Chicken Soup to Relaunch FrightPIX as a FAST Channel

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, parent of Redbox, Feb. 5 announced it has launched a joint venture with Swirl Films to relaunch the ad-supported VOD service FrightPIX as a standalone free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) platform and YouTube channel.

The channel features a curated selection of movies and episodic content about zombies, thrillers, and creepy crimes.

Under the terms of the deal, Chicken Soup will provide content from its Screen Media Ventures division, including horror films. Swirl Films will produce exclusive, original content for FrightPIX, and manage the channel itself.

This follows Chicken Soup’s recently announced Fuel TV joint venture and is the next in series of upcoming joint venture deals the company plans to mine additional revenue for existing properties utilizing the expertise of third parties.

“Creepy content is one of the most popular genres for streaming audiences, not commonly available for advertisers, and we feel this new joint venture will enable us to fully realize the potential of our catalog and the FrightPIX brand,” Elana Sofko, chief strategy officer of Chicken Soup, said in a statement.

Eric Tomosunas, CEO of Swirl Films/FrightPIX LLC, said the joint venture enables the company to expand its content offerings and leverage its ability to produce content at lower price points for the platform and third party services.

“As a consistent producer of thrilling content for networks, partnering with Chicken Soup…and having our own platform is a dream,” Tomosunas said in a statement.

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Redbox Saw $4.5 Million Q3 Revenue Increase Despite Operating Loss

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment reported that its Redbox business unit generated third-quarter (ended Sept. 30, 2023) net revenue of $36 million, up more than 14% from revenue of $31.6 million in the previous-year period. Through nine months of the fiscal year, kiosk revenue increased 254% to $90.7 million from $25.6 million in 2022 — just two months after the closure of Chicken Soup’s Redbox acquisition.

Redbox posted an operating loss of $393 million, up from an operating loss of $9.5 million during the previous-year period. The operating loss includes an asset impairment charge of $237.8 million and a goodwill impairment charge of $136.9 million.

Streaming and VOD revenue dropped almost 30% to $21.7 million from $30.9 million in the previous year. The decrease was primarily due to a $6.2 million decline in streaming licensee revenue by Screen Media Ventures compared to the prior year, as well as $2.8 million in lower ad revenue due to a lower volume of inventory available to sell.

Licensing and other revenue increased $600,000 to $16.4 million from $15.8 million in the prior year period. Chicken Soup attributed the fiscal bump to the modification of an existing intellectual property licensing agreement.

Despite the uptick in Redbox revenue, the legacy disc rental kiosks continue to be hampered by an inability to pay for and secure new movies — a reality the company says has strained relationships with creditors, including content providers. As a result, Chicken Soup said it was unable to pay for all the movies that were offered to it by distributors in the quarter.

With kiosk operating results failing to meet management’s expectations, and hampering its ability to operate Redbox efficiently, Chicken Soup said there is “substantial doubt as to the ability of the company to continue as a going concern.”

Chicken Soup’s stock price hovers around 20 cents per share, with a market capitalization of $6.56 million.

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Chicken Soup in Joint Venture With Fuel TV for SVOD, FAST Channels

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment has formed a joint venture with action-sports content company Fuel TV to create Fuel TV-branded subscription video on demand (SVOD) and free ad-supported streaming (FAST) channels.

The companies will combine their respective content catalogs, including Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment-owned SVOD channels, which will become Fuel TV Surf, and LiftTicket, which will become Fuel TV Snow. In addition, the venture will create two new channels, Fuel TV Skate and Fuel TV Bike.

Under the terms of the deal, Fuel TV will run and operate the channels. Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment divisions Screen Media Ventures will contribute 1091’s library of action sports titles, and Crackle Connex will sell ad inventory. The joint venture expects to roll out the new Fuel TV branded channels in the coming months.

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment plans to expand its joint venture efforts in 2024. These new business deals will drive additional revenues for existing properties it owns and operates utilizing the expertise of third-parties.

Available in more than 130 countries through more than 80 different partnerships with broadcasting and streaming (CTV, OTT) platforms, Fuel TV offers more than 600 hours of new programming every year, in addition to 250 hours of live events and 350 hours of exclusive content.

