‘The Late Late Show with James Corden’ Gets Streaming Deal in China

“The Late Late Show with James Corden” (especially “Carpool Karaoke”) is going where Netflix can’t: China.

CBS Studios International and Chinese online video platform iQiYiNov. 14 announced a licensing agreement for the late night talk show hosted by British comedian Corden. This is the first time the series has been made available in China, with current and past episodes available on-demand on the iQIYI platform.

Since launching in 2015 with Corden, “The Late Late Show” has generated 475 clips on YouTube with more than 1 million views each, resulting in more than 5 billion overall views and over 16 million subscribers for the show’s YouTube channel.

The show’s “Carpool Karaoke” segment – reportedly the most popular late night TV trend on social media – has more than 1.95 billion views on YouTube since its inception a year ago.

Segments featuring Adele and Justin Bieberare currently the #1 and #2 most-watched “Late Night” clips on YouTube, along with Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, Stevie Wonder, Gwen Stefani, Elton John and One Direction.

A spin-off of the segment, “Carpool Karaoke: The Series,” was acquired by Apple with Corden as executive producer.

“We believe … James Corden will be well-recognized by millions of Chinese audiences,” iQIYI said in a statement.

Armando Nuñez, CEO of  CBS Global Distribution Group, said that with mobile viewing dominate among iQIYI’s subscriber base, “inventive content and viral moments of ‘The Late Late Show’” are well-suited for the platform.

“It’s exciting to join forces with iQIYI to bring the supreme talent of James Corden and the star power of his guests to Chinese audiences,” said Nuñez.

 

 

 

U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Net Neutrality Appeals Court Ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court Nov. 5 declined to hear a case brought by the telecommunications industry and the Department of Justice seeking to reverse a lower appeals court ruling upholding Obama-era regulations that treated the Internet as a utility.

The Federal Communications Commission under President Trump reversed the regulations in 2017. Through the Obama-era guidelines were no longer in place, the Trump Administration and telecoms were hoping the Supreme Court would remove the precedent set by the 2016 U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s ruling that upheld them.

The Supreme Court’s lack of action on the case does not reverse the 2017 repeal of the net neutrality guidelines enacted in 2015, and leaves the door open to future litigation for any net neutrality policy.

The FCC reversal had been seen as a win for major ISPs such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon having greater control of content distribution on the Internet. Indeed, Dish Network this month alleged AT&T-owned HBO and Cinemax wouldn’t renegotiate pay-TV carriage agreements, in part due to AT&T’s competing over-the-top video distribution platforms.

California state lawmakers this year voted to adopt the guidelines affording content providers such as Google, Apple, Facebook, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video equal access to high-speed Internet distribution without being subjected to throttling, blocking or paid prioritization by Internet service providers.

Enforcement of the new legislation – set to take effect in January – has been put on hold pending a separate lawsuit by the federal government that argues states seeking their own net neutrality guidelines are violating the supremacy clause.

Apple Ups Q4 ‘Services’ Revenue 27%

Apple services revenue, which includes sales of digital movies and TV shows on iTunes and Apple TV, remains an emerging giant.

The tech company Nov. 1 reported fourth-quarter (ended Sept. 29) services revenue of more than $10 billion, up 27% from services revenue of $7.9 billion during the previous-year period.

The segment, which also includes AppleCare, Apple Pay, licensing and other services, benefited from a one-time adjustment of $640 million due to a change in estimate based on the availability of additional supporting information.

Overall, Apple generated net income of $14.1 billion on revenue of $62.9 billion, compared to income of $10.7 billion and revenue of $52.5 billion last year.

The company sold more than 46.8 million iPhones, 9.7 million iPads and 5.3 million Macs in the quarter.

“We set September quarter revenue records for iPhone and wearables and all-time quarterly records for services and Mac,” CFO Luca Maestri said in a statement.

 

Report: Apple Launching Online TV Service Worldwide

Apple reportedly is set to launch an online TV service in more than 100 countries the first half of 2019. The service would include original programming, in addition to third-party apps similar to Amazon Channels in the United States, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, according to TheInformation.com, which cited sources familiar with the situation.

The service would appear to target SVOD giants Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, which currently operate in 190 and 200 countries, respectively.

Steve Carell

While an innovator in consumer electronics, computers and digital entertainment distribution, Apple has moved slowly in over-the-top video. The Apple TV streaming device lags behind market leader Roku in market penetration, according to Parks Associates.

Despite a war chest exceeding $200 billion in cash, Apple has allocated just $1 billion on original content spending in 2018 – an amount less than what Hulu is spending, in addition to market behemoths Netflix ($12 billion) and Amazon ($5 billion).

Apple Oct. 23 announced that Steve Carell (“The Office,” The 40-Year-Old Virgin) is joining Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston’s unnamed morning TV series. The show marks Carell’s first episodic content work in five years.

“It makes sense for Apple to position its subscription service as a way to make television viewing easier for customers, rather than try to go head-to-head with Amazon and Netflix on original programming,” Tim Nollen, analyst at Macquarie, told the website. “Having the ability to make life easier for consumers in this fragmented, over-the-top marketplace makes sense.”

