MGM’s Epix Linear/Streaming Platform to Relaunch as MGM+ in Early 2023

Amazon-owned MGM Holdings Sept. 28 announced that its linear and streaming service Epix will rebrand as MGM+ on Jan. 15, 2023, in conjunction with the season three premiere of “Godfather of Harlem.”

The show’s second season was Epix’s best performing season of all time, breaking records for single-title streams in a single day across the platform’s digital channels. The season two finale was Epix’s best-performing final episode to date. 

Epix was launched in 2009 in a co-partnership between MGM, Lionsgate and Paramount Pictures. MGM bought out the two partners’ stakes in 2017.

The new brand logo attempts embody the legacy of MGM, while at the same time orienting the brand toward the future. It reimagines the 100-year history of MGM’s classic art-deco typeface in a contemporary and forward-facing fashion. 

This rebrand is a promise to existing and new viewers that MGM+ is the place to find television that reflects and celebrates the legacy of the iconic MGM brand — cinematic programming with sophisticated storytelling that entertains, delights, surprises, and transports,” Michael Wright, head of MGM+, said in a statement. 

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The MGM+ service will offer a library of film titles from MGM and other major Hollywood Studios. The library of titles includes MGM theatrical hits No Time to Die, House of Gucci and Licorice Pizza; the James Bond movie franchise and the original “Rocky” titles and sequelsas well as classic releases Silence of the Lambs, Bull DurhamPlatoon, RobocopMississippi Burning, The Magnificent Seven, BarbershopThe Pink Panther, In the Heat of the Night, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and The Thomas Crown Affair. 

MGM+ will continue to be available nationwide through cable, telco, satellite, and emerging digital distribution channels, as well as through its branded app.

Amazon Ups Albert Cheng to VP, Prime Video U.S.

Amazon has promoted Albert Cheng to the newly created position of VP of Prime Video U.S. Cheng previously held the chief operating officer title at Amazon Studios, reporting to Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon studios. Cheng now reports to Prime Video CEO Mike Hopkins.

Albert Cheng

In an internal memo to staff announcing the promotion, Hopkins said Cheng would oversee all Prime Video business and operations in the United States, including “tentpole programming strategy, social branding, consumer insights, influencer marketing, media and audience insights, in addition to customer acquisition, retention, and engagement across the SVOD, AVOD and marketplace channels.”

Recent high-profile Prime Video content launches include the debut of original series “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” reportedly the most-expensive TV show ever produced and launch of an exclusive 11-year distribution agreement for NFL “Thursday Night Football” — the latter reportedly generating Amazon’s highest-ever viewership rating following the Sept. 15 first game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers. Amazon said it generated record Prime signups over the course of the three-hour game.

“This is a critical role, requiring the ability to think big and to deliver operational results. I can’t think of anyone better than Albert to take it on,” Hopkins wrote in the memo.

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Prime Video Offering Gadgets, Deals for First Exclusive NFL ‘Thursday Night Football’ Game Streaming Sept. 15

In anticipation of the first “Thursday Night Football” game streaming exclusively on Prime Video on Sept. 15, Amazon is offering Prime members myriad gameday offers and specials, including NFL-licensed products as well as deals and discounts exclusively for Prime members, on amazon.com/TNFcentral.

Prime Video over the summer became the first streaming service to air a season-long exclusive national broadcast schedule of games with the NFL. The 11-year deal (worth a reported $11 billion) includes 15 regular-season games and one preseason game per year, with Prime Video also delivering new pregame, halftime and postgame shows, as well as interactive features like X-Ray and Next Gen Stats powered by AWS.

Prime Video will kick off the “Thursday Night Football” season by teaming up with Hall of Fame San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice, who will join Prime members in Los Angeles on Sept. 15 for an interactive viewing experience when the Los Angeles Chargers take on the Kansas City Chiefs.

“Live sports continue to be a game changer for Prime members,” Jamil Ghani, VP of Amazon Prime, said in as statement.

Prime members can also enjoy exclusive deals throughout football season on home entertainment devices, starting on Sept. 19. Deals include special pricing deals on Fire TV smart-TVs, streaming devices and Echo Studio smart speakers.

