OTT.X to Honor Industry Heroes

OTT.X (formerly the Entertainment Merchants Association) is looking to honor industry “heroes.”

The group is looking for a team member who has gone out of his or her way to help neighbors, to help the community, to support health care workers, or to just do something good during the pandemic — or for a team member who has gone out of his or her way to help the company continue to serve its customers during the crisis.

“Just as the hard work of grocery and pharmacy teams are keeping our pantries and medicine cabinets full, all of the teams in our industry, at digital platforms, channels and retailers; at content companies; and at all of the service and technology companies that facilitate the flow of content ultimately to the consumer are playing an important role in providing the needed entertainment to keep everyone sane during these stay-at-home days,” according to OTT.X. “We need to recognize our own heroes.”

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Entries should include a brief paragraph nominating a hero or heroes and a photo if possible. In mid-June, OTT.X will hold an online live ceremony recognizing all the heroes and presenting a few special awards. Nominations must be sent no later than May 30 to mfisher@ottx.org and include “our ottx hero” in the subject line.

In addition, OTT.X is soliciting pictures of home offices and awarding prizes. Photos should be sent to mfisher@ottx.org and include “my new home office” in the subject line.

Farewell EMA, Hello OTT.X

After more than three decades as one of the home entertainment industry’s key trade associations, the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) is broadening its focus and rebranding to become the OTT.X (the Over The Top Exchange).

According to CEO and president Mark Fisher, the new name reflects the organization’s aim to more broadly support the business of bringing entertainment to the consumer through all OTT means – including transactional video-on-demand (TVOD); subscription VOD, or streaming; and ad-supported streaming (AVOD).

Maintaining that the organization will support digital retailers, channels, networks, platforms, and MVPDs, Fisher said the vision of OTT.X is “a vibrant ecosystem of companies continually advancing the consumer experience and business of delivering audio-visual entertainment through OTT technologies,” while its updated mission is “to connect and nurture the OTT ecosystem enabling innovation, collaboration, and competition.”

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He said the association will  continue to focus on the business aspects of the industry, by facilitating business exchange and community, sharing industry insights and research, organizing and managing industry interest groups such as digital supply chain and retailing best practices, and managing a leadership development foundation.

The new OTT.X logo

The group was founded in 1984 as the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA), representing the proliferating independent video rental stores that had birthed the home entertainment industry several years earlier.

As the business shifted to regional and then national chains like Blockbuster Video, Movie Gallery and Hollywood Entertainment, the VSDA intensified its lobbying and supply chain efforts and tweaked its annual summer convention, generally held in Las Vegas, to focus more on meetings and less on elaborate booths and exhibits on the show floor.

With the arrival of DVD and the shift in the market away from rental and toward sellthrough, the VSDA scaled down its show even more and in 2006 merged with the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA) to become the EMA.

The last big summer trade show was held in Las Vegas in 2007; the association subsequently focused on smaller conferences and seminars and from 2012 until last year presented the annual Los Angeles Entertainment Summit for key retailers and content suppliers.

The association’s new direction — and name — are the result of its successful OTT_X Market and Conference last July and its OTT_X @ Pipeline in September, Fisher said.

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“After more than three decades, we continue to reinvent the definition of the industry that we serve as well as our model to serve and support it,” Fisher said. “I’m proud that our team — our board and staff, working together — drafted this transformational plan, positioning OTT.X to grow in both the size of its membership and the quantity and quality of its programs and services.”

“There are so many new and emerging channels and networks looking to collaborate with their peers in building a more effective ecosystem,” said Cameron Douglas, OTT.X chair and head of home entertainment at FandangoNow, one of the industry’s leading digital retailers. “I look forward to working more broadly with digital retailers, MVPDs, digital channels and networks, distribution platforms, consumer electronics manufacturers, and all the companies creating and distributing content to these channels, as well as technology-enabling services supporting our businesses.”

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Earlier in the year, Fisher told Media Play News that the association in 2020 will “formally, fully embrace the broad spectrum of OTT delivery, including SVOD and AVOD, while continuing to support TVOD. We plan to contribute significantly to supporting the ecosystem surrounding OTT including platforms, channels, content providers and service providers by expanding many of our already successful programs as well as launching new ones.

