Comcast Eyes More Than $700 Million in Severance, COVID-19 Costs Through Year End

The current fourth quarter will not be a good one for some Comcast/NBCUniversal employees as the cable and media giant grabbles with internal restructuring and fiscal realities mandated by of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on business operations.

Speaking Oct. 29 on the fiscal call, CFO Mike Cavanagh said the company had endured $239 million in year-to-date costs related to layoffs and the pandemic across cable, amusement and NBCUniversal operations. That figure is expected to more than double through the end of the year to more than $700 million. Media reports suggest more than 300 employees at NBCUniversal could lose their jobs in television, studio and streaming by the end of the year.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said the staff cuts and costs would impact the company well into 2021, underscoring the company’s “obligation” to adjust costs as revenue declines. The company recently consolidated all English-language TV networks TV under Frances Berwick for business operations and Susan Rovner for programming, including streaming.

“I really don’t think the definition of success is any different than it’s ever been,” Shell said. “Our job is to be profitable, generate cash flow and generate long-term value for the company, and that’s how we’re thinking about everything. And it is obviously a very changing world so you have to be nimble in doing that — but the measure of that are the same as they’ve always been.”

Shell said the [restructuring] going forward enables the company to find “great content” in a pandemic-impacted production world and use the streaming, broadband and cable platforms to maximize the value of it.

“It sets us up to grow as the world changes,” he said.

 

 

 

 

Peacock Streaming Service Tops 22 Million Subs; Adds 7 Million Subs following Roku Deal

NBCUniversal’s subscription streaming video service Peacock reached 22 million subscribers through Oct. 29. The tally increased by 7 million subs in the past month thanks to an app distribution agreement with Roku hammered out in mid-September. Total Peacock subs now top Comcast’s legacy cable business.

Launched on July 15, the SVOD/AVOD platform represents the media company’s attempt to compete against Netflix, Disney+ and other OTT video platforms, in addition to safeguarding against ongoing erosion of the pay-TV ecosystem.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“We are exceeding our expectations on all engagement metrics in only a few months,” Brian Roberts, CEO of parent Comcast Corp., said in a statement. Speaking later on the fiscal call, Roberts said Peacock’s AVOD component and NBCUniversal annual content spend has helped lure sign-ups.

“[AVOD] has significantly reduce marketing expenses compared with other streaming services,” he said.

Indeed, driven by a renewed strategic focus on broadband, aggregation and streaming, Comcast added a record 633,000 high-speed Internet customers in the quarter and 556,000 total net new customer relationships.

“We’re growing our entertainment platforms with the addition of Flex [for broadband-only subscribers], which has a significant positive impact on broadband churn and customer lifetime value,” Roberts said.

The subscriber growth continues to offset ongoing declines in Comcast’s legacy cable business. The segment saw another steep drop in pay-TV subs, losing 273,000 subs in the quarter — widening almost 14% from a loss of 222,000 subs in the previous-year period. Through nine months of the fiscal year, Comcast Cable tallied 19.2 million subs, down 1.2 million subs from last year.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, we believe we are extremely well positioned to provide … integrated experiences for our customers and to deliver … long-term growth and returns for our shareholders,” Roberts said.

NBCUniversal, Roku Set to Announce First-Ever Peacock Carriage Deal

Carriage disputes traditionally occurring between content holders and pay-TV distributors have gone over-the-top — and now have a happy ending.

Comcast’s NBCUniversal unit and streaming media pioneer Roku are set to announce in the next few days a carriage agreement that would include the media giant’s TV Everywhere channels and — for the first time — distribution of the Peacock streaming video platform. TV Everywhere channels (i.e. apps) include NBC, Bravo, E!, Syfy and USA Networks.

The tentative agreement, disclosed by a source familiar with the situation, would put to end a long-running impasse that has kept Peacock off the Roku (and Amazon Fire TV) platform since it launched in July. Comcast this week disclosed the platform has 15 million subscribers since launching nationwide.

Until this agreement, which should be announced in the coming days, NBCUNiversal had threatened to remove its TV Everywhere apps from the Roku platform.

