Hulu and FX to Launch ‘The New York Times Presents’ Doc Series

FX and Hulu have partnered to launch the documentary series “The New York Times Presents.”

From the team behind “The Weekly,” which premiered on FX in June 2019, the series will explore breaking news, investigations and character-driven stories featuring reporting from journalists at the paper.

“The New York Times Presents” will feature 10 standalone documentaries that will air on FX and on Hulu on Fridays at 10 p.m., with one episode per month. They include “They Get Brave” on July 10, following doctors and nurses who documented their lives in New York City as the coronavirus hit, and “This Is Dominic Fike: The Next Big Thing?” on Aug. 7, about the making of a pop star in 2020, following a young musician is plucked from obscurity and given a $4 million record deal.

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The series will also feature a documentary about the killing of Breonna Taylor by police in Louisville, Ky., exploring her life and investigating the circumstances of her death.

“The New York Times Presents” is produced by The New York Times and Left/Right, a Red Arrow Studios company. Executive producers are Ken Druckerman, Banks Tarver, Mary Robertson, Jason Stallman, Sam Dolnick and Stephanie Preiss.

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The series is from the team behind the documentary series “The Weekly,” a collection of 30 half-hour documentaries and the paper’s first major foray into television news, currently available on Hulu. “The Weekly” won an Overseas Press Club award for its story on two American bicyclists killed by Isis in central Asia. Its reporting on how a predatory lending scheme had corrupted the taxi industry in New York and elsewhere was part of a body of work that was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

CNN Records Largest Digital Audience In History In January

WarnerMedia Entertainment’s CNN news division began 2020 with the highest audience numbers in its history for both total audience and mobile audience, outpacing all competitors for nearly four years for U.S. unique visitors, nearly five years for video and nine months for global unique visitors.

Citing ComScore monthly data, CNN’s digital audience in the U.S. in January was a record 148 million unique visitors and a record 128 million mobile unique visitors. CNN held the position as the #1 global digital news brand in December 2019.

Adobe Analytics data revealed record CNN global traffic in January as well, and underscored the brand’s strength in the U.S., ranking again as the #1 digital news outlet in January in the key categories of multi-platform unique visitors, mobile unique visitors, multi-platform video starts (Dec. 2019), millennial unique visitors and political unique visitors.

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CNN saw a larger global audience than any other news platform in the world in December 2019, with 165 million unique multi-platform visitors, 20 million more than second place BBC and 37 million more than third place The Daily Mail. Other top sites included: Yahoo News – 123 million unique visitors; The New York Times – 118 million unique visitors; FoxNews.com – 104 million unique visitors.

CNN posted 148 million unique multi-platform visitors domestically in January. This was 34 million more unique visitors than second-place Fox News and 41 million more unique visitors than The New York Times.

Others included NBCNews.com – 93.3 million unique visitors; WashingtonPost.com – 92.6 million unique visitors; DailyMail.co.uk – 89 million unique visitors.

CNN’s mobile audience continued to top 100 million unique visitors in January with an all-time record of 128 million mobile unique visitors – 33 million more mobile unique visitors than both second-place Fox News and third-place The New York Times. Others included Dailymail.co.uk – 84 million unique visitors; NBCNews.com – 83 million unique visitors; WashingtonPost.com – 79 million unique visitors.

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CNN again ranked as #1 in digital video with 522 million multi-platform video starts, generating 210 million more video starts than its nearest competitor Fox News in December 2019. Others included Yahoo News – 290 million video starts; ABCNews.com Sites – 153 million video starts; MSN News – 123 million video starts; MSNBC TV – 116 million video starts.

CNN saw a larger audience of millennial multi-platform unique visitors (between the ages of 18-34) than any other competitor in January with 42 million. Others included The New York Times – 30 million millennial unique visitors; Dailymail.co.uk – 28 million millennial unique visitors; WashingtonPost.com – 27 million millennial unique visitors; NBCNews.com – 24 million millennial unique visitors, and FoxNews.com – 23 million millennial unique visitors.

CNN continued to reign on top of all political news sources at the start of Election Year 2020, as the #1 ranked political news destination in January with 58 million multi-platform unique visitors, 50 million mobile unique visitors and 74 million multi-platform video starts (December 2019) .

January was the second biggest month ever for CNN politics mobile audience behind December 2019. CNN has remained the #1 online political news outlet since March 2015 when the first person declared their candidacy for president in the 2016 race.

Other top political platforms include TheHill.com –34 million unique visitors; Politico.com – 31 million unique visitors; Fox News Politics– 24 million unique visitors; MSNBC TV – 15.4 million unique visitors and NBCNews.com Politics – 14.7 million unique visitors. 

Reed Hastings Defends Netflix Censoring Content in Saudi Arabia

Netflix is the biggest subscription streaming video service in the world with more than 158 million subscribers, including about 1 million in Saudi Arabia.

