Netflix Enters Pact with Spain’s Largest Telecom

As expected, Netflix and Telefónica, Spain’s largest telecom, have inked an agreement enabling the SVOD pioneer to be embedded in the latter’s Movistar over-the-top video service in Europe and Latin America.

The first launches in several countries will be announced in the next few weeks and further launches will happen throughout the region in 2018.

The agreement is part of Telefónica’s plan to collaborate with top media and distribution companies around the world, according to the telecom’s president Álvarez-Pallete.

“We want to offer our customers the most compelling video offering possible, whether it’s our own content or third party providers,” he said. “The partnership with Netflix will significantly enhance our existing multichannel video platforms.”

Similar to other direct-access deals between pay-TV operators and Netflix, Telefónica embeds the SVOD app on its platform affording members with a Netflix account easier access to programming.

“Over the next several years, our partnership with Telefónica will benefit millions of consumers who will be able to easily access their favorite Netflix shows, documentaries, stand-ups, kids content and movies across a range of Telefónica platforms,” said Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO of Netflix. “Making Netflix available on Telefónica’s familiar, easy-to-use TV and video platforms enables consumers to watch all the content they love in one place.”

‘The Awesomes,’ ‘The 10th Kingdom,’ ‘Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island’ Among Titles Unveiled on Mill Creek’s Digital Channel

Mill Creek Entertainment has launched five titles onto its digital platform Watch Mill Creek (Watch.MillCreekEnt.com) in advance of their June 5 DVD and Blu-ray Disc release.

From co-creators Seth Meyers and Mike Shoemaker (“Late Night with Seth Meyers”) comes “The Awesomes,” an animated show for adults that combines comic book storytelling with irreverent comedy. Showcasing the voice talents of current and past “Saturday Night Live” stars, the series introduces a group of not-so-super heroes who just might find a way to save the world. The title is available now on digital at $14.99 and streets June 5 on Blu-ray (plus digital) at $29.98 and DVD (plus digital) at $19.98.

The Emmy-winning The 10th Kingdom stars John Larroquette and Kimberly Williams-Paisley in the story of a father and daughter who discover nine kingdoms beyond the mortal world where the fantastic land of fairy tales and magic are brought to life and reinvented. The cast also features Dianne Wiest, Ann-Margret and Rutger Hauer, among others. The title is available now on digital at $8.99 and streets June 5 on Blu-ray (plus digital) at $24.98 and DVD (plus digital) at $14.98.

The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns TV miniseries features Randy Quaid, Whoopi Goldberg and Roger Daltrey, among others, in a fantasy tale about the end of the rainbow. The title is available now on digital at $6.99 and streets June 5 on DVD (plus digital) at $14.98.

Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island, based on the classic novel by Jules Verne, stars Kyle MacLachlan, Gabrielle Anwar, Vinnie Jones, Patrick Stewart and Omar Gooding. The title is available now on digital at $6.99 and streets June 5 on DVD (plus digital) at $14.98.

Kid West follows Harper, a 12-year-old girl on the lookout for adventure. Armed with a slingshot and her wits, she strives to right the wrongs in her small community — cowgirl style.  She’s on a mission to protect a mystical treasure from falling into the hands of a gang of bullies. The title is available now on digital at $9.99 and streets June 5 on DVD (plus digital) at $14.98.

Starz Bowing on YouTube TV, Hulu

Seeking to significantly upgrade the Starz brand globally, corporate parent Lionsgate has licensed the premium channel’s app to YouTube TV and Hulu.

Speaking on the May 24 fiscal call, Jon Feltheimer, CEO of Lionsgate, said the distribution agreements were part of a global rollout of the Starz app across 15 territories over the next three years.

As previously reported, Lionsgate launched the Starz Play channel in the United Kingdom and Germany via Amazon Channels, the ecommerce behemoth’s platform affording Prime members access to third-party over-the-top video services.

The app offers more than 1,000 hours of original programming, including Lionsgate created series “The Royals Casual,” and “Boss,” as well as feature films ranging from the “Saw” and “Hunger Games” franchises.