“This includes connecting companies for efficient business negotiations in events like our popular OTT.X business exchange, gathering and sharing valuable business insights and industry research in our conference sessions and facilitating the development, evangelization and education of industry best practices such as the digital supply chain work we’ve been doing over the last decade.”

 

Trade Groups Court Streamers, But Remain Focused on Transactional Side of the Business

The home entertainment industry’s two trade groups are aggressively courting streamers, but they remain focused on the transactional side of the business, as well.

Both Amy Jo Smith, president and CEO of DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, and Mark Fisher, president and CEO of the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA), believe both branches of the home entertainment industry can thrive.

“We know that 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is the premium choice for viewing content at its best,” Smith says. “And buying content allows fans to collect their favorites and watch at any time.  SVOD and AVOD services offer an exciting way to access all types of content, from award-winning originals to genre specific catalog titles to episodic television series.”

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“There are some movies that consumers are waiting impatiently to see on their home screen,” Fisher adds. “These movies generally won’t be available on subscription streaming services until much later.  Consumers may not fully appreciate the benefit of this window and that titles are available much earlier.”

Looking ahead at 2020, Smith says, “DEG will continue to support transactional businesses for content while also looking to support DTC services. We will support the studios in their work with retail partners to bring content front and center.  For DTC, our work involves aligning messaging so that consumers understand the opportunities for them in the burgeoning DTC environment.  We also want to make sure the experience of discovery and viewing is optimized.  It’s a very exciting time for both consumers as well as the industry providing and delivering content.

Fisher said the EMA in 2020 will “formally, fully embrace the broad spectrum of OTT delivery, including SVOD and AVOD, while continuing to support TVOD. We plan to contribute significantly to supporting the ecosystem surrounding OTT including platforms, channels, content providers and service providers by expanding many of our already successful programs as well as launching new ones. This includes connecting companies for efficient business negotiations in events like our popular OTT.X business exchange, gathering and sharing valuable business insights and industry research in our conference sessions and facilitating the development, evangelization and education of industry best practices such as the digital supply chain work we’ve been doing over the last decade.

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“We’re also excited to be launching our Leadership Development Foundation, dedicated to supporting recent entrants into the home entertainment workforce and providing professional development opportunities for women and underrepresented minorities.”

What’s in store in 2020 on the transactional side of the business?

“We’re still digesting the learnings from the industry-wide Ultimate Media Weekend promotion that we coordinated last year, anticipating another round this year,” Fisher says. “We’ll be examining every aspect of the program from timing to whether the program should be price-point based or not, to whether it should focus on VOD or EST or both.”

“Obviously,” Fisher adds, “this is the year that consumers will be navigating direct-to-consumer options. More consumers than ever before will cut their relationships with their cable TV providers and use OTT services.  Consumers will want to append their costly DTC SVOD services with less-costly SVOD specialty channels and especially with ‘free’ AVOD channels and platforms to supplement their viewing selection.

“The challenges will be to get noticed above the loud noise of the larger studios and existing leading services, and to make the consumer experience as friendly, reliable, and easy as we’ve gotten used to with our cable TV experience — both in functionality and in search and discovery of content.”

Fisher says he’s got “one more point for next year and the future — any launch of a new format or window needs to be coordinated across industries — physical and digital retailers and services/content providers/consumer electronics companies.  Lack of consistency in timing, in promotion, and in terminology have confused the consumer and slowed adoption.  We can do better, and we’re looking forward to supporting the industry as it continues innovating.”

Oh, What a Year — With Transformational Changes, Home Entertainment in 2019 Got Smaller — and Bigger

The phrase “transformational change” has been used so much it’s become a cliché — and yet there really is no better way to describe what happened in not just home entertainment, but also the entertainment industry overall, in 2019.

The completion in March of the Walt Disney Co.’s purchase of 20th Century Fox saw the number of major studios drop to five from six. Some of the home entertainment sector’s most familiar faces were suddenly gone, including Mike Dunn, the longtime leader of Fox’s home entertainment unit, and Danny Kaye, the visionary behind Fox Innovation Labs. Later, in the summer, Janice Marinelli, Disney’s home entertainment chief, also exited in a surprise move, given that she had opened an office on the Fox studio lot and was reportedly screening staffers.

