Sale on TVOD Platform movieSpree Part of Ultraman Day Celebration

Mill Creek Entertainment’s transactional streaming platform movieSpree will celebrate Ultraman Day July 10 with a sale on “Ultraman” titles as part of a multi-faceted celebration of the classic Japanese superhero.

Customers can add complete “Ultraman” series to their digital streaming library for $7.10 each at  movieSpree.com/Ultraman.

Series on sale include “Ultra Q”; “Ultraman”; “Ultraseven”; “Return of Ultraman”; “Ultraman Ace”; “Ultraman X”; “Ultraman Orb – The Origin Saga”; “Ultraman Orb”; and “Ultraman Geed.”

The TVOD service also offers an array of “Ultraman” movies, several of which include English dub tracks in addition to the original Japanese language audio that also features English subtitles. Exclusive “Ultraman” bundles are also available for customers to rent or own.

With apps now available on RokuApple TV / iOSAmazon Fire TV, and Android devices, movieSpree (movieSpree.com) is available without long-term contracts, subscription fees or advertisements. Setting up an account is free and as an added bonus, users can redeem a curated assortment of 100 films to add to their accounts free of charge.

The Birth of Ultraman Collection, containing some of the best episodes of the original “Ultraman” series, is also coming to Blu-ray July 10 from Mill Creek Entertainment at $25.99.

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The sale and Blu-ray release are just a part of this year’s celebration of the classic Japanese superhero July 10. The day will include a series of virtual activations and talks with the leaders behind the “Ultraman” revival live on Shu.Watch. Ultraman Day will also feature the launch of the official online Ultraman Galaxy Store, which will display exclusive collectible Ultraman merchandise featuring the poster artwork of Marvel’s Alex Ross cover created for the comic book The Rise of Ultraman #1, on sale this September.

Ultraman Day kicks off on Shu.Watch at 10 a.m. PST and will feature a slew of celebrities, special guests, live artwork, giveaways, unboxing videos and more as the world celebrates 54 years of “Ultraman.”

Ultraman, created by Eiji Tsuburaya, the father of the Japanese monster movie genre, was born on July 10, 1966, when Tsuburaya Productions broadcast a memorable stage event called “Ultraman Eve: The Birth of Ultraman,” which was filmed before a live audience in Tokyo. The following week, the TV series “Ultraman” aired on Japanese TV. With Ultraman’s recent return to North America, Ultraman is being honored with an all-day celebration sponsored by Tsuburaya Productions, Elevated Games and Mill Creek Entertainment. Also supporting the event is Ultraman Galaxy, the official North America Ultraman platform spearheaded by Tsuburaya, with support by The Licensing Group and Starlight Runner Entertainment. The Licensing Group Ltd represents Ultraman for licensing, while Starlight Runner is supervising the new creative in America across all media.

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Ultraman Day will feature the following events:

  • A four-hour live show, comprising a number of special events streaming on Shu.Watch, produced by Ultraman licensee Jaron Hinds, CEO of Elevated Games, creators of the new Ultraman: Kaiju Kombat video game.
  • Bin Furuya, well known as the first actor to portray Ultraman, will demonstrate the correct way to do the Spacium Beam, recognized around the world as Ultraman’s signature move.
  • There will also be conversations with Marvel Comics editor-in-chief C.B. Cebulski, editor Tom Brevoort, and writers Kyle Higgins and Mat Groom, the team behind Marvel’s upcoming “The Rise of Ultraman” comic series launching in September; a chance to hear legendary toy manufacturer Marty Abrams of Mego Figures; contests, drawings, special merchandise, unboxing videos, and a sneak peak of the Beta Capsule.
  • Special guests will appear throughout the day, such as director of “Ultraman Z” Kiyotaka Taguchi and Koichi Sakamoto, director of “Ultra Galaxy Fight,” plus Ultraman actors Hiroko Sakurai, Susumu Kurobe and Bin Furuya.
  • The launch of the official North America Ultraman Galaxy Store, an opportunity for fans around North America to purchase exclusive Ultraman merchandise online. The store will offer July 10 products with special Ultraman designs and artwork available for a limited time.
  • A look at Mill Creek Entertainment’s The Birth of Ultraman on Blu-ray, which features the best episodes of the original “Ultraman” series, in Japanese with English dubbing, and the special and rare pre-premiere that took place July 10, 1966.

