FilmRise Acquires Worldwide Digital Rights to Zombie Series ‘Z Nation’

New York City-based film and television studio and streaming network FilmRise has acquired certain digital rights to the Syfy Channel zombie series “Z Nation” from The Asylum.

The deal gives FilmRise worldwide distribution rights to 69, hour-long episodes of all five seasons of the sci-fi horror/drama series for all digital media, including ad-supported streaming, digital linear, AVOD, FAST, SVOD, FVOD, TVOD and digital sellthrough, as well as exclusive airline and ancillary rights.

“Z Nation” follows a group of survivors as they navigate a post-apocalyptic world filled with zombies and danger at every turn. These civilians are escorting a mysterious stranger across a zombie infested United States. As he is the only known survivor of a zombie bite, his blood might have the cure to save humanity.

The series began streaming on Netflix in 2015 after its first season broadcast.

“Zombies and post-apocalyptic worlds continue to captivate audiences around the world,” Max Einhorn, SVP of acquisitions and co-productions for FilmRise, said in a statement. “The ‘Z Nation’ franchise has demonstrated remarkable strength and success, boasting multiple seasons on the Syfy Channel — an acquisition that aligns perfectly with our programming goals.”

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“Our incredibly devoted fan base for the series, as well as its Netflix spinoff ‘Black Summer,’ will be thrilled,” David Rimawi, founding partner of The Asylum, said in a statement. “We’re ecstatic that FilmRise will soon make ‘Z Nation’ accessible to audiences, whether existing enthusiasts or those new to the show, in a worldwide, free and accessible manner. We also look forward to sharing other exciting news regarding the ‘Z Nation’ franchise very soon.”

Analyst: Netflix, Prime Video Well-Positioned to See Revenue Gains From Advertising Later This Year

With Netflix about a year into offering ad-supported paid streaming, and rival Prime Video joining the fray in January, new data from Wedbush Securities suggests the two streamers could see positive revenue from advertising by 2025.

The Wall Street firm recently hosted a forum featuring advertising executive Sean Adams with GumGum, a platform for advertisers that provides intel, ad creatives, measurement, and optimization for online ad campaigns.

Adams expects that the growth of ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) distribution, increased programmatic ad buying, and advancements in ad measurement effectiveness to drive continued growth in the sector.

The executive contends that Netflix’s $6.99 monthly ad-supported SVOD option is gaining traction among consumers as it expands its capabilities by developing partnerships beyond Microsoft (i.e. Amazon’s CTV platform) that enhance its ability to analyze consumer data and offer more refined measurement and return on investment to marketers.

“The Netflix ad tier has to drive at least $9.66 in monthly-per-user ad revenue to be financially accretive,” Wedbush wrote, adding that it expects the streamer to generate $8 in average revenue per user by the fourth quarter.

“Netflix appears to be developing partnerships across a variety of CTV platforms, including Google/Android, Roku, Samsung, Vizio, and LG, among others,” read the report.

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E-Marketer recently published its latest U.S. connected TV ad spending growth estimates, which project 19% year-over-year revenue growth from 2023, and double-digit annual growth until 2028.

Adams said he believes Prime Video is starting its ad-supported streaming platform with “significantly more” ad-supported subscribers and inside data than Netflix, based the Amazon’s global Prime ecommerce platform.

“We think the Prime Video opportunity could result in $6.5 billion in
incremental advertising revenue for Amazon globally, while eMarketer estimates Prime Video ads could generate $3.88 billion by 2025 in the U.S. alone,” Wedbush wrote.

“As CTV offers more intelligent ad placements and analysis than traditional television, CTV ad spending is catching up and should surpass traditional TV by the end of the decade,” Adams said. “We think the proliferation of free ad-supported TV (FAST), along with sports increasingly shifting to over-the-top (OTT) options will accelerate the shift of ad dollars.”

Indeed, both Netflix and Prime Video are approaching live sports, with the latter heavily invested in the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football,” among other sports. Netflix in July will live-stream an exhibition boxing match between former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson and cruiserweight Jake Paul.

Netflix reports first quarter (ended March 31) fiscal results April 18.

