SVOD Again Fuels Consumer Home Entertainment Spending in Q3 2019

Consumer spending on home entertainment rose 11% in the third quarter of 2019, according to the latest quarterly report from DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

Spending on digital purchases and streaming was up 19%, the DEG reported, fueling total Q3 consumer spending on all forms of home entertainment to more than $6.3 billion.

Subscription streaming, according to the DEG, solidified its position as the dominant way consumers watch movies, TV shows and other filmed content on demand, with subscription streaming leading the way at $4.1 billion, up nearly 25% from the third quarter of 2018. Earlier, data from digital measurement firm Conviva found a 63% increase in third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) video viewing hours.

During the third quarte rof 2019, DEG says, consumers spent just under $700 million on digital purchases, up 13.1% from the third quarter of last year. A la carte streaming, the digital equivalent of renting a disc, fell nearly 10% to an estimated $448 million.

Total spending on digital came in at nearly $5.3 billion.

On the physical side, consumer spending on purchased Blu-ray Discs, DVDs and 4K Ultra HD discs came in at an estimated $736 million, down 13% from the prior year’s Q3. Including electronic sellthrough, consumers spent more than $1.4 billion to own content, about 2% less than in the third quarter of 2018.

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Disc rentals at physical video stores suffered another big drop, coming in at just $56.2 million, down 21.5% from the prior year. Kiosk rentals, mostly Redbox, generated an estimated $214.4 million, down 21.4%, while subscription disc rental — carried mostly by Netflix’s legacy disc-by-mail rental business — was off 19% to $72.6 million.

The box office value of films that were released for home consumption in the third quarter was down 1.5%, the DEG reported.

Top disc sellers in the third quarter of 2019 included Disney’s Avengers: Endgame and live-action Aladdin remake, along with Lionsgate’s John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum and Warner’s Shazam!, according to NPD VideoScan data.

For the first nine months of 2019, consumers spent an estimated $18.34 billion on home entertainment, an 8.3% uptick from the first nine months of 2018. Subscription streaming accounted for more than 63% of total home entertainment dollars spent, or $11.6 billion. Total digital spending accounted for nearly 82% of total consumer spending, or just under $15 billion, while packaged-media sales and rentals trailed at 18.4%, or $3.4 billion.

Streaming Wars: Niche Services Soldier On

The streaming wars are intensifying, with established giants such as Netflix and Amazon gearing up for battle against big-money newcomers such as Apple TV+ (which launched Nov. 1), Disney+ (launching Nov. 12), NBCUniversal’s Peacock (launching in April 2020) and WarnerMedia’s HBO Max (launching in May 2020).

Indeed, in recent weeks the Hollywood trades — Media Play News included — have been filled with content reveals, lofty viewership projections and a fair amount of hand-wringing by analysts who wonder whether we’re heading for SVOD overkill.

But while the streaming goliaths are making a lot of noise as they go after each other with billions of dollars in content creation, acquisition and marketing funds — and an affinity for poaching showrunners and other executives from Hollywood, and from each other — a growing contingent of niche streamers continues to quietly march to its own drumbeat.

VET Tv is among them.

Launched in 2017 by retired Marine Capt. Donny O’Malley, the San Diego-based SVOD channel has about 43,000 subscribers who pay $5 a month to watch comedy sketches and series aimed at active military personnel. Shows such as “A Grunt’s Life,” “Drunken Debriefs” and “Kill, Die, Laugh” parody life in the service, with dark, irreverent, “inside” humor.

The steady flow of roughly $200,000 in monthly revenue is enough to allow O’Malley and his crew to produce a regular schedule of programming, with 13 series under their knapsacks and a 14th in production. The company has also just completed its first feature-length film — consisting of several “A Grunt’s Life” episodes, stitched together — which premiered Oct. 28 at the Rooftop Cinema Club in Los Angeles and is now available for streaming on VET Tv.

“If we can make a profit as filmmakers, no one and nothing else matters,” said O’Malley, who spent six years in the Marine Corps — including seven months in combat as a platoon commander and fire support team leader in 2012 in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. “We’ve proved that we don’t need the studios to make a profit. We don’t need to compare ourselves to them, or any other business, for that matter. Our success comes from our ability to sustain this business model, and from the approval of our community.”

The key, O’Malley said, is to find an underserved niche.

“We got into streaming and VET Tv because we wanted to focus on giving our community exactly what they wanted,” he said. “The notion of pitching this idea around Hollywood producers never crossed my mind. We’re making this for the community and no one else. The customer is the gateway to success in this business. If the customer is willing to pay for the content, we’re on the right path.”

