Third Season of ‘Into the Badlands’ Coming to Disc Aug. 27 From Lionsgate

AMC’s martial arts drama comes to an end in Into the Badlands: The Complete Third Season, arriving on Blu-ray (plus digital) and DVD Aug. 27 from Lionsgate.

In the final season of “Into the Badlands,” Sunny’s son contracts a mysterious illness that pressures him to join forces with Bajie. They journey back into the Badlands, where The Widow and Baron Chau are entrenched in a drawn-out war that has destabilized the entire region.

The series stars Daniel Wu, Aramis Knight, Emily Beecham, Orla Brady, Sherman Augustus and Babou Ceesay.

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‘Fear the Walking Dead’ Season 4 on Disc March 5

Lionsgate will release Fear the Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season on Blu-ray and DVD March 5.

The season features Lennie James joining the cast as the character of Morgan, crossing over from “The Walking Dead.” Other new cast members include Maggie Grace, Garret Dillahunt and Jenna Elfman, joining returning regulars Alycia Debnam-Carey, Kim Dickens, Frank Dillane, Colman Domingo and Danay Garcia in the continuing quest to survive in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by zombies.

The home video release includes audio commentaries from the cast and crew on four episodes.

RLJE’s Johnson Tells Entertainment Industry to Embrace Technology and Consumer Choice

Fresh off the news of AMC Networks buying a majority interest in his company RLJ Entertainment, BET founder Bob Johnson exhorted the audience at an Aug. 2 OTT conference to embrace change.

“You can’t stop progress, and you can’t stop the freedom of individual choice,” he said at the OTT & Video Distribution Summit in Marina del Rey, Calif.

Entertainment companies must anticipate the future and learn their core business, which is producing and delivering good content.

“If you don’t produce compelling content — make consumers want to vote with their dollars — you’re going to lose out,” he said, adding “the consumer is the programmer.”

It’s about knowing what business you are in.

“Had the railroad guys been smart, they’d have been in the passenger business and started the airlines,” he said.

OTT channels such as RLJ’s Urban Movie Channel and Acorn TV are capitalizing on consumer targeting.

UMC offers “compelling content for an audience who had never had that opportunity.” It is not beholden to advertisers or cable programmers that might object to certain content.

“The gatekeepers have been torn down,” he said.

Acorn TV is for people “who love and just adore” British content. Owning 65% of the Agatha Christie library gives the channel a leg up in that market.

The future of the cable industry is threatened unless it adapts.

“Cable always from the beginning was a retransmission device of other people’s content,” Johnson said, adding “as long as cable can provide internet service it’s got a role to play.”

But he said the future of content distribution is a la carte, not bundles that include channels consumers don’t want to pay for.

“The industry in my opinion has to find a new model and that model is a la carte,” he said.

Lionsgate Releasing Season 1 of AMC’s ‘The Terror’ on Blu-ray and DVD Aug. 21

Lionsgate will release The Terror: The Complete First Season  on Blu-ray and DVD Aug. 21 from Lionsgate.

The Ridley Scott-produced AMC series focuses on crew members of a naval ship who must fight for survival against a terrifying monster that stalks them.

The show stars Jared Harris (“Mad Men”), Tobias Menzies (“Outlander”) and Ciaran Hinds (“Game of Thrones”).

Disc extras include the featurettes “A Look at the Characters,” “A Look at the Series” and “Ridley Scott on ‘The Terror.’”

Research: OTT Sub Households to Far Outstrip TV Sub Households in 2020

U.S. OTT subscriber households will far surpass TV subscriber households in 2020, according to new data from Convergence Research.

In five years at the current run-rate Netflix will have in the United States as many subscribers as all the the traditional TV access providers combined, according the Convergence’s Brahm Eiley. Amazon Prime at the current run rate will surpass the traditional U.S. TV access providers in terms of subscribers in three years.

However, the average revenue per unit (ARPU) for U.S. TV subscribers in 2020 will still be four times U.S. OTT subscriber households’ ARPU, down from 6 times in 2017.

Convergence has just released its annual 2018 Couch Potato Reports, “The Battle for the American Couch Potato: OTT, TV, Online” and “The Battle for the American Couch Potato: Bundling, TV, Internet, Telephone, Wireless.”

Convergence estimates that U.S. OTT access revenue (based on 55 OTT providers led by Netflix) grew 41% to $11.9 billion in 2017, forecasts $16.6 billion for 2018 and $27.6 billion for 2020.

