FilmRise Licenses Children’s Programming, Including ‘Barney’

FilmRise, the New York-based film and TV studio and streaming network, has licensed a selection of children’s programs, including “Barney and Friends,” “Angelina Ballerina” and “Camp Lakebottom,” from 9 Story Distribution International for placement on its North American, AVOD-based FilmRise Streaming Network.

The deal includes non-exclusive licenses to Seasons 10-14 of “Barney and Friends,” the first four seasons of “Angelina Ballerina,” and the first three seasons of “Camp Lakebottom.”

“These popular children’s programs fit perfectly into our strategy of increasing our market share within the children’s/family space,” said FilmRise CEO Danny Fisher in a statement. “Audiences have an enduring appetite for these established, recognizable family-friendly TV series for kids, and we are pleased to offer them to new generations of children with no fee to their parents.”

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“Barney & Friends” is  targeted at children ages 2–7. It features the title character Barney, a purple anthropomorphic Tyrannosaurus rex who conveys educational messages through songs and small dance routines with a friendly, silly and optimistic attitude.

“Angelina Ballerina” is a British animated children’s television series, based on the Angelina Ballerina series of children’s books. The program is about Angelina Mouseling, a fictional young mouse who is training to become a ballerina. Dame Judi Dench performs the voice of Miss Lilly, her ballet teacher.

“Camp Lakebottom” follows 12-year old boy named McGee. When McGee sets out for summer camp, but ends up on the wrong bus, he meets Squirt and Gretchen, and they end up at Camp Lakebottom. The forgotten, weird place has a lot of adventures in store for the three friends and their enemy Buttsquat.

Resonate: 82% of U.S. Consumers Watch Some Form of OTT Content

A large majority — 82% — of U.S. consumers now watch some form of OTT content, with only 55% still watching cable TV, according to data from the from the “State of Streaming” report from Resonate, a provider of A.I.-driven consumer data and analytics.

The report suggests live TV resonates well with older demographics that are used to viewing live TV through traditional broadcast. The live TV streaming only audience skews older, with the largest age group being 45-54 years old, while the streaming on-demand only audience is on the younger side, with the largest group being 25-34 years old.

Streaming live-TV viewers are mainly using ad-support or free services (AVOD), such as Pluto TV, Roku Channel and Tubi TV. They under-index against all paid live TV services. Streaming live-TV-only viewers skew male. The majority uses Pluto TV to stream live TV programming. They enjoy programming produced by CBS and Fox, especially “American Dad” and “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

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Streaming on-demand only viewers skew female. The majority of the audience watches Netflix and Amazon Prime Video regularly. Out of the top four on-demand streaming services, their favorite shows are on Netflix.
This audience tends to binge-watch their favorite TV shows using their smart-TVs.

Resonate also examined the different characteristics among the customers of streaming services. According to the research, Peacock and Paramount+ subscribers vary significantly in terms of gender and tastes in TV shows. Peacock subscribers skew male, while Paramount+ subscribers skew female. Peacock subscribers prefer comedy shows, while the Paramount+ subscribers have more eclectic tastes, ranging from comedy to crime genres. Overall, both Peacock and Paramount+ subscribers are avid sports fans. However, the Peacock subscribers are supporters of their local professional sports teams, while the Paramount+ subscribers enjoy sports programming overall without any local professional team affiliations.

The Resonate proprietary data set includes more than 14,000 relevant data points that describe more than 230 million individual U.S. consumers, according to Resonate.

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.”

Redbox Adds Oscilloscope Content to AVOD Service

Redbox has partnered with film production and distributor Oscilloscope Laboratories to bring hundreds of hours of content to its ad-supported VOD streaming service.

Films that will be offered include We Need to Talk About KevinThe Messenger and Howl. They can be viewed for free via the Redbox app via Roku, Vizio, Samsung, Apple TV, Android TV, LG, Xbox, iOS, Android and Web.

Many of Oscilloscope’s films have won or have been nominated for Academy and Golden Globe Awards.

In We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011), Kevin’s mother (Tilda Swinton) struggles to love her strange child (Jasper Newell), despite the increasingly dangerous things he says and does as he grows up. But Kevin is just getting started, and his final act will be beyond anything anyone imagined. Directed by Lynne Ramsay, We Need to Talk About Kevin also stars John C. Reilly.

