Tubi Names Carolyn Forrest SVP, General Counsel

AVOD service Tubi, a division of Fox Entertainment, has named Carolyn Forrest SVP, general counsel.

Forrest moves into the new role from Fox Television Stations.

She reports to Tubi CEO Farhad Massoudi, is based in San Francisco, and will serve as the company’s chief legal officer, overseeing its business affairs and legal team and advising on broad-ranging media law-related issues.

“Carolyn combines vast knowledge across the industry with a proven track record of guiding media companies with strategic IP legal oversight,” Massoudi said in a statement. “We’re thrilled she will be joining us at a key time for the company as we ramp up our global content and advertising initiatives.”

Forrest has worked as an in-house counsel for media companies for the past 28 years. Most recently, she served as VP of legal affairs for Fox Television Stations, where she was responsible for advising its 29 television stations on media law-related issues. Prior to joining Fox, she was VP and general counsel for New World Television, which Fox acquired in 1997, and she worked for NBC as an assistant general attorney. Prior to that, Forrest worked for Dow Lohnes & Albertson as an associate in the media litigation group and at the New York law firm Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom as an associate in its corporate and M&A litigation group.

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Forrest is currently serving as the immediate past chair of the American Bar Association Forum on Communications Law — previously serving as its chairperson and as a member of its Governing Committee. She also serves on the board of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation. Forrest is a graduate of Columbia University School of Law and Princeton University.

With total view time reaching 200 million hours of content streamed in April, Tubi (www.tubi.tv) has more than 20,000 movies and television shows from every major Hollywood studio, according to the service.

MVD and Rue Morgue Magazine Launch AVOD Service Midnight Movie Unchained

MVD Entertainment Group and Rue Morgue Magazine are launching the AVOD service Midnight Movie Unchained, available exclusively on Roku.

The free service is an offshoot of the SVOD service Midnight Movie Society available for $4.99 per month, or $47.88 per year.

The AVOD channel caters to more-traditional horror fare, according to MVD. All titles are selected from the MVD film catalog, from underground horror to cult classics.

Midnight Movie Unchained is developed by UDU Digital in partnership with MVD Entertainment Group and Rue Morgue. For more details, visit the Roku Channel Store.

Last September, MVD and Rue Morgue launched the SVOD service Midnight Movie Society, specializing in extreme underground, taboo and cult horror movies.

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“As larger streaming platforms continue to crack down on content, there’s an urgent need to create a space for boundary-pushing films unencumbered by strangling content restrictions,” said Adrianna Gober, director of programming for Midnight Movie Society, in a statement.

‘Joy of Painting’ Coming to AVOD Service Tubi Via Cinedigm’s Docurama Channel

Fox Entertainment’s AVOD service Tubi (www.tubi.tv) bring 30 seasons of cult show “The Joy of Painting,” featuring the Bob Ross, to its library on the Docurama channel from Cinedigm.

More than 30 seasons and nearly 400 episodes will stream on Tubi by the end of July.

“Bob Ross and his unforgettable style make ‘The Joy of Painting’ the epitome of comfort TV,” said Adam Lewinson, chief content officer of Tubi, in a statement. “Tubi is proud to be a streaming home for this timeless and beloved series.”

“’The Joy of Painting’ has never been more popular, as evidenced by the ever-growing following and tremendous view count that Ross has garnered on social media platforms,” said Erick Opeka, president of Cinedigm Digital Networks, in a statement. “We are thrilled to be working with Tubi to introduce new audiences to this iconic program.”

In 1983 along with his partners Annette and Walt Kowalski, Ross launched the show on public television. From 1983 through 1994, Bob recorded more than 400 episodes and “The Joy of Painting” became one of the most popular and well-known shows on public television. His passion for teaching and inspiring others lives on today through the thousands of instructors who teach his method around the world. For many fans, Ross is the “King of ASMR,” the audio sensory meridian response that keeps people tuned in and watching his every move. He can also be found today at the forefront of an exciting and inspirational wellness movement.

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With total view time reaching a milestone 200 million hours of content streamed in April, Tubi has more 20,000 movies and television shows from nearly every major Hollywood studio.

Tubi is available on Android and iOS mobile devices, Amazon Echo Show, Google Nest Hub Max, Comcast Xfinity X1, Cox Contour, and on OTT devices such as Amazon Fire TV, Vizio TVs, Sony TVs, Samsung TVs, Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Android TV, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4, and soon on Hisense TVs globally. Consumers can also watch Tubi content on the web at http://www.tubi.tv/.

