Monday, July 22, 2019

HBO's controversial '30 dicks' drama, Euphoria, the first show that MultiChoice will only have on Showmax and not on M-Net, insiders say.

HBO's full-frontal, penis-packed and pornographic Euphoria drama series will apparently be the first show - from both HBO, but also in terms of broader acquisition strategy - that MultiChoice will only make available on its Showmax video streaming service and not on M-Net (DStv 101), according to insiders.

According to MultiChoice insiders who spoke anonymously since they're not authorised to speak about it officially, changes have been implemented to the acquisition and "bucket" allocation strategy of where which shows go, especially regarding "dual-play" programmes from HBO and other content providers that had a window on both Showmax as the subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service from MultiChoice's Connected Video division, and its linear in-house pay-TV channels group, M-Net.

According to insiders who spoke to TVwithThinus in June, changes in acquisition and "scheduling" strategy will see certain shows that used to be on both M-Net (DStv 101) and Showmax in future reside on only one of these "starting with Euphoria as the first".

Since 25 June TVwithThinus have been asking both Showmax and M-Net for guidance as to the right person within the MultiChoice/M-Net/Showmax trifecta who is knowledgeable about the allocation and acquisition strategy overall and who can talk about it.

Showmax and M-Net were asked about the apparent change to certain TV series that will from now on only be placed on one platform - either Showmax or M-Net, and for clarity about the shift. Answers were also sought as to the reasoning behind what is placed or allocated where, and why the decision was made to have some shows on only one platform going forward.

Neither Showmax's head of communications, Richard Boorman, nor M-Net's head of publicity, Lani Lombard - who were both asked for help - responded with any answers to the media enquiry, background about what was asked, or who to talk to.

To try and lift Showmax subscriber numbers and usage volume as it tries to compete with Netflix South Africa, insiders say MultiChoice over the past two years allowed and in fact actively pushed and sanctioned the "cannibalisation" of premium international content  - programmes that used to be allocated to M-Net exclusively before.

While MultiChoice and M-Net as part of a unique selling proposition to DStv subscribers previously still touted M-Net as the "exclusive home of HBO", that brand proposition was blatantly blown up and had to be discarded when MultiChoice bosses shortly after the arrival of Showmax ordered M-Net placed shows - especially from HBO, but also others - to be "given"to and shared with Showmax.

Adding insult to brand dilution injury, M-Net has not only seen it having to "share" HBO shows, but having more and more new shows, as well as new seasons of shows made available on Showmax ahead of their linear debut dates on M-Net.

Not only has M-Net been quietly forced to slink away from the "exclusive home of HBO" moniker, but also had to see shows from HBO and others ranging from Succession to Marvel's RunawaysBillions, Condor and many  more become available on Showmax first.

In the case of Game of Thrones, MultiChoice has gone as far as to sign off on the simultaneous roll-out on M-Net and Showmax, damaging the M-Net brand as a channel that used to offer exclusive international content, in an attempt to leverage buzz around the international TV asset to lift Showmax streaming viewership at the expense of M-Net ratings.

Now Euphoria - with actor Eric Dane doing a full-frontal, stiff penis and statutory rape scene in the first episode of the lurid show, followed by 30 boys' penises in the second and scenes of masturbation, drug use and violence in others - will apparently be the first show that will "just" reside on Showmax, and not later on M-Net as well.

Insiders said the decision over Euphoria - publicised as a "first on Showmax" although it will actually be a "Showmax only" series - dove-tailed with concerns and executives' reservations about the degree to which South African DStv subscribers would have a negative reaction to the nihilistic youth drama and its pornographic depictions of gratuitous nudity, violence, sex scenes, drug use, abuse and sexual abuse.

Without help from Showmax and M-Net is not yet clear which shows like Euphoria will be(come) "Showmax-only" series and which shows will be "M-Net -only" series and how those decisions are and will now be made.

"From now on some [shows] will be for them [Showmax], and some will be for them [M-Net], and to each his own," said an insider.