- AMC Networks to Acquire Robert Johnson’s RLJ Entertainment in $60 Million Deal
- Vampire Movie ‘We Are All Monsters Here’ in the Works
- All3Media Backs Noel Clarke’s Unstoppable Film and TV
- Sean Combs’ Revolt Names Robyn Lattaker-Johnson Head of Content
- Amazon Renews ‘Lore’ for Season 2, Sean Crouch Set as Showrunner
- Pickup Trucks: 2019 Ford Ranger Wildtrak Hits the Road: Spied
- Russia’s Mercenary Debacle in Syria
- Rolling Stones Announce Summer Tour Dates: ‘We Haven’t Finished Yet’
- Turner’s FilmStruck Adds Warner Bros. Classic Films, As Warner Archive Service Winds Down
- CBS Launches Streaming Sports-News Outlet CBS Sports HQ
Posted: 26 Feb 2018 06:29 AM PST
RLJ Entertainment operates streaming-subscription services aimed a niche audiences, including Acorn TV — which features British television and film content — and UMC (Urban Movie Channel).
The deal comes after AMC invested $65 million in RLJ last fall to take a 26% stake in the form of loans (which loans have subsequently been increased to an aggregate of $78 million). That agreement gave AMC the option to purchase majority ownership, and on Monday AMC it will acquire the shares in RLJ Entertainment that it doesn’t already own (but are not affiliated with Johnson) for a purchase price of $4.25 per share in cash.
Under the pact, AMC said it would run RLJ Entertainment as a privately owned subsidiary of AMC Networks, with a minority stake held by Johnson, who previously founded BET Networks.
Johnson currently owns approximately 47% of the outstanding shares of RLJ Entertainment common stock.
In announcing the deal, AMC Networks said it “has no interest in disposing of its stake in RLJ Entertainment or participating in any other strategic process.”
Pictured above: Josh Sapan, AMC Networks president and CEO (left) and Robert Johnson
Posted: 26 Feb 2018 06:18 AM PST
Keshales and Papushado will write the script and direct. Crystal City’s Jonathan Rubenstein and Ari Daniel Pinchot will produce, with Kelley Armstrong attached to executive produce.
The project is based on an original short story by Armstrong, the creator of the Syfy series “Bitten.” “We Are All Monsters Here” follows a collegiate woman who survives the breakout of a vampire virus that only reveals itself at night. With no family to turn to, she is forced to befriend a young girl infected by the virus, and the two women set out on a unique road trip of survival.
Crystal City Entertainment’s upcoming slate includes “The Willie Davis Story,” set up at Sony Pictures with Gulfstream producing; “Van Cliburn,” starring Ansel Elgort from Temple Hill; and “Zelda,” starring Jennifer Lawrence, with Ron Howard directing and Brian Oliver producing. Previous Crystal City films include the Weinstein Company’s “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and Columbia’s “The Ides of March,” directed by George Clooney.
Revenge drama “Big Bad Wolves” received Quentin Tarantino’s endorsement as the top film of 2013.
The deal was negotiated by UTA and Felker Toczek Suddleson Abramson on behalf of Keshales and Papushado, and with Robert Garson of GS2 Law for Crystal City. Keshales and Papushado are repped by UTA and Felker Toczek Suddleson Abramson.
Posted: 26 Feb 2018 06:00 AM PST
Noel Clarke (“Kidulthood”) and Jason Maza (“Welcome to the Punch”) have launched Unstoppable Film and TV. Discovery and Liberty Global-owned production and distribution group All3Media has backed the film and TV drama producer and will sell its content internationally.
Clarke starred in “Kidulthood,” and wrote, directed, and appeared in sequels “Adulthood,” and “Brotherhood.” In the U.K. Maza has been in film and TV including “Fishtank,” and “Call the Midwife.”
