Vertical Entertainment’s ‘Ava’ Tops Apple TV, Google Play Transactional VOD Charts

Jessica Chastain’s turn as femme fatale assassin in Vertical Entertainment’s Ava generated the most $6.99 transactional VOD purchases on Apple TV and Google Play as of Sept. 28.

The title, which was released on digital retail channels Sept. 25, finished second on FandangoNow to Lionsgate’s $19.99 VOD release, Antebellum. Both Fandango and subsidiary Vudu.com rank titles based on revenue generated; not transactions. Spectrum ranked Antebellum tops in transactions from Sept. 18-24.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Ava, which features Chastain as a hit woman for a secret black ops organization, also stars Common, John Malkovich, Geena Davis, Colin Farrell and Joan Chen. The movie had a limited theatrical run over the summer (due to Covid-19) in Hungary and other international markets, generating $2.1 million in ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo.

Apple TV

1. Ava (Vertical) – $6.99

2. The Secret: Dare to Dream (Gravitas Ventures) – $5.99

3. The Outpost (Millennium) – $0.99

4. Father of the Bride (Disney) – $2.99

5. Alone (Magnolia) – $6.99

6. Antebellum (Lionsgate) – $19.99

7. The Last Starfighter (Universal) – $3.99

8. The King of Staten Island (Universal) – $5.99

9. Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs (Lionsgate) – $5.99

10. Irresistible (Focus) – $5.99

Google Play

1. Ava (Vertical) – $6.99

2. Antebellum (Lionsgate) – $19.99

3. Alone (Magnolia) – $6.99

4. Bill & Ted Face the Music (United Artists) – $13.99

5. The King of Staten Island (Universal) – $5.99

6. The Tax Collector (RLJE) – $6.99

7. Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount) – $4.99

8. The Secret: Dare to Dream (Gravitas Ventures) – $5.99

9. The Silencing (XYZ) – $6.99

10. Trolls World Tour (Universal) – $5.99

Roku Offering Free 90-Day Access to Apple TV+; Introduces New Ultra Media Player, Branded Sound Bar, Operating System

Roku Sept. 28 announced it would give customers who purchase and activate a Roku device between Oct. 23, 2020  and Jan. 31, 2021, three months of free access to Apple TV+, the SVOD platform launched last November. The offer is available to new Apple TV+ subscribers only and must be redeemed by Feb. 2, 2021. Apple TV+ costs $4.99/month after free trial. Plan automatically renews until cancelled.

Roku is also offering 30-day free trials to Showtime, Starz+ and Epix via The Roku Channel through Oct. 4, 2020 with the purchase and activation of an eligible Roku device.

The subscription streaming video-on-demand co-founder (with Netflix) unveiled its new streaming lineup for the U.S. to include a redesigned Roku Ultra ($99.99) media player, in addition to the Roku Streambar ($129.99). Roku also announced a new OS 9.4 operating system. The news sent Roku’s stock up 1.6% in early-morning trading.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“We are focused on delivering a variety of innovative, top-performing products at an incredible value to our customers so they can get to the content they care about quickly,” Mark Ely, VP, retail product strategy, said in a statement.

The Roku Ultra features upwards 50% more range and Bluetooth support with Dolby Vision picture quality and Dolby Atmos sound when paired with compatible devices. The device also comes with voice remote featuring TV power and volume controls, personal shortcut buttons, and headphones for private listening, a lost remote finder and HDMI cable. The Roku Ultra can also be controlled by speaking to Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant devices.

Later this year, Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit capabilities are expected to begin roll out on select 4K Roku devices. With Apple AirPlay 2, users can stream videos and music to the big screen, and with HomeKit, they can control their Roku device using the Home app and Siri.

Additional features include access to music streaming services Spotify Connect and three-month free trial of Pandora Premium with purchases a Roku device through Nov. 6th and redeemed by Nov. 8th, 2020.

