Apple Q3 Services Revenue Leaps 33%

Apple July 27 reported third-quarter (ended June 26) services revenue of $17.5 billion, up 33% from revenue of $13.2 billion during the previous-year period. Services revenue includes sales of movies and TV shows on iTunes, the App Store, Mac App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade and Apple News+, among others.

Services has increasingly become a lucrative business segment for Apple. The unit generated $12.2 billion in operating income, with an operating gross margin of nearly 70%.

“Our record June quarter operating performance included new revenue records in each of our geographic segments, double-digit growth in each of our product categories, and a new all-time high for our installed base of active devices,” Luca Maestri, Apple’s CFO, said in a statement.

Other Apple business units include $39.5 billion in sales of iPhones, up about 50% from revenue of $26.4 billion in the previous-year period. Mac revenue topped $8.2 billion, up 16.4% from $7 billion a year ago. Sales of iPad tablets topped $7.4 billion, from $6.5 billion a year ago. Wearables and accessories (i.e. Apple Watch) exceeded $8.7 billion, up 31% from $6.5 billion the previous year.

‘Ted Lasso’ Scores Big With Viewers on Apple TV+

Ahead of Apple’s upcoming earnings report, research firm Parrot Analytics July 27 reported that its data shows that season two of “Ted Lasso” debuted as one of the most in-demand TV shows in the United States and around the world over the weekend.

As of July 24, the Jason Sudeikis-fronted comedy was the eighth-most in-demand overall show in the U.S., generating 41.2 times more audience demand than the average show. It was also the second-most in-demand digital original in the United States, just behind Disney+’s “Loki.”

Globally, Ted Lasso was the 18th-most in-demand overall show, and the seventh-most in-demand digital original.

The series revolves around Ted Lasso, an American college football coach who is unexpectedly recruited to coach an English Premier League team, AFC Richmond, even though he has no experience in coaching soccer. The series premiered in August 2020.

Audience demand for the show’s debut has grown exponentially season over season, Parrot Analytics says, and “Ted Lasso” been a key driver of Apple TV+’s demand share growth over the last year.

“With ‘Ted Lasso’’s weekly release schedule — a strategy proven to build audience demand over time — we expect to see these already impressive numbers to grow further over the coming weeks,” Parrot Analytics reported.

Parrot Analytics employs a proprietary metric called demand expressions, which measures demand for TV content in a given market 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. Results are expressed as a comparison with the average demand for a TV show of any kind in the market.

Streaming Series ‘The Crown,’ ‘The Mandalorian’ Top Emmy Awards Nominations

Streaming series dominated nominations for the 73rd Emmy Awards, with “The Crown” (Netflix) and “The Mandalorian” (Disney+) leading the pack, with 24 program nominations each, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced July 13.

Awards were announced during a live virtual ceremony hosted by father-daughter duo Ron Cephas Jones (“This Is Us”) from Los Angeles and Jasmine Cephas Jones (“Blindspotting”) from New York, joined by Television Academy chairman and CEO Frank Scherma.

Other leading series nominees include Disney+ limited series “WandaVision,” with 23 noms; Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Saturday Night Live,” each with 21; Apple TV+ comedy “Ted Lasso,” with 20;  HBO/HBO Max’s “Lovecraft Country” and Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit,” each with 18; and HBO’s “Mare of Easttown,” with 16. Less than two weeks earlier, HBO announced it would not renew “Lovecraft Country” for a second season.

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HBO/HBO Max garnered the most nominations, with 130. Netflix had the second-most nominations (129), with Disney+ at No. 3, with 71, and NBC in fourth place, with 46.

“Television has provided a lifeline for so many around the globe this year, delivering a constant source of entertainment, information and inspiration during some of our most difficult days,” Scherma said. “We are thrilled to honor the diversity of storytelling in television today by recognizing talented artists, programs, producers, directors and craftspeople throughout our industry and celebrating their commitment to this extraordinary medium.”

“Bridgerton,” “Lovecraft Country” and “The Boys” are new to the Outstanding Drama Series category, joining returning nominees “Pose,” “The Crown,” “The Mandalorian,” “This Is Us” and previous category winner “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Seventy-five percent of this year’s nominees for Outstanding Comedy Series are new to the category, including “Cobra Kai,” “Emily in Paris,” “Hacks,” “Pen15,” “Ted Lasso” and “The Flight Attendant.” Returning favorites include “Black-ish” and “The Kominsky Method.”

