Crackle Connex Inks Deal with AdQuick for Redbox, Crackle Advertising Inventory

 AdQuick, a leading Out-of-Home (OOH) advertising platform, on Feb. 8 announced it has signed an agreement with Crackle Connex, a division of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, to add Redbox and Crackle advertising inventory to its growing network of over 1,600 partners. 

Redbox’s supply is also now available for auction-based and reservation buying, as well as inclusion within multichannel measurement through AdQuick’s integrations with omnichannel platforms, including a previously announced partnership with TransUnion. AdQuick says its advertising platform makes it easy to plan, buy, and measure every kind of outdoor advertising. The company has signed over 1,600 partners, which span all types of OOH inventory.

“We are excited to bring Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment’s vast catalog of content to our OOH buying platform,” said Matthew O’Connor, CEO of AdQuick. “This agreement will give advertisers more opportunities to reach their target audiences with high-impact OOH campaigns.”

“Redbox’s Digital Out of Home (DOOH) supply provides AdQuick’s buyers a great opportunity to align with over 40 million Redbox Perks members,” said Tim Ware, SVP of programmatic sales and partnerships for Crackle Connex. “Redbox remains a primary provider of TVOD and PVOD home entertainment for millions of Americans and affords brands the opportunity to reach movie fans through their customer journey at top retailers.”

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 Expands Loyalty Program to Digital Rentals, Purchases

Redbox, a Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment company, on Aug. 29 announced it has expanded its popular Redbox Perks loyalty program to include its transactional video-on-demand (TVOD) platform. 

Customers can now accrue points by digitally renting or buying movies through Redbox On Demand, the company’s digital retail platform. Points can be exchanged for free disc rentals at the 29,000 Redbox kiosks or discounts for future digital rentals or purchases.

The more than 40 million Redbox Perks members will be able to access the expanded program beginning today (Aug. 29). New members can receive a free one-night rental at a Redbox kiosk or choose $2 off a movie rental through the Redbox streaming app. The Redbox streaming app is available on various devices, including Roku, VIZIO, Samsung TVs, and many others.

“This expansion of our Perks program gives our customers even more opportunities to redeem for their next rental,” said Maura Gray, SVP of marketing for Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment. “We have consistently heard from our members their eagerness to engage more with Redbox and enjoy the ability to redeem points physically and digitally. We’re thrilled to provide our customers more value and reward them even more for watching movies with us.”

Crackle Unveils Ukrainian Fantasy Series ‘Cossacks’ on Sept. 1

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment Inc.on Aug. 24 announced it will premiere the Ukrainian fantasy series “Cossacks” on Sept. 1 on its free streaming service, Crackle.

Directed, written, and shot on location in Ukraine and featuring a cast of primarily Ukrainian actors, “Cossacks” is a 12-episode sword and sorcery fantasy series that stars Yuriy Dyak (The Inheritance), Andriy Isaenko (Silence), and Mila Sivatskaya (The Last Warrior).

The 2020 series was originally titled The Fairy Story That Never Was

Several Ukrainian actors and crew associated with “Cossacks” are now fighting in the war against Russia. Actors Volodymyr Kravchuk. who plays Zubrik, and Volodymyr Kanivets, who plays Khan. are on the front lines, as is the production’s horse trainer, Oleg Yurchshyn. The production’s pyrotechnician, Olexander Suvorov, was killed during the first months of the invasion.

“Cossacks” was created by executive producer and showrunner Oksana Ivanyuk, who wrote the series along with Oleg Zborovsky. The series was directed by Oleksandr Berezan and produced by Anastasiya Shteynguaz and Iryna Khranovska for ICTV, the largest Ukrainian TV channel, which provided 50% of the production funding. Cossacks was produced by IQ Production LLC. 

“Cossacks” follows the irreverent exploits of Ivan, a young Ukrainian peasant raised by a Polish aristocrat who grows into a likable adventure-seeking rogue. His cheeky disposition enables him to rob the Tsar of Moscow of a set of precious jewels, yet it’s to a noble end: he needs the royal riches to free his mother from the Ottomans, who have enslaved her. However, Ivan accidentally also makes off with a magical heirloom, an earring that had helped the Moscow Tsar defeat his enemies and leads Ivan into endless escapades.

