Roku Offering Free 90-Day Access to Apple TV+; Introduces New Ultra Media Player, Branded Sound Bar, Operating System

Roku Sept. 28 announced it would give customers who purchase and activate a Roku device between Oct. 23, 2020, and Jan. 31, 2021, three months of free access to Apple TV+, the SVOD platform launched last November. The offer is available to new Apple TV+ subscribers only and must be redeemed by Feb. 2, 2021. Apple TV+ costs $4.99/month after free trial. Plan automatically renews until canceled.

Roku is also offering 30-day free trials to Showtime, Starz+ and Epix via The Roku Channel through Oct. 4, 2020 with the purchase and activation of an eligible Roku device.

The subscription streaming video-on-demand co-founder (with Netflix) unveiled its new streaming lineup for the U.S. to include a redesigned Roku Ultra ($99.99) media player, in addition to the Roku Streambar ($129.99). Roku also announced a new OS 9.4 operating system. The news sent Roku’s stock up 1.6% in early-morning trading.

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“We are focused on delivering a variety of innovative, top-performing products at an incredible value to our customers so they can get to the content they care about quickly,” Mark Ely, VP of retail product strategy, said in a statement.

The Roku Ultra features upwards 50% more range and Bluetooth support with Dolby Vision picture quality and Dolby Atmos sound when paired with compatible devices. The device also comes with voice remote featuring TV power and volume controls, personal shortcut buttons, and headphones for private listening, a lost remote finder and HDMI cable. The Roku Ultra can also be controlled by speaking to Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant devices.

Later this year, Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit capabilities are expected to begin roll out on select 4K Roku devices. With Apple AirPlay 2, users can stream videos and music to the big screen, and with HomeKit, they can control their Roku device using the Home app and Siri.

Additional features include access to music streaming services Spotify Connect and three-month free trial of Pandora Premium with purchases a Roku device through Nov. 6 and redeemed by Nov. 8, 2020.

Disney, Lucasfilm to Bow ‘Mando Mondays’ Consumer Products Showcase for ‘The Mandalorian’

Disney and Lucasfilm Sept. 21 announced the pending launch of “Mando Mondays,” a global consumer products, games and publishing program launching Oct. 26 that will introduce merchandise inspired by the “The Mandalorian” series on the Disney+ subscription streaming video platform.

The “Star Wars” spinoff series — which took home seven awards during the 2020 Emmy Awards — will return for its second season Oct. 30, streaming only on Disney+. The Mandalorian and the Child (dubbed Baby Yoda by fans) continue their journey, facing enemies and rallying allies as they make their way through the dangerous galaxy in the tumultuous era after the collapse of the Galactic Empire.

Following release of new episodes every Friday on Disney+, subs can visit MandoMondays.com each Monday to see what new toys, collectibles, apparel, books, comics and related digital content will be unveiled. Mando Mondays will run for nine weeks, culminating on Dec. 21.

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“When ‘The Mandalorian’ debuted last year on Disney+, the show became an instant phenomenon, with fans of all ages expressing excitement for products related to its iconic characters — particularly the Child,” Kareem Daniel, president of Disney Consumer Products, Games and Publishing, said in a statement. “This fall, as the world continues to watch the narrative unfold, we will further bring this unique Star Wars story to life through a must-have selection of toys, books, comics, digital content and more.”

Select pre-orders for the first wave of Mando Mondays products will kick off Sept. 21 at 1 p.m. PT/4 p.m. ET across top retailers globally, including shopDisney.com. Products available for pre-order Sept. 21 include the Hasbro Black Series Credit Collection, new Funko Pop! bobbleheads, the “Lego Star Wars” The Child construction set and much more, all viewable now at MandoMondays.com.

Netflix Hires New Consumer Products Chief

Netflix’s ongoing experimental approach to consumer products has a new boss. The SVOD pioneer hired Josh Simon, formerly VP and head of global strategy for product, design, merchandising and categories at Nike.

Simon is tasked with identifying and building plans across different lines of business in consumer products, and collaborating with Netflix’s content teams on the initial development of brand and audience strategy for consumer products.

Simon, who begins this week, replaces Christie Fleischer, who left last summer to become CEO of Benefit Cosmetics.

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Netflix’s foray into consumer products, including soft goods and merchandise related to key brands and original content, has been tepid. The service last summer had endcap displays at Target stores marketing generic merchandise items associated with the third season of original series “Stranger Things.”

The service has also bowed limited merchandise for original series “To All the Boys: P.S. I Love You” and “La Casa de Papel.”

In January, Netflix posted openings for three positions, including a retail designer, a product-development manager for soft-line goods, and a merchandise-brand-strategy coordinator.

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“We are building a consumer products division to create merchandisable products, games, books and experiences based on our robust original programming slate,” Netflix said in the posting. “Our approach promotes title awareness while also enabling our IPs to become part of the zeitgeist in the buzziest way possible.”

 

Netflix Ups Consumer Products Profile With Ex-Disney Executive Hire

Scuttlebutt regarding Netflix’s interest in consumer products took another step toward reality with the hiring of Christie Fleischer as global head of consumer products — overseeing retail and licensee partnerships, publishing, interactive games, merchandising and experiential events.

In her role, Fleischer will lead a team focusing on developing consumer products across all categories for Netflix original series and films. She joins the Los Angeles based team on Sept. 4.

“Christie brings a wealth of experience and creativity from the consumer products world. She has helped to build some of the world’s most beloved brands and we’re thrilled that she will join us,” Kelly Bennett, chief marketing officer, said in a statement.

Indeed, Fleischer joins Netflix from the Walt Disney Co., where she was head of merchandise for parks, experiences and consumer products. In her role, she led a global business focused on product strategy, product development, creative, sourcing, supply chain, and logistics across parks and resorts, Disney Stores, and licensing.

In the most-recent period, Disney reported an 8% decrease in consumer products and interactive media revenue at $1 billion. Operating income dropped 10% to $324 million.

Prior to her head of merchandise role, Fleischer was the SVP of retail & merchandise for Disney Parks & Resorts where she oversaw merchandise product strategy, product development, planning, visual merchandising, store design, supply chain and logistics.

Fleischer’s experience also includes merchandise management for Warnaco Inc, American Pacific Enterprises and The Disney Store.

Fleischer holds an M.B.A. from the Marshall School of Business at USC and a B.S. from West Chester University.