FilmRise Inks Content Deals With Rooster Teeth, Lorne Michaels’ Above Average

New York-based film and TV studio and streaming network FilmRise has inked content deals with Rooster Teeth and Lorne Michaels’ Above Average Presents.

Under the deal with Above Average, a division of Broadway Video, FilmRise will create streaming TV episodes featuring a variety of comedy sketches taken from the more than 40 hours available from the Above Average library. FilmRise will distribute the newly formatted comedy series to all digital platforms as well as feature it on the FilmRise Comedy AVOD App and its FAST Channels. 

“Our deal with Above Average expands our digital native offerings to include comedy with high-profile, high-quality programming,” Max Einhorn, SVP of acquisitions and co-productions at FilmRise, said in a statement. “Above Average is a brand that features some of the biggest names in comedy and has over 8 million subscribers in its network and 2.4 billion views on YouTube.”

“We are thrilled to expand Above Average’s audience to streaming viewers around the world,” Marc Lieberman, president of Above Average, said in a statement. “Since the launch of Above Average, we have watched the network grow exponentially, and are excited to partner with FilmRise’s innovative team to expand our digital footprint worldwide.”

Initially FilmRise will roll out two seasons, consisting of 15 episodes each. Episodes will range from 22 minutes to 30 minutes long. The programs will include comedy sketches from “7 Minutes In Heaven,” featuring talent such as Paul Rudd, Tina Fey, Ellen DeGeneres, Amy Poehler and Andy Samberg, among many others; “Cool Kids’ Table”; “Forgotten Assholes of History”; “Hudson Valley Ballers”; “I Wanna Have Your Baby”; “Is This Okay?”; “Paulilu Mixtape”; “Sound Advice”; “The Idiot’s Guide to Smart People”; “Thingstarter”; and “Waco Valley.”

FilmRise plans to launch the first two season in July 2022.

Under the Rooster Teeth deal, FilmRise has acquired the exclusive SVOD, AVOD and FAST rights to more than 400 episodes across three properties of digital native content from the subsidiary of Warner Bros. Discovery. The three properties are the first animated series that FilmRise has acquired for the digital native content division.

The deal includes exclusive SVOD, AVOD and FAST rights to all episodes of “Red vs. Blue,” “Camp Camp” and “Nomad of Nowhere.” FilmRise will curate groupings of episodes seasons from each property and package them into traditional half-hour TV style seasons and episodes for streaming audiences.

“We are thrilled to expand our rapidly growing slate of digital-first content with these incredible programs from Rooster Teeth, a digital entertainment pioneer that has created a passionate global fandom and lifestyle brand,” Einhorn said in a statement. “FilmRise recognized early on the huge landscape of talent in the digital native content space. We’re delighted Rooster Teeth will partner with our expansive streaming network to bring their content to wider audiences.”

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“Our partnership with FilmRise provides instant worldwide international distribution and exposure on multiple streaming platforms leveraging our global fan base, expanding our programming into many new territories and bringing new fans into our community,” Geoff Yetter, head of licensing and consumer products at Rooster Teeth, said in a statement.

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“Camp Camp”

“Red vs. Blue” is an animated comedy set against the Halo video game world, chronicling the lives of soldiers on the Red Team and the Blue Team. “Camp Camp” is an animated comedy series surrounding the misadventures of a cynical 10-year-old sent to summer camp against his will. “Nomad of Nowhere” is a Western-fantasy hybrid, following bounty hunters Captain Toth and Skout as they track the Nomad (a non-verbal scarecrow) for his magical capabilities. The series examines the relationship between the two female bounty hunters in the face of the ever-evolving nature of their adventures. All three series were produced in-house by Rooster Teeth’s animation studio in Austin, Texas.

FilmRise Picks Up Distribution Rights to Children’s Programming From WildBrain

FilmRise, the New York-based film and television studio and streaming network, has announced a partnership with WildBrain to distribute children’s programming.

The deal gives FilmRise non-exclusive North American English and Spanish-language distribution rights to more than 900 episodes across 10 children’s programs on AVOD and FAST platforms. 

