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Inside Streaming (Jan 6th, 2017)

Today we've got the latest from CES, including Hulu's live streaming plans and Nvidia's new Shield set top box, plus a consideration of Netflix's controversial "The OA" and a guide to some of the big shows coming back for new seasons in 2017. Hope you enjoy, and as always, hit us up with any recommendations or feedback by replying to this email! – @lons

Hulu's forthcoming live-streaming service will include content from CBS's network and cable channels. According to the terms of the deal, CBS will receive $3, and potentially even up to $4, for every monthly subscriber to its live channels, exceeding the company's profits from traditional pay-TV distribution. In addition to CBS, Hulu will now also get access to CBS Sports Network and the pop culture channel POP TV, and could potentially option The CW and the Smithsonian Channel. Some on-demand content, such as full seasons of the long-running "NCIS," will remain available exclusively through the company's own service, CBS All Access. – WSJ

The latest version of the Nvidia Shield streaming device debuted this week at CES. The Nvidia Shield is more expensive than its rival, Roku, starting at $200 with a "Pro" version featuring increased storage capacity selling for $300. The latest Shield has added an Amazon Video app, making Apple TV now the only major streaming box that doesn't integrate the service. Nvidia also added YouTube 360 video functionality, 4K streaming from Netflix and Amazon, smart home capabilities from Google Assistant, a remote control and an updated gaming controller. The new device ships on or around January 16. – CNET

Through a new deal, Twitter will exclusively stream 70 hours of PGA Tour competition this season, across 31 different golf tournaments. The first exclusive live stream will cover the CareerBuilder Challenge on January 19, and the coverage will feature pre-round analysis, interviews and the first few holes from the day's featured golfers. The PGA will also make highlight videos and Periscopes available on Twitter. The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. – BLOOMBERG

The political comedy series "Embeds," debuting on January 18 on go90, comes from executive producer Megyn Kelly. The series was inspired by the experiences of co-creators Scott Conroy and Peter Hamby as embedded journalists on political campaigns. (Conroy reported on Mitt Romney for CBS, while Hamby followed Sarah Palin's campaign for CNN.) The series stars Max Ehrich, Kelsey Asbille and Andre Jamal Kinney as young reporters trailing a candidate's daughter (played digital star Alexis G. Zall) on the campaign trail. – EW

Season 9 of Jerry Seinfeld's Crackle series, "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee," debuted this week with guest Kristen Wiig. Seinfeld pays tribute to Wiig's Scandinavian heritage by picking her up in a 1964 Volvo. Upcoming guests this season include Bob Einstein (aka "Super Dave" Osborne), Cedric the Entertainer, Christoph Waltz and Norm Macdonald. – TUBEFILTER

Netflix is developing a new series based on the popular Korean web comic "Love Alarm." The 12-episode live action series, the company's first original Korean drama, will be available internationally, and debut in 2018. Graphic novelist Chon Kye-Young's comic centers around a mobile app that can locate anyone within 10 meters who has a crush on you. Addictive Korean dramatic series (sometimes called K-dramas) have already proved popular on the platform. – ENGADGET


Well, let's say, recommended with some reservations. Co-creators Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij's odd, sometimes confounding fantasy-drama introduces a lot more fascinating elements than it knows how to pay off, and doesn't really seem to ultimately have much of a point, as far as I can tell. (Something about faith, maybe? Or love? Or love of faith?)

I was largely turned off by the final sequence, which I would of course never dream of spoiling for you. But though I'm not sure all of these parts necessarily cohere into a satisfying whole, I'll admit that the journey to get there kept my interest, and was unpredictable and unconventional enough to keep me watching through to the end.

(For those interested, it shares some themes and ideas with Marling and Batmanglij's superior previous collaboration, the terrific indie film "The Sound of My Voice." You can rent it on Amazon, Google Play or iTunes.)

"The OA" concerns a blind girl named Prairie Johnson (Marling), who disappeared from her adopted home, only to return seven years later with the ability to see. The show cuts back and forth between her difficult transition back into her former, suburban life and flashbacks to the details of her disappearance, including the unhinged Dr. Hunter "Hap" Percy (Jason Isaacs) who was ultimately responsible.

The flashbacks are pretty uniformly terrific, and inarguably more interesting than the scenes featuring Prairie (who now calls herself "The OA") and her homecoming. Some of the supernatural elements introduced bear striking similarities to Netflix's "Stranger Things," which may have something to do with the online blowback towards the more recent series. But I've never seen these particular concepts explored in quite this way, and "The OA" has plenty of originality and fresh ideas of its own. (A sequence in which Isaacs confronts another researcher working in his same field was one of the more intense and disturbing I've seen in any recent series, and the depiction of Hap's experiments themselves are truly chilling.)

For a show that dives head-long into some pretty silly visual ideas and concepts, "The OA" takes itself very seriously. I think this is probably why it's proven so divisive. If you're not willing to give yourself over to it and accept the crazy elements as they come, I'd advise flipping over to "Narcos."

No word yet on whether or not "The OA" will receive a second season, but though it certainly COULD be open for one based on the ending, I'd argue it'd probably be best left as it stands (though I'd love to see Marling and director Batmanglij reteam for more spooky potentially supernatural thrillers)! I worry at times that these shows continually expand mythology over multiple seasons when a lot of the deeper, richer questions would be better left posed and unanswered.


And speaking of Season 2s (and beyond), here's a look at some of the most popular streaming series coming back with new episodes in 2017.

NETFLIX: On the comedy front, Will Arnett's recovery sitcom "Flaked," Aziz Ansari's acclaimed "Master of None," co-creator Judd Apatow's "down-to-earth" rom-com "Love" and Maria Bamford's surreal "Lady Dynamite" are all back for second seasons. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin will re-team for a third turn as "Grace and Frankie." On the drama front, "House of Cards" is back - with Patricia Clarkson joining the cast - in March, "Orange is the New Black" gets a fifth season this summer, and look out for the hotly-anticipated Season 2 of "Stranger Things" in July. "Narcos" will also be forced by historical circumstance to shift gears in its third season, which arrives in September.

AMAZON: Drama series "Bosch" and "Hand of God" have both been renewed, and will likely get new seasons in 2017, though no official dates have been set. (This will only be the second season for "Hand of God," about a corrupt judge who believes God wants him to become a vigilante, but it will also be the show's last.) As for comedies, look for Season 4 of "Transparent" and Season 2 of Tig Notaro's semi-autobiographical "One Mississippi" later on this year.

HULU: 2017 will see new episodes of the sitcoms "Casual" (which bows May 23) and Julie Klausner's "Difficult People," co-starring Billy Eichner of "Billy on the Street." The Aaron Paul cult thriller "The Path" is due back January 25.

HBO: Of course, the most eagerly awaited new episodes, arguably in all of television, will be from "Game of Thrones'" seventh season, bowing in mid-2017. Lena Dunham's "Girls" also returns for a sixth and final season in February. "The Leftovers" will also be ending after 2017's third season. Larry David's long-dormant "Curb Your Enthusiasm" comes back this year for a Season 9. Plus "High Maintenance," "Divorce," "Vice Principals," "Veep," "Silicon Valley" and "Ballers" will all be back.


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