Ampere: Global OTT Revenue to Top Box Office in 2019

It’s an over-the-top world, now with the box office living in it.

New projections from London-based research firm Ampere Analysis contend global revenue ($46 billion) from over-the-top video platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video will supplant the worldwide box office ($40 billion) in 2019.

With Netflix and Prime Video already driving SVOD revenue passed the domestic box office in 2017, the trend is expected to repeat in the United Kingdom this year and in China in 2019.

Surprisingly, Ampere found that SVOD subscribers remain frequent moviegoers, with subscribers attending theatrical screenings twice as often as non-subscribers. The ratio increased by a factor of three in Japan – despite SVOD services costing about half as much as a theatrical ticket.

“Our analysis of consumers in 15 markets reveals that although there are differences in the cost of cinema attendance by country, there’s clearly an appetite for content amongst some consumers, whether that be on the big screen, or a smaller one,” senior analyst Toby Holleran said in a statement. “The key for cinema is to understand that while SVOD subscribers are more avid cinema goers, this may not always be the case. Therefore, the shared experience of watching a film on the big screen must remain an enticing — and realistically priced.”

 

 

 

Amazon Prime Jumpstarts ‘Aquaman’ Domestic Theatrical Release with $3 Million Sneak Screening

Amazon continues to flex third-party revenue opportunities through its Prime membership base.

The e-commerce behemoth reportedly helped generate almost $3 million in ticket sales for Warner Bros.’ upcoming DC superhero movie Aquaman, following a Dec. 15 sneak screening. The tally beat Amazon’s previous $1.8 million collaboration with Sony Pictures for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

Working with Atom Tickets, Amazon enabled Prime members to purchase up to 10 tickets for the special screening available at more than 1,200 theaters nationwide,including AMC, Regal, National Amusement Theaters and ArcLight Cinemas.

Paid sneak screenings – unlike free previews – reportedly offer studios a better estimate how movies will perform under general release.

Directed by James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring, Insidious), Aquaman stars Jason Momoa in the title role, in addition to co-stars Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Nicole Kidman, among others.

The movie, which opens Dec. 21, has already generated $261.3 million in foreign box office revenue.

Amazon, which has more than 100 million Prime members, first began leveraging its user base via Prime Video Channels (formerly Amazon Channels) affording third-party streaming video platforms such as Starz, Showtime OTT and HBO Now direct access to its members, while handling billing and backend support in exchange for a percentage of revenue.

Indeed, parent companies of Showtime, CBS All Access, Starz and HBO Now have attributed much of their subscriber gains to Amazon.

 

 

‘Beautiful Boy’ to Stream on Amazon Prime Video Beginning Jan. 4

Beautiful Boy, which has earned Timothee Chalamet a Golden Globe nomination for best supporting actor, will stream exclusively on Amazon Prime Video starting Jan. 4.

Based on the best-selling pair of memoirs from father and son David and Nic Sheff, Beautiful Boy chronicles the heartbreaking and inspiring experience of survival, relapse, and recovery in a family coping with addiction over many years.

The film also stars Steve Carell, Maura Tierney and Timothy Hutton.

It has earned $7.4 million in theaters since it opened in October.

Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu Lead Parks Associates Top 10 OTT Services List

Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu, in that order, lead Parks Associates updated list of the top 10 subscription over-the-top (OTT) video services in the U.S. market. The list, released Nov. 7, is based on estimated number of subscribers.

The full list in order is:

  1. Netflix
  2. Prime Video Users (Amazon Prime)
  3. Hulu (SVOD)
  4. HBO Now
  5. Starz
  6. MLB.TV
  7. Showtime
  8. CBS All Access
  9. Sling TV
  10. DirecTV Now

 

“Which company is the leading OTT video subscription service remains a topic of debate,” said Brett Sappington, senior director of research, Parks Associates, in a statement. “According to our estimates, Amazon has more Prime Members than Netflix has subscribers. However, when you consider only those Prime Members that use Prime Video, Netflix is the largest. Hulu remains the third largest but continues to grow its subscriber base.”

The firm noted the rise of a second tier of OTT video services from services with recognized brands, including several with high profile original content. Online pay-TV services Sling TV and DirecTV Now round out the top 10, ahead of similar services Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV and PlayStation Vue. Online pay TV has been one of the fastest growing segments in the OTT video space, with aggressive marketing by all, according to Parks.

