Why Netflix Rulez

Here’s a well thought out analysis of what makes Netflix numero uno in the hearts of, well, this TVWriter™ minion for sure:

GettyImages-125641399-640x446by Nick Cannata-Bowman

TV today is a veritable gold mine of must-watch shows. Across all the major networks and beyond, there’s more than enough to choose from. We have everything from superheroes to zombies, and everything in between, leaving little room for much else. Netflix though managed to dive right into the fray, coming out the other end with its own host of wildly popular shows that have single-handedly revolutionized the streaming format. Other streaming services have followed in kind with their own original programming, but there’s no denying: This is Netflix’s world, and we’re just living in it.

How did Netflix get here? The world of streaming before they came along was largely uncharted, and only recently have services begun to discover their true potential. Buying up streaming rights from various studios and production companies can get pricey, leaving original programming as the simplest and most affordable road to take. But not all streaming services were created the same, and Netflix has managed to stand head and shoulders over even network TV for a variety of reasons.


We’ve been conditioned for the last half-century of television in a simple credo: one week = one episode. The idea is to build tension, while stretching out the potential for ad revenue over 6 months. Netflix, caring little for ads, went in the complete opposite direction. For all of its original programming, we’re gifted with an entire season’s worth of episodes in a single day.

This in turn leaves audiences free to watch at their own leisure, with many choosing to power through everything in a single sitting. It keys in on the millennial need for instant gratification. No one is forced to wait, a week to watch a 42 minute show peppered with almost 20 minutes of commercials, making Netflix the easy choice over network TV.


FOX, CBS, NBC, and ABC have been battling for the top spot since they first came into existence. Throughout this struggle, their main arena has been primetime, taking place between 8 and 11 p.m. Monday through Friday. During those hours, they slot their strongest shows, each hoping to be the most-watched shows on single nights throughout the week. Netflix though exists outside this struggle entirely.

As a streaming service, it doesn’t have to worry about competing for the top ratings spot in primetime. Its flexible release schedule makes it possible to release full seasons of its various shows any time it makes sense for its own calendar. Above the fray, Netflix doesn’t need to worry about what its competition is doing on any given night.

Read it all at Cheatsheet

Favorite TVWriter™ Posts During the Week Ending Oct. 2, 2015


The most clicked-on posts by TVWriter™ visitors during the last week were:

What Popular TV/Film Trope Makes You Want to Never Watch Anything Again?

Peggy Bechko on “Self Editing, the Writer’s Friend”

Looking for TV Pilot Scripts?

Sublime Primetime – Insights From Emmy-Nominated Writers

Mulder and Scully are Breaking Up?! OMG!

And our most visited resource pages were:

Writing the Dreaded Outline


The Logline

The Teleplay


Major thanks to everyone for making this such a great week. Don’t forget to read what you missed. re-read what you loved, and, most importantly, come back for more soon!

Leesa Dean Gives Thumbs Down to ‘Thumbs Down’


Adventures in Digital Series Land – #112
by Leesa Dean

Been so so busy I haven’t had time to do anything, which is why this post is late. Aside from everything else going on (animating/production work on new series, promos and writing a pilot), I just signed a deal with fledgling streaming VOD company Kweli TV.  They fell in love with Chilltown and now it will be on their platform in HD!! So I’ve been redoing all the episodes in preparation for the launch. A ton of work.

But something really big is brewing in the digital media world and I felt I had to address it.  That’s right, Facebook is planning on adding a dislike button (thumbs down) and people are going berserk.  And for a good reason. Given all the trolls, schadenfreude-mongers, ill-wishers and general sh*theads that populate an average timeline, people are bracing themselves for their videos to get tons of thumbs down. To make things worse, Facebook says it’s planning on DELETING any video that has more than 10 dislikes.  Talk about pressure.

When I first read about this I had, what can only be described as, a social-media take on the classic comedian’s nightmare: I dreamed I posted my latest radio show segment and all the hosts from one of the radio stations that carries the segment gave it a thumbs down.  Not only by clicking the button, but also by posting a huge image of the FB thumbs down.  To be fair, that joke did kind of suck.

Calming elements in this equation? Well, this has been happening on YouTube since forever and usually, trolls seem to want more attention so will post nasty venomous comments vs just clicking dislike. They normally want to interact.  Plus, on Facebook everybody can see who’s clicking the dislike button which probably will rule out your schadenfreude-loving friends. Hopefully. Plus videos that go viral (and I’m hoping or being delusional here) get shared a ton on Facebook. Which can work in your favor. Or not.

So I’m voting a distinct “thumbs down” for the upcoming dislike button.

Finally, tonight I’m going to the New York premiere of Chilltown star Victor Cruz’s NEW MOVIE, The Stockroom!!! To say I’m excited would be an understatement.  It’s being featured at the Urbanworld Film Festival and Victor not only stars in it, he wrote and directed it. Plus, Gil T, another Chilltown star is also in it. The movie just screened at the LA Indie Film Fest and won three awards (Best Screenplay, Best Feature and Best Actor!!!)  I’ll write all the deets in my next post.

Leesa Dean is the creator of CHILLTOWN TV, a digital series to reckon with. Learn more about Leesa and the series HERE


Knowledge is power. But it may not make you rich. For that you need articles like this:


by Chuck Wendig

Two pieces of reading homework before we begin:

First up, the ever-smart Kameron Hurley — the Cold Equations that govern publishing.

Second, the big news surrounding the Author’s Guild survey that suggests more and more authors are getting paid less and less, and something-something poverty line.

Kameron’s link — I got nothing to add except, high-five to her for talking about this stuff.

