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TCA 2018: CTAM Brings OTT Services, Cable Nets Together at TCA

Last week’s cable/OTT portion of the CTAM-produced Television Critics Association summer press tour provided a glimpse into what is arguably the most popular content on television today.

HBO's 'Game Of Thrones'

HBO's 'Game Of Thrones'

Streaming services such as Amazon Prime, YouTube, Facebook Watch, Sony Crackle, Britbox, Netflix and Rooster Teeth presented side by side with cable powerhouses HBO, Viacom, AMC and A&E during a five-day period that launched the annual three-week summer gathering of TV critics. The result was an interesting look at current and upcoming shows – as well as content development strategies -- from the top programmers across multiple platforms.

Cable nets and streaming services arguably represented the lion’s share of the most talked about and critically-acclaimed content in the television industry. Twelve of the top 15 shows generating double-digit Emmy nominations announced earlier this month were either from streaming services or cable networks. Streaming service Netflix and pay-TV cable network HBO continued to dominate the Emmy nominations race, with Netflix topping HBO for the first time ever with 112 Emmy nods.

HBO president of programming Casey Bloys even gave Netflix props for topping the pay service in Emmy nods during its TCA session before announcing the 2019 return of popular western-themed series Deadwood as a movie after a 13-year hiatus as well as the eighth and final season of Game Of Thrones.

Along with offering up a full day presentations at TCA including such shows as Ozark and One Day At A Time, Netflix vice president of original content Cindy Holland also teased writers and critics with tidbits on other popular shows such as Stranger Things (the third season will come back in mid 2019) and House of Cards (the final season of the series will serve as a fitting end for fans).

Discovery Inc. presented its new executive team in the aftermath of the  Scripps Networks Interactive/Discovery merger last March and pledged to focus on creating quality, unscripted programming fare. On the flip side, Amazon Studios executives said it would step up its pursuit of quality, mostly scripted original fare, although it won’t look to match the volume of content produced by competitors like HBO and Netflix. 

Paring both cable and streaming services under the CTAM-produced portion of the tour doesn’t pit one platform against another but allows distributors to showcase the best and brightest content on television to TV critics, according to the marketing/communications organization.

“It’s good for the television community to have everybody come together; and that’s ultimately good for consumers,” said CTAM president and CEO Viki Lins. 

R. Thomas Umstead
R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.