Speaking Nov. 6 at The New York Times DealBook confab in New York, co-founder/CEO Reed Hastings was asked about the streamer’s decision earlier this year to delete an episode of “Patriot Act,” the comedy starring Hasan Minhaj, within Saudi Arabia. In the episode, Minhaj (formerly with “The Daily Show”) criticizes Saudi leader Mohammed Bin Salman, characterizing the crown prince as an impediment toward social progress in the Muslim country.

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“There are people in Saudi Arabia fighting for true reform, but [Bin Salman] is not one of them,” Minhaj says in the episode, which is still available in other countries.

Saudi officials contacted Netflix requesting the episode be cut, which the service agreed to do, citing a “valid legal request” from the government.

“We strongly support artistic freedom worldwide and removed this episode only in Saudi Arabia … to comply with local law,” Netflix said in a media statement earlier this year.

Hastings defended the decision, arguing Netflix remains in the entertainment business.

“Well, we’re not in the news business. We’re not trying to do ‘truth to power,'” Hastings told attendees. “We’re trying to entertain. And we can pick fights with governments about newsy topics, or we can say, because the Saudi government lets us have us shows like ‘Sex Education,’ that show a very liberal lifestyle, and show very provocative and important topics.”

Separately, Hastings, as expected, said Netflix would spend $15 billion on original content in 2019, with plans to significantly increase spending going forward.

“We plan on taking spend up quite a bit,” Hastings said. “We’re growing and investing around the world. We’ve been strong in series. Now we’re getting really strong in movies.”

Netflix plans to increase spending on animation and unscripted content in 2020.

“We’re investing heavily there,” Hastings said. “We’ll continue to push the envelope.”

Netflix Quietly Discloses Top Movies, TV Shows

Netflix, for strategic purposes, has never disclosed viewership data for original content, including TV shows and movies — unless there’s a strategic upside.

With two high-profile subscription streaming services bowing in November from Apple and Disney, and WarnerMedia and NBC Universal launching branded services early next year, Netflix has reportedly disclosed enough selective data to compile a list of top-performing original movies and series.

The New York Times cobbled together Top 10 lists of original movies and episodic programming streamed in households from October 2018 through September 2019.

Netflix, for the record, denied the release of any list, with a spokesperson telling The Times it was merely highlighting top-performing titles in quarter.

“They are not meant to be a comprehensive list of top performers,” the spokesman said.

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At the same time, Netflix has been disclosing top performing titles in Britain and Mexico — a move CCO Ted Sarandos said could be expanded to subscribers globally.

“If they want to use that as a tool to help guide their decision making, we want to help them do it,” Sarandos said on the Oct. 16 fiscal call.

Regardless, Sandra Bullock’s dystopian thriller Bird Box and sci-fi series “Stranger Things” topped both NYT lists.

Bird Box, from director Susanne Bier, about a single mother trying to protect her children from a supernatural force that makes people kill themselves after they look at it, generated more than 80 million households views since its Dec. 14, 2018 release.

The third season of “Stranger Things” generated 64 million views in its first four weeks of release since launching over the July 4 weekend.

Viewership is counted when a household watches at least 70% of an episode or movie.

Most-Watched Movies:

  1. Bird Box (80 million households)
  2. Murder Mystery (73 million)
  3. Triple Frontier (52 million)
  4. The Perfect Date (48 million)
  5. Tall Girl (41 million)
  6. The Highwaymen (40 million)
  7. Secret Obsession (40 million)
  8. Always Be My Maybe (32 million)
  9. Otherhood (29 million)
  10. Fyre (20 million)

 

Most-Watched TV Shows

  1. “Stranger Things” (64 Million)
  2. “The Umbrella Academy” (45 Million)
  3. “La Casa de Papel” (44 Million)
  4. “You” (40 Million)
  5. “Sex Education” (40 Million)
  6. “Our Planet (33 Million)
  7. “Unbelievable” (32 Million)
  8. “Dead to Me” (30 Million)
  9. “When They See Us” (25 Million)
  10. “Elite” (20 Million)

 

Sprint Calls Out AT&T Over ‘False’ 5G Claims

Next-generation 5G wireless technology continues to get a lot of attention (and hype) — notably as an enhanced distribution channel for mobile video entertainment.

AT&T and Verizon have been among the first wireless carriers offering 5G networks in the country. AT&T last December said it become the first telecom in the United States offering 5G wireless service over a commercial, standards-based mobile 5G network.

Indeed, consumer awareness of the fifth-generation wireless technology successor has reached mainstream, according to new data from The NPD Group.

Yet, 5G is still more marketing than reality. Availability of 5G-compatible phones to consumers might occur by the end of the year — with mainstream usage on par with 4G LTE years away, according to analysts.