Comscore: April U.S. Consumer Consumption of OTT Content Grew in Both Households and Total Hours Over Last Year

U.S. consumer consumption of over-the-top content grew in both total households and total hours from April 2019 to April 2020, according to a report from Comscore.

In April 2020, 69.8 million homes used OTT, an increase of 5.2 million homes compared to April 2019, and the average home viewed 102 hours of OTT content (including AVOD, SVOD and TVOD) during April 2020, an increase of 17 hours compared to April 2019, according to the “State of OTT” report.

There has been a spike in OTT engagement since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that is holding steady for now, according to Comscore. OTT consumption saw “exceptional growth” starting in early March 2020 through April 2020 and has since plateaued, according to the report.

The “Big 5” streaming services (Netflix, Disney+, Amazon, Hulu and Youtube) accounted for 82.5% of OTT streaming hours in April 2020. In monthly OTT households from January 2020 to April 2020, Netflix grew 6%, Youtube 13%, Amazon 10%, Disney+ 14% and Hulu 17%.

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Growth in reach of ad-supported services is outpacing that of non-ad-supported services with ad-supported services growing 9% when comparing April 2020 to January 2020. Non-ad-supported services grew only 5%.

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Households streaming on smart TVs grew the most, up 22% from April 2018 to April 2020. Households streaming on boxes/sticks grew 15% during the time period, while those streaming on gaming consoles fell 6%.

Total viewing hours increased 2.3 billion viewing hours across live TV, DVR, VOD, and OTT in April 2020 versus April 2019. Of this, OTT alone added 1.4 billion total viewing hours.

In April 2020, 21% of connected TV viewing households were cord cutters (households who cut the cord within the past five years), up 3% from April 2019, with 21% cord nevers (households with no cable/satellite subscription in the past five years), up 3% within the same time frame.

The use of pure-play virtual MVPDs to view OTT content has seen a 70% year-over-year growth between the three-month average of February through April 2019 and 2020.

FuboTV Getting ESPN, Disney Television Content

Disney Media Networks has inked a distribution agreement with FaceBank Group to deliver news, sports and entertainment content from ESPN and Walt Disney Television to streaming platform fuboTV.

Beginning this summer, customers who subscribe to fuboTV’s fubo standard base package will have access to ABC, ABC News Live, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Freeform, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, in-market for SEC Network and ACC Network, FX, FXX and National Geographic. Additional networks will also be available on fuboTV’s other packages, including out-of-market for SEC Network and ACC Network, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, FXM, Fox Life, Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Mundo and BabyTV.

The deal includes both live television and VOD.

“With the addition to our lineup of the ESPN suite of channels, we continue to make good on our promise to sports fans to be the undisputed home of professional and college sports,” said David Gandler, co-founder and CEO, fuboTV, in a statement.  “Fubo is equally delighted to add the storied Disney, ABC, FX and Nat Geo networks to round out a robust programming portfolio for the whole family to enjoy.”

“Launching Disney’s networks strengthens our sports-focused live TV platform and brings a diverse range of content for the entire family,” said Ben Grad, head of content strategy and acquisition, fuboTV, in a statement. “Our base package offers consumers significant value, while consumers who want even more great sports and entertainment content can access it with our premium packages. As live sports return but without spectators, streaming games at home will be even more important than ever. We’re thrilled to bring more sports, as well as entertainment and news, to our consumers this summer.”

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“Adding Disney’s array of networks across news, sports and entertainment content with ABC, Disney Channel, ESPN, FX, and Nat Geo delivers a more comprehensive channel lineup and tremendous value to customers’ subscriptions,” said Sean Breen, EVP, platform distribution, Disney Media Networks, in a statement. “With fuboTV’s multiple access points across all major streaming platforms and a competitive price point, we continue to serve a growing audience that consumes video on multiple screens and attract new customers into the pay TV ecosystem.”

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In April, fuboTV merged with FaceBank, combining fuboTV’s direct-to-consumer live TV streaming platform for cord-cutters with FaceBank’s IP in sports, movies and live performances.

