Crackle Announces New Original Basketball Doc ‘Anything is Possible — The Serge Ibaka Story’

Ad-supported COD service Crackle Plus, in partnership with Screen Media July 22 announced the U.S. premiere of original NBA basketball documentary feature, Anything is Possible – The Serge Ibaka Story, launching on Saturday, Aug. 1.

Making its world debut at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, this feature-length documentary was produced by Vinay Virmani at Uninterrupted Canada, along with Jordi Vilà and Serge Ibaka’s Ouenzé Entertainment. The doc follows the Toronto Raptors’ power forward as he makes an emotional journey back to the Republic of Congo with the Larry O’Brien trophy following the team’s 2019 NBA Championship.

Ibaka takes viewers through the streets he grew up on after he lost his mother and his father was imprisoned for political reasons. He talks basketball with the President of the Republic of Congo, returns to a restaurant where he once begged for food, and visits with his old coach and the basketball club where he fell in love with the game.

“I wanted to tell my story in a unique and different way,” Ibaka said in a statement. “I will never forget where I come from, and my journey to becoming an NBA Champion has been hard to believe. I think everyone can enjoy this film, but I will be especially proud if I can inspire at least one kid, in Congo or anywhere in the world, to give their all to reach for their dreams.”

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“This stirring documentary will not just entertain our sports-hungry viewers, it will inspire viewers to witness how Serge overcame so many obstacles to achieve his dreams,” said Philippe Guelton, president of Crackle Plus.

The doc joins Crackle’s line-up of original content, including “Road to Race Day,” “On Point.” “Cleanin’ Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters,” “The Clearing,” “Crown Vic,” “’85: The Greatest Team in Football History,” “Wonders of the Sea,” “Yelawolf: A Slumerican Life,” and “Going From Broke,” recently picked up for a second season.

Crackle is available in the U.S. and can be accessed on 25 devices and services including Amazon FireTV, RokuTV, Apple TV, Smart TVs (Samsung, LG, Vizio), gaming consoles (PS4 and XBoxOne), Plex, iOS and Android mobile devices and on desktops at Crackle.com. The service is also available in about 500,000 hotel rooms in the Marriott Bonvoy chain.

Crackle Plus Streaming Original NASCAR Documentary Series

Crackle Plus, the ad-supported VOD platform owned by Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, June 30 announced the premiere of its original documentary series “Road to Race Day” bowing on July 1.

Executive produced by Peter Berg’s (“Friday Night Lights”) Emmy Award-winning company, Film 45 (“QB1: Beyond the Lights,” “All or Nothing: Manchester City”) and director Cynthia Hill’s Emmy Award-winning company, Markay Media (“A Chef’s Life,” “Somewhere South”) for Complex Networks, the eight-episode series showcases the 2017 season of NASCAR’s Hendrick Motorsports, and features star drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, and Kasey Kahne, among others. The camera follows the drivers around every turn, both on and off the track, to give the audience unprecedented access to what it takes to drive into the winner’s circle week after week and race after race.

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“Looking at the tremendous success we found with our basketball docu-series ‘On Point,’ we realized we found partners who understood our vision through Film 45, Screen Media Ventures, and Crackle,” said Nick Wang, head of distribution and business development for Complex Networks.

Philippe Guelton, president of Crackle Plus, said viewers have long coveted sports content and the July Fourth weekend is the traditional high-water mark of the NASCAR racing season.

“This series will have viewers on the edge of their seats,” Guelton said.

Hendrick Motorsports has won 12 NASCAR Cup Series championships, the most in history, and holds the all-time records in nearly every major statistical category at the sport’s highest level.

“With Road to Race Day, Cynthia and her team created something truly special,” said Patrick Perkins, VP of marketing for Hendrick Motorsports. “There’s never been another docu-series about our sport that’s anything like it, before or since.”

“Road to Race Day” is distributed worldwide by Screen Media Ventures, a Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment company, and the supplier of exclusive and original content for Crackle Plus.

Crackle is available in the U.S. and can be accessed on 25 devices and services including Amazon FireTV, RokuTV, Apple TV, Smart TVs (Samsung, LG, Vizio), gaming consoles (PS4 and XBoxOne), on Plex, on iOS and Android mobile devices and on desktops at Crackle.com. Crackle is also available in approximately 500,000 hotel rooms in the Marriott Bonvoy chain.”

Crackle Plus Launching Music Channel Featuring Festivals, Concerts

Crackle Plus, the ad-supported VOD platform owned by Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, June 17 announced that its Sounds of Summer Channel is launching July 1.