The Messenger

Academy and Golden Globe Award nominated The Messenger (2009) stars Woody Harrelson as an American soldier who struggles with an ethical dilemma when he becomes involved with a fallen officer’s widow. Directed by Oren Moverman, The Messenger also stars Ben Foster, Samantha Morton and Jena Malone.

Howl (2010), starring James Franco, explores the 1957 obscenity trial of the 20th-century American poet Allen Ginsberg’s noted poem of the same name. Written and directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, the film also stars Aaron Tveit, Jon Hamm and David Strathairn. Additional titles include the  documentary Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father, the sci-fi psychological thriller Coherence and the drama Wendy and Lucy.

“Oscilloscope has created some of the most innovative content in Hollywood,” Chris Yates, GM of Redbox On Demand, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to bring hundreds of hours of their movies to our Redbox customers completely free.”

AVOD Service Documentary+ Available on Vizio SmartCast TVs

The documentary streaming platform Documentary+ is now available on Vizio SmartCast TVs.

Audiences can find curated content from Documentary+’s collection of nonfiction films and series on Vizio WatchFree+, the free streaming service available on Vizio SmartCast TVs. SmartCast audiences can now access Documentary+’s programming via the updated WatchFree+ program guide, with no additional devices, subscriptions, logins or fees.

The Documentary+ channel hosts nonfiction titles spanning across genres from true crime to exposés to music docs. The average Documentary+ user has watched 80 minutes of content since it launched as an AVOD streaming service in January 2021.

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Documentary+ houses a collection of feature documentaries, cult classics and shorts and features award-winning and nominated filmmakers including Spike Jonze, Kathryn Bigelow, Penny Lane, Elaine May, Jessica Beshir, Terrence Malick, Werner Herzog and Sam Pollard. Included in the existing library is the docuseries with Anthony Bourdain and VICE “A Cook’s Tour,” which follows Bourdain on his travels across the world to explore local culinary cuisines from Tokyo to Portugal to the Napa Valley over 35 episodes.

“We are bullish on the idea that FAST is the next step in the evolution of TV as we build Documentary+ to become the leading premium doc channel,” Bryn Mooser, Documentary+ founder, said in a statement. “Launching on Vizio’s SmartCast is bringing the Documentary+ channel to millions more households.”

“With access to feature-length and short documentary films from the Documentary+ channel on WatchFree+, we are able to serve up a premium content and viewing experience at no cost to the SmartCast audience,” Greg Barnard, director of content acquisition for Vizio, said in a statement. “Adding these high quality, non-fiction films to the ever-expanding library of content options means there is something for everyone with SmartCast.”

In addition to Vizio, Documentary+ is available on smart-TV channels including Xumo, LG Channel Plus and LG Channels as well as on-demand streaming apps including Apple TV, Amazon and Roku, mobile devices, and www.docplus.com.

OTT.X Panelists Discuss Growth and Challenges of OTT Market

While the OTT market is growing exponentially, OTT players are facing several “pain points,” including the need to improve content discovery, better manage data and compete in an ever-more-crowded marketplace, said panelists Sept. 1 during the OTT.X Fall Summit in Los Angeles.

Clunky content discovery is still a problem for consumers and the OTT services that serve them.

“How do we shorten the distance between discovery and either purchase or consumption, either in terms of clicks or in terms of satisfaction to the customer?” said Chris Yates, GM of Redbox on Demand, adding it’s challenging “helping a customer find what they want to watch quickly and in the business model that matters to them.”

And the problem of discovery is only getting more complicated, especially in the ad-supported space, where the number of players is exploding, noted Colin Petrie-Norris, CEO of Xumo.

“Today across the ecosystem there are maybe 1,500 linear free ad-supported TV (FAST) channels across all the platforms,” he said. “That’s going to be 10,000 in three years’ time.”

Unlike during the rise of broadcast and cable, the barriers to entry in the digital ad-supported marketplace are lower.

“Linear TV or cable TV used to be one of those places you had to have a lot of money to get access to,” Petrie-Norris said. “It is now being democratized. To get a linear national, even global TV channel is now possible for a much more humble budget.”

And that makes for a competitive landscape.

