While the streaming wars remained a hot topic throughout winter TCA, networks and streamers brought new strategies, series and stars to The Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, Calif. from Jan. 7-19.
From series renewals to FX on Hulu, here are our top six takeaways from the Ballroom:
Streamers Take Their Stance in Streaming Wars
Both digital and linear networks used their executive sessions to express their content and acquisition strategies amid the streaming wars.
Starz, for example, reinforced its position as a complementary add-on to subscription packages with no intention of competing with the likes of Netflix, Hulu, and other big-name competitors.
On the other hand, Amazon Prime Video execs say the streamer is in a category of its own due to its underlying business.
“For us it’s about Amazon Prime customers, making sure we’re delivering value, that we’re looking at our content to drive subscriptions … We don’t have to play as a substitute for a different type of service or compete in that way,” Albert Cheng, Amazon Studios chief operating officer and co-head of TV, said.
Hulu will rely on original, not library, content as it prepares to lose Seinfeld and South Park to Netflix and HBO Max, respectively. It’s also relying on its forthcoming partnership, FX on Hulu, which will bring new and existing FX Original content exclusively to the streamer.
Apple TV+, in its first appearance at TCA, was the only streamer without an executive session. Therefore, there’s no word on how the platform, which launched in November, sees itself among the competition. However, its planning to launch new content like Central Park, an animated musical comedy from Josh Gad; Visible: Out on Television, an LGBT docuseries with interviews from Lena Waithe, Neil Patrick Harris and more; and Little America, an immigrant anthology series.
More Reality TV is in the Works
ABC executive Karey Burke unveiled the latest addition to its Bachelor franchise: The Bachelor: Listen to Your Heart. The music-driven spinoff, premiering April 13, will follow 20 single men and women embark on a journey to find love through music.
Meanwhile, Fox will launch a new competition series based on the popular segment from Ellen Degeneres, The Masked Dancer. Similar to its flagship series, The Masked Singer, the new edition will see celebrities disguised in extravagant costumes as they perform on stage; however, instead of singing, they’ll dance their way to the winning title.
Networks Bid Farewell to Beloved Shows
The casts from ABC’s Modern Family, Showtime’s Homeland and Pop TV’s Schitt’s Creek took the stage ahead of their upcoming series finales. The themes for each panel remained consistent as cast and creators reflected on each show’s inception, legacy and potential spinoffs. As of right now, there are no spinoffs in sight; however, creators remain open to the idea as spinoffs and reboots continue to trend in entertainment.
Showtime, on the other hand, used its session at TCA to announce the 11th and final season of Shameless. AMC also revealed Better Caul Saul, the prequel series to Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad, will end after its sixth season.
Multiseason Renewals Are In
Networks and streamers brought big renewal announcements to their panels, including American Horror Story, which has been renewed through at least 13 seasons.
Other series like Comedy Central’s Awkwafina is Nora from Queens and Apple TV+’s Home Before Dark and Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet received season two renewals—all ahead of their series premieres.
Cinemax Originals Won’t Exist on HBO Max
As HBO preps the launch of its new streaming service, its sister channel will no longer produce new original content, HBO Max boss Kevin Reilly stated during WarnerMedia’s executive session. There’s no update on future seasons of already existing shows like Jett and Warrior; however, they will not be a part of HBO Max.
Execs also clarified that HBO Max won’t replace HBO Go and HBO Now. Instead, all three services will co-exist to suit different needs.
The same goes for services like DC Universe and Boomerang, which will continue to operate for viewers interested solely in that content.
“If you would like to have a discreet viewing experience of HBO alone, those other products, HBO Now and HBO Go will continue to exist so that you can view HBO discreetly on those… But because we’re putting the full power of AT&T behind the launch and sell of HBO Max, our expectation is to convert [HBO customers] to HBO Max because for them the proposition is this: more than twice the content for the exact same price.”
ABC Bets on Live Programming
Entertainment president Karey Burke laid out the networks content strategy, which will largely rely on live performances and tentpole events. Part of that programming lineup is Young Frankenstein, the next live musical installment following The Little Mermaid; a live episode of The Conners, timed to air during the New Hampshire primary; and the upcoming Academy Awards, which will go hostless for the second year in a row.
Tags: winter tca 2020