Disney+ Launching in India on April 3

Eager to expand its branded subscription streaming video service worldwide, Disney+ will launch April 3 in India with sister over-the-top platform Hotstar.

Disney acquired Hotstar, which reportedly has 100 million monthly views, as part of the $71.3 million 20th Century Fox transaction.

India, with the second highest population behind China, has become hotbed for American media companies seeking to tap a consumer base that exceeds 1 billion.

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week ordered citizens not to leave their homes in an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

“To save India, every citizen of India is being banned from 12 o’clock tonight, on exiting homes, completely,” Modi said in a series of March 24 tweets.

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Roy Morgan: Disney+ Attracts 1.8 Million Subs in Australia

New data from Roy Morgan reveals Disney+ is now Australia’s fourth most-popular subscription streaming video service four months after its launch, with 1.8 million subscribers.

The Aussie research company said Netflix remains the nation’s most-watched subscription television service, with 12.20 million residents having access to it, an increase of 942,000 on a year ago. It is followed by Foxtel on 4.85 million (-98,000) and Stan on 3.70 million (+1.09 million).

Disney+, which entered the Australian market in November 2019, is ahead of Amazon Prime Video on 1.48 million (+914,000) and YouTube Premium on 1.48 million (+244,000).

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Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine says that while Netflix is the clear leader in subscription television services, there is growing competition to secure the attention of Australian viewers.

“Since entering the Australian market in 2015, Netflix has reshaped how we watch television,” Levine said in a statement. “It created a product which allows users to make their own selection of uninterrupted television to watch whenever they want. Its success not only brought other players into the market, it forced commercial television to adapt by creating its own online streaming channels.

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Levine said the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced many Australians to self-isolate at home indefinitely, presents an unexpected opportunity for streaming services such as Disney+ to continue the momentum of customer growth in the months ahead.

The research firm said Netflix and Stan remain the most popular SVOD combination in Australia, with 3.44 million viewers having access to both services and closely followed by Netflix and Foxtel (3.14 million).

The report — based on online survey of 12,082 respondents over the age of 14 — found that 1.67 million Disney+ subs also have access to Netflix. This represents 93% of Disney+ viewership but only 14% of Netflix viewers.

Nearly 900,000 Aussies have access to both Disney+ and the locally owned Stan. This level of viewership is equal to half of all Disney+ viewers and represents nearly a quarter of Stan’s 3.7 million viewers. A far higher rate than for rival streaming service Netflix.

Significantly for traditional pay TV service Foxtel, only 11% of their viewers have signed up for Disney+, a lower rate than for either Netflix or Stan.

Parks: One-Third of U.S. Broadband Households Listen to Podcasts Weekly; 9% Subscribe to Online News Service

With millions of people home-bound through work and school due to the coronavirus pandemic, new data from Parks Associates finds 36% of U.S. broadband households listen to podcasts weekly, although the research firm expects patterns of video, music, and news consumption to change dramatically as a result of the current public health crisis.

The study finds that podcasts dealing with video, music and news have a stronger appeal among younger consumers than older consumers and almost half of podcast consumers are heavy users, spending more than five hours per week listening. Podcast users are also very interested in bundling podcast services with video and music.

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The Dallas-based research company reports that in the third quarter of 2019, 9% of U.S. broadband households subscribed to an online news service.

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“While news consumption is going up during the COVID-19 crisis and daily briefings, most online news outlets have provided their coverage free of charge or outside of the paywall, so the number of households subscribing to an online news service will likely not increase as much in the short term,” research director Steve Nason said in a statement. “Long term, we will be tracking consumer trends to see if current events will drive broader online news consumption and subscription habits.”

AMC Networks Bows First International VOD Access in Spain

“AMC Selekt,” AMC Networks’ upstart video-on-demand service, launched its first international operations in Spain.

The service will be added to France’s Orange TV at no additional cost. As a result of this first-time agreement, Orange TV platform subscribers can watch more than 5,000 programs throughout the year, in a wide variety of genres including films, series, documentaries, lifestyle, children’s content and music.

AMC Selekt content ranges from AMC Networks, Canal Hollywood, SundanceTV, Dark, XTRM, Odisea, Canal Cocina, Canal Decasa, Canal Panda and Sol Música.

