Dan Barrett

Dan Barrett is the Content Director of Televised Revolution. His musings on television have been heard across ABC Radio, on websites like The Guardian and Crikey, and drunkenly in pubs across the country. At night he spends too many hours watching repeats of Cheers.

PODCAST: Marc Fennell [Televised Revolution: The Couch]

Dan sits down with Marc Fennell, host of the SBS2 program The Feed to talk about his work on the show, how he juggles it with his other commitments reviewing movies for Triple J and hosting RN’s Download This Show.

The conversation never stays on track, as the two diverge to talk about the need for a movie show (either on the ABC or SBS), his experience hosting the old SBS Movie Show, and his upcoming gig hosting 2014’s Tropfest.

Tropfest airs on Dec 7th on SBS2.

At Televised Revolution, we look forward to receiving your mail and check us out on the Twitter. You can also find the podcast on iTunes (please leave us a review, it helps people find the show).

 

Arts HD Further Strengthens Foxtel’s Bid For 55+

Foxtel have officially announced the launch of their new arts channel Arts HD, set to replace their current arts channel, the SBS operated Studio, in early 2015. The new service will further Foxtel’s efforts to launch more owned and operated channels onto the service, while considerably strengthening the content on offer for their 55+ aged subscribers.

When Foxtel replaced arts channel Ovation with Studio in 2010, it sought a service that would focus more on younger viewers, with a greater male skew. Prior to being dumped, Ovation was routinely mocked for its reliance on the then-very popular Andre Rieu concerts. While Ovation continues operating, selling the station strictly as an IPTV service delivered via an iOS/Android app and through selected smart TV’s, it is with considerable amusement that Foxtel is again targeting the same viewers that Ovation were dumped for appealing to.

As per the Foxtel media release:

The channel will feature the world’s most renowned orchestras, ensembles and companies and highlight the finest performing artists from the greatest opera houses, concert halls and festival stages including Daniel Barenboim, Renee Fleming, Herbert Von Karajan and Anne Sophie Mutter as well as the popular favourite, Andre Rieu.

The decision to refocus their arts channel is another very clear indication that Foxtel are readjusting their efforts on appealing to 55+ aged subscribers. Many were surprised to see that Foxtel had picked up the recently cancelled Seven Network series A Place To Call Home. Seven had initially dumped the series for attracting an audience that were primarily 55+, so while that may not appeal much to a broadcast TV network that relies on advertising dollars generated through selling to 16-55 year-olds, it is perfect for a subscription TV service that is losing its younger audience rapidly to online delivery of TV content.

Arts HD won’t draw in audiences in droves, but it’s a valuable addition to the stable of Foxtel channels that clearly have more traditional viewers in mind.

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MEDIA RELEASE:

Foxtel ARTS HD to launch in 2015

Foxtel will launch a new high definition channel dedicated to arts and entertainment in early 2015.

The new channel, Foxtel ARTS HD, will showcase the full breadth of artistic forms including the world’s finest opera and ballet productions, theatre, dance, cabaret, classical and contemporary performance as well as informative documentary specials and series from the diverse world of cinema, literature, music, visual art, artists and the history of ideas and techniques from which art is created.

Foxtel Executive Director of Television, Brian Walsh, said: ‎”The new Foxtel ARTS HD channel will draw from a rich and varied television palette – from the timeless to the contemporary – to create extraordinary experiences from Australia and around the world for an intelligent and passionate arts and entertainment audience.”

‎”The channel will extend Foxtel’s commitment to fostering and supporting Australia’s creative industries and arts organisations. As a vital part of Australia’s cultural life, Foxtel ARTS HD will feature locally produced magazine shows and specials, festival news and information, in depth interviews and reviews, all in High Definition.

