Supply Chain Crisis Impacts Home Entertainment Amid Lingering Replication Woes

The supply chain woes that are making headlines around the country are having an increasingly pronounced impact on the home entertainment business, sources say — compounding existing problems with limited replication.

Studios as well as independent content suppliers are reporting delays in bringing their product to market as the fourth-quarter holiday season nears. DVD and Blu-ray Disc sales may have been slipping year over year, but demand typically picks up as the holidays grow near. This year is no exception, particularly with catalog product, as studios continue to mine their vaults for anniversary or 4K Ultra HD reissues.

This uptick in catalog title sales is a good thing — and a bad thing. Most of the big Hollywood studios do the bulk of their physical disc replication through Technicolor, which now does most of its manufacturing work at a single facility in Mexico. (Paramount has its own manufacturing deal, with Sonopress.) And, sources say, when things get backlogged — as they invariably do during the fourth quarter — catalog titles are pushed back behind new releases. Now factor in supply-chain problems and it’s easy to see why that spectacular new anniversary release or 4K Ultra HD reissue may not be in stock.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“It’s a huge problem,” said Bill Hunt, who as editor of The Digital Bits website closely monitors disc releases. “Almost every title is getting delayed, and those that aren’t are hard to find on street date.”

Hunt adds, “COVID is what started the supply chain issues, and they’ve basically cascaded across the economy. The Technicolor replication plant in Mexico City is at capacity, so a lot of studios are sending replication projects to Germany as well. But then shipping those discs back takes time, distributing all the discs to retail takes time, etc.

“It’s just a mess everywhere.”

“Our industry isn’t insulated from the global supply chain situation,” said Eddie Cunningham, president of Studio Distribution Services (SDS), the joint venture between NBCUniversal and WarnerMedia formed earlier this year to distribute DVDs, Blu-ray Discs and 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. “At SDS, along with the rest of the industry, we have been wrestling with supply chain challenges for a number of months. We, with our many supply chain partners in manufacturing, distribution and freight, are doing everything in our power to mitigate those pressure points.

“Sometimes meeting delivery dates and keeping retail on-shelf availability at our usual high industry standards has been difficult. It is a huge focus across our company and everything in supply chain that we used to check weekly is now daily, and everything we did daily is almost hourly, as we constantly re-assess priorities.

“Our recent focus, aside of new releases and promotions, has been the fourth-quarter retail catalog resets and preparing for Black Friday, all of which looks good.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The trouble in getting consumer goods into stores — and consumer homes — is due to a variety of factors, including a labor shortage that is affecting all aspects of transport and shipping. This is compounded by pandemic-induced demand. In the first six months of this year, according to U.S. government estimates, retail sales rose more than 22% to $3.25 trillion.

As the World Shipping Council explains in a newly released video, “Global supply chains are a complex network connecting manufacturers, exporters, importers, rail, truck and ocean transport providers. Finely balanced, it can take a lot. But when COVID-19 closed down ports, put drivers in quarantine, the problems started. The U.S. demand spike has maxed out inland capacity, containers are tied up in storage, and vessels are stuck outside ports.”

“A lot of companies have really been struggling to get staff in these relatively low-paid jobs — pack and ship, that sort of thing,” said one high-ranking studio executive familiar with supply-side issues. “In a lot of cases, governments are paying more for them to stay at home.”

Labor shortages, he notes, have been impacting production of everything from the chips used in automobiles to the glue used to seal cereal boxes.

And even when the end product does get made, bringing it to market is a whole other challenge due to labor shortages in the transport sector. The trucking industry, for example, has long been having trouble attracting new recruits. Meanwhile, demand for trucking services has soared, thanks to the rapid gains of e-commerce — 32.4% growth in 2020, according to government statistics — and an overall rise in consumer retail spending.

More than 140 container ships are circling outside the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, waiting to be offloaded. “And if you figure each ship has about 1,800 of those great big containers, you can only imagine how much stuff is still sitting out at sea,” the studio executive said. “And medical supplies are the priority — not boxes of DVDs.”

