DEG Slates Entertainment Technology Event for February 2022

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group has announced a new entertainment technology conference for early next year as in-person events start to return.

DEG’s EnTech Fest 2022 will be held Feb. 15 and 16 at an as-yet-unspecified location, with an opening reception, exhibits, networking and presentations.

The trade association describes EnTech as “an in-person B2B trade and networking event inviting technology companies to display and demo products for all DEG studio and platform members.”

DEG says more information will come soon.

DEG Hosts Virtual Discussion on Supply-Chain Innovation

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group is hosting a high-level discussion Sept. 30 on supply chain innovation.

Speakers will discuss supply chain transformation, including the cloud innovation cycle and what comes next.

Featured speakers include Darcy Antonellis of Amdocs Media; content operations executive Susan Cheng, most recently with WarnerMedia; John Footen of Deloitte Consulting; Eric Iverson of Amazon Web Services; Arjun Ramamurthy of Ateliere; David Sugg of WarnerMedia; and Phil Wiser of ViacomCBS.

The virtual event, which starts at 10:30 a.m. PT, is sponsored by Whip Media and is not open to the press.

To register,  click here.

DEG Panel: Transactional Business Strong Despite New-Release Slowdown

The home entertainment pie is getting bigger — and not just on the subscription streaming side, according to an Aug. 10 panel presented by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

“The story on SVOD services I think is really well told, and we’ve seen a lot of consumers come over through those subscriber numbers, but I don’t think there’s been much focus on consumers who’ve been coming into the transactional end of the business,” said Jim Wuthrich, president of home entertainment and content licensing at WarnerMedia.

After a year in 2020 that saw a big jump in at home entertainment viewing due to a pandemic, the transactional business — revenue from consumers who rent or buy titles either digitally or physically — has proven resilient, even though it has dropped from the pandemic highs of last year. Transactional spending was down 28.7% to an estimated $3.4 billion, from $4.8 billion in the first six months of 2020.

“I would say overall these numbers to me are remarkable,” said Michael Bonner, president of worldwide home entertainment at Universal Pictures.

Comparing the numbers to pre-pandemic 2019, transactional has grown its appeal, especially with catalog.

“We have evidence that the consumer adoption and engagement during the pandemic is up overall, and those levels are kind of maintaining,” Bonner said.

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“We had this big spike last year where consumers were looking for any content they could transactionally,” Wuthrich added. “This year we’ve come down, but we’re running against that big spike we had last year.

“The one drag that we’ve got for the first half of this year was really around new-release product because we don’t have a lot of new-release product.”

Still, Bonner noted that on a title-by-title basis, the new releases that have come out are performing well.

“If you look at it at on a title level, that product that is flowing in, it’s performing very well relative to historical,” he noted.

Then there’s premium rentals and sales (PVOD, PEST), which the DEG does not track. That segment of the business, which some industry pundits say helped the transactional market grow for the first time in a decade last year, has continued its appeal.

“Our estimate is there’s $1 billion of consumer spend that’s not captured in the numbers that you’re presenting,” Bonner said. “And those numbers are not insignificant. We’ve seen tremendous engagement from consumers on that product that’s made available early in its window. Again, some of that is to be expected — given where the box office has been over the past year — but the numbers, they’re fantastic.”

Wuthrich sees a strong last half of the year, as new releases flow into the transactional pipeline.

“Going into the back half of year, we’re pretty bullish around it,” he said.

“I think in Q3 and Q4, we’re not quite out of the pandemic yet, so I think there’s still going to be heavy engagement in the home, so I think the numbers should be strong again,” Bonner said.

While moves to put titles on streaming services early — and, in the case of Warner, on HBO Max concurrently with theaters — may shrink demand in the transactional realm, there are customers for every segment of the entertainment marketplace, said panelists.

“When it’s widely available on a streaming service, it does take some of the demand, but it also adds in other ways,” Wuthrich said.

“The reality is studios are all kind of making tradeoffs in terms of how to put product through different consumer offerings earlier than ever,” Bonner added. “We’re all trying to figure that out.”

