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.

AVOD Service Tubi Launches in Australia

AVOD service Tubi will launch in Australia Sept. 1.

Customers there will have access to an initial offering of nearly 7,000 movies and TV series, which will rapidly expand in the near future, according to Tubi. Titles immediately available on the service include 3:10 to Yuma, The Blair Witch Project, Kickboxer and Stranger Than Fiction, with additional titles to be made available over the next six months, including Dirty DancingThe Grudge, Requiem for a Dream, Reservoir Dogs, SawTraffic and Young Guns.

“We’re excited to offer Tubi in Australia, as the first of many launch initiatives to advance our global footprint,” said Tubi CEO Farhad Massoudi in a statement. “Our library size in Australia will expand rapidly in the coming months and eventually grow to our current library size in the U.S. of 15,000 titles — and beyond. We look forward to further activating new audiences who will discover the growing value of free video on demand.”

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Customers in Australia will be able to access Tubi via Telstra TV, Tubi.TV, or through nearly any internet-connected screen including Samsung TVs, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast and Apple iOS, as well as Android tablets and smartphones, according to Tubi. The service will also be available via game consoles, including PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Report: Millions Would Drop Netflix With Advertising

Netflix has steadfastly refused to insert third-party advertising in programming as Hulu does on its basic subscription plan.

New data from Hub Entertainment Research contends the SVOD behemoth could lose 23% of its subscribers if it added advertising, according to a June survey of 1,765 U.S. broadband consumers. About 41% of respondents said they would keep Netflix.

The SVOD pioneer ended its most-recent fiscal period with nearly 150 subscribers worldwide, including more than 50 million in the United States.

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Hub found more receptive respondents to ads on Netflix if the service also lowered the monthly subscription plan pricing. About 33% of respondents said they would accept ads if their monthly plan decreased by $1.

The percentage of ad converts increased when the monthly fee dropped by $2 or more with 53% saying they would keep Netflix and 14% saying they would not.

“The success of any Netflix ad-supported plan — whether to replace or add to its current offering — will naturally depend on whether consumers feel they’re getting a sufficient price-break return on their ad-viewing investment,” Peter Fondulas, analyst and co-author of the study, said in a statement. “But one thing is clear from these results: after one increase already in 2019, any attempt by Netflix to use an ad-supported plan as a reason to hike its ad-free price again could seriously backfire.”

Roku Launches Analytics Tool for OTT Video Advertisers

Roku May 22 announced the launch of an analytics tool that helps marketers better understand ad-supported video-on-demand — such as The Roku Channel, which ranks among the company’s most-popular. Roku has more than 29 million registered active users.

“Activation Insights” software tracks a brand’s linear TV campaign performance, with an analysis of the potential OTT audience missed and the optimal budget spend on the Roku platform.

The software is part of Roku Ad Insights Suite, which helps brands measure campaign reach and effectiveness across linear TV and OTT, including whether the audience is light TV viewers, cord-cutters or viewers who were under or over exposed to a brand’s ads on linear TV.

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According to Magna Global, OTT accounts for 29% of TV viewing, but so far has only captured 3% of TV ad budgets.

“Smart marketers are significantly increasing investments in OTT to reflect the dramatic shift to streaming,” Scott Rosenberg, SVP and GM, platform business, Roku, said in a statement. “By adding the ability to tie advertising performance on linear with a specific audience that advertisers can gain on OTT, we are addressing a long-standing industry challenge for OTT media planning.”

Indeed, Roku claims brands Baskin Robbins and RE/Max found that a sizable audience was no longer being reached via their linear TV ad campaigns. Eighty-six percent of people age 18-49 who saw a Baskin Robbins ad on the Roku platform did not see the ad on linear TV, leading to a 10.6% incremental reach, according to Roku. Additionally, 81% of users age 25-54 who saw a RE/Max ad on the Roku platform did not see the ad on linear TV, leading to a 9.2% incremental reach.

“This year’s TV upfront made one thing very clear, OTT is the new cable and powerful new video channel to reach today’s consumers,” said Michael Piner, SVP, video and data drive investments, MullenLowe. “Roku’s tool helps show us just how effective OTT is at reaching our advertisers’ valuable consumers. It gives us a detailed look behind the GRP, allowing us to identify key audiences we’re missing.”

Roku Widens Quarterly Revenue, Loss — Despite Strong User Adoption

Streaming media device pioneer Roku May 8 reported consumer streaming hours increased 74% in the first quarter (ended March 31) to 8.9 billion hours, compared with 5.1 billion hours in the previous-year period.

The Los Gatos, Calif.-based company said user accounts increased 40% to 29.1 million, from 20.8 million a year ago.

“The shift to streaming and away from linear TV and legacy distribution platforms has enormous momentum,” founder and CEO Anthony Wood said in a statement. “We estimate that in Q1 2019 more than one-in-three smart TVs sold in the U.S. were Roku TVs, making the Roku OS the #1 selling smart TV OS in the U.S.”

Despite the strong user metrics, Roku said its quarterly net loss increased 56% to $10.7 million from a net loss of $6.9 million in the previous-year period. Revenue increased 51% to $206.7 million from $136.6 million in 2018.

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Wall Street shrugged off the loss as it had expected a significantly higher decline as Roku ups content and operating expenses. Analysts also projected revenue of $190 million, which Roku topped by nearly 9%.

Indeed, ad revenue ballooned nearly 80% to $134 million from $74.8 million last year. Roku device sales increased about 18% to $65.4 million from $51.7 million last year.