Roku Celebrates 10 Years of TV Streaming with Free Content and Discounts

In celebration of 10 years of TV streaming, Roku May 14 announced it has unlocked free content for Roku customers and is offering discounts on select streaming players.

“The celebration falls just ahead of National Streaming Day on May 20, which encourages people to stream entertainment and recognizes the massive change in the TV industry,” according to a Roku press release. “This year marks the 10th anniversary of the first Roku player, the first ever device to stream Netflix to the TV.”

“For 10 years, Roku has facilitated the massive shift in the way people watch TV and we’re extremely proud of the contribution we’re making to streaming entertainment,” said Matthew Anderson, chief marketing officer, Roku, in a statement. “We can think of no better way to thank our base of nearly 21 million avid streamers than to offer free hit entertainment in partnership with some of the biggest and best TV networks like Shotime, Fox, EPIX, Smithsonian Earth and more.”

Content from select channel partners is available for free in the Roku Channel through May 20, including premiere seasons of the Showtime series “Billions,” “Ray Donovan” and “The Affair”the first season of EPIX’s dark comedy “Get Shorty”; episodes of hits from Fox, such as “The Four: Battle for Stardom,”Beat Shazam” hosted by Jamie Foxx; and “Love Connection” hosted by Andy Cohen; as well as nature and wildlife documentaries from Smithsonian Earth.

Consumers can also save on several Roku streaming players in the United States. For a limited time, customers can get $10 off the Roku Streaming Stick ($49.99) and the Roku Ultra ($99.99), as well as $15 off the Roku Streaming Stick+ ($69.99). The offers are available at major retailers including Amazon, Best Buy, Target and Walmart.com, and at Roku.com through May 26.

“Roku pioneered streaming to the television with the launch of the Netflix player in 2008. Since then, the company has transformed how consumers enjoy TV, how content providers reach their TV audiences and how brands reach TV audiences,” read the release. “As of the end of the first quarter of 2018, Roku had nearly 21 million active accounts, and during that first quarter alone, Roku users streamed 5+ billion hours.”

Report: Apple Planning to Streamline Access to Video Streaming Services on Its TV App

Apple is looking to streamline access to video streaming services on its TV app, according to a report from Bloomberg.

The tech giant has a plan in the works to sell subscriptions to video services directly via its TV app, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Currently, users must subscribe to video services through individual apps on the App Store. The TV app also sends users outside its app to watch shows, which also could change, according to the report.

Apple plans to introduce the subscription purchase feature in the next year, according to the report.

 

The move would be a step toward making the TV app more similar to Amazon’s Channels program.

Google Joins Streaming Video Alliance

Google has joined the Streaming Video Alliance, an industry forum designed to solve challenges to improve the video experience, according to the organization.

Alliance members gathered May 10 at member Viacom’s headquarters in Times Square.

“Viacom is pleased to host the Streaming Video Alliance face-to-face meeting, where we can continue collaborating with the member technology companies, programmers, and distributors to promote standards around distributed caching and video quality-of-service measurement that will benefit us all and our audiences,” said Glenn Goldstein, CTO, Viacom, in a statement.

“A lot has happened in the four years since the Alliance was founded,” said Jason Thibeault, executive director of the Streaming Video Alliance, in a statement. “New industry technologies have been introduced and adopted, new alliance members have joined our ranks such as AWS and Google and the consumer demand for and consumption of streaming video continues to soar. As we kick off our fourth annual member meeting, I’m inspired by our collective progress to date and look forward to our members’ continued contributions to the streaming video industry.”

Founded in 2014, the Streaming Video Alliance is a global association of organizations from across the video ecosystem that have come together to collaborate on building solutions to the technical challenges facing the streaming video industry. Through best practices, specifications, functional requirements, proof-of-concepts, and other documents published by its working and study groups, the alliance strives to improve the end-user video experience and promote increased adoption of streaming, according to the organization. Members include companies and individuals from across the streaming video ecosystem such as network operators, technology providers, service providers, and content owners. Current members include Adobe, Amazon Web Services, Anevia, Arris, Bamtech Media, Beamr, Blue Frame, CBC, Cedexis, CenturyLink, Charter Communications, Ciena, Cisco Systems, Comcast, Concurrent, ContentArmor, Conviva, Digital Element, Dolby, Edgeware, Ericsson, Espial Group, FOX Networks, Friend MTS, Google, Harmonic, Hughes Satellite Systems, IBM, IneoQuest, Intel, Interra Systems, Irdeto, Ketan Bhardwaj, Liberty Global, Limelight Networks, NBCUniversal, NCTA, NeuLion, Nexguard, Nice People at Work, Nokia, NTT East, OWNZONES, Phenix, Qwilt, Rob Dillon, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Sky, SSIMWAVE, Tektronix, Telecom Italia, Touchstream, Unified Streaming, Verimatrix, Verizon, Viacom, ViaSat Inc., Viavi Solutions, Videastream, Western Digital Corp., and Wowza Media Systems.

