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Entertainment

TV Talk: Series With Licensing Potential

Karina Masolova, karina@plainlanguagemedia.com

The average consumer has 4.5 different sources (up from 3.7 in 2014) to choose from when they’re ready to watch a TV show, including linear TV, DVR, VOD, Netflix, and Hulu, according to Hub Entertainment Research. Among younger viewers aged 18-34, the number of platforms is even higher at 5.1 average platforms. Only 39% of viewers say that live, linear TV from a traditional pay TV service is what they turn to first, down from 47% last year.

Adding to the mix, Walmart is considering launching a subscription streaming video service to compete with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, according to The Information. Separate from its Vudu on-demand offering, the new service will be competitively priced at under $8 per month.

As the number of sources for consuming serial entertainment grow, so do the number of TV shows. Scripted original TV shows are expected to grow to as many as 520 shows this year, according to an FX study. That follows an additional 7% growth in 2017, 8% in 2016, and 9% in 2015—all the signs of a bubble ready to pop.

Watchlist: New Series, Shows & Surprises

Viacom is in discussions to acquire digital media company AwesomenessTV for less than half of its one-time $650 million valuation, reports Bloomberg. Comcast holds a 51% in the company, while Verizon and Hearst each hold a 24.5% piece. AwesomenessTV was co-founded by Brian Robbins, now president of Viacom’s Paramount Players production division.

MAD Magazine content, including current events commentary as well as classic MAD material, will be available to Snapchat users starting Sept. 1 as part of a partnership between WarnerMedia and Snap. John Ficarra, former MAD executive editor, and Peter Girardi, EVP of Blue Ribbon Content, will oversee the venture.

Nat Geo taps Bear Grylls to host six-part nature doc Hostile Planet, set to debut in Spring 2019. Meanwhile, StarTalk with Neil DeGrasse Tyson is back for another season.

Esme & Roy, Sesame Workshop’s first new animated program in over a decade, premieres on HBO in the U.S. and Treehouse in Canada.

Nickelodeon gave a 26-episode greenlight to a relaunch of Rugrats and Paramount Pictures will produce a live-action film featuring CGI characters. Both the TV series and movie will include new adventures with the main characters, plus some newcomers.

Cartoon Network will premiere DHX Media’s new animated series Mega Man: Fully Charged. Before the linear premiere, the first 10 episodes will be available on the Cartoon Network app and various TV providers’ VOD as well as on-demand streaming platforms in the U.S. The latest update in the video game series—Mega Man 11—will be released for consoles in Oct.

Banijay Group’s Zodiak Kids partners with Icelandic lifestyle brand Tulipop on a co-development and co-production deal for an animated TV series based on Tulipop’s characters and landscapes.

The CW is developing a live-action Batwoman series written by former Vampire Diaries exec producer Caroline Dries and based on the DC Comics character. Kate Kane stars as Batwoman, an out lesbian and highly trained street fighter primed to right the Gotham’s criminal resurgence.

An adaptation of the Valiant comic Quantum And Woody is in development at TBS, with Anthony Russo and Joe Russo (Avengers: Infinity Wars) and Mike Larocca (Spy) on board to exec produce via their shingle AGBO.

Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles is in development at Hulu. Paramount TV and Anonymous Content optioned the book series last year, and Rice’s son Christopher Rice will serve as exec producer alongside her and Anonymous’ David Kanter and Steve Golin.

Netflix announces its first slate of series and films based on the stories from Millarworld, the entertainment company run by Mark Millar and Lucy Millar Netflix bought last year and whose global comic book franchises include Wanted, Kingsman, and Reborn. Original series to be produced include Jupiter’s Legacy, a multigenerational American superhero epic as well as multilingual series American Jesus, which follows a 12-year-old boy who suddenly discovers he’s returned as Jesus Christ. Film projects include Empress, Huck, Sharkey, and The Bounty Hunter.

eOne signs a first-look deal renewal with filmmaker, producer, and show creator Datari Turner under his Datari Turner Productions banner. Building from the 2016 initial partnership which saw success with titles such as WeTV series Growing Up Hip Hop, Turner will continue to create, produce and develop original programming.

In more eOne news, the company secures the IP to graphic comic series Skin&Earth, written and illustrated by singer/songwriter Lights. The first six issues will be developed for television, as well as digital and gaming content. Lights is co-managed by eOne; Andrew Lazar of Mad Chance Productions will produce Skin&Earth.

Amazon Studios gives an eight-episode straight-to-series order to Tales From the Loop, an hourlong series based on the sci-fi art of Simon Stalenhag, from writer Nathaniel Halpern (Legion), director Mark Romanek, Matt Reeves’ 6th & Idaho, and Swedish production shingle Indio. Series is a co-production with Fox 21 Television Studios.

Chris Addison and Will Smith are back together. The pair is creating transatlantic fantasy detective series Warlock Holmes (working title), described as “Princess Bride-meets-Game of Thrones.” The project already has a British broadcaster on board.

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