Cinedigm: The Dove Channel Tops 663,000 Paid Subscribers

The Dove Channel, Cinedigm’s first foray into the subscription streaming VOD market, topped 663,000 paid subscribers through February. The platform, which bowed in 2015 along with the documentary themed Docurama, and the fandom lifestyle network CONtv, has seen subscriber growth of 1,133% since February 2021.

This growth has been driven in part by wholesale distribution on platforms, including Amazon Prime Channels, The Roku Channel, Comcast Xfinity, Dish Network and YouTube TV.

In addition, Cinedigm’s free on-demand and linear versions of The Dove Channel have seen total monthly viewers growing to 5.4 million in February 2022, up 47% year over year. Ad-based viewership continues to accelerate, with monthly minutes streamed in FY Q4 22 increasing by 32% over the prior sequential quarter.

“Given the challenges of these trying times over the last few years, the appetite for uplifting, wholesome movies and shows that families can watch together has dramatically expanded,” Erick Opeka, chief strategy officer/president of Cinedigm Networks, said in a statement.

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Opeka said the The Dove Channel has become the company’s most successful subscription service and is among the top three of all ad-supported services in our portfolio.

“The enthusiastic responses from platforms, advertisers, and consumers reiterates the important position our service fills in America’s households,” he said.

Opeka said Cinedigm plans on ramping up investment in exclusive programming and new television series for the channel, which he said would be at the forefront of key initiatives to develop a direct ad sales channel and launch new fiction and non-fiction podcasts with the same wholesome perspective.

The Dove Channel will also leverage the 7,500-title library of Digital Media Rights, the streaming company Cinedigm acquired this week, as a source of substantial additional kids and family programming. Finally, the channel will also re-launch on Cinedigm’s new Matchpoint 2.0 app framework later this year and will also expand platform support across key leading platforms including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and more.

“We will devote our efforts to expanding Dove’s content and enhancing our technology offerings, in turn, driving considerably more revenue from both new subscribers as well as key, direct advertisers looking for a brand-safe environment,” Opeka said.

Interpret Research: One-Third of Streaming Subs Want Better Content Discovery

Consumers are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of content from streaming video providers and increasingly frustrated with the efforts needed to access it, according to new research by Interpret.

Among subscribers to streaming services, one-third express an interest in being able to manage and search for their available content from one place, according to Interpret’s study, “The Future of OTT Aggregation.” Consumers want aggregation services to help remove pain points from the subscription process. They also expect bundled offerings to deliver greater value, as well as to improve account management, discovery and content recommendation functionality, according to the study.

The study found that U.S. viewers subscribe to an average of four to five SVOD services, and the majority also access multiple ad-supported or ad-funded on-demand services. More than 20% of U.S. consumers agree that they “subscribe to too many video streaming services.”

Among other findings:

  • Consumers expect financial value from any bundled offerings, but also derive increasing personal value from offerings that eliminate pain points in the subscription (and cancellation) process.
  • Most aggregation providers are focused on front-end content interfaces and discovery tools, but there is potential to offer significant differentiation through portfolio and payment management tools.
  • Content providers are hampering progress in aggregation because they are fighting to retain control over their own parts of the content journey (and related data collection and advertising opportunities).

 

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“Addressing fragmentation will be tricky since there are so many service options, each with its own priorities relative to revenues, data, and audience. Yet, the companies that solve the aggregation puzzle have much to gain,” Brett Sappington, VP at Interpret, said in a statement. “Successful aggregation of content and services will produce an improved, sticky customer experience and will drive subscription and ad revenue opportunities. It will also be important to mid-sized or smaller streaming services that cannot afford to out-market global or regional streaming giants.”

“The Future of OTT Aggregation” is based on industry research, interviews with market leaders and innovators, and online survey data of 9,000 U.S. consumers.

Netflix Extends British Columbia Studio Lease for Five Years

Netflix is extending its lease agreement with Martini Film Studios in Langley, British Columbia for an additional five years. The extension will provide the SVOD pioneer with continued access to eight stages and more than 260,000 square feet of total space. Recent Netflix productions filmed at Martini, include season two of “Space Force,” Mixtape, season two of “Another Life,” Ivy & Bean and season one “Grendel.”

“With more than 60 Netflix shows and movies filmed in BC since 2018, we’re excited to be redoubling our commitment to the region as a production center,” Amy Reinhard, VP, Studio Operations at Netflix, said in a statement. “There’s an incredible level of talent, innovation and creativity across the province, and we’re pleased to extend our relationship with Martini Film Studios which has been an outstanding partner.”

