Season 2 of ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ Streaming Jan. 9 on PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel

Season two of “All Creatures Great and Small” will be available to stream on the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel on Jan. 9.

Subscribers can binge season one now on the  PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel.

With an ensemble cast headed by Nicholas Ralph (“The Most Reluctant Convert”) as James Herriot, the series also stars Academy Award-winner Rachel Shenton (“The Silent Child”) as Helen Alderson, Samuel West as James’s charismatic but eccentric boss, Callum Woodhouse as Siegfried’s womanizing and carefree younger brother, Anna Madeley as Mrs. Hall and newly added cast member Olivier Award-winning actress Patricia Hodge (“A Very English Scandal”) as Mrs. Pumphrey.

The climax of season one saw Helen call off her impending wedding to wealthy landowner Hugh (Matthew Lewis, “Harry Potter”), after having developed a close friendship with James. After working hard to become accepted by the local farmers and prove himself indispensable, James became a senior vet in the Skeldale House veterinary practice. Following years of half-hearted effort, Tristan believed he had finally passed his veterinary exams. Siegfried, however, learned that Tristan failed once again, but didn’t have the heart to tell him. Meanwhile, Mrs. Hall was heartbroken when she was unable to reconnect with her estranged son.

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As season two opens, James returns from Glasgow where he has been visiting his parents for Easter. While there, he is offered a job at a modern local veterinary practice and must decide between staying home in Glasgow with his elderly parents or returning to his new life in Yorkshire.

‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ Among Programs Due on PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel in January

The new adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic novel Around the World in Eighty Days is among the titles streaming on the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel in January.
 
The subscription rate for the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel is $5.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription.

In the new, eight-episode limited series from “Masterpiece,” which begins streaming Jan. 7, viewers join adventurer Phileas Fogg, played by Emmy Award-winner David Tennant (“Doctor Who,” “Broadchurch”) as he sets out on a quest to travel around the world in 80 days. As a man who has spent the last 20 years in a comfortable leather armchair at The Reform Club, he needs all the resilience he can muster and the assistance of a quick-witted Frenchman Passepartout played by Ibrahim Koma (“As Far as I Can Walk”). Joining them on the road is a Daily Telegraph journalist (Leonie Benesch, “Babylon Berlin”), who came up with the whole crazy idea in the first place.

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Also coming to the channel is season two of the murder mystery series “Vienna Blood,” which begins streaming Jan. 9. In the series, a Sigmund Freud student and an Austrian detective team up to solve some of the most mysterious and deadly cases in the early 1900s. 

Season two of the “Walter Presents” program “The Wall: Chateau Murders” begins streaming Jan. 28 on the “Masterpiece” channel. The French series follows the story of two investigators coming together to solve the many murders and assaults in Quebec City.

Other titles coming to the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel in January include “My Mother and Other Strangers,” “Prime Suspect: Tennison,” “Walter Presents: Below the Surface,” “Walter Presents: King of Warsaw,” “Walter Presents: Moscow Noir” and “Walter Presents: St. Maik.”

New Seasons of ‘Antiques Roadshow,’ ‘Poetry in America’ Headed to PBS Living Channel in January

New seasons of “Antiques Roadshow” and “Poetry in America” are among the programs streaming on the PBS Living channel in January. 
 
The subscription rate for PBS Living is $2.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription. PBS Living is also available on Apple TV Channels in the Apple TV app at a subscription rate of $2.99 per month with no additional annual fees. 

Streaming starting Jan. 4 is season 26 of “Antiques Roadshow.” The show reveals more secrets behind family heirlooms and flea market finds, including a spectacular appraisal that marks a series first and a never-before-seen treasure that even wowed their experts. Among the many discoveries this season, fans will see a classic car appraised for the first time ever — due to its Paul Newman-signed dashboard. An unsigned light fixture, rescued after years being stored in a chicken coop, is identified as a custom-made Louis Comfort Tiffany treasure. A 1926 illustration once featured on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post is revealed to be the highest-valued find of the season.

Subscribers can go for jaunts around the countryside of Great Britain in classic cars as antiques experts compete to uncover the most unique finds in four newly released seasons of “Antiques Road Trip,” streaming beginning Jan. 4. Their adventures take them off the beaten path and allow them to indulge their passion for the past, learning about the little-known stories behind some of the greatest events in British history. Intriguing finds in these seasons include a filthy kilim rug, ancient Roman nails, a French sunburst clock, caryatid carvings and more.

