Sony’s Funimation Pursues Anime with Crunchyroll Purchase

AT&T closed the sale of its anime streamer Crunchyroll to Sony’s Funimation Global Group for $1.175 billion in cash. Funimation is a joint venture between Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Music Entertainment subsidiary Aniplex. According to Sony Pictures chair and chief executive Tony Vinciquerra, the goal is to “create a unified anime subscription experience as soon as possible.” The two services will remain separate initially. Crunchyroll currently has 5+ million paying subscribers globally and 120 million registered users in 200+ countries. Continue reading Sony’s Funimation Pursues Anime with Crunchyroll Purchase

Industry Task Force Publishes Guide for Resuming Production

The Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee Task Force (“The Task Force”) submitted its suggested safety guidelines for the reopening of film, television and streaming industries to New York governor Andrew Cuomo and California governor Gavin Newsom. The Task Force, comprised of studios, guilds and producers, published a 22-page “Proposed Health and Safety Guidelines” white paper that includes the need for cast and crew physical distancing “whenever possible.” Industry leaders based the proposals on discussions with health experts and guidelines issued by the CDC and OSHA.  Continue reading Industry Task Force Publishes Guide for Resuming Production

Mobile Games, Home Entertainment Strong Earners in 2019

Mobile games and home entertainment were big in 2019. Sensor Tower reported that Android and iOS mobile game players spent about $61.7 billion in 2019, up 12.8 percent from 2018’s $54.7 billion total. Mobile gaming also represented 74 percent of mobile spending for 2019. That year, home entertainment grew 8.4 percent to $25.2 billion, a record-breaking number. According to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, the greatest areas of growth were digital, subscription streaming, and digital movie sales and rentals. Continue reading Mobile Games, Home Entertainment Strong Earners in 2019

Comcast to Invest $2 Billion in Peacock Streaming Service

Comcast chief financial officer Mike Cavanagh announced that the Philadelphia-based telecom giant plans to invest $2 billion in NBCUniversal’s streaming service Peacock during 2020 and 2021, with the expectation that it won’t be profitable for five years. Cavanagh, who spoke at the UBS Global TMT Conference in New York City, added that the spending will represent, at its height, only about 1 percent of Comcast’s annual revenue. Comcast pay-TV subscribers will have free access to Peacock, scheduled to debut in April 2020. Continue reading Comcast to Invest $2 Billion in Peacock Streaming Service

Nielsen Includes Amazon Prime Video in Its SVOD Ratings

Nielsen began tracking a second subscription streaming service — Amazon Prime Video — in its SVOD Content Ratings, which debuted in October 2017 with Netflix. For both services, Nielsen tracks only connected-TV viewing, excluding desktop and mobile devices, and only measures viewing in the United States. Nielsen released data points for Amazon Prime’s eight-episode “The Boys” produced by Sony Pictures Television, stating it reached nearly eight million viewers in the first 10 days of its premiere. Continue reading Nielsen Includes Amazon Prime Video in Its SVOD Ratings

CBS Turns to AI-Powered Tool for Parsing Viewer Feedback

CBS has partnered with New York startup Canvs to use its AI-powered tool Canvs Surveys that automates the coding of natural language responses. CBS began using it in Q4 2018. The broadcaster has now expanded its use to process natural-language feedback to all its major events, including Super Bowl LIII and the Grammy Awards, as well as its entire slate of programming. CBS chief research/analytics officer Radha Subramanyam said the AI system processes the data far more efficiently than humans. Continue reading CBS Turns to AI-Powered Tool for Parsing Viewer Feedback

Apple Signs a Deal With A24 to Produce Indie Feature Films

Apple inked a multi-year partnership with studio A24 to make independent features, the first time that it expanded its ambitions to make content beyond TV programming. Last year, Apple announced it had committed $1 billion to create scripted shows, moving into a field dominated by Amazon and Netflix. Prior to the deal, Apple had only signed deals for two films, the documentary “The Elephant Queen” and family-friendly animated film “Wolfwalkers.” A24 is known for its Oscar-winning feature “Moonlight.” Continue reading Apple Signs a Deal With A24 to Produce Indie Feature Films

Alibaba to Stream Popular Disney Movies, TV Shows in China

Alibaba Group’s entertainment unit has signed a new licensing deal with Disney that will make Disney’s movies and animated TV shows available in China via Alibaba’s streaming video service Youku and other distribution channels. In addition to more than 100 live-action and animated films, the agreement includes more than 1,000 episodes of Disney TV series, making Alibaba the largest distributor of Disney animated content in the region. The deal comes almost two years after the DisneyLife streaming video service ceased operating in China. Continue reading Alibaba to Stream Popular Disney Movies, TV Shows in China

Viacom Teams with Canvs to Track Emotions on Social Media

Assessing and quantifying reaction to content and advertising on social media has been limited to the fuzzy capabilities of “sentiment analysis” tools that capture only generic positive and negative attitudes. Now, Viacom believes it’s found the perfect tool to do better. Media conglomerate Velocity’s marketing and creative content division teamed with tech startup Canvs, whose database of 4 million words and phrases — including millennial slang and social media shorthand — falls into 56 emotional categories. Continue reading Viacom Teams with Canvs to Track Emotions on Social Media

Crackle’s “Sports Jeopardy!” Adapts Quiz Show to Digital Age

“Sports Jeopardy!” is a new 30-minute weekly game show that streams via Sony’s online service Crackle. The show made its premiere on Wednesday, featuring well-known sportscaster Dan Patrick as host. More than 30,000 potential contestants registered online and qualified by successfully competing a 30-question trivia test. The show takes a new approach in the digital era, streaming online via Crackle and featuring a mobile app that allows viewers to play along. Continue reading Crackle’s “Sports Jeopardy!” Adapts Quiz Show to Digital Age

Studios, Guilds Agree on New Residual Terms for TV Shows

Television viewers may start seeing reruns of “Charlie’s Angels,” “Breaking Bad,” and other shows, thanks to new residual agreements between Hollywood movie studios and the Screen Actors Guild, the Writers Guild of America, and the Directors Guild of America. The new deal abandons fixed-fee residual payments and makes it more affordable for cable networks and digital channels to acquire reruns of shows. The new residual payments will be based on a percentage-structure. Continue reading Studios, Guilds Agree on New Residual Terms for TV Shows

HPA Tech Retreat: Sony to Shoot Several New Pilots in 4K

At the HPA Tech Retreat, Sony Pictures Television announced its plans to shoot between three and five pilots in 4K this season, perhaps signifying the beginning of a shift towards popularizing 4K. At last month’s CES in Las Vegas, there was a big push for the Ultra HD platform; about 50 sets were unveiled. But after the conference, many were left to wonder if content and delivery would be made available for the currently expensive TV sets. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Sony to Shoot Several New Pilots in 4K