 

 

 

 

 

Report: Apple to Offer Original Programming Free to Apple Device Owners

Apple plans to give away its original programming for free to Apple device owners, according to a report from CNBC referencing anonymous sources.

Apple’s new digital video service will include Apple-owned content, which will be free to Apple device owners, and subscription “channels” from legacy media companies, such as online-only services from HBO and Starz, according to the CNBC report.

Owners of Apple devices, such as the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, will find the still-in-the-works service in the pre-installed “TV” application, according to the CNBC sources.

Apple plans to debut the service early next year, according to the CNBC sources.

Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google Among Top Brands in Survey

Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google and Samsung placed among the top brands in a new survey from global consultancy firm Prophet.

The firm released its fourth annual Brand Relevance Index, in which it surveyed 12,694 consumers in the United States across 299 brands in 37 categories.

The top 10 in order were Apple, Amazon, Pinterest, Netflix, Android, Google, Samsung, Kitchen Aid, Spotify and Nike.

Among the top 25, media and entertainment companies included YouTube (No. 12), PlayStation (No. 13), Disney (No. 14), Pixar (No. 15), Sony (No. 21) and Xbox (No. 25).

“It’s clear that to be successful, brands need more than size and ubiquity,” said Scott Davis, chief growth officer, Prophet, in a statement. “They must create a product that people love enough to integrate into their everyday lives. The brands that inspire this level of loyalty will ultimately grow the fastest because they are relevant in the moments that matter most to consumers.”

Netflix and Pixar were among top brands that were most “customer obsessed,” according to the survey, while PlayStation, Marvel and Google were most “pervasively innovative.” Netflix was the category leader in the “Media” segment, PlayStation led in “Electronics & Gaming,” Apple led in “Computing & Software,” Amazon led in “Retailers” and Verizon led in “Telecommunications.”

Apple, Netflix, Pinterest, Amazon and Android were the top brands, in order, among females. Amazon, Apple, PlayStation, Spotify and Samsung, in order, were the top brands among males.

Among millennials, the top brands, in order, were Netflix, Amazon, KitchenAid, Apple and Google. Among non-millennials, top brands, in order, were Apple, Amazon, Pinterest, Android and Netflix.

Facebook (No. 205) was the “biggest mover” in the negative direction.

Morgan Stanley Says Apple SVOD Service Can Rival Netflix — in Seven Years

Netflix shares took a slight hit after Morgan Stanley Sept. 5 issued a bullish note on Apple’s slowly evolving subscription streaming video service.

In the report — Apple, Inc.: The Emerging Power of Apple Services, Part 3: Video a New Growth Driver in 2019– Morgan Stanley analysts believe Apple’s longstanding success with iTunes and the music industry, Hollywood and its ability to capture consumer demand through the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch portends great promise in over-the-top video distribution.

“We forecast that an Apple Video streaming service with high-quality but limited breadth could be priced at the low end vs. competitors, or $7.99/month, and reach over 50 million paid subscribers by 2025, compared to 124 million at Netflix subs and Apple’s 650 million-unit iPhone installed base,” wrote the analysts.

Indeed, the note suggests Apple’s SVOD service could grow from a $500 million business in 2019 to $4.4 billion operation by 2025.

Lofty projections considering the late Steve Jobs often considered Apple TV and streaming a video a hobby and not a platform Apple could invest heavily in.

That’s changed as CEO Tim Cook and Eddy Cue, SVP of Internet software and services, have upped Apple’s video profile by hiring a string of entertainment executives, producers and directors to jumpstart original programming.

The biggest announcement occurred last November about an untitled morning show drama starring and executive produced by Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston.

Other projects include a sketch comedy with Kristen Wiig; renewed seasons of “Carpool Karaoke,” a basketball drama with Golden State Warriors Kevin Durant serving as both the subject and producer; and unnamed series from directors M. Night Shyamalan, J.J. Abrams and Oprah Winfrey, among others.

Morgan Stanley believes the Apple SVOD service could get a boost when bundled with the Apple Music and Texture news and magazine subscription services. A strategy Hulu has employed partnering with Spotify.

The note said such a bundling would diversify content options for consumers, diminish the need for immediate original content hits, increase perceived consumer value and simplify billing, among other features.

“If we incorporate the assumptions from our Apple Media bundle scenario while keeping all other Apple Services forecasts unchanged, then we’d expect Apple Services revenue to grow at a 21% through 2025, ultimately reaching $143 billion by 2025, up from current forecasts of a 19% revenue growth and $124 billion in revenue by 2025.”

Apple Services generated $95 billion in revenue in the most recent fiscal period.

“We believe that Apple Video will become a reality sooner than investors think, and use this report as a way to frame the two most likely methods for video content distribution and potential impact video could have on Apple’s Services business,” wrote the analysts.

Amazon, Google Smart Speaker Market Hold Under Threat by China

Amazon introduced the first voice-activated smart speaker in 2014 with Alexa and Amazon Echo. According to new data from Strategy Analytics, Amazon’s global smart speaker share of shipments fell to 41% in the second quarter (ended June 30) from 44% in Q1 and 76% in Q2 2017.

