Sony’s Funimation Pursues Anime with Crunchyroll Purchase

AT&T closed the sale of its anime streamer Crunchyroll to Sony’s Funimation Global Group for $1.175 billion in cash. Funimation is a joint venture between Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Music Entertainment subsidiary Aniplex. According to Sony Pictures chair and chief executive Tony Vinciquerra, the goal is to “create a unified anime subscription experience as soon as possible.” The two services will remain separate initially. Crunchyroll currently has 5+ million paying subscribers globally and 120 million registered users in 200+ countries. Continue reading Sony’s Funimation Pursues Anime with Crunchyroll Purchase

Vizio Upgrades Content, Navigation, Discovery for WatchFree

Vizio refreshed its WatchFree+ streaming service (that now sports a plus sign) with a new look, customized recommendations and new navigation features to improve search and discovery. Also on tap is a programming guide with hundreds of free channels across multiple genres and a “featured” category for seasonal content, themed collections, pop-up channels for limited time programming and Vizio-exclusive custom-curated channels including Fork and Flight for food and travel and Investigation for true-crime shows. Continue reading Vizio Upgrades Content, Navigation, Discovery for WatchFree

Fox Enjoys Robust Q4 Based on Cable, TV Advertising Sales

For fiscal Q4, Fox Corporation — parent of FOX News Channel, the FOX broadcast network and FOX Sports — reported net income of $253 million, or 43 cents per share, versus $122 million, or 20 cents per share year-over-year. Company chief executive Lachlan Murdoch stated that the company looks forward to “the return of normalized sports and entertainment calendars and the start of the midterm election cycle.” Fox became a standalone, publicly-traded company on Mar 21, 2019, after the Disney and Twenty-First Century Fox merger. Continue reading Fox Enjoys Robust Q4 Based on Cable, TV Advertising Sales

ViacomCBS Reports Rise in Revenue, Streaming Subscribers

In Q2 of this year, ViacomCBS — parent company of the CBS broadcast network, Showtime, Nickelodeon and the Paramount movie studio — saw revenue rise 8 percent to $6.6 billion and the addition of 6.5 million new streaming subscribers for a total of 42+ million. Net income was $1.04 billion or $1.56 per share, compared with $481 million or 78 cents per share year-over-year. Chief executive Bob Bakish said the company looks forward to scaling Paramount+ offerings, referring to a deal with Comcast to launch it on Sky in Europe. Continue reading ViacomCBS Reports Rise in Revenue, Streaming Subscribers

WarnerMedia Launches House of Max Studio to Produce Ads

WarnerMedia’s ad sales division is launching House of Max in Q4 this year to develop commercials that incorporate characters and concepts from its various HBO Max series. WarnerMedia senior VP of entertainment marketing solutions Maureen Polo said the studio’s “wide array of programs” will “allow brands to make more thoughtful and meaningful connections” with consumers, adding “we can produce content that doesn’t feel like advertising.” Intellectual property will be available from programs including “Hacks,” “The Flight Attendant,” and “Gossip Girl.” Continue reading WarnerMedia Launches House of Max Studio to Produce Ads

Samsung TV Plus Is Now Streaming Online After Soft Launch

Samsung debuted its TV Plus streaming service on the Internet, with the ability to cast videos to devices that support Google’s Chromecast to its mobile app. Previously, TV Plus was only available on Samsung’s smart TVs and smartphones. The web-based TV Plus apparently had a soft launch in May but had not yet been publicly announced by the company. With this expansion, TV Plus has become a rival to other free streaming services such as Pluto TV and Tubi. U.S. consumers will have access to about 140 streaming channels. Continue reading Samsung TV Plus Is Now Streaming Online After Soft Launch

TV Maker Vizio Goes Public on the New York Stock Exchange

Irvine, California-based smart TV maker Vizio had its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange last week, offering 12.25 million shares priced at $21, valuing the company at about $3.9 billion. Vizio chairman and chief executive William Wang, who founded the company in 2002, is focused on the SmartCast streaming platform. Among smart TVs in North America, Vizio is second only to Samsung. Vizio’s platform business grew four-fold from 2018 to 2020, to $147.2 million, with total revenue topping $2 billion in 2020. Continue reading TV Maker Vizio Goes Public on the New York Stock Exchange

Roku Purchases Quibi Shows, May Produce Original Content

Roku is apparently planning to expand its VOD offerings by producing its own original content, having placed a LinkedIn ad in January looking for a “lead production attorney … [with] substantial experience in television and film production either at a studio, network, streaming service or entertainment law firm [for its] expanding slate of original content.” The ad also asked for someone with “experience working with Hollywood guilds and unions.” Roku recently purchased original content from the startup Quibi. During the holiday quarter, Roku experienced a 58 percent jump in revenue. Continue reading Roku Purchases Quibi Shows, May Produce Original Content