Pluto TV Celebrates 10th Anniversary With Pluto Planetary Status Rally

Ad-supported free streaming service Pluto TV April 1 celebrated its 10th anniversary with a rally in support of Pluto’s planetary status at UCLA Bruin Plaza in Los Angeles.

“It’s been 18 years since Pluto was demoted and we think it’s time for Pluto to have a vote in its own destiny,” read a Pluto TV press release.

The rally included a speech from Dr. Alan Stern, a flown commercial astronaut, planetary scientist, space program executive, aerospace consultant, speaker, and author. He leads NASA’s New Horizons mission that explored the Pluto system and is now exploring the Kuiper Belt — the farthest exploration in the history of humankind.

As a counterpoint in the Pluto conversation, Neil deGrasse Tyson has made a special recording of his stance on the dwarf planet and its classification. The video recording available to watch here

Believers in Pluto’s right to planet-hood can sign the petition online to show support.

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Jack Hanna FAST Channel Launches on Pluto TV

Hearst Media Production Group, a producer and distributor of wildlife programming, announced the launch of HMPG’s FAST channel The Jack Hanna Channel on Pluto TV.

The announcement follows HMPG’s recent acquisition of the library of TV series hosted by the wildlife ambassador. The purchase added nearly 400 episodes of the series “Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown” and “Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild” to HMPG’s portfolio of Hanna content.

The Jack Hanna Channel showcases Hanna as he takes viewers on worldwide adventures to discover some of the most fascinating animals.

Audiences can access The Jack Hanna Channel for free on Pluto TV’s “Animals + Nature” category. 

“Wildlife programming, and Jack himself, are hugely popular with all audience demographics, and The Jack Hanna Channel has proven a powerful audience draw across platforms,” Andrew Tew, HMPG SVP, global licensing and distribution, said in a statement.

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“We are excited to partner with HMPG and deliver our audiences 24/7 access to the wonders of The Jack Hanna Channel,” Scott Reich, SVP, programming, Pluto TV, said in a statement. “This addition to our newly launched Animals + Nature category brings our viewers more of the wildlife programming they love and endless opportunities to learn and explore.”

Walmart Looking Into Purchase of CE Manufacturer Vizio

Walmart is reportedly in talks to buy consumer electronics company Vizio. which manufactures smart TVs featuring its own WatchFree+ ad-supported service as well as other apps.

The retailer is looking at a more than $2 billion buy of the company, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. The deal would offer Walmart an advertising platform for its goods.

Vizio Feb. 6 announced that its ad-supported WatchFree+ streaming platform doubled its viewing hours to an undisclosed amount in the past 12 months.

The platform, available to owners of connected Vizio televisions, offers more than 300 channels, 15,000 on-demand titles, 10 curated channels programmed in-house, and expanded studio partnerships with Warner Bros. Discovery, Electric Entertainment, Sony, and Lionsgate, among others.

“WatchFree+ has solidified its position as the premium, free streaming destination for Vizio households,” Katherine Pond, group VP of platform content and partnerships, said in a statement Feb. 6.

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Vizio posted net income of $13.8 million for the third quarter ended Sept. 30, compared to net income of $2 million in the prior-year quarter, and net revenue of $426.2 million, compared to $435 million in Q3 2022. Gross profit grew 20% to $96.5 million. The Platform+ segment tallied net revenue of $156.2 million, up 22% from Q3 2022, and gross profit of $99.8 million, up 26% from the prior-year quarter.

Cineverse Unveils EntrepreneurTV FAST Channel

Cineverse has unveiled a new, free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channel, EntrepreneurTV, initially available on Sling Freestream, with additional distribution coming soon, according to the company.

EntrepreneurTV is the first-ever FAST channel from Entrepreneur Media, the publisher of Entrepreneur magazine. It will feature more than 200 hours of content streaming 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

EntrepreneurTV provides shows ranging from high-stakes investment, documentaries and behind-the-scenes looks at major brands to tips for starting a company and more.

“Our partnership with Entrepreneur to bring this lifestyle channel to life is a great opportunity to develop a unique channel programmed around useful information and proven advice,” Marc Rashba, EVP, Partnerships at Cineverse, said in a statement. “EntrepreneurTV provides valuable content tapping into the growing interest and fascination around start-up businesses and entrepreneurship, and we are excited for its debut with Sling, with more to be announced in coming months.”