By contrast, Google increased its share to 28% in Q2, up from 16% during the same period last year. China’s Alibaba finished third with Apple and JD.com rounding out the top five.

David Watkins, director at Strategy Analytics, says Amazon and Google accounted for a 69% share of global smart speaker shipments in Q2, which was down from more than 90% in Q2 2017.

“The drop is not only a reflection of growing competition in the smart speaker market but also Amazon and Google’s inability to break into the fast-growing Chinese market that is dominated by local powerhouse brands such as Alibaba, JD.com and Baidu,” Watkins said in a statement.

Indeed, Strategy Analytics contends China has the potential to become a lucrative market for smart speakers driven by voice-activated software – as underscored by Google’s recent $500 million strategic partnership with Chinese ecommerce giant JD.com.

David Mercer, VP at Strategy Analytics, believes Google and Amazon’s pursuit of volume over margin has made it difficult for third-party entry-level speakers entering the market with similar features.

However, Mercer contends the premium end of the market offers opportunity to vendors such as Roku who can entice consumers with superior build and audio quality.

“Early adopters of low-cost smart speakers such as the Echo Dot or Google Home Mini who are now looking to buy a second device will be a key target demographic for such vendors,” he said. “Apple has established an early lead in the premium smart speaker market, benefiting from a fiercely loyal fan base and strong momentum behind its Apple Music service. However, we expect the higher end smart speaker market to grow and become much more competitive moving forwards as vendors such as Samsung with its Galaxy Home speaker look to capitalize on the growing acceptance of voice as an established control mechanism.”

 

Freedom of Speech or Peddling Hate in an OTT World?

In the current politically toxic culture where “fake news” allegations and “enemies of the people” campaign rally cries by the POTUS against the media (except Fox News) continue to divide the country, bigotry and hate are now rationalized by many as differences of opinion between “good people on both sides.”

While the First Amendment prohibits Congress from making any law abridging the freedom of speech, or the freedom of the press, the Internet and over-the-top video has given those wishing to upend the country’s moral compass an unending bully pulpit.

Take Alex Jones, the radio host and conspiracy theorist loon who makes rightwing propagandists Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity seem normal.

Jones, who started website Infowars in 1999 as a platform to pitch irrational thought, is infamous for tearful rants (literally) decrying the 9/11 terrorist attacks as an inside government operation; and claiming the Sandy Hook school shooting – that killed 26 children and adults in Connecticut – was carried out by left-leaning forces aimed at implementing stricter gun control.

Apple Aug. 5 apparently wearied of Jones’ shtick. The tech giant pulled several Infowars podcasts off iTunes, citing the platform’s hate speech guidelines. Facebook and Spotify followed Aug. 6, with Facebook reportedly suspending Jones’ personal account as well.

Twitter, which has become President Trump’s unofficial press platform, chose not to ban Jones, saying he had not violated the company’s use guidelines.

“We know that’s hard for many, but the reason is simple: he hasn’t violated our rules,” CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted Aug. 7. “We’ll enforce if he does. And we’ll continue to promote a healthy conversational environment by ensuring tweets aren’t artificially amplified.”

But a quick look at Twitter’s rules against abusive behavior finds this: “We prohibit behavior that crosses the line into abuse, including behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear.”

But Jones did just that in 2016 during the run up to the presidential election when he promoted the fake story that Democrat Party officials operated a child pornography ring from a pizzeria in Washington, D.C.

A North Carolina man was later arrested after firing shots into the pizzeria due to the hoax.

But real-world incidents like this don’t seem to bother Dorsey, who doubled-down on his Aug. 7 tweet, suggesting it is the responsibility of the media and journalists to “validate” Jones’ claims.

“This is what serves the public conversation best,” he tweeted.

Apparently, the “enemies of the people” – not Twitter – should now be responsible for fact-checking hate peddlers, who you know, are still “good people.”

 

‘The Us Generation: The Making of the 1982 Us Festival’ Coming to Disc Aug. 10 From MVD

The documentary The Us Generation: The Making Of the 1982 Us Festival will come out Aug. 10 on DVD and Blu-ray Disc from MVD Entertainment Group.

An in-depth look at the influential music festival, The Us Generation blends rare concert footage and interviews with both organizers and performers.

The 1982 Us Festival was a three-day event boasting some of the biggest names in music, performing live in front of more than 1 million people at Glen Helen Regional Park in San Bernardino, Calif. It was the brainchild of Apple’s Steve Wozniak, who wanted to create something that was a true celebration of Americana, building a sense of community through the power of technology and music.

Highlights of the film include performances by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, The Police, Fleetwood Mac, Santana, The B-52s, and The Cars; as well as archived appearances by Johnny and Joey Ramone, Carlos Santana, Sting, Ric Ocasek, Danny Elfman, and Fred Schneider. The documentary also includes exclusive interviews with Wozniak, Mick Fleetwood, Eddie Money, Marky Ramone, Kate Pierson, Stewart Copeland and Mickey Hart, among others.