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Streamers can save up to 25% on select NFL gear, including apparel, tailgate essentials, footwear and drinkware, beginning Sept. 15. And save up to 20% on select T-shirts and hoodies featuring NFL teams from Team Fan Apparel on Sept. 22.

Other special events include a “Thursday Night Football” watch party for more than 250 Prime members who added the weekly NFL game to their Prime Video Watchlist. Jerry Rice will join the Sept. 15 event at The Fonda Theatre to kick off the “Thursday Night Football” season. Invited Prime members and their guests will be treated to live commentary, game sound effects, and other interactive enhancements. Rice will be joined by the event’s host and broadcast journalist and television personality Cari Champion, along with special guests Hall of Fame Chargers running back and current NFL Network analyst LaDainian Tomlinson, former Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver and kick returner Dante Hall, and actor and comedian Rob Riggle.

At the opening of the game, composer Pinar Toprak will lead an orchestra in a rendition of the new “Thursday Night Football” theme song, performed live for the first time. Attendees will experience the game through LED screens as well as sound effects from key game moments amplified by DJs. Each TV timeout will also include a host of games for attendees to compete in for prizes, and to be part of the game’s action.

Throughout the season, more than 150 Prime members and their guests who added “Thursday Night Football” to their Prime Video Watchlist and received an invitation, will receive a curated package of premiere experiences to celebrate the Thursday game’s new home on Prime Video.

In addition to game tickets, guests will receive a personal video from a hometown player ahead of the respective game they will attend. Guests will be provided a hotel room with goodie bags and premium giveaways to prepare for the game. Following transportation to the game, Prime members will meet with special guests including retired players, who will share behind-the-scenes team and player insights for the ultimate insider’s look.

Prior to kickoff, guests will get up close and personal to the action as they stand on the field during pregame warmups. At game time, guests will make their way to their seats in the Prime-branded section and enjoy food and beverages throughout the game. At the end of each game, guests will enjoy a personalized game football as a keepsake.

Each “Thursday Night Football” game will also stream live on Twitch and will be available on over-the-air TV stations in the two local home markets of the competing teams, as well as on smartphones and tablets on NFL+. The games will also stream in Spanish on Prime Video on the TNF en Español alternate stream.

Soumya Sriraman Pops Up as President of Streaming for QVC, HSN Parent

Two weeks after Soumya Sriraman abruptly left her position as U.S. head of Prime Video Channels at Amazon, the home entertainment veteran has a new job: president of streaming at the Qurate Retail Group, the parent company of QVC and HSN.

In the newly created role, the company said in a press release, Sriraman will lead Qurate Retail’s streaming commerce business, including the QVC+ and HSN+ streamers as well as the company’s growing live-streaming ventures.

Sriraman spent less than two years at Amazon. Previously, she was president and CEO of BritBox, a streaming service focused on British content that is a joint venture between the BBC and ITV. She joined BritBox when it launched in the United States in 2017 and oversaw its growth to more than 1.5 million subscribers. 

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Prior to BritBox, Sriraman spent more than five years with BBC Worldwide, most recently serving as EVP of franchise and digital enterprises.

Earlier, she was president and CEO of Palisades/Tartan Films, a leading independent in the glory days of DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

Amazon Claims 25 Million First-Day Global Viewers for ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ Premiere

Amazon announced “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” attracted more than 25 million global viewers on its first day (Sept. 1), marking the biggest premiere in the history of Prime Video. The series launched exclusively on Prime Video in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide.

“It is somehow fitting that Tolkien’s stories — among the most popular of all time, and what many consider to be the true origin of the fantasy genre — have led us to this proud moment,” Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, said in a statement.

Episodes of the Lord of the Rings prequel series will launch weekly through the Oct. 14 season finale on Prime Video.

Prime Video’s adaptation features the legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared reemergence of evil to Middle-earth.

A world-renowned literary work, and winner of the International Fantasy Award and Prometheus Hall of Fame Award, The Lord of the Rings was named Amazon customers’ favorite book of the millennium in 1999 and Britain’s best-loved novel of all time in BBC’s “The Big Read” in 2003. The Lord of the Rings books have been translated into over 38 languages and have sold more than 150 million copies.