“We’re thrilled to announce this series is coming to Crackle — especially today being Ukrainian Independence Day,” said Phil Oppenheim, chief content officer for Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment. “Our fans have always gravitated towards comedy, action, and fantasy. This fabulously fun series has everything they’re looking for, and more is rolled up into an incredibly smart swashbuckling adventure.”

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment’s recent releases includes such hits as the nuptials celebration series “Wedding Talk,” hosted by Olympic gold-medalist and commentator Tara Lipinski; the award-winning black entertainment talk series “Inside the Black Box,” hosted by Emmy Award-winning actor Joe Morton and celebrity acting coach Tracey Moore; and the award-winning personal finance series “Going From Broke,” hosted by Chegg CEO Dan Rosensweig and financial expert Tonya Rapley

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment Launches ‘Strategic Review’ While Cutting Costs

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment Inc. is considering a number of strategic options, including a potential sale or partnership, as the company continues to be bogged down by losses stemming from its purchase a year ago of Redbox.

In the coming weeks, CEO William J. Rouhana said in an interview with Media Play News, the company will put together a strategic review committee, comprised of current board members, and expects to reach a decision “in a couple of months — maybe sooner.”

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“There have been some inquires that have come our way that could be pretty serious, which is why we are setting up the committee,” Rouhana said in an interview, just minutes after CSSE’s quarterly earnings call with analysts to discuss second-quarter (ended June 30) financial results. “If I could say more, I would.”

Theoretically, Rouhana added, “strategic reviews are an opportunity to sell a company, possible to people who might have inquired to buy, or strategic partnerships.” Which is it? “No comment,” Rouhana said.

CSSE reported earnings three days after the first anniversary of CSSE’s acquisition of Redbox. The company reported higher revenue as well as losses for the quarter that ended June 30.

Revenue came in at $79.9 million, more than twice the $37.6 million generated by the company in the year-ago period — while the net loss came in at $43.7 million, also more than double the net loss of $20.8 million posted in the second quarter of 2022.

On an earnings call, Rouhana announced a series of steps to cut costs, including closing the former Redbox headquarters in the Seattle area (see related story).

Redbox, Crackle Connex Ink Deal With TikTok

Redbox and advertising platform Crackle Connex, both Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment companies, have announced they are now working with entertainment platform TikTok.

TikTok will provide Redbox with top content from the platform, which will be featured on more than 3,000 video screens on top of Redbox kiosks nationwide, and brands will have the opportunity to advertise alongside it.

“TikTok is the go-to destination for short-form video consumption by over a billion people globally,” Philippe Guelton, Crackle Connex chief revenue officer, said in a statement. “This new partnership provides advertisers a unique opportunity to reach new audiences and drive engagement. Our Redbox kiosks are in high-traffic locations where millions of people frequently shop, such as grocery stores or value retailers. We look forward to working with TikTok on expanding this partnership as our DOOH [digital out-of-home] network expands.”

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“People come to TikTok to experience the entertainment, joy, and creativity of our community and we are excited to expand that experience to Redbox kiosks,” Dan Page, TikTok head of global distribution, new screens, said in a statement. “This partnership allows us to bring together the power of our exceptional content with the high-visibility of Redbox kiosk locations, creating an effective and fresh approach to advertising.”

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment Leans in on ‘Branded Entertainment’

Advertising sales remain the primary way to make money for operators of ad-supported streaming services and channels, both on demand (AVOD) and linear (FAST).

But at Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, which through a series of strategic acquisitions has become something of an AVOD/FAST aggregator, more and more emphasis is being placed on branding opportunities with the actual show.

“Branded entertainment,” they call it.

 “We are putting full force behind original content and getting that funded from another source versus strictly from within,” said Michele Fino, head of Branded Entertainment for Crackle Connex, Chicken Soup’s advertising sales division.

The basic concept is that rather than run straight commercials, brands can either own a series or segment of a series or create their own custom content, with messaging woven into the storyline.

Think of it as a modern take on the old practice of product placements in movies and TV shows.

