ViacomCBS Expands Distribution With Hulu Online TV Platform

ViacomCBS has its upcoming launch of Paramount+ streaming service, but the media giant hasn’t forgotten about its pay-TV business. The company Jan. 4 announced a new distribution agreement that adds more content from its portfolio of news, entertainment and sports networks to Disney-owned Hulu’s live TV subscription streaming service, Hulu + Live TV — the largest online television platform.

The multiyear deal includes continued carriage of CBS broadcast stations, CBS Sports Network, Pop TV, Smithsonian Channel, and The CW, as well as continued distribution of subscription streaming video service, Showtime. The deal will also introduce 14 additional ViacomCBS networks to Hulu + Live TV, including BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, VH1, CMT, Nick Jr., TV Land, BET Her, MTV2, NickToons, TeenNick and MTV Classic.

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“We are excited to have reached an expanded agreement with Hulu that underscores the value of our powerful portfolio of brands to next-generation TV platforms and viewers,” Ray Hopkins, president of U.S. Networks Distribution for ViacomCBS, said in a statement. “Hulu continues to be a great partner, and this agreement ensures that Hulu + Live TV subscribers are now able to enjoy the full breadth of our leading content across news, sports and entertainment for the first time.”

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Nielsen: Netflix’s ‘Virgin River’ Tops ‘The Crown’ On Weekly Chart

The new Netflix romantic series “Virgin River” bumped “The Crown” from atop Nielsen’s weekly (through Dec. 6, 2020) Top 10 chart of most-streamed content on the living room television.

The 20-episode arc about a nurse practitioner from LA searching for a fresh start, who moves to a remote northern California town and is surprised by what — and who — she finds, generated 1.79 billion minutes of consumption, topping “The Crown” with 1.45 billion minutes across 40 episodes. The series stars Alexandra Breckenridge, Martin Henderson and Tim Matheson, among others.

Podium mainstay “The Office” topped 1.31 billion minutes across 192 episodes as the former NBC comedy series entered its final month on Netflix before moving to NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service on Jan. 1, 2021.

Other new arrivals to the chart included Netflix original series “Selena: The Series” in the No. 5 spot with 823 million minutes across 9 episodes; and long running The CW’s “Supernatural,” which now streams on Netflix in No. 6 spot with 694 million minutes across 327 episodes.

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Source: Nielsen SVOD Content Ratings (Amazon Prime, Disney+, Hulu, and Netflix), Nielsen National TV Panel, U.S. Viewing through Television.

Report: Online TV, Video Subscriptions to Reach 2 Billion Globally by 2025

New data from Juniper Research finds that there will be nearly 2 billion active subscriptions to on-demand video services by 2025, a 65% increase over the end of 2020.

The primary engine for this growth will be from traditional TV broadcasters increasingly turning to streaming video platforms to extend their linear reach and compete with online video behemoths such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+.

The U.K.-based Juniper notes that traditional broadcasters are turning to hybrid services, a combination of subscription- and advertising-supported monetization, such as NBCUniversal’s Peacock and ViacomCBS’s pending Paramount+ (currently CBS All Access), which offer tiered services that generate subscription revenue but show advertising in lower-priced viewer options. Juniper anticipates that these services will account for $1.4 billion in advertising spend by 2025.

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The report contends that as subscription services become increasingly prominent, particularly in the United States, different models will be needed to combat subscription fatigue among consumers. The report estimates that in 2020 there was an average of four SVOD subscriptions per domestic household, but with growth slowing significantly from 2021.

“Thanks to this high level of market saturation, streaming providers need to keep their offerings competitive to retain subscribers,” Nick Hunt, co-author of the report, said in a statement. “Hybrid monetization is one way that VOD providers can keep their offerings low-cost, and therefore less likely to be dropped.”

Juniper projects that more than 70% of streamed video sessions in the next five years will occur on smartphones, thanks to the emergence of social videos on platforms such as TikTok. However, these do not yield a high number of ad spots per video watched, meaning that smartphone advertising spend will only grow at an average rate of 2% each year over the forecast period.

Roku Looking to Acquire Quibi Content

Quibi, the short-lived subscription streaming video platform shuttered after six months last year, is reportedly in discussions with Roku to sell its catalog of original short-form video.

Launched by DreamWorks Animation founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and eBay founder Meg Whitman last April with a $1.75 billion war chest, Quibi targeted millennials seeking original content less than 10 minutes in length on their portable devices, and featuring stars such as Anna Kendrick, Liam Hemsworth and Sophie Turner, among others. The service in October announced it was shutting down after attracting fewer than 1 million subs.

Roku would use programs such as “Most Dangerous Game,” “Dummy,” “Murder House Flip,” “Eye Candy” and “Chrissy’s Court” — the latter two staring Chrissy Teigen, the former Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue model — as viewer lures to the Roku Channel, according to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the potential deal.

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Content and money is king to Roku, which remains a major consumer gateway to both subscription and ad-supported third-party video platforms. Roku has sought acquiring rights to content a component of distribution agreements with recent SVOD services such as WarnerMedia’s HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock. WarnerMedia refused to comply, which contributed to the protracted delay in Max being available on the Roku platform, according to The Journal.

NBCUniversal reportedly licensed Roku some library programming, including “Magnum P.I.” and “Xena: Warrior Princess,” as well as 45 movies.

