Bob Chapek: No Turning Back From Streaming Video

Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Chapek has seen the direct-to-consumer future and he’s not looking back. Speaking March 1 on the virtual Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecommunications Conference, Chapek said that while the Walt Disney Studios embraces the theatrical market, consumer reality — with or without the pandemic — has altered the playing field.

“I think the consumer is probably more impatient than they’ve ever been before, because now they’ve had the luxury of an entire year of getting [movies] at home pretty much when they want them,” Chapek said. “I’m not sure there’s a going back, but we certainly don’t want to cut the legs off a theatrical exhibition run.”

The executive doubts consumers will have much tolerance for the traditional theatrical window keeping a movie out of the marketplace for months with another distribution model “just sitting there getting dust.”

On March 5, Disney will offer Raya and the Last Dragon to consumers on Premier Access, only the second Disney title since Mulan afforded the more expensive PVOD retail distribution model

Raya and the Last Dragon

“It makes a lot of sense right now in a COVID world to have [another] option,” Chapek said. “Theaters are not going to be 100% back. It’s nice to know that people have that choice. But we like to let the consumer be our guide in almost all situations.”

Disney survived a calamitous 2020 — a year that saw the company’s legacy parks and amusements, cruise business and studio shuttered overnight a year ago due to the pandemic. Switching gears, the company focused on streaming video, specifically Disney+, Hulu (Hulu + Live TV) and ESPN+, ending last year with upwards of 150 million combined subscribers when excluding India.

“We essentially had to make a decision: Are we going to stay the course? Are we going to slow down investment and reserve cash? As you know, we stepped on the throttle pretty heavily and accelerated, figuring this was the time to make a giant leap forward,” Chapek said.

The former home entertainment executive contends Disney addressable DTC market is 1.1 billion people. As a result, he said the company chose investing “dramatically” in content and restructuring the company to better deal with the direct-to-consumer challenges in the pandemic era and beyond.

When asked about Disney’s move toward engaging consumers directly rather than through retail, Chapek said the company is well-versed with the strategy from its amusement and hospitality businesses. He said that unlike those legacy businesses, direct-to-consumer affords increased “frequency of engagement” and number of touchpoints.

“There’s an exponential benefit when you take the deep knowledge of our parks guest and…the direct-to-consumer, and put it all together by technology,” he said.

The executive said management has been surprised by the global appeal of Disney+, especially among non-families. Indeed, 50% of Disney+ subs worldwide do not have children, which he said opens up the possibility for more expansive content offerings.

“That’s a big difference,” Chapek said.

He dismissed suggestions about a streaming war with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max and Peacock, saying there doesn’t have to one winner, but rather several.

“We think we’re tremendously positioned for DTC services,” Chapek said, alluding to the company’s planned $8-$9 billion in streaming video investment through 2024. Disney unveiled 100 new titles at its recent investor day event in December.

Disney had $11 billion at the global box office in 2019, which Chapek said remains “a big deal to us.” Notably, the CEO finds “more profound” the changes in consumer behavior towards movie consumption. To meet the rapidly evolving changes, Chapek said Disney has to be “a nimble organization,” while acknowledging that the “sands under our feet” are shifting.

“Consumer behavior is shifting,” he said. “Consumer preferences are shifting. We want to make sure that as that happens, we are on the front of those waves, anticipating those changes.”



Report: More Than 1.2 Million Households Streamed ‘Tom & Jerry’ on HBO Max

Warner Bros. Pictures’ live-action animated movie Tom & Jerry tracked $14.1 million in its opening weekend at the domestic box office. The movie also streamed across 1.2 million households on subscription streaming service HBO Max, according to new data from Samba TV. — par with other Warner titles that have streamed simultaneously on Max during their box office launch.
That’s 200,000 fewer households than the 1.4 million households that streamed Warner’s The Little Things during its opening weekend. The studio, which is streaming its entire 2021 theatrical slate concurrent with box office launch, tracked more than three million Max households (2.2 million opening weekend) through the end of the year for the Christmas debut of Wonder Woman 1984.
Samba TV tracks viewer recommend program data — called “automatic content recognition” — from more than 13.5 million smart TVs in the U.S. The company said Tom & Jerry viewership peaked Feb. 27 with 550,000 households after 408,000 households streamed on Feb. 26, the day the movie was added to Max’s platform.
When compared nationwide, viewership over-indexed (+4%) among women, Blacks, Hispanics, households with minors and adults under the age of 44 making less than $75,000.