In recent months, the Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment family of AVOD and FAST channels has launched more than half a dozen original series that present branding opportunities to sponsors, including:

  • “At Home with Genevieve,” an original lifestyle series hosted by celebrity interior designer Genevieve Gorder and aimed at helping viewers be their best at home, including cooking, cleaning, entertaining, and taking care of their family, plants and pets;
  • “Just for Kicks,” a new original series about the hottest new sneaker drops and the collectors who chase them;
  • A new season of the hit Crackle original “Going From Broke,” from executive producer Ashton Kutcher;
  • The second season of the series “Inside the Black Box,” about black entertainers, which is produced in partnership with Publicis Media’s APX Content Ventures and sponsored by The General Insurance Co.;
  • “Pet Caves” with PetSmart, which Fino says provides “seamless brand integrations that do not overwhelm viewers”; and
  • “Wedding Talk,” a diverse show hosted by Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski and sponsored by Snuggle, Men’s Wearhouse and James Allen.

 

In each case, Fino says, the sponsors get more than the customary commercials. In “Inside the Black Box,” for example, The General Insurance gets on-set signage and mentions of its name through phrases such as “The General admission” and “The General audience,” thereby associating the Black students with their access to established Black talent.

“Let’s be clear — the show is not about cars, and definitely not about car insurance,” Fino says. “But there is a way around that to incorporate the brand identity and nomenclature into the show.”

Fino says funding is one of the key ingredients “that go into a successful show,” and what Crackle Connex is trying to do is “play a good game of matching. We creatively introduce the brand’s objectives into our television shows and air that with complementary media and sponsorship elements on Crackle and Redbox in order to meet or even exceed the advertisers key performance indicators (KPIs). Our goal is one plus one equals three.”

In “Going for Broke,” for example, branding opportunities further the series’ goal of helping people get out of debt. To cite one example, Lyft sponsored an episode in which one solution to help consumers lighten their debt load was to take on a side hustle as a Lyft driver. In another episode, sponsored by the Family Dollar retail chain, viewers were shown how they can save money by shopping at deep discount stores, and save even more by joining the Family Dollar loyalty program and downloading the company’s app.  

“And it was fun — we made it a shopping challenge with the engaged couple in the store with a countdown clock and everything,” Fino said. “And who doesn’t like to beat their partner at a game?”

Similarly, Fino maintains, “Men’s Wearhouse was a perfect fit for ‘Wedding Talk.’ Two incredibly creative, adventurous guys got married during COVID and they poured that spirit into every detail of their wedding, especially their custom suits. Even though they couldn’t be surrounded by hundreds of family and friends, Men’s Wearhouse made that experience personalized, beautiful and memorable for them.”

Fino said she’s “super excited about the in-show possibilities in our new original, ‘Just For Kicks’: Everything from a branded green room where the celebrities hang out before their interview and fashion challenge on the main stage, to DJ Whoo Kid spinning for a brand’s playlist, to integrating a brand’s owned content from other events like New York Fashion Week or SneakerCon. Equally as valuable are the advertiser opportunities that are not in the show, such as tech overlays in billboards, commercials and spotlight trays that direct viewers straight to the retailers. I also see ‘Just for Kicks’ having an in-person experiential footprint that travels to major events where sneaker culture is front and center, like the Grammys, the NBA All-Star game or when the U.S. hosts the World Cup in less than three years.”

Fino says branding is the logical next step in monetizing streaming.

“We watch television every day,” she said. “We live and breathe and buy brands every day. Weaving this into the very fabric of our shows, where our talent is interacting with these brands in order to make their lives better and then encouraging viewers to do the same, is branded entertainment.”

Screen Media Acquires Rights to ‘Sight Extended,’ Eyes June 6 Digital Release

Screen Media, a Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment company, May 30 announced the acquisition of North American rights to the science-fiction fantasy film Sight Extended.

Written and directed by Daniel Lazo and Eran May-Raz, the film stars Andrew Riddell, Nova Gaver and Phillip Andre Botello.

Screen Media is planning a June 6 digital release.

The film is set in a near future dominated by augmented-reality eyepieces. A troubled young man who suffers from agoraphobia experiences an unlikely transformation when he comes across a mysterious A.I. that transforms every facet of his life into a game.

“As we move toward a future where augmented reality and AI become an increasingly integral part of our lives, it’s important to question our own agency in this new world,” said director Daniel Lazo. “Sight Extended explores the fascinating and terrifying possibilities that emerge when we allow AI to know us better than we know ourselves. Through the lens of a thrilling, thought-provoking story, we invite audiences to consider the complex interplay between technology, identity, and agency in our rapidly evolving world.”