VET Tv is just one of hundreds of niche streaming services vying for eyeballs with carefully curated programming aimed at specific audiences with voracious, but narrow, appetites. Most follow the Netflix subscription model, offering unlimited content for a set monthly fee, generally in the $5 to $10 range. Others, including Tubi, offer their content for free, relying on advertisers to feed the kitty. Some streaming services were started by established broadcasting, cable or home entertainment companies. Among them are PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel, Comcast Cable’s Xfinity Flex, Dish Networks’ Sling TV, and HBO Max.

Others, like VET Tv, are independent startups.

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Over the past five years, according to Parks Associates, the number of streaming services has more than doubled to 271. The Los Angeles Times recently ran a series of stories about streaming and noted that subscribing to the top 41 services — a ranking that includes newcomers Disney+, Apple TV+ and Peacock — would cost consumers upwards of $400 a month, factoring in the additional cost of Internet service.

Mark Fisher, president of the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA), knew there was a growing undercurrent of streamers earlier in the year when he teamed with Eric Opeka, the newly appointed president of Cinedigm Digital Networks, to produce an over-the-top (OTT) channels market and conference — OTT_X — in July 2019, alongside the seventh annual Los Angeles Entertainment Summit.

At the time, Fisher said, “The OTT segment of the video industry is growing tremendously and needs a premier event to bring key players together to do business, share knowledge, and expand their contacts.”

But even he was surprised at the turnout. “It was like the early days of the VSDA, with all these independent video retailers,” Fisher said. “The difference was that these were professional executives from existing and emerging companies, funded for growth. In fact, we had well over 400 people — not dozens of people from each of a dozen key industry players, but instead well over 100 companies represented by their key execs, meeting together and collaborating on making the OTT business — in all its business models (AVOD, SVOD, TVOD) — an efficient and effective way to provide entertainment to the consumer. Many of the workshop sessions were SRO, and we nearly ran out of food.”

Marc Rashba, a former Sony Pictures Home Entertainment marketing executive who is now president of MovieMethod LLC, a digital distribution partnerships company, agrees with Fisher’s assessment of streaming.

“Partners are telling me what’s happening now in OTT is analogous to the explosion of early days of cable,” he says. “While you have generalist providers like Netflix and Amazon, who are much like WGN and TBS in the early days, we’re seeing the explosion of niche providers who program to a very specific audience much like we saw with MTV, BET, CMT, Nickelodeon and more back in the day.”

Why are so many players jumping into the streaming business?

“What’s most exciting for content companies, and what they were not able to achieve in the home entertainment or TVOD space, is that they can finally develop a direct relationship with the consumer,” Rashba says. “Along with the data that comes from that relationship, studios can finally nurture the CLV (customer lifetime value, or a prediction of the net profit over the lifetime of the relationship) themselves and can maintain more control over their own future.”

Cinedigm’s Opeka attributes the increased interest in streaming to the recent rapid expansion of scale partners who are having a material impact on user acquisition and subscriber growth.

“Success in OTT for niche players used to mean a substantial investment in customer acquisition and technology, two areas extremely difficult for small payers to get a handle on,” he says. “Leveraging scale platforms like Apple, Amazon, Roku and, now, Samsung, Comcast and others have dramatically improved the unit economics for niche players and is leading to a rapid expansion of viable channels.”

Streaming services carry a wide range of programming, often with a very narrow focus. Pure Flix (pureflix.com) focuses on faith and family shows and in October bowed a new sitcom, “Mood Swings,” starring Donna Mills and Crystal Hunt. October also saw the launch of another streaming service aimed at families, Frndly TV.

They are far from the only niche streaming services generating a buzz:

• AMC Networks’ Acorn TV streaming video service features British and international episodic programming in the United States and Canada, with a focus on original and exclusive mysteries, dramas and comedies. In September, Acorn TV announced it topped 1 million subscribers. Charter Communications for the first time will include Acorn TV in its suite of SVOD services to Spectrum customers.

• AMC Premiere is an add-on to the AMC Networks’ pay-TV service, affording subscribers commercial-free viewing of original movies, TV episodes and exclusive behind-the-scenes footage. Premiere enables users to binge select series, including the Emmy- and Golden Globe-Award winning “Killing Eve,” “The Walking Dead,” “Fear the Walking Dead” and “The Terror,” among others.

