Cineverse Gets FAST Distribution in Australia

Cineverse April 2 announced a new distribution deal with Australia-based Network 10, a division of Paramount Global. Through the deal, Cineverse is offering ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channels to 10 Play, an Australian free video-on-demand and catch-up TV service.

Cineverse’s “Crime Hunters” and “Comedy Dynamics” channels will be available as part of 10 Play’s free ad-supported Pluto TV lineup. “Crime Hunters,” which commenced March 20, features the “FBI Files” and “The New Detectives,” among other third-party channels. “Comedy Dynamics” launched March 27 featuring collections of stand-up comedy, including new and classic performances.

“These two Cineverse channels … complement showcasing a world of entertainment for audiences with premium, brand-safe content that also allows advertisers to connect with key demographics,” Daniel Monaghan, SVP content and programming for Paramount Australia, said in a statement.

The new channels add to 10 Play’s library of more than 50 FAST channels available on the “Live TV with Pluto TV” lineup featuring cult classics and hit TV series.

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“There was a clear choice for us where we wanted to start our international expansion in Australia, and Network 10 was the obvious leader in this space,” Marc Rashba, EVP of partnerships at Cineverse, said in a statement.

Paramount+ Announces Dates, Pricing for International Streaming Launches

Paramount+ March 19 announced launch dates and pricing for its international ad-supported and premium-tier subscription VOD service.

The “Basic (with ads)” plan will roll out in April in Canada and in June in Australia, priced at $6.99 CAD and AUD per month, or $61.99 CAD and AUD per year. The “Premium” plan will roll out in Europe, beginning with France this month and priced at €10.99 per month (or €97.99 per year).

By introducing the ‘Basic (with ads)’ plan in Canada and Australia, we will enhance our value to our partners, by enabling advertisers to buy across our global franchises, series and films in a comprehensive and impactful way,” Lee Sears, president of international markets advertising sales, said in a statement.

Netflix Touts $1 Billion Australian Movie, TV Show Investment Since 2019

Netflix reported it has invested more than $1 billion Australian dollars ($640 million) in new Australian and Australian-related original movies and TV shows over the past four years. That includes more than $500 million on new kids and young adult programming and more than $450 million on new adult dramas.

Productions include “Boy Swallows Universe”; kids animated series, “Eddie’s Lil’ Homies,” in partnership with NITV and the Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF); outback drama “Desert King”; and another season of “Heartbreak High. Also, Tony Ayres Productions will adapt Jane Harper’s “The Survivors” into a series, among other content. 

Production includes stories about Aussie drill rap in “OneFour: Against All Odds”; showcasing comedians such as Hannah Gadsby through standup specials “Nanette and Douglas”; and exploring everyday relationships seen on Emmy-Award winning reality series “Love on the Spectrum,” in addition to “True Spirit,” “A Perfect Pairing,” and “Clickbait,” among others

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“We commissioned our first local series ‘Mako Mermaids’ in 2014 and celebrate our investment in over 80 new films and shows filmed across Australia this year,” read a Netflix  blog post, adding that the streamer’s commitment to Australian storytelling underscores in part the country’s production infrastructure. 

Australian AVOD Platform VA Media Grows Viewership by 50% in Fiscal Year

Australian AVOD monetization platform VA Media’s network grew by 50% in overall viewership for fiscal year 2023 (July 1, 2022-June 30, 2023) and gained 2 million subscribers for a total of more than 18 million subscribers to date.

The platform is in physical production on its first unscripted original series “My First Time,” and VA has appointed Australian-based Organic Pacific and Havas Network to support growing marketing and publicity needs.

Two new channels launched in fiscal year 2023 (Movie Central Español and Romance Movie Central), and VA plans three to five new channels in fiscal 2024, joining VA’s network of 20 owned and operated channels and a further 80-plus managed channels.

“We are quite optimistic about the growth in revenue, subscribers, and market share we’re seeing in the global YouTube AVOD space at the moment,” Mark Ashbridge, CEO of VA Media, said in a statement. “As we continue expanding our partnerships including channel management for companies like Cineverse, Epic Pictures, Distribution Solutions, and The Asylum, as well as our robust 3rd party acquisitions strategy on our owned and operated channels, we’re now diversifying our model to include original productions.”