The channel will feature a wide selection of music documentaries and concert films from artists such as Katy Perry, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Tom Petty, among others. Many of the docs are directed by Oscar-winning and Oscar-nominated filmmakers such as Peter Bogdanovich, Jonathan Demme and Maureen Goldthorpe.

With music festivals and concert series in the U.S. postponed or canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Crackle is offering classic concert tours, including Katy Perry: Part of Me; Lady Gaga’s Secret World; Rihanna: Good Girl, Bad Girl; Beyoncé: Baby and Beyond; Neil Young: Heart of Gold; and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: Runnin’ Down a Dream.

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Docs include:

  • American Rap Stars — featuring Snoop Dogg, Run DMC, Russell Simmons, Ludacris, Jay-Z, Onyx, Jermaine Dupri, Jamie Foxx, Talib Kweli and Cedric the Entertainer;
  • Rap Sheet: Hip-Hop and the Cops — featuring Snoop, Kanye, Busta Rhymes, Rusell Simmons, Suge Knight, The Game, Fat Joe, Irv, Jadakiss, Freeway, Cam’ron, Ja Rule and Jim Jones;
  • American Hardcore: The History of American Punk Rock 1980–1986;
  • Liam Gallagher: As It Was (a Crackle exclusive);
  • Sound City;
  • All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records;
  • Above Ground Level: Dubfire;
  • David Bromberg: Unsung Treasure;
  • Yelawolf: A Slumerican Life (a Crackle original series)

 

“When concerts and festivals are otherwise cancelled or worrisome to attend, we’re thrilled to bring footage of some of the most influential musicians of all time right into the living rooms of our viewers,” Philippe Guelton, president of Crackle Plus, said in a statement. “We know that our audience wants to see their favorite artists, and Crackle is working to make it happen.”

Sounds of Summer Channel is the latest content platform from Crackle following the recent addition of the Homeschool Channel launched during the pandemic for parents at home in need of educational content.

Crackle is free to use and is available on Amazon FireTV, RokuTV, and devices, Apple TV, most Smart TVs (Samsung, LG, Vizeo), Gaming Consoles (PS4 and XBoxOne), on PLEX, on iOS and Android mobile devices and on desktop at Crackle.com.

Crackle Plus Launching Original Zombie Horror Film ‘The Clearing’ June 4

Crackle Plus, a Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment-owned ad-supported VOD platform, May 21 announced it would launch the original zombie horror film The Clearing on June 4. The film will debut on May 25 on the Crackle Channel on Amazon Fire TV devices, available for early access in 34 million U.S. homes.

Crackle, which is minority-owned by Sony Pictures Television, features other exclusive content, including Crown Vic, On Point, ’85: The Greatest Team in Football History, Wonders of the Sea, Yelawolf: A Slumerican Life and Going From Broke.

The Clearing stars Liam McIntyre (“Spartacus”) as a father who takes his daughter, played by Aundrea Smith (“Diary of a Future President”), on a weekend camping trip during a mysterious disease outbreak. The film also stars Sydelle Noel (“GLOW”) and Steven Swadling (“Kickboxer”).

Set at the dawn of a zombie apocalypse, The Clearing unfolds amid tensions between Tom (McIntyre) and his wife (Sydelle Noel) over his parental responsibilities and the time he spends with his young daughter Mira (Smith). Tom takes Mira on a camping trip, only to discover the impending disaster that leaves the pair trapped in a clearing in the woods, fighting to make it out alive.

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“For the segment of our audience that loves zombie movies, The Clearing follows in the footsteps of our other horror offerings, such as Office Uprising and the Dead Rising film series,” Philippe Guelton, president of Crackle Plus, said in a statement.

The film was acquired by Screen Media Ventures, a Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment company and the supplier of original content for Crackle Plus. Seth Needle, SVP of Worldwide acquisitions at Screen Media Ventures, negotiated the deal on behalf of Crackle Plus.

Crackle is also available on Roku TV and streaming devices, Apple TV, most Smart TVs (Samsung, LG, Vizio), Gaming Consoles (PS4 and XBoxOne), on iOS and Android mobile devices and on desktop at Crackle.com.

Crackle Joins Plex Streaming Video Platform

Crackle, the ad-supported joint venture between Sony Pictures Television and Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, has joined Plex, a global streaming media platform.

Plex users will now have access to Crackle’s original content, including the recently released “On Point,” the docuseries following three high school players as they move through the AAU basketball tournaments and shoot for an enviable career in the NBA; “Yelawolf: A Slumerican Life,” and the zombie action film, “The Clearing,” starring Liam MacIntyre (“Spartacus”).