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“AMC Selekt … is the largest channel network library available in Spain and, more importantly, the most diverse,” Manuel Balsera, EVP and managing director of AMCNISE, said in a statement. “We are delighted that AMC Selekt is debuting with Orange TV, which is one of our main distribution partners in the market.”

Subscribers will have access to series such as “Dispatches from Elsewhere,” “Das Boot,” “Wisting,” “Bordertown” and “This Close,” among others. Movies include The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Meet the Parents, Super 8 and The Addams Family; and documentaries on technology, nature and current events such as “The Harvey Weinstein Scandal,” “A Samurai at the Vatican” and “Antarctic Expedition.”

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In-house productions include culinary programs “Let’s Taste the World” and “Julius’ 22 Minutes,” home decoration and fashion shows “A Touch of Chus” and “Customize Your House”. The offer also includes music concerts by Vetusta Morla, Alice Wonder and Nunatak and children’s content such as “Masha and the Bear” and “Panda Kitchen.”

AMC Networks Moves Up ‘Killing Eve’ Season Three Debut

AMC Networks has moved up the season three premiere of award-winning drama “Killing Eve” by two weeks to April 12. All eight new episodes will be simulcast on BBC America and AMC.

The third season continues the story of two women with brutal pasts, addicted to each other but now trying desperately to live their lives without their drug of choice. For Villanelle (Jodie Comer), the assassin without a job, Eve (Sandra Oh) is dead. For Eve, the ex-MI6 operative hiding in plain sight, Villanelle will never find her. All seems fine until a shocking and personal death sets them on a collision course yet again.

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Stars Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer, Fiona Shaw, Kim Bodnia, Sean Delaney and Owen McDonnell return with new cast additions: Dame Harriet Walter (“Succession”), Danny Sapani (“Harlots”), Gemma Whelan (“Game of Thrones”), Camille Cottin (“Call My Agent”), Steve Pemberton (“Inside No. 9”), Raj Bajaj (“A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding”), Turlough Convery (Ready Player One), Pedja Bjelac (Harry Potter) and Evgenia Dodina (One Week and a Day).

“Killing Eve” season two is available on BBCAmerica.com, AMC.com, and the BBC America and AMC Apps. First two seasons are also available on Hulu, download-to-own platforms and Blu-ray/DVD.

Sony Pictures, WWE Partner for India Distribution

Sony Pictures Networks India Private Ltd. and WWE March 31 announced a five-year extension with an expanded broadcast/streaming agreement.

The deal will deliver WWE’s weekly flagship programming and localized content in India and the Indian subcontinent, making SPN the exclusive home to WWE in-ring content across its television and digital platforms.

After China, India, with more than 1.35 billion people, has a bigger population than the next five most populous nations — the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan and Nigeria — combined.

That’s why Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and, now, Sony Pictures and WWE, all place India high on their SVOD distribution lists.

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As part of the agreement, SPN will have the rights to air “Raw,” “SmackDown,” “NXT” as well as WWE pay-per-view specials live on its sports and digital platforms in English, Hindi and regional languages.

The expanded partnership also provides SPN the rights to WWE Network, which hosts thousands of hours of content to be made available to audiences in India through SonyLIV, SPN’s over-the-top video platform.

SPN will curate content from WWE’s extensive video library, which includes live events, classic matches, interviews with Legends, reality shows and documentaries, among other content, on its own platforms.

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“WWE has been consistently ranking in the top three properties across all sports networks in India, dominating the sports entertainment space,” Rajesh Kaul, head sports and chief revenue officer distribution at Sony Pictures Networks India, said in a statement.

James Rosenstock, EVP of WWE International, says India remains a strategically important market for WWE, adding that locally based SPN has been an “extraordinary” partner in helping to grow the pro wrestling fanbase in the region.

“The partnership gives our passionate fans new opportunities to engage with the WWE brand,” Rosenstock said

WWE is one of the most-watched sports properties in India, and India ranks #No. 1 for WWE YouTube consumption and No. 1 in WWE Facebook followers, according to the company.

While there remains a shutdown on live performance events, WWE has been actively recruiting Indian athletes and performers. Last year, WWE hosted its largest tryout in history, where more than 70 top athletes from India showcased their abilities in Mumbai. Four Indian recruits were selected to begin training at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Fla.