“With Foxtel ARTS HD, we will also participate in and support the broad spectrum of arts communities working in Australia today and invite our subscribers to enjoy an ongoing awareness of Australia’s rich creativity and the inspiring people behind its dynamic artistic expression.‎”

The channel will feature the world’s most renowned orchestras, ensembles and companies and highlight the finest performing artists from the greatest opera houses, concert halls and festival stages including Daniel Barenboim, Renee Fleming, Herbert Von Karajan and Anne Sophie Mutter as well as the popular favourite, Andre Rieu. Foxtel ARTS HD will be the new home to major awards shows including Australia’s annual Helpmann Awards for live performance and Broadway’s coveted Tony Awards.

In its documentary offering, Foxtel ARTS HD will discuss, dissect and deliberate a wide variety of artistic endeavours from the visual arts, literature, all forms of theatre as well as the luminaries, traditions and cultural developments that have shaped art and artists and which continue to exert an influence today.

Foxtel ARTS HD will replace the Studio channel in the platform channel line-up.

 

Stan Welcomes World Movies & SBS Content

Unexpected and welcome news today courtesy of new streaming service Stan with the announcement that they have signed a deal with SBS to offer titles from the SBS World Movies service, along with SBS TV content. While this is great news for Stan and potential subscribers, it does weaken SBS’s ability to deliver World Movies as a stand-alone digital asset.

For fans of arthouse and world cinema, World Movies is a very strong drawcard to subscribe to Foxtel. Apart from DVD/BD releases and the fleeting chance one has to see the films in the cinema, access to a lot of arthouse/world cinema is quite limited. The World Movies channel is invaluable as a wonderful resource to access some of the finest films from across the globe.

It’s difficult to understand exactly how SBS is positioning itself as a destination for world cinema. The launch of the World Movies channel positioned itself as a good corporate revenue earner, but little has been done with the service beyond existing as a Foxtel channel. A Netflix-style all-you-can-eat subscription platform is an obvious evolution of the World Movies brand. Instead SBS have left that to Dendy with their pay-per-film Dendy Direct service, while further weakening the exclusivity of their world cinema option by offering 400 free films through their SBS On Demand catch-up service and are now offering their library to the Stan library.

SBS do refute the belief that they are diluting World Movies ability to stand as its own digital asset. A spokesperson for SBS told Televised Revolution that “Providing World Movies on Stan does not undercut the value of World Movies as a free standing digital asset, as the linear channel will still be the first home of premiere titles and exclusive programming seasons. Our partnership with Stan allows World Movies to bring a library of the best in international cinema to more Australians”.

At launch, Stan will offer 120 World Movies titles, with an additional 20 added every month. Launch titles will include Blue Is The Warmest Colour and Sleeping Beauty. In addition to the World Movies catalogue titles, the deal will also deliver a range of SBS content to the service. In addition to locally produced shows like Housos and Wilfred, the deal will also see well-regarded foreign language TV shows including The Bridge and Prisoners of War made available.

For fans of cinema, this represents a very compelling reason to give Stan a look….and one less reason to need that Foxtel subscription.

 

Remember Me – The Watchlist 23 November 2014

Yes, this weeks Watchlist is a little late, but it’s been difficult fighting ones way through the tumbleweeds.

For those inclined to watch something new, there’s really just the one option.

Remember Me
Airs: 23 November 2014 (UK – BBC1)

This supernatural thriller stars Michael Palin as an elderly man whose admittance to a nursing home triggers a series of inexplicable events. It may sound less than compelling viewing, but it did net a handsome 5 million viewers in the UK.

Will Netflix End Piracy In Australia? No, But It’s A Start.

Can Netflix end piracy? No, but it will put a serious dent in the practice.

The launch of Netflix in Australia isn’t the end-all be all of streaming media, but it does establish a beachhead for streaming video services in the Australian market. It’s a strong, viable player that sets the yardstick on what consumers expect from streaming video services. Other media companies are set to compete against the US streamer, which presents a significant shift in the way we consume video in Australia. Netflix represents the shift towards legitimising the television we download, evolving our consumption away from the pirate behaviour we’ve exhibited.

