Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment Inks Content Licensing Deal With BBC Studios

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, parent of ad-supported streaming platforms Crackle+ and Popcornflix, March 24 announced a licensing deal with BBC Studios covering more than 2,500 hours of content.

Crackle Plus, also a Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment company, is one of the largest operators of streaming advertising-supported video-on-demand networks. This announcement comes on the heels of another deal between the two companies that saw the exclusive rights to the series “Sherlock” go to Crackle Plus.

More than 300 hours of content will be available to viewers for free on various Crackle Plus streaming services beginning in April. This includes mystery series “Ripper Street,” starring Matthew MacFadyen (“Succession”), several seasons of which will be streaming only on Crackle Plus. In addition, A Life in Ten Pictures will have its exclusive U.S. premiere in June on Crackle Plus.
 
 
The deal will also include all seasons of BAFTA award-winning series “Happy Valley,” starring BAFTA award-winning actress Sarah Lancashire and SAG award-winning actress Siobhan Finneran; the crime mini-series “From Darkness,” starring BAFTA award-winning actress Anne-Marie Duff and Johnny Harris; and the first five seasons of the long running crime series “Silent Witness,” originally starring Amanda Burton.
 
In addition, the 2014-16 action/drama series “The Musketeers,” and drama series “The Coroner,” created by Sally Abbott, who wrote on “EastEnders,” will be available to audiences as part of the agreement.

 

“The BBC has been producing highly sought-after content for years and we expect this content to perform exceptionally well on our streaming services,” William J. Rouhana, CEO of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, said in a statement. “The long-term nature of this agreement enables us to plan ahead to maximize the value of the content to our viewers as well as our advertisers, the BBC, and us.”

“With the Benedict Cumberbatch series ‘Sherlock,’ the BBC’s extensive catalog of quality series and movies, and brand-new titles that have yet to be released, this agreement provides Chicken Soup for the Soul with a wide array of unique and high-quality content,” said David Fannon, president of Screen Media.

Screen Media is the exclusive supplier of original content to Crackle+ streaming services. Recent titles from Screen Media that have premiered on Crackle include the Crackle Originals “Vince Carter: Legacy,” “Playing With Power” and “Insomnia,” as well as the exclusives “The Mercy,” starring Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz, Tom Hardy-led Taboo, international thriller series “The Platform,” and disaster film Skyfire, starring Jason Isaacs.

Sony Pictures, Disney, BBC Studios Join DEG International

The Digital Entertainment Group International (DEGI) Feb. 23 announced that BBC Studios, Sony Pictures Entertainment and The Walt Disney Company, EMEA, have become members of the global arm and sister body to the U.S. based DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group (DEG).

The companies join existing DEGI members Google, Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures.

Joe Braman, co-chair of the DEGI, said 2022 promises to be a global renaissance for home entertainment, with the DEGI and DEG supporting the missions of stakeholders and driving common agendas for category growth.

“The DEGI welcomes these three new members and their engaged membership at such an exciting time for the category,” Braman said. “As the surge in new content continues across the next six months, their experience and ambition will be a huge benefit to our collective goals.”

In the United Kingdom, more than 30.1 million VOD movie rentals were recorded from January through October 2021, as well as 17.7 million digital and physical transactions, despite ongoing supply chain issues. The final week of 2021 saw the biggest uptick in digital movie sales in the United Kingdom since records began.

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Laura Broadbent, project director, transactional digital acceleration program at Sony Pictures Entertainment, believes that the evolving consumer appetite for digital content is at the heart of movie and TV consumption going forward.

“This presents a phenomenal opportunity for growth across international territories,” Broadbent said in a statement.

Broadbent credited the DEGI with providing the studio with a strong platform for collaboration through the sharing of research, insight and knowledge, which, she says will enable Sony to help its audiences understand how and where they can rent or buy the wealth of content available to them.

Johnnie Thompson, director of digital stores for EMEA & Russia at The Walt Disney Company, said the consumer base is more than subscription VOD.

“With almost 18 million digital purchases in the U.K. alone in 2021, the category continues to thrive,” Thompson said. “So, it’s essential that we come together as an industry to share our knowledge and expertise to drive the digital category forward, and DEGI provides a great platform to do just that.”

Tubi, BBC Ink Deal for 400 Hours of AVOD Content

Tubi Sept. 2 announced a deal with BBC Studios that brings more than 400 hours of programming to Fox Entertainment’s ad-supported VOD service.

