Each month, 18 million U.S. viewers access the Sony-owned, advertising-supported streaming network Crackle. But despite popular shows like Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Crackle still has a it of an identity crisis as it looks to make a name for itself among the likes of Netflix and Amazon.
That’s the challenge for Crackle’s general manager Eric Berger, who is making his loudest statement yet by moving Crackle out of the NewFronts, held primarily for digital enterprises, and into the upfronts, generally reserved for the major TV networks, on April 14.
At Adweek, I spoke with Berger about a number of topics, including his bold upfront movie, why Crackle didn’t stream The Interview last December and why he didn’t pick up the Sony-owned Community when it was looking for a home last summer:
It’s a great show. It didn’t fit in our slate at the time. Everything that we’ve done on the scripted series side to date has not been comedy. They’ve all been action, drama and thrillers. Features are different—with Joe Dirt, obviously, but the other features are action, horror and zombie type of stuff that fares really well for us.
There’s a lot more from Berger, who hopes to finally put the “What’s Crackle?” question to bed once and for all.
Community has managed to cheat death more times than Jason Voorhees. Last June, the cult sitcom — which had been canceled by NBC in May — pulled off its most improbable comeback yet, finding a new home on Yahoo Screen just hours before the cast’s contracts were set to expire.
Creator Dan Harmon and his reunited (and slightly smaller) cast spoke at winter press tour about the sixth season of the show — which debuts March 17 — and how audiences will watching in. As I wrote at Adweek,
The Yahoo Screen version of Community will be free but ad-supported. “The entire sixth season takes place inside a Honda,” joked Harmon. “Whether or not that means there will be classic commercial pods placed within the playtime, I’m a little out of my jurisdiction saying that, but I do know that I’m writing it as if there will [be ads] because as a writer, three-act stories are what work for me.
Much more remains up in the air, including how long each episodes will be, and whether Harmon will be given any ratings metrics. Also, Harmon said the shows longtime “six seasons a movie” mantra might need a rewrite: “I’m definitely not writing it as if it’s the end. That’s not happening,” he said. You’ll also want to read what Harmon and Gillian Jacobs said might happen the next time Community enters what fans refer to as “the darkest timeline.”
As Amazon prepares to launch its third pilot season, I had a lengthy chat with Amazon Studios director Roy Price about his company’s strategy, measuring success, his terrific new series Transparent and competing with Netflix. He answered so many of my questions about Amazon, including what defines a successful series for them:
The main thing we’re focusing on is making Prime fantastic. And one of the things people really respond to is original new series, so we’re paying attention to, are people engaged with the show? Does it add value to the service as a whole? So it’s about views, and talking about the shows, and if you watch the whole season, how did you rate the show…Basically, do people really seem to value the show as part of the service?
Last year, we premiered Alpha House and Betas, and they premiered at, and hung around at, the number one and two series for awhile, so that’s very encouraging, because it shows that people are really getting into it and heavily sampling the shows. That’s the kind of thing we want to see, that it becomes a meaningful part of the value that the service provides. Ultimately, you’d like to see more people joining the service, and you’d like to see that people who watch the shows and enjoy the shows renew their subscription.
Price, who was a terrific interview, also talked about Amazon’s rationale for not disclosing ratings, how the public pilot process really works and whether Amazon considered picking up beloved-but-canceled shows like Community and Enlisted.
I made one final visit to The A.V. Club to do one of their Random Roles features, in which they ask an actor with a lengthy resume to talk about several of their roles over the years. It was thrilling to do this with John Goodman, who often seems to appear in every film and TV show (including his latest film, The Monuments Men).
Why does Goodman say yes to so many roles? “They were just too good to pass up,” he tells The A.V. Club. “Or, they seemed that way at the time!”
This was a fun trip down memory lane, helping Goodman — who is often a man of few words, at least when it comes to doing interviews — recount a fraction of his memorable TV and film performances. I’ve loved reading these Random Roles stories for years, so it was nice to close out my A.V. Club writing by putting together one of them myself.