Pluto TV Launches Classic Game Show Channel Buzzr

Free streaming TV site Pluto TV announced the launch of a new channel, Buzzr, featuring classic game shows.

On Buzzr, viewers can play along with iconic game show hosts such as Gene Rayburn and Alex Trebek in a pop culture TV time capsule. The channel features such shows as “Supermarket Sweep,” featuring contestants filling their carts with grocery items in an effort to have the highest total at check-out; “Match Game,” in which host Rayburn is the ringmaster to a panel of celebrity guests; and “Classic Concentration,” hosted by Trebek, in which contestants challenge their memories and ability to solve complex puzzles.

Pluto TV delivers 100-plus live and original channels and thousands of on-demand movies in partnership with major TV networks, movie studios, publishers and digital media companies, according to the company, and is available on all mobile, web and connected TV streaming devices.

Universal Sets ‘House With a Clock in Its Walls’ for Home Release

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment will release The House With a Clock in Its Walls digitally Nov. 27, and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Dec. 18.

Director Eli Roth’s adaptation of the children’s book stars Owen Vaccaro as a boy who goes to live in a creepy mansion with his Uncle (Jack Black), who practices magic with his neighbor (Cate Blanchett).

The film earned $66.5 million at the domestic box office.

Bonus materials include a feature commentary with Roth and Black; an alternate opening and ending, and nine deleted scenes, with commentary by Roth and Black; a gag reel; several behind-the-scenes featurettes; Roth’s “Director’s Journals”; a tour of the production with Vaccaro; a “Theme Song Challenge” as Roth and the cast are challenged to come up with a theme song for the film; a “Do You Know Jack Black?” competition among the cast; pranks and magic with Roth and Vaccaro; and a look at the film’s music.

Hulu Hires Heather Moosnick as SVP of Content Partnerships

Hulu Oct. 30 announced the hiring of former YouTube TV executive Heather Moosnick as SVP, content partnerships.

Moosnick assumes the vacant content partnerships position following the departure of Chief Content Officer Joel Stillerman last summer. She begins Nov. 12  reporting to CEO Randy Freer.

Craig Erwich, SVP, content, remains head of original content, alos reporting to Freer.

“Heather is a highly strategic, creative and relationship-oriented executive who has spent her entire career driving change and innovation,” Freer said in a statement. “As Hulu looks to transition television from a gatekeeper-driven experience to one that’s led by the consumer, Heather’s leadership and fearless approach to evolving antiquated business rules make her a perfect fit for our team.”

At Google/YouTube, Moosnick spearheaded global business development for the launch of online TV service YouTube TV, including affiliate and network agreements. Previously, she worked with record label relationships for the launches of YouTube Music and YouTube Premium.

Vizio Adds Features to Smart TV Experience

Vizio announced the rollout of new features to its smart TV experience, SmartCast Home, adding such entertainment apps as CBS All Access and allowing users to personalize their SmartCast Home experience via the app sorting feature.

The latest iteration of SmartCast Home is rolling out via free cloud-based updates to Vizio SmartCast 4K Ultra HD TVs and displays, as well as select HD and Full HD models.

“Vizio continues to fulfill consumer demands by way of free, rolling cloud-based updates that enable new, intuitive smart TV features via Vizio SmartCast,” said Vizio chief technology officer Bill Baxter in a statement. “With versatility, simplicity and value in mind, Vizio SmartCast is an ever-evolving entertainment solution. Everyday users, cord-cutters and smart home enthusiasts alike are able to continuously receive new features, the latest apps and other beneficial enhancements that help ensure they are getting the most out of their viewing experience.”

With the update, Vizio SmartCast Home users can sort and position their favorite and most frequented apps on the home screen. To change the order of apps within the app row at the bottom of the SmartCast Home screen, users scroll to the end of the app row and select the “Sort App Row” icon. From there, they will be prompted with on-screen cues that guide them through the process of highlighting and selecting various apps to customize their position.