The Author’s Guild survey — nnnyeah, I’m not really willing to count that as meaningful information. The data in that survey, according to Publisher’s Weekly, skews this way:

The survey, conducted this spring by the Codex Group, is based on responses from 1,674 Guild members, 1,406 of whom identified either as a full-time author, or a part-time one. The majority of respondents also lean older—89% are over the age of 50—and toward the traditionally published end (64%).

Note that I am not a guild member. I’m not sure I know many (any?) guild members.

It’s a very narrow slice of the author cake, and made even narrower when you consider how many of them are strictly traditionally-published, and how many are over 50 years of age. (I’m not suggesting any age-ist critique, but rather, I’m noting that the more you dwindle survey participants, the shallower the pool becomes of meaning.)

That said, regardless of the depth (or lack of depth) the author’s guild survey possesses, I think once in a while it’s a good idea to wad up all the financial realities that surround a writer’s existence, cram them into a cannon, and then fire them top speed into your solar plexus.

I am a full-time writer.

I do pretty okay for myself. I support my family with my words, which is pretty cool — and, no doubt, pretty rare. I am aware and have been privy to the many peaks and valleys of a writer’s career, and the key to surviving as a writer is learning how to survive the valleys — either figuring out how to glide from peak to peak, or having a plan to weather the lean times when things go down. Surviving the peaks is easy — everyone enjoys good news. But some authors can’t navigate the stark elevation drop and, understandably, move on to more stable ground.

Let’s talk about the financial realities that you’ll deal with — both peaks and valleys.

On advances, sure, there still exists those advances that are $100,000, or are up over a million. But if you’re a new author, you’ll probably find yourself in the $5k – $15k range. And if you’re a practiced, published author, you might drift higher, which is from $15k-35k.

You’ll note that none of those numbers individually make for good full-time money.

You can do okay on $35k, but depending on where you live, it might strain the budget.

(And here, a digression: where you live actually matters to the writer. It doesn’t matter in terms of BEING CLOSE TO THE ACTION — your proximity to NY Publishing is not as important to an author as proximity to LA MovieLand is to a screenwriter. No, it matters because some parts of the money cost less than others. If you are one of those writers who wants very badly to live in New York City or its surrounding environs, be prepared to discover that your book advance will pay for 14 minutes of rent, and you’ll be able to maybe afford an apartment that is roughly the size of a dented Porta-potty….

Read it all at Terrible Minds

How Twitter is warping your favorite TV shows

Here at TVWriter™ we like to look at the bright side. After all, if Twitter wasn’t up there on the interwebs with its denizens tweeting away their demands re how their favorite – and not so favorite – TV series should be written, directed, and acted (hey, nobody knows what to say about producing, you know?), somebody else would.

Alice Walker, however, has a different, darker perspective:

bird.shitby Alice Walker

The rise of social media has fundamentally altered the way viewers interact with shows. For decades, the only way a fan could express love for a TV show was through a P.O. Box. Now, fans can directly reach showrunners, writers, producers, and actors in the split-second it takes to send a tweet.

Twitter is here, and it’s not going away. Whether this newfound accessibility helps or hurts television remains an open question, one that largely rests on how TV’s Powers That Be use this new tool.

Will the increased fan engagement help the quality of programming, and give fans a bigger voice in what networks will program? Or will it have the opposite effect by warping the creative process — and even the act of watching the show — in favor of pandering?

At the very least, this much is now true: A show’s survival is now directly connected to its Twitter presence. In 2013, Nielsen, which has measured TV audiences since 1950, updated its ratings model to include Twitter TV ratings. The system measures the TV-related conversations occurring on Twitter, encompassing not only the messages and hashtags pegged to a show, but the total reach of the tweets.

The unintentional side effect is tremendous pressure on showrunners to create new, tweet-driving TV moments. Shows that often hinge on sudden twists and dramatic moments, like Scandal and The Walking Dead, have developed a passionate Twitter base, becoming the top tweeted-about shows in 2015. Pretty Little Liars — another show known for its social media savvy fan base — aired its mystery-revealing season finale and yielded a whopping 4.5 million tweets. These moments don’t just increase the buzz of a show, or the “Twitter TV ratings.” They increase the actual ratings, as viewers who want to share the group-watching experience — and avoid being spoiled — tune in to watch live when they see a tweetstorm in progress.

Once a novelty, ranking as a “trending topic” is increasingly seen as crucial to survival in this competitive TV landscape. “People are planning [Twitter engagement] from the moment they start writing the show,” said Andrew Adashek, who manages Twitter’s TV partnerships, at a Variety panel discussion. “When they’re shooting, they’re capturing things ahead of time — and knowing that in six months or a year, that they are going to need that content to help bring the audience in….”

Read it all at The Week

2015 Spec Scriptacular Competition Ends in 61 Days


Time to remind writers everywhere – and especially those of you reading this right here and now (our logic is impeccable, right?) – that the deadline for entries to the 2015 Spec Scriptacular is coming into sight.

We hate to see anybody whose working hers/his/their butts off miss a chance to score, and score big, in one of our two favorite interweb writing competitions (the other being, um, yeah, the TVWriter™ People’s Pilot cuz you know).

So it’s time to bear down, or man up, or whatever figure of speech gets your blood stirring, set your eyes on the target date and time of the very last moment of December 1, 2015, and write with all the soul and craft you can muster so you can join one of our favorite groups of people, the myriad past Winners, Finalists, and Semi-Finalists of our two stellar competitions who now are or have recently been on the staffs of:

to name just a few. 

We’d love to see you join them!



More about the prizes HEREStarting Line