DEG’s New ‘4 Cups of Coffee’ Mentoring Program

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group on June 5 kicked off a new mentoring program, “4 Cups of Coffee,” at the “Cocktails & Coffee” event at Sony  Studios in the Norman Lear Commissary. Under the program, the DEG’s Canon Club will match women in search of mentors with one of its advisors or other women executives for 30-minute career conversations, either in person or over the phone, up to four times per year. The Canon Club was established by DEG to provide women at all levels and in all sectors of digital media the opportunity to share knowledge and build their business networks. Last month, the DEG announced the appointment of 10 advisory board members to provide input on Canon Club event programming, rotate as host at speaker-driven salons and social/networking events, serve as founding mentors in the “4 Cups of Coffee” program, and judge the annual Hedy Lamarr Awards for Women in Entertainment and Technology, among other responsibilities. The advisory board is led by chair Robin Tarufelli of Deloitte, and vice chair Meri Hassouni of Giant Interactive. Other members are Loren Nielsen, DTS; Sofia Chang, HBO; Dametra Johnson-Marletti, Microsoft; Karin Gilford, Movies Anywhere; Andrea Downing, PBS Distribution; Cheryl Goodman, Sony Electronics; Nadia Haney, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment; and Darcy Antonellis, Vubiquity. Other Canon Club mentors include Beth Kearns, 20th Century Fox; Heathyr Jozel-Garcia, ABC Studios; Samara Winterfeld, DTS; Ken Williams, ETC@USC; Kejo Swingler, HBO; and Rachel Crang, Paramount Pictures.

DEG Creates Advisory Board for Canon Club

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group May 20 announced the creation of an advisory board of senior executives for its Canon Club, an organization in which women at all levels and in all sectors of digital media share knowledge and build their business networks.

The 10 appointed Advisory Board members will provide input on Canon Club event programming, rotate as host at speaker-driven salons and social/networking events, serve as founding mentors in the “Four Cups of Coffee” mentoring network, and judge the annual Hedy Lamarr Awards for Women in Entertainment and Technology.

The advisory board will be led by chair Robin Tarufelli of Deloitte and vice chair Meri Hassouni of Giant Interactive. Other board members include Loren Nielsen, DTS; Sofia Chang, HBO (DEG board director); Dametra Johnson–Marletti, Microsoft (DEG board director); Karin Gilford, Movies Anywhere; Andrea Downing, PBS Distribution (DEG board director); Cheryl Goodman, Sony Electronics; Nadia Haney, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment; and Darcy Antonellis, Vubiquity.

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“I’m thrilled to work with these seasoned executives to take Canon Club to the next level,” said Amy Jo Smith, president and CEO of the DEG, in a statement. “Many of our advisors are longtime members and active supporters of DEG, and each of them comes to this new role enthusiastically and with a strong commitment to increase opportunities for women in entertainment and technology.”

The appointment of the board coincides with the launch of new benefits, activities and events for Canon Club members and a renewed focus on networking and career development.  DEG will help facilitate networking and career development. Programs include “Four Cups of Coffee,” which will match women in search of mentors with more senior executives for a cup of coffee and career conversation up to four times each year. Mentors (In addition to advisory board members) include Beth Kearns, 20TH Century Fox; Heathyr Jozel-Garcia, ABC Studios; Samara Winterfeld, DTS; Ken Williams, ETC@USC; Kejo Swingler, HBO; and Rachel Crang, Paramount Pictures. Another program is the DTS Management Training Program under which sponsor DTS will invite up to 20 Canon Club members currently in management positions to participate in a one-day management training program, with the goal of preparing more women for senior leadership positions in digital media. All eligible female executives at DEG member companies may apply.

Canon Club Members are invited to meet the advisors and mentors and sign up for coffee with a mentor at a kick-off networking reception scheduled for the evening of June 5 at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City. Visit degonline.org for more information.

Canon Club is made possible by the support of presenting sponsor Deloitte, and sponsors DTS and PBS Distribution.

All executives and staff at DEG Member companies are automatically members of Canon Club and are invited to participate in Canon Club activities at no additional cost. Individuals outside DEG Member companies can purchase annual memberships for $199 per year (half price for students). Companies that are not members of DEG can purchase Canon Club sponsor memberships by emailing Andi Elliott (andi@degonline.org).