Patricia Arquette to Star in ‘High Desert’ on Apple TV+

Apple TV+ has ordered the half-hour comedy “High Desert,” produced by Apple Studios and starring Academy, Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood,” “Escape at Dannemora,” “The Act”), who will also executive produce.

The project reunites Arquette with Ben Stiller (Escape at Dannemora), who will direct the first episode and executive produce through Red Hour Films alongside Nicky Weinstock. Molly Madden and Tom Lassally executive produce on behalf of 3 Arts Entertainment.

“High Desert” follows Peggy (Arquette), a former addict who decides to make a new start after the death of her beloved mother, with whom she lived in the small desert town of Yucca Valley, Calif., and makes a life-changing decision to become a private investigator.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The series is created and written by Nancy Fichman (“Nurse Jackie,” “Damages”), Katie Ford (Miss Congeniality) and Jennifer Hoppe (“Grace and Frankie,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Damages”), who will also serve as executive producers.

“High Desert” marks Apple’s second partnership with Arquette and Stiller following the series order for “Severance,” an upcoming workplace thriller starring and executive produced by Arquette and Adam Scott, and directed and executive produced by Stiller. Arquette and Stiller both received Emmy Award nominations for their most recent collaboration: the limited series Escape at Dannemora, for which Stiller won the DGA Award and Arquette won Golden Globe, SAG and Critics Choice Awards.

Starzplay Available Through Apple TV in Middle East, North Africa

Starzplay, Starz’s video-on-demand streaming service, is now available to customers across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region through Apple TV channels on the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, Mac, and select Samsung and LG smart TVs.

The service offers Hollywood and Arabic movies, TV shows, documentaries, kids’ entertainment and original content. Customers in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt can sign up for a seven-day free trial and subscribe directly to Starzplay on the Apple TV app for $11 per month (prices vary by region).

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“Online streaming in the region is growing faster than ever,” said Danny Bates, CCO and co-founder at Starzplay, in a statement. “As the region’s leading video streaming service, we constantly look for innovative avenues to offer quality content to hungry audiences. Offering Starzplay through Apple TV channels will open up a whole new customer base and further drive the growth of the video streaming market in MENA. We are proud to be the first major content partner for Apple TV channels in the MENA region and look forward to unveiling more compelling content on the platform.”

Subscribers through Apple TV channels can watch online on demand or watch offline downloads of on the Apple TV app. With Family Sharing, up to six friends or family members can share subscriptions to Apple TV channels using just their Apple ID and password.

Apple TV+ Bowing Kids’ Series ‘Doug Unplugs’ and ‘Stillwater’ This fall

Apple TV+ will release two new kids’ series, “Doug Unplugs” and “Stillwater,” globally this fall.

“Doug Unplugs,” premiering Nov. 13, is from DreamWorks Animation and based on Dan Yaccarino’s “Doug Unplugged” book series. It follows a young robot named Doug who senses there’s more to life than just the facts. While other robots plug in for their daily download, curious Doug unplugs and journeys into the human world, and with his best friend Emma, experiences its wonders firsthand.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“Stillwater”

“Stillwater,” premiering Dec. 4, is based on the Scholastic book series “Zen Shorts” by Jon J Muth and is produced by Gaumont and Scholastic Entertainment. It centers on siblings Karl, Addy and Michael, who are typical kids with typical kid challenges — meaning that sometimes even the smallest things can feel insurmountable. Fortunately for these three, they have Stillwater, a wise panda, as their next-door neighbor. Through his example, stories and gentle humor, Stillwater gives the children a deeper understanding of their feelings as well as tools that help them face their own day-to-day challenges.

Also, following it 18 Daytime Emmy Award nominations and win for Outstanding Children’s or Family Viewing Programming, “Ghostwriter” will have its second season premiere on Apple TV+ Oct. 9, and the second season of “Helpsters” will premiere Oct. 16. Both series hail from the makers of “Sesame Street.”

