Disney is mostly a television company

According to The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson, individual box office flops like The Lone Ranger aren’t a huge problem for Disney because a majority of its revenue comes from its broadcast and cable television divisions. Cable is here to stay for the foreseeable future – as long as that’s true, Disney properties like ESPN and the Disney Channel will continue to do just fine: 

How Disney makes money

The movie business is a rotten thing. American audiences don’t go the movies every week, so they have to be lured with egregiously expensive marketing campaigns for a handful of tentpole movies that, if they blow up, can destroy quarterly earnings for the film division and take down careers. The TV business is somewhat the opposite. The subscription fee model (wherein a sliver of your cable bill goes straight to the networks’ pockets) guarantees that cable networks get paid with or without a “hit.”

Arrested Development shows us the downside to binge-watching

Arrested Development and the case against binge-watching:

How strange that it already feels too late to talk about the return of Arrested Development. After all, fans waited, and lobbied, and agitated for seven years -before the arrival of a treasure trove of 15 fresh episodes of the cult comedy, and as I write this, it’s been only two weeks since Netflix unveiled them in its signature open-all-your-Christmas-presents-at-once style. But it turns out that even a binge viewer’s paradise has a dark side: If supersizing your TV portions is so great, why does Arrested Development feel so…over? And why didn’t people have more fun with something they wanted so badly and were so happy to get?

Going by the Twitter reactions and the recaps that started to appear just hours after the show was made available, many viewers seem to have taken in too much too fast. Some expressed disappointment at the pacing of the episodes; some objected to a complicated and repetitive story line in which jokes pay off only after circling back to the same event multiple times. I’ll leave that debate to more devoted buffs (I’m a latecomer), but I will point out that if you take in several episodes of anything in a row, the word repetitive will likely come to mind. No wonder many AD fans sounded a bit green around the gills in those first few days, like Cartman overeating until all he can do is gasp, “No…more…pie.”

I’ve been spacing out my viewing of the latest season of Arrested Development – I’m only on episode 4 – and so far, I’ve found that I’m enjoying it more than people who rushed through half a season the day it came out.

Of course, some people genuinely don’t like the new format for the show – it’s very different from the three seasons that ran on Fox. If you liked the original series but haven’t given the fourth season a shot, I recommend watching the first two episodes (the first is rather mediocre by itself) and then giving yourself a few days before trying more.

Dan Harmon likens Community‘s fourth season to rape

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Pajiba:

He also relayed a story about how he called Bill Murray afterwards (Murray, famously, doesn’t have an agent; he has a 1-800 number where people leave their pitches). Harmon basically just called to say, “I just watched season four. Call me back.” Harmon had wanted Murray to play Jeff Winger’s Dad. (He named Jeff Winger after Murray’s character in Stripes), and he was disappointed that the opportunity had been taken away from him.

It’s like “being held down and watching your family be raped at a beach. It’s liberating! It makes you focus on what’s important.”

Harmon has since expressed regret for the comment.

This is no new tale to tell in the Hollywood pantheon, of course. Daniel Tosh is a recent, inflammatory example; Chris Brown and Sean Penn briefly came under scrutiny for far worse. What continues to boggle my mind, however, is the lack of recrimination for their misdeeds. All three of these men have continued and will continue to enjoy careers of considerable richness, as Dan Harmon surely will now that Sony’s plans for a fifth season of Community are firmly rooted. The entertainment industry is singular in that you can be as foul a person as you want and, short of murder or actual rape, you’ll usually be able to keep your job as long as your work remains profitable and/or quality.

For most audiences, moving past matters like this is a question of separating the art from the artist, a fraught but generally easy process. Likewise, this quote will probably be viewed by the majority as a typical case of verbal runoff from a notorious showbiz grouch. Harmon bleeds inextricably into his work, however, and Community has soured further with each report of behind-the-scenes drama. Can anyone enjoy Chevy Chase in the show’s recent seasons, aware of the tension between him and Harmon during shooting? When a creative project is so informed by the demeanor and nature of its creator, incidents like this only become harder to ignore.

Community‘s fourth season was awful, by and large, but it doesn’t merit a lighthearted treatment of rape to describe something as silly as a bad season of television. Likewise, Harmon has the right to say whatever he pleases in the confines of a personal podcast (as does Tosh, to the chagrin of any parties with good taste). In doing so, he should also recognize that as a public figure, his words and actions reflect upon both himself and, if only for a time, the work he produces. There is a way for him to draw his point against the soulless Sony machine without dragging a traumatic issue into a comedic forum. A melodramatic, off-base proclamation is not the way, and it is unfortunate that such comments will continue to be roundly ignored by Harmon’s fanbase. Unstable artists will be unstable artists, no matter who they hurt.

Drew Byrd-Smith – drewbyrd.blogspot.com

Barely anyone is pirating Arrested Development

Few People Are Pirating ‘Arrested Development’ Because Netflix Is Affordable Enough Already:

People love “Arrested Development” so much they’re actually willing to pay for it. Around 100,000 people illegally downloaded the show’s season 4 in the first 14 hours that it appeared on Netflix. Believe it or not, that number is nothing compared to the season premieres of other TV shows, and that likely has to do with the fact that “Arrested Development” was easily and inexpensively available online through the popular streaming-video service.

“Game Of Thrones,” HBO’s beloved fantasy drama, broke BitTorrent’s record with over 1 million downloads in the first 24 hours after the third season began airing in March.

Let people access your content at an affordable price and they’ll actually pay for it. Go figure.

