Friday, 30 October 2015

How to Survive in a Pick-and-Pay World: My Checklist

* Have Exclusive, Attractive, Programming
A good example of this is Spike TV. On neither Shomi nor Netflix will you find Bellator, Glory, Cops, Lip Sync Battle, Jail, or certain cards from Premiere Boxing Champions. Since I like watching all of this, I'm gonna stick around.

* Niche is Nice
Unlike Teletoon, the animation on Cartoon Network is much more appealing to adults. Compare the likes of Adventure Time, Regular Show, Gumball, and Steven Universe, to most originals from Teletoon and YTV. If you wanna know the appeal behind Japanese animation, Cartoon Network's original shows are your best bet.

Although, it would be nice if Adult Swim aired more of their originals. But that's what you get when your interpretation of the brand is "adult animation" as opposed to "FOX cartoons and live-action comedies". I mean, isn't that what TBS is for?

* Serve the Underserved
Wanna know why FEVA TV is better than BET's Canadian feed? Then read the posts I've made; I've already said my peace.

At the moment, excluding broadcast networks, these are the only channels I'd want to subscribe to. These are the networks and brands that appeal to me the most and, therefore, are worth sticking with cable. Different people have different tastes though, and there's no guaranteed that enough people share my interests enough to subscribe to these channels as well.

You can guarantee that most people will stick with Showcase, CP24, YTV, Treehouse or the sports channels and American networks, but not on crappy lifestyle networks or the likes of M3, Fashion Television, BookTelevision, G4, MTV2, DTOUR, or even DejaView.

...Different tastes, remember?

Saturday, 24 October 2015

How to Make a Modern Action Show (or "Why From Dusk Till Dawn is Better Than The Player")

When I heard from IGN that NBC reduced the episode order for The Player, I knew it was time I had this chat with you. The Player is one of the most disappointing shows I've seen a while. I'm sorry if I sound like a tool, since I really hate being that guy, but I have got to be honest. If I sound like I haven't done my research on this show, or even watched it, that's because I can barely remember what has happened in the show so far. If I can't do that the first time around, its not worth watching a second time.

From what I read from an interview on IGN, The Player was supposed to be influenced by 80s action Shows. But, from the episodes I've watched, this show is little more than a genre-lite drama: a typical drama but with more gunfights and explosions. A template action show is, from my perspective, an kids show rewritten for adults. Instead of character development or plot, the shows focus is on the good guys fighting the bad guys. Think Power Rangers if it was written for adults. In fact, character is everything because, ultimately, action shows aren't about the plot, but about how its cast deals with it. I mean, do you honestly believe Dragon Ball Z was remembered for the plot? You want an actual story? Then go watch a drama, because this why I love action shows and movies.

Characters are defined not by their backstory or motivations, but by their ACTIONS. Its why the Mr. T's and James Bond's of the world are remembered as such. We didn't care about who they were, but we remembered what they did and how they went about it. I didn't give a shit about the titular "Player", but I learned he used to enjoy his old profession. Again, as I'm writing this, I can't remember what that was, but it sounded messy. I would have loved to see that guy as the main main, instead of this FPS protagonist I can find in any Call of Duty knockoff.

Compare this to From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, an real action show. The series is about a group of disparate people who are after some macguffin by the big bad for various reasons. Each of these characters are defined and remembered by their actions. As a bonus, the tone and genre of the series can change depending on them. The story of our leads, the Gecko Brothers, is treated as crime fiction; The Fuller Family, a drama; and Ranger Gonzales, an action-horror flick.

As an action-drama, The Player instead follows the same template as Gotham, The Flash, and Arrow. But those shows had characters that would still be memorable even if they weren't based those from a comic book. Case-and-point: Fish Mooney. Being dramas at their core, it also helps that their ongoing story arcs are intriguing. However, The Player's plight - a man trying to find his wife - is just cliche. It wouldn't surprise me if it turned out the wife was working for the bad guy the whole time.

I would have love to see a break in the traditional prime-time crap I watch, as well as the influx of superheroes dramas, but The Player isn't it sadly. I'm not surprised that NBC is wavering on it, nor will I be when it gets cancelled. Outside of 80s action shows, I don't know what the gold standard for a primetime action show on broadcast television is, but The Player (along with Taxi Brooklyn, by-the-by) are good examples of how not to go about it.

