TV Exec Launches Astrid Entertainment for Games and More

Senior media executive Sharon Tal Yguado has launched Astrid Entertainment. The new venture will initially focus on games, with plans to expand into multiplatform content. Yguado, who earlier held top positions at Fox Networks Group and Amazon Studios, says Astrid is developing “rich worlds” where millions of people worldwide can build communities. The company, which is currently staffing, is already underway on its first interactive environment for multiplayer stories. Astrid has raised pre-seed investment funding of more than seven figures from participants including NetEase Games, Stardom and Tower 26. Continue reading TV Exec Launches Astrid Entertainment for Games and More

Apple Music Displaces Pepsi as Super Bowl Halftime Sponsor

Apple has secured main sponsorship rights to the Super Bowl LVII halftime show, with Apple Music replacing Pepsi, which had a lock on the slot for the past 10 years. The event takes place February 12, 2023, at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, broadcasting on FOX. The price wasn’t disclosed, but the NFL had reportedly been asking $50 million for the prime halftime positioning. The deal played out against a backdrop of the NFL’s Sunday Ticket rights sale, with a reported $2.5 billion asking price and Apple said to be the most serious bidder. Continue reading Apple Music Displaces Pepsi as Super Bowl Halftime Sponsor

Big Ten Rights Deal Most Lucrative in College Sports History

Comcast announced that Peacock and NBC will “become the exclusive home of ‘Big Ten Saturday Night’ football” beginning in 2023. CBS and FOX also get a piece of Big Ten action in a rights deal that also includes basketball. The college mega-conference will reportedly reap more than $7 billion over seven years, beginning July 1, 2023. CBS and FOX will share the remainder of the Saturday football schedule, with FOX broadcasting the noon games and CBS (and Paramount+) getting mid-afternoon play. The arrangement concludes ESPN’s 40-year run of Big Ten football programming. Continue reading Big Ten Rights Deal Most Lucrative in College Sports History

Big Tech Drives Up Sports Prices as Amazon, Apple Go All In

Big Tech has become a disruptor in the marketplace for sports rights, with Amazon and Apple bidding against traditional media for rights to NFL and MLB games in addition to college conference competition and Formula 1 racing, according to recent reports. Among the prizes, DirecTV’s expiring rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket, a package that is being shopped with a $2.5 billion annual price tag, $1 billion more than the satellite operator’s current deal, which ends in January. In addition, Google is said to be bidding on behalf of YouTube. Beginning September 15, Amazon Prime Video begins its exclusive carriage deal for “Thursday Night Football.”  Continue reading Big Tech Drives Up Sports Prices as Amazon, Apple Go All In

NFL Subscription Streaming Service Targets Fans On-the-Go

The NFL has launched its long-awaited streaming service, NFL+, offering two tiers of live local and prime time regular season and postseason games on mobile devices, and live out-of-market preseason games on any device. Priced at $4.99 per month or $39.99 per year for the basic service, NFL+ also provides live local and national audio for every game and programs from the NFL Films archive. NFL+ Premium offers more live games and commercial-free replays on any device for 9.99 per month or $79.99 per year. Premium will absorb the $99.99 per year NFL Game Pass, launched in 2015, which will no longer be available as a separate subscription in the U.S.  Continue reading NFL Subscription Streaming Service Targets Fans On-the-Go

Ad Tech, Brand Messaging Take Center Stage at TV Upfronts

While this year’s TV Upfronts were packed with celebrity appearances and musical performances, the focus had clearly shifted from scheduling to content that could be watched anytime and anywhere and the technologies that facilitate ad insertions and brand messaging opportunities. In addition to changing viewer habits, streaming and binge watching have resulted in new priorities for program services, now focused on libraries that amount to inventory by the ton, according to reports from the television industry’s annual New York pitch event for advertisers. Continue reading Ad Tech, Brand Messaging Take Center Stage at TV Upfronts