In total, there were 44 first-time performer nominations across the lead, supporting, guest and short form categories this season.

Jonathan Majors, Josh O’Connor and Regé-Jean Page received their first-ever Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, joining previous Emmy winners in this category Sterling K. Brown, Billy Porter and Matthew Rhys. Emma Corrin, Jurnee Smollett and Mj Rodriguez received their first nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, while previous Emmy winner Uzo Aduba was nominated for the first time in this category. They were joined by returning nominee Olivia Colman and previous Emmy winner in this category Elisabeth Moss.

Kaley Cuoco received her first-ever Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, while previous Emmy winner Jean Smart and previous Emmy nominee Aidy Bryant were nominated for the first time in this category. They joined previous Emmy nominee Tracee Ellis Ross and Emmy winner Allison Janney. Jason Sudeikis received his first-ever Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, while previous Emmy winner Kenan Thompson was nominated for the first time in this category. They joined six-time nominee in the category Anthony Anderson, along with previous Emmy winners Michael Douglas and William H. Macy.

Individuals with multiple nominations this year included David Attenborough, Sterling K. Brown, Aidy Bryant, Bo Burnham, Steven Canals, Dave Chapelle, Michaela Coel, Jon Favreau, Derek Hough, Brendan Hunt, Maya Rudolph, Jean Smart, Jason Sudeikis and Kenan Thompson.

The complete list of Emmy nominations, as compiled by the independent accounting firm of Ernst & Young LLP, and other Academy news is available at Emmys.com.

The 73rd Emmy Awards will be hosted by Cedric the Entertainer. The Emmys will be broadcast on Sept. 19, 8-11 p.m. live ET and 5-8 p.m., live PT, on the CBS Television Network and will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+. The 2021 Creative Arts Awards will be broadcast on Sept. 18  at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FXX.

Roku Adds Apple TV+ Button to Remote Control

In a subtle marketing move, Roku has released an updated remote control that features a button to connect directly with the Apple TV+ subscription streaming service. Though the partnership has been rumored for a few months, the June 30 image release by Roku of the updated remote confirms the scuttlebutt.

While neither company issued comments on the situation, the Apple streaming service — with a reported 40 million subscribers — finds itself significantly running behind SVOD frontrunners Netflix (with 208 million subs), Amazon Prime Video (150 million), Hulu (40 million) and Disney+ (103 million), despite launching a week ahead of the Disney-branded service.

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Wall Street analysts firm MoffettNathanson recently concluded from a proprietary survey that more than 60% Apple TV+ subs are on a promotional plan, with 30% saying they would not sign up for the $4.99 monthly service once the free trial period ended.

Despite a sluggish start with scant original programming, Apple has rebounded with several critically acclaimed programs, including “Ted Lasso,” “The Morning Show,” “Dickinson” and “Central Park,” among others.

“As always, we wonder what Apple TV+ does to stand out in an increasingly crowded field,” analyst Michael Nathanson wrote in a note. “We see AppleTV+ as still sputtering versus [its] peers.”

Original Roku remote control

Roku, along with Netflix, co-launched the subscription streaming video market in 2008 with a branded Netflix media player. The SVOD pioneer eventually became one of the original default buttons in 2011 on the Roku remote along with Amazon Instant Video, Blockbuster On Demand in 2013, and M-Go — the latter rebranded as FandangoNow in 2016. Other platforms joining the remote and paying Roku a reported $1 per consumer sign-up included YouTube, Hulu and Showtime.

“For members who want even more convenience when instantly watching TV shows and movies streaming from Netflix, the answer is about to be right in their hands,” former Netflix chief product officer Neil Hunt said at the time, when Netflix had 16 million subs in North America and no international service.

Julia Child Episodes, ‘Trading History’ Coming to PBS Living Channel in June

PBS Living subscribers will have access to three classic Julia Child series and “Trading History” on the PBS Living Prime Video and Apple TV channels in June.

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.