• The Africa Channel is a showcase for English-language television series, specials, documentaries, feature films, music, soaps, biographies, current business analysis, and cultural and historical programs from the African continent. It boasts more than 1,000 hours of content and is available in more than 7 million homes in the United States and the Caribbean. In October, The Africa Channel introduced its service in Canada by launching on the subscription streaming platform Demand Africa. Dean Cates, VP of digital strategy for the new SVOD platform, says, “As a global OTT service provider, our goal is to make modern Africa’s influence and culture more accessible throughout the world.” Subscribers can view The Africa Channel for $1.99 per month or have it included free with their monthly or annual subscription to Demand Africa.

• BritBox launched in North America in 2017 to compete against Acorn TV. It features British-centric programming from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. BritBox, with 650,000 subscribers, will bow service in the U.K. in the fourth quarter priced at £5.99 ($7.51) per month in HD.

• Hallmark Movies Now is an on-demand streaming video service offering family-friendly movies, documentaries and short films. The company was founded in 2007 by Academy Award-winning producer Robert Fried. It is owned and operated by Hallmark Cards and based in Los Angeles.

• Kanopy is a premium, free streaming platform offered through universities and public libraries and accessed with library or university memberships. Through partnerships with film distributors and studios such as The Great Courses, Criterion Collection, A24, Paramount, PBS and Kino Lorber, among others, it provides thousands of award-winning documentaries and films, contemporary favorites, classics, life-long learning courses and kids programming to public library members, students and professors at participating institutions. Kanopy is available on all major streaming devices, including iOS, Android, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and Roku.

• NBA League Pass and NBA TV are owned and operated by the National Basketball Association, which for the first time has begun selling its branded streaming video service, NBA TV, without a requisite pay-TV contract. The service gives subscribers live access to out-of-market games. The league also offers NBA League Pass, priced from $119.99 annually, which gives subscribers access to commercial-free live streaming, archived games, condensed game replays, radio broadcasts, VR access and NBA Finals, among other features.

• Shudder is an American over-the-top subscription VOD service featuring horror, thriller and supernatural fiction titles owned and operated by AMC Networks. The service just renewed its first hour-long scripted series, “Creepshow,” which set records in terms of viewers, subscriber acquisition and total minutes streamed in its first season.

• Xumo is a free ad-supported TV service that delivers live and on-demand TV and movie channels, and is available in the United States on more than 30 different devices, according to the company, including Comcast Infinity X1 and Android TV. “We’re focused on bringing our service to the most-popular devices available and have expanded to a record number of new platforms this year alone,” notes Xumo’s SVP of product, Chris Hall. Xumo offers a library of on-demand content, including thousands of movie titles and TV shows such as “This Old House,” “Divorce Court” and “Unsolved Mysteries.”

One of the most-hyped streamers isn’t even in business yet. Quibi, the $4.99 monthly short-form video streaming service launching in 2020 from DreamWorks Animation founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and former HP CEO Meg Whitman, recently inked a distribution deal with T-Mobile. The app will deliver original video content no longer than 10 minutes in length from a variety of sources, including directors Sam Raimi, Guillermo del Toro, Antoine Fuqua, Steven Spielberg, Lorne Michaels and producer Jason Blum, among others.

“Quibi will deliver premium video content for millennials on a technology platform that is built exclusively for mobile, so a telecommunications partner like T-Mobile, with their broad coverage and impressive 5G road map, is the perfect fit,” Whitman said in a statement.

Indeed, T-Mobile has 83.1 million cellphone subscribers and 5G network ambitions. It also received FCC approval for the $26.5 billion acquisition of Sprint.

“Quibi is leading the way on how video content is made and experienced in a mobile-first world,” said Mike Sievert, COO of T-Mobile. “That’s why our partnership makes perfect sense — two mobile-centric disruptors coming together to give customers something new and remarkable.”

Q&A: Disney+ Content and Marketing President Ricky Strauss Discusses Service’s Launch

On the eve of the Disney+ launch, Media Play News queried Ricky Strauss, president of content and marketing, for insight into the new service’s strategy. Strauss is responsible for developing the strategic content vision for the service, overseeing development of the service’s original programming slate, production partnerships and content acquisitions. He previously served as president of marketing for The Walt Disney Studios. Blockbuster films that Disney delivered under Strauss’ tenure include Star Wars: The Force Awakens, for which Strauss was named Marketer of the Year by Advertising Age.