Netflix and Martini Film Studios have partnered on several initiatives,
including the installation of 20 electric vehicle charging stations at the facilities as well as providing the use of stage space for professional training programs to increase capacity for the province’s growing production sector.

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“From day one, Netflix has been such an incredible partner,” added Gemma Martini, founder/CEO, Martini Film Studios. “Netflix is a very important part of the production sector here in BC, and we really appreciate the huge vote of confidence it is showing … to the world-class crew and technicians that hold up our industry.”

Analyst: Highest-Priced PlayStation Plus Video Game Tier Will Drive Subscriber Growth

Sony Interactive Entertainment’s newly consolidated PlayStation Plus subscription digital video game platform should see an uptick in subscriber growth, thanks in part to the features afforded on the most-expensive ($17.99) monthly ($120 annual) PlayStation Plus Premium Service option, says a Wall Street analyst.

Kota Ezawa, with Citigroup Global Markets, suggests that access to more than double the number of games (340) offered on the $9.99 monthly ($60 annual) PlayStation Plus Essential plan will entice gamers to spend more.

“We think the number of subscribers who will opt for the pricey PS+ Premium package will rise,” Ezawa wrote in a note.

In 2020, the worldwide online gaming market generated about $21.1 billion in revenue, a record 21.9% uptick from 2019, due in large part to the pandemic.

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This week, Sony consolidated its PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now digital platforms to better compete against Microsoft’s Xbox GamePass and Nintendo’s Switch Online subscription-based digital gaming services.

The rebooted PlayStation Plus enables subs to play PS, PS2, PS3, PS4 and PS5 titles online, while also offering multiplayer functionality at no additional cost. Ezawa says the PlayStation Plus platform offers “greater quality and quantity” of games than its predecessors.

“On the [Premium] contract plan, users can freely play up to 740 titles,” Ezawa wrote.

Amy Jo Smith: Recollections From DVD to DEG

As the digital entertainment business celebrates 25 years, so does DEG.

DEG was there at the beginning, and I with it, when the DVD Video Group was formed in 1997 with the express purpose of promoting the first digital entertainment format — DVD — in collaboration with content owners and hardware makers. 

I have so many fond memories and proud moments. Among the proudest was the formation of DEG Japan, where senior Japanese executives met under the guise of the DEG brand for meaningful dialog and to see what worked in their market. They were so self-guided; it was really inspiring to see.  And, more recently, the creation of the Hedy Lamarr Awards to honor women making strides in entertainment and technology, an initiative championed by Marc Finer, who has worked side by side with me at DEG since day one. 

I share these thoughts and a few more of my personal touchstones in an effort to focus not so much on the business details as on the business “flavor.” And that flavor is pioneering, revolutionary, one of art pushed forward by technology, and of a team bonded by common goals and shared experience.

DVD

Warren Lieberfarb

Warren Lieberfarb, the Warner Home Video president known far and wide as the “Father of DVD,” had the vision of putting a movie on a CD, named it DVD and, with no small amount of chutzpah, assured everyone that consumers would buy and collect movies going forward.  I had been in many meetings with Warren, but it wasn’t until I heard him convince a room packed with naysayers at CES 1998 that I finally understood: Warren was a force of nature, and he was going to make it happen. DVD was the most significant disruption the entertainment industry had experienced, and it became the fastest selling consumer electronics product in history.

DVD-Audio

DEG helped launch DVD-Audio at the music industry trade show NARM in San Antonio in 2000. It was amazing to see the jaws of both music enthusiasts and experts drop when they heard classics like Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors or Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now.  It was music they had heard countless times, but now they were hearing it differently.  It came alive. DVD-Audio’s quality notwithstanding, digital won the race in the music business and DVD-Audio was a casualty as a mainstream format. 

You’ve Got Mail

Over the years, DEG helped promote many popular titles when they came out on DVD and Blu-ray Disc.  One of my favorites was a promotion we did for Warner Home Video’s launch of You’ve Got Mail in New York City, where we passed out daisies in Central Park. My now-husband Jeff walked by and got some flowers.  When we actually met two years later, we realized that our first encounter was me giving him daisies in the park!