“All of this activity comes on top of [the] Starz launch in Canada and the continued growth of our Starz Play venture in the Middle East and North Africa,” Feltheimer said. “In Canada, where we recently announced our partnership with Bell Media, Starz programming is already available to consumers with full over-the-top and linear rollout slated for early next year.”

Starz availability on YouTube TV, Google’s standalone online TV service, begins next month, followed by similar launch on Hulu Live with TV in October.

“We expect meaningful subscriber increases from all of these new deals,” Feltheimer said.

Indeed, Starz pay-TV base declined by 500,000 subscribers, finishing the quarter with 23.5 million subs.

More importantly, a decline in licensed Starz programming to third parties resulted in an 8% drop in Media Networks segment operating income to $115 million compared to the previous-year period. Revenue dipped 1% to $366 million.

For Chris Albrecht, president of Starz, OTT video is the brand’s future.

“The OTT business is clearly the business that we see there being real growth potential in and the economics are good for us there, and we’re very bullish as we expand our global reach,” he said.

The news helped up Lionsgate shares nearly 5% May 25 in early trading.

Irdeto Data Finds Nearly 5 Million Illegal Streamers During UEFA Champions League Knockout Stages

As the football world gears up for the showdown between Liverpool and Real Madrid in this weekend’s UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) Champions League Final, data from Irdeto reveals that a total of 5,100 unique illegal streams were detected redistributing games over the internet during this year’s Champions League knockout stages. Of this total, 2,093 streams were detected across social media channels including Periscope, Facebook and Twitch and are estimated to have reached nearly 5 million (4,893,902) viewers.

“The viewing figures combined with the number of UEFA Champions League streams detected across a variety of channels suggests that more needs to be done to stop the illegal distribution of high profile live European football matches,” according to an Irdeto release.

Web-based streams continue to be the main vehicle for illegal distribution of these matches, with 2,121 web-based streams detected (of the total 5,100 streams), according to the Irdeto data. However, this was closely followed by social media, where potential advertising revenue drives criminals to illegally stream premium sports.

Pirates also took advantage of illicit streaming plugins for Kodi, the popular media player, with 886 streams identified on this platform, according to Irdeto.

“Criminals have targeted premium sports content such as the European Champions League and are earning a fortune from stealing the rights,” said Rory O’Connor, SVP of cybersecurity services at Irdeto. “This makes it crucial for content owners, rights holders and platform owners to work together and enlist technology and proactive services to take down streams in real-time. The criminals who profit from these illegal streams have little regard for their viewers and are exposing them to cybercrime, inappropriate content and malware infection. Also, viewers of illegal content can face criminal penalties if they decide to share content with friends on social media.”

Pirates create professional-looking websites and services designed to fool consumers into thinking they are viewing legitimate content, according to Irdeto. In the case of the Champions League, the team most targeted by illegal streamers was Roma, with 1,476 streams detected for their matches. This was followed by Real Madrid (1,354 streams), Liverpool (1,252 streams) and Bayern Munich (977 streams). The second leg semi-final Roma vs. Liverpool was the most-streamed match, with 405 illegal streams, representing a potential loss of revenue to clubs and the competition.

The viewership of illegal streams on social media followed a similar pattern. However, Real Madrid was the most viewed team, with 2,856,011 viewers of illegal social media streams of their games throughout the knock-out competition. The most illegally viewed match through social media streams was the Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich Semi-Final second leg, which received an estimated 709,393 viewers. Based on the average Pay TV subscription prices in Europe this could represent a loss of more than 14 million Euros per month or 170 million Euros on an annual basis.

Screen Icons IV, Comedy Dynamics and Here!Media Join Allied Vaughn MOD Program

Allied Vaughn has added Screen Icons IV, Comedy Dynamics and Here!Media suppliers to its manufacture-on-demand collection.

