Exclusive Podcast: Streaming’s Three Pain Points

Tune in for an exclusive Media Play News podcast on the future of streaming platforms and how they can best utilize viewer data to develop content that leads to growth. Join Whip Media Group’s Eric Steinberg, Media Research and Insights Lead, and Accenture Media and Entertainment Lead John Peters, as they talk with MPN publisher and editorial director Thomas K. Arnold about streaming’s three “pain points” and how they can be overcome.

JustWatch: ‘Top Gun,’ ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ Top Weekly Streamed Content

Paramount Pictures’ original Top Gun movie from 1986 was the most-streamed movie through May 29, according to new data from JustWatch, which tracks more than 20 million users’ monthly streaming choices across 54 countries. New Disney+ series “Obi-Wan Kenobi” was the most-streamed series.

Rounding out the podium across movies TV shows was Goodfellas (co-starring the recently deceased Ray Liotta) and Sonic the Hedgehog 2. TV shows included “Better Call Saul” and “Stranger Things.”

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Ampere: Original Content Now the Majority of Netflix’s U.S. Catalog

The number of original and exclusive titles in Netflix’s U.S. content catalog in March accounted for more than 50% of all available content for the first time in the company’s history, according to new data from Ampere Analysis. There are now more than 3,700 original-branded movies and TV shows among the streamer’s 7,000 U.S. titles over the last three years.

Notably, Netflix is second to Apple TV+ in its focus on original-branded content, but far ahead of longtime SVOD rivals Amazon Prime Video (9%) and Hulu (4%).

In September 2016, when original content accounted for only 5% of its domestic catalog, then CFO David Wells set a target of a 50/50 split between original and licensed titles within the next few years. This transition to majority original titles is a product of Netflix’s market-leading spending of more than $6.2 billion on original content in 2021 — more than double the next highest spender, Disney+, at $2.8 billion.

“The rise of studio-led direct-to-consumer platforms has led to a shrinking pool of licensable content as studios prefer to keep productions in-house,” analyst Joe Hall said in a statement.

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Ampere contends that Netflix original content accounts, on average, for 12% of the 100 most popular titles available on SVOD in the U.S., the highest share of any streaming platform. Notable titles include the final season of crime series “Ozark” and the second season of period drama “Bridgerton,” which recently became the most-watched English-language TV series on Netflix.

Under current growth rates, Ampere estimates that 75% of the movies and TV seasons available on Netflix will be either originals or exclusives by the end of 2024.

“Original content also allows platforms to offer exclusive titles internationally without additional licensing costs,” Hall said. “This is particularly important as Netflix sets its sight on acquiring more international subscribers to compensate for maturity in developed markets.”

New Live-Action ‘Pinocchio’ Movie to Debut on Disney+ Ahead of D23 Expo Return Sept. 8

Disney is set to premiere new live-action movie Pinocchio on Disney+ Day Sept. 8, ahead of the return of the media giant’s D23 Expo: The Ultimate Disney Fan Event in Anaheim, Calif. The subscription streaming VOD service will host special experiences for fans and subscribers, and premiere new content from its brands, including Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic in the coming months.

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Directed by Academy Award winner Robert Zemeckis, Pinocchio stars Tom Hanks as Geppetto, the wood carver who builds and treats the puppet Pinocchio (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) as if he were his own son. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Jiminy Cricket, who serves as Pinocchio’s guide as well as his “conscience”; Oscar nominee Cynthia Erivo is the Blue Fairy; Keegan-Michael Key is “Honest” John; Oscar nominee Lorraine Bracco is Sofia the Seagull, a new character; and Luke Evans is The Coachman. Also in the cast are Kyanne Lamaya as Fabiana (and her marionette Sabina), Giuseppe Battiston as Señor Stromboli, and Lewin Lloyd as Lampwick.

Zemeckis, Derek Hogue, Andrew Miano, Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz are the film’s producers, with Jackie Levine, Jack Rapke, Alexandra Derbyshire and Jeremy Johns the executive producers.

Pinocchio marks the first collaboration between Zemeckis and Hanks since the 2004 animated winter family fantasy The Polar Express.

‘Stranger Things’ Increases Lead Atop Parrot’s Demand Chart With Premiere of Fourth Season

Netflix’s supernatural thriller “Stranger Things” remained No. 1 on Parrot Analytics’ digital originals U.S. rankings by a wide margin the week ended May 27, while also taking over Parrot’s list of overall TV shows as well. The series had a 65% rise in demand expressions, the proprietary metric Parrot uses to gauge a show’s popularity, pushing it to 101.2 times the demand of an average series. Netflix May 27 released the first seven episodes of the fourth season.

The Disney+ “Star Wars” series “The Mandalorian” remained No. 2 on the digital originals chart, grabbing 37.4 times average demand after a 5.1% rise in demand expressions as the third season was previewed at the Star Wars Celebration fan event over the weekend.

Netflix’s “Love, Death & Robots” rose to No. 3, up from No. 56 the previous week, thanks to a 165.4% bump in demand expressions to give it with 35.5 times average demand after its third season premiered on May 20. The show consists of a  collection of animated short stories spans several genres, including science fiction, fantasy, horror and comedy, appealing to a wide audience and keeps audiences entertained without investing too much viewing time.

HBO Max’s pirate comedy “Our Flag Means Death” dropped a spot to No. 4. The show had 34.3 times average demand after a 0.7% rise in demand expressions.

The Paramount+ sci-fi series “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” slipped a spot to No. 5, with demand expressions down 4% to give it 32.6 times average demand.

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

The top non-streaming overall TV series in terms of online demand was “SpongeBob SquarePants,” at No. 2 with 76 times average demand.

