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Netflix announces fourth quarter growth

Netflix exceeded expectations in their fourth quarter, a new letter to shareholders announced today.

The company added 2.3 million subscribers in the U.S. and more than 4 million overall, bringing the total to 44 million worldwide and they expect to have 48 million users by the end of 2014 Q1.

“Last April we introduced a concurrent stream $11.99 option to begin our evaluation of plan tiering,” the letter to shareholders explained. “Since late last year, we have also been testing 1 stream and 3 stream variants, as well as SD/HD variations, at various price points. Eventually, we hope to be able to offer new members a selection of three simple options to fit everyone’s taste. If we do make pricing changes for new members, existing members would get generous grandfathering of their existing plans and prices.”

When it comes to original programming, Netflix made it clear that they plan to continue down that path. “In 2014, we anticipate building on our tremendous momentum with new seasons of House of Cards (Feb. 14th), Derek, Hemlock Grove, Orange is the New Black, Lilyhammer, and a fully exclusive, final season of The Killing; as well as additional episodes of Turbo F.A.S.T., and premiere launches of our first original animated series for adults, BoJack Horseman, and an epic series based on the adventures of Marco Polo from The Weinstein Co., and additional new kids series from DreamWorks Animation.”

Elsewhere in the letter, Netflix touched on net nutrality in light of Verizon’s successful court challenge. “In principle, a domestic ISP now can legally impede the video streams that members request from Netflix, degrading the experience we jointly provide,” but Netlfix notes that widespread public support for net neutrality means individual ISPs seem unlikely to pursue action — mainly, they’re aware people like streaming video.

ABC orders drama from 'American Hustle' director David O. Russell

David O. Russell is on a streak in the film world, and now he’s going to try his hand at television.

EW has confirmed that ABC has ordered an untitled soapy drama project from the American Hustle director and Erin Brockovich writer Susannah Grant straight to series. The show, described as “an upstairs/downstairs soap centered on a private country club,” will be co-produced by CBS Studios and ABC Studios.

Russell’s American Hustle is currently up for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture — an award his films Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter were also nominated for in their respective years.

NBC renews 'Days of our Lives' through 2016

Sami Brady may be leaving but Days of our Lives will stick around for a few more years. NBC announced that it picked up an additional two years of the daytime sudser, just in time for its 50th year anniversary in November of 2015.

The new deal will keep Days on NBC through September of 2016. The news was announced a day after Alison Sweeney revealed that she’s leaving her gig as Sami — a role she’s held for 21 years.

“Days of our Lives’ continues to be a fan favorite for the daytime audience and we are thrilled to keep it going through its 50th season,” said NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke in a statement. “Days has shown year-to-year increases in key female demographics and remains both relevant and fresh creatively due to the hard work of the producers, writers, cast and crew who have worked tirelessly to make Days the ratings success it is today.”

Days is currently posting its best season in women 18-49 viewers in three years and biggest season in total viewers in four years.

NBC kills 'Murder, She Wrote' reboot

It was a good idea while it lasted — not!

It appears that NBC’s plan to reboot the long-running CBS drama Murder, She Wrote with Octavia Spencer (The Help) has been tabled indefinitely. Deadline reports that Peacock execs would rather find a different way to spin the tale about the amateur sleuth (assuming it goes the distance at all). More importantly, someone inside probably realized that it’s not so easy to revisit popular franchises. NBC did an impressive job of bringing back Prime Suspect with Maria Bello but the drama didn’t last a season.

When first announced as a pilot by NBC, the project was described as a “light, contemporary procedural in the vein of Bones or Fargo, it follows a hospital administrator and amateur sleuth (Spencer) who self-publishes her first mystery novel … [and her] avid fascination with true crime leads her to become an active participant in the investigations.”

Talk of the reboot eventually prompted original series star Angela Lansbury to speak out against the idea — or at least the use of the classic moniker. “I think it’s a mistake to call it Murder, She Wrote, because Murder, She Wrote will always be about a Cabot Cove and this wonderful little group of people who told those lovely stories and enjoyed a piece of that place, and also enjoyed Jessica Fletcher, who is a rare and very individual kind of person.”

The original drama aired from 1984 to 1996 on CBS and earned Lansbury 12 consecutive Emmy nominations.

Amazon denies plans to launch live-TV streaming service -- UPDATED

UPDATE: Amazon has denied reports that it is in the very early stages of developing a service that would enable paid subscribers to stream live TV channels that are currently offered through cable and satellite providers.

“We continue to build selection for Prime Instant Video and create original shows at Amazon Studios, but we are not planning to license television channels or offer a pay-TV service,” a spokesperson for Amazon said in a statement to EW.

Earlier, a report by the Wall Street Journal claimed that Amazon had already met with three major entertainment companies about licensing the television channels they offer.

Even though Amazon is apparently out of this particular quest, others — like Sony and Google Inc. — continue to publicly explore the opportunity to bring live TV to the streaming audience. But, WSJ pointed out, all face an uphill battle as carrier fees are a major moneymaker for big media companies who license their channels.