James Dean stars in a series of live television shows working in James Dean: The Lost Television Legacy available on DVD from Screen Icons IV. Dean’s television legacy remains virtually unseen, given the small television universe that existed at the time in the 1950s. He appeared on such shows as Studio One, Lux Video Theater and Hallmark Hall of Fame, many of which were broadcast live and thought to be lost. Of the 38 television shows featuring Dean, only 19 or so remain. Cineaste and James Dean authority Michael J. Sheridan, who was also the producer-director of the feature documentary James Dean: Forever Young, spent more than 15 years researching Dean’s TV legacy, including searching for the lost shows. Sheridan was able to assemble and save more than half of this lost material. The collection includes 19 full episodes, two original commercials and two clips featuring Dean, all re-mastered for picture and sound quality from the best available sources. This box set also includes a commemorative booklet featuring a comprehensive essay focusing on the actor’s personal life and television career, and featuring rare stills, episode credits and descriptions. Other stars featured include Natalie Wood, John Forsythe, Ed Begley, John Carradine, Gene Lockhart, Betsy Palmer, Constance Ford and James Barton.

From Comedy Dynamics come four DVD releases. Bob Saget: Zero to Sixty features the comedian in his new stand-up special. In Chee and T, against the backdrop of a shady mayoral race, Chee and T take a dizzying and loyalty-testing ride through the streets of Palo Alto to keep up with Mayunk’s fiascos with each eventually having to face their postponed futures. In Grass, Sundance alum Tanuj Chopra reinvents stoner cinema with this female arthouse comedy. In Tiffany Haddish: She Ready! From the Hood to Hollywood! the comedian takes the stage in her hometown of Los Angeles to tackle subjects ranging from her early days in foster care and being bullied on the playground, to getting her revenge on ex-boyfriends and introducing Will and Jada Pinkett Smith to Groupon.

Here!Media Inc., an LGBT-oriented media company headquartered in Los Angeles, is bringing its catalog to MOD, including Looking for Cheyenne, Deadly Skies (Rae Dawn Chong, Antonio Sabato Jr.) and other titles.

 

‘Black Panther’ Claws Way to Top of Home Video Charts

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment’s mega-blockbuster Black Panther easily debuted at the top of the home video sales and rental charts for the week ended May 19.

The latest superhero actioner from Marvel Studios has grossed nearly $700 million at the domestic box office and outsold the No. 2 title, Universal Pictures’ Fifty Shades Freed, by a 10-to-1 margin on the NPD VideoScan First Alert sales chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales.

On the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart, the disparity was even more pronounced, with Fifty Shades Freed in its second week selling just 8% as many units as Black Panther. The sexually charged drama had been the top seller on both charts a week earlier.

No. 3 on both charts, in its sixth week on disc, was 20th Century Fox’s hit musical The Greatest Showman.

Rounding out the top five overall were Sony Pictures’ Peter Rabbit at No. 4 and Disney’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi at No. 5. The result was flipped on the Blu-ray chart, which had Last Jedi at No. 4 and Peter Rabbit at No. 5.

Blu-ray Disc accounted for 70% of Black Panther‘s total unit sales, with the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition of the film comprising 13% of its total.

Following Black Panther on the Media Play News rental chart for the week ended May 20, Warner’s 12 Strong held onto the No. 2 spot for a second week.

The previous week’s top rental, Fifty Shades Freed, slipped to No. 3, followed by Peter Rabbit at No. 4 and Lionsgate’s Den of Thieves at No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 05-19-18
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 05-20-18
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 05-19-18
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 05-19-18

 

Lionsgate Fiscal 2018 Home Entertainment Revenue Up $67 Million

Spurred by packaged media and digital revenue from Oscar-winner La La Land, Power Rangers, Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween, and Wonder, Lionsgate reported a $67 million increase in home entertainment revenue for the 2018 fiscal year, ended March 31.

Revenue rose 9.5% to $774 million, which included $400 million from DVD and Blu-ray Disc, compared with revenue of $707 million ($404 million) during the previous-year period.

In fiscal 2018, Lionsgate shipped about 65 million DVD/Blu-ray units.

Digital media, which includes electronic sellthrough, transactional VOD and pay-per-view, generated $374 million in the period, compared to $304 million in the prior fiscal year.

Indeed, Lionsgate motion picture segment generated 42.5% of its fiscal year revenue from home entertainment; 25.1% from international; 15.4% from theatrical; 15.3% from TV and 1.7% from other sources.