In November, two new streaming giants emerged to take on longtime leader Netflix, Apple TV+ and, most significantly, Disney+.

Meanwhile, a new flavor of streaming gathered momentum: free to consumers, paid for by advertisers. Among the heavyweights jumping into what’s known as “AVOD” are ViacomCBS, with its Pluto TV acquisition, and Comcast Corp., which in December was reported to be in advanced talks to acquire Xumo TV, which boasts more than 140 digital channels of programming across 12 genres, including sports, news, kids and family entertainment.

The overall impact of all these developments on home entertainment: It got smaller — and bigger.

Smaller, because the traditional transactional business model that has defined home entertainment since its birth more than 40 years ago has increasingly come under fire, with subscription streaming, in particular, gobbling up more and more consumer attention — and dollars — that previously would have gone toward buying or renting movies, either on disc or through digital retailers.

But also bigger, because streaming, in its various incarnations, is now widely accepted as being part of home entertainment — which is now broadly defined as people watching what they want, on demand. There’s even a new name for all of this — direct-to-consumer — which was first adopted by Disney and is now used interchangeably with “home entertainment.”

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Bob Buchi, president of Paramount Home Entertainment, says 2019 “was the year of transition.”

“From media mergers and changing consumer viewing habits to the explosion of streaming services, the landscape has shifted dramatically,” he says.

The Nov. 1 launch of Apple TV+ marked the tech giant’s entry into the content business, with nine original series. One of them, “The Morning Show,” picked up several Golden Globe nominations from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), a first for a new streaming service.

Less than two weeks later, Disney launched its much-ballyhooed Disney+, with a full menu of in-demand movies and series — including the “Star Wars” spinoff “The Mandalorian.” Disney said more than 10 million people signed up for the service in the first 24 hours. By the end of November, the service had 24 million subscribers, according to estimates from Wall Street firm Cowen & Co. (Netflix as of October had more than 60 million domestic subs.)

“It’s an exciting time and we believe we have a unique and significant role to play,” Ricky Strauss, president of content and marketing for Disney+, told Media Play News on the eve of the service’s launch. “Disney+ will compete based on the unparalleled strength of our brands, the quality of our intellectual property, and expertise in high-quality video streaming.”

And yet industry insiders insist that despite streaming’s growth, there’s room for transactional — largely because new theatrical films, particularly the blockbusters, aren’t available on SVOD services. This distinction has prompted FandangoNow, one of the big digital retailers, to boldly proclaim on its home page, “New releases not on Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu subscriptions.”

“Because we’re the first point of entry for fans to see movies in theaters, and first at home, we’ve seen a significant growth among consumers who are excited to own movies as soon as they’re available digitally,” says Cameron Douglas, head of FandangoNow. “Fans looking for high-quality content right out of theaters, including 4K HDR movies, don’t have to wait until they arrive later on subscription services, and innovative deals like rental binge bundles and the availability on new platforms keep them coming back to transactional digital services like our own.”

“New movie releases continue to be sought out by consumers during the first window in the home amidst the frenzied buzz around new streaming services,” adds Michael Bonner, EVP of digital distribution for Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. “While there’s no denying the landscape is becoming more competitive, this business has successfully co-existed with abundant availability of non-transactional content for a long time and we expect it to continue to do so.”

“There is space — and demand — for both transactional content as well as streaming — just as there is consumer interest in both digital and physical,” says Amy Jo Smith, president and CEO of trade association DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

Beyond new releases, streamers have a limited selection of older films and TV shows, particularly with their increased focus on original content.

“For many consumers, their streaming options are good enough,” says Mark Fisher, president and CEO of home entertainment trade association the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA). “But just like the days when the first video rental stores opened and made it easy for the consumer to watch anything they wanted to watch when they wanted to watch it, online VOD retailers offer that same opportunity to the consumer. I know that every time I see a montage of old movie clips, I’m driven to watch titles that aren’t new releases — and these are titles not readily (or easily) found on the streaming services.”

