Judge Rules in Favor of Ending Paramount Consent Decrees

U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres approved the Justice Department’s proposal to terminate the 71-year-old Paramount Consent Decrees, intended to prevent Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Paramount and other major studios from owning both the means of production and distribution. Studios such as The Walt Disney Company and Lionsgate that became distributors after the law went into effect were not subject to its rules. Last fall, the Justice Department suggested the Decrees were anachronistic in today’s entertainment ecosystem. Continue reading Judge Rules in Favor of Ending Paramount Consent Decrees

Disney’s Streaming Services Hit 100 Million Subscriber Mark

Disney’s new streaming businesses — Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ — have now accrued more than 100 million subscribers worldwide. With the release of blockbuster “Hamilton” on Disney+, that service hit 60.5 million subscribers after only nine months. That was a (low-end) number that Disney originally hoped to achieve at the end of five years. Disney has also announced that it would release its $200 million feature “Mulan” on Disney+, on a premium basis rather than movie theaters, in the U.S., Canada and parts of Europe. Continue reading Disney’s Streaming Services Hit 100 Million Subscriber Mark

Realistic Human Robot Is Featured in Upcoming Sci-Fi Movie

LIFE Productions producer Sam Khoze looked to cast a robot for his film at several robotics companies until he found Erica, the creation of Osaka University roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro, who modeled her after images of Miss Universe finalists. Erica now stars in “b,” a $70 million feature film in pre-production. Erica possesses realistic human details, but one of her greatest strengths is immunity to COVID-19. Her walk and voice give her away as an android, so she will, therefore, perform most of her scenes sitting down. Continue reading Realistic Human Robot Is Featured in Upcoming Sci-Fi Movie

AMC, Universal Ink Pivotal Deal to Shrink Exclusivity Window

Hollywood film studio Universal Pictures and AMC Theatres, which operates more than 8,000 screens in the U.S., signed a historic multi-year agreement to allow Universal’s films to launch on video-on-demand only 17 days after their theatrical debuts, breaking the long-standing industry norm of 90 days between the two releases. Universal may, however, let tentpole movies play exclusively in movie theaters beyond 17 days. According to Universal Filmed Entertainment Group chair Donna Langley, “the theatrical experience continues to be the cornerstone of our business.” Continue reading AMC, Universal Ink Pivotal Deal to Shrink Exclusivity Window

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

NBC Debuts Streamer Peacock With Free, Ad-Supported Tier

NBCUniversal’s streaming platform Peacock debuted today with three tiers: a free, ad-supported plan that features thousands of hours of content; a $4.99-per-month subscription that offers more than double the content of the base plan; and a $9.99 premium version without ads (both paid plans offer discounted annual subscriptions). Users of the free version can surf among 20 feeds, one featuring favorites like “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “The King of Queens,” another with NBC’s morning program “Today,” and another dedicated to its late-night shows. By offering a free version, said Peacock chair Matt Strauss, NBCUniversal is betting that people are looking for “more affordable options.” Continue reading NBC Debuts Streamer Peacock With Free, Ad-Supported Tier

Hollywood Uses Streaming Analytics to Collect Audience Data

As Hollywood studios and streaming companies create more content, they are increasingly turning to data to determine how to hit the mark, even for smaller projects aimed at targeted audiences. A number of companies are developing new models for measurements. One such provider is Pilotly, a Silicon Valley startup that provides streaming analytics and audience surveys to help producers create content that attracts viewers. Among its clients are NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS and Netflix. This kind of high-tech approach replaces the traditional focus groups and test screenings. Continue reading Hollywood Uses Streaming Analytics to Collect Audience Data

Parrot Analytics Develops a New Model for Streaming Metrics

Measuring the success of streaming video content has been challenging, but startup Parrot Analytics said it has created a solid metric — which it dubs Demand Expressions (DEx) — that not only counts viewers but also their levels of enthusiasm. From that data, the company said it can also extract information to accurately determine how many subscribers the show will attract. Chief executive Wared Seger noted the challenge of creating a “new standard” that will measure across “different shows, on different platforms, at different times.” Continue reading Parrot Analytics Develops a New Model for Streaming Metrics