Clarke and Maza previously partnered on film production business, Unstoppable Entertainment, and worked together on U.K. comedy “The Knot,” and “Brotherhood.” Both will be Sky’s buddy cop drama “Bulletproof.” Upcoming projects will go through the new production banner.
The Unstoppable pair are based in London, and in a statement said of their new venture: “With the full support of All3Media we’re aiming to build on our work so far, finding new talent and creating authentic drama for the widest possible audience.”
Stephen Lambert will be Unstoppable’s non-executive chairman and his Studio Lambert will provide back office support for Clarke and Maza’s company. “Noel and Jason are already well established high profile talent in the drama world and I have no doubt they will succeed in building a successful television drama business and I am keen to help them in any way I can,” he said.
Posted: 26 Feb 2018 06:00 AM PST
Based in Los Angeles, Lattaker-Johnson comes to Revolt with a mandate to expand its roster of original programs, particularly in the unscripted arena. She was recruited by Roma Khanna, the MGM TV and NBCUniversal alum who took the reins of Revolt as CEO in October.
“Robyn’s track record of developing and creating compelling formats featuring authentic voices and diverse stories is exactly what Revolt needs as we build our voice in content as the definitive home of hip hop and the global leader in the culture,” Khanna said.
Lattaker-Johnson is in the hunt for shows that can broaden Revolt’s appeal beyond its core audience of hip hop devotees. The cable channel at present serves up a slate of talk shows, including its daily morning show “The Breakfast Club,” and music- and pop culture-centric docu and lifestyle series.
Lattaker-Johnson’s mission is to find a show that will become a signature franchise for Revolt. The cable channel launched by hip hop mogul Combs in October 2013 is available in about 50 million U.S. cable homes. But independent niche cablers are facing a tough road ahead in maintaining broad linear distribution as MVPDs shift to offering and pare down fees for lower-profile channels.
“Ultimately we need to be able to break out with a series or more as soon as possible in a way that not only reaches our core audience but goes beyond our core,” Lattaker-Johnson told Variety. She sees potential in comedies, game shows, and more elaborate documentary series.
Revolt is in the midst of investing significantly in fresh original content. Lattaker-Johnson cited her previous experience as a programming executive at Syfy with the buzzy reality show “Face Off” as an example of how a niche channel can spread its wings in new formats.
“The core viewers for that show were not those that previously watched Syfy,” she said. “That’s my goal again here.”
Lattaker-Johnson said cross-platform programming was also a priority for Revolt. She praised the company’s prowess at social media and knowing how to reach its core audience. She vowed that Revolt would be setting content pacts with “some clutch talent” in the coming weeks.
Lattaker-Johnson was VP of programming for Syfy from 2010-2014, which marked her second stint at the cabler (back when it was known as Sci Fi Channel). Before that, she was a senior VP at BET Networks.
(Pictured: Sean Combs)
Posted: 26 Feb 2018 06:00 AM PST
Sean Crouch, an alum of Fox’s “The Exorcist” and CBS’ “Numbers,” has signed on as showrunner for season two, replacing “The X-Files” veteran Glen Morgan. “Lore” hails from Gale Anne Hurd’s Valhalla Entertainment and Propagate Content, the banner headed by Howard T. Owens and Ben Silverman.
“Lore” is a blend of documentary and narrative segments, including animation, to bring to life such stories as the origins of the werewolf in 16th-century Germany.
“Customers loved the first season of ‘Lore’ for its unique blend of narrative and documentary storytelling, and we’re excited to give them another season of this suspenseful hybrid series,” said Heather Schuster, Amazon‘s head of unscripted. “Sean brings great experience in the supernatural genre, and we’re excited for him to help us tell even more frightening and visually captivating stories.”
The series was inspired by the popular podcast launched in March 2015 by Aaron Mahnke. In addition to the Amazon series, Mahnke cut a three-book deal with Del Rey Books for a “World of Lore” series that kicked off in October with publication of “Monstrous Creatures.”