“Comcast is removing the channels in order to try to force Roku to distribute its new Peacock service on unreasonable terms,” Roku said previously in statement.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Indeed, Peacock, like WarnerMedia’s HBO Max subscription streaming video platform, had issue with Roku over distribution fees (Roku takes 20% cut) and revenue sharing (30%), among other issues. The situation is similar to carriage spats between content holders and pay-TV operators that often lead to channel blackouts.

NBCUniversal contends that during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the need for video content — both ad-supported and subscription-based — is vital.

“Roku has made the extremely unfortunate decision to remove NBCUniversal’s leading content from their platform,” said a rep in a statement. “We are disappointed Roku is removing its users’ free access to NBCUniversal programming, 11 network apps, 12 NBC Owned Station apps, 23 Telemundo Owned Station apps — and continues to block access to the only free premium streaming service available in the market, Peacock.”

NBCUniversal contended Roku’s “unreasonable” demands hurt both their consumers and their consumer equipment partners to whom they’ve promised access to all apps in the marketplace.

The Roku platform had more than 43 million active user accounts at the end of June. Roku is projected to end the year with 52 million user accounts — or 40% of all U.S. broadband households, according to Conviva.

The Motley Fool reported that the average Roku user streamed 3.64 hours of content a day in the first quarter, ended March 31. That translated to 13.2 billion hours users spent consuming content on the platform, which was up 49% from the previous-year period. That tally has likely exploded during the coronavirus pandemic.

Roku argues that by not agreeing with its terms, NBCUniversal is losing out on “hundreds of millions of dollars” in revenue. CNBC, which is owned by NBCUniversal, reported that its parent is seeking the distribution fee be cut to 15%, in addition to remedying an ad-software issue.

“[NBCUniversal is] hesitant about connecting Peacock with third-party software it can’t control,]” CNBC said in its report.

Bonnie Hammer Upped to Vice Chairman of NBCUniversal; Pearlena Igbokwe to Chairman of NBCUniversal Content Studios

Comcast Corp. continues to restructure senior management in the aftermath of several abrupt senior executive departures at NBCUniversal.

The media giant Sept. 9 announced that 30-year veteran Bonnie Hammer has been tapped to take former NBCUniversal vice chairman Ron Meyer’s position, while Pearlena Igbokwe replaces Hammer in the chairman position of the NBCUniversal Content Group, which includes Universal Television, Universal Content Productions and NBCUniversal International Studios. Both positions report to NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Meyer, 75, exited the studio last month after 25 years following disclosure of a personal affair with a young actress. His ouster followed the dismissal of NBC Entertainment chairman Paul Telegdy, who was shown the door following allegations of promoting a hostile work environment.

“This is an exciting time for our business, with demand for entertainment content at an all-time high and more distribution platforms available than ever before,” Shell said in a statement regarding Igbokwe, Hammer promotions. “Our television studios are key growth engines for the company, and Pearlena is ideally suited to lead them. She has extraordinary taste and is well-respected within NBCU, and throughout the global creative community.”

Shell lauded Hammer’s “deep industry experience” and “impeccable creative instincts” as key to her promotion. “I am extremely pleased to be gaining Bonnie as a trusted adviser,” Shell said. “Her 25-plus years of prosocial advocacy will be immensely valuable to me and our company.”

Comcast Eyes Leasing X1 Software to TV Manufacturers

Comcast is reportedly considering licensing its X1 set-top box software to third-party consumer electronics manufacturers of smart televisions. Such a move would put Comcast in competition with Roku, Google and Amazon, among other tech companies affording TV manufacturers with Internet-connected consoles.

First reported by Protocol.com, citing sources familiar with the situation, Comcast engaged in initial discussions with TV manufacturers in January at the pre-COVID-19 CES confab in Las Vegas. The cable operator, which is slowly coming to grips with a changing pay-TV market — underscored by the departure of more than 815,000 subscribers through June 30 — currently licenses X1 technology for third-party set-tops to Cox Communications and soon Charter (Spectrum TV Plus).

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Roku cut its teeth licensing its operating system through set-top devices manufactured for the former 21st Century Fox’s NOW TV. Comcast now owns NOW TV through its acquisition of Sky from Fox. Samsung, one of the world’s largest TV manufacturers, has begun licensing its Tizen OS smart TV technology to third parties.