Paramount’s Pluto TV FAST Success a Streaming Case Study

As global streaming leader Netflix retools its business model to accommodate a less expensive, ad-supported subscription tier, the industry is turning its attention to FAST service (free ad-supported streaming television). It’s part of the process of accommodating linear television for the streaming age. Pluto TV, a division of Paramount Global, managed to hit the $1 billion revenue mark last year without any paying subscribers and tallied over 64 million monthly active users as of December 2021. Not too shabby for a service that was not taken very seriously when it launched on April Fool’s Day 2014. Continue reading Paramount’s Pluto TV FAST Success a Streaming Case Study

Scorsese Institute and Virtual Production Center New at NYU

Cinematic iconoclast Martin Scorsese has secured a perch for his legacy at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts, which has announced the establishment of the Martin Scorsese Institute of Global Cinematic Arts (SICA). The new Institute takes shape not only to celebrate film history but to showcase the future and will encompass the state-of-the-art Martin Scorsese Virtual Production Center to complement the Martin Scorsese Department of Cinema Studies and provide general support for student scholarships, all of which is a result of the largest donation in the school’s history. Continue reading Scorsese Institute and Virtual Production Center New at NYU

YouTube TV Carries Networks for Spanish-Language Market

YouTube TV is expanding its Spanish-language programming, adding Univision, UniMás and Galavisión to its base membership. The YouTube TV lineup will now include sports programming like the Campeones Cup championship between the top U.S. and Mexico soccer leagues and the Latin Grammy Awards along with a panoply of telenovelas. Subscribers in top Hispanic markets will also have access to Spanish-language local news and weather. An upgrade package that offers more Spanish-language content is coming soon. In May, Google-owned YouTube TV was reported to have more than 3 million U.S. subscribers. Continue reading YouTube TV Carries Networks for Spanish-Language Market

Major TV Broadcasters Prevail in Court Case Against Locast

Locast, a non-profit organization founded by lawyer and former FCC legal advisor David Goodfriend, streamed local TV to those who couldn’t access local signals, declaring that U.S. copyright law allows third parties to boost local signals. Major broadcasters ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX disputed that claim, believing that Locast simply wanted to avoid carriage fees, and have now won a court battle finding that Locast violated their copyrights. The court also stated that Locast cannot use its non-profit status as a defense against further action. Continue reading Major TV Broadcasters Prevail in Court Case Against Locast

FOX’s Tubi Plans to Expand Sports Programming in the U.S.

FOX is introducing a sports content hub on its free streaming service Tubi. “Sports on Tubi” will add 10 live-streaming sports channels to its existing offerings, including FOX Sports, FOX Deportes, NFL, MLB, beIN Sports Xtra and beIN Sports Xtra en Español, Fubo Sports Network, Pac-12 Insider, Stadium and USA Today SportsWire, as well as channels for the ACC and Real Madrid later this year. The channels, which will only be available in the United States, will debut first on Amazon Fire TV and Roku and Android devices. Continue reading FOX’s Tubi Plans to Expand Sports Programming in the U.S.

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

TV Networks Urge Rating Council to Pull Nielsen Accreditation

The Video Advertising Bureau (VAB), a trade group with members including Disney, ESPN, FOX, NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS and others, urged the Media Rating Council (MRC) to strip Nielsen’s accreditation, stating that, “Nielsen’s COVID-period conduct as a ratings service violated at least five minimum standards, with the damage done to their largest subscriber clients still creating material negative impact into July 2021.” MRC chief executive George Ivie said his group takes the VAB’s concerns seriously but has “an independent process to execute.” Continue reading TV Networks Urge Rating Council to Pull Nielsen Accreditation

Fox Corp Quarterly Figures Exceed Wall Street Expectations

In the quarter ending March 31, Fox Corporation saw its year-over-year profit increase sevenfold to $567 million, with a 6.5 percent drop in revenue to $3.2 billion. The numbers exceeded Wall Street estimates. Earnings per share were 88 cents, ahead of analyst expectations of 58 cents. Fox chief executive Lachlan Murdoch reported that exiting “Thursday Night Football” a year early would lift earnings from $350 million to $400 million, which would help finance the 13-year deal that the company struck to continue broadcasting Sunday NFL games. Continue reading Fox Corp Quarterly Figures Exceed Wall Street Expectations