’13 Reasons Why’ Retakes No. 1 Spot on Digital Originals Chart

Buoyed by the May 18 launch of season two, Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” returned to the No. 1 spot on the digital originals chart for the week ended May 19, according to Parrot Analytics Demand Expressions data.

The teen drama, centered around the suicide of a teenage girl, had ceded the top spot on the prior week’s chart to YouTube Red’s “Cobra Kai,” a sequel series to the classic The Karate Kid movie, despite a 43.4% spike in demand.

Demand in the current week rose nearly 7%, which combined with a nearly 12% drop in demand for “Cobra Kai” put “13 Reasons Why” back on top.

“13 Reasons Why,” with its difficult topic of teen suicide, is a controversial show. In the weeks leading up to its debut high schools around the country sent notices to parents, asking them to monitor their children as they watched the program.

In season two, showrunner Brian Yorkey has extended the narrative beyond the story of teenager Hannah Baker’s death and the “13 reasons” why she killed herself, according to a cassette recording she made and distributed to those she felt responsible.

Season two digs into the aftermath of Hannah’s suicide, and its impact on the community and her fellow students.

Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” rose up a notch to No. 3, with modest 5% increase in demand, bumping “Arrested Development” down a spot to No. 4.

“Arrested Development” generated 20 million Demand Expressions in the week ended May 19, down from 26.8 million the prior week, but still managed to stay ahead of “Lost in Space,” which remained at No. 5 with an 11% drop in demand.

“Sense8” rose up to No. 6 on the digital originals chart (from No. 10 the prior week) after the debut of its final-seasaon trailer on May 17.

The modern science-fiction series had 13% more Demand Expressions than “Orange is the New Black,” which slipped to No. 10 from No. 9 the prior week.

Both series are currently on hiatus

For linear network broadcasters, May Sweeps is an annual pre-summer event filled with dramatic character exits, special guest stars, and unexpected plot twists.

Parrot Analytics’ overall TV series chart reflects this.

For the first time, ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” is ranked at No. 1 in the domestic chart, followed by Nickelodeon’s “Spongebob Squarepants,” AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” and The CW’s “The Flash.”

NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” (No. 5) had 7% more Demand Expressions than ABC’s “American Idol.”

The celebrated sketch recently finished its 43rd season.

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. Parrot Analytics uses a proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content 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.

Redbox Launches 4K Ultra HD Rentals in Six Test Markets

Making good on a promise it made in January at CES, Redbox on May 22 announced the launch of 4K Ultra HD rentals in six test markets.

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs rent for $2.50 per night, 50 cents higher than the rental rate for regular Blu-ray Discs (DVDs are $1.75). The test is rolling out across more than 2,500 kiosks in Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin, Detroit, Miami, and New York City.

“This is a major move for Redbox as we focus on expanding consumer access to home entertainment options across price points and formats,” said Galen Smith, CEO of Redbox. “As the popularity of 4K content increases and pricing of 4K hardware decreases, we’re excited to offer the best viewing experience at the best price for 4K Blu-ray discs.”

Initially, four high-profile action films will be available for rent in the six test markets:  Black Panther from Walt Disney/Marvel, The Commuter from Lionsgate, Warner’s The Matrix and The Martian from 20th Century Fox.

“We’re starting with a mix of new and catalog titles, so consumers can rent new movies in all available disc formats or go back and experience The Matrix and The Martian in a new way,” Smith said.

New releases and popular catalog titles will be added regularly, and the number of titles and copies will vary by kiosk and location.

“As we go forward, we will try to add movies if not every week, then close to every week,” Smith said.  “Certain titles are not being made on 4K Ultra HD because there isn’t enough demand — 12 Strong, for example, wasn’t made in 4K Ultra HD — so as we start to grow the business with the studios, it’s a great way to partner together and hopefully allow more movies to be made in 4K Ultra HD.”