Comcast’s move into software licensing could be accelerating after attempts to sell NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service through the Roku platform fell through. Similarly to WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, Peacock is also not available on Amazon Fire TV.

Launched in 2012 as Comcast’s antidote to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, cloud-based X1 platform now represents about 60% of the cabler’s pay-TV subscriber base. Since then X1 offers subs access to Netflix and YouTube apps. Comcast also launched broadband-only Xfinity Flex online TV platform.

Comcast Launches Interactive Bilingual Election News Platform on X1 and Flex

With the national elections heating up and general news viewership on Xfinity platforms up 38% from the same time period last year, Comcast Aug. 18 is launching Election Central, now available on X1 and Flex — the latter a broadband based non-cable online TV service.

Election Central is designed to help subscribers access the latest information on voting in their state via their Xfinity Voice Remote and makes all the latest election news and happenings available in one place in both English and Spanish.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Additionally, X1 and Flex customers can say “How to vote” or “Cómo votar” into the Xfinity Voice Remote to find general voting information such as how to register, how to vote this year, and breakdowns of the key 2020 races. And for the first time, by selecting the tile that says “Voting Information” or “Información para votar,” customers will be able to enter their mobile number and receive a link to vote.gov, the official U.S. government voter information website with information on voting in their specific state.

Election Central will also stream curated content featuring programming from more than a dozen networks and streaming services, including ABC News, CBS News, Cheddar, CNN, CNN en Español, C-SPAN, Fox Nation, Fox News, iHeartRadio, MSNBC, NBC News, Newsmax, Newsy, NPR, PBS, Telemundo, TYT, Univision and YouTube, among others.

Follow us on Instagram

Through platform, X1 and Flex customers can also find live and on demand coverage and highlights of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions on their preferred network within the “Choose Your News Row.”

Historical moments from campaign trails, including coverage from Democratic and Republican National Conventions dating back to 1948, as well as documentaries and specials.

On demand episodes from political affairs shows, including ABC News’s This Week, CBS News’s Face the Nation, CNN’s State of the Union (X1 Only), Fox News Sunday, and NBC’s Meet the Press.

Podcasts for news and analysis, including the Chuck Toddcast from NBC News, The Ben Shapiro Show, The Daily from The New York TimesThe Glenn Beck Program and Up First from NPR.

NBCUniversal’s Peacock Streaming Service Launches Nationally

The hype is over. Now comes the heavy lifting. NBCUniversal July 15 formally launched the Peacock app, affording users and subscribers access to more than 20,000 hours of content from networks and studios.

Peacock, unlike other SVOD platforms, offers an ad-supported free tier and an ad-supported premium tier for $4.99/month, serving no more than five minutes of advertising per hour. An ad-free version of the premium tier is also available for $9.99/month.

“This is a historic moment for our company as we proudly introduce Peacock to consumers nationwide — a groundbreaking vision that was brought to life by an incredible team of people from across Comcast, NBCUniversal and Sky,” Matt Strauss, chairman of Peacock, said in a July 14 statement.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Like WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, Peacock is not available on Roku or Amazon Fire TV. It is available on Apple devices, including iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD; Android, Android TV devices, Chromecast and Chromecast built-in devices; Xbox One S and Xbox One X; and Vizio SmartCast TVs and LG Smart TVs. Starting the week of July 20, Peacock will be available Sony PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro.

Follow us on Instagram

Content sources include NBC, Bravo, USA Network, Syfy, Oxygen, E!, CNBC, MSNBC, NBCSN, Golf Channel, Universal Kids, A&E, ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox, History, Nickelodeon, Showtime, Universal Pictures, DreamWorks, Focus Features, Illumination, ViacomCBS, Paramount, Lionsgate, Warner Bros. and Blumhouse. In addition, the service will feature Peacock Original movies and shows; more than 30 curated channels; current season series and specials from NBC and Telemundo; live news and sports; as well as daily trending highlights from “Today,” “NBC Nightly News,” “Meet the Press,” “Noticias Telemundo,” MSNBC, CNBC, NBC Sports, “E! News” and “Access Hollywood.”