New titles are now available and, beginning Sept. 15, Tubi will be the domestic AVOD home to “The First Team,” starring Will Arnett, and “Life,” written by award-winning screenwriter Mike Bartlett (“Doctor Foster”), as well as debut the Baby Cow-produced “High & Dry.”

Also as part of the deal, Tubi users will have access to multiple seasons of long-running BBC series, including “Antiques Roadshow,” as well as “Atlantis,” “Misfits,” “Monarch of the Glen,” “The Musketeers,” “Primeval” and “Robin Hood,” among others.

“We are thrilled to begin our first-ever partnership with BBC Studios,” Adam Lewinson, chief content officer for Tubi, said in a statement.

Dina Vangelisti, EVP of content sales at BBC Studios, said the Tubi deal helps expand the AVOD’s growing footprint in the United States.

“The partnership signifies a dedication to increasing our presence on AVOD platforms, expanding awareness of our content catalog as well as bringing fresh programming to new audiences,” Vangelisti said.

Titles now available on Tubi include “A Young Doctor’s Notebook,” “Atlantis,” “Bedlam,” “Blackout,” “Case Sensitive,” “Class,” “Confessions of a Serial Killer,” “Crime and “Punishment,” “The Fixer,” “The Guilty,” “In the Flesh,” “Inspector Alleyn Mysteries,” “Jack The Ripper: Prime Suspect,” “The Interceptor,” “The Lost Prince,” “Misfits,” “Monarch of the Glen,” “Moses Jones,” “The Musketeers,” “Primeval,” “Robin Hood,” “The Shadow Line,” “The Fades,” “Sarah & Duck,” “The Aliens” and “Yakka Dee.”

Titles available beginning Sept. 15 include “A Foreign Field,” “Black Easter,” “Consuming Passion: 100 Years of Mills and Boon,” “High & Dry,” “The Deep,” “The First Men in the Moon,” “Frankenstein,” “Life,” “Monarch of the Glen: Hogmanay 2003,” “Pride,” “The First Team,” and “The Turn of the Screw.” Select seasons of “Antiques Roadshow” will be available Oct. 15.

DEG Slates Virtual Expo on ‘Localization’ on Thursday, June 17

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group this week will host a DEG Expo on the rapidly growing business of content localization, including viewpoints from content owners and technology providers.

The virtual event, called “The Expanding World of Localization,” will be held Thursday, June 17, beginning at 9:30 a.m. PT.

Featured speakers include Mark Howorth, president of the Iyuno-SDI Group, who will discuss the state of the localization industry. Dolby’s Tom McAndrew, senior technical manager of content relations, and Javier Foncillas, VP of commercial partnerships for Europe, will speak about the global demand for immersive audio.

An executive roundtable led by Vuulr CEO Americas Thomas Hughes will discuss the potential and pain points for localization, including workflows, terminology, talent management, DEI and the role of AI in content localization. Participants include James Hurrell, head of content and localization, global operations, for  BBC Studios; Chris Reynolds, EVP and GM of worldwide localization and fulfillment at Deluxe; Gray Ainsworth, EVP of global technical operations and servicing at Lionsgate; and Andrea Sconza, director of localization services at Vubiquity. More perspective on innovating with AI will be shared by Craig Seidel, CTO of Pixelogic, in conversation with Spherex CEO Teresa Phillips and Respeecher CEO Alex Serdiuk.

DEG Expo: The Expanding World of Localization is free to media industry professionals, but registration is required.

To register,  click here.

The full agenda can be found here.

BritBox Exclusively Streaming Sitcom ‘Kate & Koji’ in U.S.

BritBox, the $6.99 monthly subscription streaming service from BBC Studios and ITV, March 11 announced it would exclusively stream in North America ITV sitcomKate & Koji.”  Starring award-winning actress Brenda Blethyn (Vera, Secrets & Lies) and Jimmy Akingbola (“Arrow,” “Ted Lasso”), the series follows the unlikely friendship between Kate, a working-class woman who runs an old fashioned seaside cafe, and Koji, an African asylum seeker.

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Although from very different worlds, they are similar in ways they do not recognize, including a dogged determination to never back down. The six-part show was filmed in the picturesque coastal town of Herne Bay in Kent, South East England. It premieres April 13 on BritBox.

