As ‘Streaming Wars’ Rage, Social Networks Create Their Own TV Series

 

Even as Disney, HBO and Apple lavish billions on content to gatecrash TV streaming wars, social networks like Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat are creating their own original shows to get their piece of the advertising pie.

Historically, these three social networks are better known for hosting user-generated content.

But in recent years, each has invested in scripted programming which is free to view — unlike the streaming giants, who charge subscriptions.

At one stage, YouTube planned to charge for shows such as “Karate Kid” spinoff “Cobra Kai” and Generation Z comedy “Liza on Demand” using its premium service. But it backtracked this year.

Free access “gives advertisers more opportunities to engage with a broader audience … and align with top Hollywood talent and YouTube creators,” the company said in May.

For YouTube, which has at times been condemned for the questionable content posted by users, offering high-quality series with production values matching conventional television also burnishes its reputation.

Quality not quantity

Mark Beal, a Rutgers professor who wrote a book (“Decoding Gen Z”) on the generation born since the mid-1990s, said young people “do not respond to traditional advertising.”

But they may be more receptive to branding tied to original content on platforms such as YouTube, he said.

Still, after its ambitious burst of content, YouTube has slowed down its original production, scrapping multiple new and existing programs to focus on a few successful shows.

Quality not quantity also appears to be Facebook’s strategy on scripted shows.

In mid-October, it released “Limetown,” a web drama starring Jessica Biel based on a popular podcast of the same name.

In addition to boosting the social network’s image with prestige content, the show helps drive its Facebook Watch video platform.

Both “Limetown” and Elizabeth Olsen-starring flagship show “Sorry for Your Loss” benefit from and drive interaction among Facebook’s nearly 2.5 billion monthly users.

“That, to me, is the most exciting part,” Michelle Purple, co-producer of “Limetown,” said at the Toronto film festival in September.

“From week to week, audiences can have their water cooler moment together and talk about what happened, and what they think is going to happen.”

“Sorry for Your Loss” tackles themes of grief, and moderators are on hand to offer online psychological support for users seeking help.

Both dramas are dark in tone and intended for older audiences, reflecting Facebook’s demographic compared to younger platforms, such as Snapchat and TikTok.

Smartphone dominance

While Snapchat also produces fictional programming to increase user interactions and time spent on its platform, it does so in its own distinctive way.

Episodes are typically only a few minutes long, shot at a frantic pace with flashy visual effects, and are filmed vertically to suit smartphone viewing.

And unlike YouTube and Facebook, Snapchat is not skimping on quantity.

In April, it announced six brand new scripted shows, followed by a further three in September, on top of those already available including sorority hacking comedy “Kappa Crypto” and supernatural mystery “The Dead Girls Detective Agency.”

Though a long way from the $15 million per episode Apple TV+ is throwing at flagship series “The Morning Show,” parent company Snap is still happy to spend up to $50,000 per episode, according to media website Digiday.

“Mobile is now the dominant medium for telling stories and consuming content,” said Snapchat original content head Sean Mills at a summit in April.

“This transformation is creating massive new opportunities.”

AFP

Netflix, Apple Cross Swords In Indian Streaming Market

 

 

Competition in India’s booming streaming market is heating up as Netflix joins forces with a director of Bollywood feel-good blockbusters and Apple launches its TV platform for 99 rupees ($1.39) a month.

Netflix announced late Wednesday a long-term partnership with Karan Johar’s Dharmatic Entertainment to make a range of new fiction and non-fiction series and films for the platform.

Johar has directed eight films including “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” with Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan, and “Raazi”, nominated for best picture at next week’s Indian International Film Academy (IIFA) Awards, dubbed the Bollywood Oscars.

“It’s going to be P.H.A.T — pretty hot and tempting,” said Johar, whose Dharma Entertainment is one of India’s biggest production firms and which already teamed up with Netflix for the successful “Lust Stories” anthology.

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Netflix launched in India in 2016 and two of its Indian-made series have won critical acclaim — “Sacred Games” starring Saif Ali Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and “Leila” with Huma Qureishi.

But Netflix faces stiff competition in Asia’s third-largest economy as Amazon’s Prime Video, Disney’s Hotstar, Alt Balaji and other local platforms jostle for digital subscriptions and eyeballs.

US technology giant Apple on Wednesday announced the launch of its streaming platform Apple TV+ in India, hoping to upend competition.

Netflix is available in India from 199 rupees a month and as millions of first-time users access internet in Asia’s third-largest economy, analysts expect competition to intensify.

India’s video-streaming industry is expected to grow at nearly 22 percent per annum to 119 billion rupees ($1.7 billion) by 2023 according to consultancy PwC, Bloomberg News reported.

Netflix chief Reed Hastings has said the company’s goal is 100 million customers in India — almost 25 times its estimated subscriber base there as of this year, Bloomberg said.

