Relegate John Malone, Promote Taylor Sheridan and Neville Ray - Next TV's Weekly Look at Who's Up and Who's Down in Tech, Media and Telecom

Kevin Costner as John Dutton in Paramount Network's 'Yellowstone'.
Next TV discovered this obscure show called 'Yellowstone' on Peacock earlier this week. You should check it out. (Image credit: Paramount Network)

As Elon Musk, now transparent down to whatever he did in the last 299 seconds, desperately summoned back from the firing line Thursday evening the guy who used to handle the employee badges ... so that everyone who was still around could get back into Twitter HQ, a maudlin mood overtook social media. 

From Mark Hamill to Keith Olbermann, the platform's greatest glitterati openly pondered whether the tweet you were now reading could be the last from them you ever saw.

In her own 10-tweet platform retrospective, tech journo luminary Kara Swisher -- perhaps the new Twitter owner's most vociferous critic among legions -- crafted a rather elegant retrospective on what the Twitter has meant to her personally (turns out she met her wife via DMs) ... and more pointedly, explore the mystery as to why on Earth Musk has chosen to spend $44 billion ... this way.

This tweet from Swisher actually brought peace to Next TV's perpetually anxious heart. 

(Image credit: Twitter)

We can't know exactly why nincompoops seem to perpetually end up making key decisions for the key communications platforms on which we all spend our remaining hours. And we can't always be sure of their motives. But it sure helps to define the spectrum. 

Skis it is. 

And here are some others in the TMT business who are also over theirs ... and a few who had a pretty smooth ride last week. 

PROMOTE

* Taylor Sheridan - The producer has now officially expanded to the point at which Paramount marketing operatives use the word "universe" to flavor the executive quotes in press releases to describe his collective work. 

We won't be surprised if Sheridan surfaces with his own line item at Paramount Global's Q4 earnings. 

Dude had a heck of a Sunday, for sure. 

Season 5 of his first big breakout series, Yellowstone, captured what research company Samba TV described as the biggest scripted series premiere of 2022, delivering a live + same day audience (Nielsen's numbers) of 12.1 viewers across the Paramount Network, CMT, TV Land and Pop.

Meanwhile, over in streaming, the premiere of Sheridan's latest show, Tulsa King starring Sylvester Stallone, led the 21-month-old Paramount Plus to its biggest signup day ever (Paramount didn't disclose any specific numbers).

Sheridan's Hollywood success story has been told a bunch already. But since Blue State-centric Next TV got hooked on Yellowstone just the other day after finally deciding to watch season 1, episode 1, we found it worth reinventing the wheel. A decade ago, the guy was an actor, his by-the-book deputy role of David Hale on Sons of Anarchy killed off amid Kurt Sutter's impulsive whims. 

Disney ended up offing Sutter for real after the Fox purchase and now pours residual tribute over his professional grave for all those motorcycle gang shows. And 52-year-old Sheridan, still armed with the angular cheekbones of a journeyman actor, reinvented himself as perhaps the most prolific, influential and successful TV writer outside of Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy. 

Taylor Sheridan is far better looking and has vastly more wealth than Next TV ... but we don't like to admit that.  (Image credit: hoto by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

* Neville Ray - In what appears to be a recession, fixed wireless access might be the most exciting new technology few of us are talking about. For $50 a month, T-Mobile will pipe 5G internet into your home. You can position the gateway into any room you see fit, sans cables, provided you get decent radio reception. 

No contracts. No hidden fees. 

Our cable operator, Charter, keeps telling Next TV that we won't like the performance we'll get next month when the world slows down a little and we have time to make this switch. 

According to a new study of home broadband performance conducted by Opensignal and published this past week, it's true -- we're not going to see quite as much downstream speed when we try to catch-up binge on Yellowstone this weekend ... and watch our No. 7 Trojans vanquish the Gutty Little Bruins of UCLA. 

But it looks good enough for the money. 

For T-Mobile, 578,000 customers were added to its 5G Home Internet FWA service in the third quarter alone. And the service's base has quickly swollen to more than 2.1 million users. As Leichtman Research Group's latest quarterly broadband report this week showed, FWA is now driving the U.S. home internet business, seizing control from the cable industry. 

What blew our mind was learning this week that the FWA model is based on spare wireless spectrum that's not needed for the mobile internet. T-Mobile CEO Ray described this "fallow capacity" model at the Morgan Stanley European Technology, Media & Telecom Conference earlier this week. 

“The incremental cost of serving those customers is de minimis," Ray said. "And why would you sit on your hands on all of that capacity that you have no utilization for or line of sight to use? So, we've created a huge business in the space, which is just -- it's gone way better than we'd anticipated.”

T-Mobile CEO Neville Ray

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Relegate

* John Malone - A little over six months after the cable titan orchestrated the big $43 billion spinoff of Warner Bros. and merger with Discovery, the investment community has already started wondering if this a leveraged buyout "gone bad." (opens in new tab) 

At Liberty Media's investor day this week, Malone said he still has confidence in the management team led by David Zaslav, despite the halving of share price since April.

We already took down another one of Malone's guys -- CNN chief Chris Licht -- in the inaugural iteration of this column last week. And we've been beating our empty suit drum on Zaslav for months, noting that his core strategies of blaming his predecessors for overspending on HBO Max while retreating to tapped-out linear formats doesn't seem like a good one. 

This week, Zaslav doubled down on the Jason Kilar hate while speaking at RBC’s Global TIMT Conference in New York. We found his headline-grabbing comparison of the pre-MAX, 2019-era standalone HBO to the Kilar-expanded HBO Max to be of misleading apples-vs.-oranges variety. 

We also found it misleading that he keeps describing Kilar's one-time/one-year strategy of releasing the 2021 Warner Bros. movie slate day-and-date on HBO Max as a permanent and disastrous policy error he -- and only he alone -- can fix. 

Curmudgeonly, contrarian -- and somewhat self-satisfied -- media journalists playing in major league ballparks agree with us. 

(Image credit: Twitter)

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!