Vudu to Release Family Viewing Controls, “Mr. Mom” Reboot

Walmart’s video streaming service Vudu is introducing both a suite of tools to help parents better control what their children watch and its first original series, the family-oriented 11-episode “Mr. Mom,” a reboot of MGM’s 1983 comedy written by John Hughes. The first two episodes of “Mr. Mom” debuted September 12. The new tools include Family Play, which allows viewers to automatically skip or mute profanity, sex, nudity, violence and substance abuse. Also on tap are reviews and ratings from Common Sense Media. Continue reading Vudu to Release Family Viewing Controls, “Mr. Mom” Reboot

CBS and Viacom Reunite With a Focus on Streaming Video

After a split of more than 10 years, CBS and Viacom finalized a deal yesterday to recombine. The new company, to be called ViacomCBS Inc. with a market value of about $30 billion, will bring Viacom brands such as BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures together with CBS, Showtime and the new CBS All Access streaming service. The merger follows several high-profile media deals, including Disney’s purchase of Fox’s movie and TV assets in March and AT&T’s 2018 acquisition of Time Warner, as media companies face significant changes involving pay TV and streaming services. Continue reading CBS and Viacom Reunite With a Focus on Streaming Video

Innovators, Analysts Examine New Entertainment Paradigms

At 30 Ninjas, chief executive Julina Tatlock noted that “the urge for immersion” is one of the chief disruptors that she and her partner, director Doug Liman, see in the M&E industry today. Whether it’s augmented reality, virtual reality or 360-degree imagery, she challenged the members of an NAB 2019 panel on emerging entertainment to pick the one they think will impact production in the next two years. Greenlight Insights VR/AR analyst Alexis Macklin picked all of them — plus cloud computing and AI tools. Continue reading Innovators, Analysts Examine New Entertainment Paradigms

Viacom Digital Eyes Streaming to Target Younger Audience

For years, Viacom didn’t move decisively into the digital arena, but chief executive Bob Bakish changed that in 2017 when he hired digital media executive Kelly Day to head Viacom Digital Studios in leading MTV, Nickelodeon, BET, Comedy Central and other youth-oriented properties. With her team of 400+ employees, Day has created new original series for different platforms and led the purchase of Awesomeness. In February 2019, Tubular Labs ranked Viacom No. 9 for online video views, up from No. 24 in October 2017. Continue reading Viacom Digital Eyes Streaming to Target Younger Audience

Digital Content NewFronts West Reveals Advertising Trends

At the Digital Content NewFronts West marketing event, October 9-10 in Los Angeles, premium content producers demonstrated how they are trying to attract and maintain viewers. In addition to offering podcasts, shoppable videos and smart speakers, producers are moving away from ads that interrupt programming, mainly because viewers simply won’t tolerate commercials, not even 30-second pre-rolls. A study revealed that those viewers who do watch mainly ad-supported OTT video are younger and typically earn higher income. Continue reading Digital Content NewFronts West Reveals Advertising Trends

Amazon Debuts New Smart Speaker Edition Designed for Kids

Amazon is introducing the $80 Echo Dot Kids Edition with FreeTime services. Intended for children ages 5 to 12, the modified Echo Dot features a brightly colored, protective rubber case; kid-friendly content from the likes of Audible, Disney and iHeartRadio; and parental controls such as time limits, activity review and content filtering. Users can wake up to alarms based on characters from Disney, Nickelodeon and others. The speaker, which is available for pre-order and starts shipping May 9, includes the same two-year replacement guarantee that Amazon rolled out for its Fire tablets for kids. Continue reading Amazon Debuts New Smart Speaker Edition Designed for Kids

Viacom to Roll Out its Own Streaming Service Later This Year

Viacom, which has hinted it might introduce a direct-to-consumer streaming service, revealed it will launch such a service by September 2018, with “tens of thousands of hours” of content from such channels as Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon. The company is not, however, going to produce a dedicated cable alternative for cord cutters, as have YouTube TV, DirecTV Now, Hulu Live and Fubo. The packaging of the content will more likely be competitive with Hulu and Netflix. Pricing details were not available. Continue reading Viacom to Roll Out its Own Streaming Service Later This Year

Dreamscape Immersive Raises $30M More for VR Attractions

Dreamscape Immersive, a location-based VR startup, is joining forces with Nickelodeon to produce a new intellectual property aimed at children and families. The company, which is headed by former Disney and DreamWorks veterans, just raised $30 million in its Series B round of funding, led by AMC Entertainment with investments from Nickelodeon, 21st Century Fox and Warner Bros. as well as Majid Al Futtaim, VRSense Solutions, and Image Nation Abu Dhabi. Bold Capital Partners, a Series A investor, also joined the second round. Continue reading Dreamscape Immersive Raises $30M More for VR Attractions

