AVOD Crackle Bows on Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Xfinity Flex

Crackle Plus, one of the largest operators of streaming advertising-supported video-on-demand networks, April 14 announced the launch of the Crackle app on Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Xfinity Flex.

The move marks another step by legacy pay-TV operator Comcast to embrace competing content distribution models on its platform, beginning with Netflix and YouTube in 2016.

“Crackle is thrilled to bring Xfinity X1 and Flex customers Crackle’s extensive originals and exclusive series, as well as a growing library of movies, docu-series, sports content, and classic TV,” Philippe Guelton, president of Crackle Plus, said in a statement.

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With this launch, Xfinity subscribers can now enjoy the full Crackle experience, including a free library of studio film titles and classic TV series as well as a growing list of original and exclusive programming such as: “Playing With Power: The Nintendo Story,” “Insomnia,” “Black Water: Abyss,” “Lennox Lewis: The Untold Story,” “Robert the Bruce,” “Spides,” “Corporate Animals,” “Blue Iguana,” “Anything is Possible: The Serge Ibaka Story,” “Road to Race Day,” “On Point,” “Cleanin’ Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters,” “The Clearing,” “Yelawolf: A Slumerican Life” and “Going From Broke,” now in production for a second season.

In the coming weeks, X1 and Flex subs will also be able to find Crackle programming by saying the name of Crackle titles, such as “Playing With Power: The Nintendo Story” into the Xfinity Voice Remote. Additionally, they will soon be able to browse Crackle programming aggregated within collections as “Free to me,” “Top genres” and “What to Watch” right alongside all of the other programming available to them on X1 and Flex.

Crackle content is available in the U.S. on 29 devices and services, including Amazon Fire TV, Roku TV, Apple TV, Smart TVs (Samsung, LG, Vizio), gaming consoles (PS4 and XBoxOne), Plex, iOS and Android mobile devices and on desktops at Crackle.com. Crackle is also available in approximately 500,000 hotel rooms in the Marriott Bonvoy chain.

Ad-Supported DistroTV Adds Bloomberg News Content

Free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) platform DistroTV April 14 announced the addition of Bloomberg TV and Bloomberg Quicktake to its platform of more than 150 channels roster to viewers in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.

“Bloomberg Media is known for featuring independent voices who equip viewers with the news and analysis necessary to have an informed take on the latest in finance, technology, culture and politics,” Navdeep Saini, founder/CEO of DistroScale, parent company to DistroTV, said in a statement. 

Bloomberg TV and Bloomberg Quicktake are two global networks from a newsroom of 2,700 journalists and analysts in 120 countries. Bloomberg TV delivers global financial news and market-moving analysis with shows such as Bloomberg Surveillance and Wall Street Week. Bloomberg Quicktake is a global streaming and social video network for a new generation of leaders and professionals, covering the biggest stories across business, technology, climate, culture, politics, society and personal finance. 

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“The addition of Bloomberg on DistroTV extends our reach to new audiences … on streaming,” said M. Scott Havens, chief growth officer and global head of strategic partnerships for Bloomberg Media. 

Since its launch in 2019, DistroTV has seen rapid user growth, with viewership quadrupling in the last six months and total watch time up more than 800%. 

Other content channels include Magnolia Pictures — CineLife, Euro News, Reelz, Law&Crime, Qello Concerts by Stingray, Magellan TV, People TV and TD Ameritrade, among others. Independent channels include Kweli TV, which spotlights the history and global diversity of the Black community; Canela TV, featuring Spanish programming; Latido Music, the leading channel for Latin music; BritAsia Live for British Asians around the globe; Filmeraa, short-form movies and television in Indian and Korean; Venus TV, which features Bollywood movies and culture.

Report: Pluto TV to Surpass $1 Billion in Ad Revenue by 2022

Pluto TV, the free ad-supported TV streaming service (FAST) owned and operated by ViacomCBS, is set to increase 2021 revenue nearly 78% to $786.7 million, according to new data from eMarketer. The research firm contends the platform will surpass $1 billion in revenue by 2022 — underscoring the rise in popularity of streaming media for marketers.

Citing third-party survey research, the report suggests 42% of ad buyers will use streaming video for the first time this year, with another 56% continuing the practice — which includes online and linear TV distributors. Indeed, the report found that a majority (60%) of AVOD/FAST ad revenue will come from linear TV, followed by digital display (37%) and other sources.