Sales of digital movies, in particular, were a bright spot, with consumer spending up nearly 7% in the first nine months of 2019, according to trade association DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

“We’ve continued to see growth in EST (electronic sellthrough) — both in our new releases and in our catalog,” says Jason Spivak, EVP of distribution, for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. “Certainly the enhanced consumer experience enabled by Movies Anywhere is part of that, as is increasing consumer connectivity in their homes. EST continues to gain prominence in our marketing planning, release data scheduling, and retailer partnerships.”

Ron Schwartz, president of Lionsgate Home Entertainment, says Lionsgate EST revenue grew 30% this year, “four to five times faster than the overall industry. With increased collaboration between studios and retailers, and more offerings such as dynamic bundling, customers are starting to build their lockers up to 10-plus titles. Recent data shows that once a customer gets to between 10 and 12 titles in their locker, their EST purchasing behavior doubles.”

In addition to selling movies, digital retailers also offer them for a la carte streaming, the digital equivalent of a physical movie rental. Redbox remains the only retailer to offer both digital and physical rentals, the former through an e-commerce site and the latter, through a network of more than 40,000 kiosks situated outside (or inside) large retailers like Walmart, convenience and drug stores, and other retailers.

“Redbox owns the transactional space with more transactions across physical and digital formats — for rental and purchase — than any other transactional provider,” says Redbox CEO Galen Smith.

In 2019, he said, Redbox expanded its offering of 4K Ultra HD discs into new markets, and stepped up promotions as well, with its Back to the Movies campaign and a joint Dinner & A Movie offering with meal delivery service DoorDash.

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In addition, Redbox Entertainment, a new content acquisition and production division, has further transformed Redbox into a multi-channel content provider and programmer. Launched in October, the new division is headed by Marc Danon, who spent eights at Lionsgate, most recently as SVP of acquisitions and business development.

Disc sales in 2019 continued to decline in the low double digits, with DEG reporting that in the first nine months of the year, combined 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray Disc, and DVD revenues were down 18.5% to an estimated $2.3 billion — exactly half what they amounted to five years ago, in 2014.

But studios continued to support the disc. And while a trend among smaller titles is to release them only on DVD and digital, bypassing Blu-ray Disc, major new releases are still getting significant marketing campaigns behind them, particularly for the 4K Ultra HD editions. The UHD disc also made headlines last August when the UHD Alliance, along with leaders in consumer electronics, the Hollywood studios and members of the filmmaking community, announced collaboration on a new viewing mode for watching movies called “Filmmaker Mode,” designed to reproduce the content in the way the creator intended. Filmmaker Mode, bowing next year, will allow viewers to enjoy a more cinematic experience on their UHD TVs when watching movies by disabling all post-processing (e.g. motion smoothing, etc.) so the movie or television show is displayed as it was intended by the filmmaker, preserving the correct aspect ratios, colors and frame rates.

“For the time being, 4K UHD is still the gold standard for at-home content,” says Jim Wuthrich, president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment & Games. “With hardware costs dropping and television functionality such as Filmmaker Mode being made available next year, there is still a great value proposition in owning content in 4K UHD, both physically and digitally, as is still represents the best home-viewing experience.”

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“As evidenced by the exceptional growth of 4K UHD to date, it is clear that there is a sizable appetite for premium high-definition products, and that format plays a meaningful role in boosting retail traffic,” says Eddie Cunningham, president of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Retail partnerships are key, Cunningham adds. “Given that physical and digital transactional consumption rates are remaining steady year over year and that disc purchases are making up more than half of that consumption, there’s no question that movie buyers continue to be vitally important to retail,” he says. “At no other time in our industry has it been more critical to ensure that we work together to retain the loyalty of movie consumers, creating urgency for our products and delivering the utmost value, quality, accessibility and convenience possible.”

 

EMA Sets Dates, Location for 2nd Annual OTT Confab, Announces Biweekly Webinar Series

The Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) has announced preliminary plans for the second annual OTT_X Market and Conference.