‘Game Of Thrones’ And Netflix Tipped To Sweep Emmy Nominations

 

 

“Game of Thrones” and Netflix are tipped by TV industry watchers to dominate Tuesday’s Emmy nominations as Hollywood gears up for awards season.

The Television Academy’s 24,000 members sifted through a record number of entries for this year’s Emmys, the small-screen equivalent of the Oscars.

After nominations are announced final-round voting will begin to pick winners who will be revealed at a glitzy Los Angeles show on September 22.

Here are five things to look out for:

‘Game of Thrones’

“Game of Thrones” enraged fans with its final season, but experts still expect the HBO fantasy epic to reign over Emmy nominations one last time.

“Thrones” is the most decorated fictional show in the awards’ seven-decade history, with 128 nominations and 47 wins.

The last six episodes dominated water-cooler chat and settled the question of who would sit on the Iron Throne — sort of — but the flood of social media anguish over its unsatisfying conclusion almost broke the internet.

Still, voters could pick the show out of “nostalgia” and because “they want to pay respect for the impact it’s had on TV overall,” said Indiewire TV critic Ben Travers.

“But it also could be a lack of options,” he added.

Major absentees

The Emmys only recognize shows that were on in the 12 months to May 31.

That means several big hitters are absent from main categories this year, including Hulu’s former drama series winner “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

“Big Little Lies” and “Stranger Things” also just missed the cut-off — something which may not be accidental.

“Some of the more prominent shows got out of the way fearing ‘Game of Thrones’ just dominating everything, and not wanting to go head to head with it,” said Travers.

Comedy reigns

Pundits say the comedy and limited series categories are vastly stronger this year.

In comedy, White House satire “Veep” — another departing HBO awards juggernaut — faces stiff competition from last year’s winner “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Amazon’s story of a 1950s housewife-turned-stand up comic.

Dark hitman comedy “Barry” is also expected to challenge its HBO stablemate.

In limited series, Showtime has vigorously promoted Ben Stiller’s “Escape at Dannemora,” in which two real-life convicts escape a New York prison by seducing a female employee.

“When They See Us,” Netflix’s true story of five men wrongly accused of raping a Central Park jogger, is also likely to line up, alongside acclaimed HBO drama “Chernobyl.”

Netflix v HBO

The two giants are set to renew their battle for overall Emmy supremacy, after Netflix overtook HBO last year in the nomination count to end its rival’s 17-year reign.

Web streamer Netflix secured a whopping 112 nods last time around, edging out HBO’s 108.

“The sheer amount of programming that Netflix submits at the Emmys is daunting,” said Travers. “They have so much more than anybody else to put on the ballot.”

While Netflix also benefits from the exposure that comes with its huge subscriber base, HBO has vast experience mounting campaigns for its prestige offerings — and could ultimately garner more wins.

Star quality

As movie stars continue to switch to TV, A-listers will be plentiful.

Amazon is eyeing a strong year with its Julia Roberts-powered thriller “Homecoming,” in addition to “Maisel” and irreverent British comedy “Fleabag.”

“Catch-22” leads Hulu’s charge thanks to George Clooney, while in comedy Jim Carrey (“Kidding”) and Michael Douglas (“The Kominsky Method”) are tipped for acting nods.

AFP 

Television Producer Dies After Setting Himself Ablaze

Algerian TV Producer, Youcef Goucem. Credit: @BenbouzidOkba

An Algerian television producer died from severe burns Thursday more than two weeks after setting himself on fire over unpaid wages, his son told AFP. 

Youcef Goucem, 61, doused himself in flammable liquid and lit it in the offices of private channel Dzair TV on January 7 after claiming he had not been paid for work on a soap opera in 2017.

His desperate act stirred emotions in Algeria, with a hundred professionals working in television and cinema decrying the “anxiety” they face on the job.

Dzeir TV said it regretted “a commercial dispute that had unfortunately turned into a drama” in a statement after Goucem set himself ablaze.

The channel said Goucem had been reassured by the outlet’s new boss that his claim was being processed.

AFP

Television Titans Prepare To Battle Internet Rivals

 

Corporate headquarters of Comcast, the United States’ biggest cable television and Internet provider on JFK Boulevard in downtown Philadelphia on February 23, 2014. Dave Clark / AFP

 

Traditional television titans are bulking up in a battle with online streaming giants Netflix and Amazon as viewers take to binging on shows when and where they want.

The latest evidence was the surprise move this week by US cable giant Comcast to outbid Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox for pan-European satellite TV group Sky with an all-cash offer valued at more than $31 billion (25 billion Euros).

The twist comes after Britain’s competition regulator provisionally ruled that Fox’s offer was “not in the public interest”.

In 2016, 21st Century Fox bid for the nearly two-thirds of Sky it does not own — but a full-takeover had been held up by UK government concerns.