Viewers Turn to Xumo and Other Ad-Supported VOD Services

Despite the focus on successful subscription streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+, free ad-supported TV services have actually been growing at a faster clip. AVOD (ad-supported video on demand) or FAST (free ad-supported TV) is flourishing largely via large media companies. Fox’s Tubi, ViacomCBS’ Pluto TV and Xumo, now owned by Comcast, are all performing well. Xumo has skyrocketed 2.5 times, reaching 24 million U.S. monthly active users. Comcast acquired Xumo in February 2020 from Panasonic and Meredith Corp. Continue reading Viewers Turn to Xumo and Other Ad-Supported VOD Services

Hulu, Sling TV and YouTube Lead the Digital Pay TV Market

Research firm MoffettNathanson estimated that, at the end of Q3 2019, Hulu with Live TV added about 400,000 paying subscribers for a total of 2.7 million, taking first place as the biggest virtual pay TV service. It edged out Dish Network’s Sling TV, the long-time leader in digital pay TV, with 2.69 million subscribers signed up for its “relatively low cost” packages. It gained 214,000 subscribers in the same period. Meanwhile, YouTube added 200,000 customers in Q3 for a total of 1.6 million subscribers. Continue reading Hulu, Sling TV and YouTube Lead the Digital Pay TV Market

CTA Predicts SVOD, Smart TVs, 5G Will Drive CE Revenue

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA), producers of January’s CES tech confab in Las Vegas, recently projected CE trends for 2020 and beyond after updating its semi-annual U.S. Consumer Sales and Forecasts report. According to Variety Intelligence Platform (VIP), a new division of Variety, key takeaways from the report most relevant to the entertainment industry include subscription video streaming services, smart TVs, 4K tech, gaming and 5G Internet (in addition to related networking options and VR/AR products). CTA anticipates consumer tech retail revenue will reach $415 billion in the U.S. next year, up 5.7 percent from 2018.  Continue reading CTA Predicts SVOD, Smart TVs, 5G Will Drive CE Revenue

Plex Inks Deal With Warner Bros. for Movies and TV Shows

Media center app developer Plex signed a deal with Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution to add an unspecified number of free movies and TV shows to its app when it debuts ad-supported video streaming later this year. Plex hopes to evolve its app into a “one-stop shop” for digital media, with plans to resell video subscription services and add transactional VOD in 2020. Plex chief executive Keith Valory noted that you “shouldn’t have to go to a lot of different apps to get the content you care about.” Continue reading Plex Inks Deal With Warner Bros. for Movies and TV Shows

IMDb Rebrands Its New AVOD Service and Triples Content

Amazon-owned IMDb — the popular online database featuring information related to movies, television and video games — is rebranding its recently launched Freedive video service as IMDb TV. Thanks to new deals with MGM, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Warner Bros., the ad-supported VOD service will add thousands of new titles in the upcoming months, essentially tripling the number of TV shows and movies available to U.S. viewers for free. The company also plans to expand its audience with a European launch later this year. Continue reading IMDb Rebrands Its New AVOD Service and Triples Content

NBCUniversal, Viacom, Hulu Target Ad-Supported Streaming

The audiences for linear TV continue to shrink, but many major media players are eschewing subscription-based revenue for advertising-based video on demand (AVOD) services. That’s because Netflix and other super-aggregators as well as niche players are dominating — and saturating — the SVOD market. According to a Lab42 October 2018 survey, the average U.S. consumer subscribes to two to three streaming services, one of which is “almost always” Netflix. NBCUniversal, Viacom and Hulu are all making plays in the AVOD sector. Continue reading NBCUniversal, Viacom, Hulu Target Ad-Supported Streaming

Amazon’s IMDb Debuts Free Ad-Supported Movie, TV Service

Amazon launched Freedive, a free, ad-supported streaming video channel on its Internet Movie Database (IMDb) site, featuring 130 movies and 29 TV shows licensed from CBS, NBCUniversal Television, Sony Pictures Entertainment/Columbia Pictures, Warner Bros. Television and others. Movies include “Awakenings,” “A Few Good Men,” “Adaptation,” “Memento,” “True Romance,” “The Last Samurai” — and TV shows include “Fringe,” “The Bachelor,” “Gilligan’s Island,” “Duck Dynasty,” “Quantum Leap,” “Born This Way,” “Kitchen Nightmares” and “Without a Trace.” Continue reading Amazon’s IMDb Debuts Free Ad-Supported Movie, TV Service