Consumers More Attentive to FAST Channels Than Linear TV

As the number of free ad-supported streaming TV channels continues to grow, FAST services are outperforming more traditional linear television and CTV when it comes to capturing and keeping consumer attention, according to two separate studies — one from Samsung, the other from Vizio. Samsung Ads’ report, “Decoding FAST: A Comprehensive Guide to the Free Ad-Supported Streaming Landscape,” reveals that the number of FAST services — among them Fox’s Tubi, The Roku Channel, Paramount’s Pluto TV, Vizio’s WatchFree+ and Samsung TV Plus — has tripled in the past four years, as consumption has grown. Continue reading Consumers More Attentive to FAST Channels Than Linear TV

CES: Digital Hollywood Session Explores AI at Inflection Point

Impact and opportunity surfaced as the dominant theme of a full day of Digital Hollywood sessions devoted to artificial intelligence at CES 2024. We are in a period of disruption similar to the early 90s when the Internet went mainstream, said Forbes columnist Charlie Fink, moderating a panel of industry leaders from CAA, Paramount, HTC, Nvidia and Google. Yet despite the transformation already underway, panelists agreed that this is neither the first nor last technology to shift the status quo, more the latest example of inevitable change and adjustment. The current conversations around AI at CES are a refreshing departure after a few years of evolutionary, not revolutionary tech confabs. Continue reading CES: Digital Hollywood Session Explores AI at Inflection Point

KKR Will Pay $1.62 Billion for Paramount’s Simon & Schuster

Paramount Global has agreed to sell publishing giant Simon & Schuster to private equity firm KKR for $1.62 billion in an all-cash transaction. Paramount Global President and CEO Bob Bakish said the transaction “delivers excellent value to Paramount shareholders while also positioning Simon & Schuster for its next phase of growth with KKR.” On closing, expected in the first half of 2024, Simon & Schuster will become a standalone private company under the continued leadership of President and CEO Jonathan Karp and COO and CFO Dennis Eulau. Continue reading KKR Will Pay $1.62 Billion for Paramount’s Simon & Schuster

Fable’s AI Showrunner App Generates Complete TV Episodes

San Francisco-based startup Fable has raised the curtain on its research involving “AI Showrunner” technology, an app it’s calling SHOW-1. As part of an ongoing project dubbed “The Simulation,” Fable is proffering demonstration footage of how SHOW-1 can generate episodes of the animated television show “South Park,” inserting anyone as the star. Fable claims its Showrunner system generates more than just scripts and dialogue, but can animate, add vocal performances and edit full episodes based on something as basic as a two-sentence prompt. Continue reading Fable’s AI Showrunner App Generates Complete TV Episodes

A Rebranded ‘Paramount+ with Showtime’ Will Roll Out Soon

Paramount Global will be fully integrating Paramount+ and Showtime across both streaming and linear platforms later this year, according to president and CEO Bob Bakish, who said both the premium streaming tier on Paramount+ and the Showtime linear cable network will be known as “Paramount+ with Showtime” in the U.S. Pricing was not disclosed. In September, the studio began offering Paramount+ bundled with Showtime for prices ranging from $11.99 to $14.99 for premium. Paramount+ with Showtime will include Showtime original content, while Showtime will also get some Paramount+ original fare. Bakish said details will be shared in upcoming weeks. Continue reading A Rebranded ‘Paramount+ with Showtime’ Will Roll Out Soon

USC Students Have Opportunity to Speak with Media Execs

On December 2, senior media executives gathered on Zoom to answer questions from USC students about industry trends, company strategies and career direction. The students had submitted winning pitches in the ETC@USC Future of Themed Experiences Challenge and their reward was time with the media executives. The questions ranged from “Do you need to learn to code to break into entertainment technology?” to “What are some visionary directions you see your company investing in over the next 4-5 years?” Video of the discussions, along with the lists of questions, students, and executives, is available online. Continue reading USC Students Have Opportunity to Speak with Media Execs

Disney Could Be Planning to Create a Mega Bundle with Hulu

Speculation is afoot as to the fate of popular subscription streaming service Hulu, initially launched 15 years ago. Disney presently owns 67 percent of the company, and Comcast 33 percent. The two had agreed to come to terms of a sale by January 24, but now there is talk that Disney wants to resolve the matter sooner and is planning to buy out Comcast and integrate Hulu into Disney+, providing access to titles from Disney’s “Star Wars” and Marvel Universe franchises along with popular Hulu originals such as “Only Murders in the Building,” “The Great” and “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Continue reading Disney Could Be Planning to Create a Mega Bundle with Hulu