Currently shooting in the company’s Sydney-based studios, the unscripted “My First Time,” from producer/director Carolyn Cage, is an original  documentary series bringing those firsts back to life. With 10 uniquely themed episodes, the series will explore the spectrum of queer relationships from unforgettable first dates to devastating first heartbreaks. 

“This series puts the spotlight on queer stories and queer storytelling,” Hannah Barnes, executive producer and VA Media’s director of unscripted and original content, said in a statement. “This is our first original series which has been developed in-house, we are thrilled to have people like Kween Kong, Wesley Enoch, Aurelia St Claire and the legend that is DQ involved in the series and can’t wait to launch it on We Are Pride later this year.”

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VA Media’s platform generates more than 300 million monthly views, with channels including the flagship Movie Central, True Crime Central and Horror Central.

Australia Getting 4K ‘Reservoir Dogs’ Gift Set

Via Vision Entertainment has set a May 31 release date for Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs being released for the first time in Australia on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.  

The 1992 film was released on 4K in the United States this past November by Lionsgate. The U.S. release is nominated for several of Media Play News’ Home Entertainment Awards.

The Australia edition, which marks the 30th anniversary of the film’s release Down Under July 30, 1993, is limited to 2,000 individually numbered copies and includes a 3D lenticular hard slipcase and six art cards. The set includes both 4K and regular Blu-ray discs of the film. Preorders are available at the Via Vision website.


Australian AVOD Monetization Platform VA Media Taps Kristen Bedno for Executive Suite

Australian AVOD monetization platform VA Media on March 9 announced it has hired Los Angeles-based distribution and marketing executive Kristen Bedno as head of content partnerships and acquisitions, North America, in its first move to expand globally in the social AVOD space.

Kristen Bedno

Based in Sydney and Melbourne, VA Media has built one of the largest networks of movie and unscripted genre channels on YouTube, consisting of eight channels and attracting 15 million subscribers. VA Media’s movie network publishes movies to its channels, generating significant revenue for its distributor partners based on the volume of views.

VA Media already has a significant foothold in the United States, where it helps producers and distributors including The Asylum, Vision Films, Alliance Entertainment’s Distribution Solutions and Indie Rights to monetize their catalogs in the social media space. The company has paid out more than $5 million to independent U.S. movie distributors over the past three years, with another $5 million to follow in the next 18 months.

In her new role heading up content partnerships and acquisitions, Bedno will help current VA partners expand their monetization capabilities via VA’s diverse offerings while also spearheading new partnerships with rights holders and producers and overseeing corporate communications in North America.

“It’s an exciting time in the AVOD space and VA Media is one of the fastest-growing social monetization companies in film, series, and social production,” Bedno said. “I am looking forward to helping VA expand its network of exceptional content providers.”

Originally from Southern Indiana, Bedno is founder of SideHussleLife, a marketing and distribution consultancy that focuses on amplifying diversity in film and television in the independent sector. Her previous roles include VP of distribution and marketing at Vision Films, where she managed producer and platform relationships as well as launching global VOD content.

Before joining Vision Films, Bedno oversaw sales operations and international marketing and publicity strategies for the Worldwide Distribution groups at Starz and Lionsgate. Bedno also previously served as Chair of the OTT.X Leadership Development Foundation initiative.

Amazon Freevee Nabs Select ‘Neighbours’ Episodes

Amazon’s free ad-supported streaming platform Freevee announced it would offer a selection of “Neighbours” TV episodes, beginning Feb. 23.

The longtime Australian drama series about the lives, loves and challenges of the residents on Ramsay Street in Erinsborough, a fictional suburb of Melbourne, ran for more than three decades and nearly 9,000 episodes. The show provided career launch pads for Margot Robbie, Russell Crowe, Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Guy Pearce, Natalie Imbruglia and Liam Hemsworth, among others.

The debut will include all the episodes from the 2012 season, featuring the show’s memorable first kiss between characters Chris and Aidan, as well as Toadie’s heartwarming proposal to Sonya, and Lucas and Vanessa’s dramatic wedding day. The library content will be available exclusively on Amazon Freevee in the United States and United Kingdom. Prime Video customers in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland and South Africa will also have access to the previous seasons and episodes.

A library season of “Neighbours” will launch on the service every month until the show’s new season premiere later this year. Starting Feb. 28, the streaming service will also launch a variety of “Neighbours” linear free ad-supported streaming channels, including “Neighbours — Looking Back” (Channel 1) and “Best of Neighbours” (Channel 2).