New to Vizio SmartCast Home is the CBS All Access app, offering such programs as “NCIS,” “The Young and the Restless” and “Madam Secretary”; exclusive original series such as “Star Trek: Discovery” and “The Good Fight”; and streaming of local live broadcasts. YouTube TV — which allows SmartCast users to watch and record live TV from more than 60 networks — Baeble and Toon Goggles, among other apps, have also been added to the SmartCast lineup.

With the latest updates, the Vizio WatchFree free streaming service is now also included in the App Row.

SmartCast also now offers dedicated TV and Movie Detail pages highlighting the selected title’s trailer and synopsis, along with cast and director credits, running time, parental ratings, critic insights and more. The TV and Movie Detail pages will also soon allow users to browse seasons and episodes across multiple apps such as FandangoNow and Hulu, and then view on their app of choice.

‘The Predator’ Stalking to Digital Nov. 27, Disc Dec. 18

The Predator will stalk to digital (including Movies Anywhere) Nov. 27 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD Dec. 18 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The film made $50.9 million at the box office.

The studio will also release a special-edition “Predator” four-movie collection, which includes Predator, Predator 2, Predators and The Predator on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Dec. 18. It includes four collector cards of the original film poster re-issue with some of the franchises most iconic quotes on the back.

The hunt has evolved in the next chapter of the “Predator” series, from director Shane Black (Iron Man 3). The most lethal hunters in the universe are stronger, smarter and deadlier than ever, and only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and an evolutionary biology professor can prevent the end of the human race.

Extras on The Predator releases include deleted scenes, “A Touch of Black,” “Predator Evolution,” “The Takedown Team,” “Predator Catch-Up” and a photo gallery.

NPD: Digital Movie Transactions Up 19% in First Half of 2018

Digital movie purchase and rental transactions increased 19% in the first half of 2018, compared to the previous-year period, according to new data from The NPD Group.

The research group said that as TV-connected devices become commonplace in U.S. homes more consumers are choosing to rent and purchase digital movies, according to a survey of 5,677 U.S. consumers, aged 18 and older fielded from July 30th through Aug. 7, 2018. Trend is compared to the August 2017 survey, which fielded during a similar period last year.

As of August 2018, 61 million households in the U.S. had at least one Internet-connected TV, video game console, Blu-ray Disc player or streaming media player, representing year over year growth of three million. Specifically, households with an Internet-connected TV increased 20% and those with streaming media players grew 17%.

“Growth in digital movie transactions is being driven, in part, by access to TV-connected devices as an increasing number of viewers can simply buy and rent movies right in their living room,” John Buffone, executive director, industry analyst, NPD Connected Intelligence, said in a statement. “While greater access begets consumption, certain digital movie providers facilitate ownership over renting.”

Among the top five digital movie providers, iTunes users have the highest propensity to buy over rent, because Apple’s movie consumers are more affluent and more apt to collect movies. In the 12-months ending August 2018, nearly 24% of iTunes movie transactions were motivated by a desire to build a digital collection, leading to more buying than renting, according to NPD’s VideoWatch Digital service.

Vudu customers were also more ownership focused than the average video consumer, as such 20% of transactions were motivated by collecting. In contrast collecting movies only drove 13% of Amazon Video digital movie transactions, 9% of Google Play movie transactions, and 4% of Microsoft Store movie transactions.

“It’s long been known that collectability drives ownership and that’s no difference in the digital era,” said Ricardo Solar, president of media entertainment for NPD. “Movie fans will always want to own great films, as such, provider agnostic services like Movies Anywhere are critical for enabling digital sales growth.”

 

 

‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,’ ‘Making a Murderer’ Score Big on Digital Originals Chart

“The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” on Netflix, was one of two big winners in the digital originals sweepstakes the week ended Oct. 27. The debut one day earlier of the reboot – with a significantly darker tone than the original “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” – sent demand for the new series skyrocketing, according to Parrot Analytics.

A “digital original” is a multi-episode series in which the most recent season was first made available on a streaming platform such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Hulu.

