Apple Makes Golden Globe History with ‘The Morning Show’ Nominations

Upstart Apple TV+ made history of sorts becoming the first SVOD service to receive Golden Globe nominations, including Best Television Series, Drama, for original programming, “The Morning Show”.

It also received dual nominations for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series, Drama, for “The Morning Show” stars and executive producers Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.

The awards will be presented at the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 5, 2020.

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Apple TV+ ($4.99) launched Nov. 2, representing the tech giant’s foray into OTT distribution.

“The Morning Show” explores the cutthroat world of morning news and the lives of the people who help America wake up in the morning. Told through the lens of two complicated women working to navigate the minefield of high-octane jobs, while facing crises in both their personal and professional lives.

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The nominations are also the first drama TV actress nominations for both Aniston and Witherspoon. Aniston is now only the fourth person in history to receive Golden Globe nominations for both TV Comedy and Drama, Lead Actress.

“Thank you to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for today’s historic nominations,” Zack Van Amburg, Apple’s head of worldwide video, said in a statement. “[T]oday’s nominations are a true testament to the powerful storytelling that went into ‘The Morning Show,’ as well as all of our Apple Originals.”

Despite reported struggles gaining consumer traction (in comparison with Disney+), Apple said “The Morning Show” is resonating with audiences globally.

“We cannot wait to continue exploring the world of ‘The Morning Show’ into season two,” said Jamie Erlicht, Apple’s head of worldwide video.

“The Morning Show” streams exclusively on Apple TV+ on the Apple TV app, with new episodes premiering worldwide every Friday. The season finale premieres on Dec. 20.

ViacomCBS Dealing with OTT Video Largesse

Until this year, Viacom had scant over-the-top video product — Noggin, a $7.99 monthly service targeting young children with Nickelodeon-type fare.

Viacom in March acquired ad-supported VOD service Pluto TV for $340 million. This summer the media giant launched BET Plus — a $9.99 service targeting African-American streamers.

Following the re-merger with CBS Corp., Viacom inherited CBS All Access ($5.99), Showtime OTT ($10.99) and Smithsonian Channel Plus ($4.99) SVOD. In the process, Viacom has myriad OTT distribution while at the same time giving mixed signals about a unified ViacomCBS vision digital leadership going forward.

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Speaking Dec. 9 with CNBC’s David Farber, Bob Bakish, CEO of ViacomCBS, was asked about the fact that Marc DeBevoise, CEO of CBS Interactive, reports to him for the all digital assets. And  to Joe Ianniello, CEO of CBS, for CBS Interactive.

“That doesn’t sound like an efficient way to go about trying to extract synergies and the growth,” Faber asked Bakish.

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The CEO claimed Viacom’s digital properties operated successfully under separate silos before the merger. A reality the merged companies could rejigger going forward.

Bakish agreed that working together on paper is different than in practice. He alluded to Viacom International originally operating independently and now as a multinational unit. Bakish added that when he became CEO in 2016 (replacing Philippe Dauman), Paramount Pictures operated independently, as did the company’s media networks.

“We took the last three years and really aligned that,” Bakish said.

He said ViacomCBS is putting forward an integrated company with one strategy. He said the revised blueprint would include paid and ad-supported content — with the widest access based on paid content.

“Today, in pay, [we’ve] got 10 million subs in SVOD in the U.S.,” Bakish said. “In free, [we’ve] got 20 million [monthly average users] at Pluto. We’ve got almost 200 million digital users. And we reached well over a billion through our broader business.”

He disagreed with the assertion that a high percentage of Viacom’s digital subs are promotional, rather than paying.

“That’s flat out wrong,” said the CEO, while declining to disclose actual digital revenue. Backish said the data would be revealed in 2020.

“You should expect some additional transparency in the streaming space,” he said. Viacom has heretofore just released Pluto viewership.

“You should expect that to broaden,” Bakish said. “We absolutely are going to operate as one ViacomCBS.”

 

 

 

 

 

Lego Launching Streaming Video App

Lego Dec. 9 is bowing The Lego Channel, a free COPPA-compliant content app for children available across all major over-the-top video streaming platforms, including Roku, Fire TV and Apple TV.

The new channel will feature more than 1,000 videos with content ranging in genres and animation styles. The channel will feature series based on various Lego properties, including content from Lego Ninjago, Lego Friends, Lego City, and specials from franchises such as Lego Jurassic World, and Lego Marvel, among others.

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“The Lego Group’s mission is to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow,” Jay Shah, director, global content for the Lego Group, said in a statement. “With the launch of The Lego Channel, we can reach even more kids who will connect through some really fun and engaging content to inspire creativity, imagination and learning.”