Maneuvering has accelerated in the sector, which is being transformed by Silicon Valley technology that enables viewers to stream shows on-demand to a broad array of internet-linked devices.

Content is critical ammunition, with Netflix and Amazon pouring massive amounts of money into ‘original’ programming and licensing deals with the backing of shareholders who have seen the companies values’ soar.

Meanwhile, YouTube cultivates armies of ‘creators’ who upload videos to the platform with the potential to share in advertising revenue.

The Google-owned online video venue also has a subscription service called YouTube Red, which also features original content.

Acquiring content makers has become a go-to tactic for traditional actors in the television and cable sector, where they are under pressure to replicate success of disruptive newcomers.

Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser was among those who expected the content market to become more consolidated, especially as large US companies bring home large amounts of spending money from overseas due to recent tax reform.

Who’s courting whom?

AT&T wants to merge with Time Warner (HBO, Cartoon Network, Warner Brothers Studio, CNN) in an $85.4 billion deal.

Already the owner of DirecTV satellite group, AT&T would add significant muscle in the distribution and production of shows.

The catalog AT&T would gain from the merger would be impressive, from hit shows “Game of Thrones” and “Big Little Lies” to popular channels such as TNT, TBS, and CNN, seen as a perpetual source of global news.

The content could also be used to entice people to subscribe to AT&T mobile phone plans.

An obstacle in the path of the merger is the US Department of Justice, which opposes the deal on anti-trust grounds.

A trial in the matter is slated to begin in the middle of March.

Meanwhile, a Walt Disney Co. bid for much of the film and television assets of 21st Century Fox could help make the streaming platform Hulu a legitimate rival to Netflix.

The proposed multi-billion-dollar deal has drawn attention for potentially turning over to Disney another major Hollywood studio and key television operations in the US and overseas.

But if streaming video represents the future, Hulu could be the key.

Created in 2008, Hulu has garnered comparatively little attention as the number three streaming platform in the US market, behind Netflix and Amazon.

Hulu was created by the major broadcast operators to counter the growing influence of Netflix. But Hulu’s structure has been a handicap. Disney Fox and Comcast’s NBCUniversal each own 30 percent, with Time Warner holding the remaining 10 percent.

The Disney transaction would exclude popular, conservative Fox TV channel and sports stations as well as its newspapers, notably the Wall Street Journal and New York Post.

Sky and its 23 million customers represent an opportunity for Disney to strengthen its presence in Europe. It also offers a streaming service (Now TV).

Apart from its catalog of films, Disney does not offer much other content outside the US.

Ballet

Comcast already owns NBC, NBC Sports, MSNBC and CNBC, E !, Telemundo, Xfinity (cable and internet), and Universal (Dreamworks).

The company was valued just above $168 billion based on the price of shares on the Nasdaq exchange on Wednesday.

Other media firms in this ballet include Viacom and CBS. Both properties of media mogul Sumner Redstone, the two companies plan to merge.

Such a transaction would bring under one roof Paramount movie studio, CBS, MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, and BET.

The merger would reconstitute the group as it existed before Viacom became a separate entity on the stock market in 2006. Even if they are not yet in the dance, others in the sector could step in — like US telecom firm Verizon and leading social network Facebook, which has made video a priority.

AFP

India Bans Condom Advertisements From Television During Daytime

India has slapped a nationwide ban on television ads for condoms during prime time hours, citing rules prohibiting “vulgar” content and concerns over children viewing the salacious material.

The information and broadcasting ministry ordered India’s estimated 900 television channels to restrict condom commercials to between 10 pm and 6 am, threatening repercussions if the ads fall outside graveyard hours.

“All TV channels are hereby advised not to telecast the advertisements of condoms which are (a) for particular age group and could be indecent for viewing by children,” the order said Monday.

It also cited broadcasting regulations prohibiting “indecent, vulgar, suggestive, repulsive or offensive themes”.

India’s public and private television channels beam into nearly 183 million households across the country, data from the Broadcast Audience Research Council industry group shows.

Sex remains a taboo subject in India, a broadly conservative and traditional country, and condom ads have stirred up controversy in the past.

In September, India’s largest trading body successfully lobbied for condom billboards featuring a former porn star be pulled down in Gujarat state, citing religious sensitivities.

In lodging its protest, the trade body accused the condom manufacturer of putting “India’s cultural value at stake” by promoting contraceptives on the eve of a Hindu festival.

AFP

PeaceTech Lab Welcomes Channels TV Boss, John Momoh As First International Board Member

John MomohPeaceTech Lab has taken another step towards securing its position as an international leader in the use of technology, media, and data to accelerate local peacebuilding efforts with the addition of the Chairman/CEO of Channels Media Group, Mr John Momoh, as its newest board member.