“Redbox has a history of supporting consumer adoption of new technologies and elevating the quality of the viewing experience,” added Ash Eldifrawi, chief marketing and customer experience officer at Redbox. “Our nightly rental model makes the ultimate viewing experience a great deal that’s more accessible to consumers.”

The 4K UHD test adds to Redbox’s recent rollout of Nintendo Switch video game rentals in six markets nationwide: San Antonio, Portland, Seattle, Nashville, Denver and Salt Lake City.

In December 2017, the company announced Redbox On Demand. The service complements the company’s deal-driven, new-release offering at kiosks and broadens Redbox’s selection of movies and TV shows via transactional video on demand (VOD) and electronic sell-through (EST).

All Redbox rentals, including 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, can be returned to any Redbox location. Consumers can visit www.redbox.com to learn more about the test and required hardware, including the option to watch on 4K UHD-enabled game consoles.

The Redbox 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray rental test comes as players are coming down in price. Best Buy recently began advertising a Magnavox model for $79.99, down from $199.99.

According to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, sales of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs in the first quarter of this year were up 130% from the first quarter of 2017, accounting for nearly 12% of total Blu-ray Disc spending.

In the first quarter of 2018, 4K UHD TV penetration reached nearly 35 million U.S. households and 4K UHD players are now in more than million U.S. homes. Notably, more than 1 million 4K UHD players were sold in Q1 2018 alone, representing one-third of all Blu-ray Disc player sales in the quarter and an increase of 58% from Q1 2017.”

Consumers now have more than 300 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray titles available for viewing on Ultra HD Blu-ray players and enabled game consoles and 438 4K Ultra HD Digital titles, DEG reported.

Smith said he hopes that Redbox kiosk availability of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray titles will help transition the format from the early adopters to mainstream audiences.

“Obviously it is the very best experience for an at-home opportunity to consume content, so we are giving our customers another choice,” Smith said.  “And by having this format available in our kiosks, it helps to validate it. We want to help the studios take it from a niche product to a mainstream product.”

Smith said he also hopes to aid in the educational effort and alleviate consumer confusion.

“Right now, it’s a little confusing in terms of what you need,” he said. “You need a 4K Ultra HD disc and a 4K Ultra HD TV, and you also need a 4K Ultra HD player. And by us being in the market and being able to communicate with a very movie-loving consumer, we can expand the market.”

Indie Suppliers a ‘Blessing’

If you really want to get an idea of how fast the home entertainment industry is changing, talk to any of the independent suppliers who are still going at it, competing with the big studios and their theatrical blockbusters.

As Ringo Starr would say, it don’t come easy.

Studios generally release their films on all the major platforms: Blu-ray Disc, DVD, digital, on demand, and, increasingly, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Indies, however, typically have to pick and choose, because just as not all movies warrant a wide theatrical release, when it’s time for them to be sent home some platforms work better than others, depending on the film.

And yet despite the challenges and obstacles, our industry is still blessed with a handful of indie stalwarts, from Cinedigm and Magnolia to Random Media, a film company headed by Eric Doctorow, who from 1983 to 2003 was president of worldwide home entertainment for Paramount Pictures.

I say “blessed” because without indies, home entertainment would consist primarily of big-budget blockbusters already familiar to viewers from their successful theatrical runs.

Independent home entertainment suppliers add variety to the mix. They also give independent filmmakers a chance to find an audience and maybe even make some money so they can continue to produce quality films and documentaries that otherwise might never be made.

And we must never forget that the indies are the ones who built this business. The home entertainment industry might have been launched more than 40 years ago when Andre Blay licensed 50 movies from 20th Century Fox and released them on videocassette under the Magnetic Video banner.

But the industry didn’t begin to grow and prosper until mom-and-pop video rental stores began to spring up all over the country, their growth fueled through the against-the-grain concept of “consumer dissatisfaction.”

