Survey: Half of MoviePass Subs Likely to Cancel

Fiscally challenged MoviePass got more bad news Aug. 28 after a survey found nearly 50% of MoviePass respondents will likely cancel their membership.

In the August survey of 1,558 moviegoers — including 424 MoviePass subscribers — conducted by National Research Group for The Hollywood Reporter, just 48% of MoviePass respondents said they were satisfied with the service — which was down from 83% approval in a previous survey this spring.

Central to the service’s problems — beyond financial — are the ever-changing rules of engagement, according to the survey. A short-lived price hike from $9.95 to $14.95 was scuttled, with subscribers limited to three screenings per month. That change was followed by more restrictions on what titles subscribers could see and when.

“MoviePass’ innovation was offering the freedom and flexibility to see any movie, at any time, at almost any theater, for a low price,” NRG CEO Jon Penn told THR. “By constantly changing the terms of service — limiting which films subscribers could see and when they could see them — MoviePass has eroded brand trust and undermined their leadership position.”

Survey respondents appear in favor of ticket subscription services, with 23% interested in AMC Theatres’ A-List Stub platform. Another 39% said they would favor any service that could be sustainable.

“There remains immense opportunity and moviegoer appetite for innovation in movie ticket buying,” said Penn. “Future services that offer value, flexibility and convenience — in an economically viable way — will help drive moviegoing to new heights.”


Warner Adds Digital Copy to ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ Blu-ray, Pushes Street Date Two Weeks

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has moved the Blu-ray release of Batman: The Complete Animated Series — Deluxe Limited Edition to Oct. 30 so it can include a digital copy redemption code in each set.

When the complete series was initially announced at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con International, the Blu-ray was scheduled for Oct. 16 but not slated to come with a digital copy of the show, which would be available as a separate purchase.

The Batman: The Complete Animated Series — Deluxe Limited Edition Blu-ray will include 109 remastered episodes plus the movies Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero. In additional to the newly added digital copy, the Blu-ray boxed set will include a new hour-long retrospective documentary, “The Heart of Batman,” as part of a bonus section that includes 25 featurettes, including the original pilot promo, commentaries on several episodes, and introductions to five episodes by producer Bruce Timm.

Parrot Analytics Partners with Guinness Book of World Records

Parrot Analytics, a big data analytics firm that uses a proprietary formula to measure demand for digital originals and TV shows, on Aug. 28 announced a partnership with  Guinness World Records to identify the most in-demand programs in the world.

Designated by Guinness World Records as “Officially Amazing,” HBO’s “Game of Thrones” was determined to be the most in-demand show in the world, while Netflix’s paranormal thriller “Stranger Things” was the most in-demand digital original series in the world in 2017. The two series are included in the Guinness World Records 2019 edition, which will be available for purchase in book stores and online on Sept. 6, 2018.

Parrot Analytics  measures global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

“It is an honor to work with the venerable Guinness World Records,” said Wared Seger, CEO of Parrot Analytics. “We were delighted that the Guinness World Records team chose to work with us to determine the most in-demand TV shows in the world and that they saw the value in relying on the industry’s established global cross-platform TV demand metric to gain a truly holistic and empirical view of what is resonating with viewers worldwide.”

“Parrot Analytics is taking our methodology of gauging record-breaking designations to a whole new level,” said Craig Glenday, editor in chief of Guinness World Records. “Their audience demand measurement system goes far beyond the days of surveys and questionnaires and utilizes big data and AI to look at the numerous ways consumers express their demand for content. This year, by adding the category for digital originals, we will really get an idea of how much the world’s video consumption has changed.”

Parrot Analytics has previously quantified “Game of Thrones” as the Most In-Demand TV Show in the World in the 2018 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records. This year, a new category for digital original shows was added to include original series produced by streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon.

The 2019 Guinness World Records is available for purchase in 22 languages around the world.

Matt Groening’s ‘Disenchantment’ Bows at No. 5 on Digital Originals Chart

There were few changes in demand for the top digital originals this past week, with only one new release bowing in the top 10, according to Parrot Analytics data for the week ending Aug. 25.

The newcomer is “Disenchantment,” on Netflix, which the subscription streaming leader heavily promoted at Comic-Con International last month. “Disenchantment” debuted in the top 10 at No. 5; 20 episodes of the series have been ordered by Netflix; the first 10 episodes became available for viewing on Aug. 17.

The series, created by “The Simpsons” and “Futurama” creator Matt Groening, is Netflix’s sixth animated series targeting adults.

Audience expectations are high for “Disenchantment,” which is set in the medieval fantasy kingdom of Dreamland. The series follows Bean, a wild and heavily drinking princess, her innocent elf companion Elfo, and her “personal demon” Luci. Voice talent includes Abbi Jacobson, Eric Andre, Nat Faxon, John DiMaggio, Tress MacNeille, Matt Berry, David Herman, Maurice LaMarche, Lucy Montgomery and Billy West.

The Netflix women-in-prison drama “Orange is the New Black” remains the most in-demand digital original, despite 16% fewer Demand Expressions than in the previous week.