Programs included in the deal are all four seasons of “Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego,” starring Academy Award-winner Rita Moreno as the voice of Carmen; both the classic and new adaptations of “Strawberry Shortcake,” including WildBrain’s new original series “Berry in the Big City”; the first four seasons and movie spinoffs of the animated sci-fi adventure “Slugterra”; “Kid vs. Kat”; “The L.A. Complex”; “Sabrina”; and “Super Mario.” 

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“As one of the world’s premiere children’s content creators and distributors, WildBrain has an incredible library of well-known productions and brands for younger audiences,” Danny Fisher, CEO of FilmRise, said in a statement. “We are fortunate to be partnering with them as we continue to expand our children and family programming offerings.”

“Partnering with FilmRise allows our popular properties to reach a larger and wider range of audiences,” Lara Ilie, VP of revenue share and transactional at WildBrain, said in a statement. “We are excited to share these lovable programs with more families.”

OTT.X Speakers: Streaming Market Entering a New, More Competitive Phase

The streaming marketplace is entering a new phase as consumers balk at paying for more subscription services and turn to cheaper and free ad-supported options. But while those more economical options are experiencing growth, that marketplace, too, is getting more crowded and competitive. That’s according to speakers at the OTT.X Online event Feb. 23.

“The days of build it and they will come are over,” said Quincy Newell, CEO of TwentyOne14, which operates Fuse Beat, available on Roku and offering entertainment and lifestyle content targeting Black culture.

“Quality is important and key. Exclusivity is preferable,” he said.

“I think original content is becoming more important,” said Philippe Guelton, president of Crackle Plus. The AVOD service garners original content from parent company Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment.

Meanwhile, Gary Delfiner, CEO of Watchfreeflix, which offers various free streaming channels of licensed content via Roku and other platforms, noted originals aren’t as important as some think.

“I’m not that focused on original content,” he said. “I can’t afford it. I’m not Amazon and I’m not Netflix.”

Watchfreeflix plays to its strengths in horror and action thrillers, among other genres, he said.

“I believe that quantity and not sacrificing quality is the reason people are watching my channels,” he said.

He noted that SVOD services aren’t refreshing their new content that frequently, while he is constantly getting new content and creating new channels, all offered to audiences at no cost.

“I think free is a good price,” he said.

Guelton agreed that free ad-supported services have an advantage, but the competition is getting fiercer.

“When it comes to AVOD, the game is almost over,” he said. “On the FAST [free ad-supported TV], linear side, I think there’s a much longer runway.”

Newell said that his company is careful about what content it acquires and creates to stay on top of the market.

“I don’t want to have long-term licenses,” he said, adding he likes to refresh content based on audience feedback.

His team subscribes to other services to identify gaps in the marketplace and uses social media to communicate with audiences.

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“We have a very large social presence,” added Zack Coffman, founder and CEO of global OTT distributor One World Digital.

Jonathan Skogmo, founder and CEO of Jukin Media, said his team uses social media to incubate content ideas.

Platforms, such as Roku, can be an important and influential marketing partner, speakers said.

“It’s the platforms that hold the gate,” said Berkin Ecevit, sales and business development director at SPI International, a global media company that is moving into the FAST space.

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Getting to the top of the marketing list at such platforms is challenging, he said.

“Valentine’s day you’ve got to have love movies,” he noted. “What if we don’t have those?”

“The big question is what kind of leverage do we have,” Guelton added. “What can we trade? … and, yes, it can be money.”

The type of content distributors can offer is key, too.

“They’re willing to promote it for free if it’s exclusive,” Guelton said, adding the quality of the brand is important as well.

“The Crackle brand is well-respected,” he said, as is that of its parent Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Kathryn Przybyla, director of social media at America’s Test Kitchen, agreed that a good brand gives FAST players a leg up.

“People know who ATK is,” she said.

Coffman said communicating with the platforms is key.

“Start to pay attention to what the platforms are telling you,” he said, adding “if you become a great partner, the platform is more than happy to work with you.”

Skogmo noted that there’s a “sense of choice paralysis” among consumers that makes brand equity and good key art crucial.

“I think you have to have a really clear voice of what you’re curating and why you’re curating,” he said.

Stuart McLean, CEO of FAST Studios, told FAST players to “lean in on graphics packages and thumbnails.”