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment SVOD services Echoboom features action sports titles across skateboarding and skiing; SurfnowTV features surf videos that feature the biggest names past and present; and LiftTicketTV offers viewers ski videos.

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“Fuel TV is the gold standard for action-sports content, and they are the perfect counterparty for us to work with on this joint venture,” Elana Sofko, chief strategy officer of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, said in a statement. “Their expertise, combined with our robust content and advertising teams, will make this a powerful offering.”

“We are delighted to join this venture, uniting two of the biggest action sports libraries, and both companies’ prowess in the media industry will allow us to consolidate the leadership in the action sports space,” Fernando Figueiredo, CEO of Fuel TV, said in a statement. “Moreover, it will give Surf, Skate, Snow, and Bike a standalone home for those core viewers that binge their sport for hours. For 20 years, Fuel TV action sports channel has gathered all these sports and will keep doing it by being the home of hundreds of hours of live events from across the globe.”

Redbox Owner Receives Nasdaq Delisting Warning for Not Filing Quarterly Fiscal Result

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, parent of Redbox, Nov. 22 announced it has received notice from the Nasdaq indicating it is not in compliance with the stock trading board’s listing rules.

Specifically, Nasdaq said Chicken Soup has not filed its Form 10-Q for the fiscal period ended Sept. 30, 2023, with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). The Notice does not immediately affect the listing or trading of the company’s securities. According to Nasdaq, the Chicken Soup was required to file Form 10-Q by Nov. 14, 2023.

Under Nasdaq rules, Chicken Soup has 60 calendar days from receipt of the notice to submit a plan to regain compliance. If Nasdaq accepts the plan, then it may grant an exception of up to 180 calendar days (May 20, 2024) to regain compliance. If Nasdaq does not accept Chicken Soup’s plan, it can appeal the decision to a Nasdaq hearings panel.

Chicken Soup said it is working diligently to complete the Form 10-Q and anticipates filing the Form 10-Q as soon as possible. Separately, the company’s stock valuation currently sits at 29 cents per share, well below Nasdaq’s $1-per-share minimum.

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Chicken Soup to Distribute Channel 1 AI Streaming News Service

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment Oct. 26 announced it will be the first distribution point for the Artificial Intelligence (AI) streaming news company Channel 1.

Through its network of more than 140 touchpoints, including Redbox and Crackle apps on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV and Samsung, the company will provide scale for Channel 1, giving it access to millions of viewers, according to Chicken Soup. The channel will initially launch as a Free Ad-Supported Streaming Television (FAST) channel in February, with a dedicated Channel 1 app to launch a few months later, providing advanced news personalization.

In addition, Channel 1 will license to Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment next-generation AI, and workflow tools, which will unlock significant value to its more than 10,000 titles of movies and TV series, according to the Chicken Soup release.

Channel 1 is a personalized news network that learns viewers’ interests and delivers relevant stories from across the globe. Its programming features a combination of real and generated imagery, videos, and news anchors.

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“Channel 1 is truly the future of streaming news, and we are delighted to be working with them on distribution for their service,” William J. Rouhana, Jr., chairman and CEO of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, said in a statement. “Their AI is some of the most sophisticated and advanced technology we’ve seen. Their localization technology will unlock significant value in our deep catalog of over 10,000 movies and TV series, enabling us to easily translate them into any language at virtually no additional cost.”

“Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment’s distribution footprint is one of the largest in streaming, which will provide us with immediate scale,” Scott Zabielski, chief content officer for Channel 1, said in a statement. “Our AI technology will also give them an easy, inexpensive way to unlock massive value in their content library by localizing content into any language. We’re delighted to be working with them on this and other projects in the future.”

Sneaker Lifestyle Series ‘Just for Kicks’ to Launch Oct. 19 on Crackle

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment on Oct. 12 announced the sneaker lifestyle meets hip-hop culture series “Just for Kicks” will premiere on Oct. 19 exclusively on the free streaming service Crackle.

The series comes from producer-director Rhyan LaMarr and entrepreneur Antoine Wade and features well-known entertainment and NBA stars, including Allen Iverson, Jordan Clarkson, John Salley, Rich the Kid, Bun B., Adam Waheed, Liane V., Barton Fitzpatrick, and many others.