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In the “Poetry in America” series, guests read and discuss unforgettable American poems with host Elisa New. The poems in season three take viewers from tight-knit Cuban neighborhoods in Miami to Robert Frost’s green Vermont, from the antebellum South to the cold interstellar bodies of the cosmos. Special guests range from poets to pop stars, ambassadors to young students. The season starts streaming Jan. 22.

Top 10 for 2021: The Biggest Home Entertainment News Stories

The year 2021 has been an eventful one across the home entertainment landscape as consumers further embraced streaming, while companies operating in legacy transactional markets adjusted their business strategies to survive.

Here are the top 10 home entertainment news stories of 2020 as chosen by the Media Play News editorial staff.

1. The Rise of AVOD and FAST — Numerous new subscription streaming services began to strain home entertainment budgets, with the average consumer, according to a TiVo study, spending $142.20 monthly on high-speed internet and SVOD — significantly more than the average $100 cable bill. Nearly 60% of respondents in a Trade Desk study said they spend too much money on multiple OTT subscriptions, with more than 66% saying escalating fees were a source of frustration. In a Future Today report, 50.6% of respondents said they opted for AVOD to end paying for SVOD. As streaming fatigue and the hit to their wallet began to set in, consumers increasingly turned to free, ad-supported services (FAST, AVOD) such as Tubi. Tubi in fact rose to one of the top 10 apps downloaded by U.S. consumers in 2021 at No. 6, just behind SVOD services HBO Max, Netflix, Disney+, Peacock and Hulu, in order.

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2. Media Mergers: Two bombshell announcements came in May, both geared toward streaming. The first was AT&T and Discovery’s announcement of a plan to  combine WarnerMedia’s Warner Bros., HBO, Turner and CNN media assets with Discovery’s reality TV-based HGTV, Food Network, Animal Planet, Magnolia, Eurosport and international entertainment businesses to create a new standalone global entertainment company focused on streaming video. Discovery CEO David Zaslav was slated to lead the new company, later dubbed Warner Bros. Discovery, with a management team and operational and creative leadership from both companies. A week later came word that Amazon would acquire MGM Studios for $8.45 billion, which CNBC at the time said marked “its boldest move yet into the entertainment industry and turbocharging its streaming ambitions.” Amazon at the time said it wanted to leverage MGM’s filmmaking history and catalog to boost Amazon Studios. “The real financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of IP in the deep catalog that we plan to reimagine and develop together with MGM’s talented team,” Mike Hopkins, SVP of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, said in a statement. “It’s very exciting and provides so many opportunities for high-quality storytelling.”

3. Sudden Impact: WarnerMedia made headlines at the end of last year when in response to the coronavirus pandemic, it announced plans to make its theatrical slate through 2021 concurrently available on the HBO Max subscription streaming platform — beginning with Wonder Woman 1984 on Christmas Day 2020. Results were mixed. Under the direction of CEO Jason Kilar, a former chief executive at Hulu, the landmark distribution strategy obliterated the legacy theatrical window. It also caught most of Hollywood off guard, including directors, producers and actors whose compensation agreements revolved around the box office take. Kilar later apologized for the abrupt decision, but doubled down on the strategy, which resulted in $463 million in domestic theatrical revenue through June 30 while growing Max subscriptions and consumer awareness. While the concurrent release strategy appeared to have little negative impact on Warner’s Godzilla vs Kong monster movie release in March, the studio would have to wait until the October release of sci-fi reboot Dune to realize another box office hit. Entering 2022, Kilar’s days seem numbered as Warner Bros. reverts back to a shortened 45-day theatrical window for most movie releases, and corporate parent AT&T awaits regulatory approval for its $43 billion minority stake WarnerMedia asset sale to Discovery.

4. Attack of the ‘+’ Sign: Discovery Jan. 4 launched its own branded SVOD service Discovery+ with little fanfare. Exactly two months later, Paramount Pictures became the latest Hollywood studio seeking to establish a foothold on the SVOD bandwagon with the launch of Paramount+. The erstwhile CBS All Access streaming platform adopted the Paramount Pictures brand to better resonate with consumers worldwide. Paramount+, along with AVOD/FAST platform Pluto TV, embodied corporate parent ViacomCBS’s belated resolve to become all things streaming. Then, in July, WarnerMedia announced plans to launch a branded news subscription streaming video service in early 2022. The name: CNN+.