Cinedigm Launching Nine Streaming Channels on FreeCast’s SelectTV Service Guide

Cinedigm June 24 announced a partnership with streaming company FreeCast to bring nine of Cinedigm’s streaming networks to the former’s streaming service SelectTV. The service claims to make it easier to watch TV shows and movies by organizing all of the web’s entertainment into a comprehensive “SmartGuide.”

The guide searches, updates, organizes, and manages more than 2 million video sources daily. The service is available in browsers, iOS and Android apps, and supports casting to most major TVs via Chromecast and Airplay support.

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Cinedigm channels coming to FreeCast include Bambu, Bob Ross Channel, Comedy Dynamics, CONtv, CONtv Anime, Docurama, Dove Channel, SoDrama and SoReal.

The deal with FreeCast is the latest expansion by Cinedigm Networks. The company plans on continued expansion this year of the company’s more than 330 million addressable devices in North America and more than 365 million internationally. The company plans to continue rapid expansion with digital platforms, OEMs, telcos, and cable & broadband providers worldwide.

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“As families across North America seek more value out of their entertainment dollar, cord-cutting has truly become a mainstream phenomenon,” Erick Opeka, president of Cinedigm Digital Networks, said in a statement. ” SelectTV provides an amazing value to consumers and their SelectTV service puts us in front of a fast-growing, highly engaged user base. This deal furthers our mission of putting Cinedigm’s networks in every home in America, accessible on every connected device.”

Streaming Video News Service ‘Haystack TV’ Rebrands Name

Upstart ad-supported local news streaming service Haystack TV is rebranding to Haystack News. As part of the rebrand, Haystack News unveiled a new logo and onscreen look aimed at enhancing the service’s visual appeal and showcasing the recent rollout of Newsline, the first-ever personalized TV news ticker.

Troika Media Group assisted Haystack with the rebrand. The company will continue to operate under the Haystack TV moniker.

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The San Francisco-based platform said it has achieved 145% new user growth the past 12 months. With nearly 300 U.S. TV broadcasters supplying Haystack News with local news content, Haystack said it streams local news coverage for more than 90 percent of all U.S. markets.

“The importance of free access to news could not be more apparent as we battle a global pandemic, economic dislocation and social unrest,” Daniel Barreto, co-founder/CEO, said in a statement. “We are shifting our consumer brand to better reflect our position as … [a] destination for AVOD news. The new logo and on-screen design embrace the value proposition we offer consumers streaming hyper-relevant news that connects them.”

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Building upon a strong 2019, which was the fourth consecutive year of more than doubled time spent streaming, Haystack News is on pace in 2020 to more than double usage yet again, exceeding millions of hours monthly.

Dating back to its seed round investment in 2015, Haystack TV has raised $6.5 million to-date, including a round that closed in mid-2019. Investors in Haystack TV include AltaIR Capital, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), Stanford University’s StartX Fund, SVLinks, Uhuru Capital, and Zorlu Ventures.

OTT.X Launches Impact Awards, Appoints New Board Members

OTT.X, the industry trade association supporting the OTT streaming ecosystem, will host and deliver the first OTT.X Impact Awards at the annual OTT.X @Digital Media Pipeline event Dec. 10.

OTT.X was formerly the Entertainment Merchants Association.

Awards will be given to OTT streaming producers and distributors for content that “most inspires positive action and promotes acceptance of, and equality for, all people,” according to the group. Content awards will be made for the most impactful full-length movie, short title and series across major and independent producer segments. Most impactful innovation will also be recognized for the technical, user-experience or platform innovation judged to have the most impact on the OTT industry.

“OTT.X stands proudly in support of the Black community and in solidarity with all who oppose and seek to negate racism, prejudice, hatred and exclusion,” said Mark Fisher, OTT.X president and CEO, in a statement. “The goal of the Impact Awards is to recognize achievement for content and innovation in the OTT industry that makes a positive difference in the world. As distributors and creators of audio-visual content enjoyed by millions around the world, our industry has the power to educate and inspire. We’re excited about recognizing underrepresented artists, innovators and producers that use this power to inspire positive change and promote acceptance of and equality for all people.”

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To qualify for nomination, content must premiere on an OTT channel or platform, maintain exclusive availability via OTT distribution and be available in the United States for at least three weeks. The qualifying period is the twelve-months ended August 31, 2020. Nominations open Sept. 1 and close Oct. 11. Candidates for each award will be announced Nov. 2 with winners being awarded Dec. 10 at the Impact Awards Ceremony. All candidates and award winners will be determined by the Impact Awards Selection Committee, the members of which are approved by the OTT.X board of directors.