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In addition to Crackle Originals, the library of content includes Chicken Soup for the Soul’s “Hidden Heroes” and “Everyday Edisons.”

“Plex has a passionate community of users and we are excited to give them full access to Crackle’s library of free movies and TV shows, including a growing number of Originals and Exclusives not available on other AVOD platforms,” Philippe Guelton, president of Crackle Plus, which majority-owns Crackle.

The Crackle content joins already available titles from Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM), Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, Lionsgate, and Legendary.

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‘Chicken Soup’ Ups Q3 Fiscal Revenue, Loss

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment dramatically upped its profile earlier this year when it acquired majority ownership of ad-supported streaming service Sony Crackle from Sony Pictures Television.

The company said the acquisition increased third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) revenue 157% to $17 million from $6.6 million in the previous-year period. It also ballooned the company’s net loss to $13.3 million compared to a net loss of $200,000 in the year-ago period and a net income of $200,000 million before preferred dividends.

Online networks, which includes Crackle, Popcornflix and Pivotshare, generated $14.4 million in revenue compared to $1.8 million in the year-ago period.

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The quarterly operating loss reflected certain non-cash or one-time expenses, including $4.7 million in non-cash amortization, $1.6 million of transitional expenses related to the Crackle Plus joint venture, and $1.2 million in film library amortization.

CSSE noted that if the aforementioned expenses were excluded from SG&A or cost of revenue, Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment  would have reported a quarterly operating loss of $2.1 million.

“Our record third quarter results show the early promise of our transformation of our company into a leading AVOD network operator,” CEO William J. Rouhana Jr., said in a statement. “Crackle Plus is performing as expected, and our new original series ‘Going From Broke’ provides initial evidence of our growing network reach and engagement potential.”

The Ashton Kutcher-produced series has generated more than 5 millions views since launching on Oct. 17.

Rouhana said the company is “reinventing” its distribution and production business to focus on “innovative” studio launches, library content acquisitions and sponsor-funded original productions.

“We already see significant positive business momentum in the fourth quarter, where we expect to see a combination of all our primary strategic pieces in place for the first time, setting the stage for potentially significant growth in 2020,” he said.

TiVo Prepping Ad-Based VOD Service

Digital video recording pioneer TiVo is looking to join the “+” video bandwagon.

The company is quietly assembling an ad-supported video-on-demand service to compete against platforms such as The Roku Channel, Pluto TV, Philo TV, Shout! Factory TV, Tubi, Crackle+ and  IMDb TV, among others.

In a post on the TiVo community blog, Ted Malone, VP of consumer products and services, said the company has secured third-party content agreements for the service.

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“Our soon to be launched TiVo+ video service will include dozens of channels of free entertainment,” Malone wrote. “We have assembled an amazing set of partners as part of this service and will be evolving it in the coming months with many more channels, on-demand movies and shows and other specialty content coming as well.”

With Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu dominating the subscription VOD market as pioneers in the space, ad-supported VOD has emerged as a free alternative to consumers featuring largely catalog content.

With studios and other content holders eager to mine a new revenue stream, AVOD has gone mainstream beyond early pioneers Shout! Factory and Sony’s Crackle.

TiVo last week announced it would begin rolling ads playing ahead of consumers’ recorded TV content.

Malone, in his post, reiterated that users will be able to skip the ads, which are “served dynamically” when playback starts. Ads do not appear after a user pauses and resumed playback of content.

“As part of our commitment to improve the experience, we are measuring each step in the process and will be continually optimizing the ads to reduce latency and improve performance,” he wrote.

 

Crackle Plus Names Four Senior Executives

Crackle Plus, the revamped 13-year-old ad-supported VOD service co-owned by CSS Entertainment and Sony Pictures Television, has added four senior executives.

Philippe Guelton, EVP of CSS Entertainment, is now president of Crackle Plus, reporting to Elana Sofko, COO of CSS Entertainment.

Joining Guelton are three former Sony Crackle executives: Darren Olive, who becomes EVP of ad sales; Jason Schaeffer, who becomes SVP of business development, marketing and business intelligence; and Tony Simon, who assumes the position of SVP, content operations.

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Sony in March sold majority stake in Crackle to Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment (CSS Entertainment) in a stock transaction whereby it received 4 million warrants to buy CSS Entertainment stock.

Crackle has more than 38,000 hours of programming and 10 million monthly users.

CSS, which also owns ad-supported platforms Popcornflix, Truli, Popcornflix Kids, Popcornflix Comedy, Frightpix, and Espanolflix, is expected to meld the services into Crackle Plus.