U.S. Survey: A Fifth Have Purchased and More Than Half Would Consider PVOD

A fifth have purchased and more than half would consider buying premium VOD titles, according to a survey of U.S. respondents from online site TV Time.

TV Time is a free TV viewership tracking app that tracks consumers’ viewing habits worldwide and is visited by more than 1 million consumers every day, according to the service.

In a survey of 6,891 respondents who are active users of the TV Time app in the United States, 20% of total respondents said they had purchased one PVOD title during the stay-at-home measures, while 55% agreed that they are more willing to give a title a try in a home-purchase setting.

Those with kids in the household were more likely to have purchased one PVOD movie (26%) versus those without kids (16%). Meanwhile, 42% of households with kids reported watching the movie more than once, versus 29% for those without kids.

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Among genres, animation was the big winner, thanks mostly to the PVOD release of Universal’s Trolls World Tour. A quarter (25%) of PVOD purchases thus far were for the animation genre, according to total respondents.

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Overall, respondents felt $20 PVOD pricing was too high. But among those who had purchased PVOD, 68% found the price was right, 24% said it was too expensive and 8% said they would pay more. The survey found respondents valued genres differently. For example, people who had purchased a horror film felt the price was too expensive (32%), compared with the average of 24% among all purchasers. On the flip side, 14% who purchased a comedy/rom-com said they would pay more, compared with the 8% average. Superhero films were priced right according to 68% of respondents.

Blockbuster films, often packed with special effects, can command a greater price than other genres, even at home, according to the survey. When respondents were asked what they thought was a reasonable PVOD price point, the superhero movie genre came out on top, with an average of $14.17. This was followed by action/adventure at $13.49. Dramas came in at $12.38. At the bottom of the list were art house movies, averaging $9.45.

Results were weighted (balanced) to reflect U.S. general population gender and age (13-54).

Hulu and FX to Launch ‘The New York Times Presents’ Doc Series

FX and Hulu have partnered to launch the documentary series “The New York Times Presents.”

From the team behind “The Weekly,” which premiered on FX in June 2019, the series will explore breaking news, investigations and character-driven stories featuring reporting from journalists at the paper.

“The New York Times Presents” will feature 10 standalone documentaries that will air on FX and on Hulu on Fridays at 10 p.m., with one episode per month. They include “They Get Brave” on July 10, following doctors and nurses who documented their lives in New York City as the coronavirus hit, and “This Is Dominic Fike: The Next Big Thing?” on Aug. 7, about the making of a pop star in 2020, following a young musician is plucked from obscurity and given a $4 million record deal.

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The series will also feature a documentary about the killing of Breonna Taylor by police in Louisville, Ky., exploring her life and investigating the circumstances of her death.

“The New York Times Presents” is produced by The New York Times and Left/Right, a Red Arrow Studios company. Executive producers are Ken Druckerman, Banks Tarver, Mary Robertson, Jason Stallman, Sam Dolnick and Stephanie Preiss.

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The series is from the team behind the documentary series “The Weekly,” a collection of 30 half-hour documentaries and the paper’s first major foray into television news, currently available on Hulu. “The Weekly” won an Overseas Press Club award for its story on two American bicyclists killed by Isis in central Asia. Its reporting on how a predatory lending scheme had corrupted the taxi industry in New York and elsewhere was part of a body of work that was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

Tubi Names Carolyn Forrest SVP, General Counsel

AVOD service Tubi, a division of Fox Entertainment, has named Carolyn Forrest SVP, general counsel.

Forrest moves into the new role from Fox Television Stations.

She reports to Tubi CEO Farhad Massoudi, is based in San Francisco, and will serve as the company’s chief legal officer, overseeing its business affairs and legal team and advising on broad-ranging media law-related issues.

“Carolyn combines vast knowledge across the industry with a proven track record of guiding media companies with strategic IP legal oversight,” Massoudi said in a statement. “We’re thrilled she will be joining us at a key time for the company as we ramp up our global content and advertising initiatives.”

Forrest has worked as an in-house counsel for media companies for the past 28 years. Most recently, she served as VP of legal affairs for Fox Television Stations, where she was responsible for advising its 29 television stations on media law-related issues. Prior to joining Fox, she was VP and general counsel for New World Television, which Fox acquired in 1997, and she worked for NBC as an assistant general attorney. Prior to that, Forrest worked for Dow Lohnes & Albertson as an associate in the media litigation group and at the New York law firm Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom as an associate in its corporate and M&A litigation group.