First, let it be said, piracy will never go away completely. For younger people (teens and those in their twenties), even a $10 SVOD subscription service is outside of their budgets, so piracy will remain a crucial source of access for content. There are movies and TV shows that simply won’t get a local release which can only be seen via piratical means. Regardless of what one subscribes to, there will always be *that one show* that exists outside of your subscription access that one wants. And then there’s piracy for honourable needs – the acquisition of lost/forgotten TV shows and movies that offer distributors no financial incentive to make available on new platforms.

Screen Australia recently released their Online and On Demand: Trends in Australian online video use report. This is their first report into Australian video on demand viewing habits and is based off focus groups run by Nielsen. The report tells us little we didn’t already assume, but it does give offer a quantifiable report to support assumptions we’ve held for some time. Key findings in the report are:

  • Online viewing is not restricted to specific demographics, rather online viewing is consumed by 50% of all Internet connected Australians.
  • Australians are drawn to convenience, free content, and new viewing options.
  • Australians are highly demanding, wanting their content immediately, inexpensive/free, and they want it all.
  • Most consumption is via legitimate services, with some of us using both legitimate and illegitimate platforms together.
  • More content is being watched alone than has been historically the case.
  • While online viewing is growing, it still represents a small part of our ‘screen diet’. More time is spent watching broadcast TV, going to the cinema, watching DVD’s, etc.
  • Bandwidth cost, and a lack of technical know-how is holding back many Australians.

Australian ISP iiNet have been vocal supporters of services like Netflix launching in Australia. Throughout their High Court case against AFACT, iiNet established themselves as an advocate for the rights of Australian Internet users and repeatedly expressed the view that piracy in Australia is caused by a lack of access to content in a timely and appropriately priced manner.

In speaking with Televised Revolution, an iiNet spokesperson has said that iiNet is very supportive of both the Netflix and Stan announcements, going on to say“Our customers have repeatedly expressed the view that they are more than willing to pay for content if it is available in a timely manner and at a reasonable price”.

While iiNet stressed to Televised Revolution that they don’t know how many of their customers access Netflix as they don’t monitor customers activities online, iiNet have expressed support for the launch of a local Netflix service as it will reduce international traffic volume, which is great for Australian ISP’s.

Where Netflix and other similar SVOD streamers will make an impact is with casual viewing. In any given TV viewing week, most viewers will have a small number of shows they are passionate about and eager to watch every week, combined with other shows that they just simply like or are shows watched out of habit. There’s also shows that one watches casually just to pass the time. Over the past 15 years in Australia, online savvy TV consumers have been developing torrent-related habits outside of broadcast TV schedules. It always begins with the desire to watch a specific show, but grows into being the source of their TV content for their core and casual viewing. The sheer ease and convenience of turning on the TV and streaming a show that is presented to you on screen immediately (with it in your own watchlist or is recommended by the service based on your other viewing habits) shifts behaviour. The desire to source your casual and less important viewing from torrents is lessened by a process that takes fewer steps.

Netflix will not end piracy. But it does significantly lessen the need for it. With the launch of Netflix, Stan, the mooted revamp of Presto, and existing services like YouTube, Australia will finally have a number of high profile, well-resourced streaming services that can have a serious impact on how we watch online video. The way we watch TV is about to become a whole lot more legit.

Netflix By The Regions Report: France

Purpose Of The Report
When Netflix launch into new territories, they must sign content deals with the rights holders of content in that region. As such, different content appears in different Netflix regions. Furthermore, Netflix don’t just roll out US content into every territory, but rather mix it up with local content that suits the cultural temperament of the territory. The Netflix By The Regions Report is a mere snapshot of the sorts of content on offer in each region (in October 2014) and how they differ to other Netflix offerings.