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FuboTV Inks Deal With Marquee Sports Network for Cubs Game Coverage

FuboTV and Marquee Sports Network have entered into a carriage agreement that will bring Chicago Cubs game coverage to the live TV streaming platform in the coming weeks.

Through FuboTV, subscribers throughout the Marquee Sports Network territory will have access to all Marquee programming, including all non-nationally televised regular season Chicago Cubs games, pregame and postgame shows, exclusive content and original programming. The regional sports network (RSN) will be available in FuboTV’s basic English language channel package in the Chicago area and surrounding regions, including Indianapolis, South Bend and Des Moines.

Fans can stream FuboTV on Android and iOS smartphone and tablets, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Android Smart TVs, Apple TV and Apple’s TV app, Chromecast, Hisense Smart TVs, Roku, Samsung Smart TVs, Xbox One’s family of devices and the web.

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In addition to the Marquee Sports Network, FuboTV includes more than 50,000 live sporting events annually — many streaming in 4K. The agreement also increases FuboTV’s local coverage in Chicago, where it already carries ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Telemundo and Univision affiliates alongside national sports networks ESPN, FS1, CBS Sports Network, Big Ten Network, MLB Network, NBA TV, NFL Network and NHL Network, among others.

“We are thrilled to have FuboTV offering Marquee Sports Network to Cubs fans. FuboTV has prioritized live sports and we look forward to them carrying Cubs baseball all season long,” said Marquee Sports Network GM Mike McCarthy in a statement.

“As we kick off the hotly anticipated 2021 baseball season, fuboTV is thrilled to bring consumers Marquee Sports Network’s extensive coverage of the Chicago Cubs,” FuboTV’s SVP of content strategy and acquisition, Ben Grad said in a statement. “The addition of Marquee Sports Network to our leading sports, news and entertainment portfolio makes FuboTV a great streaming choice for Cubs fans, as well as other Chicagoans looking to cut the cord.”

“We’re excited to add Marquee Sports Network and their coverage of the Chicago Cubs to FuboTV,” FuboTV co-founder and CEO David Gandler said in a statement. “Our Fubo Gaming subsidiary is headquartered in Chicago, and the midwest market, particularly Indiana and Iowa where we recently closed market access agreements, will be a key cluster for our gaming strategy in the future.”

T-Mobile Dropping Branded Online TV Service; Adding YouTube TV, Philo

Wireless carrier T-Mobile’s attempt at a standalone ad-supported online TV service is coming to an end. The carrier March 29 announced it will discontinue TVision on April 29 — about six months after launching — and replace it with discounted access to Google-owned YouTube TV and Philo.

T-Mobile customers get YouTube TV, starting at $54.99 per month ($10 off SRP), and Philo starting at $10 per month ($10 off SRP). YouTube TV offers more than twice as many channels as TVision Live, and Philo offers nearly twice as many channels as TVision VIBE. Plus customers of both get unlimited DVR, can watch TV on more devices like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or Google Chromecast.

T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert

“This shift may surprise some given last year’s TVision streaming services launch,” Mike Sievert, CEO of T-Mobile U.S., said in a statement. “But innovation seldom follows a straight line. Since launching the TVision initiative, we’ve learned a lot about the TV industry, about streaming products, and of course, about TV customers. We also saw trends that made us take a fresh look at how to best do in video what we always do: put customers first. With our TV software provider encountering some financial challenges and with our broader, strategic partnerships with Google and Philo, we saw an opportunity to deliver unique value to our customers and strengthen the TVision initiative with the best partners.”

The online TV market is currently spearheaded by Disney-owned Hulu + Live TV with about 4 million subscribers, followed by Dish Network’s Sling TV and AT&T TV.

“This industry is incredibly fragmented, with new streaming services launching all the time, and we’ve concluded that we can add even more value to consumers’ TV choices by partnering with the best services out there, negotiating incredible streaming media deals for T-Mobile customers, and helping our customers navigate the increasingly complex streaming world,” Sievert said.

 

 

 

Tubi to Stream ‘Barney & Friends’ Beginning April 9

Fox Corp.-owned Tubi March 25 announced it has entered into an ad-supported VOD content deal with 9 Story Distribution International Limited for six seasons of children’s series “Barney & Friends,” beginning April 9.

Tubi will offer seasons seven through nine of the live-action series, which featured Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato in their younger years, exclusively to its viewers, and will also make available seasons 10 to 12 non-exclusively.