The official launch date of Disney+ is Nov. 12. How are you kicking things off?
This is a huge priority for The Walt Disney Co. and so we have tremendous support across the company. From parks to the cruise line and stores to a programming roadblock across ABC, Disney Channel and Freeform, we will be accessing an incredible number of touchpoints that allow us reach to millions of fans across our brands and around the world.

How important is original content?
Original content is a very important part of our strategy. Storytelling is the cornerstone of The Walt Disney Co. and the same award-winning creative teams behind the phenomenal success of Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic are creating exclusive original content for Disney+. We will launch with 10 original exclusive episodic series, movies and documentaries, and plan to premiere more than 35 originals within the first year.

Are you worried about devaluing Disney content by offering a buffet of it at such a low price?
The service has been priced based on our judgment that this delivers an excellent price-value proposition to consumers and positions us appropriately in the market.

Bob Iger has made Disney+ the company’s singular focus in 2019. How are you dealing with the pressure?
Pressure? What pressure? All kidding aside, yes, it’s a lot of pressure, but under Bob’s visionary leadership we are surrounded by the best and brightest in this business — all focused on making this a success. The energy and enthusiasm generated by working with such tremendous creative and strategic minds keeps us all going.

What are your thoughts on the competitive landscape?
It’s an exciting time and we believe we have a unique and significant role to play. Disney+ will compete based on the unparalleled strength of our brands, the quality of our intellectual property, and expertise in high quality video streaming. … Disney+ will have a robust library of some of the most beloved and storied brands in the industry, as well as a great slate of originals with a plan to continue growing over time. In year one, Disney+ will have more than 7,500 episodes of television and over 500 film titles which will include the most recent theatrical film releases. For fans of Disney’s brands, it will be an incredibly rich experience. Fans can revisit classics, explore new original stories from such epic cinematic universes as Marvel and Star Wars, and discover all new originals that exhibit the Disney storytelling ethos of creativity, innovation and imagination.

How can Disney lure subs beyond the Disney name and $6.99 price point?
The price point and the power of the Disney name are tremendous assets that offer a great deal of opportunity, which we will fully leverage. Beginning Nov. 12, consumers in the U.S. will also have the choice to purchase a bundle offering of Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu (with ads) for $12.99 per month. The bundle offers a great value proposition, given the quality and breadth of content consumers will have access to across the three industry-shaping streaming services.

What impact will Disney+ have on the other streaming services, specifically Netflix?
We are focused on building our own best-in-class experience around the brands and stories that define Disney.

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Netflix Challengers: Are There Flies in the Ointment?

This is the month when the long talked-about “streaming wars” finally get underway — at least, the first round. Both Apple TV+ and Disney+ are launching in November, with two more heavyweights — NBCUniversal’s Peacock and WarnerMedia’s HBO Max — debuting next April and May, respectively.

Subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) pioneer Netflix has ruled the proverbial roost for years. Sure, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu have given Netflix a taste of competition, but Amazon Prime’s viewership numbers remain clouded by questions about how many people primarily sign up to get free shipping on hard goods — and Hulu has always been the home entertainment equivalent of a third-party candidate.

So with the November launch of Apple TV+ and Disney+, Netflix is finally facing some stiff competition, although, to be fair, both new services have inherent flaws that could impede their success.

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Apple TV+ is being launched by a technology company with no content to poach. As a result, the service’s success or failure hinges on the strength of its original movies, TV shows and other content. Apple TV+ readily admits, on its website, that “unlike most other streaming services, Apple TV+ does not include a back catalog of any kind,” and that “right now, the library of Apple originals in terms of raw numbers is quite small.” But the company is betting that the monthly subscription fee of $4.99 is low enough for curious viewers to take a chance on the new streaming service.

Disney+, on the other hand, comes from the vaunted Walt Disney Co., which has long held a Midas-like touch in everything from movies and TV shows to theme parks and toys. Disney is the only Hollywood studio with a viable consumer brand of its own. And executives are hoping that the Disney brand, along with a stable of acquired brands — including “Star Wars,” Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel and National Geographic — will not just provide the streaming service with a rich library of content, but also with strong platforms upon which to build original shows, such as the “Star Wars” series “The Mandalorian.”

Apple TV+’s challenge will be to produce a steady stream of top-quality, “must-see” originals, as Netflix has done. Netflix had the advantage of using studio movies and TV shows to captivate viewers while building up its slate of originals. But Hollywood has learned its lesson and is unlikely to feed another beast that may one day attempt to devour it, so Apple TV+ will have to go it alone.