“The biggest challenge is that the FAST space is a gladiator pit where only the strong will survive,” said Erick Opeka, chief strategy officer at Cinedigm.

“Building our audience is the biggest pain point in the sense that there’s an increasingly fragmented distribution environment,” said Philippe Guelton, president of Crackle.

Getting the viewership data for digital content and evaluating what to do with it is a challenge as well.

Some platforms are “walled gardens” and do not share data, Opeka noted.

“In this ostensibly purely digital environment, you would think aggregating data and getting insights from the ecosystem would be much easier,” he said.

Data can also be overwhelming.

“We’re drowning in data and getting really good at making smart decisions out of it is tough,” he said.

Despite the challenges, the market for digital ads is hot.

“We see much more advertising demand than we have supply, which in my 30 years in working in ad-supported media I’ve never seen before,” Guelton said.

“I think advertisers today, frankly they just love the space,” Petrie-Norris added. “It’s all digital. You can track results. … It’s almost magic.”

Still, panelists said that delivering those ads could use some improvement.

Yates pointed to the “coming back soon” screens that pop up sometimes for minutes at a time when an ad doesn’t load.

“That’s an experience that the industry needs to solve,” he said.

Ad placement could also become more attuned to the viewer, perhaps with a smaller load while a consumer is casting around for something to watch and with more ads once the consumer is hooked.

Panelists also addressed the growth of PVOD — a higher-priced digital rental early in or concurrent with the theatrical window — during the pandemic as theaters shuttered.

“The real question is how long is this model sustainable,” Opeka said. “We’ve seen some pretty fantastic revenues out of the few [titles] that we’ve experimented with, way beyond what we would have thought possible … three or four times what we would have thought would be the potential pre-pandemic.”

“The one thing I can predict is if the revenues for PVOD continue to be as astronomical even for independent releases I can almost guarantee the market will be flooded with them,” he added.

Cricket Wireless Offering Ad-Supported HBO Max Service Free to Customers

Starting August 20, Cricket Wireless will offer the ad-supported tier of HBO Max ($9.99 per month value) for free to new and existing customers on its $60 per month unlimited plan.

That wireless plan comes with 15GB of mobile hotspot and access to Cricket’s 5G network on eligible devices.

“We are always looking for ways to bring our customers the best value possible. We know they are hungry for content and HBO Max offers the most cutting-edge and high-quality entertainment available,” Tony Mokry, VP and chief marketing officer of Cricket Wireless, said in a statement. “From cult classics to new HBO Max Originals, we know our customers will be smiling ear to ear when they dive in. We’re so excited to be able to bring this incredible service and library of content to our beloved customers.”

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“Since launching HBO Max last year, we’ve continually expanded customers’ access to the product, and partnering with Cricket, our first prepaid wireless distributor of the streaming platform, is a great opportunity to offer millions of customers instant access to HBO Max at no cost to them,” Jennifer Mirgorod, head of partner management and partner marketing for WarnerMedia, said in a statement.

“The ad supported tier of HBO Max is a best-in-class, consumer-first media experience featuring the most premium content alongside an industry-leading limited advertising environment,” JP Colaco, president of WarnerMedia ad sales, said in a statement. “As we continue to see strong growth to this offering, we are pleased to further expand our footprint and welcome the Cricket Wireless customers.”

In addition to viewing shows from their phones, customers can access the streaming service by downloading the HBO Max app on a supported device.

Existing HBO Max customers who are on Cricket’s $60 unlimited plan can download the app and use their Cricket Wireless credentials to start this benefit. New and other existing customers can get or upgrade to the $60 per month plan and get access to the ad-supported tier of HBO Max.

Quarter of U.S. Internet Users Rely on Mix of AVOD and SVOD

A quarter of U.S. Internet users now rely on a mix of ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) and subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services for their entertainment, according to research firm Ampere Analysis.

The figure has risen from 15% in Q1 2020.

The quality and popularity of SVOD services is typically driven by their exclusive titles whereas AVOD services tend to rely on high volumes of non-exclusive content from major studios to bolster the quality perception of their catalogs, according to Ampere.

“Ampere’s analysis demonstrates the potential for AVOD services to co-exist with well-established subscription services and offer a cheaper way to view content online for price-sensitive consumers,” according to Ampere.