Each segment of the business is finding an audience, panelists said.

“We see spikes in demand across each of those new offerings,” Bonner said. “There are consumers and there’s an audience out there for each of these.”

Even the physical business is holding its own, Wuthrich said.

“We found there are still over 35 million households in the U.S. that are still transacting in physical,” he said, noting that Warner entered into a joint venture, Studio Distribution Services (SDS), with Universal to serve the continuing physical disc consumer.

“One of the reasons that people continue to buy physical media is it’s a habit. Another reason though is quality. You can’t beat the quality to the television of physical media, particularly around 4K with HDR,” Wuthrich noted. He added that physical consumers span all demos, young and old. Close to 60% is in the age range of 25-44, he said.

And retailers have maintained a lot of that shelf space for physical during the pandemic.

“I think longer term, this is a mature category, and you’ll see continued consolidation,” Wuthrich said. “I think of the retailers that have, particularly the large ones that have exited or shrunk the category, we see stabilization in that space. And that’s where it was particularly encouraging, at least some of our retailers held most of the space, even through COVID, even though there wasn’t a lot of new product that was flowing in. And it was because it was something that was desired by their customer. They were looking for distractions and such. So maybe they were only shopping for diapers and popcorn, but they were still going by and picking up physical.”

DEG: Streaming Again Triggers Surge in Consumer Home Entertainment Spending While Catalog Keeps TVOD Afloat

U.S. consumers spent an estimated $15.7 billion to watch movies, TV shows and other filmed content on home and mobile platforms in the first six months of 2021, DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group reported Aug. 10.

The trade group reported the total spend was up 5.2% from the first half of 2020, when consumer spending on home entertainment was pegged at $14.9 billion.

The big winner, as expected, was subscription streaming, which posted a 21.4% gain to an estimated $12.2 billion.

The transactional segment, which includes a la carte disc and digital purchases and rentals, was down a whopping 28.7% to an estimated $3.4 billion, from $4.8 billion in the first six months of 2020.

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This reflects the pronounced lack of new product available to buy or rent in the first half of this year, when uncertainty about COVID-19 prompted the studios to hold back releases until they had more clarity. New theatrical releases, the DEG stated, have “historically [been] a key driver of home entertainment spending.” In January, virus cases were surging to record highs. Then came the vaccine and a swift drop-off in new cases, resulting in a gradual reopening of theaters. Movie houses in Los Angeles, the center of the film industry, didn’t begin to reopen until March.

Another key reason for the sharp decline in consumer transactional spending reported by the DEG is that the trade group does not track revenue generated from a premium rental or sales window that studios adopted in lieu of a theatrical release, even though this, too, is money spent on home entertainment consumption.

In a DEG presentation Universal Pictures Home Entertainment president Michael Bonner estimated “there’s a billion dollars in consumer spending that is not captured” in the trade group’s numbers.

“And those numbers are not insignificant,” he said. “We’ve seen tremendous engagement from consumers in that product that’s made available in early windows.”

Given the lack of theatrical new releases, spending on library titles “is notably strong,” the DEG stated. Over the past two years, digital catalog sales have grown at an annualized rate of 17%, a record high.

Popular catalog titles in the period included the eight “Fast & Furious” films and “The Office” TV series from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, Warner’s “Game of Thrones” and Harry Potter Complete 8-Film Collection DVD and Blu-ray Disc collections, Lionsgate’s John Wick Triple Feature disc set, and Paramount Home Entertainment’s A Quiet Place and “Yellowstone” sets.

The DEG noted that the 5% increase in U.S. home entertainment spending in the first half of 2021 came amid a nearly 88% drop in box-office performance for the films released in the period, due to prolonged movie theater closures due to the pandemic.

Looking at the DEG’s defined home entertainment market that excludes PVOD revenue, subscription streaming’s share of total home entertainment revenue rose to 78% by the end of June 2021, up from a 67.6% market share a year ago.