Roku to Acquire Nielsen’s Video Advertising Business for TV Market

Roku March 1 announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire Nielsen’s Advanced Video Advertising business, which includes video automatic content recognition and “dynamic” ad insertion technologies. The acquisition will help accelerate Roku’s attempt to offer TV advertisers spots to targeted consumers. In addition, Nielsen and Roku will enter into a strategic partnership to integrate Nielsen’s ad and content measurement products into its platform and further advance Nielsen’s cross-media measurement solution.

“Tens of billions of dollars continue to be spent annually on traditional TV advertising,” Louqman Parampath, VP of product management at Roku, said in a statement. “Combining Nielsen’s technology with [our] ad tech and scale, will enable us to deliver the benefits of TV streaming advertising to [linear] TV.

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Parampath believes Roku will now be able to sell targeted ads to marketers at scale — creating easier integration and additional revenue opportunities for programmers’ ad sales teams, and improving the TV experience for viewers.

This announcement builds on years of close collaboration between Roku and Nielsen. The two companies will enter into a long-term commercial agreement to leverage Nielsen’s “Total Ad Ratings” software on the Roku platform. Specifically, Roku’s media sales and ad-buying platform, OneView, will integrate Nielsen “always on” Digital Ad Ratings for advertisers. Roku will also enable publishers to implement Nielsen Digital Content Ratings.

“The measurement of ads and content on Roku devices will accelerate the path to a single, deduplicated cross-media currency,” said Scott N. Brown, GM, audience measurement, Nielsen. “As Roku brings the power of dynamic ad insertion to all forms of TV, we’re excited to help monetize the addressable market by measuring smart TV as a currency, which Nielsen can do at scale.”

The collaboration with Roku will substantially expand the footprint of smart TVs and other devices, nearing 100 million in total, in which Nielsen can enable media sellers and buyers to measure and better monetize addressable advertising.

The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021, subject to customary closing conditions. Roku, the fourth largest branded TV seller in the U.S.,  said its models already include automatic content recognition, and will include dynamic ad insertion in the near future.

Paramount+ Aims to Reverse the CBS Age Demo

NEWS ANALYSIS — When CBS All Access morphs into Paramount+ on March 4, Bob Bakish, CEO of corporate parent ViacomCBS, is hoping to reverse the CBS brand’s aging process by 20 years.  The network has long coveted older viewers (55+) as a means of generating strong Nielsen ratings and advertisers. But in the over-the-top video ecosystem, age is not a friend or desired demo. Millennials, not 60+ television viewers, stream video in large percentages.

As a result, in addition to appealing to older sports viewers with mainstays such as the NFL and the PGA Tour, Paramount+ is betting big on NCAA sports and UEFA European professional soccer — the latter exclusive to the U.S. market and popular with younger male viewers. Paramount Pictures is also producing sequels to Flashdance, The Italian Job, Love Story, and Grease, among other classic movies, to keep the nostalgia going.

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If you look at CBS All Access, it is [skewing] about 20 years younger, so materially younger audience on the same schedule of programming,” Bakish told Fox Business Network’s “Barron’s Roundtable.”

To capture as wide a streaming demo as possible, Paramount+ will incorporate programming from across the ViacomCBS portfolio, including MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, BET, also the Smithsonian brand in the documentary space. The $4.99 and $9.99 (ad-free) platform features 30,000 episodes of library product across all brands, plus a slate of 36 original series for 2021 — increasing to 50 in 2022.