AVOD viewers tend to be older and less affluent than their SVOD counterparts and tend not to stack multiple SVOD services, preferring traditional pay-TV packages. In the study, older users (ages 55-64 years old) were the fastest-growing age bracket of AVOD viewers, with a seven-percentage-point increase in AVOD uptake among the group in the last year alone. This was also the fastest-growing age bracket for SVOD, but due to the greater maturity of the SVOD market, saw the cohort post just a 3.5 percentage point growth in the last year.

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“We can see the appeal with older audiences at present, but AVOD services will need to compete more directly with the content on SVOD if they want to attract the younger, more affluent audience already familiar with SVOD,” said Ampere analyst Tom Bell.

U.S. AVOD catalogs are large — but are primarily made up of older, non-exclusive titles, according to Ampere. While SVOD services typically rely on their vast catalog of exclusive titles to increase the quality and popularity of their content offering, this is not the case for AVOD services. The quality and popularity of AVOD catalogs is driven mainly by non-exclusive content, with their large catalogs made up of a much higher proportion of studio titles that are also licensed to other services.

All major SVOD services in the United States offer some content that is available on AVOD for free, according to Ampere. Amazon, Hulu and Peacock have a significant amount of content that is also available via AVOD services. In total, 12% of titles on SVOD are also available on a free AVOD platform in the United States. However, a small number of platforms account for the majority of the overlap between SVOD and AVOD. Amazon Prime Video has the greatest overlap with Fox-owned AVOD service Tubi, with 6,600 titles shared between the two services; over 90% of these are lower-value movies. This is followed by NBCU-backed Peacock, with 715 titles available free on Tubi, with the majority of these also available via Peacock’s free AVOD tier.

Looking ahead, the AVOD players are starting to move into original programming to differentiate their catalogs and reduce reliance on licensed content, Ampere noted. Roku, Vudu, Crackle and IMDb TV have all begun to commission original programming, focusing primarily on documentary and comedy titles. Rival service Tubi has also committed to original productions, targeting 140 hours of new original content in late 2021.

“As studios are reserving an increasing proportion of their content for their own platforms, AVOD platforms are beginning to follow suit and commission their own originals,” Bell said in a statement. “While content exclusivity remains a key difference in strategy between AVOD and SVOD platforms, these early moves into original commissioning bring AVOD players a step closer to increasing their catalog exclusivity and quality and differentiating themselves in a crowded market.”

Study: Almost Half of TV Content Viewers in U.S. Use an AVOD Service Monthly

Almost half (46%) of TV content viewers in the United States report using an ad-supported streaming service (AVOD) at least monthly, according to a new study.

Meanwhile, 28% use a free ad-supported TV (FAST) service with ad supported linear channels in addition to their on-demand offerings, according to Horowitz Research’s recent State of Viewing and Streaming 2021 report.

Consumers are using a wide range of ad-supported services with linear content. Pluto TV, Tubi, The Roku Channel app, and IMDb TV are the services consumers report using most often, according to the survey of 2,000 TV content viewers conducted in May.

Streaming is poised to eclipse traditional platforms in terms of share of viewing of long-form TV content, the Horowitz study showed. Among consumers overall, 35% of self-reported time spent is now spent on linear content delivered via a traditional service (cable, satellite, or over-the-air through an antenna), while 37% is spent on streamed content (the rest is spent on cable or satellite-delivered VOD, content that is DVR’d, or DVDs).

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Half (50%) of time spent among 18-34 year olds is on streamed content, while only 18% of their time is spent with traditional, linear content.

Six in 10 (58%) streamers feel that ads are a fair “price” for being able to watch TV content for free or for a small price. Almost four in 10 consumers (38%) are starting to notice — and appreciate the more customized, personalized advertising experience they are getting through streaming.

“Consumers’ love for entertainment content and their desire to get as much of that content as they can for as little as they can hasn’t changed,” noted Adriana Waterston, SVP of insights and strategy for Horowitz. “The fundamentals of the industry haven’t changed. What has changed are the expectations consumers have about how, where and when they can consume the content they love, and the technology that exists to deliver those experiences. When delivered in the screen-agnostic, watch-anywhere, and highly personalized viewing experience of the streaming environment, we are seeing some consumers not just tolerating, but welcoming advertising, particularly when it is customized to their interests.”