‘Harlots’ Gets Season 3 Premiere Date; Hulu Drama Adds Alfie Allen & Ash Hunter

Read on: Deadline.

As if things already weren’t rough enough for the women of 18th century Soho, now they have a pair of ambitious pimp brothers to contend with. Hulu said today that Alfie Allen and Ash Hunter have joined the cast of its drama series Harlots. The s…

‘The Act’ Trailer: First Season Of Hulu’s Anthology Series Follows A Fatally Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationship

Read on: Deadline.

Hulu has released the first trailer for The Act, its anthology series that tells startling true-crime stories. The inaugural season stars Patricia Arquette and Joey King and follows the story based on the Buzzfeed article “Dee Dee Wanted Her Daughter t…

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’: First Look Inside Graphic Novel Adaptation Of Margaret Atwood Classic

Read on: Deadline.

EXCLUSIVE: The Handmaid’s Tale was published by Random House in 1985 with its near-future tale of one woman resisting the smothering tyrannies of the grim Republic of Gilead and, fittingly, the rebel tale has defied the limitations of any medium….

Hulu Hits 2 Million Live TV Customers, Passes DirecTV Now as 2nd-Biggest Live Streamer After Sling

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Hulu’s live TV streaming service is on the verge of passing 2 million customers, pushing the company into second place in terms of overall live streaming customers, a person with knowledge of the company’s subscriber count said on Friday.

Dish-owned Sling TV, with 2.42 million subscribers at the end of 2018, still retains a lead on Hulu as the biggest live streamer.

Hulu’s rise shows that it is gaining traction at the same time that more established cable providers are losing ground in the battle for a mass audience. DirecTV Now, the company’s $40 per month streaming option, lost 267,000 customers during the fourth quarter of last year, parent company AT&T recently said. The losses pushed DirecTV Now’s subscriber count down to 1.6 million, after beginning the year with nearly 1.9 million subs.

Also Read: If ‘Daredevil’ and ‘Jessica Jones’ Get Revived, Here’s Why It Would Likely Be on Hulu and Not Disney+

Meanwhile, Sling TV has started offering a 40 percent discount on its plans, which now run between $15 and $25, for the first three months, in order to maintain its lead.

Hulu’s live TV experience offers cable staples like CNN, ESPN and FX, among dozens of other channels, as well as access to its original series like “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

More original series, including two shows based on  “Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin’s “Wild Cards” books, are in the pipeline. Hulu is also the home to several classic TV shows like “Seinfeld” and “30 Rock” that aren’t found on Netflix.

Also Read: Hulu Boss Says ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Being Pushed to June Has Nothing to Do With ‘Game of Thrones’

Hulu recently hiked its live streaming price from $40 to $45 at the end of February. YouTube’s own live service, it’s probably worth mentioning, has also hit 1 million subscribers, according to Bloomberg.

Disney, after it completes its buyout of much of Fox’s assets, will double its stake in Hulu from 30 to 60 percent, and there were reports this week that the company is in talks to acquire WarnerMedia’s 10 percent stake in the service as well.

Disney CEO Bob Iger has said he views Hulu as part of a three-pronged streaming play for Disney, along with ESPN+ and Disney+, its upcoming streaming service.

Hulu crossing the 2 million live-TV audience threshold was first reported by Bloomberg.

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Barbara Fiorentino Joins Hulu as Head of Talent and Casting

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Hulu Boss Says ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Being Pushed to June Has Nothing to Do With ‘Game of Thrones’

Why ‘Bones’ Victory vs Fox Won’t Result in a Ton of Copycat Lawsuits – or at Least, Not Winning Ones

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“Bones” stars and executive producers were awarded $179 million earlier this month in a profit participation lawsuit with Fox that ended up in arbitration — but don’t expect a sudden surge of copycat lawsuits, experts tell TheWrap. At least, not successful ones.

One prominent dealmaker told TheWrap that although this judgement — which ruled in favor of “Bones” stars David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel, executive producer Barry Josephson and Kathy Reichs, the forensic anthropologist whose books inspired the show — may lead other hit shows to hire someone to scrutinize how their studio shared profits, not everyone will have the right situation or the finances to take it to court.

“It’s the confluence of a successful show, where people are underpaid, where there are enough points that reside with one or two or three people such that it’s worth it to take on Fox,” the dealmaker, who requested anonymity due to ongoing work within the entertainment industry, told TheWrap. “You’ve got to have some cojones, you’ve got to have some real staying power or assets or upside that is around the corner in order to take this on. And that’s not always the case.”

Also Read: Here’s Why Fox Could Win ‘Bones’ Arbitration Appeal – And Why It Couldn’t

Tom Nunan, founder and partner of Bull’s Eye Entertainment and UCLA lecturer, agrees.