Summer Blockbusters Bringing Moviegoers Back to Theaters

U.S. audiences have been showing up at theaters to see summer blockbusters, a happy plot twist for an industry that saw the bottom fall out during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Films such as Paramount’s “Top Gun: Maverick” and Universal’s “Jurassic World Dominion” and “Minions: The Rise of Gru” have proven that despite the surge in streaming, audiences will trek out of the home for content that rises to the level of an event. “There’s no question that we’re coming back — in relevance, and in actual behavior,” said Warner Bros. domestic distribution president Jeff Goldstein. Continue reading Summer Blockbusters Bringing Moviegoers Back to Theaters

Warner Bros. Discovery Explores Adding a New FAST Service

Warner Bros. Discovery reported Thursday that the number of direct-to-consumer subscribers to HBO, HBO Max and Discovery+ was up 1.7 million since the close of Q1, for a total of 92.1 million subs. As part of its effort to reach a broader streaming audience, the company plans to launch a combined subscription version of HBO Max and Discovery+ in summer of 2023. CEO David Zaslav revealed that the company is also exploring a free ad-supported TV service. “We see potential,” Zaslav said of launching a discrete FAST service, one that may offer different content from what is currently available on the premium VOD platforms. Continue reading Warner Bros. Discovery Explores Adding a New FAST Service

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

Spotify Announces Plan to Acquire AI Voice Startup Sonantic

Spotify will acquire London-based startup Sonantic, a company that creates realistic human voices from text using a proprietary AI engine. Sonantic made a recent high-profile contribution to pop culture by providing the means to simulate actor Val Kilmer’s voice in Paramount’s summer blockbuster “Top Gun: Maverick.” The move expands the music and podcasting streamer to expand into audio technology with broad implications. Spotify vice president of personalization Ziad Sultan says the technology will be integrated into the main platform to allow the company “to engage users in a new and even more personalized way.” Continue reading Spotify Announces Plan to Acquire AI Voice Startup Sonantic

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

Intel’s 8K HDR Live Streams ‘Way Beyond Proof of Concept’

On the heels of several successful tests that included Tokyo 2020 Olympics telecasts in Brazil and Japan, Intel is moving full steam ahead to bring live, end-to-end 8K HDR streaming to audiences across the globe. The company sees the future of 8K HDR as revolutionizing the worlds of sports, entertainment and gaming by delivering spectacular, immersive events at stadium scale, augmented by 3D, VR, AR and UHD audio. The key to this brave new broadcast world is Intel’s Xeon Scalable processors for local encoding and delivery over-the-top. And of course, the slickest compression algorithms. Continue reading Intel’s 8K HDR Live Streams ‘Way Beyond Proof of Concept’

ViacomCBS Reports Rise in Revenue, Streaming Subscribers

In Q2 of this year, ViacomCBS — parent company of the CBS broadcast network, Showtime, Nickelodeon and the Paramount movie studio — saw revenue rise 8 percent to $6.6 billion and the addition of 6.5 million new streaming subscribers for a total of 42+ million. Net income was $1.04 billion or $1.56 per share, compared with $481 million or 78 cents per share year-over-year. Chief executive Bob Bakish said the company looks forward to scaling Paramount+ offerings, referring to a deal with Comcast to launch it on Sky in Europe. Continue reading ViacomCBS Reports Rise in Revenue, Streaming Subscribers

Industry Lures Moviegoers with Special Deals and Screenings

As pandemic rules evolve and movie theaters reopen across the U.S., theater owners in North America with studios and other companies unveiled Cinema Week, a six-day event offering deals for food and drink and advance film screenings. Studios are on track to release major titles, having already unveiled “Godzilla vs. Kong” and “A Quiet Place Part II” to some success. Still, sales are lagging, with Comscore reporting that movies grossed $57 million in the U.S. and Canada last weekend, down 58 percent from the same period in 2019. Special screenings and an array of promotional deals aim to help turn things around. Continue reading Industry Lures Moviegoers with Special Deals and Screenings