FilmRise Picks Up Distribution Rights to Children’s Programming From WildBrain

FilmRise, the New York-based film and television studio and streaming network, has announced a partnership with WildBrain to distribute children’s programming.

The deal gives FilmRise non-exclusive North American English and Spanish-language distribution rights to more than 900 episodes across 10 children’s programs on AVOD and FAST platforms. 

Programs included in the deal are all four seasons of “Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego,” starring Academy Award-winner Rita Moreno as the voice of Carmen; both the classic and new adaptations of “Strawberry Shortcake,” including WildBrain’s new original series “Berry in the Big City”; the first four seasons and movie spinoffs of the animated sci-fi adventure “Slugterra”; “Kid vs. Kat”; “The L.A. Complex”; “Sabrina”; and “Super Mario.” 

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“As one of the world’s premiere children’s content creators and distributors, WildBrain has an incredible library of well-known productions and brands for younger audiences,” Danny Fisher, CEO of FilmRise, said in a statement. “We are fortunate to be partnering with them as we continue to expand our children and family programming offerings.”

“Partnering with FilmRise allows our popular properties to reach a larger and wider range of audiences,” Lara Ilie, VP of revenue share and transactional at WildBrain, said in a statement. “We are excited to share these lovable programs with more families.”

Samsung TV Plus Gets Access to Tennis Channel’s New Ad-Supported T2 Platform

Samsung TV Plus, the ad-supported VOD platform available on internet-connected Samsung televisions and select Galaxy mobile devices, has inked a deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group for exclusive 12-month over-the-top video access in the U.S. to T2, Tennis Channel’s new ad-supported streaming service.

Tennis Channel, which features 24/7 access to tennis tournaments from around the world, is available for an annual subscription fee of $109.99.

South Korean-based Samsung, the world’s largest television manufacturer, last summer launched an ad-supported streaming video platform featuring third-party content, including Hollywood movies, across internet-connected TVs manufactured after 2017.

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“The demand for top-level sports programming has grown even stronger as media platforms continue to evolve, and we couldn’t be happier to usher in T2, our new FAST standard, with Samsung TV Plus,” Ken Solomon, president of the Tennis Channel, said in a statement.  “Thanks to the voluminous live-match content unique to tennis — daily, global events around the clock with often overlapping multi-court coverage — T2 lets millions of Americans watch live tennis from many of the world’s top events, all year long. There are more great matches than we can fit on Tennis Channel, making T2 and Samsung TV Plus’ innovative platform the perfect complement. It allows us to attract even more viewers to the game in an exciting new way, rising the tide for tennis fans, our existing distribution partners and the game’s stakeholders everywhere.”

TiVo Looks to Bridge Gap Between Linear TV and Streaming

TiVo Feb. 28 announced the launch of TiVo Xtend, a platform of advertising software aimed at bridging the gap between linear TV and streaming via TV viewership data.

Ad-supported VOD and free ad-supported streaming television (or FAST) aims to deliver free content to viewers while subjecting them to targeted commercials.

As TV consumption shifts away from linear and toward OTT and VOD, advertisers are seeing their reach decline from traditional TV buys. TiVo’s new software is designed to allow advertisers to understand how audiences are engaging with their TV campaigns.

TiVo, which created the original DVR in 1999, continues to redefine home entertainment distribution with technology that focuses on personalization and making it easier to find and watch content. As a real-time data provider, TiVo claims to enable brands, agencies, programmers, publishers, platforms and measurement firms to integrate TiVo’s viewership and TV ad exposure data into their planning, measurement and attribution products and services.

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“With TiVo Xtend, advertisers can deliver incremental reach with their CTV campaigns and drive more impactful results,” Walt Horstman, SVP of monetization at TiVo, said in a statement. “Powered by our linear-TV viewership data, the [software] suite enables marketers to optimize outcomes for integrated campaign initiatives. The integration of our behavioral data will enhance the effectiveness of audience creation and targeted CTV placement.”

Key TiVo Xtend features include:

  • TiVo Xtend Data: Deterministic, first-party viewership data to identify who has or has not tuned into programming or seen a message from a brand or its competitor(s).
  • TiVo Xtend Audiences: Custom or pre-built programmatic audience segments, scaled and tested for precise digital targeting on CTV, PC, tablet and mobile.
  • TiVo Xtend CTV: Premium CTV inventory layered with Xtend or custom audiences to add incremental reach and frequency to linear across 40 million households.
  • TiVo Xtend Dynamic Ads: Dynamic, clickable ads placed within native TiVo Guides to promote content to relevant and engaged audiences.