DEG: Q1 2019 Consumer Spending on Home Entertainment Up 6.4%

Fueled by digital — subscription streaming as well as transactional  — home entertainment spending in the first quarter of 2019 rose 6.4% from the first quarter of the previous year, to $6.04 billion, according to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

Subscription streaming, led by Netflix, rose 21% in the quarter to an estimated $3.6 billion, DEG said, citing IHS Markit estimates.

The increase shows that with the reliance by streamers on original and TV content, the at-home sector is becoming increasingly impervious to the whims of the box office.

The theatrical value of films that came to the home market in the first quarter, according to DEG, was down nearly 20%.

Take streaming out of the equation and consumer spending on home entertainment was down 9.3%.

Consumer spending on digital transactional video, both purchase (electronic sellthrough, or EST) and limited-time viewing, came in at nearly $1.23 billion, up 4.6% from just under $1.18 billion in the first quarter of 2018.

EST sales rose 6.7% to $665.5 million, up from $623.7 million, while limited-time VOD, the digital equivalent of rental, generated an estimated $564.1 million in consumer spending, up 2.3% from $551.6 million.

Disc sales continued to decline, falling below the $1 billion mark in the first quarter of 2019 to an estimated $822.25 million, a drop of 23% from $1.06 billion in the first quarter of 2018 — pretty much in line with the decline in the collective box office earnings of movies that were released to the home market in the same time frame, to $2.89 billion from $3.59 billion in the year-ago quarter.

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The disc rental market fared better, with consumers spending just under $400 million to rent DVDs and Blu-ray Discs from Redbox kiosks, freestanding video rental stores and Netflix’s disc-by-mail rental option. That’s down 14.6% from the prior year’s first quarter.

Citing CTA numbers, DEG noted “there is continued significant growth among 4K Ultra HD hardware products,” with Ultra HD TVs now in about 53.4 million households, an increase of 55% from a year ago. The number of households with at least one 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray playback machine rose 63% to 14 million.

The top-selling disc release of the first quarter, according to NPD Group’s VideoScan tracking service, was 20th Century Fox’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

The top 10 DVD and Blu-ray Disc sellers of 2019, through March 31:

  1. Bohemian Rhapsody (Fox)
  2. Aquaman (Warner)
  3. Ralph Breaks the Internet (Disney)
  4. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (Warner)
  5. A Star Is Born (2018) (Warner)
  6. The Grinch (Universal)
  7. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Sony Pictures)
  8. Mary Poppins Returns (Disney)
  9. Halloween (2018) (Universal)
  10. Creed II (Warner)

Source: NPD Group

Samsung Halting Blu-ray Disc Player Production

Samsung is stopping production of 1080p and 4K Blu-ray Disc players for the United States market — leaving Sony, Panasonic and LG as the last CE manufacturers supporting the next-generation packaged media format.

The South Korean company had been working on a follow-up to the UBD-M9500 4K BD player, which has now been scrapped. Samsung last bowed a new BD player in 2017.

Though speculated after Samsung didn’t showcase any new BD players at CES in Las Vegas in January, the company confirmed the move in a media statement.

“Samsung will no longer introduce new Blu-ray or 4K Blu-ray player models in the U.S. market,” a spokesperson told CNET.

Samsung’s decision follows the exit of Oppo Electronics Corp., the Chinese company known as Oppo, which ceased production of a 4K BD player last year.

While observers contend the move could be due to Samsung backing its proprietary HDR10 and HDR10+ high dynamic range formats versus Dolby Vision, a more realistic reason is market forces.

For the week ended Feb. 9, 4K Blu-ray accounted for just 5% of sales of the top 50 titles, according to VideoScan. That compared with nearly 40% for Blu-ray and 55% for standard DVD.

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Indeed, pending Oscar-nominated new release  The Favourite (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment) and Stan & Ollie (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment), reportedly are not getting 4K UHD releases, while Oscar nominee Bohemian Rhapsody and Widows (Fox) are.

Regardless, home entertainment studios remain bullish on 4K UHD.

Format sales surged nearly 70% in the third quarter last year, according to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group. There were 392 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc titles available in Q3 representing more than $162 million in consumer spend for the period, and 595 4K titles available digitally.

“4K UHD discs already account for almost one in 10 new release discs sold in the U.S,” Eddie Cunningham, president of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, told Media Play News.

Paramount Home Media Distribution boss Bob Buchi in January said the studio would offer most of its theatrical releases on 4K UHD Blu-ray, as well as select catalog titles.