Apple Bows ‘Apple One’ Service Bundles

Since announcing a bevy of branded subscription platforms covering magazines, periodicals, music, video and gaming in 2019, Apple has partnered SVOD service, Apple TV+, with select third-parties to expand distribution. Now Apple is going in-house with platform bundling pricing options.

Dubbed “Apple One,” the bundles range from combinations of Apple Music, Apple TV Plus, Apple Arcade and 50GB of iCloud Storage for $14.95 monthly, to Apple Music, Apple TV Plus, Apple Arcade, Apple News Plus, Apple Fitness Plus, and 2TB of iCloud storage for $29.95 monthly.

The plans were disclosed on virtual event, “Time Flies” on Sept. 15.

“Apple One makes enjoying Apple subscription services easier than ever, including Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, iCloud and more,” Eddy Cue, SVP of Internet Software and Services, said in a statement. “With Apple One, you can access the best of Apple entertainment across all your favorite devices with one simple subscription.”

While Apple has given away 12-month subscriptions to various branded services individually with the purchase Apple hardware devices, the success of Disney’s bundle featuring Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu likely fast-tracked the decision to look within.

“We have long argued that bundling services is a unique tool that Apple has at its disposal,” Katy Huberty, analyst with Morgan Stanley, wrote in a note last month.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Indeed, Apple services revenue — driven by music, iCloud and App Store — has skyrocketed in recent years, topping $50 billion annually, or about $12.5 billion every 90 days. Apple Arcade and Apple TV+ continue to struggle — the latter against a field of big-name studio/media competitors chasing Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Apple services include:

  • Apple Music, with more than 70 million songs, thousands of playlists, daily selections from music experts, Apple Music radio, and features like time-synced lyrics.
  • Apple TV+, home to Apple Originals such as “The Morning Show,” starring Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell and Reese Witherspoon. Apple TV+ has already earned over 100 awards recognitions, including 18 Emmy nominations, for its originals — more than any other streaming service in its first 10 months.
  • Apple Arcade, which gives players unlimited access to more than 100  games across iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, and Apple TV, all with no ads or in-app purchases.
  • Apple News+, which provides premium access to leading newspapers and hundreds of magazines.
  • Apple Fitness+, the first fitness experience built for Apple Watch, arriving later this year. Apple Fitness+ intelligently incorporates metrics from Apple Watch for users to visualize right on their iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV, offering a first-of-its-kind personalized workout experience. Everyone from beginners to committed exercisers can access studio-style workouts delivered by inspiring world-class trainers and underscored by motivating music from renowned artists.
  • iCloud, which keeps customers’ photos, videos, files, and more safely stored and available across their devices.

Interpret: Apple TV+ $9.99 Bundle With Showtime and CBS All Access Could Boost Growth

Apple’s bundling of Apple TV+ with CBS All Access and Showtime for just $9.99 per month, announced in August, could be a savvy move, according to research firm Interpret.

Apple TV+ alone is $4.99 a month.

Interpret’s New Media Measure shows that Apple TV+ has room for growth with the bundle method. Among current Apple TV+ subscribers, only 7% subscribe to Showtime streaming and 13% subscribe to CBS All Access.

“Both CBS All Access and Showtime were already available in the Apple TV channels lineup, but considering that Showtime costs subscribers $10.99 monthly and CBS All Access subscriptions go for $5.99, Apple is banking on the bundle approach as too irresistible for content-hungry fans — not unlike Disney+ offering a bundle with ESPN+ and Hulu,” according to Interpret.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Apple TV App on Vizio Smartcast TVs in U.S. and Canada

Vizio customers in the United States and Canada now have access to the Apple TV app on SmartCast TVs.

For a limited time, eligible Vizio SmartCast customers in the United States can sign up for Apple TV+ and receive three months free.

