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TV Providers Are Still Looking For The Next 'Game Of Thrones'


Stories about being biracial in America, country music and President Bill Clinton's impeachment are coming to our TV screens - or any screens, I guess (laughter). NPR TV critic Eric Deggans has explored these subjects and more at the TV Critics Association's summer press tour in LA. He joins us now from NPR West.

Hey there, Eric.


CORNISH: So people have been talking a lot about all the new TV streaming services that are debuting over the next few months. Can you tell us about them and whether TV executives are nervous about an oversaturated market?

DEGGANS: Beyond nervous - I mean, this time next year, we're going to have, like, four new streaming services from big media companies, like Apple TV+ coming sometime this fall, Disney+ in November, HBO Max in the spring and the service that Comcast/NBC is putting together for April. And Disney recently announced that they're going to bundle together a subscription. So you'll get, like, Disney+, Hulu and sports-oriented ESPN+ for $12.99 a month, which is the same as Netflix's standard subscription price. So we are in the middle of the streaming wars.

I saw Amazon Prime trying to beef up their lineup with some really broad shows, like the "Jack Ryan" franchise and "Lord Of The Rings." And outlets like HBO and FX have been bought by bigger companies. And they've been told to increase their original output, so we're going to have a lot more TV coming at us.

CORNISH: I want to talk more about FX because they announced the latest installment of their anthology series "American Crime Story." It's raising a lot of eyebrows because it's about Bill Clinton's impeachment that was in 1998. And people are saying that the timing is controversial. Why?

DEGGANS: Yeah. It debuts on September 27 of next year, which is, like, five weeks before the 2020 presidential election. And from the moment that FX released news about this, there was backlash online from opponents of Donald Trump who are worried that the show is going to help the president by distracting potential voters with tales of Bill Clinton's infidelity. But the president of FX, John Landgraf, pushed back really hard on that. And we've got a clip. Let's check it out.


JOHN LANDGRAF: This certainty that says we can't have conversations. We can't make art. We can't have nuance, pronounce judgment on it - is toxic in the media environment. And I don't believe it's going to determine who's the next president of the United States. I think that's a little hysterical - from my standpoint, somebody saying that that's going to influence the presidential election. And from my standpoint, I am insistent that I'm going to support artists who want to make great art, and they want to put it at the time and place where people are going to watch it.

DEGGANS: So Landgraf said executive producer Ryan Murphy, who's co-created shows like "Glee" and "Pose," picked that date because people will be interested in presidential matters at that time. Monica Lewinsky's on board as a producer, so you get the sense that the show is going to feature her perspective. And, you know, personally, I've got a hard time imagining a show on a cable channel like FX really affecting a presidential election. But it's a measure of how nervous some people are that they think this air date is a bad idea.

CORNISH: But what are the upcoming shows that you're seeing that you think viewers will actually get excited about?

DEGGANS: Well, you know, there's a few things I like. I like - Ken Burns has got this amazing documentary on country music that's coming to PBS - very emotional, informative, breaks a lot of stereotypes. There's this show on HBO called "Watchmen" that's based on the classic graphic novel about white supremacists going after the police. And ABC's got this show "Mixed-ish" that's a spinoff of "Black-ish" that features sort of the childhood of one of the characters from "Black-ish," Rainbow. She's a tween growing up biracial at a time in the 1980s when people didn't really understand that. And they get to talk about race in a way that really is relevant to what we're going through today.

CORNISH: That's NPR TV critic Eric Deggans.

Eric, thanks so much.

DEGGANS: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF REAL ESTATE SONG, "HAD TO HEAR") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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