5. Disc Distribution Shuffle: As physical media sales continued to decline, several studios looked for ways to cut costs and boost efficiencies. April marked the official launch of Studio Distribution Services (SDS), a joint venture between Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment to distribute packaged media in the United States and Canada. The JV, run by former Universal Pictures Home Entertainment president Eddie Cunningham, combines sales, retail marketing and distribution for the two physical home entertainment operations and is responsible for Blu-ray, DVD and 4K UHD distribution for up to 10 years. Both partner studios continue to operate their digital distribution businesses independently and retain content and consumer marketing for both physical and digital. In February, Lionsgate signed a multiyear agreement with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment for the distribution of its DVD/Blu-ray Disc releases in the United States and Canada, beginning in July. Lionsgate still has its own sales and marketing teams, but is leveraging SPHE’s supply chain and distribution services.

6. Out of the Box: Redbox aggressively embraced digital distribution — notably ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) and free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) — to piggyback on its legacy kiosk disc rental brand. The move resulted in numerous content license distribution agreements, as well as further development of Redbox-branded content acquisitions, including feature films. With about 40,000 kiosks in operation across the country, Redbox deployed digital video signage on thousands of boxes as a new way to partner with Hollywood studios to promote new-release movies, promote the company’s free streaming service, and provide a platform for third-party media campaigns. The company signed separate distribution agreements with LG Electronics and Sony PlayStation to include its FAST channels on LG Smart TVs, including their LG OLED Smart TVs, as well as the PS5 and PS4 video game consoles. Taking a page from the Amazon Channels playbook, Redbox also began featuring third-party apps on its digital platform. The company inked separate agreements with Roku and Vewd to pre-load the Redbox app on all new Vewd-powered TVs and set-top boxes in the U.S., including Hisense, Funai and Tivo, as well as pay-TV operators such as Evoca. In October, Redbox made its biggest move: Finalizing a business combination with Seaport Global Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company, and launching Redbox Entertainment as a publicly traded company.

7. TVOD Consolidation: Fandango in August merged its FandangoNow streaming platform with Vudu, which it had acquired from Walmart in 2020. The combined platforms operate under the Vudu brand, which has established itself as a digital transaction market leader, while the Fandango brand is known for theatrical ticket purchases, movie reviews and showtimes. Vudu is available in more than 75 million U.S. TV-connected device households, according to The NPD Group. The service has more than 60 million registered users and serves “millions of consumers daily” across smart-TVs, connected devices, mobile and online. “During a time where consumers have myriad viewing options, we’re proud to deliver a service that presents an unparalleled library of content, many titles that are not available on subscription services, and the flexibility to pay as you go,” said Fandango president Paul Yanover.

8. Free Agent: Sony Pictures Entertainment celebrated its role as the only studio not attached to a big media company with streaming ambitions through a series of deals and a stunning end-of-the-year victory as Spider-Man: No Way Home became the biggest theatrical release of the year. In April, SPE signed a distribution deal with Netflix for exclusive U.S. access to Sony theatrical releases following the box office and home entertainment windows. The agreement, which begins in 2022, replaces Sony’s existing digital deal with Lionsgate-owned Starz. Days later, SPE announced another deal with Disney’s streaming and TV platforms for their Pay 2 window. And in November, Sony Television signed a distribution deal with Redbox that gives the latter streaming access to Resident Evil: Retribution, Underworld: Evolution, We Own the Night and Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning

9. Home Entertainment Consolidation: Paramount Pictures in February became the latest studio to merge its theatrical and home entertainment marketing teams, a move that saw the exit of 23 home entertainment marketing and distribution personnel, including EVP of marketing Vincent Marcais, longtime publicity head Brenda Ciccone, and Dina Marovich, SVP of worldwide media and interactive marketing. In a Feb. 26 memo obtained by Media Play News, Jim Gianopulos, chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures, wrote that after an extensive review, “we have concluded that the best path forward for the company is for all home entertainment marketing functions, with the exceptions of brand marketing and customer marketing, to merge into the existing theatrical marketing departments.” The Paramount move followed similar restructurings at Warner Bros. in August 2020, Sony Pictures in October 2020, and Lionsgate in December 2020.

10. Supply Chain Crisis: Toward the end of the year, studios as well as independents were reporting delays in bringing their DVDs and Blu-ray Discs to market due, in part, to the global supply chain crisis. The other factor: limited replication opportunities. Most of the big Hollywood studios use Technicolor to replicate their discs, which is down to a single facility in Mexico. “It’s a huge problem,” said Bill Hunt, who as editor of The Digital Bits website closely monitors disc releases. “Almost every title is getting delayed, and those that aren’t are hard to find on street date.”