Hosted by millennial influencers Don Benjamin, Wes Armstrong, and Jadi Torres, “Just for Kicks” brings together a diverse range of guests to discuss their most exciting shoe stories and share why they chose the shoes they did.  The series features a range of games and challenges as well as interviews with celebrities from across sports, fashion, movies, and music. The series is hosted by comedian Wayne Young.

“’Just For Kicks’ is a unicorn of a series bringing a fun blend of fashion, music, sports, and entertainment that touches on every aspect of hip-hop culture,” said Michele Fino, head of branded content for Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment. 

Chicken Soup in ‘Active Discussions’ About Possible Sale, Seeks to Woo Former Netflix Disc Renters

The future of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment Inc., bogged down by debt from its August 2022 acquisition of Redbox, may soon become clear.

The company is in “active discussions” about a possible asset or strategic sale, according to a Sept. 28 8K filing

At the same time, Chicken Soup is looking for ways to improve cash flow and working capital, including further cost reductions and factoring receivables to raise cash. According to the 8K, “the company has authorization from its board to factor up to an aggregate of $55 million in receivables, with any factoring discount limited to 5%.” In addition, the 8K says, Chicken Soup for the Soul may continue to sell securities.

The company on Sept. 22 was notified by the SEC that its stock is in danger of being delisted by NASDAQ because for the preceding 30 days shares in the company have been selling for less than the $1 per share minimum.  The company has been given 180 days, until March 20, 2024, to “regain compliance,” according to the filing.

Last week, Chicken Soup chairman and CEO William J. Rouhana announced plans to capitalize on Netflix shutting down its disc business through a PR blitz and media campaign aimed at converting former Netflix DVD and Blu-ray Disc renters into Redbox customers.

A social media campaign on X (formerly Twitter) called “Show Us Your Red Envelope” promises a free movie rental to fans who share photos of their Netflix rental envelopes. The company also is beefing up catalog and niche titles in its kiosks.

Rouhana told Media Play News he’s hoping business at Redbox’s 29,000 kiosks will pick up now that Netflix is out of the picture and Redbox is the only national DVD and Blu-ray Disc rental dealer. He’s also expecting a lift once box office heavyweight Barbie and Oppenheimer become available on disc. 

Barbie will be out on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD on Oct. 17. Oppenheimer has no official disc release date, but online sources say the film will likely be out in late November.

Redbox to Increase Catalog, Niche Titles in Kiosks as Netflix Exits Disc Biz

As Netflix gets ready to ditch the disc, Redbox has announced it will increase the number of catalog and niche titles in its kiosks to serve former Netflix disc customers.

Netflix closes its disc operations this week, Redbox announced it has been working to provide content that the former audience will enjoy in its approximately 29,000 Redbox kiosks nationwide. The titles will include hard-to-find films such as Ugly Dolls, catalog titles including Jerry Maguire, and films from third parties that include Vertical and Decal. These titles are in addition to the latest films from major studios, which will soon include the hit films Oppenheimer and Barbie.

Starting Sept. 29 and running through Oct. 1, Redbox will launch on X (formerly known as Twitter) the social media campaign “Show Us Your Red Envelope.” DVD fans who respond to Redbox’s tweet calling for customers to share photos of their Netflix Red Envelopes may receive a free movie night. Former customers can also submit suggestions on the titles they want to rent in kiosks.

Redbox launched more than 20 years ago and has rented more than 2 billion discs across thousands of titles. That equates to Redbox DVD cases wrapping around the earth — twice, the company notes. This year, the most popular films at Redbox kiosks include The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Plane and Cocaine Bear, according to the company. 

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“Redbox continues to be a destination for millions of consumers, and we’re thrilled to expand our kiosk offerings to include hard-to-find titles and classic movies that everyone enjoys,” said William J. Rouhana, Jr., chief executive officer and chairman of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment. “We are expanding our content offerings at approximately 29,000 kiosks to include third-party studio titles and new movies such as Barbie and Oppenheimer, which will be available in the coming months. I look forward to hearing from former customers on the titles they want to see at our kiosks.”