“HBO, Starz, Showtime, and CBS All Access demonstrate the powerful attractiveness of original content through series like ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Star Trek: Discovery,’” Sappington said in a statement. “This pattern suggests new services such as WarnerMedia’s DC Universe and the forthcoming streaming service from Disney could achieve success quickly.”

The top subscription sports OTT video services are MLB.TV, WWE Network and ESPN+. MLB.TV continues to lead the sports OTT subscription category, benefiting from its long tenure as a streaming service and popularity among dedicated baseball fans, according to Parks. WWE also has a dedicated fan base and publicly reported having more than 1.2 million U.S. subscribers at the end of Q3 2018, according to Parks. ESPN+ is a newcomer to the OTT video marketplace but recently announced that it had exceeded 1 million subscribers.

Other findings include:

  • OTT video subscription penetration has reached 64% of U.S. broadband households, with more than two-thirds subscribing only to one of the top three services, Netflix, Prime Video, or Hulu;
  • The online pay-TV audience is similar to the OTT audience — they are younger and quicker to adopt new technologies when compared to traditional pay-TV households; and
  • Over the past three years, OTT churn rates have gradually fallen each year from 31% of OTT subscriptions cancelled each year in 2015 to 28% in 2018.

PBS’s ‘Dark Money’ Hits Amazon Prime Ahead of Election

The documentary Dark Money from PBS Distribution is now available to stream exclusively through Amazon’s Prime Video ahead of the election.

Dark Money is also available on digital, DVD and Blu-ray.

The documentary examines one of the greatest present threats to American democracy: the influence of untraceable corporate and union money on our elections and elected officials. The film takes viewers to Montana — a frontline in the fight to preserve fair elections nationwide — to follow a local journalist working to expose the real-life impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision, uncovering the truth of how American elections are bought and sold.

The recipient of the Sundance Institute/Amazon Studios’ Producers Award, Dark Money is directed and produced by Kimberly Reed. The film was recently nominated for top documentary awards at the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards (winners announced Nov. 10) and the International Documentary Association’s IDA Awards (winners announced Dec. 8).

Dark Money was released theatrically in July and broadcast on PBS’s documentary series “POV” Oct. 1.

‘Big Mouth,’ ‘Man in the High Castle’ Score Big on Digital Originals Chart

Two new digital originals popped up in the top 10 the week ended Oct. 13, according to Parrot Analytics.

Netflix’s “Big Mouth” took over the top spot from “Stranger Things,” which had been No. 1 for three weeks, with 40.2 million average daily Demand Expressions for the week, up 172% from the prior week.

And Amazon Prime Video’s “The Man in the High Castle” reappeared on the chart at No. 4 with a 65% spike in demand, attributed by Parrot to the debut of Season 3.

Demand Expressions is a proprietary metric used by Parrot Analytics to measure global demand for TV content. The metric draws from a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

A “digital original” is described as a multi-episode series in which the most recent season was first made available on a streaming platform such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Hulu.

Demand for “Big Mouth,” an adult animated sitcom centered around a group of middle school students going through puberty, surged due to the release of new episodes that became available for streaming on Oct. 5. The series, created by Nick Kroll, Jennifer Flackett, Mark Levin, and Andrew Goldberg, uses raunchy humor to discuss sensitive and controversial issues. One new episode got plenty of press for examining Planned Parenthood and talking up all the other services it offers besides abortion.

Demand for “The Man in the High Castle” also was fueled by the Oct. 5 “drop” of Season 3, consisting of 10 episodes. The new season, according to Parrot, is “a fully realized post-WWII dystopian drama honoring Philip K. Dick’s big theme. … We have seen high fan engagement for this title not at least due to the incredible cinematographer and director Ernest Dickerson.”

Back in July, at San Diego Comic-Con, Amazon announced that the series had been renewed for a fourth season.

Elsewhere on the chart, “Stranger Things” finished the week at No. 2, with an 11% drop in demand. “Marvel’s Daredevil” slipped a spot to No. 3, but demand was up slightly (4%) as audience anticipation builds for Season 3, Parrot Analytics says.

Rounding out the top five was “Ozark,” the “Breaking Bad”-like Netflix drama about a family forced to move its money-laundering operation to a resort in the Ozark mountains to placate a violent drug cartel. The series rose up a notch as demand increased a modest 6% on word that Netflix has commissioned Season 3.

Media Play News has teamed with Parrot Analytics to provide readers with a weekly top 10 of the most popular digital original TV series in the United States, based on the firm’s  proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

Amazon Music Expands Service in Canada

Amazon Sept. 26 announced the launch of Amazon Music Unlimited in Canada, featuring voice-activated controls by Alexa.