“Most profit participants suspect that on some level — either trivial or substantive — studios aren’t being fair, but at the same time, few have either the means or the stamina to sue,” he said. “There’s a real chance that we’ll see a surge in lawsuits, but few will succeed, as the studios count on the complainant to either run out of money or time, in pursuing what they figure they’re owed.”

Attorney Bert Fields, partner at Greenberg Glusker, offered another theory as to why you won’t see many copycat lawsuits prevail: studios will think twice about letting legal disputes go to arbitration.

“Maybe studios aren’t going to be so anxious to arbitrate in the future,” he said. Fields characterized “Bones” case arbitrator Peter Lichtman’s harsh words in his 66-page ruling — in which he accused three Fox executives of perjury — as “something a judge rarely does.”

“This seems to be a case where somehow these people and the studio side just drove this arbitrator up the wall,” Fields said.

Also Read: Former Fox Boss Peter Liguori Scored Secret Sweetheart FX Deal Before Testifying in ‘Bones’ Case

Still, everyone we spoke with for this story seems to agree that it’s certainly worth checking the math.

“I think it would be remiss of anyone who represents a profit participant on a hit show, which was both produced by a studio and broadcast or cablecast by a network which are vertically integrated, to not do a thorough analysis of the resulting participation statements before the relevant audit periods expire,” Peter Nichols, entertainment lawyer and founding partner of Lichter, Grossman, Nichols, Adler & Feldman, Inc., told us.

One of the main issues at hand in the “Bones” case is the industry practice of “self-dealing,” a tradition almost as old as Hollywood itself, where a network or streaming service pays for a film or TV show from a studio owned by the same company. It’s that matter at the heart of the “Bones” case.

The show was produced by 20th Century Fox, which licensed the series to air on the Fox broadcast network. Streaming rights were also licensed to Hulu, a platform in which Fox currently has a 30 percent stake.

The amount that Fox was hit with was one of the largest rulings of its kind in television history. That facet alone has made those in the industry wonder if we’re headed for a sea-change in Hollywood deal-making, especially as Disney is set to increase its market share by swallowing up most of 21st Century Fox’s assets in a merger set to close in the coming months.

But experts aren’t so sure.

Also Read: Welcome to the New WrapPRO – We Love Our Members!

It shouldn’t be taken as some radical change in the entertainment business,” Fields said. “This is not a new problem. This is just presented so dramatically because the numbers are so big.”

Nichols is also “not sure” if the “Bones” ruling “changes anything.”

“But it certainly underscores the importance of demanding that studios be required to negotiate with all corporate affiliates, whether wholly owned or not, on an ‘arm’s length’ basis,” he said.

Many legacy media companies, including Disney and WarnerMedia, are pushing further in the streaming space, which has already opened a new line of revenue for studios looking to cash in on the shows they own. And Disney will become the majority owner of Hulu after its Fox deal closes.

Also Read: Bob Iger Stands by New Disney-ABC Execs Peter Rice, Dana Walden After ‘Bones’ vs Fox Judgment

This could lead to a schism, where on one side you have streamers like Netflix, Amazon and Apple’s upcoming service — that aren’t tied to a larger content producer — and on the other side, you have Disney+, Hulu and WarnerMedia.

BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield believes that streaming licensing deals may come under further scrutiny.

“This illustrates the need for a true fair market value process — if Warner wants to put ‘Friends’ on WarnerMedia, it needs to pay talent as much as Netflix would pay,” he said. “What would Netflix pay for a ‘Star Wars’ TV series that reaches 150 million vs Disney+, which reaches zero at start?”

He added that, even if its own deals are more scrutinized, Netflix could still end up benefiting. “It shows how studios’ fiduciary duty helps Netflix — as they have size and scale to pay dollars that others cannot,” Greenfield said.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Bob Iger Stands by New Disney-ABC Execs Peter Rice, Dana Walden After ‘Bones’ vs Fox Judgment

Fox Slapped With $179 Million Judgment in Battle Over ‘Bones’ Profits

Emily Deschanel Joins TNT’s ‘Animal Kingdom’ in First TV Role Since ‘Bones’ Ended

Here’s Why Fox Could Win ‘Bones’ Arbitration Appeal – And Why It Couldn’t

Hulu Stake Among Items Under Review At AT&T As WarnerMedia Legal Clouds Part

Read on: Deadline.

A day after a federal appeals court backed its $81 billion acquisition of Time Warner and the Department of Justice said it would abandon its legal challenges, AT&T renewed its vow to scrutinize its balance sheet to create more financial maneuverab…

Barbara Fiorentino Joins Hulu as Head of Talent and Casting

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Hulu has hired Emmy-winning casting director Barbara Fiorentino to serve as head of talent and casting, marking the first time that the streamer has hired an in-house head of casting.