BritBox, which launched in the U.S. in 2017 as competition to AMC Network’s Acorn TV and Netflix, is available on Roku,  Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV 4th Gen, Samsung, LG and all iOS and Android devices, AirPlay, Chromecast and online.  

BritBox, which has more than 1.2 million subscribers in North America, and 500,000 in the U.K., is also available on Amazon Channels for Prime members and on Apple TV Channels on supported devices.

BBC Studios Set to Launch BBC Select Streaming Service

BBC Studios will launch an ad-free subscription streaming channel called BBC Select in early 2021 on Amazon Prime Video Channels and the Apple TV app. BBC Select will offer a range of programs from the United Kingdom covering three main topics: culture, politics and ideas.

“For nearly a century, the BBC has been synonymous with extraordinary television programs — full stop. Name any genre, the BBC is best in class at identifying talent and providing them a platform for expression,” said Rebecca Glashow, president of BBC Studios — Americas. “As we shift our business focus to engaging our fans direct, the digital space offers us the opportunity to bring audiences a portfolio of shows that bring new ideas and perspectives into the conversation. Our research has shown that audiences are looking for an alternative to what is already out there. BBC Select is it.”

The BBC already operates as a joint venture with ITV the SVOD service BritBox, which also offers a selection of British programming.

BBC Select will feature a range of British talent and shows including Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry and his programs on class, masculinity, and identity, including his latest, “Grayson Perry: Big American Road Trip”; author and documentarian of social issues Stacey Dooley and her series “Brainwashing Stacey”; historian Professor Sir Simon Schama with his new series “The Romantic Revolution”; and filmmaker Louis Theroux and a large collection of his work, including Selling Sex, Surviving America’s Most Hated Family and Talking to Anorexia.

“BBC Select is for those who crave knowledge, new perspectives, and programs that are not your standard fare,” said Louise la Grange, GM and launch Director. “BBC Select will combine a rich line up of never-before-seen shows in the U.S. and Canada with a prized portfolio of thought-provoking, eye-opening programs that provide context and color to the world we all share — all in one place.”

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Exclusives to the service include:

  • “Shock of the Nude,” hosted by Professor of Classics Mary Beard, who gives a personal and provocative take on the nude in western art, from ancient Greece to the present, and asks why artists and viewers seem so obsessed by nudity.
  • “Reggie Yates in China” sees actor, DJ, and presenter Reggie Yates travel to four very different cities in China to discover the new fault-lines in society and how they affect a generation who have grown up with seemingly more freedom than that of any other in the last 70 years.
  • “In Search of Frida Kahlo” follows musician Emeli Sandé — who was inspired by the paintings of Kahlo when writing her album — as she visits Mexico City to tell the story of one of Mexico’s most famous artists.
  • “Fall of an Icon” explores the life of Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, who after 15 years of house arrest was celebrated as an icon of democracy. But years on, she is now seen by many as an international pariah.
  • “Mystery of the Missing Princess” tells the story of Princess Latifa, the daughter of Dubai’s ruler, who attempted to escape from torture and imprisonment at the hands of her father.
  • “Putin — A Russian Spy Story” is the portrait of a politician who modeled himself on the Russian James Bond and whose presidency reads like a spy thriller.
  • “The Last Igloo” follows a lone Inuit as he hunts, fishes, and constructs an igloo. It tells the story of skills that are disappearing and of how climate change is affecting the lives of Greenland’s indigenous people.
  • BAFTA-winning documentarian Adam Curtis and his “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace” argues that computers have failed to liberate humanity, and instead have “distorted and simplified our view of the world around us.”

 

Pricing, launching platforms and more content will be announced at a later date.

 

Soumya Sriraman Steps Down as CEO of Streamer BritBox

Longtime home entertainment executive Soumya Sriraman is stepping down as president and CEO of BritBox, the British-themed subscription VOD service she helped launch in the United States in 2017 with ITV and BBC Studios. No reason was cited for her departure at the end of the month. ITV and BBC are expected to announce new management shortly.

BritBox, which competes against AMC Networks’ Acorn TV, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video for fans of British movies and TV shows, had generated more than 1.5 million subscribers.

Soumya Sriraman

“Soumya is a trailblazer. Her experience, leadership, and thorough knowledge of British content has been the perfect fit for BritBox,” Rebecca Glashow, president of BBC Studios Americas, and Martin Goswami, group strategic partnership and distribution director for ITV, said in a joint statement. “We thank Soumya for her passion and commitment in leading the BritBox team and shaping the service into what it is today.”

