Sony Doubles Down on VR with ‘Billy Lynn’ and PlayStation VR

At his MIPCOM TV keynote, Sony president/chief executive Kazuo Hirai talked about the importance of virtual reality to the company, singling out its PlayStation VR headset; director Ang Lee’s “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” which was shot in 3D 4K at 120 frames per second; and VR experiences tied to its movies, including “Ghostbusters,” “The Walk” and “Goosebumps.” Kando, the Japanese concept of stimulating emotional response in people, says Hirai, is at the center of what Sony wants to create in all its work. Continue reading Sony Doubles Down on VR with ‘Billy Lynn’ and PlayStation VR

Netflix, Amazon Spending More on Original Series Production

According to World TV Production Report 2016, over-the-top services including Amazon and Netflix now rank with traditional media sources as TV titans. The report notes that, combined, Netflix and Amazon spent $7.3 billion in 2015 on programming, as much as the country of Germany. The only media outlets to best Amazon and Netflix in terms of production investments are Disney (at $11.84 billion) and NBC (at $10.27 billion). The new status reflects a boost in online series production, from 13 in 2013 to 20 in 2014 and then 41 in 2015. Continue reading Netflix, Amazon Spending More on Original Series Production

MIPCOM: Maker Studios CEO Discusses Shift to Short Videos

During his keynote address at international television market MIPCOM on Monday, Maker Studios CEO Ynon Kreiz suggested that the future of TV would be short-form content. Kreiz believes that linear television is over for the 12-to-24-year-olds of the millennial generation, a valuable group to the advertising industry. He said that Maker Studios is ideally positioned to leverage this demographic with its user-generated, short-form video content since two-thirds of its 550 million users are millennials. Continue reading MIPCOM: Maker Studios CEO Discusses Shift to Short Videos

Leading Smart TVs to Include Magine Cloud Service in Europe

Magine’s cloud-based TV service currently allows users to scan TV schedules, surf channels, rewind programs and access archived content via their tablets, smartphones or computers. Starting early next year, European users will be able to do the same with their smart TVs when sets from LG, Panasonic and Philips’ venture with TPV Technology will come preloaded with the Swedish company’s cloud TV software. Magine is demonstrating the system this week at MIPCOM in Cannes, France (October 7-10). Continue reading Leading Smart TVs to Include Magine Cloud Service in Europe

Will Viewers Turn to Netflix for Original Dramas and Foreign Programming?

  • Netflix returned from MIPCOM last week with several new foreign TV shows it hopes will draw interest from its 25 million subscribers.
  • Programs include Norwegian gangster drama “Lilyhammer” starring Steve Van Zandt, French/German co-production “Borgia,” and the British supernatural drama “Being Human.”
  • The slate of foreign programming will join the remake of BBC drama “House of Cards” as Netflix turns to original, first-run drama series.
  • “Netflix has already committed to a second season of both ‘Borgia’ and ‘Lilyhammer,’ suggesting its taste for original and foreign-made fare is no passing fancy,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. “The company is also in a bidding war with Showtime and Hulu for the rights for the relaunch of cult comedy series ‘Arrested Development.'”
  • Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos points out the strategy is in response to customer demand, since TV shows account for 50-60 percent of total viewing on Netflix.
  • “We’ve moved very aggressively into this space,” Sarandos said. “The growing audience for these 1 hour serialized dramas is typically on pay TV: Showtime, HBO or Starz, those ones who are least likely to want to sell their shows to me on our (second-run) season-after model. So we have to develop the muscle to create and distributing these shows ourselves.”

CEO Explains Netflix Will Abandon Qwikster Plans Prior to Launch

  • Netflix has announced it will drop its controversial plan to split its streaming and DVD businesses, taking recent public outcry (and negative Wall Street reaction) into consideration.
  • “This means no change: one website, one account, one password…in other words, no Qwikster,” wrote CEO Reed Hastings on the company blog and via email to subscribers. Hastings also explained that the company is “now done with price changes.”
  • Ted Sarandos, chief content officer for Netflix, told an industry crowd at MIPCOM in early October that he was “very convinced” the proposed split was “good for the long-term health of the business. And the long-term clarity of the brand.” Hastings had also been quoted as saying the split would be necessary for improving the services in moving forward. “But,” added Sarandos, “we also hear our customers, and we want to make sure we react to that.”
  • Netflix’s stock was up 6.8 percent yesterday following the announcement, giving it a market value of $6.57 billion.

Miramax CEO Believes Hollywood Needs Effective Strategy for UltraViolet

  • According to Miramax CEO Mike Lang, the future of the home entertainment industry and movie production rests in cloud-based digital locker UltraViolet.
  • Warner Home Video and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment are among the studios rolling out sellthrough titles this fall, which are capable of being stored on UltraViolet and then played on various compatible devices.
  • “As an industry, we really have to believe it,” Lang said in a Q&A session at MIPCOM in Cannes. “We really don’t have choice. If the home entertainment business as we know today, in terms of the transaction business, goes away, that’s not good for anyone in this room.”
  • “Lang said failure to reinvigorate the sellthrough model could adversely affect studios’ ability to finance movies going forward,” explains The Hollywood Reporter. “Sales of DVD/Blu-ray Disc/electronic sellthrough movies have historically affected whether a title was profitable or not.”
  • Lang suggests the digital transaction model has not always been clear to consumers, especially in terms of compatibility with all the available devices and different ecosystems. He points out that Netflix has been so successful due to its ease of streaming on multiple devices such as Blu-ray players and game consoles.
  • The Miramax exec believes the studios need to partner with tech companies and retailers moving forward to develop a cohesive strategy. “I don’t know how many people use photo sharing software, but that is 90 percent cloud-based,” he said. “Ninety-five percent of the software industry in the world is now through cloud-based transactions. I’m hopeful that the movie business gets there.”