The studio/distributor said four of its theatrical releases debuted No.1 on weekly DVD/Blu-ray sales charts. La La Land and Power Rangers held the top spot for two consecutive weeks, while Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloweenand Wonder held onto the No. 1 spot for one week.

Lionsgate had an approximate 11% market share for home entertainment, making it the No. 5 studio in market share overall.

In calendar 2017, Lionsgate said it maintained a box office-to-home entertainment conversion rate of 18% above the industry average, leading all major studios.

Box office-to-home entertainment conversion rate is calculated as the ratio of the total of both DVD revenue and total digital platform revenue for a theatrical release compared to the total North American box-office revenue from a theatrical release.

 

Starz Launches on Amazon Prime Video in Germany, U.K.

Starz May 24 announced it is launching branded subscription streaming video channels in Germany and United Kingdom on Amazon Prime Video.

Starz programming for the first time will be available in the U.K. and Germany – including day-and-date with U.S. subscribers – via Amazon Channels.

Amazon Channels, which launched in the U.S. in 2015 affording Prime members access to third-party over-the-top video services, includes access to the Starz OTT video service.

Starz original shows include “Power,” “Boss,” “Survivor’s Remorse,” “Vida,” “Party Down,” and “Sweetbitter,” among others.

“These new channels allow us to extend the reach of our storytelling and bring the growing portfolio of Starz original series as well our extensive library of hit TV series and movies to a new audience,” Chris Albrecht, president of Starz, said in a statement.

Starz, which was acquired nearly two years ago by Lionsgate for $4.4 billion, also operates Starz Play Arabia – the company’s first international OTT platform.

“We’ve taken a major step forward [internationally] by launching Starz Play on Amazon,” said Jon Feltheimer, CEO of Lionsgate.

 

Amy Schumer Comedy ‘I Feel Pretty’ Due on Digital July 3, Disc July 17

The Amy Schumer comedy I Feel Pretty, will come out on digital July 3 and on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and On Demand July 17 from STXfilms and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Schumer stars as Renee, a woman who struggles with feelings of insecurity and inadequacy.  After suffering a fall, she wakes up believing she is suddenly the most beautiful and capable woman on the planet.

The film also stars Michelle Williams, Rory Scovel, Busy Philipps, Aidy Bryant, Emily Ratajkowski, Naomi Campbell, Tom Hopper, Sasheer Zamata and Lauren Hutton.

I Feel Pretty earned $46.9 million at the box office.

Blu-ray, DVD and Digital bonus features include deleted scenes, a gag reel and the featurette “Being Pretty,” in which the cast reflects on what it means to be pretty.

MoviePass Pushes Fiscal Lifeline Fantasy

NEWS ANALYSIS — The corporate parent of fiscally-challenged subscription ticket service MoviePass reportedly claims it has a $300 million lifeline that can keep operations afloat for at least a year.

Helios and Matheson Analytics (HMNY), which owns more than 90% of MoviePass, has been shrugging off its plunging stock valuation (down 98%) as investors question a business model burning through more than $20 million a month offering subscribers daily access to a theatrical movie for a $9.95 monthly fee (or $6.95 based on an annual fee).

The company, in its most-recent fiscal statement, said it had just $15.5 million in available cash. The news sent the stock freefalling to less than 50 cents per share at the close May 23.

Now, MoviePass president Mitch Lowe and Ted Farnsworth, CEO of HMNY, are telling anyone who will listen that they have access to a $300 million line of credit that can sustain operations for more than a year.

But as Business Insider reports, the line of credit isn’t really a line of credit or much of a lifeline. It’s more of a fiscal Hail Mary.

The credit is known as a “at-the-market” (ATM) sale that enables HMNY to sell shares on a daily, weekly or monthly basis to generate funds without impacting the company’s market valuation.

“It’s kind of a science,” Lowe told Business Insider. “It’s a third party that manages it on behalf of HMNY, but essentially some days they might sell, some days they might not sell. It’s all kind of based on what they believe will have the least impact on the valuation.”

But to make the ATM work requires investors willing to buy shares. And with the stock down nearly 8%  at 45 cents per share in early-morning trading May 24, who is going to buy?