Disney+, on the other hand, needs to get out of the recycling business. Even on the theatrical side, the studio’s success has largely been built on Marvel sequels and remakes of its own animated classics — and the team behind the new Disney streamer must encourage, develop and nurture new ideas and concepts if it is to pose a serious long-term challenge to Netflix.

But the streaming wars involve more than big guns. There’s a whole undercurrent of niche streaming services that cater to very specific audiences with targeted programming, such as VET Tv, a San Diego-based SVOD channel aimed at active military personnel with original shows such as “A Grunt’s Life,” “Drunken Debriefs” and “Kill, Die, Laugh,” which take dark, irreverent looks at life in uniform.

Parks Associates estimates that over the past five years, the number of SVOD services has more than doubled, to 271. And projections are that subscription streaming will grow at a faster clip than any other segment of home entertainment — almost as fast, one observer noted wryly, as traditional cable loses subscribers.

Brad Pitt’s ‘Ad Astra’ Gets Home Release Dates

Twentieth Century Fox, now a division of the Walt Disney Co., has set home release dates for Ad Astra, the science-fiction movie starring Brad Pitt that grossed just under $50 million at the domestic box office.

The film will be released digitally on Dec. 3, and on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Dec. 17.

Pitt portrays astronaut Roy McBride, who springs into action when a mysterious life-threatening event strikes earth. He embarks on a dangerous mission across an unforgiving solar system to uncover the truth about his missing father (Tommy Lee Jones) and his doomed expedition that now, 30 years later, threatens the universe.

Extras on the Blu-ray Disc include two deleted scenes, with an optional audio commentary from director, producer and writer James Gray, and several featurettes, including a making-of documentary and a look at the crew of the Cepheus.

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An audio commentary from Gray is available on the Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD version only.

The digital version comes with a look at the special effects.

‘Downton Abbey’ Feature Film Gets Home Release Dates

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has announced home release dates for Downton Abbey, the hit movie based on the celebrated PBS TV series.

The film, which earned $94.5 million in North American movie theaters, will be available digitally Nov. 26, and on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and on demand on Dec. 17, the studio said.

Aimed at holiday gift-givers, the home versions come with a broad variety of bonus features, including exclusive conversations with the cast, deleted scenes and a recap of the Emmy Award-winning TV series, from Carnival Films.

The Downton Abbey film will also be available in a Deluxe Limited Edition, featuring the Blu-ray Disc, DVD, and digital code, presented in exclusive packaging along with a collectible photo book and recipe cards.

The feature film stars original cast members from the TV series as well as a host of newcomers.  The film chronicles the Crawley family one year after the conclusion of the series, as they prepare for the most important moment of their lives: an impending visit from the Royal Family.

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  • Blu-ray, DVD and digital extras include:
  • Deleted scenes
  • Cast conversations – exclusive roundtable interviews with the cast.
  • “The Royal Visit” – A look at how the royal visit proved to be an ambitious event both on and behind the camera.
  • “True to the Twenties” – A look at how Downton Abby was loyal to the grandeur of the 1920s.
  • “Welcome to Downton Abbey” – A behind-the-scenes look at the grandeur of Highclere Castle and how it serves as a cornerstone in the Downton Abbey franchise.
  • “The Brilliance of Julian Fellowes” – A feature on writer Julian Fellowes.
  • Feature commentary with director Michael Engler

A recap of the TV series will be included on the Blu-ray Disc and iTunes digital versions only.

Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ Gets Home Release Dates for Digital, DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD

Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film, the summer theatrical blockbuster Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, will be released to home audiences digitally Nov. 26 and on disc two weeks later, on Dec. 10.

Disc versions will be available in the DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD formats from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, set in Hollywood in 1969, reimagines the Manson murders that shocked the city that year. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt as actor Rick Dalton and his longtime friend and stuntman Cliff Booth, with Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate.

In the film, Dalton and Booth make their way around an industry they hardly recognize anymore. The cast also includes Julia Butters, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Luke Perry, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Emile Hirsch, Bruce Dern and Al Pacino — and multiple storylines in a tribute to the final moments of Hollywood’s golden age.

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The film earned $140.4 million in U.S. theaters, and was the highest opening weekend of Tarantino’s career at $41 milion. It has been Certified Fresh by RottenTomatoes.com.

The 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and digital releases come with more than 20 additional minutes of footage that delves deeper into world of Rick Dalton’s Hollywood. The 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and digital include an additional behind-the-scenes look at the film’s production design, cinematography, costume design, cars and more.

