HBO Launches SVOD Service in Portugal

HBO launched its newest over-the-top streaming video service, HBO Portugal, bringing all seasons of HBO’s coveted original programming to Portuguese audiences. In addition to originals, HBO Portugal viewers have access to series, films, documentaries and family content from other content providers.

Following a one-month free trial for all new subscribers, HBO Portugal costs €4.99 ($5.64) monthly, allowing subscribers to register five different devices with their subscription and watch two simultaneous streams of dubbed and subtitled content at the same time from the same account.

The service is accessible through a wide range of smartphones, tablets and devices including PCs, LG TV, PlayStation 4, Android TV, Chromecast and Apple TV.

Vodafone Portugal is the exclusive operator partner for local distribution, giving Vodafone Portugal customers access to the streaming service via TV Vodafone.

HBO Portugal subs have access to more than 4,500 episodes of HBO series, including every season “Game of Thrones,” “True Detective,” “Westworld” and “Big Little Lies.”

The service also includes classics shows such as “Sex and the City,” “The Sopranos,” “The Wire” and “Girls.” The service will feature a wide variety of series, movies, documentaries and family content from other content providers, including Showtime, Sundance, SyFy, The CW, AMC Network, DreamWorks and Turner.

 

Dish Expects More Sub Losses When HBO’s Final ‘Game of Thrones’ Season Begins in April

Dish Network lost more than 1 million video subscribers in 2018, including 334,000 in the fourth quarter, ended Dec. 31, 2018. The satellite pay-TV operator attributed the losses to ongoing carriage disputes with Univision and HBO.

With HBO set to begin the airing the eighth and final season of “Game of Thrones,” on April 14, Dish chairman Charlie Ergen believes sub losses could increase unless an agreement is reached. He said Dish subs have learned to live without HBO due in part to the channel’s lack of significant new programming in Q4 (with the exception of “True Detective”).

“I think that realistically you would expect that when “Game of Thrones” comes on you may see a pickup in defections,” Ergen said on Feb. 13 fiscal call – adding that losing long-time distribution partners underscored the changing dynamics of pay-TV in an era of over-the-top video.

Indeed, some analysts attributed 200,000 of Dish’s Q4 sub losses to the HBO dispute – a figure management didn’t entirely dispute – and the reality consumers can access the premium channel as standalone product HBO Now and via Amazon Channels.

CEO Erik Carlson said that with HBO owner AT&T an active satellite competitor (via DirecTV), negotiations remain at an impasse.

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“HBO is demanding a [carriage] contract that would have forced Dish customers to subsidize both HBO and Cinemax even if customers chose not to subscribe to those services,” Carlson said.

Dish charged subscribers $15 and $10 monthly for HBO and Cinemax, respectively, under the previous contract.

The executive said AT&T/HBO’s negotiating strategy underscores Dish’s ongoing opposition to the AT&T/Time Warner merger that created AT&T’s  WarnerMedia unit.

The merger, which has been appealed by the Justice Department, is currently under review by a federal appeals court judge.

“Our view hasn’t changed: AT&T’s uncompromising stance remains the fundamental negative of their merger with Time Warner,” Carlson said.

 

Wither HBO Now?

With WarnerMedia launching a branded subscription streaming video platform next year that will incorporate original and catalog content from HBO, Warner Bros. and Turner, in addition to third-party providers, the question arises: What will become of standalone SVOD service HBO Now?

Launched in 2014, HBO Now topped 5 million subscribers earlier this year. WarnerMedia is wrapping much of its unnamed OTT product around the HBO brand, with tiers of service ranging from studio movies to original series such as “Game of Thrones” and “Westworld,” among others.

Speaking Dec. 4 at the UBS 46th Annual Global Media and Communications confab in New York, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson reiterated that the WarnerMedia streaming platform would not be another Netflix — focusing instead on Warner, HBO and Turner content.

“The goal of [CEO] John Stankey and WarnerMedia is not to create a direct-to-consumer product that rivals Netflix in terms of being a warehouse of content,” he said, adding that traditional pay-TV business models distributing wholesale content are old-school.

“Those businesses are getting disrupted aggressively,” Stephenson said.

The executive said the market needs an OTT product that “can achieve a very high penetration of [WarnerMedia] content with audiences.”