U.S. Channels Chief Soumya Sriraman to Exit Amazon’s Prime Video

Home entertainment veteran Soumya Sriraman is leaving her position as U.S. head of Prime Video Channels at Amazon, less than two years after she assumed the post.

Sriraman, who previously was spent nearly four years as president and CEO of BritBox, confirmed her departure in an email. She says her new job will be announced in early September.

Sriraman joined BritBox when it launched in the United States in 2017 and oversaw its growth to more than 1.5 million subscribers. The SVOD service is a joint venture between BBC Studios and ITV.

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Prior to BritBox, Sriraman spent more than five years with BBC Worldwide, most recently serving as EVP of franchise and digital enterprises.

Earlier, she was president and CEO of Palisades/Tartan Films, a leading independent when DVD and Blu-ray Disc were still the dominant forms of home entertainment consumption.

Sriraman also served as SVP of theatrical marketing at Vivendi Universal.

Sriraman’s departure from Amazon was first reported by Variety.

Prime Video Quietly Drops the Amazon Name From Streaming Moniker

When Amazon in July announced changes to the user interface on the Prime Video streaming platform, it also began dropping the corporate name from media references.

In an Aug. 18 press release for the new original limited series “The English,” starring Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place franchise, Sicario, Oppenheimer) and Chaske Spencer (Wild Indian, Echo), Amazon included the following statement:

“Note to editors: Please refer to our streaming service as Prime Video and not Amazon Prime Video.”

Emily Blunt in new Prime Video limited series, ‘The English”.

Prime Video debuted on Sept. 7, 2006, as Amazon Unbox in the U.S., which enabled users for the first time to purchase digital movies and TV shows. On Sept. 4, 2008, the service was renamed Amazon Video on Demand.

After acquiring the U.K.-based streaming and by-mail DVD rental service LoveFilm in 2011, the platform name was changed to Prime Video and launched across select European countries.

On April 18, 2016, Amazon made Prime Video available in the U.S. as a standalone service separate from the Prime membership for $8.99 per month. Later that year, Prime Video launched worldwide, except in China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia and Syria.

Amazon Raising Prime Membership Fee Up to 43% in Europe; Taking Delivery of 100,000 Electric Vehicles by 2030

Amazon July 26 announced it will up the annual price of its Prime membership program as much as 43% across parts of Europe as the costs associated with e-commerce — i.e. shipping — continue to escalate. The price hikes also affect the Prime Video streaming service and other Prime features included with the membership.

The annual membership fee will increase in the U.K. 20% to £95 ($113.80) from £79 ($94.60) on Sept. 15. In France, Prime members will see the annual fee jump 43% to €69.90 ($70.80) from €49 ($49.64). Spain and Italy will see 39% price hikes, while Germany gets a 30% annual fee hike. The price increases follow a 15% increase in the U.S. announced in February.

Amazon has also significantly upped entertainment and live sports spending. In addition to closing its $8.5 billion acquisition of MGM Studios, the streamer is paying the NFL $11 billion for 11 years of exclusive rights to “Thursday Night Football” beginning this season.

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Prime Video this month for the first time secured rights to live stream European Champions League soccer matches in the U.K.

Separately, Amazon last week announced it would take delivery of 100,000 Rivian electric vehicles by 2030 for use delivering Amazon packages in Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Nashville, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle and St. Louis, among other cities. This rollout is just the beginning of what is expected to be thousands of Amazon’s custom electric delivery vehicles in more than 100 cities by the end of this year.

Amazon, which owns a stake in Illinois-based Rivian, took a $7.6 billion loss on that stake in the first quarter, ended March 31.

Amazon is currently the largest single global customer of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van used to deliver e-commerce purchases locally nationwide.

Amazon reports second-quarter (ended June 30) financial results on July 28.

Amazon Enters Health Care Business With $3.9 Billion Acquisition of One Medical

Amazon is getting into the health care business.

Amazon July 21 announced the $3.9 billion acquisition of San Francisco-based One Medical, a technology-based national primary care organization aiming to make healthcare more affordable and accessible through a combination of in-person, digital, and virtual care services.

