While CES becomes a bigger spotlight for television each year, the industry’s premier January event continues to be the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour, which begins today at the Langham Huntington in Pasadena, Calif.
More than 200 television journalists and critics are gathering for the TCA’s semiannual event (there’s also summer press tour each July/August), featuring 14 days of panels, set visits and receptions that will spotlight new and returning shows from dozens of broadcast, cable and streaming outlets. (As usual, Adweek will be filing stories extensively throughout.)
Many networks used the summer press tour to set their agendas for the coming season—most notably, the five broadcast chiefs pushed back against the narrative of declining linear ratings by insisting that their shows are stronger than ever, thanks to their dominance on digital platforms. Now, the winter press tour will highlight the TV industry’s biggest issues for 2018, all of which are likely to permanently alter the medium’s landscape in the coming months.
These are the seven biggest questions about the future of TV that the winter press tour will tackle over the next two weeks:
What is the future of the 21st Century Fox TV properties that will—and won’t—be bought by Disney?
Last month, Disney announced that it will acquire 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion, after spinning off some Fox assets into a company that will tentatively be called New Fox. While Disney doesn’t expect the deal to close for another 12 to 18 months, there are major questions about what will happen to the Fox TV properties heading to Disney—including FX, Fox’s TV studio, National Geographic and Fox’s 30 percent stake in Hulu (all of which will join Disney assets like ABC, Freeform and ESPN)—as well as the properties not included in the deal, like Fox, Fox News and Fox Sports.
Many of the top execs of these Fox assets will have their first chance at press tour to publicly discuss the future of their networks and their own roles, starting today with Fox Television Group chairmen and CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman, who jointly oversee both the Fox TV studio (which is Disney-bound) and the Fox network (which isn’t).
How will sexual harassment scandals continue to reshape TV?
The onslaught of sexual harassment allegations over the past several months has affected almost every network appearing at press tour, which has led to an exodus of some of TV’s biggest names in front of and behind the camera. (Among them: Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose and Kevin Spacey.) TV execs and creators alike will be grilled at press tour about the fallout from the past few months and what they’re planning to do to stamp out sexual harassment.
Can ABC successfully revive American Idol?
Of all the new shows this season, the biggest—and riskiest—addition by far was ABC’s decision to revive American Idol. The controversial move dominated the May broadcast upfront week, with rivals taking plenty of shots at ABC, while the network insisted its big swing will pay off. We’ll see if critics have warmed up to the show during ABC’s TCA day on Monday, when reporters will talk with the execs and talent involved with the new version of Idol, and start to determine whether ABC’s decision to bring the show back in March was brilliant—or boneheaded.
Will Hulu continue its momentum when The Handmaid’s Tale returns?
A year ago, Hulu dazzled winter press tour critics with the first episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, which went on to be named the TCA Program of the Year, and then won the Emmy for Outstanding Drama. Now it’s time for Hulu to prove that Handmaid’s Tale has plenty left in the tank for Season 2—which will be paneling at press tour—and reveal whether its high-profile new dramas like The Looming Tower (which follows the counter-terrorism divisions of the FBI and CIA in the late ’90s as they follow Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda) and cop drama Hard Sun are worthy successors to the Elisabeth Moss drama. With both Netflix and Amazon skipping press tour yet again, this is Hulu’s chance to dominate the streaming spotlight.
Will the Paramount Network give USA and TNT a run for their money?
It’s been almost a year since Viacom CEO Robert Bakish revealed his plan to rebrand Spike as Paramount Network, creating a general entertainment network that the company hopes can compete alongside USA and TNT for audiences and ad dollars. As Paramount Network launches on Jan. 18, Viacom is giving the network its TCA coming out party, where execs and talent will either soar or stumble out of the gate with shows like Waco (a limited about the deadly 1993 standoff between the FBI, ATF and David Koresh’s Branch-Davidians) and drama Yellowstone, starring Kevin Costner.
With the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics, how big will NBC’s demo lead be this season?
NBC already has a healthy lead among its rivals this season in the 18-49 demo, which will only increase with February’s unbeatable one-two punch of Super Bowl LII and the Winter Olympics. The network will take the demo crown no matter what, but if it can engineer ratings gains for both events—and it will be sharing its plans for programming enhancements over the next two weeks—it could end up with the biggest demo lead over its rivals in several years.
Can anyone compete with Netflix?
Netflix will be skipping press tour yet again, but the streaming service—which will spend as much as $8 billion on original content this year—will be on the minds of every network that travels to Pasadena. How can anyone compete against those seemingly limitless (and advertising-free) resources? The industry needs to come up with answers—fast—and we’ll hear some of those solutions at winter press tour.
Ed Lover speaks onstage at HISTORY’s “Roots” Atlanta advanced screening at National Center for Civil and Human Rights on May 9, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.
*The Reach Media-syndicated Ed LoverMorning Show will be discontinued at the end of the year, according to InsideRadio.
Launched two years ago and placed on several of Radio One’s classic hip-hop stations, the program was down to two FM and one AM affiliates, along with a number of HD Radio-fed translator outlets.
Lover, who came to fame as host of “Yo! MTV Raps,” will continue his weekend program available through the syndicator.
Mitch Henry, manager of network operations for Reach Media, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Lover is broadcasting his last live show today, with reruns planned for Christmas week.