Peacock Reveals Free and Premium Tier Content Offerings

Peacock, Comcast’s highly marketed streaming service, officially launched July 15 with more than 20,000 hours of premium content from networks and studios, including NBC, Bravo, USA Network, Syfy, Oxygen, E!, CNBC, MSNBC, NBCSN, Golf Channel, Universal Kids, A&E, ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox, History, Nickelodeon, Showtime, Universal Pictures, DreamWorks, Focus Features, Illumination, ViacomCBS, Paramount, Lionsgate, Warner Bros. and Blumhouse.

In addition, the service features Peacock Original movies and shows; more than 30 curated channels; current season series and specials from NBC and Telemundo; live news and sports; as well as daily trending highlights from TODAY, NBC Nightly News, Meet the Press, Noticias Telemundo, MSNBC, CNBC, NBC Sports, E! Newsand Access Hollywood.

“This is a historic moment for our company as we proudly introduce Peacock to consumers nationwide — a groundbreaking vision that was brought to life by an incredible team of people from across Comcast, NBCUniversal and Sky,” Matt Strauss, chairman of Peacock, said in a statement.

Peacock offers an ad-supported free tier and an ad-supported premium tier for $4.99/month, serving no more than five minutes of advertising per hour. An ad-free version of the premium tier is also available for $9.99/month.

Peacock is currently available on Apple devices, including iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD; Google platforms and devices including Android, Android TV devices, Chromecast and Chromecast built-in devices; Microsoft’s Xbox One family of devices, including Xbox One S and Xbox One X; and VIZIO SmartCast TVs and LG Smart TVs. Comcast’s eligible Xfinity X1 and Flex customers, as well as eligible Cox Contour customers, enjoy Peacock Premium included with their service at no additional cost.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

As previously reported, starting the week of July 20, Peacock will be available on Sony PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro

Both free and premium tiers will feature current seasons from NBC, news, sports and pop culture highlights, and dozens of genre channels, including live news from NBC News Now and Sky News, exclusive curated channels featuring the best moments from shows such as “The Office” (“Office Shorts”), “Saturday Night Live” (“SNL Vault”), “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” (“Fallon Tonight”), “Late Night With Seth Meyers” (“Seth Meyers Now”), and exclusive genre channels like CNBC Make It, Today All Day, CNBC Ka-Ching, American Greed, 80s Mixtape, True Crime, Kiss Me Deadly, Peacock Reality, Out of This World, Caso Cerrado and I Love Jenni, among others.

Peacock will deliver more than 13,000 hours of content — completely free — including a vast library of popular movies such as the The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, Jurassic ParkJurassic Park III, Tully, Phantom Thread, The Interpreter, American Psycho, The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions, The Blair Witch Project, The Mummy, Joe, Fletch, Fletch Lives, The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury, Fear, Psycho, Do the Right Thing, Howard the Duck, Billy Elliot, The Birds, Willie, Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, The Last House on the Left, I Am Ali, In The Name of the Father, Lone Ranger, The Hitcher, Law Abiding Citizen, The Sting, What Dreams May Come, Fried Green Tomatoes, One True Thing, Gosford Park, Dracula and Dragnet.

 The free tier will offer new episodes of NBC current season series one week after they air, including “This Is Us” and “The Blacklist,” sample episodes of Peacock Originals, and hundreds of classic shows, including “30 Rock,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Saturday Night Live,” “Saved by the Bell,” “Punky Brewster,” “The Johnny Carson Show,” “The Carol Burnett Show,” “Real Husbands of Hollywood” and “Everybody Hates Chris”; dramas like “Friday Night Lights,” “Downton Abbey,” “Parenthood,” “Monk,” “Heroes,” “Psych,” “The Game,” “Suits,” “Sacred Lies,” “Royal Pains,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Columbo,” “Hunter,” “The Rockford Files,” “Dateline,” “21 Jump Street,” “Highlander,” “Leave It To Beaver,” “Munsters” and “Murder She Wrote”; reality series “Below Deck,” “Southern Charm,” “Chrisley Knows Best,” “Botched,” “Flipping Out,” “Million Dollar Listing New York,” “Pawn Stars,” “Storage Wars,” “Real Housewives of Dallas,” “Jay Leno’s Garage,” “Shahs of Sunset” and “Undercover Boss”; competition series “Top Chef Masters,” “Hell’s Kitchen,” “King Kong The Animated Series,” “Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures,” “Fievel’s American Tails” and “Woody Woodpecker”; and Spanish-language titles “Betty en NY”, “I Love Jenni”, “Reina De Corazones,” “The Riveras,” “Preso No. 1,” “Caso Cerrado,” “El Baron,””El Chema,” “Larrymania,” “Perro Amor,” “Mi Familia Perfecta,” “Quien es Quien,” “Victoria” and “Donde Esta Elisa”.

