FilmRise Picks Up FAST Rights to Canadian Series ‘Kim’s Convenience’

FilmRise, the New York-based film and television studio and streaming network, has acquired multi-territory, ad-supported digital linear (FAST) rights to the critically acclaimed Canadian comedy series “Kim’s Convenience” from Canada-based Thunderbird Entertainment.

The deal gives FilmRise exclusive FAST (free ad-supported streaming) rights to all five seasons of the series, which it will program across its existing FAST Channels as well as allow for the creation of dedicated marathon FAST channels of the series across the United States, Latin America, German-speaking Europe, French-speaking Europe, Italy and Spain. FilmRise plans to offer the series on FAST linear streaming channels on IMDb TV, Pluto, The Roku Channel, Samsung TV+ and the FilmRise Streaming Network, among others.

Originally broadcast on CBC starting in 2016, the series made its international debut on Netflix in 2018. 

Based on Ins Choi’s award-winning play of the same name, “Kim’s Convenience” depicts the Korean-Canadian Kim family who runs a convenience store in Toronto. During its five season run, the series was the winner of multiple Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Comedy Series, Foreign Drama of the Year at the Seoul International Drama Awards (2019), Members’ Choice Series Ensemble Award for Best cast at the 2017 Toronto ACTRA Awards (Association of Canadian Television and Radio Artists).

The comedy stars Paul Sun-Hyung Lee (“The Mandalorian”), Andrew Phung (“Run the Burbs”) Andrea Bang (“A Million Little Things”), Jean Yoon (“The Voyeurs”), Simu Liu  (Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings), and Nicole Power, who stars in “Strays,” which is the spin-off series from “Kim’s Convenience” that premiered in September 2021 on CBC.

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“As the FilmRise Streaming Network continues to grow, so does our approach in acquiring programs featuring unique stories from people of diverse backgrounds,” said Max Einhorn,  SVP of acquisitions and co-productions for FilmRise, in a statement. “‘Kim’s Convenience’ has had a huge impact on a wide range of viewers, and we are thrilled to bring this culturally relevant series for free to streaming audiences worldwide.”

“Kim’s delightful characters and beloved stories brought love and laughter into the hearts of many during its five seasons,” said Richard Goldsmith, president, global distribution and consumer products at Thunderbird Entertainment, in a statement. “Through our partnership with FilmRise, we are thrilled that new audiences internationally will have the opportunity to connect with and enjoy the heart-warming and hilarious experiences of the Kim family.”

Nielsen Launches Solution to Help Connected-TV Operators and Advertisers Better Target Consumers

Nielsen Jan. 4 announced the launch of a new research solution, Streaming Signals, which helps connected-TV operators and advertisers better understand who is watching a show within a household, according to the company.

Streaming Signals unbundles household viewing, allowing “both media buyers and media sellers to optimize and measure CTV reach for more efficient advertising, maximizing ad revenue and delivery to streaming audiences,” according to Nielsen.

Using custom machine learning models to determine who is in the household based on historical viewership data, Streaming Signals delivers a signal within 50 milliseconds to CTV operators of who is currently streaming program content instantly, according to Nielsen.

The solution is made possible by using machine-learning algorithms, viewing from Nielsen’s panel data, and CTV provider viewership data, according to Nielsen. Once integrated, the CTV provider will notify the Nielsen system and will receive a signal containing information regarding who is most likely watching within the household.

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“For example, if ‘Sons of Anarchy’ is being watched within a household, the 35-year-old male likely watching the show will be shown an auto ad instead of a yogurt ad, giving CTV operators the ability to sharpen ad delivery from their inventory,” read the Nielsen release.

“Nielsen Streaming Signals brings a layer of unmatched real-time, person-level demographic precision to audience optimization,” Ameneh Atai, GM of digital and advanced TV at Nielsen, said in a statement. “We know that the media industry is going through accelerated change, switching to a streaming-first approach, and with an audience watching programming whenever, wherever and on a number of devices. Nielsen is the only one that is unbundling the household because we are the only ones that sit at the intersection of the streaming behavior and audience data.”

Traditionally, clients have looked at on-target percentage when evaluating advertising on CTV. Streaming Signals lets clients to “positively impact” that percentage by knowing before the ad is served who is behind the CTV screen, according to Nielsen.