“Barney & Friends” is the latest addition to Tubi’s library of children’s content, with upcoming April movies from the “Land Before Time” and “VeggieTales” franchises alongside several other series, including “Jumanji: The Animated Series,” “Felix the Cat,” “Underdog” and “Barbie Dreamtopia.” Additional characters include Scooby-Doo, VeggieTales, Superman, Batman, Lego Ninjago, Sonic the Hedgehog, Strawberry Shortcake, Paddington Bear, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Garfield and The Wiggles, among others.

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“Everyone’s favorite purple dinosaur is a wonderful addition to … Tubi Kids,” chief content officer Adam Lewinson said in a statement.

“Barney & Friends” originally aired from 1992 to 2009 and was one of the most popular live-action series for preschool-age boys and girls. The show celebrates the life skills of sharing, community and friendship via music and cognitive learning. In the world of Barney, sharing and caring are key, imaginations flourish and there is always a dance at every turn. Everyone’s favorite purple dinosaur and his dino-pals – Baby Bop, BJ and Riff – help give children the range of skills they need to grow, using tons of music, fun and laughs to guide the way.

Tubi Kids features a library of children’s content — nearly 2,000 age-appropriate movies and television shows or over 8,000 hours of content. A destination for age-appropriate content on the service, Tubi Kids helps alleviate parents’ worries over what their children are watching and will soon be available on all major streaming devices in the near future.

Report: U.K. Media Buyers Prefer Connected Televisions

Media buyers (advertisers) in the U.K. are taking to connected-television (CTV) advertising in a major way. New data from Unruly suggests that more than two-thirds (67%) of U.K. advertising professionals think CTV is a more-effective (i.e. less-expensive) ad channel than linear TV. The report found that 100% of media agencies and 77% of brands plan to invest more in online targeted marketing over the next 12 months.

CTV advertising, which is targeted toward viewers of streamed content via Internet-connected TVs, mobile devices, smartphone apps, tablets and other over-the-top video platforms, has become popular since it is less expensive than traditional TV marketing.

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Unruly found that 68% of media buyers across the U.K. ad industry believe CTV ads provide better value for money compared to linear TV, and 68% said it was more effective at reaching their target audiences.

CTV consumption has risen sharply over the past 12 months, with previous research by Unruly showing that 54% of consumers are spending more time watching CTV content since the start of the pandemic. With a plethora of new CTV channels and devices entering the market, the competition for CTV audiences’ attention is rising rapidly.

“With the number of U.K. consumers cutting the cord and switching over to free, ad-supported CTV devices and services accelerating since the start of the pandemic, our study shows just how much CTV has become a key channel for brands and agencies,” Alex Khan, Unruly’s international managing director, said in a statement.

The report found that 67% of survey respondents said CTV is more effective than linear TV, providing better value for money (68%) and better targeting (68%). However, the findings suggest more education and insights around CTV are key to driving further growth, with around half of brands (45%) and agencies (50%) wanting a clearer understanding of how CTV fits into their campaigns and more information about measurement and attribution.

Brands are much more likely to want training on the benefits of CTV (48%) and audience-specific insights (48%) compared to traditional ad agencies (23% and 31% respectively).

“With a possible return to normal following the COVID-19 pandemic on the horizon, we believe our research highlights CTV’s ability to deliver across a multitude of goals throughout the purchase funnel,” Khan said.

Rebecca Waring, global VP of insights and solutions at Unruly, said the report underscores that there is no single driver behind the growth of CTV, as buyers are attracted by a broad range of benefits.

“Likewise, in our experience, CTV campaigns are being judged on a variety of KPIs [key performance indicators] that spanned viewability, incremental reach and brand lift. It sounds like a challenge for one platform to satisfy so many different motivations and performance criteria, but according to our research, it appears CTV is rising to that challenge so far, with 98% of buyers happy with the outcomes of their CTV campaigns.”

FilmRise Picks Up Digital Rights to ‘Highway to Heaven’

FilmRise, a New York-based film and television studio and streaming network, has acquired the worldwide digital distribution rights to classic TV series “Highway to Heaven.”

Starring Michael Landon (“Bonanza,” “Little House on the Prairie”) and Victor French (“An Officer and a Gentleman,” “Rio Lobo”), the series follows a probationary angel sent back to Earth who teams up with an ex-cop to help people.