Coming June 18 are three seasons of “Baking With Julia Child.” In the series, Julia Child and pastry chefs, bakers and cookbook authors share tips and recipes on home baking. Child bakes chocolate truffle cake, walnut bread, tiramisu, a tropical napoleon, sourdough bread, and a French apple tart with many respected pastry chefs, as well as a wedding cake with Martha Stewart and more.

Season one of “In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs” starts streaming June 22. Child takes an in-depth look at contemporary American cooking along with 26 nationally recognized chefs. Inviting the master chefs into her kitchen, she cooks with the pros, detailing their techniques and dishes for the home cook. She makes lobster with Jasper White, shrimp in spicy coconut sauce with Madhur Jaffrey, a jicama salad with Rick Bayless, and many more recipes with many other chefs.

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Debuting June 29 are 16 season one episodes of “Julia Child: Cooking with Master Chefs.” Julia visits 16 nationally acclaimed master chefs in their own kitchens. Each chef demonstrates distinct techniques, regional recipes and culinary tips which guide home cooks through their favorite recipes. Child makes lobster soufflé with Jacques Pépin, tapenade with Alice Waters, and risotto with wild mushrooms with Lidia Bastianich, among other recipes­.

Due June 15 are six episodes of “Trading History.” The series uncovers intriguing family history through the prism of auction house artifacts and dedicated research teams that go behind the scenes to confirm the authenticity of the item, uncovering biographical information about the finder, the owner and the maker. Each story is told through rare archival materials and is packed with history and facts.

Streamers Eyeing Audio Podcasts as Next Market Growth

Netflix has quietly posted a job listing looking for an executive with “audio/podcast programming” experience. The move mirrors other streaming video platforms such as HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+ seeking to expand their platform beyond video and into audio content.

Podcasts, like audio books, are a series of audio files covering fiction, non-fiction ideas, stories that can be downloaded via the Internet on myriad portable devices. The global podcasting market topped $9.2 billion in value in 2019 and is projected to grow 27.5% annually through 2027 — driven by easy consumer access while multitasking activities such as driving, commuting, walking, gardening, exercising, or cleaning.

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“Podcasts are an excellent way for fans to connect with our stories and talent, and our marketing team plans to make more of them,” Jonathan Bing, a Netflix representative, said in a media statement first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

The average podcast runs from 20 minutes to 45 minutes, with opportunities to sell advertising within story breaks. Even better: Research suggests podcast ads can run as long as 90 seconds, with viewer attention reaching 85%. A 2017 Edison Research report found that the average podcast consumer listens to five podcasts weekly.

That’s enticing to major media brands such as Google, WarnerMedia, ViacomCBS, Facebook, Spotify and Apple.

This fall, Apple TV+ will launch original docu-series “The Line,” about former Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher’s alleged war crimes in the Middle East. The streamer is now offering a six-part podcast series as a primer leading up to the video series debut.

“Large new-content platforms like Facebook and YouTube will [soon] build audio-specific products and begin to distribute podcasts en masse,” Conal Byrne, president of iHeartPodcast Network, said in a statement.

Indeed, HBO Max, like Netflix, has already used podcasts in limited fashion, offering greater depth into select video programming and movies.

Last year, Max parent WarnerMedia inked a deal with iHeartMedia to create podcasts for numerous original TV series such as “Search Party” and “Raised by Wolves,” among others.

“WarnerMedia Entertainment’s networks and brands have long been a marvel in the entertainment industry, and we’re ecstatic for the opportunity to be a part of their legendary storytelling and to bring this trove of new content to the iHeartPodcast Network,” Byrne said at the time.

Report: Disney’s ‘Soul’ Top-Streamed Movie in the Past Seven Months

New data from Samba TV finds the Dec. 25, 2020 debut of Disney/Pixar’s Soul remains the most-streamed movie in the past seven months — topping Warner’s Wonder Woman 1984Godzilla vs. Kong, Mortal Kombat and Amazon Prime Video’s Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm, among others.

Fallout from the pandemic has seen Hollywood alter traditional movie distribution to include direct-to-streaming launches for new titles. Disney and WarnerMedia have led the move, followed by Hulu, Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime Video.

Warner is releasing its entire 2021 theatrical slate on HBO Max concurrently with box office rollout.