“John Momoh has long served as a distinguished voice of Nigeria, with a career spanning 37 years of broadcast media and journalism and numerous accolades reflecting both his journalistic expertise and integrity,” stated Chairman of the Board and former IBM Executive, Nicholas M. Donofrio.

“We are thrilled John has agreed to join the PeaceTech Lab Board and add his voice to the growing PeaceTech movement.”

Board Member and former Undersecretary of State Tara Sonenshine agreed, “The inextricable link between media and conflict is that information is the oxygen with which a civil society breathes. We must have media experts working to ensure that civil society exists and remains free of conflict. It’s wonderful to welcome John to our Board.”

John Momoh is founder and CEO of the Channels Media Group, which operates Channels TV, Nigeria’s leading independent news and information network.

Prior to founding Channels TV in 1995, Mr. Momoh worked variously as a news anchor, senior reporter and senior producer for the Nigerian Television
Authority.

He is a graduate of the University of Lagos with a Master’s degree in International Law and Diplomacy and a B.Sc (with honours) in Mass Communication.

PeaceTech Lab, John Momoh

In August 2016, Mr. Momoh was named Chairman of the Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria, Nigeria’s premier media association, comprising a broad coalition of some 250 public and private radio and TV stations. He is the first private-sector media executive to hold the position.

PeaceTech Lab CEO and President, Sheldon Himelfarb, highlighted the significance of the Lab’s first international board member: “John Momoh brings the perspective of someone quite literally on the frontlines of conflict, who has been innovative in the use of media to increase accountability and foster positive change over the course of his career.”

Critical Need

Mr. Momoh expressed his appreciation, saying, “PeaceTech Lab fills a timely, critical need in efforts to combat violence and extremism around the world by leveraging people, tools, and an understanding of how technology, media, and data can reinforce peacebuilding efforts from the ground up.

“Channels TV is committed to expanding the use of data and technology to better support our journalists in the field, and I am proud to be working together to make that vision a reality.”

In March, PeaceTech Lab and ChannelsTV signed an agreement to develop the first independent Hausa-language news service aimed at strengthening the information environment in Nigeria’s northern Hausa and Fulani regions, where intensified terrorist activity carried out by Boko Haram extremists threatens Nigeria’s political and economic stability.

Ranked as the deadliest terrorist organization in the world by the 2015 Global Terrorism Index, Boko Haram has contributed to a 300% increase in Nigerian deaths related to terrorism since 2014.

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and largest economy according to the 2015 IMF World Economic Outlook report.

About Channels Television

Called “a network built on trust” by Financial Times, Channels is one of the leading private-sector media outlets on the African continent and has been groundbreaking in the Nigerian media space with many notable firsts including: winning the Best TV Station of the Year a record 10 times, first to stream its news and programmes live on the internet, first to interface with followers via Twitter and first to create mobile apps on various platforms.

About PeaceTech Lab

PeaceTech Lab works for individuals and communities affected by conflict, using technology, media, and data to accelerate local peacebuilding efforts.

An independent non-profit organization, the Lab’s mission is to amplify the power of peacetech to save lives through earlier warnings and smarter responses to violence.

The Lab’s programmes emphasize a data-driven, cross-sector approach, engaging everyone from student engineers and citizen journalists to Fortune 500 companies in scaling the impact of peacetech.

Nigeria’s rising debt profile, a focal point

Fear: Nigeria’s biggest problem with technology – Experts

Despite the amazing opportunities technology offers to business executive around the world, Nigeria is yet to benefit from it because of fear, a software engineer says.

Junior Pius Ekeh, who discussed cybercrime and the Nigerian economy along with two other technology experts on Channels Television’s weekend programme, Sunrise, said the fear of technology in doing businesses in Nigeria has reduced the benefits of the internet in the country.

Mr Ekeh the second biggest problem with the use of technology in doing business in Nigeria is the absence of law to regulate internet usage.

Reputation in Nigerian businesses

Dana is first airline grounded after an accident in Nigeria – Airline official

The Head of Corporate Communication of Dana Air, Tony Usidamen on Monday said it is natural for negative reactions to follow the news of the airline’s reinstatement as the incident that called for the suspension of the airline took so many lives putting lots of families in sorrow.

Mr Usidamen, who was guest on Channels Television’s  breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily,  said the airline was not supposed to be grounded for that reason looking at the international standard in term aviation norms, that it was grounded in error.

Reactions trail Nnaji’s resignation

A columnist with Thisday Newspaper, Simeon Kolawole has said that the former Minister of Power, Barth Nnaji took the right thing to have step aside from the power sector since his companies had interest in the sector.

Speaking as a guest in Channels Television’s weekend programme, Sunrise, Mr Kolawole said that though on assumption of office, the minister said that he has ceded his stakes in the companies to a blind trust, practically, this was not possible.