Crackle Connex Offering New Capabilities for AVOD and FAST Services

Crackle Connex, Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment’s advertising sales division, is working to provide new advertising capabilities for its AVOD and FAST services.

Crackle Connex has implemented a streamlined integration path between Elemental MediaTailor from Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Amazon Publisher Direct, opening up supply to Amazon DSP advertisers across more devices. In addition, Redbox will launch a stand-alone app on Fire TV later this year, expanding the Crackle Connex premium AVOD inventory as well as making it available through Amazon Publisher Direct.

Lastly, free streaming service Crackle, will become one of the first third-party publishers to support Amazon’s Interactive Video Ads, enabling Amazon DSP advertisers to activate these ads via Amazon Publisher Direct. Interactive Video Ads allow consumers to learn more about a product or add a product to their Amazon shopping cart using their voice or remote, turning a traditionally passive viewing experience into one that actively engages them. Interactive Video Ads will first become available on the Crackle app, followed by the Chicken Soup for the Soul and Redbox apps a short time later.

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“Working with Amazon Publisher Direct gives us access to new capabilities and allows us to leverage its growing offerings to the video advertising community,” Philippe Guelton, chief revenue officer of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, said in a statement. “There is so much interoperability that will continue to be uncovered as Crackle Connex provides world-class streaming programming and leverages enhanced video advertising support from Amazon Publisher Direct.”

Redbox Parent Expands Q2 Revenue, Loss; Eyeing ‘Strategic Opportunities’ to Reduce Costs

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment Aug. 14 reported second quarter, ended June 30, revenue of $79.9 million, compared with net revenue of $37.6 million in the year-ago period. The year-over-year change was largely due to the acquisition of Redbox for $50 million in stock and the assumption of $325 million in debt on Aug. 11, 2022.

Chicken Soup said it realized a net loss of $43.7 million in the quarter, compared with a net loss of $20.8 million in the year-ago period. The company downsized its projected annual revenue estimate to $400 million to $450, from more than $500 million previously. Pre-tax income estimates range from $75 million to $100 million.

Among its business units, Redbox saw year-over-year fiscal improvements despite lagging behind first quarter, ended March 31, results.

Redbox generated $30.9 million in disc rental revenue, down from $32.3 million in the first quarter. Redbox Digital, Crackle Plus, plus AVOD, FAST and TVOD platforms topped revenue of $31.7 million, down from $34.6 million in the first quarter. Licensing revenue from subsidiaries Screen Media Ventures and 1091 Pictures subsidiaries across various distribution channels, including theatrical and home video, dropped to $17.2 million from $42.7 million as the company looked to streamline content acquisition costs in the quarter.

“We find ourselves in a media climate that remains uncertain,” Rouhana said on the fiscal call. “In that kind of environment we believe we have to be very careful and make decisions that underscore our commitment to paying down debt and generating free cash flow.”

In an attempt to “actively de-risk” its business models, the company delayed content acquisition deals to the current third quarter to put less of a burden on free cash flow. The company is also focusing on “optionality” with Redbox kiosk by marketing kiosk screen time to third-party advertisers such as Tic-Tac and Coinstar, among others, while also targeting indie film producers with premium kiosk placement to consumers.

“That is using our kiosks and video screens to create another revenue stream,” Rouhana said, adding that the company would be forming a strategic review committee of the board of directors to consider the various ways to unlock maximum shareholder value.

Additional efforts to reduce operating expenses include terminating select vendor relationships and eliminating the Seattle corporate headquarters. The company has also seen a 4% reduction in employees to 1,200 from 1,250 in the first half of the year. Employees will now largely be working remotely.

In the quarter, as previously reported, Redbox generated a record-breaking performance at kiosks and transactional VOD driven by Universal Pictures’ The Super Mario Bros. Movie, which currently ranks as the top movie rental in 2023, the most rented movie in its first week since last year’s Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount Pictures), and the most first-week rentals for a family film since Universal’s The Croods: A New Age in 2020. The film also broke one-week TVOD revenue records, and its Premium VOD/EST debut surpassed the previous record held by 20th Century Studios’ Avatar: The Way of Water.

Redbox also began the rollout of the previously announced 1,500 kiosk expansion program nationwide with retail partner Dollar General. The company currently operates 30,000 kiosks nationwide.