Live sports in the free tier include four exclusive Premier League matches on July 15, coverage of the U.S. Open Championship and Women’s Open Championships, an NFL Wild Card Playoff Game, and select events from the upcoming Tokyo and Beijing Olympics. In addition, sports fans will enjoy on demand replays of events like Triple Crown horse races, daily highlights from NBC Sports, and hundreds of hours of sports series, documentaries and films such as Tiger Woods Chasing History1968I Am AliDream TeamBeing EvelFehertyWillieand Peacock Originals Lost Speedways and In Deep with Ryan Lochte.

Peacock Premium will feature access to all 20,000 hours of programming on the platform, including everything in the free tier plus the full catalog of Peacock Originals including Brave New World, The Capture, Intelligence, Psych 2: Lassie Come Home, DreamWorks Where’s Waldo?, DreamWorks Cleopatra In Space and Curious Georgeall library series including treasured favorites like “Two and a Half Men,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “George Lopez,” “Jeff Foxworthy Show,” “King of Queens,” “Superstore,” “Frasier,” “Cheers,” “House,” “The Affair,” “Yellowstone,” “Law & Order,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Ray Donovan,” “Swedish Dicks” and “American Ninja Warrior”; kids series including DreamWorks’ “Dragons: Riders of Berk,” “Care Bears” and “Care Bears: Welcome to Care-a-Lot”; and the entire movie collection including titles such as ShrekLone Survivor, Ted, Identity Thief, Children of Men, Charlie Wilson’s War, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Frankenstein, Kicking and Screaming, Larry Crowne, and You, Me & Dupree.

 The premium tier will also provide earlier access to programming, such as next-day access to new episodes of current season NBC shows, including America’s Got Talent, Blindspot, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, A Little Late with Lilly Singh, Saturday Night Live, Superstore, Law & Order: SVU, Chicago P.D., Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, New Amsterdam, Manifest, The Titan Games, Hollywood Game Night, World of Dance, The Kelly Clarkson Show, Access Hollywood, Days of Our Lives, Dateline, NBC Nightly Newsand Meet the Press, and Telemundo series including 100 Días Para Enamorarnos, Celia, Cennet, Enemigo Intimo, La Doña, Minuto Para Ganar and Noticias Telemundo. Exclusive access to Late Night With Seth Meyers and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 8:00 pm ET will only be available on Peacock Premium when the shows return to in-studio production.

 Peacock Premium will also feature access to a growing catalog of live and on demand sports programming, including more than 175 exclusive Premier League matches for the 2020-2021 season; coverage of elite cycling events like the Tour De France from August 29 – September 20, and La Vuelta from October 20 – November 8; and more than 100 hours of WWE content coming in August including series WWE Untold and Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Sessions, and compilations like John Cena’s Best WrestleMania Matches.

New original programming will continually debut on Peacock, including previously announced titles like Angelyne,  Rutherford Falls,  Battlestar Galactica, Punky Brewster,  Dr. Death, Housewives Mash-up, Saved By the Bell, Five Bedrooms, Lady Parts, Girls5Eva, Who Wrote That, Kids Tonight Show, The Amber Ruffin Show, Armas De Mujer and Caso Cerrado.