The revitalized series will premiere on Freevee in the U.K. and U.S., for free. Last year, Amazon and Fremantle announced they would be bringing back the show with Stefan Dennis, Alan Fletcher, Ryan Moloney and Jackie Woodburne returning to reprise their roles. The series will also stream on Prime Video in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland and South Africa. Production is set to commence early this year with a world premiere slated for the second half of the year. 

Australian Thriller ‘Line of Fire’ Due Digitally Feb. 7 From VMI

The Australian thriller Line of Fire will be released via VOD and digital sellthrough Feb. 7 from VMI Releasing.

In the film, when policewoman Samantha Romans (award-winner Nadine Garner, “Savage River,” “The Doctor Blake Mysteries”) fails to intervene in a shooting where her own son dies, she draws the condemnation of her colleagues and community as well as the attention of ambitious journalist Jamie Connard (Samantha Tolj). Keen to reignite the career she put on hold to have children, Jamie ignores Romans’ pleas to be left alone and pursues her relentlessly. With nothing to lose, Romans retaliates by forcing Jamie into a night of terror that threatens everything Jamie holds dear.
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The film was nominated for Best Indie Feature at the 2022 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards.


GlobalData: Aussie SVOD Revenue to Reach $3.4 Billion by 2027, Driven by Netflix

Australian consumer interest in subscription streaming VOD, or Netflix, continues to grow down under. Overall SVOD revenue is projected to reach $3.4 billion by 2027, an 8.9% annual compound growth rate from $2.2 billion in 2022, according to analysis from GlobalData.

Subscriptions are projected to increase 7.7% per year through 2027 as consumers ditch pay-TV and embrace Netflix — Australia’s largest SVOD service. The Asian-Pacific region added 1.43 million new Netflix subs in the third quarter, ended Sept. 30, giving the streamer 36.23 million paid members and its largest growth market worldwide.

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“A profound library of U.S. originals and English language drama and comedy series, movies, documentaries, and kids shows will help the company maintain its leadership position in the market,” Srikanth Vaidya, telecom analyst at GlobalData, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Disney+ surpassed Stan to become the second largest SVOD player in terms of subscriptions in 2021, behind Netflix. Unlike most of its competitors, Disney+ has a single pricing plan with all the features available for one price rather than separate pricing tiers.

Stan and other Aussie pay-TV and streaming services continue to embrace live sports as a way to lure and sustain subscribers.

“Sports-related content plays a big role in Australian media. Hence, most operators maintain a sports theme within their SVOD platforms. For instance, Stan has Stan Sports, while Optus has Optus Sport,” Vaidya said.

Australia’s Foxtel Group Adds Disney+ App to Set-Top Boxes

The Foxtel Group and The Walt Disney Company Aug. 2 announced an agreement to integrate the Disney+ app on set-top boxes of more than 1.7 million Foxtel subscribers over the coming weeks.

The Disney+ app integration means Foxtel pay-TV subs with a current Disney+ subscription and an iQ3, iQ4 or iQ5 set-top box will be able to access Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic content, in addition to general entertainment brand Star, which offers the latest from 20th Century Studios, Disney Television Studios, FX and Searchlight Pictures, among other sources.

Disney+ content includes animated family films like Encanto as well as Pixar titles like Lightyear (from Aug. 3), Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight and series, “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building,” “The Kardashians,” FX’s “The Old Man,” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

“We’re committed to delivering the ultimate destination for entertainment and streaming, all in one place and so we’re thrilled to be adding to our apps with Disney+, the home of much-loved and globally recognized entertainment brands,” Amanda Laing, chief content and commercial officer, said in a statement.

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Kylie Watson-Wheeler, SVP and managing director of The Walt Disney Company in Australia and New Zealand, said the innovation realizes a whole new portfolio of content for Foxtel customers.

“[They] can expand their viewing experience to enjoy our world’s-best entertainment and content for all ages, with an ever-growing catalog, exciting new releases, exclusive original content, and more on Disney+,” Watson-Wheeler said.

Starting today, and rolling out over the coming weeks, the Disney+ app will be made available to Foxtel subscribers via the “Apps” and “Home” screens on Foxtel iQ3, 4 and 5 set-top boxes. The Disney+ app adds to Foxtel’s existing suite of integrated local and global streaming apps including ABC iView, SBS on Demand, 10 Play, 9 Now, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, YouTube and Vevo.