“Entrepreneur Media’s mission is to help people start, build and grow their businesses, and we know there are millions of entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs at home watching television,” Bill Shaw, president of Entrepreneur Media, said in a statement. “Through this partnership with Cineverse, we can inspire, educate and entertain many more people, and help them pursue their dreams.”

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EntrepreneurTV’s current programming lineup includes:

  • “Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch” — In the investment show, founders step into an elevator and have just 60 seconds to pitch their business to a board of investors. If the investors like what they hear, the elevator doors open to the boardroom where a real deal can be made.
  • “Start Up” — Emmy-nominated host Gary Bredow travels across America interviewing small business owners to hear their personal stories and find out what it really takes to start a company from the ground up.
  • “Tech Talk” — The documentary TV series takes viewers on a discovery of emerging start-ups, reaching all verticals of technology, from soccer-playing robots to flying taxis, 3D holographic surgery and more.


EntrepreneurTV is powered by Cineverse’s Matchpoint technology platform. Other streaming channels that utilize Matchpoint’s tools include Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan, which debuted earlier this year.

The new channel joins others from Cineverse’s portfolio on Sling Freestream, which include AsianCrush, Comedy Dynamics, Crime Hunters, Docurama, Dove Channel, Midnight Pulp, Real Madrid TV, RetroCrush, Screambox TV, So…Real and The Bob Ross Channel.

Pangs of Partner Payments for FAST/AVOD Content Providers

FAST/AVOD platforms are transforming the way content is delivered and consumed. Major studios, content providers, and distributors use consumption data to illuminate viewer content affinities, and help explain which program channels align best with the right mix of advertisers.

Jerry Inman

Yet, this is only half the battle.  Alongside this innovation come the challenges to track and manage all the complex financial relationships among revenue-sharing and viewership data from platform partners in order to efficiently manage and monetize FAST data.

Standardized data is crucial to optimize revenue performance at the title-level, and resolve primary reporting pain points around viewership for TV and film content rights on FAST platforms. In a world where advertising revenue is king, companies of all sizes must have an easy way to monitor revenue performance prior to, during, and after deals are finalized, as a means to success.

Challenges in Reporting
In this new landscape, content providers are generally paid through revenue-sharing agreements, and they face major hurdles in building payment processes that monitor, reconcile and report on financial operations, and key performance measurements, such as fixed and recoupable fees, inventory share and more.

Finance Infrastructure Development
The fast-paced nature of the media industry has forced FAST/AVOD platforms to hastily establish their finance infrastructures. Often, this process involves numerous spreadsheets and manual processes that are time-consuming and prone to errors. As the platform matures, however, it becomes crucial to streamline and automate payment processes in order to reduce the risk of inaccuracies, improve operational efficiency, and scale partnerships.

Auditability and Traceability Issues
Maintaining auditability and traceability is imperative for maintaining control over financial transactions. As platforms expand their revenue-sharing agreements with content providers, audits increasingly become an inevitable aspect of the business. Ensuring that these audits can be handled with ease requires a comprehensive system that accurately records all financial interactions among the platform and its content providers. This safeguards against discrepancies and fosters trust.

Reporting Intricacies
The intricacies of reporting within the FAST/AVOD landscape are manifold. Other prominent challenges include:

  • Adjustments for different supply and demand partners: FAST/AVOD platforms often collaborate with various supply and demand partners, each with unique financial terms and conditions. Ensuring accurate adjustments for these differences demands a meticulous approach.
  • Accounting for contract terms and recoupable expenses: Content providers are compensated through various financial terms, including minimum guarantees (MGs), recoupable fees, fixed fees, and inventory share.
  • Managing these variables requires precise tracking and calculation.
    Generating content provider statements: Generating accurate and comprehensive content provider statements on a regular basis is crucial for transparency and accountability.
  • Determining advertiser revenue and billing: Monthly tasks involve determining the revenue generated from advertisers, billing, and generating the required Journal Entries (JE) for accurate financial reporting.

How to Overcome Challenges
The challenges mentioned — rapid finance infrastructure development, auditability and traceability concerns, and reporting intricacies — highlight the need for a well-structured and single automated payment system.   Such a unified system provides for:

Streamlined Title-Level Revenue Reporting
Meet reporting obligations, improve accuracy and control, and streamline title-level revenue reporting to hundreds of content providers.