“With the Apple TV app coming to Vizio SmartCast TVs, customers can enjoy an even broader range of exciting entertainment, including the popular and award-winning Apple TV+ service,” Mike O’Donnell, chief revenue officer of Vizio, said in a statement. “Knowing the important role the TV has in the home, Vizio continues to expand the entertainment available for consumers to discover.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Vizio SmartCast TV users can select the Apple TV app icon from the SmartCast Home screen and sign in with their Apple ID to subscribe to Apple TV+.

Customers can also subscribe to Apple TV channels, such as Showtime, CBS All Access and Starz, and watch online and offline, ad-free and on demand, directly on the Apple TV app. Through Family Sharing, up to six family members can share subscriptions to Apple TV channels using their personal Apple ID and password.

Additionally, Vizio SmartCast TV users can browse the Apple TV app to buy or rent more than 100,000 movies and TV shows, including titles available in 4K HDR and with Dolby Atmos, as well as access their library of movie and TV show purchases from Apple.

Vizio customers can also enjoy Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit capabilities on SmartCast TVs. With AirPlay 2, Vizio customers can stream, control, and share their favorite content directly from their iPhone, iPad, or Mac to their Vizio SmartCast TV. HomeKit allows customers to easily and securely control their SmartCast TV using the Home app or by asking Siri on their Apple devices.

‘Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special’ to Bow on Apple TV+ for Holidays

Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special, an exclusive holiday program from multi-platinum, multi-Grammy award-winning artist Mariah Carey, will debut globally on Apple TV+ this holiday season.

The special — combining music, dancing and animation driven by a “heartwarming” story, according to Apple — is set to premiere on the heels of the 25th anniversary of Carey’s No. 1 holiday anthem “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” and will feature Carey and a lineup of guest stars.

Apple TV+ is available on the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, Mac, select Samsung and LG smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices, as well as at tv.apple.com, for $4.99 per month with a seven-day free trial. The Apple TV app will be available on Sony and Vizio smart TVs later this year. For a limited time, customers who purchase a new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac or iPod touch can get one year of Apple TV+ free. The offer is good for three months after the first activation of the eligible device. For more information, visit apple.com/tvpr.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Apple TV+ Unveils Three Documentary Series

Apple TV+ today unveiled a trio of documentary series that celebrate humanity and the natural world, premiering globally this fall and narrated by Oscar and Golden Globe winner Olivia Colman, Golden Globe winner Tom Hiddleston and Golden Globe nominee Paul Rudd.

Rudd narrates “Tiny World,” which takes a unique perspective on the natural world, exploring the ingenuity and resilience of the smallest animals on the planet. New camera technology allows viewers, for the very first time, to see the world through the eyes of the tiniest creatures and witness the extraordinary things they do to survive. The first six episodes of “Tiny World” will make their global debut on Oct. 2.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Colman narrates “Becoming You,” a global child development series that explores how the first 2,000 days on Earth shape the rest of our lives. Told through the eyes of more than 100 children across the world, from Nepal to Japan and Borneo, each episode offers a thought-provoking look at how children learn to think, speak and move, from birth to age 5. It underscores how different our journeys can be, but ultimately tells the story of our shared humanity and community when it comes to raising children. The first six episodes premiere Nov. 13.

Follow us on Instagram

A natural history series narrated by Hiddleston, “Earth at Night in Color” uses next-generation cameras to reveal the nocturnal lives of animals, in color, for the first time ever. Filmed across six continents, from the Arctic Circle to the African grasslands, the series follows the moonlit dramas of animals at night, revealing new insights and never-before-seen behaviors. It premieres Dec. 4.

Apple TV+ is available on the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, Mac, select Samsung and LG smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices, as well as at tv.apple.com, for $4.99 per month with a seven-day free trial. The Apple TV app will be available on Sony and Vizio smart TVs later this year. For a limited time, customers who purchase a new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac or iPod touch can enjoy one year of Apple TV+ for free. This special offer is good for three months after the first activation of the eligible device. For more information, please visit apple.com/tvpr.