Season two of the Amazon series is set to begin lensing in April. Hurd, Silverman, Owens, Brett-Patrick Jenkins, Jon Halperin, and Mark Mannucci are exec producers. Mahnke is co-exec producer.
Posted: 26 Feb 2018 05:43 AM PST
If the response to our recent Ford Ranger Raptorpost is any indication, there are plenty of mid-size pickup truck enthusiasts looking forward to the Ford Ranger’s return to the U.S. market. We’re guessing plenty more are looking forward to high-performance versions of the Ranger as well.
So, feast your eyes on the photos below, just sent by our spy shooters who caught the globally popular Ford Ranger Wildtrak testing outside Detroit.
Here’s what they had to say:
“The Wildtrak trim level has served the global markets as the Ranger’s top-end model and its unmistakable design cues are clearly evident on this prototype. The 2019 Ford Ranger Wildtrak will continue to offer special buttresses aft of the C-pillar, along with the higher bed-sill extensions that run along the outer edges of the box.
“The proper U.S.-spec left-hand-drive interior shows the prominent orange stitching on the dash, seats, armrests and shift boot – all cues from past Wildtrak models. The seats have fabric camouflage covers, likely to hide the usual Wildtrak graphic that typically adorns the seats.
“This Wildtrak prototype also had a 115-volt power outlet bolted into the driver’s side of the truck bed sidewall, forward toward the bulkhead.
“Underneath, the Ford Ranger Wildtrak looks to have a higher ground clearance. The usual side-exit exhaust on the Ranger FX4 has been moved well up within the underbody, protected by the frame, allowing better departure angles.
“This particular Ranger Wildtrak prototype is a diesel, confirmed both by a sticker on the fuel-filler door and by the black smoke that belched out of the prototype on its cold, subzero start. The exhaust can clearly be seen emanating from the Wildtrak’s underbody, instead of out the side.”
KGP Photography images
Posted: 26 Feb 2018 05:35 AM PST
On the night of February 7, a Kurdish-held oil field in northeastern Syria came under sudden attack by forces allied with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Heavy U.S. air strikes and artillery fire repelled the assault, with initial reports suggesting that at least 100 pro-government fighters were killed in the span of three hours.
The next week, information began to emerge that many of those killed were Russian mercenaries contracted to the Wagner Group, a private military company with close ties to the Kremlin. A pair of Russian-language audio recordings described 200 dead Wagner fighters; other sources gave casualty figures as high as 600. Although these figures sounded absurd at first, with other Russian sources estimating only 20 to 25 dead, corroborating evidence increasingly backed a casualty tally in the hundreds. Former Wagner fighters with links to those killed reported between 80 and 100 dead and 200 injured, while Russian hospitals treated hundreds of wounded. A Chechen-language recording from Syria claimed that 170 of 200 Wagner fighters involved in the attack were dead. Three hundred casualties now appears not only a plausible but a probable figure.
The recent operation seems to have caught the Russian government totally unprepared. Initial Kremlin statements were limited to a single quip on February 14 that there “may be citizens of the Russian Federation” fighting in Syria, but that these were “not connected” to Russia’s armed forces. The next day, the Russian Foreign Ministry admitted that “five Russians may have died” in Wagner’s attack. In the interim, several interviews with family members of the deceased emerged, as did independent confirmation of at least ten deaths. On February 20, the Foreign Ministry raised that number, stating that “several dozen” citizens of Russia and other Russian-speaking countries were killed or wounded in Syria. Moscow’s behavior seems to have been born from genuine confusion rather than calculated misinformation.
Over the past five years, Wagner has evolved into the preeminent Russian military contractor, playing a central role in Moscow’s military operations in Syria and Ukraine. This confusion surrounding the attack, however, suggests that Wagner’s offensive actions resulted in a debacle the Kremlin did not expect. With its ability to control the Assad regime already in question, Russia appears to now be facing issues restraining even its own mercenary contractors.