“The response to our catalog 4K releases has been very promising, so we expect to see increased interest in owning treasured classics in the very best format available,” he said.

 

EMA Growing Membership Commitment and Expanding Into OTT, Says CEO

LAS VEGAS — The Entertainment Merchants Association hailed the growing commitment of its membership at a meeting Jan. 8 during CES.

“The engagement of our members over the past year I think is more than we’ve ever seen,” said president and CEO Mark Fisher.

“It’s been an interesting year in the industry and for our association,” he said, noting the growth of digital purchase storage locker Movies Anywhere and the expansion and churn in the OTT space (including pending streaming services from Disney and WarnerMedia).

“We initiated a focus on OTT channels” in the past year, he said, in addition to EST and disc, which “is not dead.”

He noted that the EMA had a “very successful OTT conference” at the Los Angeles Entertainment Summit in July, which had to downsize its budget.

The organization “learned how to operate a conference at lower cost,” during the July 2018 LAES.

But the EMA is focused on the entertainment delivery systems of the future. Fisher noted that, in July, DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, the EMA and MovieLabs formed the Digital Supply Chain Alliance to strengthen the digital supply chain.

“That alliance have proven to show really rapid results,” he said.

Mitch Mallon, CEO of Stadium Media and chair of the digital EMA steering committee, added that EMA digital membership has grown, digital events have expanded and that the committee has created six white papers.

In the coming year, the committee “will be focusing on how OTT is starting to move out into the European marketplace,” he said, including launching a new project to list digital platforms around the world.

Steve Apple, VP, industry sales at the EMA, moderated a discussion on the OTT market.

Panelist Jason Peterson, CEO of GoDigital Media Group, noted that international markets and cultures require a different approach, including mobile, non-cash, non-banked payment opportunities.

“We’ve really focused on the Hispanic audience,” he said.

Panelist Tricia Lee, SVP, product and development, Sony New Media Solutions, noted that focusing on a rabid fan base can be key in the OTT space, referencing her work building Funimation’s service, which has “hyper-attention fans” in the anime space.

The key is authenticity, she said, adding consumers “are looking for shared experiences, and it has to be authentic.”

Services “need culturally significant content to cut through that clutter,” Peterson added.

Home Entertainment Community at CES 2019

Home entertainment executives again gathered for the annual DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group reception Jan. 8 in Las Vegas during CES 2019. The DEG honored Warner Bros. with the Excellence in 4K UHD Content Award for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc, and Sony Electronics with the Excellence in 4K Product Award for its Sony Master Series A9F OLED TV. Dolby Labs was presented with the Emiel N. Petrone Innovation in Entertainment Technology Award for Dolby Vision, an imaging innovation developed in collaboration with a wide range of studios, creatives, and post-production partners.

Streaming, TVOD Fuel Consumer Spending on Home Entertainment to Record Heights

Consumer spending on home entertainment hit a new record in 2018, buoyed by subscription streaming as well as transactional video-on-demand (TVOD), DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group announced Jan. 8.

Total consumer spending on home entertainment during the year shot up to an estimated $23.3 billion, up 11.5% from total consumer spending in 2017, the DEG said, noting that figures are preliminary. Final numbers will be issued in early February.

As expected, subscription streaming — chiefly through Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu — led the way, with a 30% year-over-year gain to $12.9 billion.

Consumers spent an estimated $2.46 billion on digital purchases of movies, TV shows and other content, up 14.4% from what they spent in 2017.

They spent another $2.09 billion to stream movies on demand, the electronic equivalent of renting a DVD or Blu-ray Disc, up 6.2% from the prior year.

Total spending on TVOD, the DEG estimates, came in at $4.55 billion, a healthy 10.5% spike from TVOD spending in 2017.

Total disc sales continued to fall, despite the growing popularity of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, with consumer spending on physical media in 2018 coming in at an estimated $4.03 billion, a 14.6% drop from the prior year.

In the fourth quarter, home entertainment spending was particularly strong, with an overall gain of 13% to $6.3 billion.

Subscription streaming the fourth quarter was up 30% to an estimated $3.49 billion, while EST rose 20.2% to $664 million and on-demand streaming was up 21.8% to nearly $517 million.

Combined consumer spending on DVDs and Blu-ray Discs in the fourth quarter of 2018 was $1.24 billion, down 14.8% from the fourth quarter of 2017.

Sales of 4K UHD content rose 70% during the year and 46% in the fourth quarter. The number of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray titles available in the market grew to 445 titles, with another 682 4K titles available digitally.