“Demand Expressions” is a proprietary metric used by Parrot Analytics to measure global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

“Orange” has now been No. 1 for four consecutive weeks.

“Stranger Things” (Netflix) remains No. 2, “Voltron: Legendary Defender” (also Netflix) repeats at No. 3, and Hulu’s “Castle Rock” is again No. 4, with all three shows relatively flat in Demand Expressions.

Apple Music’s “Carpool Karaoke” remains No. 10 even though the streaming series (which is adapted for Apple Music subscribers) has been on hiatus since June.

Media Play News has teamed with Parrot Analytics to provide readers with a weekly top 10 of the most popular digital original TV series in the United States, based on the firm’s  proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

HDR10+ Announces First Certified Products, Adopters

HDR10+ Technologies, a joint venture among 20th Century Fox, Panasonic Corp. and Samsung Electronics, has announced the first certified products and first adopters for the loyalty-free HDR10+ license program.

Panasonic and Samsung are also among the first to announce firmware has been deployed to select 2018 television models enabling support of HDR10+ for consumers.

HDR10+ advances High Dynamic Range (HDR) and HDR10 TV formats by adding dynamic metadata to each frame. It enables advanced chipsets to create a true-to-life picture across a wider range of displays.

The HDR10+ license program and logo ensure that HDR10+ compliant products meet high standards for picture quality and that the true intent of filmmakers is preserved within these key parameters:

  • The display performance certification qualifies requirements on the display mode, peak luminance level, peak luminance stability, transfer function and white point tracking performance and color gamut coverage.
  • The metadata processing certification qualifies carriage and accuracy of metadata over interfaces. The display management performance certification qualifies tone-mapping based on HDR10+ Metadata such as shadow preservation.
  • The Ultra HD Blu-ray player certification qualifies the processing and accuracy of HDR10+ Metadata carriage over the HDMI interface.

Depending on the category of adopter, certification can be obtained by self-certification or through an Authorized Testing Center (ATC) such as Allion and TTA — the first centers verified for HDR10+ certification. Adopter categories include UHD Blu-ray player manufacturers, OTT set-top box manufacturers or services, display manufacturers, SoC vendors, content companies and tool vendors.

More than 80 companies have already applied or completed the license program.

“A standardized licensing process has allowed partners, including content creators, television and device manufacturers, to easily incorporate HDR10+ technology,” said Danny Kaye, EVP of 20th Century Fox and managing director of the Fox Innovation Lab, in a statement. “We’re encouraged by the interest of early adopters and an expanded HDR10+ ecosystem that will improve the viewing experiences for all audiences.”

20th Century Fox has committed to incorporating HDR10+ in its upcoming new release slate.

“Panasonic is happy to announce that through the deployment of a firmware update, the majority of our 2018 4K models are now HDR10+ certified meaning that our viewers will be able to enjoy content even closer to the intentions of the filmmakers,” said Toshiharu Tsutsui, director of Panasonic’s TV Business Division, in a statement.

“We are thrilled that the majority of our 2018 lineup will be fully certified for HDR10+,” said Bill Mandel, VP of Industry Relations at Samsung Research America, in a statement. “We are collaborating with other HDR10+ adopters globally who are making tools, developing their own SoCs and/or TV line-ups to be HDR10+ compliant to provide consumers broad access to a great HDR experience.”

“We are so excited to be a part of this promising new technology standard that is HDR10+,” said Denver Mishima, head of Standards & Compliance Division of Allion Japan Inc, in a statement. “As a third-party Authorized Test Center, Allion always strives to provide value proposition to prestigious organizations such as HDR10+ Technologies and its adopters. Providing adopters a better testing and certification experience is our mission and commitment in this venture.”

“TTA is pleased again to be working with the display and media industries to launch the newest HDR technology with HDR10+ LLC adopters,” said Park Yongbum, VP of TTA. “We are looking forward to providing testing and certification services for this latest logo program.”

More on the certification requirements and application process can be found here.

Companies adopting HDR10+ are listed on the website.

Companies can learn more about the HDR10+ license and logo program, including final specifications and adopter agreements here.

Report: Nearly 70% of U.S. Households Have SVOD Service

New consumer research from Leichtman Research Group finds that 69% of all U.S. households have a subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service from Netflix, Amazon Prime, and/or Hulu – up from 52% in 2015.

Among those that have an SVOD service, 63% have more than one of these services – up from 38% in 2015.  Overall, 43% of U.S. households now have more than one SVOD service, an increase from 20% in 2015.

“More than two-thirds of all U.S. households now have at least one SVOD service, including those sharing services with others outside their household,” Bruce Leichtman, president of LRG, said in a statement. “Overall, 43% of households now have more than one SVOD service, and 33% of all adults use more than one SVOD service monthly, an increase from 15% in 2015.”

Other survey findings include that 30% of adults stream an SVOD service daily – compared to 29% in 2017, and 16% in 2015.

More than 52% of ages 18-34 stream an SVOD service daily – compared to 31% of ages 35-54, and 11% of ages 55+.