Interestingly, catalog episodes of “Criminal Minds” ranked No. 1 last week by Nielsen on Netflix. Paramount+ will stream all seasons of the long-running series, in addition to new spin-offs of the franchise.

Separately, the streamer will have the entire Nickelodeon catalog, including all the SpongeBob SquarePants episodes, plus the new SpongeBob movie as well as “Kamp Koral,” the first SpongeBob franchise spinoff.

The platform is also going deep with reality TV, including a new version of MTV’s “The Challenge,” “Big Brother” and “Love Island.”

“We’re adding a lot of content, both original and library,” Bakish said. “It appeals really across demographics, and that’s going to make Paramount+ a much broader service than the All Access it’s replacing, including appealing to a much wider demographic.”



Report: North American OTT Revenue to Reach $94 Billion by 2026

Over-the-top TV episode and movie revenue in U.S. and Canada will reach $94 billion in 2026; nearly twice as much as the $49 billion in 2020, according to new data from Digital TV Research. The U.S. – the world’s most mature OTT video market – will increase by $42 billion to $88 billion. Canada will double to $5.4 billion from $2.7 billion.

Among major OTT providers, Netflix ended 2020 with 73.9 million North American subscribers, including an estimated 16.7 million in Canada. Hulu ended 2020 with 35.4 million subs, while Disney+ totaled 94.9 million, of which 30% alone originate from India. ESPN+ tallied 12.1 million subs. CBS All Access (soon Paramount+) and Showtime OTT combined for 19.2 million, while HBO Max and Peacock totaled 17.2 million and 33 million, respectively. Amazon Prime Video ended 2019 with a reported 53.3 million subs.

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“SVOD and AVOD revenue will each increase by $22 billion between 2020 and 2026,” analyst Simon Murray said in a statement. “AVOD revenue will triple to $33 billion. SVOD will remain the main revenue source, supplying $54 billion by 2026.”

Nielsen: Top Weekly Streamed Content Dips Below 1 Billion Minutes

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


Streamed Movies:

Warner Bros.’ ‘Tom & Jerry’ Tops $13.6 Million Domestic Weekend Box Office — Second-Highest Debut in Pandemic Era

Following a $4 million Feb. 26 domestic box office debut, Warner Bros. Pictures saw its live-action animated feature Tom & Jerry, starring Chloë Grace Moretz, generate a projected $13.6 million across more than 2,400 screens through Feb. 28. The tally , which surpassed the studio’s $12.5 million projection, is the second-highest theatrical weekend debut since the studio’s opening $16.4 million Christmas weekend for Wonder Woman 1984. Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods: A New Age held the original pandemic box office record with $9.7 million over the Thanksgiving weekend.

The animated sequel generated $1.2 million in a distant No. 2 position — the only other theatrical release to break a million in domestic revenue. Croods 2 has now generated $52.4 million in 14 weeks of box office. The movie is also available on digital and packaged media retail.

Rounding out the Top 5, included Warner’s The Little Things with $925,000 in ticket sales ($12.9 million since launching Jan. 29); WW84 at $710,000 ($43.6 million since Christmas Day);  and The Marksman,” generating $680,000 in ticket sales ($12.3 million since mid-January debut).

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Tom & Jerry, like WW84, The Little Things and last weekend’s Judas and the Black Messiah, had a concurrent debut on subscription streaming platform HBO Max. With 50% of domestic screens still closed due to government restrictions, Warner is releasing its entire 2021 theatrical slate simultaneously on Max.

No. 2 theatrical chain Regal, which has been closed since last year, is expected to open select screens next weekend as coronavirus infections decrease nationwide and potential vaccinated moviegoers increase.



Warner Bros. Ups Kristy Chan to SVP, Marketing and Publicity, Unscripted Television

WarnerMedia has promoted former Netflix executive Kristy Chan to SVP, marketing and publicity, unscripted television for Warner Bros. Television. In her new role, Chan will lead marketing and communications initiatives for reality programs, supporting Mike Darnell, president, Warner Bros. unscripted and alternative television, and WarnerMedia Studios and networks corporate communications across all companies (Warner Horizon Unscripted Television, Telepictures and Shed Media) in broadcast, streaming, cable, digital and first-run syndication.