The box-office performance of films released in the year rose nearly 15%.

Among the bestselling film titles released on 4K for the home in 2018 were: Justice League (Warner Bros.), Ready Player One (Warner Bros.), Mission: Impossible — Fallout (Paramount), Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Universal Pictures), Deadpool 2 (20th Century Fox) and Avengers: Infinity War (Walt Disney Studios).

4K UHD TV penetration rose 61% over the year-earlier period, to 48 million households, DEG says. Also during the year, penetration of 4K-capable player devices (game consoles and set-top boxes) rose 66%, to 13 million homes.

 

 

DEG Forms Direct-to-Consumer Alliance

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group has formed the DTC Alliance as a subset of DEG membership.

“Every major media company and TV network will launch a Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) streaming service in the next five years representing a significant new chapter in how television and film content is purchased, accessed and consumed,” the DEG stated in a release. “As DTC streaming currently is a longtail situation with a few high-reach apps and many low-reach services, DEG’s DTC Alliance is designed to support direct-to-consumer media services of all sizes to tackle difficult challenges and coordinate voluntary best practices and initiatives; advocate for the industry by presenting a common front to the commercial community; and promote member channels through campaigns aimed at building awareness among consumers, as well as through industry-leading events.”

Under the umbrella of the DTC Alliance, DEG has established six committees to set objectives and agendas in the following areas: Marketing Nomenclature, Data Analytics, International Expansion, Rights Repository, Title Availability Directory and Uniform Metadata Standards.

“With the DTC Alliance, DEG is bringing together DTC content companies and service providers to build a robust and efficient marketplace for all players, and to promote the new DTC experience to consumers,” said Amy Jo Smith, DEG president and CEO. “DEG has a track record of more than 20 years in bringing new media platforms, including DVD and Blu-ray Disc to market. We are very excited to apply this extensive market-building experience to the DTC arena, and encourage all appropriate companies to participate in setting the DTC Alliance’s initial objectives and a forward-looking agenda for this new industry.”

DEG Honoring Dolby Vision, Sony Electronics and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment at CES

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group is set to honor Dolby Vision, Sony Electronics and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Jan. 8 at its annual industry event at CES in Las Vegas.

The trade group will use the reception to showcase its Achievement Awards honoring the best 4K UHD hardware and software products released during calendar 2018. Dolby Vision will also be honored by DEG leadership with the DEG Emiel N. Petrone Innovation in Entertainment Technology Award.

Named in memory of DEG’s founding chairman Emiel N. Petrone, DEG recognizes Dolby Vision, Dolby Labs’ imaging innovation developed in collaboration with a wide range of studios, creatives, and post-production partners. The technology has created new opportunities for the home entertainment industry.

Selected by a panel of product reviewers from the industry’s home theater enthusiast and business publications, the DEG: Excellence in 4K UHD Awards include Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc from Warner with the DEG: Excellence in 4K UHD Content Award.

DEG cited the title’s demonstrated excellence in 4K image capturing/transferring; HDR encoding; wide color rendering; and immersive audio.

The DEG: Excellence in 4K Product Award honored Sony Electronics for its Sony Master Series A9F OLED TV. For the Product Award, DEG cited Sony’s consistent delivery of “outstanding” audio/video performance, convenience and versatility.

“DEG member companies move quickly to meet consumers’ desire for more immersive home and mobile viewing experiences, and they regularly introduce consumers to new possibilities,” DEG CEO Amy Jo Smith said in a statement. “DEG is delighted to recognize Sony Electronics, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and Dolby Laboratories as purveyors of best-in-class viewing experiences.”

2019: Home Entertainment to Thrive on Change

If there’s any truth to the adage “change or die,” then the home entertainment business has plenty of life left in it as we begin 2019.

The coming year will bring significant changes, as studios and distributors continue to rejigger business models to reflect changing consumer habits domestically and worldwide.

Walt Disney will finalize its merger with 20th Century Fox, leaving Hollywood with five major studios, not six. AT&T will continue the integration process with the former Time Warner, now known as WarnerMedia.

And if you thought subscription streaming had a banner year in 2018, 2019 will likely see even bigger growth, with the emergence of at least two formidable challengers to longtime market leader Netflix.