DEG Bags

DEG quickly became known for its coveted bags we’d give away at events, particularly the DEG Annual Reception at CES.  The bags were stuffed with dozens of DVDs, then Blu-rays, plus lots of other fun branded items.  I have many memories of the bags, but my favorites are receiving counterfeit bag tickets from attendees trying to score extra bags; walking through Heathrow Airport and seeing an executive from Paramount using the bag (pictured); and visiting the old city in Jerusalem and spying an executive’s teenage son using the DEG backpack!

Emiel Petrone

Emiel Petrone

As DEG chair, Disney’s Bob Chapek asked the Board of Directors to attend CEDIA, the trade show where the coolest home entertainment technologies of the time were displayed. Everyone agreed and found it a meaningful visit, punctuated by a VIP tour of show of the floor by DEG’s technical director, Marc Finer (known to most as “Finer”). Our founding chair, Emiel Petrone of Philips, led an after-dinner run to White Castle for burgers, which became a DEG tradition at CEDIA, despite seeming like a better idea in the moment than it ever did the next morning.  After Emiel passed away in 2004, Bob picked up the mantle and rallied us all to continue the CEDIA midnight White Castle run in Emiel’s honor.

9/11

(Photo courtesy Wiki Commons)

DEG was holding a meeting at Giant Interactive in New York when the attacks of 9/11 happened. We watched in horror as we realized our colleague John Beug from Warner Music lost his wife and mother-in-law in one of the planes. They would turn out to be among 3,000 others who perished that day. Stranded in New York City, I spent the next few days with DEG colleagues. We were all there for each other, giving support. Every year since, Jeff Stabenau of Giant, Gene Kelsey (then of Panasonic), Leslie Cohen (then of Sony Music), Paul Bishow (then of Universal Music Group) and I connect on Sept. 11 to honor the memory of others.

4K

DEG established DEG Japan as a means of flowing more information of emerging technologies to the membership.  Attending DEG Japan’s annual meeting and Blu-ray Prize celebration was always a highlight. It’s been a pleasure to know and work with Tsukagoshi-san, formerly of Disney, and many others.  Each trip was punctuated with a visit to Sony worldwide headquarters to visit their lab. I’ll never forget the moment they showed me 4K in their state-of-the-art theater. Colors and images came alive in a way I’d never imagined.

Board leadership

Over these 25 years, one thing that always strikes me is how the Board leaders, all executives with demanding day jobs, took the time to guide the organization, knowing that doing so would help grow the industry and, in turn, grow their businesses. I’m blessed that they all took the time to mentor and lead me, and that I may call each a friend, not just a colleague.  DEG would not be marking 25 years in 2022 if it hadn’t been for their vision and leadership.

Amy Jo Smith is president and CEO of DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, the leading home entertainment trade association and the descendant of the DVD Video Group, formed in 1997 to promote DVD.

‘The King’s Daughter’ Headed to Digital April 4, Blu-ray and DVD April 19

The Pierce Brosnan adventure The King’s Daughter will be released on digital on April 4 and on Blu-ray and DVD April 19 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and Gravitas Ventures.

In addition to Brosnan, the film features Kaya Scodelario, Benjamin Walker, Pablo Schreiber, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Fan Bingbing, William Hurt and Julie Andrews as the narrator.

In the film, King Louis XIV’s (Brosnan) quest for immortality leads him to capture a mermaid’s life force, but his immovable will is challenged when his long-hidden illegitimate daughter (Scodelario) forms a bond with the magical creature.

Special features include a deleted sing and cast reflections.

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‘Beverly Hills Cop II’ Headed to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray May 17

The Eddie Murphy action-comedy Beverly Hills Cop II will be released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray May 17 from Paramount Home Entertainment for its 35th anniversary.

Directed by Tony Scott, who followed up Top Gun with this sequel, Beverly Hills Cop II was originally released on May 20, 1987. Produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, it was a box office success, earning more than $153 million domestically and becoming the No. 1 film of 1987. The movie also earned Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Original Song for “Shakedown.”

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In the film, Axel Foley (Murphy) is back where he doesn’t belong, this time going “deep, deep, deep undercover” to stop a gang of international munitions smugglers. Also returning are Judge Reinhold and John Ashton as Murphy’s crime-busting sidekicks.

The release includes Dolby Vision and HDR-10 and Dolby 5.1 DTS Master Audio.