The firm estimates 2017 U.S. cable, satellite and telco TV access (not including OTT) revenue grew 1% to $107.6 billion ($94.30 per month ARPU) in 2017, forecasts $107.4 billion ($97.90 per month ARPU) for 2018, and $106.9 billion for 2020.

In 2017, the United States saw a decline of 3.66 million TV subscribers and in 2016 a decline of 2.2 million. Convergence forecasts a decline of 3.72 million TV subs for 2018.

The firm reports that 2010 saw the start of the rise in cord cutter/never households, and as of the end of 2017 estimates 32.13 million U.S. households (or 26.1% of households) did not have a traditional TV subscription with a cable, satellite or telco TV access provider, up from 27.56 million (22.6% of households) at the end of 2016. Convergence forecasts 36.76 million (29.6% of households) will be cord cutter/never households by the end of 2018.

Meanwhile, 2017 saw U.S. residential broadband subs surpass U.S. TV subs, growing to 96.95 million. Convergence estimates 2.33 million U.S. residential broadband subs were added in 2017 (2.66 million in 2016) and revenue grew 7% to $56.8 million; the firm forecasts 2.57 million additions and 6% growth to $60.5 billion for 2018.

“The gloves are off,” commentary in the report reads. “The TV-movie Industry is being reconstructed from the inside and by the outside, as programmers now directly compete against their traditional TV access and independent OTT buyers that rival them in terms of content spend. Amazon, Apple, DAZN, Facebook, Google and Netflix all have the money muscle to finance their own productions or outbid on programming including major sporting franchises.”

Because the OTT services are acting more like studios and vying for top content, traditional content owners may fight back, the commentary reads.

“We expect especially for the U.S. market going forward fewer content deals between programmers and independent OTT providers: 2017 saw Disney choose not to renew with Netflix and embrace OTT, HBO not renew with Amazon in the U.S., Hulu (which is spending more on content on a per U.S. subscriber basis than Amazon or Netflix) continue to bolster its offerings, compete more directly against TV access providers, and A+E, AMC, Discovery, Scripps, and Viacom back supply Philo,” the firm commented. “The traditional TV ecosystem does not show decline ‘yet’ except for TV subscribers. TV access players continue to raise prices (ARPU is growing but we forecast TV access revenue decline going forward), and programmers have kept up increases in programming fees and advertising rates, but this architecture cannot last in the long run.”

Comcast Returns ‘Watchathon’ Binge-Viewing Week

Comcast Cable April 11 announced it is bringing back the “Xfinity Watchathon Week” April 16-22, affording subscribers non-stop, on-demand access to thousands of hours of content – including over-the-top.

Launched six years ago as a TV Everywhere antidote to Netflix and OTT video, Comcast for the first time is offering Watchathon to Xfinity Internet-only subscribers and programming from Netflix and more than two dozen SVOD services, such as Acorn TV, AMC Premiere, FX+, Lifetime Movie Club, History Vault and even DOGTV, which offers a selection of programming made just for man’s best friend.

Eligible subs can also watch thousands of movies and TV shows from more than 50 networks, including AMC, FX, HBO, MTV, NBC, Showtime, and Starz.

Comcast will also offer a subset of programming to its Internet-only subs via the Xfinity Stream app and portal.

“This year, we’re … offering X1 customers a unique opportunity to sample and explore the best programming from dozens of traditional networks and studios, streaming services and emerging SVODs,” Daniel Spinosa, VP, video entertainment services, Comcast Cable, said in a statement.

Xfinity Internet-only subs have access to back episodes of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” and ‘Westworld,” Showtime’s “Billions,” and “Homeland,” and Starz’s “Outlander,” and “Power,” among other programs.

The promotional week will enable Xfinity subs the option to explore dozens of third-party SVOD platforms, such as Acorn TV’s British hits, AMC Premiere, CuriosityStream’s documentary films and series, Daily Burn’s workout class, select shows from FX+, Gaiam TV Fit & Yoga fitness videos, History Vault’s historical and educational content, and Stingray Karaoke’s collection music.

“With voice control and the ability to surface our programming seamlessly within their experience, X1 provides networks like us with a unique platform for discovery alongside some of the best and most popular programming available today,” said Matthew Graham, GM, Acorn TV.