And HBO — via HBO Now — has its foot in the door.

“All media companies are coming to grips with the reality to better establish a direct relationship with [their] audiences,” Stephenson said. And with more than 140 million pay-TV subscribers globally, HBO resonates.

“I once compared Netflix to Walmart — not derogatorily … but when I’m shopping [and] I need something … I go to Walmart,” Stephenson said. “Well, if you’re looking for video content, regardless what it is, people will go to Netflix because it is just a warehouse. And it’s an impressive warehouse. That is not our ambition.”

Stephenson said management recognizes the need to ramp up original content spending at HBO — infusing the platform with year-long new offerings in addition to platform investment.

“[HBO boss] Richard Plepler is pretty excited,” Stephenson said. “He knows how to put together programming that will attract audiences. We’re very confident we’re going to have an HBO product that’s more fulsome.”

With WarnerMedia representing 17% of AT&T’s profitability, Stephenson said Warner Bros. remains a significant creator of TV content — including producing 70 scripted TV series in the past year to third parties including Netflix.

The executive mentioned Netflix had resigned license rights to Warner Bros.’ venerable sitcom “Friends” on a non-exclusive basis.

“That means ‘Friends’ can go onto our platform as well,” Stephenson said.

“We think we have enough IP and capability we can put together a product that will be very attractive,” he said. “It’s not a pervasive library of content warehouse like Netflix, but we think it is a very impressive product that will achieve very high penetration. Expectations are very high for this product.”

HBO Launching OTT Video Service in Portugal

Seeking to keep pace with Netflix, HBO will reportedly launch over-the-top video service in Portugal in the first quarter of 2019.

The launch, first reported by Meios e Publicidade, aims to compete against Netflix, which operates mobile streaming service in Portugal through Vodafone. The SVOD behemoth launched pay-TV access in 2015.

The publication said HBO had opened an office in Lisbon, in addition to hiring Patrícia Reis as VP of marketing; Inês Martins de Almeida as distribution sales manager, and Cláudia Cristóvão coordinator of social media.

With more than 135 million subscribers globally, HBO rivals Netflix global sub footprint. With new corporate owner AT&T, WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey has made no secret his desire to expand HBO’s worldwide reach.

HBO reportedly is spending about $2 billion on original content in 2018 – a fraction of the $12 billion Netflix’s war chest.

Stankey in June at a town hall meeting said HBO faced a “tough year” as it ups content spending in order to “get bigger and broader” and keep Netflix in check.

The platform increased second season buzz surround award-winning “Big Little Lies” by adding Meryl Streep to the cast. It streams the biggest TV show in the world, “Game of Thrones,” in addition to “Westworld,” “Sharp Objects,” “True Detective,” and upstart British comedy “Sally4Ever,” among others, domestically.

“HBO has a unique, high-quality, emotionally-charged product,” Eric Schiffer, chairman of Reputation Management Consultants, told Observer.com.“It can scale 2 to 3X output without sacrificing brand integrity. But, transforming into a Netflix ‘slayer’ suddenly will mean massive means, an investment unlikely to come in the scale needed to be a serious competitive threat, but it could still help HBO compete far better.”

 

Amazon’s ‘Mrs. Maisel,’ HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ Lead Way at 70th Emmys

For the second year in a row, a show from a streaming service won the Emmy for best series in its category.

While last year Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” won Outstanding Drama Series, this year it was Amazon Video taking the top prize in the Outstanding Comedy Series category with the first season of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

“Maisel” ended up with eight Emmys, including Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Rachel Brosnahan as the title character, and Outstanding Supporting Actress for Alex Borstein (who won another Emmy this year for her voiceover work on Fox’s “Family Guy”).

The 70th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards were announced Sept. 17 at a televised ceremony in Los Angeles and at the Creative Arts ceremony a week earlier.

Netflix and HBO ended up tied as the top networks with 23 wins apiece.

Outstanding Drama Series again went to HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” this time for its seventh season, which is readily available for digital download or on Blu-ray and DVD.

“Game of Thrones” previously won the Best Drama Series Emmy in 2015 and 2016 for its fifth and sixth seasons, respectively, but a quirk in its production meant the show didn’t air during the 2017 eligibility period, opening the door for “Handmaid’s Tale” to win last year.