For more information on the Alliance, its working groups, or to inquire about becoming a member, visit www.streamingvideoalliance.org.

Latest Volume of Animated Series “RWBY” Due June 5

Rooster Teeth and Cinedigm June 5 will release the latest edition from the animated series “RWBY” when RWBY: Volume 5 arrives on transactional digital platforms, including Steam, iTunes and Xbox, as well as DVD, Blu-ray Combo Pack (with DVD), and a Special Edition Blu-ray Combo Pack featuring a 32-page RWBY Official Manga Anthology sampler exclusive to FYE stores.

The RWBY Official Manga Anthology is from the upcoming Weiss book from VIZ Media.

“We love how passionate the fans of RWBY are,” said Gray G. Haddock, head of animation at Rooster Teeth, in a statement. “Volume 5 received such a great reaction and we’re really looking forward to be able to provide these episodes along with a behind-the-scenes look at the series through the bonus features.”

In RWBY: Volume 5, Ruby, Weiss, Blake and Yang are each entangled in journeys of their own, but they all share one destination: Haven Academy. Whether it’s the promise of ancient relics, mystical maidens, or simply more power, it’s clear that the stage for the next great battle for Remnant has been chosen.

Bonus features include “5 Years of RWBY,” a behind-the-scenes retrospective that explores how the production of “RWBY” has changed over the years, including never-before-seen interviews; Weiss, Blake and Yang character shorts; and “CRWBY: Behind the Episode.”

Lionsgate Inks Deal with ‘Overboard’ Star’s Production Company

Lionsgate’s television group has signed a deal with 3Pas Studios, a production company helmed by Latino star Eugenio Derbez and producing partner Benjamin Odell.

Derbez stars in Overboard from Lionsgate Films and MGM.

Under the agreement, 3Pas will produce English- and Spanish-language series for the TV group, as well as Lionsgate streaming platforms such as the recently-launched OTT service PANTAYA.

The partnership expands Lionsgate’s longstanding relationship with 3Pas, which already includes a first-look feature film deal with the company’s Pantelion Films label.  In addition to Overboard, Derbez has starred in and produced Pantelion’s Instructions Not Included, the highest-grossing Spanish-language film ever released in the United States, and last year’s hit How to Be a Latin Lover.

“We’re thrilled to expand our relationship with the incomparable comedic genius Eugenio Derbez and his 3Pas Studios into the television business,” said Lionsgate EVP and head of worldwide scripted television Chris Selak in a statement. “This multifaceted partnership is another example of working collaboratively across our divisions to identify premier brand name talent like Eugenio and Ben. We can’t wait to see the exciting new projects they’ll bring to our television slate.”

“We’re delighted to launch this new phase of our relationship with Lionsgate, a major Hollywood studio that embraces the creative vision of its artists and is committed to super-serve underserved audiences, including the growing acculturated Latinx market,” said Derbez and Odell in a statement. “It’s great working with Paul and his team at Pantelion, and we look forward to expanding that collaboration in order to supply Lionsgate’s television business and streaming services with exciting, premium quality content for a diverse spectrum of audiences.”

In addition to Instructions Not Included and How to Be a Latin Lover, Derbez is known for the Mexican comedy “La Familia Peluche,” which is being adapted into an animated feature by 3Pas. He also starred in such movies as Under the Same MoonJack and Jill and Miracles from Heaven and will appear in Disney’s upcoming The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Odell has produced or executive produced more than 20 feature films, including many for Pantelion as former head of production. Prior to that, he was an award-winning TV writer and screenwriter in Latin America.

Freestyle Digital Media Joins Allied Vaughn MOD Service

Allied Vaughn announced that Freestyle Digital Media has joined its manufactured-on-demand disc service.

Freestyle Digital, a boutique distribution company, is releasing two new-to-DVD titles through Allied Vaughn’s MOD collection.

Shannon Elizabeth stars in the golf drama Swing Away, which also features “Seinfeld’s” John O’Hurley.  The film follows a professional golfer who travels to her grandparents’ village in Greece to escape the harsh spotlight of the international sports world.

In Generational Sins, two estranged brothers return home to see their abusive, alcoholic father and fulfill their mother’s dying wish.

