The time where the choice was between "Sesame Street" and the "Looney Tunes" is over. The choice is no longer between PBS, Disney or Warner. Bros.
Producers of programs for children use to have a simple and easy life, knowing who the buyers were and getting them what they wanted. With more and more streaming platforms eager to offer family oriented programs, the battle to purchase new kid' shows is raging. The pandemic has held kids at home and to entertain themselves a palette of options going from video games to TV watching has increase the time spent in front of the TV set or computer screen. Streamers are well aware of it and have led the battle to acquire shows, animations and features.
The battle is not taking place solely on the market of finished product. The fight to hire content creators and producers of children programming with exclusive contract giving them the creation freedom and benefits they are looking for, is just as fierce.
Netflix understood the need to produce and co-produce for kids a long time ago, and has been developing its own production for kids department, allowing diversification and not depending exclusively on acquisitions.
For streamers, the other collateral advantage is that children who are hooked on a show are not going to let their parents cancel their subscription.
ACADEMY AWARDS, THE RACE IS ON
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has released its official entries for
2021 Oscars in the categories of Documentary Feature, Animated Feature and International Films. As expected, the Documentary Feature category has seen an impressive increase in the lineup for selection, with over 235 features in competition. This reveals the growing interest for documentaries and their role of educating in an entertaining way. The increase is also justified by a more flexible rules book for eligibility due to the pandemic.
The category of International Feature with the same amount of entries than last year, sees the first participation for a few countries such as Sudan and Suriname.
Voters from the Academy needs to watch at least 12 films in competition from a provided list for their vote to count. First round voting will take place the first week of February. The short list will be released on February 9th, nominations will take place on March 15 and the awards ceremony on April 25.
The festival taking place from the 28th of January to February 3rd was an online edition.
Sundance online allows for broader reach and that was the ambition of new festival Director, Tabitha Jackson. The pandemic accelerated the plan and while the objective is to go back to Park City Utah for the 2022 edition, we may experience a hybrid organization where films competing would also be available to participants online. The objective is to make Sundance a real global festival.
Opening the "Documentary Night" was "Summer of Soul (...or when the revolution could not be televised)". The documentary directed by Ahmir Thompson (Questlove from The Roots) is revisiting the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival with live performances from the African American stars of the time, interviews from performers and fans present in the crowd.
The line-up was impressive, Sly and the Family Stone, Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Gladys Knight, Mahalia Jackson, B.B. King and many others. It was called "The Black Woodstock" yet, while Woodstock has been documented and is in the memory of most music fans, the Harlem Cultural Festival is rather unknown from most.
While black culture in America has little by little become American culture, many artists are still perceiving a difference in the eyes and ears of others.
The social value of this film is incredibly current.
GERMAN TV CONTENT
Amazon Prime Video is bidding on German content. TV series, documentaries, content creators from Germany have seduced Amazon into investing in their projects, giving an opportunity for Amazon to print a larger mark on the local market and gain shares.
It is also for Amazon a way to provide content with different cultural references.
Part of the slate is a fantasy story: "The Gryphon" produced by the same team responsible for the success of "Dark" on Netflix.
The story adapted from the book written by Wolfgang Hohlbein, will be a six episodes series.
Other drama series have been optioned by Amazon. The growing demand for documentaries is also in play. One of them is about the Bayern Munich Soccer club, one of the top soccer club in Europe with an impressive legacy.
The Director of European Amazon Originals, said: “We are dedicated to producing a curated slate of ambitious and high-quality German series across genres, and we are super excited to take those stories to 150 million Prime members around the world.”
STATE OF REALITY TV
When reality shows got serious traction 20 years ago, viewers were hooked and critics thought that voyeuristic TV is a curiosity that would likely fade away.
20 years later, reality shows are more popular than ever and are here to stay.
The concept started in the 1990s with shows such as "The Real World" targeting a young audience but it is in 2000 with the premiere of "Survivor" and "Big Brother" that the genre soared in popularity, attracting viewers of all ages.
Since, reality shows have multiplied as have their formats. Some lasted one season, others had better fortune and producers are constantly trying to bring something new to keep viewers engaged. Whether it's cooking, celebrity family or talent scouting, the competition is tantalizing.
Arguably, the most popular show is the one that launch the trend: "Survivor". A social laboratory, opening a window on players way to face adversity and their ability to manipulate others and gain their ticket to the next round. After 21 years, the formula is the same: outlast the others but the format has evolved over the years, introducing immunity idols, twists and turns such as redemption island with second chance to join back the group after being voted out by the same group. One of the key reason for the success of the show is its host "Jeff Probst". His handling of tribal council with his comments and questions are adding to the drama.
When asked what makes for a good reality show, Tom Bergeron former host of "Dancing with the Stars" answered without hesitation: Honesty. Especially when the show is broadcast live. In recorded shows, editing the footage is also editing the reality that may not be as entertaining as a "build-up drama".
Popular shows have become franchise, finding new markets in the world with cultural adjustments. Every year, new concepts are tested. Reality TV is going to stay with us for a while longer.
The 2021 Golden Globes will take place on February 28.
The 78th edition sees a domination of the streaming companies, with Netflix receiving 42 nomination across TV and films, Amazon and Hulu collected 10 nominations each. The power play from streamers is at the expense of studios and traditional TV channels. Big money has been invested in producing from within, original creations with strong appeal. In the TV category, "The Crown" produced by Netflix received 6 nominations including: best drama series, best actress in a drama series, best actor in a drama series. For the film category, Netflix' "Mank", harvested 6 nominations as well, including: best picture-drama, best actor, best Director, best original score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross who have been working together for over 10 years. They were the recipients for best original score in both the Oscars and Golden Globes for "The Social Network" in 2010. Reznor and Ross who are known for their modern sounds, synthetic and futuristic are surprising us with an ode to the Hollywood of the 1940s, made of jazzy melodies.
Note: Reznor and Ross have received a second nomination for best original score along with Jon Batiste for the Pixar animation "Soul".
ITALY SERIE A SOCCER
On February 4, The Italian soccer federation will unveil who, among the bidders, will get the broadcasting rights of the popular soccer league. For the first time, Amazon has entered the competition which used to be between traditional broadcast vehicles and all eyes are watching who will get the "Calcio".
Representative of the Serie A are happy to see Amazon's interest but do not wish to fragment the rights and force "Tifosi" (soccer fans) to buy multiple subscriptions to
watch multiple games.
The Italian league is interested in working with Amazon who can offer a lot of money, but is concerned about their broadcasting structure and real intentions.
The competition is fierce, the leader is Sky Italia, the Comcast pay-TV operator who already owns part of the current rights.
Amazon Prime is the only streaming company pursuing sports rights, believing it would boost their original programing grid.
Amazon has already ventured into German and British soccer broadcast with sharing rights. Many believe pursuing sports rights is the way to go to gain market shares in Europe, it is their door open to offer content Netflix does not have.
NEW INDIAN MEDIA VENTURE
When James Murdoch left the board of News Corp six months ago, he had many projects. One of them is a media venture with Uday Shankar, former President of Walt Disney Asia Pacific, and Chairman of Star and Disney India.
It is not their first collaboration, they have worked to make Star the TV power house that was absorbed by Disney in 2019.
Shankar just left Star with nothing left to prove, bringing more than 600 million viewers a month. The company which does not have a name yet will not be solely media oriented but technology as well, mixing content with mobile viewing. In a recent interview, Murdoch mentioned the possibility to acquire existing entities but the focus is not capital venture. The scope of activities is large, media and technology limitless and the geographic zone booming.