Control and Management of Content Cost
ASC 920 and direct-to-consumer are impacting the industry, forcing networks and streaming platforms to revisit the way they account for content costs. It is critical to automate and enforce policy into the way that content is accounted for and paid. Direct integrations to ERP systems increase cost savings and control.

Settlement Processing Acceleration
Having an automated workflow eliminates tedious manual work while ensuring control, accuracy and auditability for all pay TV, free to air and SVOD fees. Automated programmer settlements should directly consume subscriber billing data, calculate all fee types from residential to B2B, generate statements and invoicing, and provide analytics into costs.

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The ability to automate a VOD supply chain, and seamlessly connect to studios and content readiness partners, makes financial operations more efficient and provides an advantage and ability to drive growth.

Pluto TV Adding ‘Criminal Minds,’ ‘Supermarket Sweep’ Channels

Pluto TV is adding two new FAST channels later this month, “Criminal Minds” and “Supermarket Sweep.”

In “Criminal Minds,” special agents Jason Gideon and Aaron Hotchner head up the FBI’s most elite profiling team — experts in analyzing criminal minds.

With the addition of “Supermarket Sweep,” Pluto​​ TV continues to expand its Game Show category. In the show, contestants earn time by playing grocery pricing games. Then, they use that time to run wild through the aisles grabbing everything that fits into their cart. The team that gathers the most groceries wins.

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INSP Television Network Inks Deal to Use Whip Media FASTrack for FAST and AVOD Reporting

Enterprise software platform and data provider Whip Media Nov. 28 announced that INSP Television Network, which has classic Western programming, is partnering with Whip Media FASTrack for FAST channel and AVOD reporting.

Whip Media FASTrack will assist INSP in managing detailed reporting for Imagicomm Entertainment, the network’s original content distribution arm. FASTrack will provide greater visibility into viewership and revenue data for acquired and original TV series, movies and docudramas on AVOD platforms and the Cowboy Way Channel. Additionally, it enables Imagicomm Entertainment to gauge content performance accurately and efficiently in a centralized, actionable view, according to Whip.

“INSP and Imagicomm Entertainment have been leaders in providing a trusted viewing experience and family-friendly media environment,” Vince Muscarella, Whip Media’s VP of sales, said in a statement. “By leveraging Whip Media’s trailblazing FASTrack solution, Imagicomm Entertainment will gain visibility into the FAST and AVOD content that best connects with millions of viewers while automating key financial activities and allowing their brands to focus on distribution and viewership growth. Our team couldn’t be more excited to have INSP as a partner.”

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“Our FAST channel and AVOD viewing are experiencing rapid growth, especially as audience engagement with existing content increases and the popularity of Western programming continues to surge,” Jonathan Collins, GM and VP of digital distribution at Imagicomm Entertainment, said in a statement. “For us, Whip Media’s FASTrack is automating as much as 60% of the current manual workload, saving both time and money. Partnering with the right subject matter experts in the FAST space was critical to our decision in choosing Whip Media.”

PBS Distribution Launches PBS Food FAST Channel

PBS Distribution has announced the addition of the new FAST Channel PBS Food on Freevee, Plex and Roku in the United States.

The new FAST channel provides a new way for viewers to watch titles including “Mind of a Chef,” “The French Chef With Julia Child,” “Eating In With Lidia,” “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having,” “Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul,” “Essential Pépin,” “Simply Ming” and more.

On the new FAST channel, viewers have an opportunity to see inside the kitchen of some of the world’s best chefs, past and present including Julia Child, Jacques Pépin, Marcus Samuelsson, Ming Tsai, Vivian Howard, José Andrés and many more culinary stars. 

“In this ever-changing entertainment landscape, we are proud to bring our extensive library of beloved cooking programming to the FAST space with PBS Food,” Andrea Downing, president of PBS Distribution, said in a statement. “With endless hours of lean back content, audiences will now have more ways to find our classic food content to enjoy.”

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PBS Food joins other FAST Channels available from PBS Distribution, including Antiques Road Show, Julie Child and Antiques Road Trip.