The home entertainment trade group also announced a biweekly webinar series, beginning next year, that will give member companies the chance to present thought leadership and showcase their products

The 2020 OTT_X Market and Conference will be held at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles on  July 21 and 22. The centrally located facility has been home to EMA’s OTT_X (formerly Digital Media) Pipeline for the past decade. The OTT_X Market and Conference will expand to include two full days of conference sessions  as well as specialized tracks of breakouts and work groups.  A themed “show floor” will be added, providing space for organizations interested in acquiring content (retailers/channels/platforms) to meet with those looking to license their content (studios/networks/aggregators) as well as technology and service providers.  Private meeting rooms will be available as well.

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Another new element will be the Partner Showcase, where content providers and technology and service providers can present or demonstrate their offerings. The event also will offer networking opportunities at breakfast and lunch functions and at the Industry Cocktail Party.

“This is the perfect venue to enable all aspects of OTT_X including business exchange, education, knowledge sharing, networking and advancing cross-industry initiatives,” said Mark Fisher, EMA’s president and CEO.  “Both casual meetings and private meetings are comfortably accommodated, and the venue is perfect to host our main conference program, our breakouts, and our show floor.”

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“The OTT_X conference is one of the premier digital events in our industry, offering invaluable resources to seasoned professionals and newcomers alike,” added Erick Opeka, president of Digital Networks at Cinedigm and the Conference Chair.

The webinar series begins Jan. 15. All EMA member companies are invited to propose a topic, along with an outline, for presentation in this webinar series.  Once approved, the presenting company will select from the calendar of dates available.  Presentations will take place on the first and third Wednesday of every month at 1 p.m. Pacific Time and will be scheduled for one hour.

Submissions can be made, starting on Dec. 16, to Mark Fisher at mfisher@entmerch.org.

EMA Elects Officers, Appoints Board Members

Cameron Douglas, VP of home entertainment, Fandango, has been re-elected chairman of the home entertainment trade group the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA). Douglas will be serving his second term as chairman.

Joining Douglas as officers are vice chair Suyin Lim, senior director, content acquisitions and partnerships, PlayStation Video; secretary Pedro Guiterrez Jr., director, digital stores movies and TV business and category management, Microsoft Corp.; and treasurer Michele Edelman, head of growth, Premiere Digital Services.

Eric Opeka

Bill Kotzman, Google/YouTube’s partner product manager, TV and Film; Erick Opeka, president, Cinedigm Digital Networks; and Jason Peterson, CEO of GoDigital Medial Group, will also serve on the association’s executive committee as at-large members.

Amazon returns to the EMA’s board, now represented by senior product manager Jude Fitzmorris.

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Other returning board members are Amit Balan, head of marketing at Vudu, and Marty Graham, SVP at ComScore.

Three members newly appointed board members are Opeka, Edelman and Elissa Brown, VP of finance and operations at Movies Anywhere.

“The companies on EMA’s board of director reflect the variety of delivery mechanisms and business models in our vibrant industry,” said Mark Fisher, EMA president and CEO. “Each director brings an important perspective, and their wealth of experience will benefit the membership as EMA continues to be the forum for the home entertainment industry.”

The EMA is a not-for-profit international trade association. Members include digital retailers, MVPDs, AVOD and SVOD networks and channels, platforms, companies creating and/or distributing content for these channels of distribution, and companies providing services or technology for the use of others in this community. EMA was established in April 2006 through the merger of the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) and the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA).

Panelists at EMA OTT Event Contemplate Effect of Coming SVOD Wave

A little more than a month before the start of a launch of a wave of big-name SVOD services, panelists contemplated the effect that the new, deep-pocketed players would have on the OTT marketplace at a Sept. 25 conference in Los Angeles produced by the Entertainment Merchants Association.

EMA president and CEO Mark Fisher noted a change in the title of the annual event from Digital Media Pipeline to OTT_X@ Pipeline.

“That’s our leaning in and supporting all over-the-top distribution, embracing SVOD [subscription] and AVOD [ad-supported] as well as TVOD [transactional], which we had primarily been supporting in the past,” he said.

In opening remarks, he noted the shifting landscape.