Not only were the big studios dead-set against retailers renting their movies to the public, but when the courts ultimately ruled in favor of the retailers Hollywood had a hard time keeping up with the demand. Retailers soon discovered that the public’s appetite for movies was so voracious that if the latest studio hit wasn’t available, they’d be perfectly content with picking up something else. Shrewd mom-and-pops invested heavily in a broad selection of product and purposely limited the copies of the hits they brought in — figuring, correctly, that if customers were immediately “satisfied” with the latest theatrical hit, they’d rent it and leave. But if customers didn’t find what they were looking for, they’d pick up one or two or even three other movies, based on box art, posters or personal recommendations from movie-savvy clerks.

This successful, albeit unconventional, business model collapsed after the big chains got involved. Blockbuster, in particular, figured it could put the little guys out of business by promising consumers guaranteed availability of the latest theatrical hits — failing to realize it was merely sealing its own doom. “Big Blue” ran expensive ad campaigns and built massive “new release” walls packed with the latest theatrical hits.

I am convinced this focus on the hits led to a decline in consumer rental spending and paved the way for DVD, with studios jumping at the chance to sell their movies to consumers instead of rental dealers. Indie product suffered even more: consumers who used to rent three or four movies a week for $10 from the local video rental store were now spending twice that amount to buy the latest theatrical hit at Walmart or Best Buy. Yes, they were digging deeper into their pocketbooks, which made Hollywood very happy. But they were watching fewer movies.

Ultimately, the DVD bubble burst — and we all know the rest.  So thank God for the persevering indies who are keeping the spirit of the business alive – and independent film makers in business.

YouTube Red Hits Top of Digital Originals Chart with ‘Cobra Kai’

YouTube Red took the top spot on the digital originals chart the week ended May 12 with “Cobra Kai,” according to Parrot Analytics Demand Expressions data.

“Cobra Kai,” a sequel series to the classic The Karate Kid movie, shot up to No. 1 with a whopping 154% increase in demand from the prior week, when it debuted in the top 10 at No. 6.

Demand for “Cobra Kai” was so great that it also popped up at No. 5 on the overall TV shows chart – ahead of even “The Game of Thrones.”

The comedy-drama series was produced by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg – the duo best known for the Harold & Kumar films. In the week ending May 12, “Cobra Kai” had 46.9 million Demand Expressions, up from 18.4 million Demand Expressions the prior week.

YouTube Red’s 10-episode first season of “Cobra Kai” debuted on May 2. On May 10, YouTube revealed that it was renewing the show for a second season.

The series relies heavily on nostalgia, blending in new characters with William Zabka and Ralph Macchio, holdovers from the original 1984 The Karate Kid movie. The series picks up 30 years after the events of the original film. Like the first, the second season will contain 10 30-minute episodes, and will debut on YouTube Red sometime in 2019. The first episode of “Cobra Kai” had 11 million views, three days after it premiered – and by May 14, it had racked up over 26 million views.

Elsewhere on the chart, Netflix titles also performed well. “13 Reasons Why,” No. 1 the previous week, continued to gain in demand, with a 43.4% spike to 40.2 million Demand Expressions on the back of the May 8 release of season two’s full-length trailer. But given the over-the-top performance of “Cobra Kai,” “13 Reasons” slipped to No. 2 on the digital originals chart.

Both “Arrested Development” (No. 3) and “Dear White People” (No. 6) posted impressive gains in demand as well, jumping up the chart by seven and 19 spots, respectively, over the last week. In both cases, new episodes are coming in May.

Demand for “The Handmaid’s Tale” has been remarkably steady been steady, with the dystopian series slipping to No. 4 from No. 3 the prior week despite a modest 5.7% gain in demand, week over week.

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. Parrot Analytics uses a proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content 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.

Strong Theatricals Boost Consumer Spending in Q1, DEG Says

Consumer spending on home entertainment rose nearly 9% in the first quarter of 2018 to $5.7 billion, according to estimates released May 16 by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

The gains were driven by continued growth in subscription streaming as well as a strong theatrical slate that boosted digital sales of movies and slowed the rate of decline for disc sales.

