News round-up: The CW cuts staff incl longtime comms chief; Peacock hails Hallmark deal; ABC preps ‘Prank Panel’


The CW cuts staff

The CW has slashed dozens of jobs as new owner Nexstar continues its overhaul at the US network.

Nexstar completed its acquisition of The CW earlier this year and made swift changes, which most notably saw Mark Pedowitz stepping down as chairman and CEO, with Dennis Miller replacing him.

A further swathe of cuts have now been revealed, with Riverdale broadcaster The CW’s long-time communications chief, Paul Hewitt, among 30 to 40 roles cut, according to US reports.

Beth Feldman takes on Hewitt’s remit, while other departments including distribution and strategy have also been hit, as Nexstar shifts The CW’s business towards local station operations.

Former co-owners Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount Global each retain a 12.5% stake in the company.

Peacock hails Hallmark deal

NBCUniversal–owned streamer Peacock has struck a “first-of-its-kind” deal with Hallmark which will see the platform carry the latter’s film and TV content within a dedicated hub.

The move is widely interpreted as an attempt by Peacock to boost its own brand cache and profile in what has become a high-competitive market.

Kelly Campbell, president of Peacock and NBCU direct-to-consumer, said: “As we continue to make Peacock a premium streaming destination, Hallmark is exactly the type of brand we want to align with. Through this ground-breaking partnership, we’re giving Hallmark viewers a unique viewing experience while continuing to grow our audience, boosting engagement across both brands.”

The Hallmark-branded hub, which covers both live linear and on-demand content, will appear on Peacock from 2 November, ahead of the key Thanksgiving and Christmas period.

The deal, which is focused on the US, is unusual for two reasons. Firstly, because of the use of live linear channels – which starts to resemble a kind of limited PayTV bundle within Peacock. Secondly, because of the profile given to Hallmark. Until now, streamers have tended to reserve this kind of branding for their own in-house IP.

Peacock currently has around 15 million subscribers. However heavy investment in original content and marketing means it is currently making a substantial loss.

ABC preps Prank Panel

ABC in the US has picked up a unscripted comedy The Prank Panel for 2023.

The show features Johnny Knoxville, Eric Andre and Gabourey Sidibe as they help everyday people prank family members, friends and co-workers. The show is produced by Kimmelot and ITV America.

Viaplay rolls out in UK

Viaplay Group has launched its Viaplay streaming service in the UK, offering a Film & Series package focused on Nordic storytelling with more than 1,000 hours of originals and curated third-party content, or the Total package that also includes live sports.

The direct-to-consumer packages are priced at £3.99 and £14.99 per month respectively, with a seven-day free trial for the Film & Series package and a monthly price of £11.99 for Total customers signing a 12-month contract.

Viaplay Originals available at launch include the Nordic noir series Cell 8, Fenris, Honour, Partisan, Those Who Kill, Harmonica, Love Me and Pernille. The line-up also includes a slate of factual programming and third party content including movies.

Viaplay has ramped up its plans for the UK following the acquisition of sports outfit Premier. The company is currently talking to UK-based producers about scripted projects.

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