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Forrest is currently serving as the immediate past chair of the American Bar Association Forum on Communications Law — previously serving as its chairperson and as a member of its Governing Committee. She also serves on the board of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation. Forrest is a graduate of Columbia University School of Law and Princeton University.

With total view time reaching 200 million hours of content streamed in April, Tubi (www.tubi.tv) has more than 20,000 movies and television shows from every major Hollywood studio, according to the service.

Study: Average U.S. SVOD Household Has Access to Almost 100,000 Hours of Content

The average U.S. SVOD household has access to almost 100,000 hours of content, delivered via 3.8 different services, according to research from Ampere Analysis.

It would take 11 years to watch it all back-to-back, and nearly 70 years if the average viewer watched an average of four hours per day, according to Ampere. The main factors driving this increase in content availability are consumer uptake of Amazon Prime’s booming portfolio and the addition of new services such as Disney+ to the household mix, according to the study.

SVOD engagement is even more prominent in households with young kids. Those households have access to nearly five different SVOD services, more than any other demographic. This is up significantly from 3.5 in the same period last year, largely due to the launch of Disney+, and the high uptake of the family-friendly service in the group, according to Ampere. The content available to this demographic group via the VOD services in their household now stands at an average of 102,000 hours.

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Even adults who live alone have an average of 3.1 services, with the average one-person SVOD household having 85,500 hours — almost 10 years — of content at their fingertips.

Almost one third of U.S. SVOD households subscribed to Disney+ in Q1 2020. The service comes with a 4,200-hour catalog and thus adds an average of 1,400 hours of content to the typical SVOD household’s portfolio, Ampere noted.

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Amazon has more than doubled its content catalog in the United States since Q3 2017 according to Ampere Analytics data. The 60% of SVOD households who have both Netflix and Amazon accounts can access more than 100,000 hours of TV shows and movies.

“Consumers already have a vast amount of content at their disposal, and a U.S. household who subscribes to both Netflix and Amazon currently has access to more than 100,000 hours of content from those two services alone,” Ampere senior analyst Toby Holleran said in a statement. “As the market fragments further with additional direct-to-consumer services and households hit a spending ceiling, consumers will become more selective about their SVOD choices. The more expensive services, alongside those without a clear brand and proposition, will find the going gets tougher.”

MVD and Rue Morgue Magazine Launch AVOD Service Midnight Movie Unchained

MVD Entertainment Group and Rue Morgue Magazine are launching the AVOD service Midnight Movie Unchained, available exclusively on Roku.

The free service is an offshoot of the SVOD service Midnight Movie Society available for $4.99 per month, or $47.88 per year.

The AVOD channel caters to more-traditional horror fare, according to MVD. All titles are selected from the MVD film catalog, from underground horror to cult classics.

Midnight Movie Unchained is developed by UDU Digital in partnership with MVD Entertainment Group and Rue Morgue. For more details, visit the Roku Channel Store.

Last September, MVD and Rue Morgue launched the SVOD service Midnight Movie Society, specializing in extreme underground, taboo and cult horror movies.

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“As larger streaming platforms continue to crack down on content, there’s an urgent need to create a space for boundary-pushing films unencumbered by strangling content restrictions,” said Adrianna Gober, director of programming for Midnight Movie Society, in a statement.

‘True History of the Kelly Gang’ Coming to Disc Sept. 8

Shout! Factory in conjunction with IFC films has announced the Sept. 8 release of True History of the Kelly Gang, an Australian Western that follows the story of legendary outlaw Ned Kelly.

The film will be making its Blu-ray debut, and is available for preorder now from ShoutFactory.com.

An adaption of the 2000 novel of the same name by Peter Carey, True History of the Kelly Gang is a highly fictionalized account of the life of Australian bushranger Ned Kelly (George McKay, 1917, Ophelia) and his gang as they flee from authorities during the 1870s. It is ostensibly written by Kelly to his fictional daughter.

It all begins when Ned Kelly’s mother (Essie Davis, The Babadook, Game of Thrones) sells him off into the hands of the notorious bushranger Harry Power (Russell Crowe, Gladiator, L.A. Confidential), where the young bandit discovers he comes from a line of warriors called the Sons of Sieve. Fueled by his roots and an appetite for revenge, Ned Kelly leads an anarchist army to wreak havoc on their oppressors.

