NBCUniversal, Telemundo Partner on Streaming Content Studio

NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises is creating Telemundo Streaming Studios, which it bills as the first-ever Spanish-language studio in Hispanic media exclusively dedicated to serving the growing Latino streaming audiences in the United States and around the world.

Following the creation of original titles “El Señor de los Cielos,” “La Reina del Sur,” “El Recluso,” “No Te Puedes Esconder,” “Jugar con Fuego” and, most recently, “Dime Quien Soy,” “100 Dias para Enamorarnos,” “Falsa Identidad” and “Mariposa de Barrio,” Telemundo is expanding production capabilities to create original scripted content exclusively for direct-to-consumer platforms. In addition to developing and producing its own IP, the new studio will offer production services to third-party direct-to-consumer platforms.

“Latinos are pacesetters of cultural and technological change,” Beau Ferrari, chairman, NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, said in a statement.  “We are … super serving the Latinos of today with the best original, premium and culturally relevant content across all platforms.”

According to Nielsen, driven by streaming video consumption, Hispanics spend more time per day on video through TV-connected devices and video-focused app usage compared to “total adults.” Hispanics are often 50% or more of the average audience to shows that center on Hispanic characters and stories, which is a remarkable over index considering they are roughly 20% of the population.

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Based out of Miami, Telemundo Streaming Studios will be housed under Telemundo Global Studios, led by Marcos Santana, who will continue to oversee all original scripted productions for the network, including international co-productions. The new production unit launches with more than 35 projects in development and in production, including the dramedy “Armas de Mujer” for Peacock, “El Marginal” seasons four and five for Netflix, as well as the remake of “Historia de un Clan,” upcoming seasons of “El Recluso,” a new version of “El Diario de un Gigolo” and the action-packed series “El Immortal.”

“As pioneers in the production of scripted Spanish-language content for U.S. Hispanics, we have a wide range of experience to invest in producing the best scripted content for the growing number of Latinos who consume their favorite shows across streaming platforms,” Santana said in a statement. “With these new studios, Telemundo will be the go-to source for Latino streaming content in the US and around the world.”

HBO Max App Available on Cox Platforms

The HBO Max app is now available to Cox Contour customers on their set-top boxes, WarnerMedia and Cox Communications announced March 10.

Cox customers can now access HBO Max via their Contour 2 or Contour Stream Player devices by opening the HBO Max app using their Contour remote or by saying “HBO Max” into their voice remote to launch the app. Customers are also able to subscribe to HBO Max directly via their Contour TV device using their remote.

HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer platform, features content from HBO, Warner Bros., DC, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Turner Classic Movies and more, as well as all-new Max Originals at $14.99 per month. The streaming platform initially launched in the United States in May 2020 and will expand into 39 territories throughout Latin America in June, and the HBO-branded streaming services in Europe (the Nordics, Spain, Central Europe, the Baltics and Portugal) will be upgraded to HBO Max later this year.

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DEG Forms New Committees, Defines Terms for Direct-to-Consumer Market

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group’s D2C Alliance Steering Committee Feb. 25 released a list of industry terminology endorsed by its members to help standardize communication about the various digital streaming models and services and to align the messaging regarding their features and benefits.

The Alliance-adopted terminology spans linear, transactional and subscription businesses:

  • AVOD: Ad-Supported Video-on-Demand services are usually free (no subscription fee) or discounted with the inclusion of advertising.
  • DTC: Direct-to-Consumer services deliver single- or multi-channel content to consumers directly from a network or provider.
  • DTO: Download-to-Own digital content is purchased or licensed from platforms like Amazon Prime and iTunes (similar to EST).
  • EST: Electronic Sell-Through enables standard or premium digital content to be streamed or downloaded by consumers for a fixed one-time fee over an extended period of time across multiple delivery points and devices.
  • FAST: Free Ad-Supported Television linear channels are delivered over the internet and available from third party platforms (e.g., Pluto, Tubi).
  • Linear TV: Linear TV refers to live or prerecorded television programs that are distributed in real time, rather than on-demand, by cable (e.g., Comcast), satellite (e.g., DirecTV), telco (e.g., Verizon Fios) or broadcast OTA (over-the-air) networks, as well as internet-delivered digital program distributors (e.g., Hulu + Live TV, YouTubeTV, SlingTV).
  • MVPD: Multichannel Video Program Distributors offer a variety of different linear content channels from multiple providers over cable, satellite or telco services (e.g., Comcast, DISH, DirecTV, Verizon Fios) on a subscription basis. Virtual MVPDS (vMVPDs) offer channels through internet-delivered services (e.g., Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV).
  • O&O: An abbreviated way to reference a broadcast station that is “owned-and-operated” by the network or company that it’s affiliated with. NBC 4 Los Angeles, for example, is owned and operated by NBCUniversal.
  • OTT: Over-the-Top services bypass traditional cable, broadcast and satellite TV platforms and use the internet to deliver or “stream” video directly to viewers. Netflix, Apple TV, and YouTube are all examples of OTT services.
  • PEST: Premium Electronic Sell-Through for a one-time fee offers a specific piece of digital content to be purchased or licensed earlier than its traditional release “window.”
  • PVOD: Premium Video-on-Demand services permit limited-time access, for a one-time fee, to a specific piece of content earlier than its traditional release “window.”
  • SVOD: Subscription Video-on-Demand services require a periodic fixed fee (most often monthly) for accessing and viewing content an unlimited number of times while a subscriber (e.g., Disney+, Netflix, HBO Max, Peacock).
  • TVOD: Transactional Video-on-Demand services charge a one-time fee for viewing a specific piece of content for either a limited rental period (typically 24 or 48 hours), or an extended collection period (EST).

