Category Archives: Television

Television Trends & Issues on Modern Media Mix

Kneeling For What You Believe In: Controversy on Sports TV

By now, we are all familiar with the massive debacle that was the NFL kneeling controversy.

What most people still don’t know, however, is how it started, why it was started, and the effect it had on the NFL and all of its sponsors, fans, and players. Let’s dig in, shall we?

Leading up to the 2016 NFL regular season, former Seahawks player and Green Beret Nate Boyer had a talk with San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick about honoring the national anthem. Boyer was actually the one who suggested taking a knee alongside Kaepernick’s teammates during the anthem. Boyer stated that “Soldiers take a knee in front of a fallen brother’s grave, you know, to show respect.”

kneeling

Kaepernick wasted no time and took his first knee during the 49ers’ final game of the 2016 NFL preseason.

What many people didn’t recognize was the purpose behind what he was doing. Kaepernick stated in a postgame press conference that he is “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” For Kaepernick, he was never trying to disrespect the flag, veterans or the national anthem, as many people accused him of doing. He was merely exercising his freedom of speech, something that all veterans and servicemen have fought and died to protect.

Before long, the movement had spread like wildfire across the NFL. Robert Quinn, a defensive end for the Dolphins, raised his fist during the anthem. Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcom Jenkins raised his fist while teammate Chris Long “placed his arm around Jenkins’ shoulder”, cornerback De’Vante Bausby also raised his fist in protest. Just to list a few names.

Initially, the NFL couldn’t do anything to players who protested the anthem. The rules stated that while it is encouraged that all players stand and hold their hand over their heart during the anthem, it is not required.

Many fans who detested these demonstrations began protesting the protests by not going to games, refusing to even watch the games on television and, you guessed it, burning their NFL gear and posting the videos on the Internet. (That’ll show ‘em!)

Kaepernick eventually sued the NFL for conspiring against him, accusing NFL owners of collectively making the decision to no longer allow him to play in their league even though he would be overqualified for a backup role at the least.

The NFL finally caved to President Trump’s incessant whining about players protesting. The NFL decided that it will fine any individual who chooses to do anything other than stand and show respect for the anthem and flag. Players are not required to be present on the field during the anthem, however.

New York Jet’s chairman, Christopher Johnson, said anyone on his team who chooses to protest during the anthem will do so without incurring any fines. He stated that “If somebody (on the Jets) takes a knee, that fine will be borne by the organization, by me, not the players. I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players.

The NFL then changed the policy to suggest that players stand during the anthem, but wouldn’t fine them if they chose not to. Instead, “teams will be subject to a fine if a player disobeys”. Each club does have the freedom to fine its own player if it so chooses, however.

Today, Colin Kaepernick is a civil rights icon. He has donated over one million dollars of his own money to charities across the nation. And he took part in Nike’s 30th anniversary campaign of its Just Do It slogan which led to another wave of backlash against the former NFL star.

The best way we, as a nation, can move forward with this controversy is by asking ourselves how we could handle this situation differently were it to happen again. When a fellow citizen is willing to sacrifice his profession and reputation in order to point out injustice within our own borders, maybe we shouldn’t respond by sending him death threats and burning things to prove a point. Perhaps we could use it as an opportunity to take a look in the mirror and ask ourselves,

“Can we, as a people and as a nation, do better?”

-Michael Oasheim

TV Shows and Sensitivity: How Should Television Address Difficult Topics?

In our divisive political world, television production teams are trying more and more to send their message and address controversial topics. Because, when done right, TV shows can get people talking, spark positive cultural change, and boost ratings. As with anything, there is a right and wrong way to tackle sensitive issues. If done wrong, this can lead to television shows receiving criticism, poor ratings, or possibly being pulled off the air or canceled.

TV Shows Different types of television networks have different levels of content regulation. The most regulated of the types of networks is the broadcast networks. These include channels such as ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox. Most of these networks’ shows, while they may address serious topics, still maintain the lighter tone that their networks establish.

Basic Cable channels are a step above broadcast networks, and they have a little more free range when it comes to dealing with more sensitive topics. Channels under this category include FX and AMC, which include more content for adults, compared to the content found on broadcast channels. Paid Cable networks and Streaming are the least regulated of the networks. These include cable channels like HBO and Showtime, and Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.