Most smart-TV owners do not connect their TVs to the Internet

Most smart-TV owners do not connect their TVs to the Internet: manufacturers must respond:

Although CE manufacturers and their distribution channels, particularly retailers, have been successful in getting smart TVs into consumers’ homes, they haven’t done so well when it comes to getting consumers to actually use the ‘smart’ functionality within the sets. Overall, fewer than half of smart-TV owners in the panel reported that they had connected their TVs to the Internet.

I’ll give you a second to guess which demographic doesn’t hook up their TVs to the web.

Guessed yet? Fine, be that way.

Old people. 

You could go to jail for a year for sharing HBO Go passwords

Even New York Times Is Oblivious To Fact That Sharing ‘HBO Go’ Passwords To Watch ‘Game Of Thrones’ Breaks Law – Forbes:

It was left then to Mike Masnick at TechDirt to point out that Wortham had admitted to violating federal laws, including the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (or CFAA) which has been the target of heated debate given its use in the controversial prosecutions of AT&T iPad hacker Andrew “weev” Auernheimer and public document hacker Aaron Swartz. The CFAA makes it a crime “to obtain without authorization information from a protected computer.” It’s a misdemeanor with a maximum one-year prison sentence. What Wortham describes is unauthorized access, in that it violates the companies’ terms of service.

“[I]f someone is violating Netflix or HBO Go’s TOS to stream they are guilty of a misdemeanor CFAA right off the bat,” says Hanni Fakhoury of the EFF. And if the worth of the stolen information or damage caused in its procurement reaches $5,000 (that’s a lot of HBO episodes!), it could be a felony with multiple potential years of prison time.

It’s awesome how media companies have paid lawmakers to make so many laws that go against common sense.

Netflix CEO teases potential fifth season of Arrested Development

Netflix Ups Investment in New Shows, Teases More Arrested Development:

If you’re wondering how Netflix plans to follow up the success of its original programming like the fourth season of Arrested Development, the answer appears to be “more of the same” — including a tease for a possible fifth season of the Bluth family comedy. But the news isn’t as positive for fans of Firefly and other long-lost cult favorite shows looking for resurrection.

I haven’t gotten very far into the new season of Arrested Development, but I have heard quite a bit about the new format –  from fans and people who’ve been turned off by it alike. It’s not the show we all remember, and there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on whether or not that’s a good thing.

With that said, the show is still damn funny. I’d love to see Netflix give the creative people behind the show another season’s worth of episodes to experiment with.

I was sad to see this though:

He added that fans shouldn’t expect to see any new episodes of other beloved-but-cancelled shows like Joss Whedon’s fan-favorite space western Firefly, since its current audience would be “fewer than the 6 million who watched it [on Fox in 2002].”

It’s unfortunate, but if anyone would have the data to back up such a decision, it’s Netflix.

Cable TV is socialism that works

Ben Thompson -The Cord-Cutting Fantasy:

The truth is that the current TV system is a great deal for everyone.

Networks earn much more per viewer than would be sustainable under a la carte pricing. Networks are incentivised to create (or in ESPN’s case, buy rights to) great programming; making your content “must-watch” lets you raise your affiliate fees. Viewers get access to multiple channels that are hyper-focused on specific niches. Sure, folks complain about paying for those niches, but only because they don’t realize others are subsidizing their particular interests. Cable companies know the cable TV business, and would prefer to put up with customer disgruntlement over rising prices than become dumb pipes.

A great post that perfectly demonstrates why we don’t simply pick-and-choose our channels from our cable companies: by making us pay for every channel, every network is able to fund the programming we love.

Joss Whedon’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. coming to ABC this fall

It’s Official: Joss Whedon and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Ordered to Series by ABC – IGN:

We all assumed it was a sure thing, but it’s now finally official – ABC has picked up Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as a series, debuting this fall.

Co-written by Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen and directed by Joss Whedon, the S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot was filmed back in January – one of the earliest pilots to go into production this year. It was obviously a high profile project, both as an offshoot of the uber-successful Marvel movie series and specifically as a follow-up/spinoff of Whedon’s amazingly huge Avengers movie, the third highest grossing film ever. Along the way, ABC cautioned they had not given the greenlight to the project beyond the pilot stage, but it would have been shocking if it hadn’t been picked up, given all the factors involved. The massive success of Iron Man 3 only cemented the fact that a Marvel-centric TV series was a highly desirable commodity at this point.

This will probably be a really fun show. Now, cross your fingers and start hoping that ABC gives it a big enough effects budget.

We’re stuck with bundled TV – for now

More Cracks In TV’s Business Model – NYTimes.com:

Susan Crawford, a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and the author of “Captive Audience,” says she thinks television bundles will be with us for a while — six to eight years — regardless of what the consumer wants.

“It’s like the picked-on kid who tries to get home to his front porch; he has to make it past all the bullies first,” she said. “We have a heavily defended, heavily concentrated programming industry and a monopoly in distribution, with none of the big players willing to act like a maverick. No one wants to break ranks because the current system has been so lucrative.”

Here’s how college students get video content, from most to least utilized:

  • Streaming sites
  • Netflix (usually family’s or a friend’s family’s account)
  • Hulu
  • YouTube
  • Torrents
  • Family cable/HBO Go account

The only people I know who have opted to get cable after graduating are sports fans. It they aren’t the kind that cares about March Madness, they aren’t paying for more than an Internet connection.

Six to eight years sounds about right for the amount of time it will take for the growing population of cable-cutters to disrupt the current TV business model. After all, it is a rather small portion of the total population, seeing as how there are over 100 million “households” in America and over 90% of them pay for some kind of television subscription.

Maybe that means we can get the last season of Game of Thrones all at once, House of Cards-style? *fingers crossed*