Territory Overview

Netflix launched in France in September 2014 at a monthly price of €7.99 (US$10.02). France already has a well developed SVOD market compared with many regions. Netflix faces competition from services like Canal+ and Numericable. Cultural protectionism is a significant issue in France, with Netflix attacked for subverting efforts. By establishing its European headquarters in Amsterdam, Netflix are not required to meet the requirement that 40% of its content be French in origin. Its Amsterdam HQ also means it can avoid paying taxes in France.

Content

When Netflix launch into a new territory, it’s often very barebones at launch. With France having been operational for just a month as this report is written, the only content available is the launch content. Even with a lower volume of available content, the library is still rich with a whole lot of great titles. There’s certainly enough good content that subscribers are getting value out of a subscription.

While TV series seem to fill out the Popular On Netflix section more heavily than most markets, the range of arthouse film titles seems more fulsome than most Netflix regions offer.

Netflix-France

Titles included in the Popular On Netflix section are:
Breaking Bad (TV), The Walking Dead (TV), The Big Bang Theory (TV), How I Met Your Mother (TV), American Horror Story (TV), Modern Family (TV), Suits (TV), Under The Dome (TV), Fargo (TV), Sons of Anarchy (TV), New Girl (TV), Sherlock, Les Lapins Cretins: Invasion (TV), St Vincent, Orphan Black (TV), Dexter (TV), You Again, I Am Number Four, Jackass 3, Video Games: The Movie, Misfits (TV), Prison Break (TV), Walking Tall (TV), The Killing (TV), Homeland (TV), Hannibal (TV), Liar Liar, The Dark Knight, Sherlock Holmes, Star Trek, Jobs – Gates, Zombieland, Salt, Top Gear (TV), Hemlock Grove (TV), Outlander, Heroes (TV), The Mentalist (TV), Finding Nemo, The Sum of All Fears, Watchmen, Pretty Little Liars (TV), Due Date, ApocolypseHitler, Case 39, Four Brothers, Collateral, Inception, Hercules, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, Snatch, Terminator Salvation, Life As We Know It, The Tourist, Fargo, Apocolypse World War 2, Toy Story, Metronome (TV), The Social Network, Hot Fuzz, Fringe, Confessions of A Shopaholic, The Other Woman, Hitchikers Guide To The Galaxy, Mission Impossible 3, Real Steel, Superbad, The Terminal, Catch Me If You Can, Shaun of The Dead, Full Metal Alchemist, 2012, Prince of Persia, Goodfellas, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

An interesting curiosity in the library are a number of arthouse films that have only had relatively recent releases in the US and are yet to find release in a number of foreign territories, including Australia. The most noteworthy of these titles are the Melissa McCarthy / Bill Murray comedy St Vincent, along with The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her.

StVincent

Overall

It is still early days for Netflix France. While some new subscribers familiar with the US offering may be disappointed at the volume of titles on offer at its launch, the reality is that the library has launched with a strong selection. Those interested in more complex, artier films will be well-served (after all, it is France), however there are still quite a number of Hollywood films that would keep many happy. The TV shows on offer seemed largely to resemble most of the same titles one finds on Netflix in almost every territory (New Girl, Pretty Little Liars, Top Gear, How I Met Your Mother, etc), with very little beyond that. For a ‘day one’ service, it’s pretty good.

Netflix Australia / NZ – Launching March 2015

With the media release issued, it’s now game on. Netflix are coming to Australia.

The market is getting crowded, with Nine Ent Co/Fairfax streaming service ‘Stan’ announced earlier this month and Presto expected to get a revamp to include TV shows in 2015. Australian viewers may actually now have enough options that it won’t be necessary to establish grey subscriptions to overseas services like Netflix US, Hulu, and Amazon Prime among others.

Anyone who regularly reads Televised Revolution knows what to expect from Netflix. The only real surprise being that House of Cards wasn’t mentioned in their media release, despite Foxtel admitting last week to the Daily telegraph that they won’t retain the rights to the show when the series returns for its third season in February.