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The DEG’s D2C Alliance is focused on identifying the issues pertaining to both SVOD and AVOD services, including (but not limited to) definitions and standards; uniform messaging; activation and adoption; research and data analytics; consumer consumption patterns; improved quality of service; and generating greater overall awareness about the direct-to-consumer experience.

To this end, the Alliance also recently activated two new committees: TV & Connected Devices and DTC Targeted Services.

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The members of the TV & Connected Devices committee include Amazon, Google, LG Electronics, Microsoft, Samsung, Sony Electronics, TiVo, Verizon and Xfinity. The TV & Connected Devices committee seeks open communication with platforms and services as a way to improve the overall consumer streaming experience.

The DTC Targeted Services committee is comprised of specialized content companies, such as A+E Networks, AMC Networks, BBC Studios, FilmRise, National Geographic, The Great Courses, PBS Distribution and ScreenHits TV. The goal of the DTC Targeted Services committee is to ensure that the perspective of specialized services is represented in the key industry issues outlined above.

DEG’s D2C Alliance is guided by a group of Steering Committee executives, including Matt Strauss, chairman direct-to-consumer and international at NBCUniversal, as chair; Ron Lamprecht, director corporate business development at Amazon Prime, as vice chair; and Jonathan Zepp, M&E global partnerships, Google Platforms & Ecosystems, and Dan Cohen, president, ViacomCBS Global Distribution Group, as board officers. The officers were elected by the full D2C Alliance Steering Committee.

“Establishing accepted industry terminology is an important early step in both industry relations and consumer outreach,” said Amy Jo Smith, DEG president and CEO, in a statement. “This is an important milestone for the D2C Alliance as it moves forward with a strong base of support across platforms and services, device makers and content owners and distributors.”

Also Feb. 25, the DEG is presenting “The Maturing D2C Landscape,” an event to provide more insights about the emerging DTC ecosystem. The virtual event features experts from across the industry speaking about the targeted services landscape and the role connected devices play in consumer experience.

ABI: 2020 Will Be the Year of Direct-to-Consumer Video, Not 8K TV

With the pending arrival of NBC Universal’s Peacock streaming service and WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, 2020 represents a major step toward an over-the-top video future where more content goes direct-to-consumer, reaching 900 million subscriptions worldwide, according to new data from ABI Research.

The research firm contends more consumers will be moving away from the traditional pay-TV bundle, while content access becomes more fragmented and consumers are presented with a growing list of distribution options.

“The ability to pick and choose which channels of content best fit [one’s] needs will only become increasingly more important,” Michael Inouye, video and cloud services principal analyst, said in a statement.

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The growing penchant among content owners to DTC is creating a more challenging market for “virtual multichannel video programming distributors” (vMVPDs). As a result, ABI said subscriber bases in some of the services have slowed, if not declined. The arrival of more DTC services in 2020 will further fragment the content landscape, making it an increasingly crowded space as more services vie for consumers’ content budgets.

Separately, the firm says rollout of next-generation 5G networks will accelerate. Analyst Khin Sandi Lynn said implementation of 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) will be great news for consumers. 5G FWA garners high interest from operators to replace last-mile fiber connectivity for residential broadband services.

“This allows greater service coverage and improved network delivery for customers served,” Lynn said.

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While there are still barriers to adoption, similar to traditional 5G (infrastructure is expensive and time-consuming to scale), many other operators and equipment vendors have already been trialing 5G FWA deployment across different regions, according to Lynn.