'Should have just renewed Constantine.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Canadian Broadcasters Would Suck At Anime Simulcasts

I think it's about time to call out broadcasters who spend so much money on American crap, yet never finds the time to air them until the whole world finished watching. Case-and-point, Mr. Robot, the show that finally gave USA Network the chance to properly tell its critics to suck it, is now airing on Showcase months after it already aired in the States. More recently, MuchMusic began airing season two of TripTank a just a few weeks after Comedy Central premiered it. You would think that since Much started airing Comedy Central series that they would air them day-and-date with the States. Seriously, its on Fridays at Midnight! I know its not Futurama, but come on!

Meanwhile, shows like Jane the Virgin and iZombie are bypassing a Canadian broadcaster in favor of Netflix and other streaming sites. In other words, if we can't watch them on the same day stateside, we can at least watch them tomorrow. If we can at least do that with dedicated streaming sites, why couldn't Much or other broadcasters do that with their websites? If you can't air it on the network today, just stream on your website tomorrow. This is kinda how Anime Simulcasts work. The big difference is, viewers can and will be able to watch them at least an hour after they air overseas. Although, its very jarring that I can only watch From Dusk til Dawn on Netflix the day after it airs on El Rey Network.

I believe we can chalk this problem up to the messed up programming rights Canadian networks have. Its the reason why we're still waiting for Shomi or some other outlet to give us a legal way to watch every episode of Arthur and The Simpsons ever. Its the reason why Adult Swim Canada won't be airing the new Robot Chicken DC Comics special until who knows when. Most damningly, its the reason why Canadians almost missed out on the new season of The Mindy Project, after the show was brought back by Hulu. But, if you're like me, you can just pirate that shit. After all, if Canadian broadcasters aren't willing to put in the effort to meet our needs, why go through the trouble to do things their way.

Its ironic how Canadian broadcasters seemingly wants nothing to do with mature anime because, compared to the way anime is streamed and broadcast elsewhere, its way better than the treatment they've shown for American shows these days. I'm almost glad Corus Entertainment isn't getting back into the anime scene anytime soon.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

"Freeform" is the new Showcase

Juicebox, Pop, Action. You would never have known these were the names of TV channels because they are just words in a dictionary. Generic, uninspired, bland. Compare that shit to Teletoon, YTV, and MuchMusic; far more recognizable names and, in turn, marketable brands. Basically, if I were to use Google News to search for your brand and I end up getting something completely different, no matter how many times I rephrase it, you fucked up big time. That is exactly why ABC Family's decision to change their name to Freeform is a mistake. Not a huge mistake, just a mistake.

The name change was necessary; parents of America have long complained about the network airing more mature fare than its namesake would have you believe. Of course, parents of America being parents of America, they didn't bother to recognize that ABC Family is named as such due to some contractual crap by the channel's original owners, The CBN, in which the word "family" must be in the channel's name in perpetuity. However, as Disney/ABC were planning on a major revamp for their network, they found out that no such clause exists. They still have to air that CBN crap, but that doesn't mean they have to keep the name. So fuck, Parents of America, and Suck it, CBN!

That being said, the new name is, to be politically incorrect, very lame. At least with ABC Family, you get the impression that network's programming would be more in-line to what a 24/7 version of the ABC broadcast network would be like; mature, yet wholesome. Freeform is just an adjective people use to describe stuff like CBC Radio 3 or MTV2 back in its glory days. It's no different than Pop, a universal word used to describe what is, or was, popular. Wheras TVGN was the name of a fucking network.

You want to know an example of a good name change? Try Sci Fi, a network named after a genre of it had very little to do with that decided to change their name, but keep its pronunciation. Nowadays, its called Syfy and it has since become its own thing, but because of how familiar the name sounds, people can still recognize it. Better yet, try ABC Spark: a name explicitly chosen to avoid confusion with Family Channel, which in itself is confused with the many international networks sharing the same name!

If the new name really was chosen based on research and demographics, I'm inclined to believe so. If I learned anything from the years I've covered television, as well as the news and controversies I've heard from the gaming industry, this market-based research crap only does more harm than good. Anyone who doesn't know a thing about television, but has enough common sense, would have come up with a better name because at least they understand that a name has to stand out. It has to be unique, unconventional, or at least something you can't just look up in a goddamn dictionary.

At the very least, they should keep the ABC branding. Though, on the other hand, didn't they want change their name to XYZ in the first place?

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Even TV Anywhere Apps Suck in Canada

I know I had some unrealistic expectations about the new NickGO app Corus just launched when I tried it out. After all, Corus only uses the domestic version of Nickelodeon as a dumping ground for Canadian originals and an outlet for classic Nick shows. Neither Nick Canada's website or Facebook page has been updated in years, and yet its getting its own TV app?! It's very disappointing that Corus hasn't really taken advantage of their exclusive rights to Nickelodeon programming to build a better streaming platform for them. Bell Media had the right idea with Cravetv and its exclusive access to HBO and Showtime series.