That means that the disc market (sales and rentals) fell to 8.8% of the home entertainment picture in the first half of 2021, down from 12.4% a year ago, while transactional VOD (digital sales and rentals) was down to 13.2%, from 20% a year ago.

Disc sales on their own were down to 6% in the first half of 2021, down from 8.6% a year ago.

Among just transactional home entertainment sources, disc sales and rentals comprised 40%, up about 1.73% from a year ago, with TVOD comprising 60%.

Looking Back: 2011, Slow Recovery From the Recession

Ten years ago, home entertainment executives were more upbeat than they had been in years. The business posted its first positive quarter since the start of the 2008 global economic meltdown. With a 20% year-over-year sales gain, Blu-ray Disc was rejuvenating the physical disc business, while 3D Blu-ray was the talk of CES. And studio marketers were enthralled with the prospect of digital distribution, with a consortium of studios and other companies launching UltraViolet, a cloud-based “digital locker” that lets consumers stream and download purchased content to multiple platforms and devices. David Bishop, at the time president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, called UltraViolet “a major game changer.” The nascent streaming business, meanwhile, stumbled when Starz Entertainment ended content license renegotiations with Netflix, which meant the service would soon lose access to Disney and Sony Pictures movies.

DEG Slates Virtual Expo on ‘Localization’ on Thursday, June 17

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group this week will host a DEG Expo on the rapidly growing business of content localization, including viewpoints from content owners and technology providers.

The virtual event, called “The Expanding World of Localization,” will be held Thursday, June 17, beginning at 9:30 a.m. PT.

Featured speakers include Mark Howorth, president of the Iyuno-SDI Group, who will discuss the state of the localization industry. Dolby’s Tom McAndrew, senior technical manager of content relations, and Javier Foncillas, VP of commercial partnerships for Europe, will speak about the global demand for immersive audio.

An executive roundtable led by Vuulr CEO Americas Thomas Hughes will discuss the potential and pain points for localization, including workflows, terminology, talent management, DEI and the role of AI in content localization. Participants include James Hurrell, head of content and localization, global operations, for  BBC Studios; Chris Reynolds, EVP and GM of worldwide localization and fulfillment at Deluxe; Gray Ainsworth, EVP of global technical operations and servicing at Lionsgate; and Andrea Sconza, director of localization services at Vubiquity. More perspective on innovating with AI will be shared by Craig Seidel, CTO of Pixelogic, in conversation with Spherex CEO Teresa Phillips and Respeecher CEO Alex Serdiuk.

DEG Expo: The Expanding World of Localization is free to media industry professionals, but registration is required.

To register,  click here.

The full agenda can be found here.

‘The Little Things’ Tops Watched at Home Chart

Warner Bros.’ The Little Things took the No. 1 spot on the “Watched at Home” chart the week ended May 8.

The crime thriller starring Denzel Washington jumped nine spaces to take the top spot. It came out on Blu-ray and DVD May 4 after debuting for digital purchase April 20.

Dropping to No. 2 after five weeks at No. 1 was Warner’s Wonder Woman 1984. The DC Comics superhero movie starring Gal Gadot has been available on Blu-ray Disc and DVD since March 30.

The previous week’s top newcomer, Universal’s The Marksman, remained at No. 3, following its digital sellthrough release April 27. In the film, Liam Neeson plays an ex-Marine and hardened Arizona rancher who simply wants to be left alone as he tries to make a living on an isolated stretch of borderland. Everything changes when he witnesses migrants fleeing from a band of assassins sent by a ruthless drug cartel.

The weekly Watched at Home chart, compiled from studio and retailer data and presented by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, tracks transactional video activity such as digital sellthrough, DVD and Blu-ray Disc, but not premium VOD or disc rental.

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Coming in at No. 4 (dropping from No. 2) was Best Picture Oscar winner Nomadland, from Disney-owned Searchlight Pictures, the indie arm of 20th Century Studios. It debuted on Blu-ray Disc April 27. Universal’s animated hit sequel The Croods: A New Age remained at No. 5.