“Thrones” won nine Emmys this year, including Peter Dinklage winning his third trophy for Outstanding Supporting Actor for the role of Tyrion Lannister (previously won in 2011 and 2015).

FX’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story won seven Emmys, including Outstanding Limited Series. The nine-episode miniseries is available for digital download.

Among some other notable categories, HBO’s “Barry” (on DVD Oct. 2) won Outstanding Actor and Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for Bill Hader and Henry Winkler, respectively. Matthew Rhys won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for the sixth and final season of FX’s “The Americans,” coming to DVD Oct. 23 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. Claire Foy won Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for playing Queen Elizabeth II in the second season of Netflix’s “The Crown.” And Thandie Newton won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for season two of HBO’s “Westworld,” which will be available on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Dec. 4 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

For a complete list of 2018 winners, visit Emmys.com.

Parrot Analytics Partners with Guinness Book of World Records

Parrot Analytics, a big data analytics firm that uses a proprietary formula to measure demand for digital originals and TV shows, on Aug. 28 announced a partnership with  Guinness World Records to identify the most in-demand programs in the world.

Designated by Guinness World Records as “Officially Amazing,” HBO’s “Game of Thrones” was determined to be the most in-demand show in the world, while Netflix’s paranormal thriller “Stranger Things” was the most in-demand digital original series in the world in 2017. The two series are included in the Guinness World Records 2019 edition, which will be available for purchase in book stores and online on Sept. 6, 2018.

Parrot Analytics  measures global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

“It is an honor to work with the venerable Guinness World Records,” said Wared Seger, CEO of Parrot Analytics. “We were delighted that the Guinness World Records team chose to work with us to determine the most in-demand TV shows in the world and that they saw the value in relying on the industry’s established global cross-platform TV demand metric to gain a truly holistic and empirical view of what is resonating with viewers worldwide.”

“Parrot Analytics is taking our methodology of gauging record-breaking designations to a whole new level,” said Craig Glenday, editor in chief of Guinness World Records. “Their audience demand measurement system goes far beyond the days of surveys and questionnaires and utilizes big data and AI to look at the numerous ways consumers express their demand for content. This year, by adding the category for digital originals, we will really get an idea of how much the world’s video consumption has changed.”

Parrot Analytics has previously quantified “Game of Thrones” as the Most In-Demand TV Show in the World in the 2018 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records. This year, a new category for digital original shows was added to include original series produced by streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon.

The 2019 Guinness World Records is available for purchase in 22 languages around the world.

‘Game of Thrones’ Production Team to Receive BAFTA Craft Award

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts is honoring the production team from HBO’s popular period drama, “Game of Thrones,” with the BAFTA Special Award at the upcoming British Academy Television Craft Awards, April 22 in London.

The award, which recognizes production workers behind the critically-acclaimed period series and its contribution to pushing the boundaries within the various crafts involved in making all 67 episodes to date, will be live-streamed on YouTube and Twitter.

“Many, many people work insanely hard to create any film or television show,” series creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, said in a statement. “They are creators every bit as much as actors, writers, producers or directors, and deserve to be recognised as such.”

Yet, accepting the award on behalf of the production team will be cast members John Bradley (Samwell Tarly) and Hannah Murray (Gilly).

“Thrones” is also nominated in two category awards, including for Michelle Clapton for Costume Design, and Deborah Riley and Rob Cameron for Production Design.

“The craft behind what is one of the most popular dramas of our time is nothing short of incredible, from the breath-taking location shots to the intricately designed costumes and set pieces, and not forgetting the level of detail from the makeup and prosthetics team to name a few,” said Krishnendu Majumdar, chair of BAFTA’s Television Committee.

First broadcast in the United States in 2011, “Thrones” – which chronicles a power struggle in a vast and violent kingdom – was acquired by Sky Atlantic for U.K. audiences in the same year. The drama is based on the fantasy books by George R.R. Martin.

HBO earlier this month announced it would release Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season on 4K UHD Blu-ray/Digital HD on June 5.

 

HBO to Release ‘Games of Thrones: Season 1’ on UHD Blu-ray June 5

Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season will debut on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with Dolby Vision high dynamic range June 5 from HBO Home Entertainment.