As a platform player among the panelists, Jennifer Vaux, head of content acquisition at the Roku Channel was coy about what prompts Roku to market a channel above others.

“You’re essentially telling the viewer what they’re going to spend their time with,” she said, adding with hundreds of channels to search through, content owners “really need to cut through the noise.”

As far as what Roku is looking for in acquiring and promoting a channel, she said a strong IP is attractive, as well as a deep library.

“We’re always looking to partner with people who have expertise in different genres,” she also said.

The data that a streaming channel collects is helpful in defining a strategy, speakers said.

“Sometimes content resonates completely differently depending on the platform,” Przybyla said.

In contrast with legacy channels, streamers get real-time data, McLean said.

“We don’t wait for Nielsen,” Coffman said.

“We’re lucky because we are a platform … we generally see what people are watching on our own channels and use that to inform our programming decisions,” Roku’s Vaux said.

While the U.S. market is crowded, speakers noted that going global might make sense.

“I think the world is wide open,” SPI’s Ecevit said.

“That’s a market that is wide open and somewhat untouched,” Watchfreeflix’s Delfiner agreed.

Clockwise from top left, moderator Anthony Layser of Xumo and panelists Jennifer Vaux of the Roku Channel, Jonathan Skogmo of TMB, Kathryn Przybyla of America’s Test Kitchen, and Zack Coffman of One World Digital.

Vizio Partners With TransUnion to Better Reach Connected-TV Homes

Vizio has partnered with credit service TransUnion’s TruAudience Data Marketplace to enhance advertiser appeal for its ad-supported streaming Household Connect platform across 19 million internet-connected branded TVs.

“This allows advertisers to leverage our proprietary data along with data from the TransUnion and execute full-funnel marketing campaigns for the Vizio audience,” Oz Lang, VP of product management at Vizio, said in a statement. “After being presented an ad on TV, viewers will see a complementary ad or call-to-action on their computer, tablet, or mobile device shortly thereafter, all powered by the same data.”

Vizio claims that a major cable network leveraged Household Connect to drive a 64% increase in viewership for its flagship season premiere, including significant lifts in both awareness and ad recall rates of 80% and 90%, respectively.

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“By leveraging the TruAudience, Vizio combines their audience viewing data with other first and third-party data across tens of millions of connected homes,” added Matt Spiegel, EVP of media and entertainment at TransUnion. “This partnership provides brands and marketers enhanced advertising and efficacy.”

ElectricNow FAST Channel Available on Samsung Smart TVs and Mobile Devices

Electric Entertainment, a Los Angeles-based production, distribution and post-production company, has partnered with Samsung to deliver ElectricNow’s FAST channel on all U.S. Samsung smart-TVs and select mobile devices. 

“Our live linear channel will now be reaching the enormous Samsung TV Plus audience,” Dean Devlin, CEO of Electric Entertainment, said in a statement. “This is extremely exciting for us and ElectricNow, specifically since we will be able to expose new viewers to our fan favorites, such as ‘Leverage,’ ‘The Librarians,’ ‘Almost Paradise’ and ‘The Outpost.’ We are happy to report that the ElectricNow app has millions of viewers since its inception and is rapidly growing on a consistent basis.”

ElectricNow is a premium OTT app and FAST channel featuring Electric Entertainment’s own produced content such as TV series “Leverage,” “The Librarians,” and “The Outpost,” as well as acquired programming such as the feature films Blackway, starring Anthony Hopkins, and The Book of Love, starring Jason Sudeikis and Maisie Williams. The ElectricNow Channel is available on platforms including The Roku Channel, Plex, STIRR, Local Now, Sling TV, TiVo Plus, IMDb TV, Redbox, XUMO, Distro TV and Select TV. In addition to the free streaming content, the ElectricNow App also includes special bonus feature content, a program guide, and video-on-demand and pay-per-view components. The channel and app are home to Electric’s newly launched podcast network, Electric Surge, which includes such series as “The Official Leverage: Redemption Aftershow: A Very Distinctive Podcast,” “Inglorious Treksperts,” “The 4:30 Movie,” “Best Movies Never Made” in a line-up that includes podcasts devoted to “Star Trek,” “Dr. Who” and other sci-fi and entertainment industry-related topics.