'Those Who Kill': Watch the trailer for A&E's scary new serial killer thriller -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

A&E already has one of the most twisted mother/son relationship dramas in their Psycho reboot Bates Motel. Now, the network is about to debut their most disturbing and scariest series to date, the serial killer thriller Those Who Kill, starring Chloe Sevigny (American Horror Story: Asylum) and James D’Arcy (Cloud Atlas). The show, which premieres on March 3 at 10pm and is executive produced by The X-Files’ Glen Morgan, follows detective Catherine Jensen (Sevigny) and forensic psychologist Thomas Schaeffer (D’Arcy) hunting murderers in Pittsburgh. EW has the exclusive new trailer. Don’t watch alone.

A 'Sherlock' movie? 'We don't rule anything out'

Might Sherlock fans one day get to see Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman sleuthing it up on the big screen? Given the episodes of the Conan Doyle update are already feature-length and Sherlock now boasts two genuine film stars, that seemed like a reasonable question to ask cocreator Steven Moffat when EW visited the show last year for this week’s cover story. “We don’t rule anything out,” Moffat replied.

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'General Hospital' casts 'Knots Landing' star -- EXCLUSIVE

A Ewing is coming to Port Charles!

Donna Mills — best known for playing villainess Abby Ewing on Knot’s Landing — is joining the cast of General Hospital. EW has learned that Mills was the only choice to play a new (see: big) character — particularly because the writers are major fans of her old primetime soap.

Sadly, insiders won’t spill details about her character. She is expected to start appearing on the sudser in late February.

The addition of Mills caps off a big year for casting on GH, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last April. Executive Producer Frank Valentini lured back former stars like Genie Francis, Rick Springfield and even Richard Simmons to help celebrate the milestone.

Mills’ other, more recent credits include GCB and Nip/Tuck.

'American Horror Story': Ryan Murphy on the latest 'Coven' and teases for season 4 -- EXCLUSIVE

[SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE LATEST AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN!!!!!]

On the latest American Horror Story: Coven, we learned what makes Madame LaLaurie tick, and it wasn’t pretty. Meanwhile, Spalding introduced her to the magical powers of antihistamines, and Fiona got all ax-happy on the witch hunters. EW talked to co-creator Ryan Murphy about the latest Coven as well as the easter eggs for season 4 he’s begun hiding in these episodes.
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CW orders 'Veronica Mars' spinoff digital series

VERONICA-MARS.jpg

A version of Veronica Mars will return to the small screen … very small screen.

The CW announced today that a spinoff of the long-running show that’s about to hit the big screen will air online. It’s from Rob Thomas, the creator of the series and the upcoming movie.

The show will post on CW Seed, the network’s home for original digital series. Sadly, the CW had very few details to share with the press today at the annual Television Critics Tour in Pasadena because the deal was just done. CW Entertainment President Mark Pedowitz said Thomas is “thrilled” with what CW Seed is doing and already has some ideas about what characters could be featured in the spinoff.

“I told him we’ll take it whenever its ready,” Pedowitz said.

None of the actors are currently attached, but Pedowitz said he isn’t worried. “I have faith in Rob,” he said. “If [the actors are] there, they’re there, if they’re not, they’re not … I have great faith in Rob he will turn it into something fantastic, and should it ever turn into a TV series again I hope he’ll think of us.”

The idea to develop a digital series came from Warner Bros. TV, which produced the original series for UPN and, later, CW. It’s likely the webisodes will average 6 to 8 minutes in length for Seed, which was designed to test new talent and series.  The goal was to release the spinoff around the March 14 premiere of the Veronica Mars movie, but that seems unlikely.

CW snags miniseries with 'Downton Abbey' actress

The CW is jumping into the trend of airing event miniseries by acquiring the period piece Labyrinth, which will star Jessica Brown-Findlay of Downton Abbey fame.

The four-hour series will also feature John Hurt (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) Sebastian Stan (Captain America: The First Avenger) and Tom Felton (the Harry Potter films). The miniseries will jump back and forth between modern and medieval France by following the lives of two women who are separated by centuries, but united in their search for the Holy Grail.

Brown-Findlay, who played Lady Sybil Crawley in Abbey, will portray Alaïs, a character who is given a book by her father that contains the secret of the Grail.

All the broadcast networks have event series — their new way to describe miniseries —  in development for the next several years.

'American Horror Story': Season 4 will be set in the year [SPOILER] -- EXCLUSIVE

American Horror Story: Coven is beginning to wrap up its phenomenal season (Wednesday’s episode is a doozy) but co-creator Ryan Murphy has already begun plotting and planning his fourth installment of the FX franchise…as well as peppering the final episodes with tiny hints as to next year’s plot. “It’s set in 1950,” Murphy reveals exclusively to EW. “If you look historically what happened in the year 1950, there’s some more clues in that year. It’s a period piece. We try and do the opposite of what we’ve done before. Jessica Lange has already started practicing her German accent so I’m very excited!”

Hmmm. 1950. German accent. Start guessing, AHS fans!!!

Check back to EW.com after tonight’s West Coast airing of AHS: Coven for more from our weekly chat with Ryan Murphy.

CBS renews entire daytime lineup

CBS announced today that it has renewed all of its daytime shows like The Talk and The Young and the Restless for the 2014-15 season.

The pickups also involve additional seasons of Let’s Make a Deal, The Price is Right and The Bold and the Beautiful.

Y&R remains the most-watched daytime drama, and Price is Right is daytime TV’s most-watched show, period. The Talk, CBS says, just delivered its best-ever fourth quarter in viewers and women 25-54.

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