Anime Classic ‘Tokyo Godfathers’ Gets Home Release from Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory and GKIDS on March 30 announced the upcoming release to home audiences of Tokyo Godfathers, which will be available for digital download on May 19 and on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on June 2.

The release of the 2003 family anime film has been restored and remastered from a 4K transfer, and marks the first time the film is available with an English dub in addition to the original Japanese audio track.

From acclaimed director Satoshi Kon (Paprika, Perfect Blue), and co-written by Keiko Nobumoto (Cowboy Bebop), Tokyo Godfathers features a tale of hope and redemption in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

Set in modern-day Tokyo, the film centers on three homeless people whose lives are changed forever when they discover a baby girl at a garbage dump on Christmas Eve.

As the New Year approaches, the three forgotten members of society band together to solve the mystery of the abandoned child and the fate of her parents. Along the way, encounters with seemingly unrelated events and people force them to confront their own haunted pasts — teaching them to face their future.

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Bonus features include an interview with actress Shakina Nayfack, the featurettes “The Process of Animation,” “The Unexpected Tours,” and “Making of Tokyo Godfathers”; a film introduction by K.F. Watanabe, deputy director of film for the Japan Society of New York City; Ohayo, a short film by Satoshi Kon; and an art gallery.

Disney Executives Forgo Salary, Perks During Pandemic

While some media companies have set aside tens of millions of dollars for displaced workers and production personnel, The Walt Disney Co. is cutting salaries and perks to senior executives as its business units get hammered from all directions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With nearly all business segments either idled or severely curtailed due to shutdowns and consumer quarantines in major markets, Disney will subject its senior executives to significant payroll cuts and related perks, effective April 5.

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According to a regulatory filing, former CEO Bob Iger, who earlier this year transitioned to executive chairman, will forgo his entire $3 million salary, in addition to the use of a company car. Disney will still pay Iger his health care benefits.

Iger’s successor, Bob Chapek, will have his $2.5 million salary cut in half. In addition, general counsel Alan Braverman, CFO Christine McCarthy, human resources chief Jayne Parker, and head of corporate communications Zenia Mucha will see 30% cuts to their base salaries.

Disney said that except for the amount of compensation for paid time off, the salary reductions are not intended to reduce any company employee benefit provided to executives that is determined by reference to the base salary payable, except as may be required at law.

Chapek is still eligible for a bonus of “not less than 300% of the annual base salary,” according to a SEC filing. He is also in line for “a long-term incentive award having a target value of not less than $15 million” for each fiscal year of the agreement through Feb. 28, 2023.

The cuts come as Wall Street downgrades Disney’s fiscal estimates going forward. Credit Suisse analyst Doug Mitchelson, in a note, said his two-week old forecasts for Disney are moot.

“There remains virtually no visibility as to when sports and Hollywood content production will resume and re-openings for theme parks and theaters will take place — we assume beginning of June,” Mitchelson wrote. “As for the media business, the depth of ad declines is also uncertain.”

It should be noted that base salaries are what constitutes the majority of Disney’s payroll taxes and related employee costs. The bulk of senior executive compensation revolves around stock options, which are based on, and compensated by, the stock market.

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Indeed, Iger received total compensation in excess of $66 million in 2018 and $47.5 million in 2019 — the bulk of it stock options and bonuses, including a combined $18.5 million if he remained employed with the company past July 2, 2019, and closing of the Fox studio acquisition.

The Disney board  later rescinded the Fox bonus (after fiscal contributions plummeted) and Iger voluntarily forfeited the employment deadline perk.

Sling TV Enhances Free News Access on Amazon Fire TV

As part of Dish Network’s pandemic-related “Stay in & Sling” initiative, Sling TV March 30 launched enhanced integration with Amazon Fire TV’s “Live” experience. The partnership gives Fire TV users free access to news channels, as the nation continues to manage a growing number of shelter-in-place government directives.

“With social distancing recommendations extended nationally, we are working find new ways to help serve the public as it continues to shelter in place,” Warren Schlichting, group president of Sling TV, said in a statement. “Free, live news on Fire TV is yet another avenue we can tap to deliver immediate, free access to vital information.”