“Game of Thrones” is the first HBO series released by HBO Home Entertainment in 4K.  (HBO’s “Westworld” got a 4K release, but it was distributed by Warner.)

The first season release includes all 10 episodes in the 4K format with extras in HD.

In the season one of the Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning series, trouble is brewing in a land where summers span decades and winters can last a lifetime. From the scheming south and the savage eastern lands, to the frozen north and the ancient wall that protects the realm from the darkness beyond, powerful families are engaged in a deadly cat-and-mouse game for control of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. As betrayal, lust, intrigue and supernatural forces shake the four corners of the Kingdoms, their bloody struggle for the Iron Throne will have unforeseen and far-reaching consequences. Winter is coming.

Season 1 bonus features (in HD) include:

  • “Animated Histories,” about the mythology of Westeros as told from the varying perspectives of the characters themselves;
  • “Anatomy of an Episode,” an in-episode experience that explores the creative minds and colossal efforts behind episode six, “A Golden Crown”;
  • cast auditions, with rarely-seen footage of the cast auditioning;
  • “Making Game of Thrones,” an exclusive 30-minute feature including never-before-seen footage from the set and interviews with the cast and crew;
  • profiles of 15 major characters as described by the actors portraying them;
  • “Creating the Show Open,”an inside look at the creation of the Emmy-winning opening title sequence for “Game of Thrones”;
  • “From the Book to the Screen,” in which executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss along with author George R.R. Martin talk about the challenges of bringing Martin’s epic fantasy novel to life on HBO;
  • “The Night’s Watch,” an in-depth look at the unique order of men who patrol and protect the wall, a 700-foot ice structure that separates the Seven Kingdoms from the darkness beyond;
  • “Creating the Dothraki Language,” a glance into the comprehensive language created for the Dothraki people in the series;
  • seven audio commentaries with cast and crew, including David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, George R.R. Martin, Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Mark Addy, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Bryan Cogman, Harry Lloyd, Daniel Minahan and Alan Taylor; and
  • a digital download code for the ten-episode season in HD.

 

As Marvel Movie Draws Closer, Digital Originals Rise Up the Demand Chart

Media Play News has teamed with Parrot Analytics to provide readers with a weekly top 10 of the most popular digital original TV series in the United States. Parrot Analytics uses a proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

CBS All Access’ “Star Trek: Discovery” remained at No. 1 on the digital originals chart for the week that ended March 3, but dropped from No. 1 to No. 5 on the overall TV shows chart, according to Parrot Analytics’ Demand Expressions data.

On the digital originals chart, the top five remain unchanged from the previous week, but they all lost a quarter of demand compared to last week since no new episodes have aired this year.

“Orange Is the New Black” jumped up a notch to No. 6 on the digital originals chart, displacing the nostalgic teen drama “Everything Sucks!,” which slipped to No. 8. “Everything Sucks!” suffered a 19% decrease in demand from the prior week, and with more original series premiering in March appears likely to drop off the chart.

A third Marvel superhero series entered the top 10 the week ended March 3: “The Punisher,” which joins “Jessica Jones” (No. 7, up a notch from the prior week) and “Daredevil” (which held steady at No. 9). All three series have new episodes in the pipeline. Season 2 of “Jessica Jones” arrives March 8, while a third season of “Daredevil” is expected later this year. A second season of “The Punisher” has also been ordered. All three series have experienced a roughly 20% week-on-week increase in demand. A demand uptick for Marvel/Netflix titles tends to happen around the release of significant Marvel motion picture releases, Parrot Analytics data shows; the next “Avengers” film is scheduled to open theatrically April 27.

On the overall chart, AMC’s “The Walking Dead” shot up to No. 1 from No. 2 the prior week, followed by “Game of Thrones” at No. 2, “SpongeBob SquarePants” at No. 3 and “Grey’s Anatomy” at No. 4. “The Walking Dead” appears to have experienced a renaissance in its popularity. The zombie franchise’s principal producer, Scott Gimple, has talked about plans for more spin-offs of the show in the future. The show, which is currently in its eighth season, already has one spin-off (“Fear the Walking Dead”), and there are discussions for more.

Two long-running reality titles reappeared on the chart. “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” popped back up at No. 8, perhaps due to a pregnancy, while competition format changes may have propelled “The Voice” back onto the chart at No. 10.