In general, TV Anywhere apps are garbage; they're basically video-on-demand platforms with even less content. More insultingly, their barebones offerings are gated behind a cable/satellite subscription paywall and I still have to deal with in-app advertisments. The best they can do is stream the channel live and offer select episodes from network programming; exactly what YTVGO does. Otherwise, you're better off getting an app for Netflix, Hulu, and Shomi (Also, Cravetv, in 2016) first. After all, what's the point of a live channel stream when you can watch the show you want now and the new episode later?

For comparison's sake, I downloaded both the Shomi and FX apps for my Android phone. Naturally, I'm able to watch past seasons of, for example, the League and You're The Worst on Shomi and the current seasons on FX Now Canada. However, with FXNC, I can only watch the last two episodes aired. So that means, if I somehow miss the first episode within two weeks of airing, I can't watch it again legally. Keyword being "legally", as in, the only way I can watch that episode if I steam it on a pirate site illegally. Is that what you want, Rogers? Because that's what's happening thanks to your shitty app. It's probably better just to watch on-demand from my cable box.

Compare that shit with the Adult Swim app, which offers a lot more value even outside the paywall. I can watch full episodes of old original shows, livestreams from their website, and do some other cool shit. Stuff like that makes these apps a lot less useless than they already are. So not all TV Anywhere apps are shit, they do their jobs fine, but even the decent ones could use a lot of improvement.

At the end of the day, however, I do believe the current TVE model is just a waste of time. HBO had the right idea with HBO Now; instead of tying our brands to the cable subscription model, we should be creating streaming platforms of our own and allow our subscribers to access our content free of barriers (aside from money, of course). Corus should have created a Nickelodeon app that allows fans of Nick's programming, from the 90s to now, to watch them all, anytime, anywhere. Every Simpsons Ever? Try, Every Rugrats Ever! They can do more than just a livestream of the Canadian Nick channel and only a few shows with a handful of episodes.

Canadian companies are so desperate to hang on to the tired cable model, they would settle for the outdated and mundane, when they could have made more money by being innovative and creative. I'm not asking them give their shit away for free, I'm telling them that if they don't try a more creative, consumer-friendly approach, they will lose more than just subscribers.

But, seriously, a Nickelodeon streaming site would be nice...

Thursday, 1 October 2015

FM vs M3: Two digits, One-sided

Yesterday, NuvoTV folded into Fuse and, in the former's place, FM was launched. Sadly, Fuse's schedule looks almost identical to MTV2, mostly because they both air Everybody Hates Chris. So, yet another music network bites the dust, but that's where FM come into play. In an earlier post, I commented on how FM was going to be similar to networks like MuchVibe and MTV Jams; just an automated music video loop. But, looking at its current schedule, FM looks more like Fuse before the relaunch: an entertainment channel that's mainly music-focused.

I don't know how the southies are taking this, but I definitely wish M3 would take notes. In the three years M3 has spent stealing shows, they could have been experimenting more with their format. They could have tried airing videos overnight, when Much and other so-called music networks are airing their entertainment crap. Or, since they like retro videos so much, they could air more retro shows too. I bet you their marathon of Saved by the Bell got more viewers than any episode of Pretty Little Liars. They should have brought in Beverly Hills 90210 or even shows like Charlie's Angels and The A-Team, rather than forgettable fare like Anger Management.

Fuse also has the right idea of targeting millennials, rather than M3's 30+ "cool crowd" that would rather watch FX or Showcase. From the get go, M3's lineup was teen oriented, which clashed horribly with their adult-oriented fare. You would have never guessed that the original home for Reign also airs Dating Naked. More unforgivable, since the MuchMore era, the channel's adult video rotation has been drowned out by CHR crap. If you want to know a better example of a channel targeting a dual-audience, try watching Nickelodeon sometime.

Fuse has nothing to lose with their rebrand. In the near three years Revolt has been on the air, it's become a lot more popular than Fuse. I'm not even sure people know the latter still exists, but they will soon enough. With FM, Fuse is going right after MTV who, like the rest of Viacom, is in the middle of a ratings decline and trying to reverse their luck. MTV's five-network suite is bleeding out, and Fuse's duo of destruction is out for blood.

But in Canada, there's no competition. Every network is doing the same thing: eight-hour blocks, then its back to their imported crap. The only real music network left is Aux, and even they're starting to slip. In the end, I'd rather watch FM than M3, because at least FM gets it. With FM, they're at least trying to modernize the music genre in television. Like I said before, they're finding a mix between music and entertainment, with music on the dominant end.

Bell Media could stand to learn a lesson from these guys.