“While SVOD continues to have runaway growth and EST continues to reinvent itself and to promote consumer ownership, AVOD, a format that an industry sage used to refer to as ‘where titles go to die,’ has become all the buzz,” he said. “Frankly, with the launch of WarnerMedia’s subscription service, Disney’s subscription service, Apple’s subscription service, Universal’s service, and Hulu and Netflix and Amazon Prime as well as Britbox, CBS All Access and so many others, I believe even more consumers are going to be driven to cut their cable subscriptions and get all their content either through OTA or OTT and there is likely going to be a limit to what most customers are going to be willing to spend. And when they hit that limit, they’re probably still not going to have enough content available compared to what they’re used to with the hundreds of channels on cable, and they’ll end up supplementing that with AVOD channels. So I think many of us believe that next year will not only bring growth in migration in SVOD services but also unprecedented growth in AVOD.”

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That theme of how the market would change with an explosion of new OTT entrants was echoed by panelists throughout the day.

“The entertainment industry has become as susceptible to change and as volatile with change as the broader technology industry itself,” said Cinedigm Networks president Erick Opeka, who moderated the “Future Evolution of OTT” panel. “Gone are the days of the stability that many of us in this room became accustomed to, where you had 10, 12, 15 years between cycles of technology adoption.”

Mining a niche is a good way to compete with the big guys, panelists said.

“I believe there’s a lot of white space for passion-driven verticals that are underserviced,” said Natalie Farsi, founder and CEO of upcoming lifestyle channel SMART.

Ed Laczynski, CEO of Zype, added a niche OTT player can succeed “where there’s a high level of affinity and or passion and there’s a scarcity of content within that group.”

Focus is key, said Irina Shames, chief revenue officer of Obesh, an upcoming channel focused on outdoor adventure targeting millennials.

“I think there are many companies not necessarily asking, ‘Why are we launching an OTT or why do we need to be present on OTT?’” she said.

As SVOD services proliferate, AVOD may be a strategic move for smaller players.

“It seems to me that a lot of players that had started as subscription are going to be making a pivot to an ad-supported model,” said Opeka.

“With AVOD, we’ve still got about 82 percent of the U.S. that’s gonna want to watch ad-based content because they don’t want to have to pay for all of these services,” added Jeffrey Goldman of Premiere Digital Services.

Transitioning to AVOD “hopefully will be a better business model for us,” said the Africa Channel’s Sheila Cole on another panel, “Managing the Business of OTT.”

Indeed, the research on AVOD shows strong consumer growth.

“The ad-supported space is growing very, very quickly,” said ComScore’s Vince Muscarella. Recent ComScore research showed that the growth in hours viewed per household for ad-supported services is outpacing even subscription viewing. Ad-supported hours were up 60% in May-July 2019 from May-July 2018, while subscription hours grew 44% during the same time period.

David Sidebottom of Futuresource reported that AVOD is a “very U.S. phenomenon,” with one in five Americans having used one of these services in the last month, according to his research.

Still, internationally, as in the United States, “what we see more than anything is fragmentation in the marketplace” with consumers offered “huge choice,” he said. But every international territory is not the same. Netflix is driving SVOD growth in France and Germany, for instance, with TVOD starting to pick up in Nordic region.

Other changes noted at the conference were the impending launch of a new website and OTT newsletter from the trade association, as well as a push for diversity. Indeed, the conference included a panel on the subject and featured a diverse group on the dais.

“This is the first conference that it’s not just a bunch of us old white guys up on stage,” said the EMA’s Fisher. “We have 48% of our speakers being female and at least the start of integrating more underrepresented minorities and people of color into our program.”

He credited Parrot Analytics’ Alejandro Rojas, who presented research on OTT profitability, for pushing the organization to embrace more diversity.

Movies Anywhere Adding Eighth Retail Partner, Rolling Out Ad Campaign as Users Hit 8 Million

As Movies Anywhere approaches its second anniversary in October, the movie library collection service boasts 8 million registered users; 7,800 titles; and 200 million movies stored — and it is poised to add an eighth retail partner, Verizon.

Movies Anywhere GM Karin Gilford noted these milestones during a presentation at the Entertainment Merchants Association’s OTT_X@Pipeline 2019 conference in Los Angeles Sept. 25.

Retail partnerships, such as the new deal with Verizon, are important to improving the overall experience, she said.