The new “Sabrina,” with a cast that includes Kiernan Shipka, Ross Lynch, Lucy Davis, and Chance Perdomo, posted a nearly 129% increase in demand to debut at No. 4 on the top 10 digital originals chart, according to Parrot Analytics.

Another Netflix series, “Making a Murderer,” saw an even higher spike in Demand Expressions of more than 230% to debut at No. 8.

“Making a Murderer” is a true crime documentary series written and directed by Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos. Season 2 debuted on Oct. 19. The first season premiered in December 2015 and won four Primetime Emmy Awards in 2016.

“Marvel’s Daredevil” remained No. 1 for the second consecutive week, with a 44% gain in demand to 54.1 million Demand Expressions. The superhero series also saw a new season, Season 3, debut on Oct. 19.

Demand Expressions is a proprietary metric used by Parrot Analytics to measure global demand for TV content. The metric draws from 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.

Repeating at No. 2 was “The Haunting of Hill House,” which debuted on the top 10 digital originals chart the prior week. Demand was relatively flat, with a modest 8% gain to 40.2 million Demand Expressions.

“Stranger Things” moved back up a notch to No. 3 on the digital originals chart, thanks to a 9.7% gain in demand, while “Orange is the New Black” slipped to No. 5 from No. 3 the prior week with 27.8 million Demand Expressions, 13% fewer than in the previous week.

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.

 

 

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Posts Flat Q2 Revenue

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Oct. 30 reported second-quarter (ended Sept. 30) revenue of $159 million, down less than 2% from $162 million during the previous-year period.

Through the year-to-date fiscal year, home entertainment revenue is up nearly 9% to $393 million compared to $361 million last year.

Releases in the quarter included The Leisure Seeker, The Good Doctor: Season 1, The Blacklist: Season 5, Superfly andFraggle Rock: The Complete Series. Releases in the previous-year period included Smurfs: The Lost Village, Resident Evil: Vendetta, The Blacklist: Season 4, Rough NightandStarship Troopers: Traitor of Mars.

Top-selling SPHE discs in 2018 remain Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle with $56.7 million in revenue via more than 2.5 million combined DVD/Blu-ray Discs units sold; Peter Rabbit($17.4 million) through 932,000 discs, and Spider-Man: Homecoming($8.2 million, 630,000), according to The-Numbers.com.

Overall, Sony Pictures posted operating income of $23.5 million on revenue of $241 million. That compared to operating income of $7.7 million on $244 million during the previous-year period.

Theatrical revenue declined due to year-over-year comparisons with Spider-Man: Homecomingin the previous-year quarter.

The studio is projecting operating income of $50 million on revenue of $1 billion for the fiscal year, ending March 31, 2019. That’s up from $44 million and $990 million in revenue during the previous (July) projection.

Sony generated $41.1 million in operating incomes on $1.01 billion in revenue in fiscal-year 2017.

 

 

Trans World Entertainment Promotes Edwin Sapienza to CFO

Trans World Entertainment Corp., parent of the F.Y.E. home entertainment retail chain, disclosed in an Oct. 29 regulatory filing the promotion of veteran executive Edwin Sapienza to the vacant CFO position following Oct. 10 passing of John Anderson.

Sapienza, 48, has been secretary and treasurer at TWEC since 2012 – positions he will continue going forward. He joined TWEC as a staff accountant in 1993.

In addition to a base salary of $280,000, Sapienza received stock options to purchase 50,000 shares of common stock, in addition to 20,000 shares of restricted stock.

‘Scrooged’ Coming on Disc and Digital Nov. 19 From Paramount for 30th

The Bill Murray Christmas classic Scrooged will be released on Blu-ray, DVD and digital Nov. 19 for its 30th anniversary from Paramount Home Media Distribution.

In the humorous take on Charles Dickens’ classic tale, Murray stars as uncaring and unforgiving TV executive Frank Cross whose live production of A Christmas Carol is more important to him than any true meaning of Christmas. Before the night is over, he takes a journey through his past and into the future to find redemption.

The film also stars Karen Allen, John Forsythe, Bobcat Goldthwait, Carol Kane, Robert Mitchum and Alfre Woodard.