes,” physical analyst David Sidebottom said in a statement. “SVOD is the country’s shining star, with our forecasts indicating a net subscriber increase of over 2 million expected in 2019 and consumer spend poised to break the AU$1 billion barrier for the first time.”

Sidebottom said Netflix is expected to increase its investments in Australia, as it seeks to maintain growth and increase ARPU. By 2023, the number of Australia households with at least one SVOD service is set to reach 80%.

“That’s one of the highest levels on the planet,” he said.

Futuresource found that Google Play and improved set-top box functionality for pay-TV operators have combined as key drivers in the digital transactional home video market.

“The increased visibility of movie purchasing on YouTube has also helped maintain healthy levels of EST movie growth, capitalizing on the significant YouTube audience,” Sidebottom said. “Our forecasts indicate consumer spend on transactional digital video will grow by 12% this year, the strongest year of growth since 2015, when the market was considerably more embryonic.”

Total video entertainment spend is projected to climb from AU$5.2 billion in 2018 to AU$6.1 billion by 2023, driven primarily by the rise of SVOD.