The morning show was placed on a number of stations that were part of the explosion of classic hip-hop stations that sprouted up a few years ago, many of which have since adjusted to a more throwback R&B focus.
The paper is also speculating that Lover’s Atlanta affiliate “Boom 102.9,” which airs on the Decatur, GA-licensed translator W275BK at 102.9, may adjust from classic hip-hop to an “old-school R&B format” and place Tom Joyner in mornings. Joyner, who announced his retirement effective at the end of 2019, was recently dropped from Cox Media crosstown urban AC “Kiss 104-1” WALR.
Also opening up a hole for the throwback R&B format in the market was the recent move of The Steve Hegwood-owned “Old School 87.7” to “Mix 87.7,” which is now playing contemporary R&B from the ‘80s, ‘90s and 2000s.Nicole Hyatt -eurweb.com
Battery and electric car manufacturer Tesla seems to have a permanent seat at the front of the hype train, so in a year with as many ups and downs as 2017’s seen, you can imagine it’s been a pretty intense roller coaster ride.
Love it or hate it, from shaking up the entire trucking industry to getting a smackdown from a major consumer research publication, it’s been interesting to watch the sparks fly, so we’ve rounded up the five most interesting Tesla moments of 2017.
Tesla Semi shakes up the trucking industry
One of Tesla’s most anticipated announcements of 2017 was, ironically, for a vehicle that the vast majority of Teslaphiles will never get a chance to drive. Dubbed the Tesla Semi, the brand debuted its first full-electric commercial truck at an event in November, electrifying the trucking industry in the process.
The Semi will boast a cruising range of 300 or 500 miles, depending on the size of the battery pack chosen, and is powered by the same motor that you’ll find in the Model 3 sedan, only the Semi has four of them, one for each of the four driven wheels. It’s expected to start at $150,000 for the 300-mile model when it hits the road in 2019.
Tesla’s new Semi doesn’t burn a drop of diesel and runs completely emissions-free. The lack of smokestacks should be better for the environment, but the Semi also boasts lower operating and maintenance costs, promising potential savings in the tens of thousands of dollars every year over a comparable diesel truck, making it a very tempting gamble for the trucking industry.
With companies like PepsiCo, UPS and many more snatching up hundreds of reservations at $20,000 a pop, the Semi is one of Tesla’s biggest success stories of the year.
Surprise Roadster revival
Musk’s “one more thing” at the tail end of the Semi event was a surprise announcement of the new Tesla Roadster.
The new Roadster will feature three electric motors and enough torque and grip to make a zero-to-60 mph sprint in just 1.9 seconds before blurring through the quarter mile in just 8.9 seconds. Take it easy on the accelerator and the 200kWh battery pack should provide enough juice to cruise for up to a claimed 620 miles.
But such insane performance is going to cost you. The Roadster will cost $250,000 if you want one of the first 1,000 “Founders Series” reservations, or $200,000 with a $50,000 deposit to get to the end of the line when it begins production in 2020.
Telsa co-founder and CEO Elon Musk even joked that a new Roadster would be part of the payload on one of his other projects: the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket heading to Mars. At least, we think he was joking…
Model 3 ‘production hell’
Tesla generated a lot of hype and drummed up a lot of deposits and reservations for the aforementioned Semi and Roadster. Hopefully, all of that raised capital will help the automaker actually get its Model 3 affordable EV out of the door after a 2017 wracked with production delays.
After an event in July 2017 hailing the first production Model 3s rolling off of the assembly line, the automaker is still struggling to get the car into the hands of the public. Deliveries have been made to Tesla employees — at least one of which made its way onto Craigslist with a $150,000 asking price — but the vast majority of the nearly 500,000 reservation holders have been left twiddling their thumbs for months.
The reasons for the delays are complicated, ranging from production bottlenecks to personnel issues and other complications that have pushed production back into 2018. However, just last month, the Tesla opened up its Model 3 configurator to the first non-employee reservation holders, perhaps signaling the beginning of the end for its “production hell.”
Model X takedown
As disappointing as the Model 3’s production issues were, perhaps even worse were the blows that the Model X SUV experienced in 2017.
In October, Tesla announced a voluntary recall for about 11,000 Model X SUVs due to second-row seats that might not stay in place during a crash. On the bright side, Tesla discovered the problem during internal testing rather than finding out the hard way.
Just a few days later, Consumer Reports downgraded the Model X to dead last on its list of 10 Least Reliable Cars. That’s gotta sting. CR’s report was based on a survey of owners, focusing on “17 trouble areas, from nuisances — such as squeaky brakes and broken interior trim — to major bummers, such as out-of-warranty transmission repairs or trouble with four-wheel-drive systems.”
Tesla fired back that stating that CR’s survey was woefully out-of-date, lagging months behind the most recent improvements made to the Model X, but alas, by then the damage had been done.
The Gigafactory gears up
Perhaps Tesla’s biggest win of 2017 was its first one. In January, the massive Gigafactory battery production plant started mass-producing battery cells. Given that pretty much everything Tesla does relies on batteries, from electric cars to Powerwalls to powering entire cities, this was sort of a tent-pole moment for the brand.
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Through economies of scale, the Gigafactory is a major step toward significantly reducing the cost of batteries, which it will need to do if it hopes to turn a profit on all of those Model S, Roadsters and Semi preorders it’s lined up.