Sling TV, Netflix’s Rise, and More Weekend Reads

By Karen Fratti 

It’s the dog days of summer and easy to miss a good story in the heat. Here are a few stories we found this week that we’ve been thinking about.

Adam Flomenbaum talks to Sling TV’s CEO about making television “simple again” over at The Drum’s Found Remote blog. CEO Roger Lynch talk about building out an ad team for the service, cord cheaters, and how they plan on keeping the base plan so cheap. On the $20 package, it will be about not doing deals with expensive programmers, which may mean that content offerings start to get a little slim. Lynch says:

We’re just not going to do deals with every programmer. If we did, there’s no way we could retain a $20 price point. It’s a matter of us being smart about which programmers we put in our service and try to keep focused on putting content in our add-on packs and not loading up our base pack.

Over at Vulture, Josef Adalian has charted the rise of Netflix’s original programming over the course of this year. There are some disclaimers, don’t worry:

To be clear, having so many shows in production does not by itself stand as some sort of “game over” moment for Netflix or its rivals. HBO still maintains a massive lead in Emmy nominations, this month pulling in 126 nods versus 34 for Netflix. HBO this year also did what Sarandos predicted it would back in 2013: It “became” Netflix by launching HBO Now, the direct-to-consumer, no-cable-subscription-required clone of the mothership. And then there’s the yardstick that matters most to Netflix shareholders: profitability. While Netflix last year had more subscribers and revenue than HBO, the cable veteran still outpaced Netflix in terms of overall profitability (by a margin of nearly 10 to 1, by one analysis).

Some rise, some fall. Variety reported this week that Starz Q2 income fell almost 10 percent. But revenues were up 2 percent, and the suits aren’t worried:

Wall Street watches the company these days for its success in launching original series, which it can then distribute and sell into other viewing opportunities after the programs run on its own networks. Starz cited the performance of series like Power and Outlander, and said its pipeline for 2015 was ‘fortified.’ In a prepared statement, Starz CEO Chris Albrecht said the company was ‘on track this year to achieve our goal of 75-80 episodes of new Starz Original series.’

Later in the week, Starz faulted Pay TV preorts for bad numbers.