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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 demand for TV content in a given market 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. Results are expressed as a comparison with the average demand for a TV show of any kind in the market.

‘The Beatles: Get Back’ Disc Release Reset for July 12

Disney’s Blu-ray Disc and DVD release of Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back has been rescheduled for July 12.

The three-part documentary miniseries that became a streaming hit on Disney+ was originally slated for a Feb. 8 disc release, and some copies even ended up on shelves before a last-minute recall due to what the studio described as a technical issue.

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The Beatles: Get Back covers the making of the Beatles’ 1970 album Let It Be, whose working title was Get Back. Originally conceived as a feature film, The Beatles: Get Back was expanded into three episodes with a total runtime of nearly eight hours. The docuseries, which premiered on Disney+ on Nov. 25, was compiled from nearly 60 hours of unseen footage shot over 21 days, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg in 1969, and from more than 150 hours of unheard audio, most of which has been locked in a vault for over half a century.

The official disc release is set for under $40, much lower than the prices copies of the recalled edition have been fetching on eBay.

Netflix Formally Exits Russian Market

Netflix has officially ceased operations in Russia, shuttering the streamer’s website and subscriber access on May 27. Netflix on March 7 became one of the first western media companies to suspend operations over the Russia’s unprovoked invasion of neighboring Ukraine on Feb. 24.

A Netflix spokesperson told Agence France-Presse the streamer waited until the end of the current billing cycle to cease all operations to about 1 million Russian subscribers.

The world’s largest SVOD ended the most-recent fiscal period (ended March 31) with 73.7 million subscribers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa — down from 74 million at the end of 2021.

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‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Tops $156 Million in Debut, Best Memorial Day Weekend Opening Ever

Show me the money!

The words might be from a different Tom Cruise movie (Jerry Maguire), but the impact is just the same. Paramount Pictures’ oft-delayed blockbuster sequel Top Gun: Maverick finally hit the big screen with a smash — generating more than $156 million in projected North American ticket sales across 4,725 screens over the four-day Memorial Day weekend.

The tally tops the previous Memorial Day weekend record of $153 million set by Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End in 2007.

For Cruise, the sequel to the 36-year-old original Top Gun marks the actor’s highest-grossing movie debut.

Rounding out the Memorial Day domestic box office: Disney/Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness with $21.1 million to bring its domestic total to $375 million, and 20th Century Studios’ The Bob’s Burgers Movie, which generated $15 million in its theatrical debut across more than 3,400 screens.

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Netflix Touts ‘Stranger Things’ Return With ‘Rifts’ in Iconic Settings

In celebration of the return of “Stranger Things” for its fourth season debut May 27, Netflix created “rifts” on some of the most iconic monuments around the globe.

The series’ “Upside Down” took over 14 countries through 15 landmarks including the Empire State Building in New York City; Bondi Beach in Australia; Duomo Square in Milan; Malecon Barranquilla in Colombia; the Gateway of India in Mumbai; Menara Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia; Al-‘Ula National Monument in Saudi Arabia; Cologne Media Park in Germany; XBox Plaza in Downtown Los Angeles; Wawel Castle in Krakow, Poland; Medborgarplatsen in Stockholm; and the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao; Telefónica building, Gran Vía 28, Madrid; and Plaza del Callao, Madrid in Spain. Other locations include Shoreditch, London and Tokyo, Japan.

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In New York City, as dusk approached at May 26, a crack grew on the southern facade of the Empire State Building. In Milan, in the iconic Duomo Square, a rift opened on the facade of the historic Palazzo Carminati. At Australia’s iconic Bondi Beach the morning of May 27 a “gateway to an alternate dimension” opened up on the sands.

A photo of the rift at Bondi Beach in Australia. (Photo by Aquabumps)
A photo of the rift at the Telefónica building in Madrid, Spain. (Photo courtesy of Netflix)
A photo of the rift at the Gateway of India. (Photo courtesy of Netflix)
A photo of the rift at Wawel Castle in Krakow, Poland. (Photo courtesy of Netflix)
A photo of the rift in Milan, Italy. (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

Hulu Celebrating Pride Month With Premieres, Parade Livestreams

Hulu is celebrating Pride Month with livestreams of the Los Angeles and New York City Pride Parades — a first for the platform — and premieres of “Fire Island,” “Glee,” “Mormon No More” and Wildhood, among other content offerings. 

Both parades will be available via the “Pride Never Stops” hub, and remain viewable on Hulu for 30 days after their respective livestreams. The Los Angeles Pride Parade returns in person to Hollywood. The parade will have numerous surprise celebrity hosts and appearances alongside KABC’s Ellen Leyva, Karl Schmid, Christiane Cordero and Eric Resendiz. The event will livestream on Hulu June 12 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. PT. The NYC Pride March will livestream on Hulu June 26 from noon to 3 p.m. ET, and will be hosted by WABC’s Ken Rosato, Lauren Glassberg and Sam Champion. The NYC Pride March will have surprise celebrity appearances and honorable mentions as the celebration makes its way down 5th Avenue and past the Stonewall National Monument. It will also feature live music and in-depth profiles of people who have made a difference in the community.

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Hulu’s “Pride Never Stops” hub will continue to showcase a diverse library of series and films, filled with LGBTQIA+ favorites such as “Pose,” “First Day,” “Changing the Game,” “Ignorant Angels,” “Will & Grace,” “Kissing Jessica Stein” and “The Family Law,” as well as several premieres, including  all seasons of “Glee” June 1, “Fire Island” June 3, “Vida” June 7, “Love, Victor” season three June 15, the ABC docuseries “Mormon No More” June 24, and the coming-of-age LGBTQIA+ drama Wildwood June 24.