Right now, let us bask in the glory of the media release that makes the announcement official. The interesting coverage to follow will be how Foxtel react, what Quickflix CEO Stephen Langsford will say now that Netflix have made their presence in Australia official, and whether we’ll receive mode details on an actual launch date for ‘Stan’ in the coming days. Nine and Fairfax have a great opportunity to tie up a substantial number of subscribers prior to the Netflix launch with Stan – it’ll be fascinating to see how they leverage off the Netflix announcement to draw in heat for their own service.

* * * *

LOS GATOS, Calif. Nov. 18 – Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX), the leading Internet movie and TV subscription service, is heading down under, announcing today it will expand into Australia and New Zealand in March 2015.

Internet-connected users in Australia and New Zealand will be able to subscribe to Netflix and instantly watch a curated selection of popular movies and TV shows in high-definition or even 4K where available. At launch, the premium and unique Netflix offering will include such original series as Marco Polo, BoJack Horseman and, among many kids titles, DreamWorks Animation’s All Hail King Julien.

Netflix, available on hundreds of Internet-connected devices, will also be home to the critically acclaimed documentaries Virunga and Mission Blue, and stand-up comedy specials Uganda Be Kidding Me, Live, from Chelsea Handler and Jim Jefferies’s BARE, among many others. The Netflix ANZ selection will expand in 2015 to include highly anticipated original series family thriller Bloodline starring Ben Mendelsohn, Kyle Chandler, Sissy Spacek, Linda Cardellini and Sam Shepard; the gripping Super Hero tale Marvel’s Daredevil featuring Charlie Cox, Rosario Dawson, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson and Vincent D’Onofrio; Sense8, a new globe-spanning thriller series from the creators of The Matrix trilogy and Babylon 5, and, from the creator of Friends, Grace and Frankie with Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda.

Since launching its online service in 2007, Netflix has been connecting people to the stories they love. With a constantly improving user experience, advanced personalisation technology and a curated selection of films and TV shows, members are able to create their own viewing experience and can easily discover new favourites, while reconnecting with popular characters and stories.

Netflix members with a broadband connection can watch whenever, wherever they like, and on any Netflix-ready device they choose. Members can start watching on one device, pause, and then pick up where they left off on another, at home or on the go. It’s easy to sign up for a one-month free trial and cancel anytime.

Netflix will be available at launch on smart TVs, tablets and smartphones, computers and a range of Internet-capable game consoles and set-top boxes. Additional details on pricing, programming and supported devices will be available at a later date. Consumers can sign up to be alerted when Netflix is available on www.netflix.com.

About Netflix
With more than 53 million members, Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) is the world’s leading Internet TV network. Its three-tiered pricing plans offer a range of streaming-quality options, including standard definition video, high-definition and 4K ultra-HD, to one or more screens at a time. New Zealand and Australia would bring the number of countries and territories enjoying Netflix service to more than 50. Netflix is available to members in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, the U.K. and Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

 

Televised Revolution – The Late Great Glen A. Larson (Ep 370)

Prolific television writer and producer Glen A Larson passed away over the weekend, leaving behind a body of work that dramatically impacted on US broadcast television. On this weeks podcast we discuss the work of Larson and how it has shaped the medium.

The panel also discuss the major TV news of the week:

  • Even more evidence Netflix are coming to Australia very soon.
  • The Ten 2015 Upfronts announcements.
  • The SBS 2015 Upfronts announcements.
  • Magnum PI / Battlestar Galactica creator Glen A Larson passes away.
  • Stan signs MGM.

At Televised Revolution, we look forward to receiving your mail and check us out on the Twitter. You can also find the podcast on iTunes (please leave us a review, it helps people find the show).

LISTEN:

Click the Soundcloud player at the top of the page.