Walt Disney will finally launch its much-ballyhooed SVOD service, Disney+, with a focus on the same content that rules at the box office: “Star Wars” and all things Marvel. The first “Star Wars” live-action series, “The Mandalorian,” should arrive later this year, and Disney recently announced a prequel series based on Rogue One character Cassian Andor (played by Diego Luna). Disney also confirmed Disney+ is developing a live-action Marvel series centered around Loki, from the “Avengers” movies.

Not to be outdone, AT&T’s WarnerMedia also plans on launching a direct-to-consumer streaming platform in 2019, with three different services, including a premium one fronted by HBO, home of mega-hit “Game of Thrones.”

The latest numbers from DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group show consumer spending on subscription streaming grew 30% in the first nine months of 2018.  If that growth rate held up through the end of 2018, then consumers will have spent nearly $12.3 million on subscription streaming, or SVOD (subscription video-on-demand).

How high consumer spending on SVOD will grow in 2019 remains anyone’s guess, although observers believe continued double-digit gains in line with prior years is the most likely scenario as consumers continue to “cut the chord” with pay-TV services.

Last August, research firm eMarketer said it expected the number of U.S. cord-cutters — adults who have canceled a pay TV service and continue without it — to climb by 32.8% in 2018 to 33 million. The number of subscription OTT video service viewers, meanwhile, was on track to rise to 170.1 million, or 51.7% of the U.S. population.

The “VOD” that the studios are most intent to grow, transactional VOD, posted a surprising growth spurt in the third quarter of 2018 — 18% for electronic sellthrough, or EST, and 10% for digital rentals.

Michael Pachter, a senior media analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, doesn’t see SVOD making much of a dent in TVOD in 2019.

“Transactional VOD should be relatively flat, as Netflix has few — if any — programs that people typically rent,” he said. “They have no new movies — once Disney pulls its films — and few current TV shows, although I suppose some TVOD is for older television series.  My sense is that the bulk of TVOD is new movies, with some catchup TV from current season TV shows, neither of which is carried on Netflix to any great extent.”

Jim Wuthrich, president, Warner Bros. Worldwide Home Entertainment and Games, agrees that the transactional business and streaming can peacefully co-exist.

“Consumers have more choices for content than ever before, and on demand streaming services are increasingly their go-to option,” he said. “On an aggregate basis, the streaming services have helped transactional services become mainstream, encouraging consumers to connect their devices to on-demand video.

“On a title basis, transactional demand drops when it’s on a major SVOD service, but transactional demand returns when the title rolls off the service. Ultimately we are competing for consumer attention and transactional services generally offer first in-home viewing and always on availability – a distinct and unique proposition.”

Looking ahead, Amy Jo Smith, president and CEO of DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, says 2019 will be the most exciting yet for digital media.

“2018 has been a lot about the notion of how transaction and subscription distribution models can co-exist, and content owners have begun to lay foundations for their direct-to-consumer businesses,” Smith said. “In 2019, we will see the world’s biggest content owners actually beginning to deliver very high-profile entertainment directly to consumers, and as they do that they will gain the most detailed view yet of who their customers are and what their fan base craves.

“As a result, content owners will become smarter about how to reach consumers and the content delivery experience will improve. As direct-to-consumer offerings multiply, consumers will continue to sort out what is meaningful for them. They will prioritize the content they find worthy of collection and also decide what provides value for a monthly subscription.”

Accordingly, studio executives agree that in 2019, their No. 1 priority will be to continue to growth the transactional, or on-demand business — both physical and digital.

“We are taking a deep dive into consumer behavior as we continue to navigate the changing home entertainment landscape,” said Bob Buchi, president, worldwide home media distribution, for Paramount Pictures. “We’ll be sharing the results of quantitative and qualitative studies with our retail partners to work with them on crafting innovative strategies for reaching consumers and driving transactional sales.

“There is untapped potential in light and lapsed consumers who may have slowed their entertainment collecting and ongoing opportunity with heavy users who value high quality offerings. We’re going to work with our retail partners to maximize our learnings and strategically target diverse consumer groups.”

“Our focus remains on delivering a product offering and value proposition that enables the best consumer experience to continue the expansion and adoption of digital sell-through (and VOD for that matter),” said Michael Bonner, EVP of digital distribution at NBC Universal. “Improving these experiences through product enhancements like premium formats or interactive extras along with embracing new services like Movies Anywhere are just a few examples of how we’re investing as an industry.”

Warner’s Wuthrich agrees. “We believe there’ll be continued growth in digital transactions in 2019,” he said. “We have great momentum coming out of 2018 and have a number of programs to remind movie and TV fans that their favorite content is a click away. In addition to using performance marketing to help connect consumers with the content they love we’ll be introducing a fresh approach to advertising.”

