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When does a stream become a dribble?

Posted 5/28/20

By Kevin McDonough

Is the launch of a new streaming service a really big deal? Or a tree falling in an empty forest?

That noise you may not have noticed yesterday was the launch of HBO Max, a premium streaming network offering everything from …

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When does a stream become a dribble?

Posted

By Kevin McDonough

Is the launch of a new streaming service a really big deal? Or a tree falling in an empty forest?

That noise you may not have noticed yesterday was the launch of HBO Max, a premium streaming network offering everything from HBO's past and present catalog as well as a wealth of Warner product. Like Apple TV+, it promises to launch original shows as well. And like Apple's products, people may or may not notice them.

The Disney+ service, which launched last fall, had the advantage of including Marvel and "Star Wars" content and the family-friendly vault of Disney and Pixar films. It also had "The Mandalorian," which became a hit unto itself and a great hook to attract subscribers.

HBO Max hoped to entice people to pony up the roughly $15 per month fee by arranging a first-ever "Friends" reunion. But that, like so many great plans, has been scuttled by the COVID-19 contagion and the shuttering of production studios.

COVID-19 and quarantine has made people more likely to "binge" on lots of TV. But gloomy economic prospects may also make people less ready to enter into new subscriptions.

It hasn't been a good time to launch new services. Just ask the folks behind Quibi, the new service asking people to subscribe for roughly $5/month for a curated service of very short episodes, each ending in a cliffhanger. As if the world weren't already awash with videos from YouTube and TikTok.

Old-fashioned TV viewers aren't the only ones confused and uncertain about where all of this is heading. Just last week, Kevin Mayer, the head of streaming at Disney, left the Magic Kingdom to become CEO of TikTok, the Chinese-owned short viral video app that most of us never heard of a year ago. What's he know that we don't?

TONIGHT'S OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

• Tears flow on "Council of Dads" (8 p.m. NBC, TV-PG).

"Coronavirus: Facts and Fears: A CNN Global Town Hall" (8 p.m.).

• From here to paternity on "Labor of Love" (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14).

• Maximum interest in miniature golf on "Holey Moley" (9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).

• A housing project horror on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (10 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14).

CULT CHOICE

Joan Bennett and Edward G. Robinson co-star in "The Woman in the Window" (10 p.m., TCM, TV-G) and "Scarlet Street" (11:45 p.m., TCM, TV-PG). Both films are directed by Fritz Lang and concern a naive good man caught up in the schemes of a seducer.

SERIES NOTES

A eureka moment in the dentist's chair on "Young Sheldon" (8 p.m., CBS, r, TV-PG) * Joanna fights for Kodie and custody on "Burden of Truth" (8 p.m., CW, TV-PG) * New friends on "Man With a Plan" (8:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) * Marjorie reaches out on "Mom" (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14) * The enemy within on "Blindspot" (9 p.m., NBC, TV-14) * Murphy is risky to the Max on "In the Dark" (9 p.m., CW, TV-14) * Ex marks the spot on "Broke" (9:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) * Hondo's do's and don'ts on "S.W.A.T." (10 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).

LATE NIGHT

Expect Lin-Manuel Miranda on "Conan" (11 p.m., TBS, r) * Thandie Newton, Ina Garten and John Mulaney are on "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" (11:35 p.m., CBS, r) * Jimmy Fallon welcomes Kevin Hart, Justin Timberlake and Amy Poehler on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC) * Rihanna, Aubrey Plaza, Louie Anderson and Jessica Burdeaux visit "Late Night With Seth Meyers" (12:35 a.m., NBC, r) * Jay Duplass, Alexandra Daddario and Noah Gardenswartz appear on "The Late Late Show With James Corden" (12:35 a.m., CBS, r).

© 2020, United Feature Syndicate