Disney Content Sales/Licensing Unit Posts $65 Million Q4 Loss

Disney Nov. 10 said its “content sales/licensing and other” segment posted a fourth-quarter (ended Oct. 2) operating loss of $65 million on revenue of $2 billion. That compared with operating income of $86 million on revenue of $1.8 billion in the previous-year period during the pandemic.

Content sales and licensing includes Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment and distribution of movies and TV shows to proprietary and third-party streaming services. Disney said the lower results were due to a decrease in theatrical and home entertainment distribution, reflecting the ongoing impact COVID-19 has had on the theatrical slate since March 2020.

The decrease in theatrical distribution operating income was due to a higher operating loss from titles currently in release, and increased marketing expenses for future releases. Jungle Cruise, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Free Guy and Black Widow were all released in the current quarter, whereas the prior-year quarter included just The New Mutants.

Specifically, the studio incurs significant marketing costs before and throughout the theatrical release, which often results in a loss during theatrical distribution. Lower TV/SVOD distribution results were due to a decrease in sales of film content, partially offset by an increase in income from sales of episodic content.

Fewer titles sold in retail channels in the current year as a result of the impact of COVID-19, and, not insignificantly, Disney’s shift from licensing original content to third parties and instead to Disney+, combined to undermine revenue, the company reported.

“While theaters have generally re-opened, we are experiencing a prolonged and gradual recovery in this business,” CFO Christine McCarthy said on the fiscal call.

Content Marketplace Company Vuulr Adds Two Execs

Vuulr, a global online content marketplace for film and television rights, has added two senior film industry executives. Daniel Gagliardi will serve as SVP of business development and strategy for the Americas. Andrew Marshall joins the team as head of legal and commercial partnerships.

“Great tech on its own is not enough, its needs to be wrapped with great support from industry experts who fully understand the challenges our buyers and sellers face in their business today,” Ian McKee, Vuulr’s global CEO, said in a statement. “I’m really excited to have Daniel and Andrew onboard as we scale the business.”

Gagliardi will lead efforts to help further develop the company’s growing position as a global online content marketplace for film and television rights, using his extensive and recent experience as both a content buyer and seller.

“As the content seller who helped drive the global rollout of services like Tubi, Pluto TV, Roku, and others, I know first hand the need for quick, efficient and strategic content licensing,” Gagliardi said in a statement. “What excites me most about Vuulr is our ability to transform the business of content licensing, not only with such a large selection of content, but by also offering hyper-local/regional content to help channels and platforms of all types expand around the globe.”

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Prior to joining the Vuulr team, Gagliardi was head of content at Vudu, a Walmart company, where he was responsible for building and leading the content partnerships team. During his tenure, Vudu debuted its first original television series, its first original film, commissioned a dozen additional originals, and partnered with hundreds of content licensors, including Disney, Warner Bros., Sony, Lionsgate, MGM and Samuel Goldwyn, among others. He also worked at Lionsgate where he was VP of worldwide television and digital distribution. In this role he built and led the company’s ad-supported licensing team, forging and overseeing deals with Hulu, YouTube, Tubi, Pluto TV, Roku, Amazon and Crackle, among others.

Marshall has held positions at ESPN STAR Sports, NBCUniversal and The Walt Disney Company.

“I am excited to join Vuulr as they pioneer the transformation of distribution and acquisition,” Marshall said in a statement. “Bringing the efficiencies of doing business online is a critical success factor for the industry as it transforms and the new normals emerge. Vuulr is on the leading edge of enabling this change which brings benefits to Buyers, Sellers and Audiences.”

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Marshall brings a deep understanding of the evolving legal, regulatory commercial landscape for media and entertainment companies, gained from working at leading industry players, according to a Vuulr press release. Marshall was previously general counsel and SVP of legal and business affairs at ESPN STAR Sports and a regional counsel for all lines of business in Australia, New Zealand and South-East Asia at The Walt Disney Company, with a focus on content licensing, including theatrical distribution, studio marketing and home entertainment. More recently, he was commercial director for Universal brand development, where he grew the character licensing business for NBCUniversal in Southeast Asia.