Digital sales of movies and TV shows, or electronic sellthrough (EST), rose 9% in the first quarter of 2018 to $623.7 million. That’s a 50% improvement from the full-year 2017 growth rate of 6%. Sales were led by a 15% upswing in sales of theatrical movies, which more than offset a slight decline in sales of TV shows.

Combined Blu-ray Disc and DVD sales in the first quarter of 2018 came in at nearly $1.06 billion, down 10.1% from the prior year but significantly lower than the full-year 2017 decline rate of 14.1%. Sales of the emerging 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format were up 130% from the first quarter of 2017, accounting for nearly 12% of total Blu-ray Disc spending.

The total amount of money consumers spent on buying filmed content in the first quarter of 2018, DEG says, was off just 3.84% from the first quarter of 2017, slipping to $1.68 billion from $1.75 billion.

Subscription streaming, meanwhile, continued to soar, rising to nearly $3 billion, a 28.9% increase from the first quarter of 2017, according to data compiled by global information provider IHS Markit.

Meanwhile, the disc rental market continues to flounder, with rental spending at brick-and-mortar video stores slipping into the double digits. DEG pegs video store rental spending for the quarter at $88 million, an 18% decline from the first quarter of 2017.

Consumer spending on disc rentals at kiosks, a market dominated by Redbox, fell nearly 22% to $279 million, according to DEG estimates.

Subscription rental — chiefly Netflix’s disc-by-mail rental business — was down 18.8% to just under $100 million.

According to the DEG, some 125 million U.S. households now have at least one HDTV, with 35 million households having at least one 4K Ultra HD TV. Blu-ray Disc playback devices (including 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players, set-tops and game consoles) are now in nearly 100 million U.S. homes.

Consumers now have more than 300 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray titles available for viewing on Ultra HD Blu-ray players and enabled game consoles and 438 4K Ultra HD Digital titles, the DEG reported.

Redbox Snags First Exclusive With Rights to New Nicolas Cage Film

Redbox is now exclusively offering discs of The Humanity Bureau, starring Nicolas Cage and Sarah Lind, for rent at all Redbox kiosks.

The arrangement marks Redbox’s first movie exclusive. “We’re always looking for opportunities to add to our content offering based on what we know customers like to watch,” says a Redbox spokesperson.

The Humanity Bureau is the first film released by distribution company QME Entertainment Inc., a joint venture between Quiver Distribution Inc. and Minds Eye Entertainment.

“We’re thrilled to work in partnership with Redbox to ensure that our film The Humanity Bureau will be readily available to consumers nationwide at their more than 41,000 kiosks and Redbox On Demand,” said Berry Meyerowitz, co-president of QME Entertainment. “Their commitment to the rental market is unparalleled and guarantees that we will be able to reach a widespread audience.”

The Humanity Bureau, which made its theatrical debut in April, is a dystopian thriller set in the year 2030 that sees the world in a permanent state of economic recession and facing serious environmental problems as a result of global warming.

“Redbox provides customers with the newest home entertainment releases, months or years before subscription streaming services,” said Galen Smith, CEO at Redbox. “Partnering with QME Entertainment as the exclusive window partner on The Humanity Bureau further demonstrates our commitment to delivering the latest content across multiple price points and formats.”

The Humanity Bureau is now available to rent exclusively on DVD and Blu-ray Disc at all Redbox kiosks in the United States through June 11. The film will be available to purchase at designated retailers, online and in-store, on June 12.

EMA Executive Retires After 24 Years at Trade Group

Carrie Dieterich, SVP, Strategic Initiatives, for the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA), is retiring after nearly 25 years with the trade group.

Her last day is Friday, May 11.

Carrie Dieterich

Dieterich joined the EMA – at the time, the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) – in 1994, shortly after the relocation of its headquarters from New Jersey to California.

She has held various positions of increasing responsibility over the years. In her most recent post, she oversees the association’s research efforts and events including the Los Angeles Entertainment Summit, Independent Product Market, Digital Media Pipeline and Digital EMA Salons.