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Content includes Lego Designer Set Reviews, which draw fans into the world of Lego designers and builders to get tips on how to build, in addition to YouTube show Rebrickulous, featuring the brand’s legacy Lego bricks.

“The Lego brand is known by practically every parent and child in the U.S. and Canada and they have created an incredible and memorable programming franchise amassing fans everywhere over the last 80 plus years,” said Vikrant Mathur, co-founder of Future Today, which helped with the Lego app launch.

Comcast Ups Focus on Broadband, Less on Video

Comcast may be the nation’s No. 1 cable operator, but doesn’t mean pay-TV remains the company’s primary focus.

Speaking Dec. 9 at the UBS Global TMT Conference in New York City, CFO Brian Cavanagh said ongoing changes in the linear TV market and consumer migration to over-the-top video have resulted in changing corporate priorities.

“We are well in-stride on the idea that yes, video is important,” he said. “We make money in video. And it’s important to our customers, our legacy and investments we’ve made to X1.”

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At the same time, Cavanagh said that while Comcast remains well-positioned to provide video through the traditional cable bundle, given the rise in streaming video, he said the company would stop attempting to provide the “full video experience” across the board and expect to make money doing so.

Comcast has lost more than 500,000 pay-TV subscribers this year.

“We want to give customers choices,” Cavanagh said. “We’re not going to chance unprofitable relationships, but rather give consumers choices where we maximize what we perceive the lifetime value of the relationship is to us.”

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In other words, Comcast will no longer market expensive pay-TV bundles to consumers distracted by loss-leading OTT services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Hulu.

Comcast CFO Brian Cavanagh

Indeed, as Comcast Cable continues to hemorrhage pay-TV subs, the company is focusing on broadband as one of the nation’s largest ISPs.

Comcast added 379,000 high-speed Internet subscribers in the most-recent fiscal period, up 13.4% from 334,000 net broadband additions in the previous-year period.

“The focus is always going to be broadband,” Cavanagh said. “And that might not have been what we said five years ago. It’s about attaching products where you can make incremental money and/or add stickiness.”

The CFO said pay-TV churn (subs renewing service) is under control in markets where the cloud-based X1 is deployed. But the company’s goal of having a video product in every household has changed.

“Customer satisfaction goes up if you give them the product they actually want. And broadband [not pay-TV] is that in all cases,” Cavanagh said.

Comcast Pumping $2 Billion into Peacock Streaming Service

Comcast’s NBC Universal business unit next year launches Peacock, a branded subscription and ad-supported streaming video platform.

Peacock will be available for free (with ads) to Xfinity subscribers and for a fee to non-pay-TV subs.

Speaking Dec. 9 at the UBS Global TMT Conference in New York City, Mike Cavanagh, CFO of Comcast Corp., disclosed that the media company plans to spend upwards of $2 billion on original content and marketing over the first two years for the streaming service.

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Cavanagh said spending on Peacock would peak at 1% of Comcast revenue with the goal of breaking even within five years.

“We think we have a special opportunity [with Peacock],” Cavanagh said. “Clearly, advertising are going to be looking in this world for opportunities to reach new audiences.”

He said Comcast is replicating “the same mindset” it applied to launching Xfinity Mobile, the telecommunications business Cavanagh said it projected to break even by 2021.

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Comcast is holding an investor day event for Peacock on Jan. 16, 2020.

 

Netflix Employees Volunteer for Children’s Hospital Group

In a time of giving, Netflix employees in November raised money for Extra Life, a nonprofit that empowers video game enthusiasts to support Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

The group raises funds and awareness for 170 member hospitals that provide 32 million treatments each year to kids across the U.S. and Canada. Donations stay local to fund critical treatments and healthcare services, pediatric medical equipment and charitable care.

Brian Moyles, who has worked for eight years as a software engineer at Netflix in Los Gatos, Calif., organized the first Netflix Extra Life event in 2016. Moyles was inspired by his family’s own health scare in 2015 when his then 7-month-old daughter was unexpectedly diagnosed with a heart rhythm disorder and had to be sedated and placed on a heart bypass machine.

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The girl remained hospitalized in the ICU at Stanford Children’s Hospital for the next two months, during which time her vocal chords were inadvertently paralyzed and she had to be fed via a gastric feeding tube. It took several months for her to recover fully.

“We’re now four years down the road and everything has been clear since,” Moyles said in a company blog post.

Moyles said the ordeal changed him and his family’s outlook on the impact medical emergencies can have on children and their families.

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“Netflix, more so than any organization I’ve worked for, provides an incredible amount of freedom and autonomy in exchange for trust and responsibility,” he said.

Extra Life has become an annual event at Netflix. Last year, it raised more than $25,000. It reached $32,000 in 2019, involving about 100 employees, friends and family members across multiple office locations.