In early 2018, Paramount Network, a basic cable network, planned to air a television remake of the 1989 cult classic film “Heathers.” The movie’s plot revolves around Veronica Sawyer, her love interest, Jason Dean (JD), and her so-called friend group “the Heathers.” The story involves Veronica and JD plotting the deaths of popular students at their school, depicting gun violence amongst students and bullying. While this sort of satire worked in the 1980s in a pre-Columbine world, taking on a story of this magnitude should be done so with caution. On top of the subject matter, Paramount cast the main antagonists (the Heathers) and minorities, including Heather Chandler as plus-sized, Heather Duke as gender-queer, and Heather Macnamara as black, which many interpreted as the producers villainizing these types of people. After months of delay due to several school shootings in 2018, Paramount decided to air nine episodes of “Heathers” on their network over the course of five days in October.

Netflix is a powerhouse when it comes to their original content. With executive producer Selena Gomez and based on a popular novel, “Thirteen Reasons Why” fit what makes Netflix Originals successful. After the initial release of the series, it received mixed reviews. Some said the show brought awareness to the affects of bullying and argued it was thought-provoking and would change how people think about their actions. Others felt it glorified suicide with the idea of creating these “tapes” for people that made life bad for them as a sort of revenge and punishment. The idea of leaving these tapes also sparked a meme in the online community, which did not help their cause. While season one was based on the book, season two, and the recently green-lit season three, are both original and continue where the first leaves off in a post-Hannah Baker world.

TV Shows

ABC is known for their more family-friendly content, as their parent company is media powerhouse Disney. “Black-ish” follows a successful black man in the suburbs and his middle-class family. The story portrays the life of a group of people that up until recently, was not portrayed on television. The show is considered a comedy, but does not shy away from sensitive topics, especially those relating to the black community, such as police brutality. The show also addressed the results of the 2016 election, which shocked many. Despite addressing divisive political topics, the ratings have remained good and this fall, the show entered its fifth season.

In all, it is not the severity of the topics that a television show chooses to talk about. Different shows may depict the same issue, one may do a good job and approach the topic from all angles and with sensitivity. Others, if done incorrectly, may result in controversy over their television show, which could result in various consequences, such as poor ratings, boycotts, or being canceled by the network. It is important to use common sense and do research before addressing a divisive issue. While it is great to get people talking about these important issues, if television series are going to use their voices to bring important ideas to the table, they need to do it the right way. How should television networks bring sensitive topics to light without offending audiences? Should television avoid tackling divisive topics all together? Do you think there are certain topics that should remain off-limits?

-Gabby Leitner

Disney Play: Yay or Nay?

Coming in 2019 is the new Disney streaming service to be known as Disney Play. Imagine Netflix or Hulu, except everything Disney. No, it won’t be completely full of Princess movies and cartoons, as it will also contain everything else that Disney owns. Movies and content from the Marvel Universe, Lucasfilms, and 21st Century Fox will all be featured on Disney Play, as well as some original content that will be sporadically produced. So whether you like it or not, say goodbye to Disney content on Netflix, and say hello to Disney content on the all new Disney Play.

Disney Play All Disney content will be removed from Netflix within the next few years. The majority will be removed in 2018, but a few films in the Marvel Universe will remain on Netflix until later in 2019. Disney is very excited about breaking into the streaming service world, where it will compete directly with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Disney already owns 60% of Hulu so some may ask why they feel the need to create their own streaming platform. The answer is that Disney felt the need to put their own brand name out there in a streaming crazed world. Although the new service will take precedence, there will still be plenty of Disney owned content that will appear on Hulu.

One of the promises that Disney CEO, Bob Iger, made to the world when announcing Disney Play was that it would be a cheaper streaming service than Netflix. The cheapest package that Netflix offers is $8. Based on Iger’s claims, expect Disney Play to be less than that. Having a cheap streaming service is obviously a great way to attract business. However, depending on how low the price actually is, some may start to question the fact that the service is so cheap and maybe raise an eyebrow at the content that is being offered.  So how cheap can Disney Play be? I guess we will find out come 2019.