Season Eight of ‘Finding Your Roots’ Streaming on PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel Jan. 5

Season eight of “Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr.” will start streaming on the PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel Jan. 5.

The subscription rate for the PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel is $3.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription. During a limited-time promotion Dec. 23 to Jan. 3, the PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel will be available to new subscribers for 99 cents per month for two months. 

Exploring the mysteries and surprising revelations hidden within the family trees of popular figures, season eight includes 10 episodes of examinations and ancestral discussions with 21 subjects, including Terry Crews, Tony Danza, Kathryn Hahn, Nathan Lane, John Leguizamo, Leslie Odom Jr., Pamela Adlon, Regina King, André Leon Talley, Erin Burnett, Mario Lopez and Anita Hill, among many others. 
 
In the episode “Activist Roots,” Henry Louis Gates explores the family trees of Brittany Packnett Cunningham and Anita Hill, introducing two women who’ve made profound sacrifices for social justice to the ancestors who made sacrifices for them. 
 
Then, in “Children of Exile,” Henry Louis Gates explores the poignant roots of chef David Chang and actor Raúl Esparza — two men whose families fled their homelands to live in exile, never to return. From war-torn cities in North Korea to shark-infested waters off the shores of Cuba, Gates sets off to recover the stories of individuals who came to America against all odds and built a better life for themselves. 

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Spanning the globe, season eight maps family trees and uncovers lost ancestors from the United States and Africa; Latin America and the Caribbean; as well as Poland, Ireland, Russia and Korea.

Leo Macias Taking Marketing Post at Prime Video

Leo Macias is joining Prime Video as VP of marketing and global activation.

In this role, he will develop and lead Prime Video’s marketing and creative team, in collaboration with other internal and external stakeholders, to create and implement marketing campaigns that bring the brand to life through content, storytelling and events, according to the streamer.

Macias has won 300 international and local awards, 33 Cannes Lions, 35 Effie Awards, and 14 Clios. He comes to Prime Video from Snap Inc., where as chief creative officer he helped launch new games, original series and Spotlight, Snapchat’s user-generated content platform, among other enterprises. He led a worldwide, multicultural creative team in developing business campaigns in partnership with global brands such as Nike, Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Uber, Disney and Warner Bros.

Prior to that, Leo was chief creative officer at Laundry Service & Cycle, where he managed brands including Nike, Foot Locker, Ferrero Tic Tac, Belvedere, Amazon Music, Adobe, Dockers, Hydrow, Fossil, Hennessy and EWC. His contributions led to the agency’s first-ever Cannes Lions and Clio awards. Before that, he was based in Colombia as chief creative officer for DDB.

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Macias also spent 20 years in advertising agencies in Brazil, including stints at the Publicis Groupe, Talent Marcel and Publicis Brasil, among others. In 2019, he was recognized as one of the top five best creative leads by Campaign Magazine.

Samba TV: Amazon Focuses Christmas Ad Spending on Hispanic Market

The winter holidays typically offer an avalanche of television ads featuring most major retail brands. This year, e-commerce behemoth Amazon is targeting the majority of its Christmas marketing toward the Hispanic market.

New data from Samba TV finds that Amazon served a whopping 1.5 billion TV impressions this holiday season, about 590 million more than any of the other brands surveyed. Following the major broadcast networks, the three networks Amazon aired the most ads were Univision, Telemundo and UniMás.

Samba TV tracks more than 46 million opted-in televisions globally, including 28 million in the U.S.

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Amazon isn’t alone targeting Hispanic consumers. Samba found that of the Top 10 brands surveyed based on impression volume, eight ran ads on Spanish-language networks. In fact, Telemundo was the network that aired the most ads for Old Navy, while Univision took the top spot for DoorDash, and UniMás for Coca-Cola.

Amazon and McDonalds are doing the best job targeting consumers that don’t predominantly watch broadcast television. Samba said Amazon served 21% of its holiday market reach to light TV viewers, while McDonalds served 16% to that group. Comparatively, other brands’ reach among light TV viewers from 3% to 15%.

Regardless, most holiday TV ads are reaching households that watch a lot of linear, with cord-cutters and light TV viewers much less likely to be exposed. Each advertiser included within the Samba analysis reached mostly heavy and medium linear TV viewers with their ads.

None of the brands served more than 21% of their reach to light TV viewers, defined as the bottom 45% of linear-TV viewers within Samba’s panel based on time spent watching.