Vuulr launched in January 2019 as a global online content marketplace for film and TV rights that connects buyers with content sellers worldwide, providing both with a platform to negotiate and transact directly and securely. The company connects buyers and distributors regardless of time zone or geography, providing an opportunity to access an always-on, diverse selection of mainstream and niche content.

The Vuulr online sales platform currently features content from producers and distributors across the globe, comprising more than 23,000 titles/135,000 hours, across more than 60 genres and 70 languages. Vuulr aims to slash the cost, effort, and time involved in doing transactions for the industry, and licensing transactions on Vuulr close, on average, in 10 days, according to the company.

Hulu, Vice Media Ink First Content License Deal

Hulu and Vice Media  have signed their first-ever content licensing agreement. The pact — Viceland’s first SVOD partnership — begins June 8 and will increase Hulu’s library of unscripted programming with 15 series, including all past episodes of the Emmy nominated “Gaycation” and “Woman,” as well as, “F*ck, That’s Delicious.”

“Our viewers love watching thought-provoking reality series … and partnering with Viceland is yet another way we’re building … unscripted programming,” Lisa Holme, VP of content acquisition at Hulu. Said in a statement.

The deal makes Hulu the exclusive SVOD home to Oscar and two-time Emmy nominee Ellen Page’s “Gaycation,” feminist Gloria Steinem’s “Woman,” rapper-chef Action Bronson’s “F*ck, That’s Delicious,” and the meta-comedy, “What Would Diplo Do?,” starring James Van Der Beek as the titular music superstar. Other shows include: “Abandoned,” “Black Market,” featuring Michael K. Williams, “Bong Appétit,” “Cyberwar,” “Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia,” “Hate Thy Neighbor,” “Huang’s World” and “Weediquette.”

“Viceland is a key part of expanding on Vice’s ongoing commitment to create the most compelling and unique content young viewers can’t find anywhere else,” said president Guy Slattery.

Launched in 2016, Viceland has produced hundreds of hours of original content reaches a young audience with lifestyle-focused series examining all elements of culture, from music, food, and fashion to technology, sex, drugs, and beyond.  The channel, while still in its infancy, has seen the second highest year-over-year growth across all of television among 18-49 viewers with a 26% lift.

Hulu Tops 20 Million Subs, Inks First Deal with DreamWorks Animation

Hulu May 2 announced it has surpassed 20 million subscribers in the United States. The tally, which puts the SVOD co-owned by Disney, Fox, Comcast and Time Warner about 36 million subs behind Netflix, was disclosed at a media presentation at the newly-named Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Hulu said it has grown total engagement by more than 60%, with 78% of viewing taking place in the living room on connected TVs.

“Hulu is the complete TV experience for consumers, offering both live and on-demand programming and more consumer choice,” CEO Randy Freer said in a statement.

The service announced its first-ever license deal with DreamWorks Animation, becoming the exclusive streaming home for future DWA movies feature films, as well as library films. DWA had streamed exclusively through Netflix since 2013.

DWA was acquired by Comcast in 2016 for $3.6 billion.

Hulu will work with DreamWorks Animation Television to develop original kids and family series for exclusive streaming content based on DWA’s popular franchises and upcoming feature films. This marks the first time Hulu has partnered with a major studio in a multi-series commitment to debut original kids & family content.

The deal begins in 2019 with upcoming franchise films, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, The Boss Baby 2 and Trolls 2, in the pay-one window. It will also expand Hulu’s film offering in the coming years with a catalog of library films from the studio, including ShrekShrek 2 and Shark Tale, the first time DreamWorks Animation titles will become available to stream on Hulu.

DreamWorks Animation Television will also develop and produce the series, which will debut on Hulu beginning in 2020.