“We think health care is high on the list of experiences that need reinvention,” Neil Lindsay, SVP of Amazon Health Services, said in a statement.

Lindsay said Amazon is looking to simply and expedite doctor’s appointments, visits and pharmacy trips for consumers — experiences that can be improved through video, e-commerce and in-person transactions.

“We see lots of opportunity to both improve the quality of the experience and give people back valuable time in their days,” he said.

Amazon will acquire One Medical for $18 per share in an all-cash transaction, including One Medical’s net debt. Completion of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by One Medical’s shareholders and federal regulatory approval. On completion, Amir Dan Rubin will remain as CEO of One Medical.

‘Spiderhead,’ ‘The Boys’ Top Weekly Whip Media Streaming Charts

Prime Video’s “The Boys” topped the Whip Media chart of streaming originals, while Netflix’s Spiderhead led the chart of streaming movies among U.S. consumers the week ended June 19.

The sci-fi thriller Spiderhead, which started streaming on Netflix June 17, stars Chris Hemsworth as a researcher experimenting on prisoner volunteers aiming to reduce their sentence. It’s based on the book Escape From Spiderhead.

Rising from No. 2 to the top spot on the streaming originals charts, “The Boys” is a black comedy series, based on the comic book of the same name, that follows the battle against abusive superheroes. Season three started streaming on Prime Video June 3.

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TV Time, a Whip Media company, is a free TV and movie viewership tracking app with 21 million global users. The streaming originals chart rankings are determined by streaming original TV series with the greatest share of views in the given week, among a balanced panel of U.S. users of the TV Time app. The movie rankings are determined streaming movies with the greatest share of views in the given week, among a balanced panel of U.S. users of the TV Time app.

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Falling from the top spot to No. 2 on the streaming movies chart was Hustle, which debuted on Netflix June 3. It stars Adam Sandler as an NBA scout who discovers a raw but talented player in Spain and tries to prepare him for the NBA draft.

The Sandra Bullock adventure The Lost City, which started streaming on Paramount+ May 10, remained at No. 3 on the streaming movies chart. The film, co-starring Channing Tatum, follows a reclusive romance novelist on a book tour with her cover model who gets swept up in a kidnapping attempt that lands them both in a cutthroat jungle adventure.

Rising from No. 3 to No. 2 on the streaming originals chart was “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” which started streaming on Disney+ May 27. The series, released in weekly episodes, follows the “Star Wars” Jedi 10 years after his battle with Anakin Skywalker, who becomes Darth Vader.

Falling from the top spot to No. 3 on the streaming originals chart was Netflix’s “Stranger Things.” Season four of the Duffer Brothers’ science-fiction horror drama, part one of which started streaming May 27, follows the characters six months since the Battle of Starcourt. Struggling with the aftermath, the friends are separated for the first time and are navigating the complexities of high school. Meanwhile, a new and horrifying supernatural threat surfaces, presenting a gruesome mystery that, if solved, might finally put an end to the horrors of the Upside Down.

 

Top Streaming Originals Among U.S. Consumers for the Week Ended June 19:

  1. “The Boys” — Prime Video
  2. “Obi-Wan Kenobi” — Disney+
  3. “Stranger Things” — Netflix
  4. “Ms. Marvel” — Disney+
  5. “Love, Victor” — Hulu (Season Premiere)
  6. “The Orville” — Hulu
  7. “First Kill” — Netflix
  8. “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” — Paramount+
  9. “The Summer I Turned Pretty” — Prime Video (Series Premiere)
  10. “Ozark” — Netflix

 

Top Streaming Movies Among U.S. Consumers June 17-19:

  1. Spiderhead — Netflix
  2. Hustle — Netflix
  3. The Lost City — Paramount+
  4. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore — HBO Max
  5. Father of the Bride (2022) — HBO Max
  6. Top Gun (1986)— Prime Video/Paramount+
  7. The Batman — HBO Max
  8. Jerry & Marge Go Large — Paramount+
  9. The Northman — Peacock
  10. Ghostbusters: Afterlife — Starz