OTT.X Speakers: Streaming Market Entering a New, More Competitive Phase

The streaming marketplace is entering a new phase as consumers balk at paying for more subscription services and turn to cheaper and free ad-supported options. But while those more economical options are experiencing growth, that marketplace, too, is getting more crowded and competitive. That’s according to speakers at the OTT.X Online event Feb. 23.

“The days of build it and they will come are over,” said Quincy Newell, CEO of TwentyOne14, which operates Fuse Beat, available on Roku and offering entertainment and lifestyle content targeting Black culture.

“Quality is important and key. Exclusivity is preferable,” he said.

“I think original content is becoming more important,” said Philippe Guelton, president of Crackle Plus. The AVOD service garners original content from parent company Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment.

Meanwhile, Gary Delfiner, CEO of Watchfreeflix, which offers various free streaming channels of licensed content via Roku and other platforms, noted originals aren’t as important as some think.

“I’m not that focused on original content,” he said. “I can’t afford it. I’m not Amazon and I’m not Netflix.”

Watchfreeflix plays to its strengths in horror and action thrillers, among other genres, he said.

“I believe that quantity and not sacrificing quality is the reason people are watching my channels,” he said.

He noted that SVOD services aren’t refreshing their new content that frequently, while he is constantly getting new content and creating new channels, all offered to audiences at no cost.

“I think free is a good price,” he said.

Guelton agreed that free ad-supported services have an advantage, but the competition is getting fiercer.

“When it comes to AVOD, the game is almost over,” he said. “On the FAST [free ad-supported TV], linear side, I think there’s a much longer runway.”

Newell said that his company is careful about what content it acquires and creates to stay on top of the market.

“I don’t want to have long-term licenses,” he said, adding he likes to refresh content based on audience feedback.

His team subscribes to other services to identify gaps in the marketplace and uses social media to communicate with audiences.

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“We have a very large social presence,” added Zack Coffman, founder and CEO of global OTT distributor One World Digital.

Jonathan Skogmo, founder and CEO of Jukin Media, said his team uses social media to incubate content ideas.

Platforms, such as Roku, can be an important and influential marketing partner, speakers said.

“It’s the platforms that hold the gate,” said Berkin Ecevit, sales and business development director at SPI International, a global media company that is moving into the FAST space.

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Getting to the top of the marketing list at such platforms is challenging, he said.

“Valentine’s day you’ve got to have love movies,” he noted. “What if we don’t have those?”

“The big question is what kind of leverage do we have,” Guelton added. “What can we trade? … and, yes, it can be money.”

The type of content distributors can offer is key, too.

“They’re willing to promote it for free if it’s exclusive,” Guelton said, adding the quality of the brand is important as well.

“The Crackle brand is well-respected,” he said, as is that of its parent Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Kathryn Przybyla, director of social media at America’s Test Kitchen, agreed that a good brand gives FAST players a leg up.

“People know who ATK is,” she said.

Coffman said communicating with the platforms is key.

“Start to pay attention to what the platforms are telling you,” he said, adding “if you become a great partner, the platform is more than happy to work with you.”

Skogmo noted that there’s a “sense of choice paralysis” among consumers that makes brand equity and good key art crucial.

“I think you have to have a really clear voice of what you’re curating and why you’re curating,” he said.

Stuart McLean, CEO of FAST Studios, told FAST players to “lean in on graphics packages and thumbnails.”

As a platform player among the panelists, Jennifer Vaux, head of content acquisition at the Roku Channel was coy about what prompts Roku to market a channel above others.

“You’re essentially telling the viewer what they’re going to spend their time with,” she said, adding with hundreds of channels to search through, content owners “really need to cut through the noise.”

As far as what Roku is looking for in acquiring and promoting a channel, she said a strong IP is attractive, as well as a deep library.

“We’re always looking to partner with people who have expertise in different genres,” she also said.

The data that a streaming channel collects is helpful in defining a strategy, speakers said.

“Sometimes content resonates completely differently depending on the platform,” Przybyla said.

In contrast with legacy channels, streamers get real-time data, McLean said.

“We don’t wait for Nielsen,” Coffman said.

“We’re lucky because we are a platform … we generally see what people are watching on our own channels and use that to inform our programming decisions,” Roku’s Vaux said.