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The Live experience is a series of discovery features that makes it easier to find and watch live TV directly from the Fire TV user interface without having to open an app. These features include the Live tab, “On Now” rows and an integrated channel guide.

As previously reported, Sling TV is providing complimentary 24/7 live news coverage from ABC News Live, Fox News, select local Fox affiliates and Cheddar News to all Fire TV users.

To access the new live TV integration, Fire TV users can scroll to the Live tab, which includes rows of free live content from Sling TV.
Customers who have not previously used Sling must download the app on Fire TV and click the “Explore Free Content” option upon opening the app to see free content on their Fire TV.

Last week, in an effort to help Americans stay home and informed during the COVID-19 crisis, Sling began allowing new users free access to the Blue program plan for 14 days. Interested consumers can access this offer by visiting sling.com.

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Sling’s Blue service offers more than 45 live channels, free cloud DVR, over 50,000 on-demand titles and simultaneous viewing on three screens. Channels include CNN, Fox News, HLN, MSNBC, Bloomberg TV, Cheddar News, Newsy and Local Now.

‘Freud’ Top Rising Show, ‘Elite’ Again Top Binge on TV Time Charts

“Freud,” streaming on Netflix, was the top rising show while the service’s “Elite” was again the top binge on the TV Time charts for the week ended March 29.

OFT1’s “Freud” debuted on Netflix March 23. In the eight-part series, a young Sigmund Freud, eager to make his name in 19th century Vienna, joins a psychic and an inspector to solve a string of bloody mysteries. Meanwhile, taking the bronze on the rising show chart was the much-talked-about Netflix docu-series “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness,” about the oddball world of big cat aficionados.

Netflix’s “Elite,” top binge for the third consecutive week, is a crime drama about teens at an exclusive private school in Spain. Its third season debuted March 13.

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TV Time is a free TV viewership tracking app that tracks consumers’ viewing habits worldwide and is visited by more than 1 million consumers every day, according to the service. The weekly “Binge Report” ranks shows with the most binge sessions. A binge session is when four or more episodes of a show are watched and tracked in the app in a given day. The “Shows on the Rise” chart is calculated by determining the week-over-week growth in episodes watched for a given program. The network displayed is the network where the show first aired (e.g. “Friends” on NBC).

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 Top Binge Shows Week Ended March 29 by Share of Binges:

  1. “Elite” (Netflix) — 3.73%
  2. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (NBC) — 2.16%
  3. “Friends” (NBC) — 1.77%
  4. “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC) — 1.75%
  5. “The Walking Dead” (AMC) — 1.58%
  6. “Vikings” (History) — 1.28%
  7. “Riverdale” (The CW) — 1.23%
  8. “Dare Me” (USA) — 1.18%
  9. “The 100” (The CW) — 1.09%
  10. “Lucifer” (Fox) — 1.08%

 

Top “Shows on the Rise” Week Ended March 29 by Rise Ratio:

  1. “Freud” (ORF 1/Netflix) — 99.7%
  2. “Ratz” (Teletoon) — 99.4%
  3. “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness” (Netflix) — 95.3%
  4. “7Seeds” (Netflix) — 94.2%
  5. “Ozark” (Netflix) — 88.1%
  6. “Why Women Kill” (CBS All Access) — 86.2%
  7. “Dare Me” (USA) — 84.2%
  8. “The Ladies Paradise” (Rai 1) — 83.8%
  9. “Validated” (Canal+) — 82.3%
  10. “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody” (Disney Channel) — 80.9%

 

Meanwhile, looking ahead to April, TV Time’s top anticipated returning and new series were:

Most Anticipated New Shows for April:

  1. “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels” (Showtime) — April 26
  2. “Mrs. America” (Hulu) — April 15
  3. “Tower of God” (BS11) — April 1
  4. “Tales From the Loop” (Amazon Prime) — April 3
  5. “Run” (HBO) — April 12

 

Most Anticipated Returning Shows for April:

    1. “Killing Eve” (BBC) — April 26
    2. “After Life” (Netflix) — April 24
    3. “My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU” (TBS) — April 10
    4. “Kaguya-sama: Love Is War” (Tokyo MX) — April 11
    5. “Siren” (Freeform) — April 2