Dieterich began her entertainment industry career in television and feature film production, working as a production coordinator on several theatrical and made-for-television movies. She also served as a production executive for the late film director Blake Edwards.  Prior to joining the EMA, she worked in the theatrical marketing department of Columbia Pictures.

Dieterich earned a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts from San Francisco State University.

Mark Fisher, president and CEO of the EMA, said, “I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Carrie for her entire career at EMA (initially VSDA).  She’s been both a friend and a colleague. I’ve always been able to count on her to bring calm and reason. She’s one of the most dedicated and hard-working executive I’ve known in my career – she’s always the first at her desk and the last to turn the office lights out. I’ll miss her support, her experience, her diligence, and her smile.  But, after nearly a quarter decade, she’s earned the opportunity to retire from the workforce and enjoy life with her loving husband Joe and her adorable cats Eleanor and Rigby.”

Sean Bersell, the EMA’s SVP, Public Affairs, said, “For almost a quarter century, Carrie’s calm competence has been an integral part of the success of first VSDA and now EMA. Whether she was dealing with one of the world’s biggest celebrities or a service person at one of our events, she was always the consummate professional, treating everyone with respect while making sure that the event came off smoothly. I will always remember the large binders she compiled for each event, detailing every aspect of it. Even years later, if you asked her what we served at a particular cocktail party, she could instantly whip out the F&B order! And she did so much more for the industry in terms of research and marketing. All of us who worked with her will miss her immensely.”

Carrie Dieterich (second from right) with the EMA staff at LAES 2013.
Carrie Dieterich (left) with the EMA staff, 2007.

‘Funeral Day,’ ‘Sacred Blood’ Top Random Media Summer Release Slate

Random Media, the content company headed by former Paramount Pictures home video chief Eric Doctorow, has announced the following release schedule for June and July. All releases are digital, with a DVD available through MOD (manufacturing on demand).

Funeral Day, June 12: The darkly funny story about Scott, a neurotic young man, who thinks he’s found a lump on his testicles. Fearing he might be dying, he skips his friend’s funeral in an attempt to start living life to the fullest.  Watch trailer here.

Sacred Blood, June 19: After being bitten by a vampire, NATIA leaves her native country of Georgia and arrives in San Francisco. Natia tries to understand what is happening to her as she is confronted with a violent darkness rooting within her. Fighting against her loneliness and the rules of this new world, she is befriended by a troubled young artist with an innocent soul. Will this tenuous love lead her out of trouble or will they both be pulled into the darkness? Watch trailer here.

Pow Wow, June 26: In the Coachella Valley, country clubbers prepare for their annual Pow Wow party. The backdrop for this festivity is a native American youth named Willie Boy who outran a mounted posse on foot across 500 miles of desert 100 earlier. An experiment in comparative storytelling, as well as ethnographic study of the people of the Desert Empire, Pow Wow is a cinematic walkabout through the beauty and brutality of the Sonoran desert. Watch trailer here. 

Sunset, July 3:  A diverse group of people grapple with the imminent probability of a nuclear strike on the east coast of The United States. Watch trailer here.

Across The River,  July 17: Emma has it all. She’s a successful lawyer with a loving husband, two wonderful children and a beautiful home. Ryan is trying to build an elephant out of sand on the beach. He was her first love; it ended badly many years ago and they haven’t seen each other since… It’s awkward at first but they have one thing in common. A strike has paralyzed public transport and they need to get to their homes: quite close, but on opposite sides of the river. On their way they reminisce, argue, cry and laugh. They can never recapture what they had, but the memory of it tempts them. Watch trailer here.

Iron Brothers, July 31: Fur trappers Abel and Henry Iron struggle to make a living in a dying industry in the Rocky Mountains. Following in their late father’s footsteps, they travel the mountains searching for beaver, carving out a meager existence in the western wilderness. When Abel encounters a band of  Shoshone Indians, a misunderstanding leaves one Indian dead and the Iron Brothers on the run. Together, Abel and Henry flee into the mountains to escape the warriors that are pursuing them. In the end, they will learn if the bond of brotherhood is enough to save them.  Watch trailer here. 