Both titles debuted May 8.

Video Industry Reunion Planned for June 11

Jodie LeVitus Francisco, former Western advertising director and national video manager for Billboard Magazine, has organized the Video Industry Reunion 2 for June 11  from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. at Sagebrush Cantina, 23527 Calabasas Rd., Calabasas, California.

“Following last year’s successful Video Industry Reunion, Video Industry Reunion 2 will bring together friends and colleagues—distributors, manufacturers, members of the media, publicists, replication and packaging execs and other icons who shaped the home video business and helped change the landscape of the film, television and music industries, for an evening of reminiscing, networking and laughs, as well as a recognizing those who passed away, but whose memory and contributions to the industry can never be forgotten,” according to a press release.

All past and current members of the home entertainment industry are cordially invited and encouraged to attend, according to the release.

“Last year I had an idea. Get a bunch of people from the video industry together for a reunion in Los Angeles,” Francisco said in a statement. “The impetus was that we aren’t getting any younger and we are starting to lose some industry icons. Many of us have scattered far and wide from the business. In the beginning, it was like the Wild West—anything went, we could sell anything and we had no rules. Then it became a viable business and all of sudden they were hiring executives from Proctor and Gamble who sold soap! We were selling entertainment and I don’t think anyone in the beginning ever forgot that.

“Last year’s event drew close to 100 people, including folks from San Francisco, Las Vegas, and New York, with all avenues of the industry represented. We also raised money for our own Entertainment Aids Alliance. We expect an even bigger turnout this year.”

For more information, please visit:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1841272562599693/

https://www.facebook.com/VideoIndustryReunion/

https://www.linkedin.com/groups/13510053

 

‘Shark Week’ Celebrates 30th With Blu-ray Combo Pack Walmart Exclusive for Summer

Lionsgate will release the Shark Week: 30th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray Combo Pack (plus digital and DVD) July 3 exclusively at Walmart until Sept. 4, when it will be available at other retailers.

“Shark Week” celebrates 30 years with fan-selected favorites ranging from shark science to harrowing survival stories.

The Blu-ray Combo Pack ($24.99) includes more than six hours of episodes, as well as an exclusive code that allows fans to access 25 additional episodes.

‘Death of Stalin’ Due on DVD and Digital June 19

The parody The Death of Stalin will come out on DVD and digital June 19 from Paramount Home Media Distribution.

The title will also be available for sale or rental from cable, satellite and telco providers through IFC Films.

The film made $7.5 million at the box office.

Written and directed by Emmy Award winner and Oscar nominee Armando Iannucci (“Veep,” In the Loop), the film follows the tyrannical ruler’s hapless inner circle in the days after his death. As they scramble to come up with the next evolution of the revolution, it’s clear everyone is really out for themselves.  The Death of Stalin stars Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Rupert Friend, Andrea Riseborough, Jason Isaacs and Michael Palin.

The DVD includes the behind-the-scenes featurette “Dictators, Murderers, and Comrades…Oh My!” and deleted scenes.

FandangoNow Bows 4K UHD Titles for Android TV for Arrival of Top Pre-order of All Time ‘Black Panther’

In time for the May 8 home entertainment debut of Black Panther, Fandango’s video on-demand streaming service, FandangoNow, has launched 4K Ultra HD titles for all Android TVs, bringing the service’s catalog to Sony Bravia-connected TVs, NVIDIA Shield 4K HDR streaming media players and Hisense brand connected TVs.

The new product rollout adds to FandangoNow’s support of 4K devices, including Roku, LG and VIZIO.

Marvel’s Black Panther, released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, ranks as the top pre-order of all time on FandangoNow and is available in 4K Ultra HD with HDR. FandangoNow is the only digital streaming service to offer 4K Ultra HD content from all of the major studios, as well as dozens of other content providers, according to the company.

“We’re excited to bring our 4K Ultra HD content from all the major studios and content providers, including Marvel’s Black Panther, to Android TV,” said Fandango VP Cameron Douglas in a statement. “We want to offer customers easy access to the best entertainment choices available for streaming and our latest product rollout on Android TV greatly expands our footprint for fans searching for 4K content.”

Fans ordering Black Panther on FandangoNow will receive an exclusive complimentary fan art poster of General Okoye (Danai Gurira) with every purchase or rental of Black Panther on FandangoNow, while supplies last (shipping and handling not included). The new artwork by illustrator Jon Moody marks the first time FandangoNow will offer an exclusive poster, in partnership with movie merchandise marketplace Fandango FanShop.