FAST, AVOD Services Getting Better, More-Exclusive Content, OTT.X@Pipeline Panelists Say

Free ad-supported TV (FAST) and ad-supported VOD (AVOD) services are becoming the hot ticket in digital distribution, according to panelists at the 14th Annual OTT.X@Pipeline event in Los Angeles Dec. 8.

“Suddenly, AVOD is becoming part of the broader distribution strategy for major studios and indie studios alike, whereas in the early days, AVOD services had just 10, 15-year-old catalog,” said Pluto TV’s Will Gurman.

Now, content owners are looking at an earlier window for ad-supported release, and the business is looking for exclusives.

“There’s a huge opportunity now with indie producers, and we’ve done this with a number of films, where in a traditional pay one window we might come in and provide some level of AVOD exclusivity, and we market and we promote, treat the film the way that you’d see years ago from SVOD services before they started moving more and more into originals,” Gurman said.

The business is projected to reach $4 billion by 2024, said Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia, and “a lot of the growth in this industry has happened in the last 18 months.”

Pluto TV, owned by ViacomCBS, is a FAST service with more than 300 channels in the United States and is in 26 regions globally. The service also has thousands of titles available via AVOD.

“We’re about 8 years old and Pluto’s really founded with the contrarian principle,” Gurman said. “When everyone was going to SVOD and going to VOD, Pluto went the other way and went back to linear and back to ad-supported and presented a platform of channels in a familiar format and familiar content and were really a pioneer in growing and building out the FAST channel space.”

As ad-supported services have joined the space, differentiation is becoming more important to rise above the competition, he said.

“Differentiation is key for us now,” he said. But rather than focusing on originals, the service is looking for original channels.

“Certain platforms are investing heavily into original content,” he noted. “For us at Pluto, one thing we’ve really focused on and continued to focus on is differentiating on our channels and making sure — while we don’t have original content — the majority of channels can’t be found on other platforms,” he said. “A great example of that recently was a channel that we launched with professional bull riders, a fantastic organization with a fan base of over 80 million in the U.S.”

The company had been a niche SVOD service.

“We quickly learned about their marketing strength, how strong and important their fan base was and what their experience had been as a niche SVOD service, looking at potentially transitioning them to a new business model that could help them reach a broader audience,” he said.

Now, the bull-riding content has its own ad-supported channel exclusively on Pluto.

“It’s called PBR Ridepass, and we’re certainly looking to do more types of opportunities like that,” Gorman said.

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In fact, the ad-supported PBR channel launched on Pluto on the day the SVOD service shut down.

“We worked hand and hand with them on marketing to all their subscribers [about the transition],” Gorman said.

“It’s not just about the PBR channel in isolation,” he added. “We have a strong audience that likes content with a strong overlap. We have channels of outdoor content, we have action movies. ‘Walker Texas Ranger’ is a great overlap in content.”

Meanwhile, PBR helps viewers discover other channels they like on Pluto, he said.

“There’s a huge opportunity for SVOD platforms to offer linear channels in the AVOD space,” Gurman noted, adding Pluto TV has a channel with Britbox.

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Mike Woods, a veteran of digital content service company Amagi, has started Orka TV to help ad buyers find easier ways to utilize AVOD and FAST services. The digital realm is rapidly becoming the new TV, he said.

“It is all available,” he said. “Everything can be done now.”

He noted that a channel that used to cost $500 million to set up, now costs just thousands.

Gurman and Woods noted that the monthly active users (MAU) measure of ad-supported service success is antiquated and can be fudged — for instance by counting imagined co-viewers. Pluto TV focuses on viewing hours or revenue, for instance. Revenue per hours of viewing is a key metric, Woods said.

“If you’re getting revenue per second, you’re doing pretty good,” he said.

Kino Lorber, Giant Pictures Launch Free Ad-Supported Streaming Service Kino Cult

Kino Lorber has partnered with Giant Pictures to launch Kino Cult, a free ad-supported streaming destination for genre lovers of horror and cult films.

Featuring hundreds of hours of curated, theatrically released films all in high-definition, with new titles added monthly, Kino Cult launches widely in the United States and Canada on Oct. 1 across Web, mobile devices and connected TVs, with VOD apps on major devices, such as Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Google TV, iOS, Android and more.