CEO Mitch Lowe Says MoviePass Will Reach 5 Million Subs by End of Year

Editor’s Note: Because of the wide pickup of this article’s section on MoviePass data collection, I have expanded the quote from Mitch Lowe: “We get an enormous amount of information. Since we mail you the card, we know your home address, of course, we know the makeup of that household, the kids, the age groups, the income. It’s all based on where you live. It’s not that we ask that. You can extrapolate that. Then because you are being tracked in your GPS by the phone, our patent basically turns on and off our payment system by hooking that card to the device ID on your phone, so we watch how you drive from home to the movies. We watch where you go afterwards, and so we know the movies you watch. We know all about you. We don’t sell that data. What we do is we use that data to market film.”

 

Subscription theatrical movie service MoviePass expects to reach 5 million paid subscribers and account for roughly 20% of movie ticket purchases by the end of the year, said CEO Mitch Lowe at a presentation March 2 during the Entertainment Finance Forum presented by Winston Baker in Hollywood.

The service currently has more than 2 million subscribers and accounts for 6% of ticket purchases, Lowe said.

The $9.95 a month service (less for a year subscription) allows subscribers to attend one screening per day at participating theaters. The service is growing the theatrical audience, Lowe said, and more frequent attendance is boosting films that typically make under $50 million at the box office, which have been increasingly pushed out by sequels and franchises released by the studios. It’s also bringing in audiences that had eschewed theaters.

“Our goal is to reenergize moviegoing to the movie theater,” he said, noting that “over 50% of our subscribers are millennials, the people who are abandoning theater the most.”

The service pays theaters the price of each ticket and is looking for discounts and revenue sharing from theaters in exchange for the audience boost. Lowe said he’s just looking for the same kind of discount a retailer such as Costco gets for purchasing a big block of tickets.

Not all theaters have been happy with that plan, notably goliath AMC. Lowe counters that the increased traffic is helping theater chains such as AMC sell more high-priced concessions and that the chain should let MoviePass share in that windfall.

“I think eventually they’ll come around,” Lowe said, though he said there was no “active dialog.”

Another plan to boost MoviePass’s bottom line is to glean income from all of the data the service collects from subscribers.

“We know all about you,” he said at the keynote, appropriately titled “Data is the New Oil: How Will MoviePass Monetize It?”

The data collection information elicited some nervous laughs from the industry crowd, many of whom raised their hands to show they were MoviePass subscribers.

“We get an enormous amount of information,” he said, noting the company knows subscribers’ addresses and can glean demographic information based on where they live. The company also can track subs via the app and a phone GPS.

“We watch how you drive from home to the movies,” he said. “We watch where you go afterwards.”

That sort of data fits into a long-term revenue plan.

“Our bigger vision is to build a night at the movies,” he said, whereby MoviePass would direct subscribers to places to have dinner before or after a screening, for instance, getting a cut from vendors.

As a former executive at entertainment industry disruptors Netflix and Redbox, Lowe said theaters are ripe for change.

“Online, at home, all the other forms of entertainment had all this innovation,” he said. “The theater hasn’t innovated — at least in the business model.”

The key is alleviating consumer anxiety around purchases, he said.

“In 1999 at Netflix when we came up with the disc by mail, all-you-can-eat program we eliminated late fees that Blockbuster had built their business on, and removing that anxiety got people to consume documentaries and foreign films that they never would have rented from Blockbuster,” he said. “And that’s what we’re doing [at MoviePass]. We’re kind of providing movie insurance.”

As a disruptor veteran, he’s also faced doubt about low pricing and seen success despite the initial criticism.

“[MoviePass’s $9.95 a month] may seem like it’s a deal too good to be true,” he said. “That’s what they said about us at Netflix. That’s what they said about us at Redbox.”

He added, “We’ve essentially just copied the Netflix model but in the theatrical window.”

Lowe’s experience at Netflix also leads him to be optimistic about subscriber expansion at MoviePass.

“We went public with Netflix in 2002, and at the end of the year, we all made bets on how big we could get, so just to show you how bad I am at this — I was near the top by the way— mine was 1.7 million subscribers, and I think the highest was 2 million at the time,” he recalled. “Of course, it’s 105 million now, so I do believe 20 million subscribers for MoviePass is definitely doable over a four year period.”

‘Fear the Walking Dead’ Season 3 on Disc March 13

Lionsgate will release Fear the Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season on DVD and Blu-ray (with Digital HD) March 13.

The AMC series, a spinoff of “The Walking Dead,” stars Kim Dickens (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Gone Girl), Cliff Curtis (Risen, The Dark Horse), Frank Dillane (“Sense8,” Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince), and Alycia Debnam-Carey (Friend Request).

Extras include audio commentaries and deleted/extended scenes.