In this role, Fiorentino will oversee the casting of all Hulu Originals projects and work closely with external creative partners on key talent searches for upcoming and current original series. She will also lead Hulu in growing its business with the industry’s top actors, identifying new and emerging talent, and expanding the diversity and inclusivity of its casting.

She will report to Beatrice Springborn, Hulu’s VP of originals.

Also Read: If ‘Daredevil’ and ‘Jessica Jones’ Get Revived, Here’s Why It Would Likely Be on Hulu and Not Disney+

Fiorentino, having owned her own casting company since 1999, brings to Hulu extensive knowledge of the talent marketplace. She is credited with working on a number of popular television shows including “Thirteen Reasons Why,” “UnREAL,” and “Blindspot,” and was also a consultant for Imagine Television on Hulu’s upcoming series “Wu-Tang: An American Saga,” which will premiere this fall.

Shameik Moore (“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”), Ashton Sanders (“Moonlight”), Siddiq Saunderson (“Messiah”), Marcus Callender (“Power”), Zolee Griggs (“Ballers”) and Erika Alexander (“Get Out”) were been tapped to star in the 10-episode scripted drama series, which tells the origin story of the legendary rap group.

Fiorentino and her associate, Terese Classen, started at Hulu on Monday and are based in the company’s Santa Monica office.

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Hulu Acquires Award-Winning Sundance Documentary ‘Jawline’

‘Veronica Mars’ Revival: Here’s Everything We Know About Kristen Bell’s Hulu Run – So Far

‘Into the Spider-Verse’ Star Shameik Moore Among 6 Cast in Hulu’s Wu-Tang Clan Drama

Latest Sign the Cord-Cutting Revolution Is Over: Roku Users Watch 3 Hours of Content Per Day

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Roku revealed two key statistics showing streaming’s increasing ubiquity — and how the device-maker is benefiting from it — when the company reported its fourth quarter earnings on Thursday.

First, the company estimated “nearly 1 out of 5 U.S. TV households” now uses one of its devices to stream television. And secondly, Roku said its customers streamed 7.3 billion hours of content during Q4 — an increase of 70 percent year-over-year.

To put that into perspective: Across its 27.1 million accounts by the end of 2018, the average Roku viewer was streaming almost 3 hours worth of content each day.

Also Read: Roku Pulls Alex Jones’ InfoWars Channel After Just 1 Day

It’s a jarring yet fitting number, considering that Roku is continuing to benefit from the growth of major streaming players like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. Last month, Netflix estimated its 60 million American customers stream 100 minutes of shows each day on average. It goes without saying that many of those customers are streaming Netflix content via Roku devices.

At the same time, Roku appears poised to see its billions of streaming hours continue to increase, as more streaming services flood the market. Disney and WarnerMedia are set to launch their own services later this year, as well as Apple.

And the sheer volume of content is expanding, with the number of scripted shows on streaming services increasing 37 percent from 2017 to 2018. The Big Three streaming services — Netflix, Amazon and Hulu — took home 12 of 26 Primetime Emmys last September. Quality content, coupled with more providers and more shows, will only drive more time spent using Roku devices.

Also Read: How Roku Is Helping Smaller OTT Services Stand Out in a Saturated Market

Traditional TV stalwarts, meanwhile, are failing to keep up. DirecTV lost more than 400,000 customers during the fourth quarter, AT&T reported last month.

Investors look like they expect this trend — streaming’s rise replacing old school television — to continue. Heading into Thursday afternoon, Roku shares have increased 70 percent to $51.48 per share since the beginning of 2019; after reporting its Q4 financials on Thursday, Roku shares crept up another 4 percent in after-hours trading.

Roku has made its name off its array of devices, which range from $30 to $100, as well as a $200 package that includes wireless speakers. But dig a bit deeper into its Q4 results and it becomes evident Roku is focused on moving beyond its dependency on devices sales.

Also Read: Why the Marvel-Netflix TV Partnership Disintegrated

Platform revenue, which includes ad sales and licensing, increased nearly 80 percent year-over-year, accounting for $151.4 million in Q4 revenue. Advertisers are progressively turning to Roku as the company looks to not only sell devices but grab eyeballs with its own content.

CEO Anthony Wood, in the company’s letter to shareholders, said Roku is focused on adding more “features and content” to The Roku Channel, aiming to drive more ad dollars.

That’s well and good, but even without its own compelling content, Roku is set to enjoy a banner year, as streaming’s rising tide is clearly lifting its boat.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Roku Pulls Alex Jones’ InfoWars Channel After Just 1 Day

Roku’s Stock Rockets 25 Percent on Massive Increase in Streaming Hours

How Roku Is Helping Smaller OTT Services Stand Out in a Saturated Market