WATCH:

The Newsroom – The Most Broadcast-y Show of Cable Television

With this, the fifth to last episode of The Newsroom, the show has found a comfortable voice and has evolved into the show that many had expected from The Newsroom when they sat down to watch the first episode. The voice it has settled on strongly echoes Aaron Sorkin’s work on The West Wing and Sports Night, making The Newsroom the most broadcast television-like TV show that HBO have yet put to air. It’s TV, it’s HBO.

Echoing the Edward Snowden story, this week deals with the legal ramifications of Neal (Dev Patel) inducing an informant into committing an act of espionage to deliver him confidential government documents. The show takes an interesting tact in that the debate that ensures is not as much about Neal potentially giving up a source to protect himself, but rather becomes a debate between whether to investigate the story revealed through the document leak or whether to ignore that it ever happened, saving Neal from potential jail time.

The position taken by Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) is interesting both within the show as well as how it reflects on the show itself. Within the story, McAvoy is determined to stop Neal from investigating the story. He doesn’t want Neal imprisoned, understanding how serious the crime was and the length of the jail term Neal may possibly face. While this sets up the debate between what a journalist with integrity would do as opposed to what a lawyer would suggest as the safe option (McAvoy being a former lawyer turned TV presenter), it also goes to show how much McAvoy has come over the previous 20 episodes/2 seasons from being an arrogant and rude jerk to now demonstrating considerable affection for the journalists in his newsroom.

McAvoy has been rebuilt as a Jeb Bartlett-type, commanding authority while battling a natural instinct for compassion and idealism. This positions McAvoy as the lead character that many viewers familiar with Aaron Sorkins prior work had expected when The Newsroom launched. The Newsroom has always felt like a broadcast TV show that has landed on a cable TV network. It has certainly never felt like a HBO production. In providing The Newsroom with a cable-appropriate voice, Sorkin and the production team over-loaded the series with news fact, quietened the sound of the characters surrounds, and peppered the language with some casual swear words. Also, at the heart of the show we had the cantankerous Will McAvoy, a man far removed from the cuddly President Jeb Bartlett.

With this episode, McAvoy has softened, the environment of the newsroom feels a lot more peppy, and any news reportage is now lead by storylines that further the characters rather than the other way around. While the show is served all the better for the changes made, it does feel far more comfortable and old-school broadcast TV. The Newsroom has essentially evolved into a modern day version of the 1977 Lou Grant TV series.

Lou Grant

Aaron Sorkin is a writer who is well known for repeating himself and, much like we saw with the second and final season of his first series Sports Night, much of the narrative drive this season seems built on a takeover of the cable TV network that they work for. Continuing on from last week, we see Reese Lansing (Chris Messina) facing off against his half siblings who are mounting an attempted takeover of the media company that owns the network. It’s confusing watching the storyline as the show is asking the viewer to be side with both Reese and his mother (played by Jane Fonda) who face losing the company, despite the two being established as antagonists repeatedly through the series run. Particularly in the case of Reese.

Added to the A and B storylines was a tacked on C plot for Maggie Jordan (Allison Pill) who overhears an EPA bureaucrat give an off-the-record phone interview to another journalist. Facing her own ethical dilemma, Jordan finally opts not to report on anything she’s heard based on how she obtained the information. While it provides an interesting counterpoint to the episodes key story involving Neal, it doesn’t really do much of interest. The only thing saving the episode is watching a guest appearance of Paul Lieberstein (Toby from The Office) as the EPA bureaucrat. It’s not that the storyline is particularly memorable, but it’s always enjoyable seeing Lieberstein on the screen.

It should be noted that Paul Lieberstein is doing double duty on The Newsroom, Far beyond his small role on screen, he’s an executive producer on this final season of the show.

Watching this episode, it is genuinely disappointing that The Newsroom will be coming to an end at the conclusion of this season. The show is far less coarse and brittle than it was through the first two seasons and has come out far better for it.