Independent suppliers are grappling with their own worries, said Ed Seaman, GM of MVD Entertainment Group. These include a steadily shrinking number of smaller replicators who deal primarily in independent film.

But fewer replicators, and replication facilities, is just one of several clogs in the indie pipeline, he says.

“We’ve had some replication delays, but also lots of madness bringing goods in from Europe,” Seaman said. “The flights and capacity for cargo is scarce, and then products are getting lost, misplaced or delayed at the ports —  which, of course, is broadly publicized. This is causing release dates to be missed.”

On top of that, Seaman said, “the cost to bring goods in are nearly triple what they were pre-pandemic. Most of our suppliers and customers are understanding, but in some cases it is really straining relationships. Not fun.”

Additional reporting by Stephanie Prange.

NAB Show Canceled for Second Year, Eyes Return in April 2022

Concerns over the coronavirus Delta variant, and the pullout of several high-profile exhibitors, has prompted organizers of the annual National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show to scrap its live event, scheduled for October in Las Vegas.

Key elements of the show will be offered online, with a planned return to an in-person event in April 2022.

The move comes less than one month after organizers announced they would require attendees to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

The April 2020 NAB Show was one of the first big events to be canceled after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020.

In a Sept. 15 email Chris Brown, EVP and managing director of Global Connections and Events at the NAB, wrote, “For more than a year we have worked tirelessly to bring our industry together safely in Las Vegas at NAB Show. Unfortunately, the pandemic and surge of the Delta variant has presented unexpected and insurmountable challenges for our global community. … It has become apparent in the face of these challenges that we can no longer effectively host NAB Show or our co-located events, the Radio Show and Sales and Management Television Exchange, in person. … We will not move forward with a show that delivers anything less than the excellence our community has come to expect and deserves from us.

While we are disappointed that we will not be together again in person next month, we look forward to converging at the 2022 NAB Show, April 23-27, 2022, to reignite our passion for our business and focus on a bright future ahead.

Stay tuned for details regarding virtual options for accessing select 2021 NAB Show content through NAB Amplify.”

The NAB Show has become increasingly focused on streaming in recent years.

OTT.X Fall Summit Moving Outside, Requiring COVID-19 Vaccination or Test

The OTT.X. Fall Summit, taking place Sept. 1-2 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, will move all activities outside, and attendees will be required to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours of the start of the event.

Masks will not be required outdoors but will be required indoors at the Skirball Center during the event.

“We are aware of and have been closely monitoring the recent rise in COVID-19 cases,” read an email from OTT.X. “So, in an abundance of caution and for the safety of our attendees, we have decided to take the Fall Summit outdoors.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“All conference components including the main conference program, workshops, tabletops, meetings, cocktail receptions and more will be held outdoors. We have also instated some protocols to follow to ensure the health and safety of the conference.”

NAB Show to Require Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination

The NAB Show scheduled for Oct. 9-13 in Las Vegas and associated co-located events will require attendees to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination, Chris Brown, EVP and managing director of global connections and events for the National Association of Broadcasters, wrote in an email to the community.

“While the enthusiasm is building, we are keenly aware of health and safety concerns tied to the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant and want to assure you that we are putting in place a comprehensive, data-driven plan that prioritizes safety and creates a productive environment at these events,” he wrote. “We have worked for the past several weeks to finalize protocols that will maximize the experience and safety of all members of the NAB Show community. This process has involved extensive consultation with health and safety experts, gathering feedback from a range of exhibitors and attendees, and review of the safety measures recommended by national and local health authorities, including Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak’s important announcement this week regarding large events.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The show floor will feature major brands such as Amazon Web Services, AJA, B&H, Canon, Grass Valley, MediaKind, Panasonic, Ross, Sony, Verizon and more, he wrote.

Major industry events, such as the Radio Show, Sales and Management Television Exchange and AES Show, will co-locate in Las Vegas.

Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination Required to Attend CES 2022

The Consumer Technology Association has announced that CES 2022  will require in-person attendees to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

CES 2022 will take place in Las Vegas Jan. 5-8, 2022, with media days Jan. 3-4.

