New (Streaming) Faces Look for TCA Recognition

PASADENA, Calif. — Several streaming services crashed the cable portion of the annual Television Critics Association Winter Tour, adding even more original programming to an already crowded TV marketplace.

Newer players such as British TV-focused subscription video- on-demand services Britbox and Acorn TV, as well as YouTube, Hulu and Crackle, were scheduled to pitch new shows alongside established networks such as HBO, National Geographic, Starz and AMC in an effort to drum up noise and awareness for their respective original programming ventures.

“It’s a crowded marketplace,” BritBox president Soumya Sriraman told Multichannel News. “It’s hard to be heard over the clutter.”

The BBC and ITV-owned subscription video-on-demand service, which launched last month, is throwing its hat into the scripted series ring with drama series The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco, a spinoff of the popular PBS series.

Along with Britbox’s catalog of U.K.-produced series and specials — including ITV-produced limited series Trauma premiering later this year — Sriraman said it’s vital for the upstart service to create original content to help build awareness. “It’s important that our [original] shows engage our viewers and make them keep coming back for more, and that they know that we’re a destination for them,” she said.

YouTube was also expected to roll out several new series at TCA this past weekend, including a takeoff on the popular Step Up dance-themed movie franchise, while Hulu was on tap to discuss the terrorism-themed series The Looming Tower, and Crackle was set to unveil its Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson-produced drama The Oath.

The services will add to the increasing number of scripted series from streaming services being offered to consumers. Last year, streaming services accounted for 117 out of the 487 scripted shows available to viewers, a 30% increase over 2016, according to FX Networks president John Landgraf, who spoke earlier at TCA.

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.