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The film was directed by Justin Kurzel and written by Shaun Grant and premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2019.

Report: Walmart to Bow $98 Yearly Subscription Service in July

Walmart in July will launch a $98 yearly subscription service to compete with Amazon Prime, according to a report from Recode.

The service will be called Walmart+.

In addition to same-day grocery delivery, fuel discounts and other offerings, the service is expected to include some sort of video entertainment content, though details are not clear, according to the report.

Walmart in April sold its video service Vudu.com to Fandango for an undisclosed amount, and reports citing internal sources had indicated that the big box retailer didn’t consider the VOD service a core business.

Amazon Prime subscriptions are $119 per year and, in addition to free shipping, offer access to streaming and transactional entertainment.

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Streaming Service fuboTV Q1 Revenue Jumps 78%

Streaming service fuboTV posted revenue for the first quarter of $51 million, a 78% increase compared with the first quarter of the prior year, driven by growth in subscribers, subscription average revenue per user and advertising sales, according to unaudited results from owner FaceBank.

Facebank completed its merger with fubuTV April 1.

Subscription revenue in the first quarter ended March 31 increased 74% year over year to $46.4 million. Advertising revenue in the first quarter increased 120% year over year to $4.1 million. Total streaming hours by fuboTV users (paid and free trial) in the first quarter increased 120% year over year to 107.2 million hours.

Monthly active users watched 120 hours per month on average in the quarter, an increase of 52% year over year.

Paid subscribers at quarter’s end totaled 287,316, an increase of 37% year over year. Average revenue per user per month was $54.16, an increase of 25% year over year.

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“We believe fuboTV is at the forefront of the streaming revolution and has a significant advantage not only over peers in the vMVPD space but also over traditional cable television,” wrote fuboTV CEO David Gandler in a letter to shareholders. “We offer cord-cutters a total cable TV replacement with top Nielsen-ranked sports, news and entertainment channels. What sets fuboTV apart is our internally built tech stack that keeps us innovating ahead of the industry. With premium features like 4K streaming, personalized live TV recommendations and recent app updates that integrate live video into the product experience, we believe a fuboTV subscription offers consumers the best value of any other live TV streaming platform. We believe consumers will continue to choose streaming over traditional pay television because of this more personalized, premium viewing experience that is also less expensive.”

The company has added $46 million in equity funding from institutional and private investors since closing the merger, including $20 million on July 2 from Credit Suisse Capital through a common stock issuance at $9.25 per share.

Johannes Larcher to Head HBO Max International

WarnerMedia has named Johannes Larcher head of HBO Max International. He will join the company in August and report to Gerhard Zeiler, chief revenue officer of WarnerMedia and president of WarnerMedia International Networks.

Larcher will be responsible for the international rollout and management of the WarnerMedia subscription streaming service, which launched in the United States May 27. His first focus will be the launch in Latin America, which is expected in 2021, according to the company.

Larcher will work closely with Whit Richardson, president of WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks in Latin America, and Priya Dogra, president of WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks in EMEA and APAC.

Larcher currently serves as managing director of digital at MBC Group, the Middle East’s leading media company based in Dubai where he successfully transformed the group’s flagship digital product Shahid VIP into the world’s largest Arabic language video streaming service with more than 1.4 million subscribers. From 2016 to 2018, he was co-founder and CEO of SubVRsive in Austin, Texas, a virtual and augmented reality studio. From 2009 to 2013, he served Hulu as SVP, international, where he led the launch and initial growth phase of Hulu Japan. Earlier, Larcher was president and CEO of online video education start-up Academy123, sold to Discovery and served as GM International for paid search pioneer Overture Services until its acquisition by Yahoo! in 2003. Larcher started his career in 1995 at McKinsey in Los Angeles, where he served media, entertainment and technology clients. He holds an M.A. from the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, and an MBA from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

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“I got to know Johannes as a passionate entrepreneur,” Zeiler said in a statement. “His leadership skills, together with his strong direct-to-consumer and digital experience, international business foundations and tech expertise give him the perfect background to drive the growth of HBO Max beyond the United States.”

“Living at the crossroads of digital technology and content, I’m thrilled to help create unforgettable entertainment experiences for consumers in international markets and make HBO Max an indispensable streaming service around the world,” Larcher said in a statement.