New Season of ‘Weekends With Yankee’ Among Titles Headed to PBS Living Channel in April

A new season of “Weekends With Yankee,” Great Performances: Roots of Latin Jazz, and the documentary Kea’s Ark are headed to the PBS Living channel in April.

The subscription rate for PBS Living is $2.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription. PBS Living is also available on Apple TV Channels in the Apple TV app at a subscription rate of $2.99 per month with no additional annual fees. 

Due April 2 is season six of “Weekends With Yankee,” in which explorer Richard Wiese and series co-host Yankee Magazine senior food editor Amy Traverso take a tour of the spectacular fall foliage in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. They also see how Vermont wool is turned into yarn; find out how new life is being given to old sails in Portland, Maine; get a taste of old Paris infused with West African flavors in Boston; check out unexpected adventures such as the U.S. Toboggan National Championships; and discover the history of New England ingredients such as marshmallow fluff.

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Available April 4 is Great Performances: Roots of Latin Jazz, which examines the variety of Latin American music with the Raíces Jazz Orchestra, featuring two-time Latin Grammy-winning producer Tony Succar and musician, producer and educator Dr. Pablo Gil. Hosted by Grammy-nominee Sheila E., Roots of Latin Jazz reveals the unity between jazz music and Latin culture. Showcasing original compositions and arrangements of jazz standards, the film features Grammy-winning artists Richard Bona and Anaadi, among others. Location sequences capture the vibrancy of cities in the United States, Peru, Spain, Brazil and Cuba.

On April 1, the documentary Kea’s Ark will start streaming on the channel. In the 1980s, self-taught artist and engineer Kea Tawana designed and constructed a massive three-story high ark by herself in Newark, N.J., in an area fast becoming an urban wasteland. For years she had collected salvaged materials from abandoned buildings devastated by poverty and the 1967 riots. Kea’s Ark features archival clips of the ark’s construction and its removal after court challenges and protests to keep it failed, as well as interviews with artists, historians and friends who speak to the legacy of her vision. Although it no longer exists, Kea’s Ark remains a powerful symbol of hope in Newark and beyond.

‘Game of Thrones’ Prequel ‘House of the Dragon’ to Debut on HBO, HBO Max Aug. 21

The “Game of Thrones” prequel series “House of the Dragon” will debut on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max Aug. 21.

The 10-episode HBO Original drama series is based on George R.R. Martin’s “Fire & Blood” and is set 200 years before the events of “Game of Thrones.” It tells the story of House Targaryen. 

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The series stars Paddy Considine, Matt Smith, Olivia Cooke, Emma D’Arcy, Steve Toussaint, Eve Best, Fabien Frankel, Sonoya Mizuno,and Rhys Ifans. Other cast members include Milly Alcock, Bethany Antonia, Phoebe Campbell, Emily Carey, Harry Collett, Ryan Corr, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jefferson Hall, David Horovitch, Wil Johnson, John Macmillan, Graham McTavish, Ewan Mitchell, Theo Nate, Matthew Needham, Bill Paterson, Phia Saban, Gavin Spokes and Savannah Steyn.

Kagan: Amazon Prime Video Edges Netflix Among German SVOD Users

Driven by Amazon’s global e-commerce business, the company’s Prime Video subscription streaming service ranked No. 1 among German SVOD consumers, according to new data from Kagan.

The research giant, citing an internal survey, found that 81% of German respondents used a SVOD service in 2021, which was up from 72% in 2020. Prime Video generated 52% market share, up from 45% in 2020, with Netflix following at 49%. Local platforms TV Now and Magenta TV each had 14% market share. Other players included Joyn+, Apple TV+, Zattoo and Eurosport.

The average German household subscribes to at least two SVOD services, while Prime Video and Netflix households subscribe to three services, and Disney+, Sky Ticket households subscribe to four platforms.

In addition to SVOD, 75% of survey respondents also watch free online ad-supported video, including 55% who consume YouTube videos. German TV broadcasters ZDF and ARD’s branded streaming services were viewed 42% and 40%, respectively. Another 37% of survey respondents said they stream videos on Facebook.

The increased time spent watching SVOD content has come at the expense of live TV viewing in Germany. Just 26% of respondents said they watched live TV in 2021, compared to 60% in 2017. SVOD has been the biggest benefactor, with live TV viewing households expanding their over-the-top video consumption to 37%, compared to 22% in 2017.

Finally, Kagan said respondents spending more than 50% of their daily TV/video viewing time, 36% watch VOD content, up from 19% in 2017.