Fire TV Sticks Lead Record Amazon Black Friday, Cyber Weekend Sales

Amazon Nov. 30 announced that its branded Fire TV Stick streaming media device, along with third-party branded Fire TV devices, helped drive record online sales on Black Friday (Nov. 26) through the Cyber Monday (Nov. 29).

The e-commerce behemoth did not disclose actual revenue data, but did share that smart-TVs from Insignia, Toshiba and Pioneer using Fire TV, as well as all-new standalone Amazon Fire TV Omni and 4-Series HDTVs debuted No. 1 in sales on the website thus far in the holiday retail season.

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Analytics company Profitero said Amazon topped Best Buy, Target and Walmart, among 12 online retailers, for lowest prices across 15,530 products and 15 categories.

Among top-selling video game discs: Mojang’s Minecraft for Sony PlayStation 4, and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment’s Bakugan Champions Vestroia for the Nintendo Switch console.

Amazon is extending through Dec. 5 price discounts on all Fire TV devices, including $12 off the Fire TV Stick Lite; $20 off the Fire TV Stick (3rd Gen.); $25 off the Fire TV Stick with 4K; $20 off the Fire TV Stick 4K Max; $40 off the Fire TV Cube; and $100 off the Fire TV Recast.

Amazon Expects to Become Largest Delivery Service by 2022

Amazon says it expects to become the largest delivery service in the United States by 2022 — surpassing longtime leading couriers FedEx and UPS.

At the end of 2019, UPS was the largest package courier in the U.S., with $84.6 billion in 2020 revenue.

Speaking Nov. 29 on CNBC, Dave Clark, CEO of worldwide consumer at Amazon, said the e-commerce behemoth continues to gradually deliver its own orders rather than rely on third-party services. The company now owns its own fleet of cargo trucks, vans and airplanes.

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Analysts at Bank of America say Amazon was delivering 66% of its own orders to consumers last August, up from 58% at the end of 2019.

“We expect we will be one of the largest carriers in the world by the end of the year,” Clark told “Squawk Box.” “I think we’ll probably be the largest package delivery carrier in the U.S. by early 2022.”

Amazon in 2019 quietly became Mercedes’ largest customer for Sprinter vans — a fleet the company now uses to deliver orders the last mile to consumers.

“These things don’t happen overnight,” Clark said. “We’ve been building the logistics infrastructure, the technology platform that drives it, for two decades now, so we walked into the pandemic in a really good place.”

Amazon Q3 Online Sales, Prime Video Subscription Revenue Up

Amazon Oct. 28 reported third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) online sales of $49.9 billion, up 3% from online revenue of $48.3 billion during the previous-year period.

Online sales include myriad products, including both physical and digital books, music, videos (DVD, Blu-ray Disc), games and software. Product sales include digital content sold on a transactional basis.

Subscription services revenue increased 24% to $8.1 billion, from $6.5 billion. Subscriptions include annual and monthly fees associated with Prime memberships, as well as digital video, audiobooks, digital music, e-books and other non-AWS subscription services.

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Meanwhile, in the quarter, Prime Video released the Amazon Original movie Cinderella, starring Camila Cabello, which was the No. 1 streamed
movie across all films on streaming platforms during its opening weekend and the No. 1 streamed musical of the year.

The streaming platform announced that “The Lord of the Rings” series will premiere Sept. 2, 2022, on the streaming service, and an untitled spinoff will be produced for “The Boys” series.

In the fourth quarter, Amazon Original Movies The Tender Bar, starring Ben Affleck and directed by George Clooney, and Being the Ricardos, starring Nicole Kidman and directed by Aaron Sorkin, will release in theaters and follow on Prime Video.

Prime Video debuted 28 local originals internationally, including in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, and the U.K. Prime Video also launched Prime Video Channels for customers in India, giving Prime members the option for add-on subscriptions of over-the-top services, and the Prime Video Store in Brazil, giving customers the opportunity to rent or buy new movie releases.

Prime Video streamed its first-ever Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League soccer matches in Germany and Italy, and the first Ligue 1 soccer matches in France. In the United Kingdom, the U.S. Open final featuring 18-year-old rising star Emma Raducanu was the most-streamed tennis match in Prime Video history, following the
historic partnership with Channel 4 to share live broadcast rights.

Prime Video continued its move into live sports streaming with the NFL Thursday Night Football kickoff, which introduced player tracking, a new feature driven by artificial intelligence (AI).

Finally, in its first global expansion since launching in the U.S. in 2019, IMDb TV launched in the U.K. to provide free premium steaming content to customers via Prime Video. The service will soon become available as a standalone app on Fire TV devices.