New to the chart for the week was Minari, Oscar winner in the Best Supporting Actress category, joining the list at No. 15. Also riding Oscar accolades, Judas and the Black Messiah moved up four spots to No. 10. Girl in the Basement, inspired by real-life events, returned to the chart at No. 17 and the comedy Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar returned to the list at No. 18.

  1. The Little Things (Warner)
  2. Wonder Woman 1984 (Warner)
  3. The Marksman (Universal)
  4. Nomadland (20th Century)
  5. The Croods: A New Age (Universal)
  6. News of the World (Universal)
  7. Promising Young Woman (Universal)
  8. Harry Potter: Complete 8-Film Collection (Warner)
  9. City of Lies (Lionsgate)
  10. Judas and the Black Messiah (Warner)
  11. Yellowstone: Season 1 (Paramount)
  12. The Vault (2021, Paramount)
  13. Monster Hunter (Sony Pictures)
  14. Yellowstone: Season 3 (Paramount)
  15. Minari (Lionsgate)
  16. Yellowstone: Season 2 (Paramount)
  17. Girl in the Basement (A+E)
  18. Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar (Lionsgate)
  19. Soul (Disney)
  20. Willie’s Wonderland (Screen Media Films)

 

Source: DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group
Includes U.S. digital sales, digital rentals, and DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD sales for the week ended May 8.

DEG: Home Entertainment Spending Spikes 10% in Q1, With Streamers the Big Gainers

Consumer home entertainment spending in the first quarter of 2021 rose 10% to $7.8 billion, according to the latest DEG:  The Digital Entertainment Group estimates, released late in the day on May 11.

Spending in the first quarter of 2020, mostly before the pandemic, was $7.1 billion, the trade association estimates.

Estimates for the first quarter of 2021 do not include premium video-on-demand (PVOD), which since the pandemic began has been a significant source of revenue to Hollywood as theaters were mostly dark.

As expected, the biggest gains came from subscription streaming, which according to DEG estimates chalked up a 27.2% consumer spending gain, to $5.95 billion from $4.68 billion in the first quarter of 2020. The segment is led by Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+ and HBO Max, services that in March 2021 were joined by Paramount+ and Discovery+.

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Streamers gobbled up nearly 77% of the quarter’s total spend, according to DEG estimates. SVOD numbers, the trade group says, come from Omdia, a technology research firm that is part of Informa Plc., a British multinational publishing, business intelligence, and exhibitions group.

On the transactional front, digital sales fell nearly 18% to an estimated $615.8 million, while digital rentals (VOD) slipped 26.7% to an estimated $494 million. Again, it should be noted that these figures do not include PVOD.

Combined Blu-ray Disc and DVD sales came in at an estimated $479.3 million, down nearly 25% from the first quarter of 2020.

Observers note that the first quarter of the year was hampered by a dearth of new movies, as studios held back releases in anticipation of theatrical reopenings and capacity ramp-ups once vaccination rates increase and the threat of COVID-19 is reduced through herd immunity.

Los Angeles, the epicenter of the movie business, could reach herd immunity from the coronavirus among adults and the oldest teenagers by mid to late July, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a May 10 news briefing.

Craig Seidel, Premiere Digital Top Winners in DEG’s Technology & Operations Awards

Craig Seidel of Pixelogic Media and Premiere Digital Services were among the top winners at the first-ever Technology & Operations Awards, DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group announced April 28.

The new awards program, the trade group says, was created “to recognize exceptional technology accomplishments in the digital supply chain achieved by both companies and individuals.”

Seidel was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, for his work at former employer MovieLabs, where he led development of the MovieLabs Digital Distribution Framework, the suite of specifications that enable an automated digital supply chain among content providers, retailers/platforms, and service providers.

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Premiere Digital was honored with a People’s Choice award, voted on by attendees during the virtual awards show, with finalists in all categories eligible for the popular vote.

Awards were given out in five categories.

Bill Kotzman of Google and Dave Lindsay of Disney Streaming Services won Technology Leadership honors.

