Netflix Considers Advertising Model as Subscribers Dip in Q1

Netflix has confirmed it is considering an ad-supported tier. The news follows speculation at SXSW, and coincides with a quarterly subscriber loss, the company’s first in more than a decade. As a result, “revenue growth has slowed considerably,” reads its Q1 shareholder letter, attributing the lag to “relatively high household penetration” that includes a “large number of households sharing accounts.” Combined with a COVID-induced streaming bubble followed by exploding competition and costs, the landscape has changed, and Netflix is contemplating how to change with it. Continue reading Netflix Considers Advertising Model as Subscribers Dip in Q1

‘CODA’ Wins 3 Oscars, Including First Best Picture for Apple

Apple TV+ made history Sunday night as the first streaming service to win an Oscar for best picture when “CODA” took the top prize. The film’s title — an acronym for Children of Deaf Adults — won in all three categories in which it was nominated, sending Apple on its first-ever Academy Award victory lap. With its total of six nominations, Apple TV+ was a dark horse, as was “CODA,” upstaging Netflix and “The Power of the Dog,” the most nominated distributor and film, with 27 and 12 nods, respectively. Netflix earned just one Oscar, for Jane Campion’s direction of “The Power of the Dog.” Continue reading ‘CODA’ Wins 3 Oscars, Including First Best Picture for Apple

Soul Machines Provides Brands AI with an Empathetic Touch

Soul Machines, which creates autonomously animated digital characters that use AI and natural language processing to interact with humans in real time, has completed a Series B1 financing round of $70 million led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. The 6-year-old New Zealand-based firm has thus far raised $135 million to fund its effort to create AI-powered “digital people” for digital environments involving entertainment, the metaverse, customer service and education. Soul Machines says it plans to use the new investment to fund continued growth in enterprise markets and ongoing deep tech research for its Digital Brain project. Continue reading Soul Machines Provides Brands AI with an Empathetic Touch

Disney’s Quarter Reflects Theme Park and Streaming Success

The Walt Disney Company reported record revenue in its theme parks sector and strong gains in streaming, a rather unlikely situation of benefitting from both sides of the COVID-19 pandemic, as Disney+ added 11.8 million new subscribers while people flocked to its location-based U.S. venues. “We’ve had a very strong start to the fiscal year,” said CEO Bob Chapek, announcing “record revenue and operating income at our domestic parks and resorts, the launch of a new franchise with ‘Encanto,’ and a significant increase in total subscriptions across our streaming portfolio” for the company’s first fiscal quarter, ended January 1, 2022. Continue reading Disney’s Quarter Reflects Theme Park and Streaming Success

Apple Joins Top Streaming Video Services in the Oscar Race

Streaming services had another strong showing with the latest Oscar nominations. Apple TV+ received six nominations, including its first in the Best Picture category for “CODA,” also groundbreaking as the first film with a majority deaf cast to contend in the top category. Apple acquired the film at last year’s Sundance Film Festival where it set a record with its $25 million bid. Apple also got noticed for Joel Coen’s “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” which earned Denzel Washington a Best Actor nod and is competing for Best Production Design and Best Cinematography. When the contenders were announced Tuesday morning, it was Netflix that tallied the largest haul, with 27 nominations, the most of any studio.  Continue reading Apple Joins Top Streaming Video Services in the Oscar Race

Amazon’s Profits, Income, Stock Price Skyrocket During 2020

For Q1 2021, Amazon reported record profits of $26 billion, more than the previous three quarters combined, with net income more than tripling to $8.1 billion and revenue of $108 billion, surpassing FactSet’s analyst predictions. In addition to Amazon’s successful quarter, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft all enjoyed major upticks in profits and revenues, the result of the increased need for their products and services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Amazon expects that its Q2 sales will reach between $110 billion and $116 billion. Continue reading Amazon’s Profits, Income, Stock Price Skyrocket During 2020

Netflix Names Sarandos Co-CEO, Subscriber Numbers Grow

Streaming giant Netflix announced that chief content officer Ted Sarandos is now co-chief executive officer with long-time chair & chief executive Reed Hastings. The move is largely seen as clearing the path for Sarandos to eventually succeed Hastings, who noted that the promotion “makes formal what was already informal — that Ted and I share the leadership of Netflix.” The company added 26+ million subscribers in the last two quarters as consumers began seeking more in-home entertainment while sheltering in place due to COVID-19. Continue reading Netflix Names Sarandos Co-CEO, Subscriber Numbers Grow