If the February 7 attack indeed came as a surprise for the Kremlin, how and why did it happen at all? In this case, a report from the Russian daily Kommersant provides crucial details. A former Wagner employee and comrade of several of those killed in the incident stated that it was an attempt by “local big businessmen currently supporting Bashar Assad” to seize oil and gas fields controlled by the U.S.-backed Kurds. The plan, apparently, was to attack the Kurdish base and seize it before U.S. airpower could drive them off.
At first glance, such a move is unprecedented: since Russia intervened in Syria in September 2015, there have been no reliable indications of Wagner operating outside the Kremlin’s command. Yet an incident in 2013 holds more clues. That year, the Slavonic Corps, a predecessor of Wagner, was contracted by an unknown Syrian client to seize oil fields in the east, in roughly the same area where the February 7 fighting took place. This, too, was a debacle-the group was poorly outfitted and driven off by Syrian rebel fighters. It demonstrates, though, that such attacks can occur without the express knowledge of Moscow.
A sensational scoop in The Washington Post late last week revealed that the order for the assault came from a remarkably high-placed source: Yevgeny Prigozhin. A member of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle in control of a number of powerful enterprises, Prigozhin is not only closely linked to Wagner but possesses other interests in Syria’s northeast. He heads the firm Evro Polis, which inked a contract with Syria’s state-owned General Petroleum Corporation early last year to secure production rights for 25 percent of all Syrian oil and gas fields. With most of those fields under Kurdish control, Prigozhin coordinated with senior Syrian officials to plan “a good surprise” for Assad’s government. It appears Prigozhin secured not only promises of additional pay from Damascus but also at least tacit agreement from the Kremlin: the oligarch was in contact with Putin’s chief of staff, Anton Vaino, in the days before and after the attack.
This revelation raises more questions than it answers, the most important of which involve the degree to which the Russian government approved the attack and whether Prigozhin and the Syrians were aware of the U.S. presence in the area. The most likely answer at this point is that the Kremlin was aware that Wagner and Prigozhin planned to send the Kurds a signal at Damascus’ behest but anticipated little if any response from U.S. forces, and certainly not the drubbing that Wagner received.
THE BOONS AND BANES OF MERCENARIES
The February 7 incident has also highlighted the role that Wagner has come to play as an instrument of Russian foreign policy. After its inauspicious start as the Slavonic Corps in Syria in 2013, the group was allegedly involved in the February 2014 takeover of Crimea. Wagner mercenaries participated heavily in Russian military operations in eastern Ukraine in 2014, including the battle for Debaltseve in January and February 2015. And although private military companies remain technically illegal in Russia itself, Moscow contracted the group for a number of tasks in Syria following its 2015 intervention there. Wagner was especially active in the country’s center and east: its fighters participated in the March 2016 capture of Palmyra as well as the late 2017 campaign for the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor.
Current best estimates place Wagner’s numbers in Syria at around 2,500 servicemen. For perspective, in September 2016 Russia was estimated to have just under 5,000 personnel in Syria, making the Wagner detachment equal to about half the size of the official one. The mercenaries have often played a light infantry role, reconnoitering territory and spotting for air strikes, but they have also been employed on the frontlines. The utility of such a group is obvious-it allows Russia to employ ground forces without incurring the political risk of potential casualties. This is particularly useful when there is heavy fighting-in September 2017 alone, Wagner reportedly suffered 54 combat deaths. The group’s service has been publicly rewarded: Putin was seen presenting a medal to Wagner head Dmitry Utkin at a Kremlin ceremony in December 2016.
As the events of February 7 demonstrate, however, Wagner may diminish the political risk of casualties but cannot eliminate the threat altogether. A battle producing 100 deaths is impossible to hide in the social media age, and some journalists have already spoken to family members of the deceased. The mother of one dead fighter, in a small town in the Urals, said that the members of his unit were treated “like pigs… sent to slaughter.” Another was similarly indignant, saying that the Russian government is “responsible for its actions.” The damaging publicity is not what Putin needs with the Russian general election scheduled for mid-March.