“This is real important work that’s going on here — the kind that changes people’s lives forever,” research analyst Austin Smith said. “It’s our hope that in some way, our event and our contribution will be used to ease someone’s pain on the most difficult day of their life.”

Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City reportedly used its Extra Life donations to purchase an Xbox One X for every patient room.

“Having a company like Netflix contribute to CMN Hospitals is absolutely invaluable to our mission’s success,” said Julia Saxton, Children’s Miracle Network Program Director at Primary Children’s Hospital.

Saxton said that in addition to funding, Netflix sent a message of support to the children and families.

Moyles says the Extra Life has helped him connect with employees in other departments and offices.

“It’s a lot of work but it ends up being a lot of fun,” he said. “I’ve gotten to meet and work with amazing people throughout the company I likely would not have otherwise, and it feels good to be able to help those in need and affect change.”

This report is based on a post from Kate Stanhope with the Netflix communications team.

Roku Streaming Free Premium Content Through End of the Year

Roku Dec. 9 announced its second annual Stream-a-thon, from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, 2020, enabling users free access to a selection of premium content with no subscription needed on The Roku Channel.

Separately, Roku is expanding its Premium Subscriptions with a new HBO + Cinemax Value Pack, which is available for $20.99.

For the first time on The Roku Channel, season one of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” will be available to stream (beginning Dec. 26) without an HBO subscription. Additionally, this year viewers will be able to use Roku Search to discover Stream-a-thon content.

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“Stream-a-thon marks the conclusion of an eventful year for The Roku Channel, which included milestones such as the introduction of Premium Subscriptions, the expansion of our live and linear channel offering, the debut of Kids & Family, and the addition of value packs,” Rob Holmes, VP of programming and engagement, said in a statement.

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Since launching in 2017, The Roku Channel has become a top 5 channel on the Roku platform by active account reach. In 2019, The Roku Channel expanded its entertainment offering with 80,000+ free, ad-supported and premium movies and TV episodes, launched 40+ Premium Subscription services, reached 50+ live and linear streaming services, and introduced Kids & Family entertainment from nearly 30 partners.

“We are thrilled that HBO will be part of Roku’s Stream-a-thon this December,” said Sofia Chang, president of WarnerMedia Distribution. “There will be something for all Roku users to enjoy over the holidays from HBO without a need for an HBO subscription.”

Premium Subscription partners celebrating this year’s Stream-a-thon include Cinemax, CONtv, Dove Channel, Epix, FitFusion, The Great Courses Signature, HBO, Hallmark Movies Now, Pantaya, Smithsonian Channel Plus, Starz, Showtime, Stingray Karaoke, UP Faith & Family, and more.
Unlocked Complete First Seasons

First full seasons of the following premium shows include:

“Game of Thrones” (HBO)
“Warrior” (Cinemax)
“Power” (Starz) – complete first season available throughout the month of December
“Billions,” “The Affair,” and “Ray Donovan” (SHOWTIME)
“Ancient Mesopotamia: Life in the Cradle of Civilization,” “The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking,” “How Jesus Became God” (The Great Courses Signature)
“Bringing Up Bates,” “Design Twins,” “Expecting,” “Growing Up McGhee,” “Last Hope,” “Our Wedding Story,” “Unboxed with Nikki Chu” (UP Faith & Family)

Other programming includes:

“Barry,” “Chernobyl,” “Euphoria,” “Sesame Street,” and “Succession” (HBO)
“Kidding” (Showtime)
“Get Shorty,” “Pennyworth,” and “Punk” (Epix)
“Abbott and Costello The Christmas Show,” “Anytime Fireplace,” “Gumby’s Christmas Capers,” “MXC,” “Sonic Christmas Blast,” and “Super Mario Bros Super Show” (CONtv)
“A Christmas Kiss,” “A Golden Christmas 3,” “A Heartland Christmas,” “Naughty and Nice,” “Paper Angels,” “Tappy Toes,” “The Nutcracker Sweet,” and “The Perfect Gift” (Dove Channel)
“Jillian Michael: Beginner Shred – Workout 1,” “Cassey Ho: POP Pilates for Beginners,” “Dashama: Mermaid Pose,” “Elle Young: BodyBurn,” “Kenta Seki: Fusion 15 – Total Body,” “Tara Stiles – Strala CORE,” and “Zuzka Light: HIIT Cardio – Workout 1” (FitFusion)
“Ancient Civilizations of North America,” “Ancient Mesopotamia: Life in the Cradle of Civilization,” “The Apocryphal Jesus,” “The Black Death: The World’s Most Devastating Plague,” “The Celtic World,” “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Techniques for Retraining Your Brain,” “Fundamentals of Photography,” “How to Draw,” “Learning Spanish: How to Understand and Speak a New Language,” “Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You,” “Reading Biblical Literature: Genesis to Revelation,” “The Rise of Rome” (The Great Courses Signature)
“From the Ashes,” “Marrying Father Christmas,” “Royal New Year’s Eve,” and “When Hope Calls” (Hallmark Movies Now)
“Las Aparicio,” “Me late chocolate,” “Pastorela,” and “Yule Log” (Pantaya)
“Aerial Cities,” “America in Color,” “Million Dollar American Princesses,” and “Orangutan Jungle School” (Smithsonian Channel Plus)
“Blue Christmas – Elvis Presley,” “Feliz Navidad – Boney M,” “Last Christmas – Wham!,” “Jingle Bells,” and “The Twelve Days of Christmas – Kids” (Stingray Karaoke)
“Angels in the Snow,” “Christmas Angel,” “DNA Dinners,” “Marry Me for Christmas” (UP Faith & Family)
HBO + Cinemax Value Pack

