Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Discovery Channel Was Interested In Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee

Last week, Wikileaks published over 30,000 pages of leaked emails from Sony's offices for public consumption. Among the most interesting things to surface is the amount of interest Jerry Seinfeld's latest venture received from other television networks.

Discovery Channel's Velocity, DirecTV's Audience Network and YouTube's newest competitor Vessel were among the outlets interested in second window rights to the hit online series which has been streamed over 25 million times. Dan Russell, vice president of programming for Discovery Channel's automotive programming network Velocity, tried to sell Sony Television president Steve Mosko on the network's ratings advantage over league-owned sports networks last July:
Velocity has been around since October 2011, is in 70M homes, and has been steadily moving up the charts in attracting Men 25-54 and Men 18-49.  Velocity out-delivers other notable male-skewing channels such as MLB Network, NBATV, NFL Network, Golf Channel, Fox Sports 2, CNBC, HLN, and Esquire.  Moving forward, we’re looking to attract a bit more women too, without alienating the men who love our channel.  That’s where your series, Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, comes in.
Russell noted that his colleagues had tried to reach out in the past but received no response in return. He asked for sublicensing rights to older episodes and guaranteed that Seinfeld's show would be treated as the top show of the network. Discovery would also heavily promote new episodes of the show airing on Crackle and would occasionally air Velocity's reruns on Discovery Channel. Despite Discovery's generous offer, Sony wasn't interested:
Thanks for the note....we aren't doing anything right now...we are keeping it exclusive to crackle....if anything changes we will let u know.
DirecTV, which was also in talks with Sony about a potential OTT offering as well as acquiring a second window of Dan Patrick's Sports Jeopardy, also wanted rights to reruns of CCC but they were denied. CBS and Lionsgate's entertainment network, Pop! (known at the time as TVGN), was interested in airing clips of CCC during a Paley Center interview they planned to broadcast between Seinfeld and David Letterman but just like the other network execs at DirecTV and Discovery, they were denied the opportunity.

In his interview with Letterman, Seinfeld mentions that he doesn't want CCC to air on television because “I was really thinking what would be a good tv show for a phone, because you don’t have to follow a story.”

In early 2014, Jason Kilar's short form content service Vessel, which has received the blessing of another famous comedian with a huge fan base - Ellen DeGeneres, wanted to license clips from the 90s hit Seinfeld along with CCC but it doesn't look like this idea picked up steam at the Sony offices because of the harm it could do to a larger, expansive SVOD deal with multiple episodes of Seinfeld. It also in direct competition with Crackle, which already showcases clips from the New York-based series.
They want to license Seinfeld and CCC clips.  Clearly we can't do that, but will explore other options.
Despite Sony's lack of interest with Vessel, the same can't be said about their feelings towards CBS All Access, the new SVOD service offered by the Tiffany network. Sony attempted to initiate discussions about CBS acquiring Seinfeld for the new service with extra marketing done of Jerry's part:
Nice move on streaming ...just an FYI..We are in discussions with the obvious players on Seinfeld for subscription and some of your more direct competitors... Series has not been offered on subscription to date and it's available now..plus jerry would do some marketing ..in case you were putting out a broader offering I wanted you to be aware. 
On another note, it sounds like Jerry Seinfeld was in negotiations to acquire an equity stake in Crackle. It is unknown how far those talks got.
How about something like this?:We come up with an overall deal relationship like Jerry's commitment to promote/market Crackle, first look at his digital programming, shut down CCC site, maybe take a little more fee on CCC (any money that moves over to Crackle increase its value), etc - we'll come up with a list.Jerry gets a 5% economic interest in increased value of Crackle ie 5% of increased asset value over today's value, call it $200 mil. We'd do a fmv put/call after five years so he could sell or we could buy. If Crackle's worth $400 mil in five years, it's worth $10 mil to him. Likely to be worth a lot more than that.I think this might get us a lot more value and get Jerry the "skin in the game" we discussed

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