In addition, popular shows will soon live on Peacock, including “The Office,” “Chicago P.D.,” ”Chicago Fire,” ”Chicago Med,” “Roseanne,” “3rd Rock From the Sun,” “Bates Motel,” ”Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” ”Real Housewives of Atlanta,” “Real Housewives of New York,” “Real Housewives of New Jersey,” “Real Housewives of Orange County,” “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” “Vanderpump Rules,” “Millionaire Matchmaker,” “Top Chef,” “Married with Children,” “Curse of Oak Island,” ”First 48,” ”American Pickers,” ”Ancient Aliens,” “Cold Case Files” and “Charmed.”

Movie buffs will enjoy a steady influx of feature films, including movies in the Pay 1 window such as Trolls World TourYou Should Have Left, Croods 2Boss Baby 2, and Spirit, and upcoming library titles like Mama, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, The Purge, Riddick, Ride Along,  E.T., American Gangster, ANTZ, Fast & Furious, Fast 5, Fast & Furious 6, Field of Dreams, The Express, Knocked Up, Bridesmaids, National Lampoon’s Vacation, National Lampoon’s European Vacation, Wanted, Evan Almighty, The Conjuring, Dawn of the Dead, The Dark Knight, Beetlejuice, The Big Lebowski, Scent of a Woman, Meatballs, 3:10 to Yuma, Lost In Translation, Brokeback Mountain, Pitch Black, The Graduate, Police Academy, The Great Outdoors, Hostel, The Bone Collector, Robin Hood, The Hurt Locker, The Break Up, Open Water, It Follows, Carlito’s Way and Sinister.

Peacock will also streamNFL Wild Card Game, Ryder Cup and the Tokyo and Beijing Olympics coming in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

In addition to the nine Peacock Originals launching with the service on July 15, Peacock announced premiere dates for more original series to debut in the coming weeks, including:

“A.P. Bio” – Premiering Sept. 3

When disgraced Harvard philosophy scholar Jack Griffin (Glenn Howerton, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) loses out on his dream job, he is forced to return to Toledo, Ohio, and work as a high school Advanced Placement biology teacher. As he comes crashing into Whitlock High School, Jack makes it absolutely clear that he will not be teaching any biology. Realizing he has a room full of honor roll students at his disposal, Jack decides instead to use the kids’ brainpower for his own benefit. But are his students instead helping him to realize his dream job might actually be the one he has right now? Eager to prove that he is still king of the castle, Principal Durbin (Patton Oswalt, Veep) struggles to control the force of nature that is Jack Griffin. The series also stars Mary Sohn (Work in Progress), Lyric Lewis (Baskets), Jean Villepique (Sharp Objects) and Paula Pell (Saturday Night Live). A.P. BIO  is produced by Broadway Video, Sethmaker Shoemeyers Productions and Universal Television.

“Departure” – Premiering Sept. 17

Passenger plane Flight 716 shockingly vanishes, and brilliant investigator Kendra Malley (Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife), alongside her mentor Howard Lawson (Christopher Plummer, Knives Out) are brought on to lead the investigation. When battling forces threaten to undermine their work, Kendra must find the truth and stop it from happening again. The series also stars Kris Holden-Reid (Umbrella Academy), Rebecca Liddiard (Run This Town), Tamara Duarte (Longmire), Mark Rendall (Versailles), Peter Mensah (Midnight, Texas) and Sasha Roiz (Suits). DEPARTURE is produced in association with Starlings Television and Corus Entertainment, produced by Shaftesbury (Canada) and Greenpoint Productions Ltd. (UK).

“Five Bedrooms” – Premiering Aug. 13

Five singles meet at, of all places, the singles’ table at a wedding. After several bottles of champagne, they decide to pitch in and buy a house together. Five singles buy a house together – what could go right?  It’s a grand social experiment with one glaring problem: they’ll have to actually live with each other.  All while journeying together through disasters, life-turning crises, and  moments of love, joy and heartbreak. The series stars Kat Stewart (Offspring), Stephen Peacocke (Whiskey Tango Foxtrot), Doris Younane (Frayed), Katie Robertson (Rosehaven), Roy Joseph (Halim), Kate Jenkinson (Wentworth) and Hugh Sheridan (Packed to the Rafters). FIVE BEDROOMS is produced by Hoodlum Entertainment with assistance from Film Victoria. It is co-funded by Sky StudiosNetwork Ten and Screen Australia.

