Streaming Services Raise Fees, Edging Toward Cable Prices

The monthly cost of numerous streaming services is moving closer to those of cable and satellite services. Google is raising the price of its basic YouTube TV package from $50 per month to $65, a 30 percent jump, and sports-centric fuboTV is raising its standard monthly price from $55 per month to $60. Google said the higher price is due to higher programming costs, and fuboTV’s rate is going up when Disney-owned channels, including ESPN, join the lineup in August. Skinny bundles from AT&T TV Now, Dish Network’s Sling TV and Hulu + Live TV have also gone up in price since the beginning of 2019. Continue reading Streaming Services Raise Fees, Edging Toward Cable Prices

Snap Introduces Its First Shoppable Original Show: ‘The Drop’

At Snap’s first Digital Content NewFronts presentation, VP of sales for the Americas Peter Naylor announced “The Drop,” the platform’s first “shoppable” original show, highlighting “exclusive streetwear collabs” from celebrities and designers. It also debuted the Verizon-sponsored “Fake Up,” in which make-up artists compete to create optical illusions and greenlit the second season of original series “Driven,” about custom cars. Naylor, a former Hulu executive, said his two Gen Z daughters are “big Snapchat users.” Continue reading Snap Introduces Its First Shoppable Original Show: ‘The Drop’

Snap Expands AR Toolset, Announces Deals for New Content

Snap inked multi-year deals for custom short-form content with Disney, NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS, the National Basketball Association and the National Football League. It released plans for original content including unscripted series, docuseries, and scripted dramas and comedies. In partnership with The Washington Post, Bloomberg and ESPN, Snap will produce “Happening Now,” a breaking news feature. It also revealed that 170+ million people use its augmented-reality tools daily, moving the technology into the mainstream. Continue reading Snap Expands AR Toolset, Announces Deals for New Content

TikTok Becomes a Revenue Giant as App Spawns Subgenres

According to reports, young people are now equally splitting their time between popular video-sharing platforms YouTube and TikTok. Since starting to watch TikTok, consumers ages 4-15 have increased their social app use by 100 percent in 2019 and 200 percent this year. Parent company ByteDance is making so much money on TikTok’s advertising and in-app purchases that it may be valued between $150 billion and $180 billion in an IPO. ByteDance just hired former Disney exec Kevin Mayer as TikTok’s new CEO, giving the company an American face. Continue reading TikTok Becomes a Revenue Giant as App Spawns Subgenres

Disney Reveals Dates for Reopening California, Florida Parks

In California, pending state and local government approvals, the Downtown Disney District will reopen on July 9, with Disneyland and Disney California Adventure following on July 17. Its Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and the Paradise Pier Hotel plan to reopen on July 23. In Florida, Walt Disney World got the green light for a July 11 reopening. Disney reaps one-third of its revenue from its parks and resorts. The company’s Shanghai theme park, which was the first to close, reopened last month. Universal Orlando reopened June 11, but the company hasn’t set a date to reopen Universal Studios Hollywood. Continue reading Disney Reveals Dates for Reopening California, Florida Parks

AMC Expresses ‘Substantial Doubt’ About its Chain’s Survival

AMC Theatres told its investors that “substantial doubt exists about our ability to continue as a going concern for a reasonable period of time.” In a new 8-K filing, ahead of its earning call next week, the company described how it is trying to survive but also stressed how badly the coronavirus pandemic is eroding its financial stability. The movie theater chain had $5 billion in debt by the end of 2019 and continues to borrow more. Adding to its woes is the worry that distributors will postpone new film releases. Continue reading AMC Expresses ‘Substantial Doubt’ About its Chain’s Survival