Amazon launched Prime Music in 2016, with Canadian service bowed in 2017. Amazon Music Unlimited affords users access to millions of more songs and artists on the Amazon Music app for iOS and Android, and on all Echo devices.

Amazon Music Unlimited is available to all customers, offering even more music and ways to ask for it through Alexa. Users have the ability to ask for music on any Alexa-enabled device, including through the Amazon Music app for iOS and Android, by mood, era, genre and title.

Users can also request a playlist based on activity, set music alarms to wake up to, build and add a song to a new playlist just by asking, or return to a song they were listening to earlier in the day. With hands-free listening in the Amazon Music app, users can simply ask Alexa to play music, anywhere they go.

Available in more than 40 countries, Amazon Music offers ad-free access to the newest music from artists such as Ariana Grande, Drake, Arkells, Shawn Mendes and Carrie Underwood, among others, with unlimited playback and skips.

In addition to a range of locally curated playlists and stations featuring international chart-topping artists, from “Brand New Music” to “All Hits,” Amazon Music Unlimited offers numerous playlists and stations featuring Canadian artists from all genres including Cœur de pirate, Celine Dion, The Weeknd, Blue Rodeo and Jessie Reyez. Subscribers can also find the best in top genres, from Tory Lanez on “Fresh Hip-Hop” to The Reklaws on “Fresh Country,” as well as explore a range of globally available playlists, including “Pop Culture,” which spotlights the latest pop music releases.

Amazon is offering new Prime subscribers a free 90-day trial for a variety of plan options, including the standard Prime member price of CDN$7.99/month or CDN$79/year, the individual plan for non-Prime members at CDN$9.99/month; the family plan, which allows up to six members of a household to share a subscription for CDN$14.99/month for Prime and non-Prime members, or CDN$149/year for Prime members; the single device plan, offering full access to Amazon Music Unlimited at CDN$3.99/month on one Echo device, including the recently announced Echo Dot, Echo Plus, Echo Show and more.

“We’ve seen such a positive customer response from the launch of Prime Music for Canada last year, and with today’s launch we’re excited to bring more customers even more choice and ways of discovering music with Alexa,” Sean McMullan, head of international expansion for Amazon Music, said in a statement.

‘The Romanoffs’ to Debut Oct. 12 on Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime Video announced the Oct. 12 premiere of “The Romanoffs” at the Television Critics Association Summer 2018 Press Tour over the weekend.

The SVOD service also released a new teaser revealing the line-up of guest stars featured in the series created, written, directed and executive produced by nine-time Emmy award winner Matthew Weiner (“Mad Men”).

“The Romanoffs” is a contemporary anthology series, set around the globe, featuring eight separate stories about people who believe themselves to be descendants of the Russian royal family. The series was shot on location on three continents and in seven countries collaborating with local productions and talent across Europe, the Americas, and the Far East, according to an Amazon release. Each story takes place in a new location with a new cast.

In addition to the previously announced cast, including Isabelle Huppert, Diane Lane, Christina Hendricks, Paul Reiser, Amanda Peet and John Slattery, Amazon announced guest stars, including Noah Wyle (“Falling Skies”), Kathryn Hahn (“Transparent”), Kerry Bishe (“Halt and Catch Fire”), Jay R. Ferguson (“Mad Men”), Ben Miles (“Collateral”), Mary Kay Place (“Big Love”), Griffin Dunne (“Imposters”), Cara Buono (“Mad Men”), Ron Livingston (The Conjuring), Clea DuVall (“Veep”), Radha Mitchell, (Silent Hill) and Hugh Skinner (Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again).

Cast and Producers Discuss Amazon’s ‘Man in the High Castle’ at Comic-Con Ahead of Oct. 5 Third-Season Debut

Streaming viewers, used to the immediate gratification of binging, will have been waiting nearly two years to see the third season of Amazon’s original series “The Man in the High Castle” when it debuts on Prime Video this fall.

“The anticipation is great,” said producer Isa Dick Hackett, who is also the daughter of sci-fi author Philip K. Dick, who wrote the book.

Hackett, producer Daniel Percival and cast members spoke at Comic-Con about the epic science-fiction drama.

The third season, which debuts Oct. 5, will feature more about the resistance, some reunions and more romance, Hackett said.

“We wanted to offer some sort of hope because it’s an awfully bleak world,” she said.