Ron Schwartz, president of Lionsgate Worldwide Home Entertainment, said the key points on his agenda for 2019 are “continuing to create progressive windowing and focused strategies for our specialty and multi-platforms releases, and continuing to grow the digital business while maximizing results on the physical side.”

“Lifecycle management is more critical than ever, particularly with franchises,” he said. “For example, we’ll be working with our partners on compelling catalog initiatives such as ‘John Wick’, as well as on the third installment, throughout the distribution windows, providing more access and innovative marketing to keep fans engaged.”

As consumer habits continue to evolve, digital movie sales and rentals — electronic sellthrough (EST) and transactional video-on-demand (TVOD) — will remain a priority, Schwartz said.

“We saw a significant increase in industry spending in this area in 2018, up 20%, and we will continue to collaborate with our retail partners on fresh ideas to keep consumer interest alive,” he said. “We see a large and growing market with multi-platform and specialty releases and will continue to build our leadership in this area.”

While studio executives agree their focus on 2019 will be to grow the digital side of the business, they aren’t giving up on the physical disc — particularly with the rapid acceptance of 4K Ultra HD.

“4K will continue to gather momentum as more consumers experience the incredible quality of the content on their 4K televisions,” said Paramount’s Bob Buchi. “Paramount will offer most of our theatrical releases on 4K UHD Blu-ray, as well as carefully chosen titles from our vast library.  The response to our catalog 4K releases has been very promising, so we expect to see increased interest in owning treasured classics in the very best format available.”

“Consumers decide how, when and where they want to experience our content, and the physical disc remains a valuable option for them,” adds Chris Oldre, EVP of pay TV, digital and international distribution at Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International.

“We view the business holistically, with physical and digital ownership as one market. Our continued commitment to including the digital code delivers the added value of streaming, too, and the introduction of Movies Anywhere as a simple, fast method to redeem that code delivers the best of both worlds — physical and digital — in one experience.”

Oldre said he’s particularly excited “about the incredible range of content that will be offered by Disney in 2019, and with our continued commitment to delivering best-in-class experiences, we’re looking forward to another exciting year across both physical and digital platforms.”

“The home entertainment releases of Ralph Breaks the Internet and Mary Poppins Returns will offer the kind of trusted family entertainment that Disney is known for,” he said. “Later in the year we’re introducing a new Marvel character to the home entertainment audience with Captain Marvel, and we will be closing out a truly iconic series with Avengers: Endgame.

“In addition, Disney’s brands and franchises are content that consumers want to own and a significant portion of our revenue comes from our library of classic and timeless titles that continue to entertain generation after generation.”

In the first quarter on 2019, Oldre said, “we’ll be celebrating the eagerly anticipated 30th anniversary of The Little Mermaid.  Those are just a few of the highlights of the year ahead, which will see us continue to roll out releases in 4K UHD, as well as continuing to focus our efforts on growing Movies Anywhere and educating consumers about the ease of building a digital library.”

Independents, meanwhile, are looking for whichever distribution channels and platforms that make the most sense.

“I am really focused on watching three exciting trends that will have enormous impact on the ever-changing entertainment landscape,” said Bill Sondheim, president of the Cinedigm Entertainment Group, who in November 2018 took on additional duties as President of worldwide distribution.

“First is the battle for SVOD dominance that really starts in earnest when Disney launches its direct-to-consumer streaming service to compete head on with Netflix,” said Sondheim, who in his expanded role continues to lead the company’s growing China/North America business pipeline, in addition to managing distribution in the rest of the world.

“This will likely create audience migrations that will have far reaching impact on the mid-tier SVOD players more that the top-tier providers,” Sondheim said. “The second trend to watch is AVOD’s explosive growth, which may be a prime beneficiary of the audience shifts that will occur in the SVOD battles mentioned above. The AVOD segment has long been the held back due to lower quality content or older catalog offerings, but as the cost of SVOD consumption grows, the AVOD alternative is rapidly evolving with higher caliber brands and newer content that will drive audience adoption.

“Finally the arrival of 5G broadband will start to demonstrate the impact of true high speed wireless connections. While it will likely be more than two years before we have a true nationwide network, 5G will start to make an impact in most major cities later this year.”

“Buckle up,” he added. “It is going to be a year of massive growth and further disruptive change.”