Amazon FreeTime Rolls Out New Feature for Offline Viewing

Amazon is introducing a new feature to its subscription children’s service this week that enables users to download and watch FreeTime Unlimited content without an Internet connection. The new Offline Mode will roll out for free as an over-the-air software update for Fire and Fire Kids Edition tablets. Parents can create Kindle Fire profiles for their kids through FreeTime and specify age, gender, time limits, filters and appropriate content. FreeTime Unlimited features a range of children’s offerings from the likes of Amazon Originals for Kids, DC Comics, Disney, Nickelodeon and PBS. Continue reading Amazon FreeTime Rolls Out New Feature for Offline Viewing

Streaming Service to Debut Without Pricey Sports Channels

Discovery Communications, Viacom, AMC Networks, A+E Networks and Scripps Networks Interactive are joining forces to create a new streaming service catering to people who don’t want sports in their streaming TV bundles. According to sources, the service will have a soft launch in the next few weeks, cost less than $20 per month, and offer nonfiction, lifestyle, children’s and scripted drama programs from the channels owned by these networks. Media outlets have discussed a bundle without sports for some time. Continue reading Streaming Service to Debut Without Pricey Sports Channels

GameMine Inks Distribution Partnership With Mobile Carriers

Los Angeles-based GameMine has inked distribution partnerships with five international mobile carriers, enabling direct billing of game subscriptions through mobile plans. With the partnerships, the carriers’ subscribers will have access to GameMine’s more than 400 games, all of them unlocked, ad-free and available for iOS and Android devices. Among the involved carriers are Movistar in Spain, Orange in Egypt, and TIM, Vodafone and Wind Tre in Italy, with a combined mobile subscribership of more than 150 million people. Continue reading GameMine Inks Distribution Partnership With Mobile Carriers

Amazon Bows Android App for Kid-Friendly FreeTime Service

Amazon rolled out a new Android app for its FreeTime service, which provides curated children’s content and parental controls similar to those found on Amazon’s Fire tablets. The FreeTime Web browser has vetted over 40,000 YouTube videos and websites as kid-friendly. FreeTime Unlimited offers more kid-centric content, including 10,000 books and videos from Disney, Nickelodoen, Amazon Studios, PBS Kids, Harper Collins, Sesame Street, Simon & Schuster and others, priced at $2.99 per month for Prime members and $4.99 for others. Continue reading Amazon Bows Android App for Kid-Friendly FreeTime Service

NBCUniversal Set to Launch Universal Kids Network This Fall

On September 9, NBCUniversal will unveil the rebranding of its Sprout cable property into a new network, Universal Kids, to be overseen by Sprout exec Deirdre Brennan. The network will feature family-friendly content from DreamWorks Animation, Illumination Entertainment and Universal theme park attractions. Whereas Sprout targets preschool children, Universal Kids will broaden its reach to children 2 through 11 years old. The first series is “Top Chef Junior,” a version of Bravo’s cooking competition show. Continue reading NBCUniversal Set to Launch Universal Kids Network This Fall

Viacom Debuts BET Streaming Service for International Market

Viacom rolled out a standalone online service this week dubbed BET Play, targeting an adult audience (last year, Viacom launched Nickelodeon-related app Noggin for kids). The video-on-demand application will feature BET’s award programs, such as this week’s 2016 BET Awards, in addition to TV series, musical performances, documentaries, comedy specials and news. BET Play will launch for iOS, Android and Apple AirPlay-enabled TVs without the need for a broader pay TV subscription. It will be available in 100 countries outside the U.S. for the equivalent of $3.99 per month. Continue reading Viacom Debuts BET Streaming Service for International Market

Media Companies Turn to A La Carte Sales in Foreign Markets

Viacom, 21st Century Fox and The Walt Disney Company are among the numerous entertainment companies offering their content a la carte — in Europe, Latin America and Asia. In the U.S., these networks are still parts of more expensive bundles proffered by Comcast, DirecTV and other pay TV services. That reflects a much lower penetration of homes outside the U.S. that have a cable or satellite subscription, which makes it possible for media companies to make a la carte offers without running afoul of pay TV providers. Continue reading Media Companies Turn to A La Carte Sales in Foreign Markets

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