But as bad as the February 7 attack is on the Russian domestic front, its impact on the Syrian conflict is likely to be worse. Moscow is already finding it difficult to control the course of the crisis, with its much-vaunted Syrian peace congress in Sochi having recently ended in debacle. Conflict continues to rage between Syrian Kurds and Turkey in the northwest, and reports indicate that the Kurds and the Syrian regime-ostensibly Moscow’s client-spurned Russian involvement in their negotiations. Even if Wagner’s assault was tacitly sanctioned in some form by the Kremlin, its disastrous results and the scale of the battle that ensued will do little for Moscow’s legitimacy as a force for stabilization in Syria. The revelation that the Kremlin either cannot or will not exercise control over proxies such as Wagner only further challenges Russia’s narrative as kingmaker in Syria.
As for Wagner itself, the next steps are unclear. Moscow will certainly seek to rein in the group, likely by redeploying elements from the area of the February 7 incident to the outskirts of Damascus, where a major regime offensive is looming. Wagner is also likely to become more involved in Idlib Province in Syria’s northwest, now becoming a focus of combat between the regime and surviving rebel groups. The revelation that Prigozhin effectively used Wagner as a tool for his personal enrichment in conjunction with Syrian officials, even if sanctioned to a degree by the Kremlin, demonstrates an unsettling and heretofore unknown potential for escalation. The United States gave Wagner a substantial bruising sure to make its commanders think twice before attempting such a stunt again-but the precedent of the group fighting U.S.-backed forces has nonetheless been set. For Putin, this attack appears to be just the latest in a series of unwelcome escalations in a country where he declared victory just two months ago-and proof that proxy forces such as Wagner can backfire in an unintended fashion.
This article was originally published on ForeignAffairs.com.
Posted: 26 Feb 2018 05:35 AM PST
The Rolling Stones, who have toured every year since 2012 and whose principals are all in their 70s, have announced another set of concert dates, this one a summer stadium run through the U.K. and Europe. The 11-date “No Filter” tour launches May 17 in Ireland and is likely to be another set filled with greatest hits, to judge by the video clip announcing the tour. The tour began last year; full dates are listed below.
“NO FILTER! The news you’ve all been waiting for!” the announcement reads. “The Rolling Stones are bringing the No Filter tour to the UK and Ireland this summer, with some additional European shows! #TheRollingStones #StonesNoFilter #Tour”
In the initial run of dates includes five in the U.K., two in Germany two, and France, and one each in the Czech Republic and Poland. Rather than doing months-long campaigns as they did over the past few decades, the group’s strategy over the past five years has been to do a dozen-odd shows per continent every few months.
This tour was teased by founding guitarist Keith Richards in a Tweet a few hours before the dates were announced.
“We haven’t finished yet. It’s still too early to talk about the Stones’ legacy. There’s one thing that we haven’t yet achieved and that’s to really find out how long you can do this. It’s still such a joy to play with this band that you can’t really let go of it.”
In a press release announcing the tour, the four principals said:
Keith Richards – “It’s such a joy to play with this band there’s no stopping us, we’re only just getting started really.”
Mick Jagger – ”This part of the ‘No Filter’ tour is really special for the Stones. We are looking forward to getting back onstage in the summer and playing to fans in the UK and Ireland. Its always exhilarating going to cities we haven’t played for quite a while and also some new venues for us like Old Trafford & The London Stadium.”
Charlie Watts – “The Stones audience is the glue that keeps us together. The best and most satisfying moment is when you are reaching the end of the show and they are all going nuts.”
Ronnie Wood – “When I look out at the sea of people when we play all I can see is smiles. It’s heart-warming and I’m glad we make people happy. Music makes me happy, and it makes them happy…. its infectious.”