“Qualcomm’s recent announcement of 5G FWA partnerships, with more than 30 OEMs and ongoing spectrum acquisitions by operators indicates that the ecosystem is getting ready to speed up the rate of deployment,” she adds.

Meanwhile, Lynn said 8K rollout will remain largely industry hype.

“Announcements of 8K televisions by major vendors earlier in 2019 attracted much attention and raised many of questions within the industry,” Lynn said. “The fact is, 8K content is not available and the price of 8K TV sets are exorbitant. The transition from high definition to 4K will continue in 2020 with very limited 8K shipments — less than 1 million worldwide.”

Disney+ Appoints Chris Loveall to International Content Post

Disney+ has appointed international programming executive Chris Loveall to the position of VP of content — international.

Loveall will report into Matt Brodlie, SVP of international content development, working closely with him and Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International’s regional teams on the development and production of original scripted and unscripted series, as well as acquisitions for all markets outside of the United States.

“Chris has great instincts and a deep understanding of storytelling opportunities in the international marketplace,” Brodlie said in a statement. “He will be a tremendous asset as we grow a rich, diverse slate of original content that builds on the Disney+ storytelling ethos in ways that are unique to each of our international markets.”

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“I’m excited to be part of the Disney+ team and look forward to working with them to identify and develop stories that resonate with fans of the service around the world,” Loveall said in a statement.

Loveall most recently served as VP of international programming for AMC Networks, including AMC, SundanceTV and BBC America, and was responsible for the development of original international commissions and co-productions as well as select acquisitions for each network. For SundanceTV, he oversaw the co-productions “Liar” with ITV and “Rosehaven” and “Cleverman” with the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Prior to joining the AMC Networks group, Loveall served as VP of original programming at Pivot, developing scripted drama, comedy and animation projects, as well as overseeing international co-productions including “Fortitude” with Sky Atlantic and “Please Like Me” with the Australian Broadcasting Corp. He has also held a number of programming-focused positions at ABC Signature Studios, The CW and other production companies.

Survey: More Than 14% of U.S. Netflix Subscribers May Cancel It in Favor of Disney+

More than 14% of U.S. Netflix customers are considering ditching their subscription in favor of Disney+ when the new streaming service launches in November, which could amount to a loss of approximately 8.7 million subscribers for the streaming pioneer.

Those are the findings of a survey of more than 600 U.S. Netflix subscribers commissioned by Streaming Observer.

In the survey, 12.7% said they “might cancel Netflix” while 2.2% said they would “definitely cancel Netflix” and get Disney+.

Survey respondents with kids in their household were more than two times as likely to say they plan to cancel Netflix for Disney+.

Roughly two in five Netflix subscribers in the survey said they will try Disney+, which costs $6.99 per month ($69.99 per year), when it debuts. One-fifth of those surveyed said they plan on subscribing to both services, and 40% said they have no interest in Disney+.

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Viacom Completes Pluto TV Acquisition

Viacom March 4 announced the completion of the acquisition of AVOD service Pluto TV.

The acquisition, for $340 million in cash, will advance Viacom’s strategic priorities while solidifying Pluto TV’s leadership in the domestic free streaming video market and accelerating its growth globally, according to a Viacom press release.

Pluto TV will operate as an independent subsidiary of Viacom, led by President and CEO Tom Ryan.

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“The completion of this deal marks an exciting next step in Viacom’s evolution and a powerful opportunity for us to extend our consumer reach and broaden our ability to add value across the industry as the media landscape continues to segment,” said Bob Bakish, Viacom president and CEO, in a statement. “Together with Pluto TV, we look forward to becoming a stronger partner to distributors, advertisers, content providers and audiences around the world.”

Founded in 2013, Pluto TV streams more than 100 channels and thousands of hours of on-demand content spanning television and movies, sports, news, lifestyle, comedy, cartoons, gaming and trending digital series. It has more than 12 million monthly active users across devices, including smart TVs, streaming players, mobile devices, desktops and gaming consoles, according to the release.

“Pluto TV will have a crucial role in expanding Viacom’s presence across next-generation distribution platforms as a standalone free over-the-top (“OTT”) product, a direct-to-consumer cornerstone, and a partnership solution for wired, mobile and OTT distributors to serve their broadband only and video bundle subscribers on a zero incremental cost basis,” stated the release.

Pluto TV also benefits Viacom’s advanced marketing solutions (“AMS”) business, serving as a source of targeted inventory — particularly for younger demographics — thereby strengthening Viacom’s ability to serve advertising customers and their associated agencies, the release stated.

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.”