The Roku Channel ended the most-recent fiscal period with an estimated 54 million people. The company added 2.9 million incremental active accounts in the quarter to reach 46 million. Streaming hours increased by 200 million hours over last quarter to 14.8 billion.

2020 Hindsight: The Year in Pictures

What a year it’s been! Here’s a photo retrospective of 2020, with detailed captions chronicling the events of a year like no other. Click on any picture to start a slide show; if it’s moving too fast for you to read the captions, click on the “pause” button in the top right corner of the screen. You can then scroll through the pictures manually by clicking on the arrow button on the right side of the screen. When you click on the “pause” button, it is replaced with a “play” button. If, at some point, you want to resume the slide show, click on the “play” button in the top right corner.

New Year’s Weekend ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Box Office Plummets 67%

Warner Bros. Pictures’ Wonder Woman 1984 generated an estimated $5.5 million in domestic weekend box office revenue through Jan. 3 — down about 67% from the previous weekend tally of $16.7 million, according to industry data. WW84, which stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine and Kristen Wiig, has sold about $28.5 million in tickets in the U.S. and entered the weekend with more than $100 million in global revenue — about half of the movie’s production budget. The movie is playing in about 40% of available U.S. screens due to the ongoing pandemic.

The theatrical drop underscores the fact the sequel to the 2017 Wonder Woman is also available to stream on HBO Max for the next 21 days.

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Universal Pictures again dominated the majority of the first 2021 weekend Top 10 box office titles, led by The Croods: A New Age with an estimated $2 million in ticket sales. The DreamWorks Animation sequel has generated $34.4 million in the U.S.; $102 million worldwide since its release Nov. 25, 2020.

Other titles included Tom Hanks-starrer News of the World with $1.5 million ($5.2 million total); Screen Gems’ Monster Hunter ($1.1 million/$10.9 million globally); Focus Features’ Promising Young Woman ($630,000/$1.8 million); Lionsgate’s Fatale ($610,000/$3 million); Roadside Attractions’ Pinocchio ($743,000/$21.2 million globally); 101 Studios’ The War With Grandpa ($115,000/$31.5 million worldwide); Universal’s Come Play ($51,000/$11.8 million globally); and Freaky ($41,000/$14.8 million worldwide).

Walt Disney Studios’ re-release of 1979 sci-fi thriller Alien, starring Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton and John Hurt, generated $125,000 worldwide.

Meanwhile, Allan Reagan, CEO of the Flix Brewhouse theatrical chain in Texas, told CNBC he expects the moviegoing attendance to permanently decline from 15% to 25% in 2022 despite the various virus vaccine coming on the market.

“That’s the way we’re gaming this out permanently,” Reagan said.

Cobra Kai: Season 3

STREAMING REVIEW:

Netflix;
Drama;
Not rated.
Stars Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, Courtney Henggeler, Xolo Maridueña, Tanner Buchanan, Mary Mouser, Jacob Bertrand, Gianni Decenzo, Peyton List, Martin Kove.

With its third season, “Cobra Kai” continues to deliver everything a “Karate Kid” fan could hope for, and more.

With the confidence of two hugely popular seasons behind them, and a fresh move to Netflix, the show’s creators have taken the deepest dive yet into the franchise’s history, revisiting beloved characters while continuing to build upon the storylines for its new generation of characters.

The show even finds time to poke fun at itself and the admittedly goofy premise that enough high school kids nowadays would be into karate that worrying about the casual violence of roving karate gangs becomes a necessary issue of local civic leaders and school board members.

The season picks up in the aftermath of last season’s all-out brawl between the students of the Cobra Kai dojo trained by Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) and those of Miyagi-Do trained by Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), the two rivals from the 1984 original The Karate Kid.

With his ace student, Miguel (Xolo Maridueña), seriously injured and in the hospital, Johnny questions the “No Mercy” underpinnings of the Cobra Kai way just as his former sensei, John Kreese (Martin Kove), outmaneuvers him for control of the dojo.

Meanwhile, Daniel travels to Japan, setting of the second “Karate Kid” movie, in hopes of saving his car dealership, and learns valuable life lessons from some old friends.

The season also delves into Kreese’s backstory, derived mostly from the third movie, showing flashbacks to his time in Vietnam when he first embraced the ruthlessness he has been preaching ever since.

The result is a delicious 10-episode meal of nostalgia. I suppose one doesn’t have to have seen the “Karate Kid” movies to enjoy the show, but familiarity with them will certainly make one appreciate it more, particularly in the final two episodes and the return of the one character who could possibly put Johnny and Daniel’s feud into the proper perspective, and put both of them in their place.

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Looking at the structure of the storylines, the creators seem to be taking almost as much influence from professional wrestling as they are “Karate Kid” movies, with characters forming factions, teaming up and switching allegiances to set up the next big pay-per-view-style confrontation.

The battlelines drawn in season three provide the set-up for what should be an explosive fourth season with the All-Valley championship on the line.

To coincide with the Jan. 1 premiere of all episodes of the third season, Netflix has bowed a new half-hour interview/sketch-comedy show called “The Netflix Afterparty,” hosted by David Spade. The first episode features cast-members from “Cobra Kai” discussing the new season.