Disney PlayAnother way that Disney plans on bringing in subscribers is with original content it will produce occasionally. The first movie that will be featured on Disney Play is called “Timmy Failure.” The movie will be based on the book that was written by Stephan Pastis. The movie carries a $42 million budget and will be premiered on Disney Play in 2019. Other original content that will be featured is a new Star Wars series called “The Mandalorian” that will be exclusive to Disney Play. The series is a 10-part series that carries a $100 million budget. Disney hopes that the big name series will excite Star Wars fans worldwide and bring in more subscribers. (Here is the first known picture of the new series “The Mandalorian”.)

Disney Play still has plenty of unknowns and what ifs. Details revolving around the new streaming service have been kept pretty secret since the idea was announced in 2017. I would expect more info to be released as the kickoff date approaches. There are many speculations about Disney Play but few will know until it is actually right in front of us.

I am really interested in seeing how successful Disney Play will be. With limited content compared to other streaming services, Disney Play will be up against some heavy competition in the streaming world, but that does not scare Disney chief Bob Iger. Iger seems to be very confident of what Disney can do, and he looks forward to watching Disney Play kickoff. So I ask you, what do you think? Disney Play: yay or nay?

– Christian Ellsworth

The Battle for the Cinema: Who has the Best Superheroes?

When you compare superhero franchises, it is safe to say that Marvel is currently the clear winner, but why? DC has been making movies for the same amount of time, but Marvel seems to only get bigger and bigger even as DC struggles.

SuperheroesDC and Marvel both are in the same genre, but both take their movies in different directions. In recent years DC has made most of their movies kind of dark in tone and theme. More of a realism, that your actions have consequences, and they kind of focus on the adult audience. Marvel, on the other hand, has tailored their movies with more of a lighter tone and they have more humor in them. They are movies that anyone can really grow to like, from young children to older audiences.

DC tried their own take on making their funny movie with the 2016 release of Suicide Squad, but the movie did not live up to the hype. You could not go anywhere without hearing the songs for the movie, or seeing a trailer for it. Another movie that came out around that time that was Marvel’s release of Guardians of the Galaxy. Not much was know about Guardians when it was released, but it grew quite a following. Both Suicide Squad and Guardians ended up about doing the same at the box office, but with Guardians doing a bit better.

SuperheroesAnother good pair of competing movies was DC’s Man of Steel vs Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World. Both of these movies came out the same year. The Superman movie was supposed to launch a new franchise, but the film did not do as well as hoped. The Thor movie did just roughly the same number, even though Thor is easily not the most popular of the Avengers.

Marvel has also done an incredible job in bringing all of their shows and movies together. All the shows that are owned by Disney are in the same universe as the movies. After the first Avenger movie, Marvel and ABC created the show Marvel Agents of Shield which took one of the characters from the movie and brought the show around him and Shield. This gave fans a way to keep their love of Marvel in check while they made new movies. They even had a cameo of Samuel L Jackson play Nick Fury at one point. If you want to learn more about it, you can find it here.

SuperheroesCompare it to DC where they have a flourishing TV shows like Supergirl, The Flash, and Arrow. Instead of bringing The Flash from the TV show to play in the movie, they hired someone else to play Barry Allen and never really gave the TV show actor a chance. This gives fans two different DC universes to like instead of one as a whole. Some fans may like one better than the other and might not support the other

I personally hope that DC does become more popular and will be able to compete at the same level with Marvel. Marvel is on it way out with some characters due to contracts and you don’t want to just exhaust a character.

-Joey Linder

Tuition Costs Suck, But College Students can Save on a Spotify + Hulu Bundle

The cost of college can be expensive, but the cost of streaming unlimited music, movies and TV is now more affordable for U.S college students than you would think. Just recently Spotify joined forces with the TV streaming service, Hulu, in hopes to gain more subscribers on both platforms, and create a new partnership.

spotify huluOn September 7th, these two different entertainment platforms officially opened up their brand-new deal, $4.99 a month for access to both Spotify and Hulu, for U.S college students only. This bundle is the same price for regular Spotify, but now you get Hulu added on for free through this new offer. Both companies continue to have their own separate apps, so there will be no technology integration, where you would see Hulu suggestions within Spotify’s app. So, in a sense, yes they are bundled together, but each still operates completely separated from the other.