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Direct-to-streaming movies continued to roll out, with major blockbusters hitting living room screens the same day as, or even before, their theatrical debuts across all major platforms. While Soul and WW84 continued to lead the pack from the fourth quarter of 2020 over both their three-day premiere window and for 30 days after, March held some huge debuts as well, with HBO Max’s Zack Snyder’s The Justice League and Godzilla vs. Kong seeing sizable three-day viewership tallies.

Through the end of the first quarter, Soul had generated more than 5.8 million household views, followed by WW84 with 4.3 million. Mortal Kombat started strong with 3.6 million households since its April 23 launch. Detective drama The Little Things has slightly more than 3 million households.

Pay-TV Viewership Decline Continues

Separately, according to Samba TV’s analysis, there was a 10% quarter-over-quarter decline in the daily average number of TV-viewing U.S. households consuming linear-TV, along with a 14% decline in total minutes viewed. Every month since November has progressively seen lower daily average U.S. household tune-ins than the previous month.

On top of that, linear-TV advertising impressions were down year-over-year across the U.S., U.K., and Germany showing that demonstrates that the industry has not quite returned to pre-pandemic levels and likely will continue to shift to digital as viewers increase time-shifting and streaming behaviors.

Interest in premium linear content is down: The average number of households that watched Showtime, HBO and Starz each day in the first quarter of 2021 was lower than it was in the fourth quarter of 2020. Starz saw the steepest drop-off at -21%, followed by HBO (-17%) and Showtime (-6%).

Linear-TV losses were widespread: 81% of U.S. TV networks saw quarter-over-quarter declines based on average daily household. Live sports continued its viewership slide as well. Q1 2021 was full of major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, but overall sports viewership continued to decline year-over-year, which started with the stoppage of major sports leagues in March.

Apple Ups Q2 Services Revenue 27% to $16.9 Billion

Apple Inc. April 28 reported $16.9 billion in second-quarter (ended March 27) revenue for its services segment, which includes sales of movies and TV shows on iTunes, the App Store, Mac App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade and Apple News+, among others. Apple reported services revenue of $13.3 billion during the previous-year period.

Through six months of the fiscal year, services revenue has increased 25% to $32.6 billion, compared with $26 billion the year before.

Overall, Apple results were driven by the iPhone, which saw record quarterly revenue of nearly $48 billion, up 66% from revenue of $28.9 billion a year ago.

“We are proud of our March quarter performance, which included revenue records in each of our geographic segments and strong double-digit growth in each of our product categories, driving our installed base of active devices to an all-time high,” CFO Luca Maestri said in statement. “These results allowed us to generate operating cash flow of $24 billion and return nearly $23 billion to shareholders during the quarter. We are confident in our future and continue to make significant investments to support our long-term plans and enrich our customers’ lives.”

Apple Announces New Apple TV 4K Device With High-Frame-Rate HDR and Dolby Vision

Apple April 20 announced the next generation of Apple TV 4K, delivering high frame rate HDR with Dolby Vision.

The new Apple TV 4K features an A12 Bionic chip that provides a significant boost in graphics performance, video decoding and audio processing, according to Apple. The Siri Remote also has a new design.

The new Apple TV 4K will be available starting at $179 (U.S.) from apple.com, in the Apple Store app, and at Apple Store locations. Apple TV 4K is also available through Apple Authorized Resellers and select pay TV providers.

Customers can order the new Apple TV 4K beginning April 30, with availability beginning in the second half of May in more than 30 countries and regions, including the United States. Apple TV HD with the new Siri Remote will be available for $149. The new Siri Remote will be available separately for $59, and is compatible with the previous-generation Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD.

“Apple TV 4K is in a category of its own, leveraging a deep integration of Apple hardware, software, and services that delivers a massive upgrade to any TV for the very best cinematic experience,” Bob Borchers, Apple’s VP of worldwide product marketing, said in a statement. “With the A12 Bionic and the all-new Siri Remote, Apple TV 4K lets customers enjoy their favorite shows, movies, and more in the highest quality, with simple and intuitive controls. And of course, Apple TV 4K offers easy access to Apple services, along with thousands of apps on the App Store for even more entertainment options.”