‘Trolls’ Sequel Tests PVOD Model While Theaters Are Closed

“Trolls World Tour,” produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Universal Pictures, was due to release in movie theaters on April 10. But when the coronavirus pandemic closed theaters, Universal decided to release it as a $19.99 digital rental on platforms including Apple TV, Amazon and Comcast’s Xfinity. Three weeks later, “Trolls” has generated almost $100 million, more than the original 2016 movie. That has encouraged Universal execs to consider digital release as a real alternative to postponing a theatrical release. Continue reading ‘Trolls’ Sequel Tests PVOD Model While Theaters Are Closed

ETC@USC Mourns the Loss of Industry Veteran Jim Houston

We are deeply saddened by the loss of Jim Houston, a longtime friend and supporter of The Entertainment Technology Center. In addition to attending our events and contributing to many of our programs, Jim served as a moderator and panelist for several of ETC’s Digital Town Square symposiums. He was a two-time Academy Award-winning engineer, SMPTE member, and 34-year veteran of the industry, serving senior positions at media leaders including Sony Pictures Entertainment, Pacific Title & Art, Walt Disney Feature Animation and, most recently, Samsung Research America. Continue reading ETC@USC Mourns the Loss of Industry Veteran Jim Houston

Pixar’s Catmull, Hanrahan Honored with ACM’s Turing Award

Computer graphics pioneering researchers Ed Catmull and Pat Hanrahan were awarded the A.M. Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery and are splitting the $1 million prize money. Catmull recruited Hanrahan, a fellow computer graphics researcher, to found Pixar in 1986. Catmull started his work as a grad student at the University of Utah’s graphics lab in 1970 and vowed to create a feature film from computer generated imagery. Catmull and Hanrahan, between them, have received eight Academy Awards. Continue reading Pixar’s Catmull, Hanrahan Honored with ACM’s Turing Award

Netflix Reopens Beloved Shuttered Theater in New York City

The Paris Theater has, for decades, been a cherished movie venue in New York City. Many mourned its August closure as the last surviving single-screen theater in the city. But now Netflix has come to the rescue, reopening it this month as a hub for premieres, screenings and special events. Netflix held its theatrical run of director Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” there earlier this month. Having its own theater will make it easier for Netflix to arrange Oscar-qualifying theatrical releases of its movies. Continue reading Netflix Reopens Beloved Shuttered Theater in New York City

Netflix Film Will Debut on Broadway at the Belasco Theatre

Netflix’s plans for the upcoming release of its Martin Scorsese film, “The Irishman” have shifted due to pushback from major theater chains after they learned of the streaming giant’s plans for a limited run. Netflix now plans to debut the film at the Shubert Organization’s Belasco Theatre in New York City, with showings from November 1st to December 1st that will follow a standard Broadway theater schedule. The company will provide modern equipment for the screenings. The film will debut on Netflix on November 27th.

Continue reading Netflix Film Will Debut on Broadway at the Belasco Theatre

Netflix Considers Introducing Bonuses For Successful Movies

Netflix, which traditionally has paid talent with upfront deals, is reportedly considering bonuses for filmmakers, actors and producers when their movies prove to be successful. Insiders indicate that the number of awards a movie wins or its viewership numbers could measure the level of success. The new incentive model would be designed to win film projects for the streaming service that would otherwise be picked up by other studios. While Scott Stuber, head of Netflix’s original film division, has been discussing possibilities with producers, details regarding the types of bonuses or who might receive them have not been revealed. Continue reading Netflix Considers Introducing Bonuses For Successful Movies

Steven Spielberg Criticizes Oscar Noms for Streaming Films

As the Academy Governor representing directors, filmmaker Steven Spielberg is intent on changing the rules so that movies made by streaming content creators won’t be eligible for Oscars but would only be considered for Emmys, along with other TV fare. Spielberg — and the studios — were motivated most recently by how close Netflix-produced “Roma” came to winning Best Picture. As it was, “Roma” director Alfonso Cuarón won Academy Awards for best director and best cinematographer. One complaint is the lopsided spending for Oscar competition. Continue reading Steven Spielberg Criticizes Oscar Noms for Streaming Films

Diller and Spielberg on the Growing Dominance of Streaming

On Kara Swisher’s podcast Recode Decode, Barry Diller declared that Hollywood is “now irrelevant,” adding that those executives who used to hold a lot of power now have much less and that the six movie companies that once dominated everything no longer do. “For the first time, they ain’t buying anything,” he said. “Meaning they’re not buying Netflix. They are not buying Amazon.” Meanwhile, at the Cinema Audio Society Awards, Steven Spielberg declared his affinity for the movie theater experience. Continue reading Diller and Spielberg on the Growing Dominance of Streaming