Industry Task Force Publishes Guide for Resuming Production

The Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee Task Force (“The Task Force”) submitted its suggested safety guidelines for the reopening of film, television and streaming industries to New York governor Andrew Cuomo and California governor Gavin Newsom. The Task Force, comprised of studios, guilds and producers, published a 22-page “Proposed Health and Safety Guidelines” white paper that includes the need for cast and crew physical distancing “whenever possible.” Industry leaders based the proposals on discussions with health experts and guidelines issued by the CDC and OSHA.  Continue reading Industry Task Force Publishes Guide for Resuming Production

YouTube Is Pursuing Upfront Ad Deals for its Pay-TV Service

YouTube is pitching its pay-TV service to advertisers with the aim of getting them to spend money they ordinarily allocate to traditional and, increasingly, streaming TV platforms. Marketers, however, still think of YouTube as a mobile (and desktop) video platform with a lot of lower-quality user-generated content rather than a TV service such as Hulu. YouTube and YouTube TV garner 100 million U.S. viewers each month, with watch time up 80 percent year-over-year in March. Continue reading YouTube Is Pursuing Upfront Ad Deals for its Pay-TV Service

Scener Offers Virtual Theater and Video Chat for HBO, Netflix

WarnerMedia’s HBO has partnered with Seattle-based Scener to allow HBO Now and HBO GO subscribers to create a private virtual theater, including video chat, for up to 20 people. Scener already allows co-viewing for Netflix accounts. This is HBO’s first significant partnership with an online co-viewing platform. Scener co-founder Joe Braidwood said the company saw a “crazy surge in demand” for the product with the COVID-19 pandemic. The partnership, which began in March, includes a new design for the site and update for Google Chrome browsers. Continue reading Scener Offers Virtual Theater and Video Chat for HBO, Netflix

Pandemic Disrupts Traditional TV Upfronts and Ad Spending

Spring is when the television industry holds glitzy upfronts to showcase their fall TV lineup to advertisers in impressive locations like Carnegie Hall and the Beacon Theatre. NBCUniversal, for example, typically holds its upfront at Radio City Music Hall. This year, however, the coronavirus pandemic is impacting the traditional approach to upfronts. NBCUniversal chair of advertising & partnerships Linda Yaccarino held court over a livestreamed presentation from her home, joined by two celebrities making remote appearances. Advertisers accessed the upfront by clicking on a private link. Continue reading Pandemic Disrupts Traditional TV Upfronts and Ad Spending

‘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

FaceBank Group and fuboTV Announce a Merger Agreement

Florida- and New York-based FaceBank Group, Inc. — developer of hyper-realistic digital humans for use in artificial intelligence, entertainment, productivity and social media — is merging with OTT live TV streaming service fuboTV, which currently touts “more top Nielsen-ranked sports, news and entertainment channels for cord cutters than any other live platform.” The combined digital entertainment company, to be led by fuboTV CEO and co-founder David Gandler, will be named fuboTV, Inc. with plans to offer a premium viewing experience across a global distribution network. Continue reading FaceBank Group and fuboTV Announce a Merger Agreement

Europe Attempts to Ease Strain From Increased Internet Traffic

European carriers such as Vodafone are experiencing a spike in data traffic due to increased usage by home-bound consumers. The European Commission, which has net neutrality regulations in place, warned the telcos to avoid blocking, slowing down or prioritizing traffic as they attempt to avoid gridlock. At the same time, the Commission is concerned that crucial services including healthcare and online learning might be impeded. Netflix, Disney+, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Amazon Prime are among the companies cooperating with the European Union to curtail bandwidth usage for the time being. Continue reading Europe Attempts to Ease Strain From Increased Internet Traffic

Coronavirus: Theater Owners Request Government Assistance

With movie theaters shuttered across the U.S. due to the coronavirus, the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) asked Congress and the Trump administration for loan guarantees and tax benefits to help pay workers and keep theater chains afloat. The top 10 theater chains in the nation have already or will shut down their theaters, representing 89 percent of U.S. screens. NATO represents 33,000+ screens in all 50 states. The Trump administration is considering similar benefits for the airline industry. Continue reading Coronavirus: Theater Owners Request Government Assistance

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