Random Media acquires and distributes films on a worldwide basis through movie theaters, conventional brick and mortar retailers, digital platforms, cable and satellite companies and television networks.


7th Annual LAES to Focus on Indie Product, OTT

The Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) has revamped this year’s Los Angeles Entertainment Summit (LAES) to focus on independent product, both physical and digital, as well as the booming OTT marketplace.

The seventh annual LAES will be held July 17-18 at the Loews Hollywood Hotel in Hollywood, Calif.

The 2018 Los Angeles Entertainment Summit will feature two days of one-on-one business-to-business meetings between independent content providers and retailers and streaming services, the EMA announced May 9.

Supplementing that will be the first-ever OTT Channels conference – a day of research presentations, sessions with industry thought leaders, and an exploration of opportunities in subscription video on demand and ad-supported video on demand.

“And, as always, LAES will provide plenty of networking and socializing opportunities,” the EMA said.

In conjunction with LAES, Digital EMA will present a Digital EMA Forum focused on streaming video.

LAES will continue to provide an opportunity for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to raise funds.

“In discussions with a number of industry executives, it became clear to us that there was a longing for an opportunity for independent product to gain greater exposure and for a forum for SVOD and AVOD OTT channel executives to gather and share knowledge,”said Mark Fisher, president CEO of EMA. “So we decided to focus this year’s LAES on those areas and help grow these important segments of our industry.”

’13 Reasons Why’ Tops Digital Originals Chart; ‘Cobra Kai’ Bows at No. 6

With a whopping 134% increase in demand, “13 Reasons Why” soared to the No. 1 position on the digital originals chart for the week ended May 5, according to Parrot Analytics Demand Expressions data.

The spike can be attributed to a teaser trailer that was released on April 30. At the same time, Netflix announced the launch date for the teen drama series’ second season, with a return to the streaming giant set for May 18.

Another Netflix series, “Stranger Things,” remained at No. 2, with demand virtually unchanged from the prior week.

Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” rose two spots to No. 3, with a 9.8% increase in demand. Interest is still high for the show after its awards season sweep – including Emmys for best drama series and a best actress win for Elisabeth Moss – and the April 25 debut of season 2.

New to the chart is “Cobra Kai,” a sequel series to The Karate Kid that premiered on YouTube Red on May 2.

The comedy-drama series was produced by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg – the duo best known for the Harold & Kumar films. In the week ending May 5, “Cobra Kai” had 18.4 million Demand Expressions for a No. 6 debut on the digital originals top 10.

In the prior week, the series was ranked at No. 26.

Peak demand for “Cobra Kai” is more than twice as high as that of any other YouTube Red aimed at pay subscribers.

The Spanish limited series “Money Heist” (“La Casa De Papel”) slipped to No. 4 on the digital originals chart after three weeks in the No. 1 spot, with a 14% drop in demand from the prior week.

Also new to the top 10 are two returning series that haven’t been seen on the chart for some time. At No. 8 is “3%,” a Portuguese-language Netflix original series that is set in a world sharply divided between progress and devastation. Season two of the thriller series premiered on April 27, triggering a chart jump of 24 positions.

Also back in the top 10 is “Arrested Development” (No. 10), with a 182% bump in demand – the highest of any of the top 10 programs. A season five renewal announcement gets credit for the spike in demand.

Overall audience demand for network broadcast series is down, resulting in few changes to the top 10 overall TV series chart. The top four titles are the same as in the prior week, with just a little juggling in the order.

HBO’s “Westworld” remains at No. 3, but demand decreased slightly after a pivotal episode shifted the location to a different theme park.  ABC’s “American Idol” also saw its demand slip slightly as season 16 reached its midway point.

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. Parrot Analytics uses a proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content 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.