Giant Pictures is the technology partner for Kino Cult, responsible for the device apps, channel distribution and ad-tech in the new venture.

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“From the arthouse to the haunted house, the channel will dive deep into unapologetically weird genre cinema, blending recent art house discoveries fresh from cinemas with high quality restorations of notorious grindhouse gems,” according to a press release.

Kino Lorber brings 40 years of experience as a theatrical and home entertainment distributor of international and American indie films to Kino Cult, where the focus will be on “the wild and the weird of genre cinema,” according to the release. Kino Cult plans to serve its audience with a deep catalog of hundreds of relevant titles, many of which are streamable for the very first time, all in HD, the press release noted.

The channel will offer cult cinema across action, horror, comedy and sci-fi, both new and rare vintage hits of genre cinema, giving movie fans “access to films that have not been easy to find in the streaming age,” the press release stated.

Distribution Solutions Putting Content on Pluto TV

Distribution Solutions, a division of Alliance Entertainment, has announced a new partnership with Pluto TV to distribute its content through the free streaming TV service across the United States.

Content from Distribution Solutions will begin appearing on Pluto TV channels starting in fall 2021.

“We are excited to partner with Pluto TV,” Ben Means, president of Distribution Solutions, said in a statement. “Through this partnership, premium independent content from our label partners will be available to their impressive audience of 52 million monthly active users.”

More than 450 hours of content from Distribution Solutions’ label partners will be available for streaming on Pluto TV, curated to plug into the Pluto TV channels.

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Notable titles coming to Pluto TV include family favorites such as The Cat in the Hat and Benji; cult classics such as Gone in 60 Seconds (1974), the Andy Sidaris films and “Gumby”; true crime content such as the “Becoming Evil” docuseries; and recent indie horror hits such as Hostile and Open 24 Hours.

“We are thrilled to welcome Alliance Entertainment and its expansive collection of top-quality content to the world of Pluto TV,” Will Gurman, VP of global content partnerships for Pluto TV, said in a statement. “With this partnership, we look forward to bringing our viewers an even wider array of genres and programming to lean back and enjoy, ranging from reality to history, kids content, and more — all for free.”

Survey: More Than Half of U.S. Consumers Added a Streaming Service in the Past Year

A February 2021 survey of U.S. consumers found more than half (55%) had added a streaming service in the past year, including nearly three-fourths (74%) of consumers aged 25-34 and 72% of consumers aged 35-44. The survey found 70% were currently using streaming TV services.

The survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers over the age of 18 was conducted by marketing solutions company Vericast.

Products advertised on streaming TV were more relevant than on traditional cable TV, according to 64% of consumers aged 25-34 and 69% of consumers aged 35-44 surveyed. As a result, almost half (46%) of all respondents indicated they are more inclined to research or purchase a product or service they saw on streaming TV than on traditional TV. In the past year, more than one-third of consumers have made a purchase based on a connected TV ad.

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“Brands can — and should — leverage connected-TV to target and reach consumers more effectively than traditional TV,” said Amanda Shelton, Vericast VP of product, digital marketing and technology group.

Additional findings from the survey include:

  • 64% of consumers use their mobile device or tablet to shop while watching TV on a streaming service, with 82% of parents noting they browse or shop online while streaming TV;
  • Viewing ads is preferred over paid subscriptions, with more than half of consumers (54%) willing to view ads in their streaming TV experience for a lower monthly subscription cost;
  • Consumers age 35-44 were most willing to view ads in their streaming TV experience for a lower monthly subscription cost (69%), followed by age 25-34 (64%) and 18-24 (59%); and
  • Consumers were willing to trade data for a better ad experience, with 68% of consumers saying they were willing to share data with brands to improve their streaming TV ad experience, including the types of shows they watch regularly and anonymous demographic data.

FilmRise Picks Up Distribution of TV Movies, Series and Romantic Comedies From Reel One

FilmRise, a New York-based film and TV studio and streaming network, has entered into a distribution agreement with Reel One Entertainment for a package of 15 originally produced romantic comedy films and an additional 100 titles consisting of made-for-TV movies and TV series.