CTA will again create a digital event that will run in parallel with the in-person program.

“Based on today’s science, we understand vaccines offer us the best hope for stopping the spread of COVID-19,” Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CTA, said in a statement. “We all play a part in ending the pandemic through encouraging vaccinations and implementing the right safety protocols. We are taking on our responsibility by requiring proof of vaccination to attend CES 2022 in Las Vegas.”

The CTA is also assessing the acceptance of proof of a positive antibody test as an alternative requirement and will share more details on this later, according to a CTA press release.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“Safety, security and health are always a priority at CES, and we will follow state and local guidelines and recommendations by the CDC,” read the press release. “CTA will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation and will announce additional protocols closer to the show.”

Some 2,000 companies including major brands and start-ups will be in Las Vegas, according to the CTA. CES 2022 will feature new categories showcasing how the industry is evolving, including space tech, food tech and NFTs. The show will highlight advancements in AI, AR/VR, gaming and computing, digital health, automotive and transportation, home entertainment, smart home, and more, according to the CTA. Audiences will hear from industry leaders during live keynotes, including General Motors chair and CEO Mary Barra and T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert.

Visit CES.tech for CES 2022 updates.

Amazon Studios to Aid Efforts to Boost Vaccinations in L.A. County

Amazon Studios and healthtech provider Carbon Health are teaming up to bring pop-up mobile vaccination sites to communities across Los Angeles. On Saturday, July 17, and Sunday, July 18, and continuing across the summer, multiple vaccination sites will offer first and second dose vaccinations. This collaboration is designed to help make vaccines more accessible to underserved populations during a pivotal moment in the pandemic.

The first pop-up opened July 8 at Brooklyn’s Bread & Life. This initiative will continue in Los Angeles on July 17 at Maywood Riverfront Park Health and Wellness Fair and at American Family Funding and on July 18 at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center. Second doses will be administered four weeks later. It is estimated Amazon Studios and Carbon Health will administer up to 150 COVID-19 vaccinations per day.

Cinedigm Gets $2.2 Million PPP Loan Forgiveness

Cinedigm announced that it has received forgiveness of approximately $2.2 million of loan proceeds and accrued interest previously carried under the federal Paycheck Protection Program established by the government to help small businesses affected by shutdowns during the pandemic.

On July 7, Cinedigm received notice from East West Bank PPP, the lender of its loan, that the U.S. Small Business Administration approved the forgiveness in its entirety, and that East West Bank has applied the funds and paid off the principal and interest of the loan in full.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“We are very pleased to receive the notice of forgiveness,” Gary Loffredo, chief operating officer and general counsel of Cinedigm, said in a statement.

Loffredo said not having to pay back the loan (including interest) helped Cinedigm move into a “very solid position” now financially with virtually no debt and a fast-growing streaming business.

“We remain grateful for the financial support that the CARES Act provided in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

Comscore: Nearly 90% of Movie Theater Locations Open Globally

The latest box office figures from Comscore show nearly 90% of movie theater locations are now open globally for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“At Comscore, we´ve been privileged to witness firsthand how our partners in the global exhibition community have fought daily against the adversity of the pandemic and recovery has been remarkable,” Arturo Guillén, EVP and global managing director for Comscore Movies, said in a statement. “The latest box office openings and revenue show that throughout the world, consumers are clamoring to be back at the movies in their preferred theaters.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Films such as Universal’s F9, which has thus far generated more than $500 million worldwide, along with Paramount’s with A Quiet Place Part II, Disney’s Cruella, Warner Bros.’ The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, Sony’s Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway and Lionsgate’s The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, have collectively generated more than $1.3 billion in global box office revenue, according to Comscore.

“As the studios continue to ramp up the rollout of their most-anticipated films, audiences are showing up at their local cinemas to enjoy the big screen experience,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst, Comscore, said in a statement. “Blockbuster films shown in a movie theater become ‘must see’ events that no matter where you live, speak the international language of cinema to like-minded movie fans around the world.”