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Headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif., Electric Entertainment is an independent studio headed by veteran producer Dean Devlin along with his partners Marc Roskin and Rachel Olschan-Wilson. Electric Entertainment also houses Electric Post, a digital effects and post-production facility.

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,” Max Einhorn,  SVP of acquisitions and co-productions for FilmRise, said 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,” Richard Goldsmith, president of global distribution and consumer products at Thunderbird Entertainment, said 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.

Apptopia: HBO Max Most Downloaded Entertainment App in 2021 in U.S.

HBO Max, which provided same-day theatrical releases, was the most-downloaded entertainment app in 2021, according to data from Apptopia.

The top list, specifically for the United States, included Tubi, an advertising supported video service (AVOD) bought by Fox in May 2020; 2021 has been the best year for AVOD apps in the United States by measure of downloads, according to Apptopia. As judged by U.S. monthly active users, Tubi is leading the way.

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10 Most-Downloaded Entertainment Apps in 2021 in United States

  1. HBO Max — 46 million
  2. Netflix — 38 million
  3. Disney+ — 37 million
  4. Peacock TV — 30 million
  5. Hulu — 29 million
  6. Tubi — 28 million
  7. Roku — 26 million
  8. Amazon Prime Video — 25 million
  9. Twitch — 18 million
  10. Discovery+ — 16 million

Nielsen to Unveil Media Measurement Advancements at CES 2022; Admits Error in Viewing Tally

At the upcoming CES 2022 in Las Vegas, Nielsen announced it will reveal a step toward Nielsen One, its single cross-platform measurement solution, showcasing its newest advancement, Nielsen One Alpha deduplicated ad measurement.

Meanwhile, the research firm is admitting an error in measuring out-of-home viewing, according to a report from Broadcasting and Cable. The firm informed clients that it didn’t include out-of-home viewing recorded by its Portable People Meters in its ratings starting in September 2020.

Nielsen blamed the problem on a software kink. “As a result, out-of-home viewing estimates may be understated. While there is little to no impact to most telecasts, we did find larger variances for events that tend to yield larger out-of-home audiences such as live sporting events,” a Nielsen letter to clients read. Nielsen added out-of-home viewing last year.

Alpha is the first iteration of Nielsen One which will continue to evolve with new feature additions, enhancements, and model improvements leading up to the launch of Nielsen One in the fourth quarter of 2022, according to the company.

Disney and Magna join several agencies, advertisers and publishers as Nielsen One Alpha participants from both the buy and sell sides of the industry.

“There’s a critical need for the evolution of measurement to truly reflect audiences and engagement, and Disney is uniquely positioned to help define and develop that roadmap,” Julie DeTraglia, head of research, insights and analytics for Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, said in a statement. “We are pleased to join the Nielsen One Alpha program to ensure it accurately creates a holistic view of ad performance and content viewership for the industry.”

Nielsen One Alpha will be specific to ad campaigns, unveiling the first cross-platform measurement system of its kind that offers both comparability and audience deduplication across all screens (linear TV, connected TV, computer and mobile), according to the company. Media buyers and sellers will for the first time have the most holistic view of their ads across consumer delivery systems and platforms in a harmonized and holistic manner — crucial as the linear and digital landscapes continue to rapidly converge, the company announced. The deduplicated ad measurement metrics account for age and gender information.

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“We are pleased to be working with Nielsen to provide insight and feedback regarding Nielsen One and ensure it delivers on its promise of being a truly holistic cross-screen measurement solution,” Brian Hughes, EVP and  managing director of audience intelligence and strategy for Magna, said in a statement.

“All our hard work this past year has positioned us to take this significant step in fundamentally changing the game and providing the industry with what it wants, needs and deserves,” Karthik Rao, chief operating officer of  Nielsen, said in a statement. “We are on track to deliver our single cross-platform measurement solution in the fourth quarter of 2022, as planned and in a manner that will support the $100 billion video advertising ecosystem. The Alpha launch serves as a clear proof point in our ability to deliver and we are working closely with a diverse group of clients on this important step. In fact, Nielsen One will bring together all the intelligence we have to date in order to help clients capitalize on consumers’ rapidly shifting media habits.”

Participants in this early Alpha range from select agencies, advertisers, digital publishers and networks.

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.