The original movies will debut in the United States this year.

FilmRise will be offering to broadcast and digital platforms five recently completed original films, including A Picture Perfect Wedding, with “Letterkenny” star Tyler Johnston, and A Wedding to Remember, starring Christina Rosato who has been cast in a recurring role on Disney+’s upcoming “Turner & Hooch” series reboot. Producers were able to responsibly produce the films during the pandemic by featuring real-life couples in lead roles.

FilmRise will be the exclusive distributor in the United States across streaming outlets for the licensed made-for-TV movies and series and will sell TV rights alongside Reel One.

These programs include more than 100 titles comprised of female-fronted thrillers that debuted on Lifetime, and holiday, genre films and series such as the family-friendly crime-drama “Detective McClean: Ties That Bind.”

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“We are excited to bring these films and TV series to our digital partners and the FilmRise Streaming Network,” Danny Fisher, CEO of FilmRise, said in a statement. “Feel-good movies have made networks successful over many years, and now more than ever, they have become comfort-viewing for audiences during these challenging times.”

“Reel One is happy to be in business with FilmRise, a company building from strength in digital distribution,” Tom Berry, CEO of Reel One, said in a statement. “We hope that this is just the beginning.”

Cinedigm Partners With Bloody Disgusting for Ad-Supported Horror Streaming Network

Cinedigm and horror Web brand Bloody Disgusting have partnered to launch a new AVOD and ad-supported linear horror streaming network set to premiere in time for the Halloween season.

The network will offer a free source for horror content, targeting genre enthusiasts and casual viewers alike, according to a press release.

Featuring a mix of horror classics, contemporary cult favorites, and original programming, the channel will “reflect the programming and curatorial sensibilities” of Bloody Disgusting and the technology and distribution capabilities of Cinedigm, according to the release. Cinedigm will push the channel to more than 60 partners globally, which includes distribution partners such as Vizio, Samsung, Xumo and Tubi.

Horror is one of the most popular entertainment genres worldwide, representing over 9% of all film and entertainment spending and generating more than $1.2B in global ticket sales in 2019, according to the release.

“Despite a huge, mainstream fanbase, there is no dedicated ad-supported horror network on either basic cable or via linear OTT distribution,” according to the release. “Bloody Disgusting’s launch will fill an important void for operators in this popular genre.”

For nearly 20 years, Bloody Disgusting has been a destination for horror aficionados with an audience of more than 20 million dedicated fans seeking coverage of all things horror. The Chicago-based media company produces a namesake website and mobile app, and also produces the weekly show on YouTube “This Week in Horror” with a social footprint of more than 2 million engaged fans. Bloody Disgusting has also both produced and distributed films in the horror genre, including the Sundance Film Festival films V/H/S, V/H/S/2 and The Woman, as well as the TIFF Midnight Madness film Southbound.

The Bloody Disgusting channel will celebrate horror alongside feature presentations of their original films. New programming from Jon Grilz’ “Creepy,” “Bloody Disgusting’s Boo Crew,” “SCP Archives,” “Horror Queers” and “This Week in Horror” will also debut on the network this October with special trick-or-treat events planned for Halloween.

Cinedigm will also provide content from its catalog, which includes horror titles such as The Collector, Psycho, White Zombie and “Tales from the Crypt” and foreign favorites such as Destroy All Monsters, World of Kanako and Tenebrae.

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Bloody Disgusting has had more than 1.6 million downloads over the last 30 days, according to the release. Its podcasts regularly chart in the top 20 in their respective categories (Fiction, Film Review, and Film Interview). “Creepy” charts in the top five in fiction and is in the top 20 of all podcasts during the Halloween season. Both current and new podcasts will be made available in the consumer iOS and Android apps in addition to film and television programming. The company further expects to include additional mixed media content, including eBooks, comics and other content in the near future.

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“We are excited to bring our slate of original programming and network of podcasts to new audiences through this partnership. Cinedigm is the perfect partner to help bring this network to market,” said Tom Owen, president of Bloody Disgusting, in a statement.

“For nearly 20 years, Bloody Disgusting has been a leading tastemaker and the top media destination for the massive global horror fanbase,” Erick Opeka, president of Cinedigm Digital Networks, said in a statement. “Our goal is to partner with the market leader when we launch new channels, and in the horror genre, there is no better partner than Bloody Disgusting. We are excited to scare the hell out of the world together.”