Set in 1962, “The Man in the High Castle” explores an alternate history in which the Axis powers won World War II. The Nazis rule over the Eastern part of the United States and the Japanese the West, with a neutral zone in the middle. The theme of fascism is particularly resonant in light of current events, producers noted.

“We’re on a slippery slope to fascism,” said Percival.

“It’s not even a slow roll. It’s like a jog,” added Hackett. “My father really feared fascism.”

Rufus Sewell plays Nazi leader John Smith, who is rising in the Reich despite some family secrets. Smith’s vicious actions and Nazi membership don’t make him an archetypal villain, Sewell said. He is a human reacting to circumstances as did many Germans who supported the Nazis in World War II.

“The reason he made the decisions he made was to protect his family,” Sewell said. “People are on to the genetic problem in his family. It’s not patriotism that makes him climb. It’s survival.”

“I hope that people are able to connect with these characters,” said Alexa Davalos, who plays Juliana Crain, a woman on the run and caught up in the resistance. Even Smith has elements of humanity, she noted.

Jason O’Mara is joining the cast for the third season as an Irishman in the neutral zone.

“He and his family have been persecuted by the Nazis,” O’Mara said. “Essentially he’s a good person, but we’re not sure whether to trust him or not.”

Hackett noted she spent years trying to get the “High Castle” project off the ground, until Amazon stepped in.

“It was impossible to get it sold on a network, I think because it’s very subversive,” she said, noting the show is also expensive to produce.

Though streaming viewers have been known to binge an entire season at once, “I also think people like to go through it at their own pace,” she said.

The streaming format allows for a less episodic feel, Percival noted.

“We don’t have to create false climaxes to bring you in and out of commercial breaks,” he said.

Producers have had to make a few plot adjustments because of the state of current affairs, Sewell noted. A plotline about a wall, for instance, had to be scrapped.

Amazon Studios has greenlit a fourth season of the series.

IHS Markit: Amazon and Netflix Ramp Up Global Production

Since rolling out worldwide in 2016, streaming-video giants Amazon and Netflix are building their presence in local country markets with a growing amount of original content, according to IHS Markit.

Netflix launched 1,257 hours of original first-run content in 2017, well ahead of Amazon Prime Video’s 285 hours, according to IHS Markit. Netflix has also dramatically increased that content outside the United States, with 402 hours launching last year.

International content accounted for 40% of Amazon’s total original first-run output last year, compared to 32% for Netflix, according to IHS.

“The availability of local content is primarily how both platforms adapt their services to various countries, along with local currency pricing, local-language websites, dubbing and subtitling,” according to an IHS release.

Netflix global original production has jumped from the first season of “Lilyhammer” in 2012 to 300 titles in 2017.

“Offering content that is locally made, but which plays worldwide, is just one of the methods Netflix, in particular, has revolutionized the TV programming business,” according to IHS.

Amazon has stepped up original production, but is well behind Netflix in overall volume, IHS noted. Amazon Prime Video also produced a single international title in 2012, renewing a cancelled BBC series, “Ripper Street,” and the company has gone on to launch 56 such original titles in 2017.

“Netflix and Amazon have cast a wide net, in terms of program genres, commissioning dramas and comedies, children’s live action and animation, documentaries and rights to theatrical movies,” said Tim Westcott, director of research and analysis, channels and programming, IHS Markit, in a statement. “Both companies have also dabbled in reality TV, and they are expected to move further into this area in the future.”

According to the Channels and Programming Intelligence Service from IHS Markit, at the end of last year, Netflix had 52.8 million online streaming video subscribers in the United States. Netflix international subscriptions outstripped those in the United States in 2017, with 57.8 million at the end of the year. Amazon Video subscribers in the United States reached 30.2 million in 2017. Amazon Video, having switched on globally later than Netflix, is well behind in terms of subscribers outside the United States, which totaled just under 15 million at the end of last year.

“In the linear TV era, channels produced programming primarily for domestic consumption, with international sales an often lucrative — but definitely secondary — revenue stream,” Westcott said in a statement. “The time-lag between U.S. and international release also encouraged piracy of hit shows, like HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones.’ Now, both Amazon and Netflix are originating programming in order to capture a global audience, releasing their originals on the same day and date in multiple territories. This also means that non-U.S. programming has the potential to find an audience in the world’s largest entertainment market — one where subtitled or dubbed programming has been almost unheard-of outside the art-house cinema circuit.”