Jason Pena of Google and Kacy Boccumini of Sony Pictures Entertainment won for Technology Achievement.

And the Technology Innovation Award was split by Disney+, the Lionsgate Content Operations Team and Premiere Digital.

“DEG is so pleased to recognize the winners — and all the outstanding finalists — for the inaugural DEG TechOps Awards,” said Amy Jo Smith, president and CEO of the DEG. “As was noted by a number of senior industry executives and Oscar-winning director Pete Docter during the show, our TechOps community is the engine that drives delivery of premium content to consumers across the globe. Without these people, there would be no in-home entertainment as we know it.”

Premiere Digital was the official cocktail sponsor of the DEG TechOps Awards. The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented by Dolby. The Technology Innovation Award was presented by Whip Media. Video production was courtesy of creative content sponsor TiVo/DTS.

The show featured original music created by Ed “Special Ed” Archer, and a pitch for involvement in two organizations that are working to bolster technology education and career opportunities for underserved communities in Los Angeles, DIY Girls and Plug in South LA.

‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Again Lassos Top Spot on Watched at Home Chart

Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman 1984 again took the top spot on the “Watched at Home” chart the week ended April 17.

The DC-comic-based film starring Gal Gadot — repeating in the top spot for a third week — continued to get a boost from its arrival on Blu-ray and DVD March 30 after being released though digital retailers on March 16 (a release preceded by PVOD and a simultaneous Christmas Day 2020 debut in theaters and on streaming service HBO Max).

News of the World also repeated in the No. 2 spot, while Promising Young Woman rose to the third spot from No. 5 the previous week. The Croods: A New Age fell from No. 3 to No.4 and Monster Hunter dropped one spot to round out the top five.

The crime thriller City of Lies, starring Johnny Depp and Forest Whitaker, entered the chart at No. 7 following an April 9 digital release. Other newcomers included USA Network’s and 20th Century Studios’ Queen of the South: Season 5 at No. 19 and the adult drama Monday at No. 20. Game of Thrones: The Complete Series returned to the chart at No. 18, and Paramount’s The Vault made a jump of five spots to take No. 14.

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The Watched at Home chart, compiled from studio and retailer data and presented by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, tracks transactional video activity (both digital and on DVD and Blu-ray Disc, but not premium VOD or disc rental).

The Western News of the World (No. 2) stars Tom Hanks as a Civil War veteran who makes a living reading newspapers to people in frontier towns and is tasked with returning a young white girl who had been captured and raised by Indians to her family.

Promising Young Woman (No. 3), nominated for five Oscars, stars Carey Mulligan as Cassie, whose promising future was derailed by a mysterious event.

Universal Pictures’ DreamWorks Animation sequel The Croods: A New Age (No. 4) features the voices of Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds and Peter Dinklage and follows the caveman Crood family as they encounter the more civilized Bettermans.

Sony Pictures’ video game adaptation Monster Hunter (No. 5) stars Milla Jovovich as the leader of a military unit battling deadly creatures from another world.

  1. Wonder Woman 1984 (Warner)
  2. News of the World (Universal)
  3. Promising Young Woman (Universal)
  4. The Croods: A New Age (Universal)
  5. Monster Hunter (Sony Pictures)
  6. Greenland (Universal/STX)
  7. City of Lies (Lionsgate)
  8. Girl in the Basement (A+E)
  9. Willy’s Wonderland (Screen Media)
  10. Harry Potter: Complete 8-Film Collection (Warner)
  11. Soul (Disney)
  12. Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar (Lionsgate)
  13. Wrong Turn (2021, Lionsgate)
  14. The Vault (Paramount)
  15. Let Him Go (Universal)
  16. Yellowstone: Season 1 (Paramount)
  17. Yellowstone: Season 3 (Paramount)
  18. Game of Thrones: The Complete Series (Warner)
  19. Queen of the South: Season 5 (20th Century)
  20. Monday (IFC)

 

Source: DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group
Includes U.S. digital sales, digital rentals, and DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD sales for the week ended April 17.