Sight Extended is based on the viral award-winning short film Sight (2012), which Forbes described as “an 8-minute augmented reality journey that makes Google Glass look tame.” Sight Extended also won Best Sci-Fi Film at the Paris Film Festival and the Gold Award for Best Indie Feature Film at the Hollywood Gold Awards.

Lev Avery-Peck negotiated the deal on behalf of Screen Media.

Other recent Screen Media acquisitions include Tom DeLonge’s directorial debut Monsters of California, John Slattery’s Maggie Moore(s), starring Emmy winners Tina Fey and Jon Hamm, and the Bella Thorne-led thriller Saint Clare, starring Ryan Phillippe and Rebecca DeMornay. Recent film releases include Tom DeNucci’s Johnny & Clyde, starring Avan Jogia, Ajani Russell, and Megan Fox; Devil’s Peak, starring Academy Award winner Billy Bob Thornton and Emmy winner Robin Wright; The Locksmith, starring Ryan Phillippe, Kate Bosworth, and Ving Rhames; Poker Face, directed by and starring Academy Award winner Russell Crowe; The Accursed, Kevin Lewis’ follow-up to Willy’s Wonderland, starring Alexis Knapp and Mena Suvari; and The Enforcer, starring Antonio Banderas and Kate Bosworth.

Chicken Soup for the Soul Inks Content Agreement With Rome’s TaTaTu

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment has signed a global content agreement with Rome-based entertainment and social media platform TaTaTu (ALTTU.PA).

TaTaTu will launch its service via the TaTaTu app available for iOS and Android devices using Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment-owned movies, TV series and documentaries.

The TaTaTu platform rewards users with coins for social media activities and viewing content. Users can earn coins by watching movies and TV series for free, posting videos and photos, and earn even more TTU Coins when someone likes, comments, views, chats, or shares a post or when users invite a friend. The coins can then be used to bid on auctions for products or experiences — or exchanged for e-commerce products.

“Andrea and his team at TaTaTu have developed and launched the next generation of social media platforms combining streaming media and engagement,” William J. Rouhana.,Jr., chairman and CEO of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, said in a statement. “Our content will allow them to accelerate their entry into new international territories. This agreement is an exciting first step in our relationship.”

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“Creating value through the time spent by connected users on TaTaTu has always been our main goal because the community is the driving force behind everything,” Andrea Iervolino, CEO and Founder of TaTaTu S.p.A., said in a statement. “The agreement with Chicken Soup is part of this strategy and we are pleased to have found a partner who wanted to share our vision by providing us with more than 3,000 interesting and engaging films. Our hope is to continue working together for a long time and to continue distributing more and more content on TaTaTu.”

Chicken Soup Adds FAST Channels in AMC Networks Deal

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment on May 15 announced it has signed a deal with AMC Networks to add 12 free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channels. These new channels include the post-apocalyptic horror drama “The Walking Dead,” the sketch comedy series “Portlandia,” and the sports fan-focused “MSG SportsZone.” The channels will soon be available and can be accessed through the Redbox app on Roku, Samsung TVs, and many other devices.

The Redbox Free Live TV service will soon surpass 180 FAST channels and expects to eclipse 200 by early summer. The company recently announced adding channels from Fremantle Media, including “The Jamie Oliver Channel” and “Supermarket Sweep.” 

“The Walking Dead and Portlandia are some of AMC Networks’ most iconic series, and the ability for our consumers to watch them 24 hours a day will be an immediate hit,” said Laura Florence, SVP and GM of digital for Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment. “Our Redbox Free Live TV app continues to scale with brands and series our viewers know and love. We should quickly reach 200 channels by summer and have plans to scale even further later this year.”

The AMC channels coming to Redbox Live TV are “The Walking Dead Universe,” “Portlandia,” “Stories by AMC,” “AMC Thrillers,” “Slightly Off IFC,” “IFC Films Picks,” “All Reality WE tv,” “All Weddings WE tv,” “AMC en Español,” “ALLBLK Gems,” “MSG SportsZone” and “Anime X HIDIVE.”

The Redbox streaming app can be accessed through Roku, Samsung TVs, VIZIO TVs, and many others. The app also features an AVOD streaming platform with thousands of free movies and TV series, access to thousands of movies and TV series to rent or purchase, and nearly 180 FAST channels.