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Kristy Chan

Chan most recently served as VP, publicity, at WarnerMedia’s TBS, TNT, truTV properties. At Netflix, Chan  worked in original series publicity heading up the streamer’s PR efforts for young adults and family, along with all publicity efforts on Shondaland series. Her purview also included content and corporate communications, awards and marketing.

Chan is not new to working at a Burbank, Calif. studio. She previously spent nearly 15 years at Universal Television, most recently as VP of publicity and awards strategy, overseeing the publicity team and awards campaigns on major titles, including “Will & Grace,” “30 Rock,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “House,” “Heroes,” “The Mindy Project” and “Smash,” among many others.  Chan also held roles at MGM Home Entertainment, Porter Novelli and Bender / Helper Impact.

Sony Pictures, Lionsgate Partner on Multiyear Physical Home Entertainment Distribution Agreement

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Lionsgate Feb. 26 announced a multi-year agreement in which Sony will handle distribution of Lionsgate’s DVD/Blu-ray Disc releases in the U.S. and Canada beginning in July. Lionsgate’s North American packaged media distribution has been handled by the former 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, which was acquired in 2019 by Disney.

Lionsgate will continue to maintain its own independent sales and marketing teams, while leveraging SPHE’s supply chain and distribution services. The agreement was jointly announced by Jason Spivak, EVP, Distribution, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, and Ron Schwartz, President, Worldwide Distribution, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group.

“By working together, we can identify and leverage efficiencies in the supply chain that will benefit not only our respective studios, but also retailers, and ultimately, the millions of consumers who enjoy Sony Pictures and Lionsgate feature films and TV programs in the 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD formats,” Spivak said.

Schwartz said the collaboration makes both studio’s home entertainment businesses stronger and more competitive.

“Our new agreement enhances our ability to serve the retail community and consumers with innovation, adaptability and strong content slates in the years to come,” he said.

Cinemark CEO ‘Optimistic’ Theaters Fully Operational by Summer

With 75% of Cinemark’s U.S. theaters operating at the end of 2020 due to ongoing pandemic government restrictions, CEO Mark Zoradi expects all remaining screens to be in service by the summer. Cinemark operated 531 theaters and 5,958 screens in the U.S. and Latin America through Dec. 31, 2020.

Speaking on the Feb. 26 fiscal call, Zoradi said he believes screens in Los Angeles and San Francisco can open in the coming weeks, and combined with pending studio releases Cruella (Disney), F9 (Universal), Infinite (Paramount), Minions (Universal) and Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount) in the spring and summer portend a return to normal in Hollywood for the exhibitor business.

Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi

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“We’re optimistic that we’re going to be able to light up these theaters again come this summer,” Zoradi said, adding the company has been successful adapting to government restrictions and implementing sanitation and safety features in theaters.

“Since we re-opened in June [2020], we have consistently received 96% guest satisfaction scores on Cinemark protecting their health and safety,” he said.

Zoradi said the chain has generated more than 2 million moviegoers through about 150,000 “private watch parties” attracting an average of 13 attendees per group.

“During Q4 alone, private watch parties represented more than 24% of our attendance and box office,” he said, adding that more than 50% of the quarter’s watch parties consumed library content — driven by Warner Bros./New Line’s 2003 release Elf.

“This library content could be watched at home for free on the sofa, but instead, consumers chose to pay $99 to see it in the theater,” Zoradi said. “This reinforces what we recently stated, ‘people are yearning for normality, escape and fun out-of-home opportunity.'”

During Q4, attendance topped 6.6 million patrons, with the average ticket price at $7.42 and concession revenue per patron of $4.75. Admissions revenue reached $49.1 million, concession revenue $31.5 million, and total revenue approached $98.2 million in the period. Net loss in the quarter topped $239 million ($617 million in the year) on revenue of $686 million. That compared to a profit of $191 million on revenue of $3.3 billion in the 2019 fiscal year.