“Hitmen” – Premiering Aug. 6

Best friends Jamie (Mel Giedroyc) and Fran (Sue Perkins) are trying to make their way in the world with only each other to rely on. They also just happen to kill people for a living. Fueled by their antics and frivolous bickering, each job inevitably gets derailed, leading them into bizarre misadventures, full of oddball characters and unexpected dilemmas. HITMEN is produced by Tiger Aspect in association with Sky Studios and is distributed by NBCUniversal Global Distribution.

 

ViacomCBS Begins Selling TV Shows on Sky Store

Borrowing a page from Apple iTunes, ViacomCBS Networks June 29 announced it has begun selling its TV shows on Comcast-owned Sky Store in the United Kingdom. The deal, which includes programming across MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, enables users to purchase the digital content via the Sky Store app, online or on Now TV, without the need for a Sky pay-TV subscription.

Fifteen years ago, NBC, Disney-owned ABC and others began selling TV episodes for $1.99 on iTunes — after the Apple platform’s success selling 99-cents music singles.

“We are doing the same thing with video we did with music,” the late Steve Jobs said in a statement at the time.

The Sky Store line-up features all 23 seasons of Comedy Central’s “South Park”; the latest seasons of MTV’s reality shows, “Ex on the Beach,” “Celebrity Ex on the Beach,” “Geordie Shore” and “The Hills: New Beginnings,” in addition to Nickelodeon’s “PAW Patrol,” “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Dora the Explorer” and “The Adventures of Paddington.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“U.K. households continue to show a very healthy appetite to own digital content and ViacomCBS’s franchises are consistently top-sellers,” Dan Fahy, VP, commercial and content distribution at ViacomCBS Networks U.K., said in a statement. “We’re constantly expanding consumer access points to our brands and content, and the launch of our Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central franchises on Sky Store is an important new path for consumers.”

Sky Store, which also sells HBO and BBC episodes, includes a DVD in the mail for all movie purchases.

Sky, Discovery Expand New Long-Term Partnership

Comcast-owned Sky and Discovery have agreed on a new long-term, multi-faceted partnership across the U.K, and Ireland, Germany and Austria. Discovery’s portfolio of real-life entertainment channels, including Discovery Channel, will continue to be showcased across the Sky platforms in the U.K., and on the Sky Deutschland platforms in Germany and Austria. The Discovery Channel will continue to be available on the Now TV platform in the U.K. and Sky Ticket in Germany.

The deal includes linear channel distribution, video-on-demand, direct-to-consumer products, and extension of the advertising relationship.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

For the first time, the multiyear deal also covers Discovery’s non-linear brands in the U.K. and Ireland. Sky will be a distribution partner for Discovery’s existing direct-to-consumer streaming services such as MotorTrend, and new products from the future pipeline of Discovery’s direct-to-consumer offerings.

“We bring together the best content from partners like Discovery, HBO and Showtime, add it to the best live sport in Europe, our award-winning Sky Originals and apps we love like Netflix, and put it all in one place on the world’s best platform, Sky Q,” Stephen van Rooyen, CEO of U.K.  and Europe for Sky, said in a statement.

Follow us on Instagram

Sky Q and Eurosport will also be working together to bring the best possible experience to customers across the U.K. and Ireland for the 2021 Olympics with UHD and HD pop up feeds dedicated to specific sports and events.

As part of the expanded deal, Sky Media and Discovery renewed their advertising sales partnership in the U.K. and Ireland while creating new opportunities for advertisers in VOD and via AdSmart. Reaching more than 95% of the U.K. population, Sky Media represents all of Sky’s channels and also sells on behalf of a range of renowned broadcasters and channels including Channel 5, Viacom and Discovery.

“Sky and Discovery have been working together for more than 30 years to bring audiences the best in real-life entertainment,” added Kasia Kieli, president and MD for Discovery EMEA. “We are very pleased that our strategic relationship continues to grow, and our new multi-dimensional agreement means Sky customers can continue to enjoy our wide range of factual, sport, lifestyle and entertainment channels and programs for years to come.”