“On a day to day basis, we are working with them so that how we connect to the overall ecosystem is smooth,” she said.

Details on the Verizon pact are to come.

A key mission of the Movies Anywhere is to “drive purchasing habits,” she said.

“We want to drive transactions, obviously, but we want to make it a habit,” Gilford said. “We want to make it fun to build a collection. We want to have a great place to house that collection. We want make it really accessible everywhere you are.”

Service research shows that “once people use Movies Anywhere … they buy more movies,” she said.

The service has recently stepped up marketing.

“We launched a new advertising campaign that just kicked off a couple of weeks ago,” she said.

The campaign has rolled out on TV/OTT (cable channels via Simulmedia, Roku, FireTV); in theaters (via National CineMedia); in airports (LAX, JFK digital signage plus the Boingo wifi service); and online channels including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. An advertorial campaign is rolling out through October on channels such as Vox, Fandom and Twitch.

The blitz is designed to plant a flag in an increasingly crowded digital entertainment universe.

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“We want to establish [Movies Anywhere] as differentiated from the SVOD services that are coming,” Gilford said, alluding to the impending launches of Disney+ and Apple TV+, among others.

 

Movies Anywhere welcome page

Gilford showed the new 30-second spot for the service, as well as aspects of the welcome page.

The service designed the welcome page to greet consumers with “a really conversational approach,” she said and to make clear what Movies Anywhere provides.

“A lot of consumers don’t understand the economics and the business models that power the entertainment industry,” she said. “Why do you have to have ads in these episodes? Wait, all of these movies aren’t free? Those things do still come up even in 2019, and so it is really important, especially for something like Movies Anywhere, to be very clear about what we’re doing, what type of content is in here and what the mission is.”

The service has added new features, including 4K with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos,  and a “Deals” section that calls out special offers from partner studios and retailers. The “Deals” feature came out of an analysis of data from the service showing a usage spike when there were special offers in the marketplace.

Movies Anywhere is also using data to inform studios about usage patterns in a way previously unavailable and is beginning to use data to customize the user experience.

“Studios having visibility into that data is going to make for a more powerful home entertainment business and a more powerful EST business,” she said.

While Movies Anywhere is backed by several major studios (Disney, Fox, Sony, Universal and Warner)  prominently featured on the welcome page, Paramount Pictures and Lionsgate are not part of the service, which also does not feature television programming.

Retail partners include iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Walmart’s Vudu, Xfinity, Google Play, Microsoft Movies & TV and FandangoNow.

EMA Producing OTT_@Pipeline Conference Sept. 25

The Entertainment Merchants Association is producing OTT_X@Pipeline at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles Sept. 25.

It’s the 12th year for the conferences, formerly titled Digital Media Pipeline. The event is a one-day business-to-business conference bringing together the OTT community for research presentations, knowledge sharing and networking.

OTT_X@Pipeline kicks off at 8:30 a.m. with a breakfast followed by panels, spotlight chats, research presentations and a keynote speaker to be announced. It ends with a cocktail party 5:15-6:15 p.m.

Panels include “What’s the Future of OTT?” and “Efficiencies Toward Profits.” There will be a Movies Anywhere update at 4:45 p.m.

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Research presentations include “To License or Not to License,” about the question of whether to invest in more original content or rely on licensed acquisitions, presented by Alejandro Rojas of Parrot Analytics; “International Development of Premium Digital Video Markets,” a review of the latest trends in international markets for SVOD and transactional digital video, presented by David Sidebottom of Futuresource; and “Navigating the Fragmented TV Landscape,” in which Samba TV will share the latest viewership trends.

EMA Slates Next OTT Conference

The Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) is gearing up for its next conference, OTT_X @ Pipeline ’19, which will be held Sept. 25 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

Celebrating its 12th year, OTT_X @ Pipeline (formerly Digital Media Pipeline) ’19 is a one-day business-to-business conference bringing together the digital OTT_X community for research presentations, knowledge sharing, and networking.

The event brings together hundreds of key authorities in the digital entertainment community of digital channels and networks, platforms, retailers, content providers, and service and technology providers.

Media Play News is the official media sponsor of the event.

For more information click here.