 

Disney’s Record $10B Global Box Office Suggests Rosy Home Entertainment Future

Walt Disney Studios set a record $10 billion in worldwide box office ticket sales through Dec. 8 with current theatrical hit Frozen II — a notable milestone achieved without a “Star Wars” movie or breakout 20th Century Fox title.

Disney in July broke its previous $7.6 billion box office haul. Fox Studios’ theatrical titles topped $2 billion at the box office.

For home entertainment, Disney’s fiscal largess is a gift that keeps on giving despite ongoing consumer migration toward over-the-top video distribution.

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Disney titles have historically performed well in sales of DVD and Blu-ray Disc, and more recently in digital sellthrough as well. Despite launching a branded SVOD platform featuring original movies, Disney will continue to stream new releases after their retail window.

And that’s a no brainer when looking at recent movie sales.

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Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame is the top-selling disc in 2019, according to VideoScan. Captain Marvel, Bohemian Rhapsody (Fox), Toy Story 4 and Aladdin all rank among the top 10 this year.

It’s a trend Disney Home Entertainment has driven the past four years.

In 2016, Disney led all studios at retail disc sales with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, supported by Pixar’s Finding Dory, Zootopia and Captain America: Civil War.

The next year Disney again topped retail disc sales with Moana and Beauty and the Beast.

In 2018, Disney home entertainment outdid itself, spearheaded by Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Coco and Thor: Ragnarok.

Last November, CEO Bob Iger Iger gave a shout out to home entertainment — his first in years — which he said continued to deliver strong retail results in the face of OTT.  At the time Iger suggested there was ongoing internal strategy about putting theatrical content into retail channels sooner.

“The home video window continues to be quite important to us,” he said. “You’ll likely see us protect that as well, although there’s going to be discussion around whether there’s an opportunity to move product into that window maybe a little sooner.”

To date, Disney’s 90-day theatrical window remains largely intact.

 

 

 

‘Goaaal!’ Amazon Gets Record U.K. Prime Membership Sign-Ups Streaming Premier League Soccer

Amazon says its foray into live-streaming Premier League soccer matches in the United Kingdom has resulted in record sign-ups with the e-commerce behemoth.

Prime Video streamed 10 matches between Dec. 4-6 with an army of cameras, operators, sound engineers and on-screen talent to analyze the action.

Amazon said it set a U.K. record for Prime membership sign-ups on Dec. 4, which was then broken again on Dec. 6. Amazon does not disclose Prime membership numbers. Media reports suggest Amazon has 15 million members in the U.K. since launching in 2007.

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“We’re delighted that millions of football fans enjoyed watching Amazon’s first ever round of Premier League matches on Prime Video,” Alex Green, managing director of Prime Video Sport Europe, said in a statement.

Green said the matches — similar to IMDb TV and Prime Video content — featured in-program special features such as live stats, ‘X-Ray’ highlights, in addition to commentary-free option.

Amazon’s next Premier League action is a nine-game slate on Dec. 26.

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Sling TV Offering Free Google Nest Hub With Three-Month Pre-paid Subscription

Dish Networks’ online television service Sling TV is offering new subscribers a free Google Nest Hub ($129 value) voice-activated streaming media device when pre-paying for three months service.

Sling TV options include Sling Orange for $20 monthly and Sling Blue ($25), in addition to separate premium content additions.

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Google Nest is a brand used to market smart home products, including smart speakers, smart displays, streaming devices, thermostats, smoke detectors, routers and security systems including smart doorbells, cameras and smart locks.

Launched in 2015, Sling TV helped create the online TV market, which today includes AT&T TV, YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV and fubo TV, among others.

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