Sriraman had been key to helping BritBox launch original series such as “The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco” and “There She Goes,” featuring David Tennant and Jessica Hynes, the latter winning a BAFTA Award for her role.

“I have enjoyed writing every minute of the BritBox story — from imagining it six years ago to building and growing it,” Sriraman said. “I am so proud of my team who has worked tirelessly to exceed all expectations. I am grateful to the leadership at the BBC and ITV for their stewardship on this journey and I now look forward to my next chapter.”

Prior to BritBox, Sriraman had been EVP of franchises and digital enterprises at BBC Worldwide, with a stint as CEO of Palisades Tartan Video before that.

BritBox Going Global With Pending Service in Australia

BritBox, the British-themed content subscription streaming video service launched in the United States in 2017 by ITV and BBC Studios, is planning to expand worldwide. The service is following in the footsteps of rival Netflix bowing in Canada (2018), the United Kingdom (2019) and soon in Australia. BritBox has more than 1 million subscribers in North America, par with competitor AMC Networks’ Acorn TV.

“BritBox has very quickly found a place in viewers’ hearts and we know there is further appetite amongst international audiences who love great British content,” Tim Davie, CEO of BBC Studios, said in a statement. “We are actively appraising new markets to introduce the service and are very excited about the imminent launch in Australia.”

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BritBox U.K. has distribution deals in place for TV shows “Shetland” and “Vera,” offering subs new episodes day and date, in addition to soap operas “Coronation Street” and “EastEnders” the day after their initial broadcast. Original series include “The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco,” “The Mallorca Files,” “There She Goes” and “The Bay.”

“This international expansion plan will firmly establish BritBox as a global premium brand in a rapidly growing sector,” said Carolyn McCall, ITV CEO. “Offering subscribers the best and biggest collection of British content has enabled BritBox to rapidly grow in our existing countries and as streaming continues to expand worldwide this roll out will give our distinctive streaming business truly international scale.”

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BBC Sends ‘Seven Worlds, One Planet’ Home

BBC Studios March 10 announced the immediate availability of Seven Worlds, One Planet, a seven-part series from BBC Studios Natural History Unit and co-produced with BBC America, Tencent Penguin Pictures, ZDF, France Télévisions, and China Media Group CCTV9.

The series is available at a suggested retail price of $29.98 for DVD and $49.99 for a Blu-ray Disc/4K Ultra HD  combo pack.

Seven Worlds, One Planet tells the story of the continents and how they shape animal behavior and the biodiversity seen today. Narrated by Sir David Attenborough and featuring theme music co-composed by Hans Zimmer and Jacob Shea, the series was filmed across 41 different countries and features an episode in each continent.

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Bonus material includes a photo gallery and the featurettes “Highs and Lows of Wildlife Filmmaking,” “McMurdo — Would You Dive Below the Antarctic Ice?” and “Fireflies — Behind the Scenes in an Enchanted Forest.”

The series ran on the BBC beginning in October 2019.

 

BritBox Taking SVOD Platform to Australia

BritBox, the subscription streaming video service targeting older women who like British-themed content, is heading Down Under.

Launched in 2017 in the United States by BBC Studios and ITV, the service bowed operations in the United Kingdom last November. It just announced that the North American service, which includes Canada, had topped 1 million subscribers paying $6.99 monthly.

Launch date and pricing for Australia have not been disclosed.

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“There‘s a real opportunity to build on the momentum and brand that has been established in North America and to make BritBox part of BBC Studios’ future strategy in Australia,” Fiona Lang, GM for BBC Studios ANZ, said in a statement. “Complementing our existing partnerships in the region, BritBox will draw on our vast combined catalogue of acclaimed British content and will deliver it directly to Australian audiences via a proven and seamless streaming service.”

Augustus Dulgaro, EVP, Asia Pacific sales & distribution, global entertainment, ITV Studios, said the BritBox brand’s popularity underscores the demand for niche content targeting specialized audiences.

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Indeed, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and AMC Networks’ Acorn TV all deliver British-themed content, including myriad original productions. BritBox has six originals in its portfolio as well. Acorn TV, launched about the same time as Netflix, has a combined 2 million subscribers with sister property, Urban Movie Channel.

“We look forward to bringing [the service] to Australian fans in 2020,” Dulgaro said.