About 28% of Netflix subscribers share their membership with others outside their household – compared to 22% with Hulu, and 10% with Amazon Prime Video.

More than 53% of TV households get both a pay-TV service and an SVOD service, 25% only get a pay-TV service, 16% only get an SVOD service, and 6% get neither pay-TV nor SVOD.

Finally, 46% of adults watch video on non-TV devices (including home computers, mobile phones, iPads, tablets, and eReaders) daily – up from 41% in 2016, and 27% in 2013.

The data is based on a survey of 1,153 households nationwide.

Best Buy Reports Softer Q2 Entertainment Sales Increase

Best Buy Aug. 28 reported 8.5% same-store entertainment sales increase in second quarter (ended Aug. 4) – down from 15.4% sales increase in the previous-year period.

The entertainment segment, which includes myriad products such as DVD/Blu-ray Disc movies, video game hardware and software, books, music CDs and computer software, generated 7% ($604.7 million) of Best Buy’s domestic revenue in the quarter compared to 6% ($1.27 billion) last year.

Internationally, entertainment same-store sales increased 14.3%, generating $44.4 million (6%) of revenue. That compared to 0.5% increase and revenue of $33.4 million (5%) last year.

Best Buy’s legacy CE unit saw 6.8% increase in domestic same-store sales, up from 2.5% increase last year. Revenue remained relatively flat at $2.76 billion compared to $2.64 billion last year.

“Our comparable sales growth was helped by the favorable environment in which we operate and driven by how customers are responding to the unique and elevated experience we are building,” CEO Hubert Joly said in a statement. “We are particularly encouraged with the continued progress of our … continued market share gains. We are excited about the progress we are making on the implementation of our Best Buy 2020 strategy and the opportunities in front of us.”



Shout! Studios Acquires ‘Tito and the Birds’

Shout! Studios, the filmed-entertainment distribution and production arm of Shout! Factory, has acquired North American distribution rights to the Brazilian animated feature Tito and the Birds.

The film premiered in competition at the 2018 Annecy International Animation Film Festival and won the Best Feature for Children at Anima Mundi 2018. The film will have its North American festival premiere at Toronto International Film Festival this September.

Shout! Studios’ distribution rights include theatrical, digital, video on demand, broadcast and home entertainment for cross-platform releases in the United States and Canada. Shout! is planning a strategic rollout across multiple distribution platforms, beginning with a theatrical launch later this year.

Tito and the Birds is a strikingly artful and gorgeously animated movie,” said Melissa Boag, SVP of family entertainment at Shout! Factory. “It’s a stunning work of storytelling and a socially relevant film for the times we live in. This movie will spark dialogue and impact everyone who sees it. We look forward to bringing Tito and the Birds to North American movie audiences.”

The film tells the story of a 10-year-old boy who seeks a potential cure of an epidemic of fear that is crippling the world.

“Tito and the Birds is an important film,” said Jordan Fields, VP of acquisitions at Shout! Factory. “The tale it tells — a marvelous dystopian adventure of heroic children battling a culture of fear that is infecting their world — could not be more timely.”

Rachel Whetstone Named New Netflix Communications Boss

Netflix Aug. 27 named Rachel Whetstone as its new chief communications officer, replacing Jonathan Friedland, who was reportedly fired for “unacceptably low racial awareness and sensitivity” following separate uses of the racist “N-word” in company meetings.

Whetstone is responsible for leading communications on a global basis, having held similar positions at Facebook, Uber and Google.

“Rachel is a proven communications leader and a strong addition to the Netflix team,” CEO and co-founder Reed Hastings said in a statement. “Her deep knowledge and international expertise will be invaluable as we bring Netflix and its expanding lineup of original content to an increasingly global audience.”

A graduate of Bristol University, Whetstone worked as a political advisor in the U.K. before entering the private sector. She joined Google in 2005 and served as SVP of communications and public policy at Google from 2010 to 2015. She held the same position at Uber from 2015 till 2017, prior to joining Facebook as a VP of communications last year.


GameStop Stock Takes a Tumble on No-Deal Fears

Video game retailer GameStop Corp. on Aug. 27 suffered its worst stock decline since May as investors questioned whether the Grapevine, Texas-based company will succeed in a deal to be acquired, according to Bloomberg..

The shares fell nearly 11% to close at $14.71, the biggest same-day fall since May 18, Bloomberg says.

GameStop had rallied in recent months, buoyed by speculation that it was in negotiations to be acquired by a private equity firm such as Sycamore Partners. The company on June 19 said it was in “exploratory discussions” with third parties about a potential deal, Bloomberg said, but warned at the time that those talks would wind up a dead end.

“It’s been a roller-coaster ride,” said Matthew Kanterman, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. “They’ve been approached with a proposal to go private – people are waiting for something about that.”

Seeking Alpha on Aug. 27 observed, “GameStop is a troubled company, with a high dividend yield above 9%. Investors’ sentiment is very negative, due to the continued decline in brick-and-mortar retail industry, particularly when it comes to video games. However, GameStop is highly profitable, and the company still generates enough cash flow to sustain its dividend.”