May 17 – Croke Park, Dublin
Posted: 26 Feb 2018 05:30 AM PST
The corporate cousins reached a deal to stock Turner‘s FilmStruck with more than 600 classic Hollywood films each month from the Warner Bros. library. At the same time, WB’s Warner Archive subscription-streaming service — launched in 2013 — will be shut down, and current customers will be migrated over to FilmStruck over the next few weeks.
Warner Bros. titles coming to FilmStruck include many that have never been available on a subscription video-on-demand platform. Those include “Casablanca,” “Rebel Without a Cause,” “Singin’ In the Rain,” “Citizen Kane,” “The Music Man,” “Bringing Up Baby,” “The Thin Man,” “Cat People,” “A Night At The Opera,” “An American In Paris” and “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?”
“It was a pretty easy decision” to fold Warner Archive and add WB’s movie catalog to FilmStruck, said Craig Hunegs, president of Warner Bros. Digital Networks and president of business and strategy for Warner Bros. Television Group.
“We had a decision to make on Warner Archive. We were going to go bigger, add more films, and invest in improving the user experience,” Hunegs said. “But after sitting down and looking at it, rather than having two overlapping services going after the same audience, we decided to combine them.”
With the addition of WB’s films, FilmStruck lineup will expand to more than 1,800 movies per month, up from around 1,200 when it first launched. The companies declined to reveal how many subscribers FilmStruck or Warner Archive have signed up, but Hunegs said that FilmStruck — which bowed in late 2016 — had many times more subs.
The No. 1 request from FilmStruck users was to have access to classic Hollywood films, in addition to the lineup of art house, indie, foreign and cult films on the service, according to execs. FilmStruck is managed under Turner’s Turner Classic Movies division. Pricing of FilmStruck, which starts at $6.99 per month, will remain unchanged.
“We never really thought about raising the price. We never went down the path of, ‘How do we make more money?'” said Coleman Breland, president of Turner Classic Movies, FilmStruck and Turner Content Experiences. The goal was to super-serve film aficionados, and now FilmStruck has what he touted as “the deepest streaming roster on the planet in terms of indies and classics.”
Also under the Turner-Warner Bros. Digital Networks partnership, each month FilmStruck will feature the Warner Bros. classics in a curated collection of about two dozen films. The feature, called TCM Select, will include introductions by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz produced exclusively for FilmStruck, along with rare archival content and bonus material.
In addition, FilmStruck will introduce new curated themes around WB’s Hollywood classics such as “Rogers & Astaire: The Complete Collection,” “Neo-Noir,” and a “Star of the Week” theme featuring titles with Bette Davis, Hepburn and Tracy, Ava Gardner and others.
FilmStruck in the U.S. includes exclusive access to the Criterion Collection of films, which are available to subscribers of the $10.99 monthly (or $99 annually) package. The service has films licensed from major studios — Lionsgate, MGM, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros. — as well as indie distributors including Janus Films, Flicker Alley, Icarus Films, Kino, Milestone, Zeitgeist, Film Movement, Global Lens, First Run Features, Oscilloscope Laboratories and Shout Factory.
Hunegs noted that Warner Archive subscribers will be gaining access to a lower-priced streaming service (Warner Archive had been $9.99 per month) with a much bigger bucket of movies. “Warner Archive was an early play in creating a streaming service,” he said. “We were learning as we went… but I don’t think we quite got it right.”
Time Warner now has several direct-to-consumer streaming plays, including HBO Now, Turner’s Boomerang cartoon service, DramaFever, and the forthcoming DC Entertainment service. It also has launched FilmStruck in the U.K. and plans to expand FilmStruck to other countries; the international versions will also roll in the Warner Bros. classic films.
But will the bulked-up FilmStruck over-the-top service peel viewers away from the TCM linear cable channel? Breland doesn’t think so. About 80% of the audience for Turner Classic Movies is 55-plus, whereas FilmStruck’s target demo is 25-44, he said.