Additional information will be made available on the OTT.X site http://ottx.org/ in the coming weeks.

Jill Allen

In other news, OTT.X has appointed four new board members in line with its expanded scope, effective immediately. They are Sony Pictures Entertainment, represented by Jill Allen, SVP of digital distribution; Here Media, represented by Paul Colichman, CEO; Vizio, represented by Katherine Pond, VP of strategic partnerships; and Xumo, represented by Anthony Layser, VP of content partnerships and programming. The directors will serve until the annual OTT.X organizational board meeting in mid-2023.

“These new companies on the OTT.X board of directors will add to its effectiveness,” Fisher said in a statement. “Each director brings an important perspective, and their wealth of experience will benefit the membership as OTT.X continues to be the forum for the OTT industry.”

Roku Partners With Kroger for Shopper Data Program

Roku June 8 announced the launch of a new shopper data program to make online TV advertising more precise and measurable for CPG (consumer packaged goods) marketers. Kroger, the nation’s largest supermarket chain, plans to join the program as the launch partner to build first-to-market targeting and attribution tools for streaming TV.

With more than 40 million registered users in the United States and 13.2 billion hours streamed during Q1 2020, streaming video pioneer Roku is looking to expand its media reach into TV advertising. Los Gatos, Calif.-based Roku’s ad-supported branded AVOD channel boasted 56 million viewers in 2019.

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Completion of the integration will give marketers access to Kroger data to measure ad campaign performance across the Roku platform, as well as tools from Roku to measure the effectiveness of linear TV built on what it claims is the largest licensed TV operating system in North America.

With the economy hit hard by shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, CPG marketers are seeking advanced data solutions to make TV advertising more relevant and performance-driven.

Targeted advertising can increase effectiveness and minimize ad waste while achieving the scale CPG marketers require, according to Roku. For instance, Kroger could help marketers segment messages to high-volume category buyers, customers who occasionally buy a category, or those who buy a complementary category.

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The new shopper data program will provide Kroger sales information to help marketers make smarter media buying decisions. Marketers will be able to use the program to activate advertising across hundreds of ad-supported channels on America’s No.1 streaming platform (by hours streamed according to Kantar) and to tie ad exposure directly to in-store and online sales.

Kroger compiles consumer data from 60 million households across nearly 2,800 Kroger stores. With streaming TV (and AVOD) accelerating, Kroger said sought a market leader in OTT to bring accurate identity and viewing data founded in a direct consumer relationship.

“TV streaming brings digital-like precision to the big screen,” Cara Pratt, VP of commercial and product strategy, Kroger precision marketing, said in a statement.

“We believe that all TV ads will be targeted and measurable,” added Alison Levin, VP of ad sales and strategy, Roku. “Our new shopper data program will make it easier and more effective for CPG advertisers to shift spend to streaming and focus on value for every ad dollar spent.”

Report: Brits Want Their SVOD for Free

British rock band Dire Straits famous 1985 song “Money for Nothing” mocks pretty boys getting “their chicks for free.” New data from tech company The Trade Desk suggests British consumers love subscription video-on-demand — they just don’t want to pay for it.

In a recent survey, 70% of respondents said they wouldn’t spend more than £20 monthly ($25) on streaming services, a decline of £5 ($6.26) compared with a separate survey in September 2019. The research company contends the change in consumer attitude could result in a revenue loss of approaching £100 million ($125 million).

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“While people want access to a variety of premium content, there’s a limit on how much they’re willing to pay. And with purse strings tightening, it’s time to think about how ad-funded models could benefit consumers, as well as supporting multiple streaming services,” Dave Castell, GM of inventory and partnerships at The Trade Desk, said in a statement.

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As a result, Castell believes the limit on SVOD subsciption spending is a boon to ad-supported VOD, including services such as ViacomCBS’s Pluto TV.

“This data reveals a clear willingness among U.K. consumers to accept advertising if it means accessing their favorite shows for cheaper prices, or for free, but it’s vital that it’s done right,” the analyst said. “Ads must be creative, relevant and appropriately timed to keep consumers content. In doing so, streaming platforms can generate the revenue they need to keep creating the engaging, entertaining TV that Brits clearly crave, without charging the bill back to them.”