In the past, Spotify has tried to push their original videos into the spotlight and grab their listener’s attention. But if you watch one of their original short episodes, you would understand why nobody would sign up to Spotify strictly to watch any of these episodes. It has long since abandoned those plans for combining music and TV. With this new plan with Hulu, Spotify may not need to start from scratch on their TV channel idea. We could be seeing something big in the near future with these two platforms partnership that has already been created.

SpotifyThe landscape in the music streaming business can be very competitive. When you look at the number of subscribers for Spotify (60 million) and Apple Music (27 million), however, you can see that this entertainment bundle is only going to increase their numbers and widen the gap between their competition. Apple hasn’t announced anything about what they might potential do in reaction towards this new bundle.

Hulu’s plan in all of this is to hopefully gain a larger number of subscribers and make a habit of students continuing to use Hulu after they graduate college. By getting access to Hulu for free, students will get introduced to streaming TV and will hopefully enjoy the experience and want to keep Hulu. On the other hand, Spotify is trying to do a similar strategy. Students get half price to Spotify premium, but once they graduate it goes back to normal price. Spotify is hoping to draw in those students at a cheap price and access to Hulu and keep them once they graduate. Spotify is paying for all the advertising and digital promotion, while Hulu doesn’t have to pay anything. But Hulu is not getting any revenue by letting Spotify subscribers gain access to their streaming network.

With such a low cost, college students can get the perfect entertainment bundle with music and TV streaming ability. We will see if these two companies continue to share their networks and advance their market to more than just U.S college students. This entertainment bundle is nothing like we have seen before, and we will see if it works out for both Spotify and Hulu.

-Nick Langel

Don’t Be a Dick: American Vandal, a New Mocumentary

Scandal, conspiracy, lies and dicks. These are just a few of the themes from the new Netflix original, American Vandal.  This eight-episode mocumentary will have you biting your nails and sitting on the edge of your seat.  With a cliffhanger at the end of every 35-minute episode, there is no way that you won’t binge-watch American Vandal.

American VandalIt was an in-service day for teachers and the students all had the day off.  27 cars got tagged with 27 dicks in red spray paint.  Senior Dylan Maxwell is immediately pegged for doing it, being the class clown and known “dick drawer”, it just made sense to the school board and one specific teacher who has it out for him, Mrs. Shapiro.

Sophomores Peter Maldonado and Sam Ecklund think otherwise.

Peter and Sam are the two students that make a documentary, that may not prove Dylan innocent, but will reveal the truth as to what happened on that day.  With a supporting cast of students to interview, Peter and Sam seem to have their work cut out for them.  Through clever and somewhat crude means, the boys point to Dylan’s innocence, with silly things like the lack of ball hairs, and the different shape of the head than Dylan’s usual drawings.

The idea for American Vandal came to creators Tony Yacenda and Dan Perrault in 2016 after seeing the success of the Netflix original documentary How to Make a Murderer.  They set out to emulate such documentaries as How to Make a Murderer, Serial and The Jinx.  In many ways, American Vandal makes light-hearted fun of the way documentaries like these are set up.  An article from Vanity Fair does a great job discussing this.

When they went to Netflix with the idea, they had to assure the creative executives that their series would be “more than just a dick joke sketch”.   American Vandal premiered on Netflix on September 15, 2017.  Ever since its release, critics and audiences alike have been raving about American Vandal.  It has a critic review consensus of 96% and an audience rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.  It also received 8.3/10 on IMdb.

One of the greatest things about American Vandal is how relatable it is to actual high school students.  Through social media and obvious, but classic, stereotypes you really feel immersed in their world.  Yacenda was quoted in an article on The Verge saying:

“The common threads were that high school kids don’t use Facebook much. Certainly not with their own friends. They use a lot of Snapchat. Instagram is the main one. But I guess you learn that kids have their public Instagram, and then they’ll have a private Instragram for just their close friends, so they  can post memes or whatever.”