While the U.S. market is crowded, speakers noted that going global might make sense.

“I think the world is wide open,” SPI’s Ecevit said.

“That’s a market that is wide open and somewhat untouched,” Watchfreeflix’s Delfiner agreed.

Clockwise from top left, moderator Anthony Layser of Xumo and panelists Jennifer Vaux of the Roku Channel, Jonathan Skogmo of TMB, Kathryn Przybyla of America’s Test Kitchen, and Zack Coffman of One World Digital.

ElectricNow FAST Channel Available on Samsung Smart TVs and Mobile Devices

Electric Entertainment, a Los Angeles-based production, distribution and post-production company, has partnered with Samsung to deliver ElectricNow’s FAST channel on all U.S. Samsung smart-TVs and select mobile devices. 

“Our live linear channel will now be reaching the enormous Samsung TV Plus audience,” Dean Devlin, CEO of Electric Entertainment, said in a statement. “This is extremely exciting for us and ElectricNow, specifically since we will be able to expose new viewers to our fan favorites, such as ‘Leverage,’ ‘The Librarians,’ ‘Almost Paradise’ and ‘The Outpost.’ We are happy to report that the ElectricNow app has millions of viewers since its inception and is rapidly growing on a consistent basis.”

ElectricNow is a premium OTT app and FAST channel featuring Electric Entertainment’s own produced content such as TV series “Leverage,” “The Librarians,” and “The Outpost,” as well as acquired programming such as the feature films Blackway, starring Anthony Hopkins, and The Book of Love, starring Jason Sudeikis and Maisie Williams. The ElectricNow Channel is available on platforms including The Roku Channel, Plex, STIRR, Local Now, Sling TV, TiVo Plus, IMDb TV, Redbox, XUMO, Distro TV and Select TV. In addition to the free streaming content, the ElectricNow App also includes special bonus feature content, a program guide, and video-on-demand and pay-per-view components. The channel and app are home to Electric’s newly launched podcast network, Electric Surge, which includes such series as “The Official Leverage: Redemption Aftershow: A Very Distinctive Podcast,” “Inglorious Treksperts,” “The 4:30 Movie,” “Best Movies Never Made” in a line-up that includes podcasts devoted to “Star Trek,” “Dr. Who” and other sci-fi and entertainment industry-related topics.

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Headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif., Electric Entertainment is an independent studio headed by veteran producer Dean Devlin along with his partners Marc Roskin and Rachel Olschan-Wilson. Electric Entertainment also houses Electric Post, a digital effects and post-production facility.

Tubi Says Streaming Hours Viewed Increased 40% in 2021

Fox Corp’s ad-supported streaming service Tubi Feb. 9 announced findings from its annual audience report that revealed the platform generated 3.6 billion hours streamed in 2021, up 40% in total viewing time from 2020. The service said its incremental audience continues to complement other video investments — with 71% of Tubi streamers unreachable on cable, 56% unreachable on linear TV, and 27% unreachable on any other major free streaming platform.

“Our findings bring AVOD to the forefront of streaming investment planning for brands in 2022, as well as a necessary complement to existing linear TV strategy,” Natalie Bastian, SVP of marketing at Tubi, said in a statement. “By accessing Fox’s desirable audience as well as partnering with next generation platforms to reach audiences not found on linear television — and it’s paid off with rapid growth among key audience segments.”

Tubi, which based its report on a fourth-quarter online survey of 6,003 adult streamers over 18 years of age, contends streaming’s audience will grow larger than paid streaming by middle of the year.

It claims AVOD audiences grew twice as fast (+16%) as SVOD (+8%) in 2021. In 2022, the survey projects that the current 5% gap in market penetration will close, with the number of AVOD users surpassing SVOD. This is attributable to a variety of factors, including subscription fatigue, ubiquitous hardware, cord cutting and increased broadband access.

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Tubi said AVOD adoption was led by the young (who still over-index vs. general population), but mature, educated and affluent audiences are growing rapidly. Tubi has seen double-digit growth in all audience segments over the past year — with the most growth among college educated and affluent ($100k+ households) demos, placing Tubi on par with U.S. national averages. With an average viewer 16+ years younger than non-streamers, Tubi’s audience has become nationally representative across geographic, economic and educational segments, and includes a large multicultural audience, comprising 40% of its user base.

