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Winter Is Coming — So Are These Shows And TV Subscription Services


The television industry is changing fast. And that means there is more to watch on TV than ever before, which is great, except that between the ever-multiplying streaming services, platforms and apps and commercial TV, sometimes there are too many options.

Well, never fear. NPR TV critic Eric Deggans joins us now from the TV Critic Association's (ph) winter press tour in Pasadena. He is tracking what's going on out there so that we don't have to. Hi, Eric.


KELLY: Let me guess, you're about to tell me that it is not going to get easier anytime soon to make a choice between all of the different offerings?

DEGGANS: That is sadly for sure. My prediction is that there's going to be more and more to choose from. I mean, I don't think we've hit peak TV yet.

We've got companies like AT&T and Disney buying other media companies so they can get bigger, so they can build streaming services and compete with Netflix. So with more streaming services, you get more content.

So HBO's president - entertainment president, Casey Bloys, said they plan to increase their output of TV series this year by 50 percent.

KELLY: Wow, 50 percent.

DEGGANS: Fifty percent. Analysts expect Netflix to spend $15 billion on programming this year. And we've got all these new streaming services coming from Disney, Apple, Comcast and Warner Media. Now, they're going to try to create these signature shows to draw viewers, which means even more shows on your TV screens. So it's basically going to be a war among the streaming services and big media companies for customers.

KELLY: All of which is fabulous in terms of having so many things to watch - also a little overwhelming. But what if I'm just trying to find my favorite TV shows? I gather that is also going to get increasingly complicated?

DEGGANS: Oh, yeah. Well, you know, think about the sitcom "Friends." Now, Warner Bros. Television controls that library of old "Friends" episodes that are currently on Netflix. But Warner Media is also developing its own streaming service.

And so the executive who is helping lead that effort - the president of TNT and TBS, Kevin Reilly - came to critics. He was asked if his company would let Netflix keep that series or yank back those episodes for their streaming service. And he pretty much said without saying that they're going to probably yank those episodes back and feature them on their streaming service.

So if you want to see "Friends" and you're already subscribed to Netflix, you may have to buy yet another subscription.

KELLY: So for those of us who just want to sit down and watch TV on any given night, how do we sort through all these new and changing services?

DEGGANS: Well, I think we're going to see the services break down into a couple - a few different types. So big players like Netflix and Hulu and Amazon are going to try to be your primary service - the place you go to first when you're looking for video. And I'm betting these new services from Apple and Warner Media are also going to try to fill that space.

And then we've got these smaller streamers that are going to try to be your secondary choice - something that you add on to have extra access to shows that you like. That could be Disney Plus, which is going to be family-friendly content, or a new platform like CuriosityStream, which is offering nonfiction documentaries, or CBS All Access, which has more adventurous series than the CBS broadcast network.

KELLY: That is all about how we will be watching. Let me turn you to the fun stuff. What should we be watching this coming year?

DEGGANS: OK. So we know "Veep" and "Game Of Thrones." They're going to have their final seasons on HBO. A lot of people are looking forward to that. I'm looking forward to "Big Little Lies" second season.

KELLY: Oh, me too. Yes.

DEGGANS: With Meryl Streep joining the cast, with Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon - got to love that. FX has got a limited series called "Fosse/Verdon" with Sam Rockwell playing the legendary choreographer Bob Fosse and Michelle Williams playing his wife and creative partner Gwen Verdon. And George Clooney is having so much fun playing this off-the-wall lieutenant in Hulu's adaptation of "Catch-22," which is also great to see.

KELLY: And I can't wait to hear your reviews of all of this. That's NPR TV critic Eric Deggans. Thank you.

DEGGANS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eric Deggans is NPR's first full-time TV critic.