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With A12 Bionic, Apple TV 4K now supports high frame rate HDR (high dynamic range) and Dolby Vision video, enabling fast-moving action at 60 frames per second (fps) to play more smoothly and appear more lifelike, according to the Apple announcement. Apple is working with leading video providers around the world, including Fox Sports, NBCUniversal, Paramount+, Red Bull TV and Canal+, as they begin to stream in high-frame-rate HDR. With high-frame-rate support in AirPlay, videos shot on iPhone 12 Pro can be displayed in full 60-fps Dolby Vision on the new Apple TV 4K.

Through a new color balance process, Apple TV works with iPhone and its advanced sensors to improve a television’s picture quality, according to the announcement. Apple TV uses the light sensor in the iPhone to compare the color balance to the industry-standard specifications used by cinematographers worldwide. Using this data, Apple TV automatically tailors its video output to deliver much more accurate colors and improved contrast — without customers ever having to adjust their television settings, according to Apple.

The new Siri remote for Apple TV

The new Siri Remote features a clickpad control that offers five-way navigation for better accuracy and is also touch-enabled for fast directional swipes. The outer ring of the clickpad supports a circular gesture that turns it into a jog control, which can be used for finding a scene in a movie or show. The new Siri Remote also has a power button that controls a TV’s power and another for mute to eliminate the need for other remots. Using Siri, customers can search for specific shows or movies, control smart home accessories, check sports scores or the weather and more, according to Apple. Siri now works on Apple TV in Austria, Ireland, and New Zealand, joining the 13 countries and regions that already support Siri.

Apple TV 4K runs tvOS. AirPlay on Apple TV 4K lets customers effortlessly share videos, school projects and other content from their iPhone, iPad or Mac directly to the TV. Videos shot on iPhone 12 Pro can be displayed in full 60-fps Dolby Vision with high frame rate support in AirPlay. Apple TV 4K can be used as a home hub to control HomeKit accessories, and allows customers to view HomeKit video cameras and doorbell notifications on the television screen. With multiuser support on Apple TV 4K, family members can see personalized recommendations for shows, movies and music, access their purchased apps in the App Store, or play games on Apple Arcade.

For the first time, AppleCare+ will be available for Apple TV, providing three years of technical support and additional hardware coverage, including up to two incidents of accidental damage protection every 12 months.

Netflix Quietly Bows Movies in Theaters — Ahead of Streaming

Netflix was the first movie producer to flaunt the traditional theatrical window, contending its original feature films should be made available to subscribers concurrently with any box office exhibition. The streamer’s stance angered exhibitors, resulting in most Netflix movies being boycotted by theatrical chains.

Then came the pandemic and traditional mindsets and business practices gave way to change.

During the pandemic, Netflix quietly entered the theatrical market after negotiating a distribution deal with No. 3 U.S. exhibitor Cinemark. In November and December, respectively, Netflix released Christmas Chronicles 2 and The Prom on Cinemark screens for an exclusive one-week window before they streamed on the Netflix platform.

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“We assume that Netflix negotiated a much lower film rent fee with Cinemark than studios do for a typical theatrical window, and lower than what Universal Pictures will pay exhibitors for its exclusive 17/31-day windows,” Michael Pachter, media analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, wrote in a note.

Netflix, which has become a perennial Oscar contender with its original movies, hasn’t been shy from debuting titles in Los Angeles theaters to assuage industry awards rules. The streamer bowed Klaus, The Two Popes, Marriage Story, The Irishman​, The King and The Laundromat​ on the big screen prior to its platform.

Last year, Netflix acquired the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles, in part to debut premiere original movies. American Cinematheque, the nonprofit organization that previously owned the Egyptian, will continue to screen movies on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Pachter said Apple TV+ released its original documentary Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry on its platform day-and-date with a theatrical release. He said tickets were available a week ahead of its Cinemark availability, but it was released on Feb. 26 in theaters and on the streaming platform. With no exclusive theatrical window, Pachter said he believes Apple negotiated a smaller film rental fee with Cinemark compared to what Netflix received, and both streamers received less in compensation than studios with longer exclusive theatrical windows.

“While these are clearly exceptional times and exhibitors are willing to negotiate terms they typically would not have in a pre-COVID environment, we think these types of negotiations will continue, and we expect to see more original content from streamers playing in theatres post-pandemic,” Pachter wrote. “We think exhibitors are now more willing to negotiate favorable terms with far more flexible windows than they had in the past, as long as their counterpart is willing to pay.”