“The TCM brand has value, and the exclusive [TCM Select] content makes [FilmStruck] an experience that feels a little like TCM, but I don’t think it lowers the value” of the linear network, Breland said. He added that Turner is contemplating offering a multiplex of TCM channels to pay-TV operators, grouped around themes like Westerns or comedies.
FilmStruck is available on Roku, Google’s Chromecast, fourth-generation Apple TV devices, Amazon Fire TV, the web, and iOS and Android devices.
Posted: 26 Feb 2018 05:00 AM PST
CBS is taking another swing at the streaming-video sector with the launch of a free 24-hour digital sports-news outlet known as CBS Sports HQ.
Executives said the service will feature live news and reporting, game previews and post-game analysis along with deep dives into statistics. Viewers will be able to toggle between live programming and previous segments they may have missed. CBS launches the property today, a few weeks before Walt Disney’s ESPN is slated to introduce a new subscription-based service centered around live events.
“There are a lot of fans out there who have a need for just news, highlights and analysis,” said Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports, in an interview. “There is definitely an audience out there for this.”
CBS Sports HQ will be the latest entrant in a growing parade of individual streaming offerings from traditional media companies. CBS has been a pioneer of sorts in the field, launching both CBSN, a live-streamed broadcast from CBS News, and “CBS All Access,” a subscription product that offers original scripted programming along with series from the CBS broadcast network and archival content. Fox News Channel recently said it intended to launch a new live-streamed subscription service with new hosts and programs called Fox Nation.
There are plenty of rivals trying to snare the digital sports-news consumer. A host of new sports sites have launched in recent years, including the rowdy digital outlet Barstool Sports, but CBS executives are confident their focus will make their product appealing. “There isn’t a free way to get sports news and highlights on a video basis, in an always-on format,” said Marc DeBevoise, president and chief operating officer of CBS Interactive.
CBS has portrayed the development of new streaming services as a key driver of its business development in the months to come. Speaking to investors after reporting fourth-quarter earnings, CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves noted the company had garnered a combined five million subscribers to its “CBS All Access” streaming service and an over-the-top version of Showtime and expected to surpass its goal of 8 million subscribers by 2020. Meanwhile, CBSN saw streams rise by 17% in 2017 compared to the year-earlier period. CBS later this year intends to launch a streaming service centered around its “Entertainment Tonight” franchise.
Fans should not expect the new CBS Sports product to emulate programing they see on other outlets. “No yelling,” said DeBevoise, after being asked if some of the programming might seek to compete with what is shown on Fox Sports 1. “It’s about the game,” he said. “It’s about what’s on the field.”
A new CBS Sports HQ staff will work out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the executives said, with some participation from CBS Sports broadcasters and analysts possible during shows looking at recently aired games. The company intends to promote the new service during CBS’ coming broadcasts of the Masters golf tournament and the NCAA men’s basketball championships.
Jenny Dell, the CBS Sports sideline reporter, who will serve as an anchor, as will Jamie Erdahl, who covers college basketball and reports for “The NFL on CBS.” Many of CBS Sports Digital’s writers and analysts will also contribute, including national college football writer Dennis Dodd; senior NFL columnist Pete Prisco; and college basketball columnist Gary Parris. Bill Reiter,who joined CBS Sports Digital in 2016 as a national columnist, will host “Reiter’s Block” every weekday afternoon on CBS Sports HQ.
While the new outlet could try shows related to college football or a big-league draft, said McManus, “primarily we want people to tune into CBS Sports HQ to get the highlights, the latest news and the latest analysis. That really is the charge of this new product.”
At launch, the CBS sports stream will be available on CBSSports.com, the CBS Sports app for key connected TV devices including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Roku, the CBS Sports mobile app for iOS and Android, CBSN and the CBS All Access subscription service. Executives said they have negotiated for rights to current-season and other types of highlights with the various sports leagues, and continue to hold discussions with them to widen parameters.
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