That’s why Sprint is calling foul on AT&T regarding what it claims are false advertising and deceptive acts by the corporate parent to WarnerMedia to confuse consumers.

Sprint, which claims to have 54.5 million subscribers and is attempting merge with T-Mobile, took out a full-page ad in the March 10 edition of The New York Times accusing AT&T of allegedly deceiving consumers into believing that their existing 4G LTE network operates on a much-coveted and highly anticipated 5G network.

A recent survey commissioned by Sprint found 54% of consumers mistakenly believed, based on AT&T’s claims, that the company’s 5G E network is the same as or better than a true 5G network. Another 43% of consumers wrongly believed that if they were to purchase an AT&T phone today, it would be capable of running on a 5G network.

“AT&T is not offering its customers 5G but is delighted by the confusion they’ve caused with their deceptive ‘5G E’ marketing and attempt to convince consumers that they’ve already won the 5G race,” David Tovar, SVP, corporate communications, at Sprint said in a statement. “We’re not standing for this kind of deception, and neither should consumers.”

Indeed, Sprint filed a federal lawsuit asking that AT&T’s ads be stopped.

“Every carrier – every company – should tell consumers the truth and be held accountable for the promises they make,” Tovar said.

An AT&T representative wasn’t immediately available for comment.

 

 

 

 

Report: Facebook Gave Netflix and Others Access to Personal User Data

Facebook reportedly gave tech companies such as Netflix, Amazon, Microsoft and music streaming service Spotify, secret access to personal user data — despite claims to the contrary by founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

In a Dec. 18 story, The New York Times — citing internal documents and interviews with staffers — reported that Facebook allegedly gave Netflix the ability to view Facebook users’ private text messages, while affording Microsoft’s Bing search engine access to Facebook users’ names and other information without their consent.

Indeed, beginning in 2013, Netflix enabled subscribers to recommend movies and TV shows to their Facebook friends through the latter’s Messenger platform. The campaign was designed to upgrade Netflix’s social media status despite some privacy concerns.

A provision in user privacy guidelines mandated in 2011 by the Federal Trade Commission recognizes Facebook’s “service providers” — such as Netflix — as an extension of the company, thereby allowing them easier pathways to share user data.

Netflix, which claims it wasn’t aware of the provision, said it ended the “Netflix Social” option in 2015.

“It was never that popular,” the SVOD pioneer said in a statement to The Wrap. “At no time did we access people’s private messages on Facebook or ask for the ability to do so.”

Regardless, the Times story underscores the value personal data has to marketers reflecting consumer habits in the digital age. It also exposes how indifferent Facebook has been to manipulating user data for financial gain. The revelation would appear to undermine Congressional testimony in April by Zuckerberg that Facebook users remain in control of their personal data.

That testimony came following disclosure the social media giant had given access to user data of 87 million Facebook members to Cambridge Analytica, the British consulting firm accused of manipulating user data to benefit President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign.

Facebook contends it has operated in accordance with its own and federal user privacy guidelines.

“We know we’ve got work to do to regain people’s trust,” Steve Satterfield, director of privacy and public policy at Facebook, told the Times. “Protecting people’s information requires stronger teams, better technology and clearer policies, and that’s where we’ve been focused for most of 2018.”

Facebook Loses $37 Billion in Value Following Data Privacy Scandal

Facebook March 19 saw its market cap plummet $37 billion after media reports said the social media behemoth violated privacy rules selling user information to a third-party company active in the 2016 presidential election.

Specifically, The New York Times reported Facebook sold personal information of about 50 million users to Cambridge Analytica, a conservative London-based consulting firm that combines data mining and data analysis to “change audience behavior” for the electoral process.

Facebook, which became aware of the data breach in 2015, according to the Times, has been under pressure to do more about the spread of politically-motivated fake news posts during the election.

Last November, the paper reported that many of the posts on Facebook had been paid for by Russian operatives seeking to disrupt the electoral process in favor of Donald Trump.

“America, we have a problem,” Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said at the time. “We basically have the brightest minds of our tech community here and Russia was able to weaponize your platforms to divide us, to dupe us and to discredit democracy.”

Now, members of Congress want to grill Facebook and other tech companies about data security.

Lawmakers Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Kennedy (R-LA) March 19 called on Facebook founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg to appear before Congress to answer questions.

“While Facebook has pledged to enforce its policies to protect people’s information, questions remain as to whether those policies are sufficient and whether Congress should take action to protect people’s private information,” Klobuchar and Kennedy said in a joint statement. “The lack of oversight on how data is stored and how political advertisements are sold raises concerns about the integrity of American elections as well as privacy rights.”

Separately, Facebook reportedly will hold an open meeting with employees March 20 to discuss the Cambridge debacle. Alex Stamos, chief information security officer at Facebook, has already announced plans to leave the company this summer.