Also due Dec. 10 is a limited 4K Ultra HD collector’s edition with a 7-inch vinyl record with two of the soundtrack’s 1960s hits,  a poster for the fictitious Rick Dalton film Operazione Dyn-o-mite!, and an exclusive mini-edition of a Mad Magazine parody of the Rick Dalton TV series “Bounty Law,” called “Lousy Law.” The collector’s edition may be ordered beginning Oct. 28 from Amazon.com, Walmart.com, BestBuy.com and Target.com.

The Blu-ray Disc release comes with several retailer-exclusive extras, including “Rick Dalton” movie poster cards from Walmart, a vintage-style film magazine with over 26 never-before-seen production photos at Target, and a Steelbook available at Best Buy. All exclusive offerings also may be ordered beginning Oct. 28.

Redbox Launches Content Acquisition and Production Arm

Redbox is revving up its efforts to provide original content to customers of its disc rental kiosks and Redbox on Demand transactional video-on-demand service.

The company on Oct. 25 announced the formation of Redbox Entertainment, a new label to acquire and produce content for Redbox’s 50 million U.S. customers.

“The Redbox brand is built on delivering the best selection of movies from the biggest blockbuster releases to films in genres and with actors that appeal to our loyal customers,” said Redbox CEO Galen Smith. “The formation of Redbox Entertainment leverages our deep insights to bring projects that we know appeal to our audience to deliver additional value and entertainment.”

Marc Danon has been tapped as senior advisor to head content acquisition for Redbox Entertainment. He reports directly to Smith.

Marc Danon

Danon previously was president of acquisitions and co-productions at Broad Green Pictures; prior to joining Broad Green in July 2015, he spent eight years at Lionsgate, most recently as SVP of acquisitions and business development. There, he worked on the acquisition of such films as Kevin Hart: Let Me ExplainJohn WickDear White PeopleA Most Wanted ManEverything Must Go and The Skeleton Twins.

Danon also built and managed third-party brands and partnerships with ABC, Codeblack, Comcast, ITV, Marvel, NBC, and Saban.

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Earlier in his career, Danon held various acquisitions positions at Netflix, Catch 23 Entertainment and Artisan Entertainment.

“Marc is a terrific fit to lead the growth of Redbox Entertainment,” Smith said. “He’s a talented creative with an impressive track record as a champion of films that catch fire with audiences; and a skilled executive adept at maximizing distribution opportunities and cultivating strategic partnerships.”

Redbox Entertainment is funding, developing and producing projects across genres, with a focus on action, comedy, and suspense/thrillers, the company said.

Projects are being sourced now — directly and through a number of distribution partners and channels. New projects will be announced soon.

Content acquired by Redbox Entertainment will be available physically at Redbox kiosks and digitally via Redbox On Demand, as well as in downstream windows post-Redbox release.

Redbox reaches 50 million consumers across the United States at more than 41,000 kiosks and an expanding On Demand offering. The company’s loyalty program, Redbox Perks, has 34 million members.

‘Breaking Bad’ Movie a Streaming Sensation

El Camino, the feature film sequel to the TV series “Breaking Bad,” was seen by nearly 6.5 million viewers its opening weekend, according to Nielsen, the ratings company.

According to Nielsen’s SVOD Content Ratings, the film reached nearly 8.2 million unique viewers in the United States during its first three days of availability on Netflix.

El Camino has Aaron Paul reprising his role as Jesse Pinkman, who in the series finale had been enslaved by a drug lord and ordered to cook meth, only to be set free by his former partner, Walter White (Bryan Cranston. He’s last seen driving off in an El Camino that belonged to a drug lord.

Nielsen’s SVOD Content Ratings does not include mobile or PC streaming.

Netflix Nabs Rights to Comic Book Series ‘Bone’

Netflix on Oct. 16 announced that it has secured the rights to Jeff Smith’s  New York Times bestselling international comic book series, Bone, with plans to develop an animated children’s series that follows the Bone cousins on an adventure through a desert and into a mysterious valley filled with various creatures.

Bone has been published in over 30 countries since 1991, with over 8 million copies sold in North America alone.

“I’ve waited a long time for this,” Smith said in a statement. “Netflix is the perfect home for Bone. Fans of the books know that the story develops chapter by chapter and book by book. An animated series is exactly the way to do this! The team at Netflix understands Bone and is committed to doing something special — this is good news for kids and cartoon lovers all over the world.”