The report said streaming platforms are garnering distinct, loyal audiences, while maintaining audience overlap with SVOD. Streamers continue to gravitate to specific AVOD services as their “television of choice,” while being selective about which services they pay a premium for. Factors that determine AVOD selection in a crowded marketplace include ease of use, content, personalization and user experience. Currently, over a quarter (27%) of Tubi streamers can’t be reached on any other major AVOD service:  78% aren’t on Peacock, and 62% aren’t on Hulu; however, 71% subscribe to Netflix, currently unreachable by ads.

Tubi said streaming will become the fastest growing video format in both viewership and media investment. Connected-TV and over-the-top ad spend grew 34% in 2021, compared with 7.4% for national broadcast and cable. The report projects that half of all internet users will use free streaming services by 2024, and by 2026, AVOD revenues will triple 2021 levels, reaching $31.5 billion.

Tubi Set to Stream Original Romantic Comedy Starring Camilla Belle

Tubi, Fox Entertainment’s ad-supported free streaming service, is set to bow Valentine’s Day themed movie 10 Truths About Love on Feb. 11, starring Camilla Belle (Dollface, 10,000 BC). The movie joins new romantic comedies and dramas available on Tubi this month, including Crazy, Stupid, Love., He’s Just Not That Into You, Forever Young, William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, 500 Days of Summer and A Walk to Remember, among others.

“The movie has all the ingredients of a timeless rom-com — a budding romance, more than a little mystery, and a charming, breakthrough performance by lead actress Camilla Belle,” Adam Lewinson, chief content officer, Tubi, said in a statement.

Belle plays Carina Franklin, a thriving romance columnist who thinks she’s got life and love figured out … until her longtime boyfriend unexpectedly breaks up with her. At the same time, Carina’s editor hires a new writer, Liam (David Lafontaine, Molly’s Game), to work with her and give the column a male perspective. The two clash over their approach … and sparks fly. To prove himself, Liam offers to help Carina get her ex-boyfriend back. But in the process of proving each other wrong, they begin to realize they may be right for each other.

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The movie ss executive-produced by former Lifetime and Hallmark Channel executive Barbara Fisher, Tom Berry, Suzanne Chapman and Laurence Braun.

Additional titles with a romantic themes coming to Tubi this month include original movie Howard High, in addition to catalog titles Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Must Love Dogs, Sense and Sensibility, Some Kind of Beautiful, My Girl, All the Pretty Horses, Just Friends, Garden State, Playing for Keeps (2012), Damsel, The Young Victoria, Only Lovers Left Alive, Winter’s Tale, The Sweetest Thing, Why Do Fools Fall in Love?, Poetic Justice, Dance With Me, Music and Lyrics, City of Angels, Little Italy, Romeo & Juliet (2013), New York, I Love You, Once, Two Night Stand, The Family Stone, Purple Rain, John Tucker Must Die, I Love You Phillip Morris, Can’t Buy Me Love (1987), The Choice, Love Don’t Cost A Thing and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.

AVOD Streamer DistroTV to Debut Original Feature Film ‘Escandalo Secreto’

DistroTV Feb. 1 claimed it would be the first free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) platform to debut an original feature film with the Spanish-language comedy Escándalo Secreto: En Plena Cuarentena (Secret Scandal: In Quarantine).

The comedy, directed and written by Jorge Cano, begins streaming on DistroTV Feb. 25. This marks the latest installment in DistroTV’s new, free-to-stream DistroTV Español channel bundle and comes on the heels of DistroTV’s recent expansion of its global distribution footprint, which now includes Latin American audiences.

The movie, set in Bogata, Columbia, bows on DistroTV Español, and will be available to all DistroTV audiences globally, including 17 countries in Latin America and in the U.S. The comedy’s cast includes Alejandro Gutierrez, Danny Trejo, Ninel Conde, Lina Castrillon, Platanito, Nanis Ochoa, Armando Hernandez, Lorena Herrera, Reykon, Margarita Reyes, Alexander Ospina, Valentina Lizcano, Nitzia Chama, Ricardo Hill, Isabella Santiago and Pancho Moler.

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DistroTV’s 200+ channel library includes a mix of films and television shows, such Bloomberg, EuroNews, People TV, Magellan TV and TD Ameritrade network, as well as independent channels like Black Enterprise, as well as Kweli TV, which spotlights the history and global diversity of the Black community; and DistroTV Desi, its free-to-stream South Asian channel bundle.