Tubi Execs See Bright Future in AVOD

LAS VEGAS — The ad-supported video-on-demand streaming service Tubi touts itself as having the largest library in the space, at about 20,000 titles, four times that of Netflix, and Tubi executives see a bright future in the free alternative to subscription VOD.

“I think 2020 is going to be the year of AVOD,” said Tubi CEO Farhad Massoudi in an interview with Media Play News at CES. “I think there are going to be a lot of new players in the space, and I very much welcome it.”

Mark Rotblat

Tubi logged 20 million monthly active users as of June 2019, and 132 million hours a month as of September, noted chief revenue officer Mark Rotblat.

The service is on more than two dozen platforms, including Vizio, Samsung, Sony and Google; at CES, Tubi announced the addition of its service to Hisense’s Vidaa platform in spring 2020.

AVOD is gaining ground as cord cutting accelerates. In the third quarter of 2019, 2 million households cut the cord, up from a half million in the previous-year quarter, Massoudi noted.

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Also, the consumer is being inundated with existing and new SVOD platforms, with longtime players Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu joined by recent entrants Disney+ and Apple TV+ and upcoming services, such as WarnerMedia’s HBO Max.

“Subscription fatigue is a real problem,” Massoudi said. “The idea of subscribing to all these services is just crazy.”

SVOD services will increasingly focus on original content, he noted.

“The role of SVOD will be providing original content to justify the expense on your bill,” he said.

Meanwhile, AVOD services such as Tubi are mining catalog, and deep catalog at that.

“By definition AVOD is not a content forward property,” Massoudi said. “We will never get a shiny title like ‘Friends’ [for which WarnerMedia paid nearly half a billion dollars for streaming rights].”

In contrast, Tubi is judicious about spending on content.

“If I have $1, I can put it on one title or I can aggregate five titles for that dollar and have more viewership,” Massoudi said.

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While Tubi welcomes competitors, Massoudi said the service has a technological jump on new entrants.

“We’re well ahead of the market,” he said, adding studios or other companies looking to enter the AVOD space “would have to do a massive tech investment,” such as the investment Tubi has made in its recommendation engine.

“Content isn’t enough,” he said.

Tubi’s machine learning helps viewers personalize their content and wade through the thousands of available titles.

Massoudi and Rotblat would not reveal any revenue numbers for the independent company. They noted that over the past nine years, the company has raised a mere $35 million, meaning ad revenues are a key driver of the business.

“We are doing financially very well,” said the CEO, noting the staff has doubled to more than 220 in the past year.

While Viacom snapped up AVOD player Pluto TV, Massoudi said Tubi isn’t interested in being acquired.

“We’re focused on being independent,” he said. “We want to take this public.”

Roku Buys Online Ad Platform Dataxu for $150 Million

Roku on Oct. 22 announced that it has entered into an agreement to purchase Boston-based Dataxu, an online platform enabling marketers to plan and buy video ad campaigns, for $150 million in cash and stock.

The acquisition has been approved by each company’s board of directors and is anticipated to close in the fourth quarter of 2019, subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.

Advertisers today spend more than $70 billion dollars on traditional TV. According to Magna Global, OTT accounts for 29% of TV viewing but so far has only captured 3% of TV ad budgets. As viewers continue to migrate to streaming, automated media buying solutions are expected to unlock more advertising investment into OTT.

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Roku streams more ad-supported hours than any other OTT platform, according to a June 2019 comScore analysis. With more than 30.5 million active accounts, Roku ranks among Ad Age‘s Top 200 marketers.

The acquisition will enable Roku to provide marketers a single, data-driven software solution to plan, buy, and optimize their ad spend across TV and OTT providers.

“TV advertising is shifting toward OTT and a data-driven model focused on business outcomes for brands,” Anthony Wood, CEO at Roku, said in a statement. “The acquisition … will accelerate our ad platform, while also helping our content partners monetize their inventory even more effectively.”

In Forrester’s New Wave: Cross-Channel Video Advertising Platforms 2019 report, dataxu recently received highest scores for its current offering in cross-channel video advertising.