Yacenda and Perrault do a great job of showing all types of high school students.  Alex Trimboli is the brown-nosing honor student who is referred to as “a little bitch”, Christa Carlyle is the student body president and is always doing crazy stunts for charity, Sara Pearson is the popular, hottest girl in school and Dylan and his friends are the burn out stoners.

American VandalSo what do you think?  Does this sound like a show that you’d be interested in?  Is the idea of minors at parties and hooking up something that should be on television?  If you have seen the show, try not to spoil it for others.  I hope you are convinced enough to watch this mystery of the spray-painted dicks.

-Mitch Diamond

A La Carte Comeback: Can Live Stream TV Take Over the OTT Audience?

Are you tired of being forced to pay for gratuitously bundled cable TV packages with hundreds of channels you aren’t going to use? I have some good news! You can now supplement your cable television experience through paid, monthly subscription services such as Netflix and Hulu!

TVAre you overwhelmed trying to keep track of all those services you’re currently subscribed to, and looking for a balanced, all-a-round package where you can pick and choose what kind of content you want? I have more good news! Cable TV is back in the form of live-streaming and has traded gratuitous channel bundles for much more economically, a-la-carte-based packaging system.

Just in my lifetime computers and the Internet have gone from rare commodities to necessities, and cell phones today would be considered supercomputers, going far beyond what was previously thought possible 20 years ago. I believe no other field compares to how incredibly visible the Digital Media field is when it comes to evolution. Technology is always improving, and companies are scrambling to keep up.

For the last decade, the cable industry has been threatened by cord cutting and that threat is still growing every year with over 22 million adults canceling their cable subscription by the end of 2017. Consumers were looking for alternatives to cable television and the ability to stream high definition video reliably was the answer.

Streaming services have developed a lot since their original conception. Most services operate by licensing the content they stream from companies such as ABC and Warner Brothers. As companies like Netflix expand internationally, licensing costs go up significantly. Since 2012, Netflix is paying more than double in licensing fees, but has dropped over 40% of their content. Much of their spending, like other services have shifted more towards original content.

TVThe picture above shows each services’ estimated budgets for original content in 2017. Each year  spending has been increasing significantly between every service with Netflix being the forerunner in spending.

While streaming services are constantly evolving, so is cable television. Over the last few years, services such as Sling and Playstation Vue have entered the playing field as the best alternative to cable television. While streaming services such as Netflix intend on completely replacing television I believe that Sling and Playstation Vue can take a different approach and focus on co-existing with streaming services while still offering content that services like Netflix will never be able to fulfill. This would be the smartest strategy since Netflix and Amazon cover the video-on-demand market.

Television companies don’t need to waste money licensing properties that a service like Netflix already carries – it would simply add unnecessary operation costs which would inevitably lead to rises in subscription costs – and value is something these services need to capitalize on the most.

TVThe demand for live television is never going to go away, and I believe that services such as Sling and Playstation Vue that offer a-la-carte style subscription packages are the perfect response to the ever-rising number of cord cutters. In fact, many of the cord cutters that I know that own homes have opted to subscribe to Sling specifically as a cost-saving method where they still get to fulfill their news and sports hunger without the costs of, say, getting their cable through Mediacom.

Do you think that live stream TV will become a casual consumer service such as Netflix where almost everyone will have it? How do you think live streaming TV affect subscription service numbers, if at all? Be sure to comment below!

-Kevin Thorn

NAB 2017: Next Gen TV is Coming!

While at the National Association of Broadcasters Show (NAB) we saw all types of technologies one could imagine. One of the largest booths there was the NextGen TV Hub booth. NextGen TV explained the future of TV; how streaming and broadcast TV would be become one. This was the answer our group had been looking for! Broadcast TV was not afraid of competing with streaming because of new legislation being brought forward by the FCC that will allow TV stations to broadcast using the ATSC 3.0 format, a newer version of the digital transmission format used today.

Next Gen TVThis was better explained at the session tittled “DTV: The Next Generation.” Here, we sat down and listened to companies who will be assisting with this new merger between streaming and broadcast television. They discussed the positive effects that are to come with the merger and what they hope to see with the new creation coming to the world of television. So with the blending between the two digital platforms, the future looks bright for TV and streaming as they become one. Watch our video on Next Gen TV from the NAB Show for more details!