Kantar: 109 Million U.S. Households Have SVOD Service, Netflix’s Market Share Drops

The U.S. subscription VOD service market continues to expand with 85% of households now accessing at least one service, according to new data from Kantar. At the same time, SVOD pioneer Netflix’s domestic market share is eroding.

The proportion of U.S. households with SVOD service is up 2% from the previous-year period after two consecutive quarters of decline. This means there are now 109.4 million households with subscriptions as of December 2021.

At the same time, video streaming use is growing primarily due to free ad-supported TV (FAST), and ad-supported VOD, with FAST growing 4.9%, and AVOD use up 3.6%, and SVOD up 1.8%.

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About 9% of domestic households accessed a new streaming service in the fourth quarter of 2021, up from 8% in Q3 2021. Amazon Prime Video is the top destination for new SVOD subs for the third consecutive quarter, but its share is down 4% quarter on quarter.

The Netflix subscriber base is now below two-thirds of all U.S. subscribers, as penetration continues to decline — down slightly 0.5% in the quarter, despite the success of “Squid Game.” This represents a five-percentage-points year-on-year skid.

Indeed, stacking continues to grow among current streamers, with the average U.S. household now using 4.7 services.

With the success of “Yellowstone,” the most recommended content in Q4, Paramount+ market share of new users (now at 8% of all new streaming). Peacock, which has catalog seasons of “Yellowstone,” also benefited in the AVOD and FAST space.

Apple TV+, which saw growth due to “Ted Lasso” in Q3 and Q4 21, is now facing higher planned cancellation going into Q1. As FAST drives growth of streaming, users are expecting more from their free services, with original content and quality of shows increasingly driving sign up.

Kantar said the first quarter of 2022 can expect to see more fluctuation of subscribers as stacking continues to grow and planned cancellation rates are up across the board.

“Streamers feel they can get better quality content from FAST than before, which may have negative implications for paid streaming,” read the report. “As the U.S. passes the next wave of COVID-19, overall streaming screen time may start to decline.”

FilmRise Picks Up FAST Rights to Canadian Series ‘Kim’s Convenience’

FilmRise, the New York-based film and television studio and streaming network, has acquired multi-territory, ad-supported digital linear (FAST) rights to the critically acclaimed Canadian comedy series “Kim’s Convenience” from Canada-based Thunderbird Entertainment.

The deal gives FilmRise exclusive FAST (free ad-supported streaming) rights to all five seasons of the series, which it will program across its existing FAST Channels as well as allow for the creation of dedicated marathon FAST channels of the series across the United States, Latin America, German-speaking Europe, French-speaking Europe, Italy and Spain. FilmRise plans to offer the series on FAST linear streaming channels on IMDb TV, Pluto, The Roku Channel, Samsung TV+ and the FilmRise Streaming Network, among others.

Originally broadcast on CBC starting in 2016, the series made its international debut on Netflix in 2018. 

Based on Ins Choi’s award-winning play of the same name, “Kim’s Convenience” depicts the Korean-Canadian Kim family who runs a convenience store in Toronto. During its five season run, the series was the winner of multiple Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Comedy Series, Foreign Drama of the Year at the Seoul International Drama Awards (2019), Members’ Choice Series Ensemble Award for Best cast at the 2017 Toronto ACTRA Awards (Association of Canadian Television and Radio Artists).

The comedy stars Paul Sun-Hyung Lee (“The Mandalorian”), Andrew Phung (“Run the Burbs”) Andrea Bang (“A Million Little Things”), Jean Yoon (“The Voyeurs”), Simu Liu  (Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings), and Nicole Power, who stars in “Strays,” which is the spin-off series from “Kim’s Convenience” that premiered in September 2021 on CBC.

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“As the FilmRise Streaming Network continues to grow, so does our approach in acquiring programs featuring unique stories from people of diverse backgrounds,” Max Einhorn,  SVP of acquisitions and co-productions for FilmRise, said in a statement. “‘Kim’s Convenience’ has had a huge impact on a wide range of viewers, and we are thrilled to bring this culturally relevant series for free to streaming audiences worldwide.”

“Kim’s delightful characters and beloved stories brought love and laughter into the hearts of many during its five seasons,” Richard Goldsmith, president of global distribution and consumer products at Thunderbird Entertainment, said in a statement. “Through our partnership with FilmRise, we are thrilled that new audiences internationally will have the opportunity to connect with and enjoy the heart-warming and hilarious experiences of the Kim family.”