Discovery+ Launches Doc Series ‘Surge at Mount Sinai’ July 1

The non-fiction streaming service Discovery+ will exclusively bow the documentary series The Surge at Mount Sinai globally July 1.

The series, narrated by Jon Bon Jovi, with a track from Billie Eilish, follows three healthcare workers, two intimate patient journeys and experts from across the hospital in one of the world’s largest healthcare systems in the United States during an unprecedented global pandemic. With intimate access to those on the front lines, the film chronicles the race against time as New York City became the global epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak and New York was experiencing more than 350 deaths per day.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“We are honored to shine a light on the heroes who came to the world’s rescue during an unprecedented global pandemic,” Lisa Holme, group SVP of content and commercial strategy at Discovery, said in a statement. “At Discovery+, we take pride in bringing our subscribers the best real-life stories and there is no more important story from the past year than following the trials of our healthcare workers.”

“This film explores the emotional journey of individuals who responded to the pandemic in unimaginable ways,” stated David A. Feinberg, SVP, chief marketing and communications officer at Mount Sinai Health System, dean of marketing and communications at Icahn School of Medicine, and co-executive producer on the documentary. “The heroism and innovative spirit by the scientific and medical community is awe-inspiring. The unprecedented challenges that we faced, the many lives that we saved, and the scientific breakthroughs that were identified gives the viewer a unique view of how we found our way through one of our darkest periods. We hope audiences will be moved and inspired by the bold actions taken by the heroes in this film and will come away understanding who we are as an organization. We are forever changed by this period, and our relentless pursuit of knowledge, understanding, and answers to the world’s most complex health challenges continues.”

“Our purpose for this film was to give the world a glimpse into what life was like for the heroic frontline workers during the height of the pandemic,” Peter Maiden, founder and CEO of production studio Convicts and executive producer on the documentary, said in a statement. “These individuals went above and beyond and dedicated an extraordinary amount of time and energy to saving the lives of NYC residents. Capturing their perseverance through the pandemic felt like the most important story that could be told during this time. We are grateful for Mount Sinai for the opportunity to engage with their staff and excited to partner with discovery+ to bring these stories to the forefront. We hope the film will inspire audiences to find the goodness in humanity, even in the dark, and to keep purpose at the heart of all they do.”

Study: One-Third of Consumers Believe Entertainment Habits Forever Changed by Pandemic

One-third of consumers believe entertainment habits will be forever changed by the pandemic, according to a new study.

The United Talent Agency study, “Forever Changed: Covid-19’s Lasting Impact on the Entertainment Industry,” also found 84% of consumers spent more time with entertainment during the pandemic with more than two-thirds (67%) saying they intend to spend more time with entertainment post COVID-19 than they did prior.

During the pandemic, seven in 10 became “Entertainment Explorers,” turning to new formats, platforms or genres, while half became “Fervent Fans,” more engaged with entertainment and strengthening their fandom.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Compared to pre-pandemic behavior, one-third plan to subscribe to or use more entertainment platforms, a quarter plan to consume more genres/types of stories and a third plan to consume more international content or stories with diverse voices.

During the pandemic, a quarter started consuming an entertainment format that they didn’t prior and a third subscribed to or used more entertainment platforms than they would have otherwise.

Post-COVID, 71% said they plan to use multiple SVOD platforms, compared with 70% during the pandemic. More than half (56%) added at least one SVOD platform during the pandemic.

Among subscriptions started during the pandemic, Apple TV+ was the leader (48%) with Netflix (46%), Disney+ (46%), Hulu (39%) and Amazon Prime (34%) following, respectively. Among subscriptions used during the pandemic, Netflix led at 72% followed by Amazon Prime (54%), Disney+ (51%), Hulu (47%), HBO Max (36%), Apple TV+ (30%), Discovery+ (23%), Peacock (17%) and Paramount+ (12%), respectively.

The UTA-fielded study polled 1,000 U.S. consumers ages 18-54 in partnership with automated research company SightX.