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“We’re thrilled to add the beloved series ‘Highway to Heaven’ to FilmRise’s constantly growing library of treasured, classic television series,” FilmRise CEO Danny Fisher said in a statement. “Now, millions of original fans will be able to re-watch the series and a whole new group of viewers will have the opportunity to discover it — including in multiple dubbed versions throughout the world. Additionally, we will now be able to release newly restored, HD versions, which we are excited to introduce to streaming.”

“Genesis is excited that FilmRise, a company with a proven track record of success with digital properties, has partnered with us on ‘Highway to Heaven,’” said Wayne Lepoff, president and CEO of Genesis International TV & Film. “Since Genesis first introduced ‘Highway to Heaven’ into U.S. television syndication, our admiration for Michael Landon and his legacy, as well as his family and business team, has been unparalleled.”

The American fantasy drama series aired for five seasons on NBC from 1984 to 1989, with a total of 111 episodes, and received numerous Emmy nominations. “Highway to Heaven” was Michael Landon’s final TV show and a Nielsen top 20 series during its first season.

Tremor Video Launching Connected TV Data Tracking Service

With the rise in ad-supported VOD and “free ad-supported streaming television” or FAST, Tremor Video March 23 announced the upcoming launch of its data-driven TV Intelligence platform. Building upon its experience in Connected TV (CTV) and addressable TV retargeting, Tremor contends its new software will allow advertisers to reach the most relevant consumers through greater breadth and depth of audience data assets.

Launching this May, Tremor Video’s TV Intelligence platform will leverage a set of television viewing and audience data coupled with video to support advertisers’ TV and cross-device media strategies. The software aims to combine “automatic content recognition” (ACR) and set-top box data across a domestic TV viewing footprint of more than 12 million households and 100 million addressable devices.

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Other platform features include combining “rich data sets” with advanced and customizable measurement solutions, working with a team of experts committed to developing campaign strategies unique to the nuanced objectives and needs of each individual client.

Tremor Video entered TV data analysis in 2016, strengthening its marketplace position by acquiring RhythmOne in 2019 and Unruly in 2020. The company’s Unruly subsidiary is recognized as a top supply platform, ranking the No. 1 direct CTV supply partner among Roku’s key app categories.

Report: Pandemic Consumers Sticking With Streaming, Not Returning to Pay-TV

The pandemic has been good for subscription streaming video, and bad for linear pay-TV. That trend is not changing in 2021, according to new data from Hub Research.

As expected, subscriptions to the five most-popular streaming video services has continued to climb since pre-COVID, with HBO Max up dramatically since November. The report said Max has benefited from WarnerMedia’s decision to stream all 2021 Warner Bros. Pictures’ movies on the day of theatrical release — starting with the release of Wonder Woman 1984 last December.

Citing data from a February survey of 3,008 U.S. consumers, ages 14 to 74, who watch at least one hour of TV per week, Hub found that the proportion of consumers who have purchased a first-run movie on streaming has been increasing steadily since last summer, kick-started with the Premier Access premium VOD release of Mulan in September to Disney+ subscribers.

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Younger consumers are the most likely to have streamed a first-run movie, with 18-24 the age sweet spot. Once one hits 55 years old, interest in buying first-run films to stream in the home is almost nonexistent.

 

Among survey respondents who added a streaming video service during the pandemic, post-COVID loyalty appears to be strongest for Disney+ (77% of those who signed on say they’ll keep it; only 7% say they’ll drop) and Netflix (73% vs. 4%).

The likelihood of respondents planning to keep Max is lower, with 63% who added the service during the pandemic saying they’ll keep it and 17% saying they’ll cancel — underscoring the idea that focusing on first-run movie releases could be both a blessing (surges in sign-ups when movies are released) and a curse (cancellations once they’ve finished watching).

 

Finally, 89% of February respondents who canceled their traditional pay-TV service during the pandemic, said they would have canceled even if COVID-19 hadn’t happened — the highest proportion Hub Research has seen during the pandemic.

“What’s been most interesting to us in our pandemic-related research has been trying to determine which pandemic-induced changes in TV behavior will persist once life begins to return to normal,” Peter Fondulas, principal at Hub and co-author of the study, said in a statement. “This wave of the study strongly suggests that Americans have grown more than just accustomed to the TV viewing adjustments they’ve made during the pandemic, and are ready to embrace a new, streaming-centric normal.”