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

Justice Department Probes Requirements of Apple App Store

The Justice Department is scrutinizing Apple’s App Store rules, specifically the requirement that app developers use Apple Pay, which takes up to a 30 percent cut. Since mid-2019, lawyers have been interviewing app developers about their experiences with Apple. Developers have pushed back by blocking subscriptions and payments on their apps or charging higher rates on iPhone apps. The DOJ’s antitrust resources are focused on Google’s dominance in digital advertising, which may result in a case as early as this summer. Continue reading Justice Department Probes Requirements of Apple App Store

Anthill’s Whatifi Offers Interactive Storytelling via Mobile App

Anthill’s latest version of interactive storytelling app Whatifi is now available in the Apple App Store. Founded by Jaanus Juss and Hardi Meybaum, who have been exploring interactive storytelling in their native Estonia via live theater, the startup enables users to “choose their own adventure” in two stories: “As Dead as it Gets” and “Anatomy of a Decision.” The first is a “drunken night with a few bros” that turns into a supernatural fantasy. A character on the verge of death, the viewer must follow the advice of ghosts to return to the land of the living. Whatifi is now based out of Los Angeles and Estonia. Continue reading Anthill’s Whatifi Offers Interactive Storytelling via Mobile App

Executive Spotlight: A Talk with Lance Podell of Iron Mountain Entertainment Services

For the latest installment in ETC’s Executive Spotlight series, we had a fascinating conversation with Lance Podell, senior vice president and general manager of Iron Mountain Entertainment Services (IMES), a leader in media archiving for the entertainment industry. IMES steers its film, music, broadcast and sports clients in media preservation, restoration and distribution. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Podell’s group has focused on safety and remote productivity while developing innovative methods for protecting assets and serving as an extension of its clients’ businesses. Iron Mountain has also created a “digital studio in a box” so that projects can stay on track during this challenging time. Continue reading Executive Spotlight: A Talk with Lance Podell of Iron Mountain Entertainment Services

Hulu Launches Watch Party Feature to Enable Social Viewing

Hulu is the first major streaming platform to launch a built-in Watch Party feature that allows its subscribers to watch a show in a group chat room. During COVID-19 shutdowns, watch parties have become increasingly popular, although most are enabled by third-party apps and services rather than built-in social viewing features. The Hulu Watch Party feature is now available to web users who subscribe to the platform’s ad-free plan. Plex also launched a Watch Together feature that works with the user’s own media and the company’s on-demand content. Continue reading Hulu Launches Watch Party Feature to Enable Social Viewing

Streamer HBO Max Offers Wide Range of Movies, TV Shows

AT&T launched HBO Max this week, with a plan to spend $4.5+ billion on the streaming platform over the next few years. AT&T, which hopes to sign up 50 million HBO Max subscribers by 2025, bought Time Warner for $85.4 billion in 2018 with the idea of creating a significant streaming platform. HBO Max, which costs $15 per month, offers 10,000 hours of programming, including HBO series “Game of Thrones” and “Succession” as well as Warner Bros. hit TV shows such as “Friends” and “The Big Bang Theory.” Continue reading Streamer HBO Max Offers Wide Range of Movies, TV Shows

Filmmakers Return to Production During COVID-19 Pandemic

After months of shutdown, film and television production is reviving in two countries that have successfully flattened the curve. Producer Lucas Foster isolated his cast and crew in a small Australia town to shoot Stephen King’s “Children of the Corn.” Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur used color-coded armbands to shoot Netflix sci-fi series “Katla” in Reykjavik. Going back to production in the time of coronavirus isn’t easy, and requires security guards to monitor social distancing, medical staff and other strict protocols. Continue reading Filmmakers Return to Production During COVID-19 Pandemic

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