Whip Media Hires Former Epix, HBO Execs

Software platform and data provider Whip Media has hired Joanna Wise as SVP of people, and Patrick Kilkelly as VP of customer success.

Wise joins Whip Media from Epix, wholly owned by Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM), where she served as the VP of human resources. Prior to joining Epix, Wise was director of human resources for MLB Advanced Media, the interactive media and internet company of Major League Baseball. She also served as director of human resources for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Wise will oversee global efforts to attract and develop “an innovative and customer-focused” team, according to Whip Media.

Joanna Wise and Patrick Kilkelly

Kilkelly joins Whip Media after 15 years at WarnerMedia/HBO, where he most recently served as SVP of product operations and partner integration helping to grow the reach and engagement for HBO’s TVE and OTT products. Kilkelly also oversaw the production and distribution of HBO’s home entertainment products globally and led contract administration and content delivery for HBO’s global licensing business. In his new role at Whip Media, Kilkelly will focus on customer strategy and growth, product adoption, sales assistance, retention and support.

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“Joanna brings more than two decades of experience leading global talent and operational initiatives and driving results for some of the largest entertainment companies,” Jason Weiss, COO of Whip Media, said in a statement. “The addition of Joanna to the team will enable us to further scale Whip Media’s outstanding team and unique culture across the globe.” 

“Patrick is an accomplished executive with extensive experience in premium content distribution, partner relations, subscription video products, rights management, and the media supply chain,” Paul Giordano, chief client officer of Whip Media, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to have Patrick join our team and further develop and grow the company’s customer relationships.”

“I couldn’t be more excited to join the team at Whip Media, where our number one asset is our people,” Wise said in a statement. “The mission and core values of the company are perfectly aligned with mine, and I’m excited to build on the progress that’s been established as we work to solidify our position as an employer of choice.” 

“Whip Media’s unique data and platform provide a true competitive advantage to global streaming platforms in this rapidly evolving market,” Kilkelly said in a statement. “I’m thrilled to join the team and bring my knowledge and experience to Whip Media to drive revenue and strategic growth for our clients and help expand our customer offerings.” 

‘Sex and the City’ Relaunch ‘And Just Like That …’ to Debut Dec. 9 on HBO Max

The 10-episode Max original series “And Just Like That …” will debut with two episodes Dec. 9 on HBO Max.

The following eight episodes will premiere weekly on subsequent Thursdays.

The new chapter of the HBO series “Sex and the City,” from executive producer Michael Patrick King, follows Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) as they navigate the journey from the complicated reality of life and friendship in their 30s to the even more complicated reality of life and friendship in their 50s. 

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The series also includes previously announced cast members Sara Ramírez, Sarita Choudhury, Nicole Ari Parker, Karen Pittman, Chris Noth, Mario Cantone, David Eigenberg, Willie Garson and Evan Handler.
 
The HBO series “Sex and the City” was created by Darren Star and based on the book “Sex and the City” by Candace Bushnell.

 

CEO Jason Kilar: HBO Max, Max AVOD Platforms to Have Content Parity in January 2022

Since launching the ad-supported HBO Max platform in June, the less-expensive $9.99 monthly plan versus the ad-free $14.99 option has seen significant viewer traction, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar said on the Oct. 21 AT&T investor call.

The Max AVOD option, which launched with about $80 million in upfront advertising support, does not include same-day access to Warner Bros. Pictures theatrical releases. That will change in late January 2022 when Warner Bros. reverts back to a 45-day theatrical window on most major releases. Max launches next week in six European countries.

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“We’ve been happy with the [Max AVOD] launch not only in terms of the absolute response in subscribers, but also because advertising helps lower the price and increase the value for an HBO Max subscription,” Kilar said. “We see it as strategic.”

The executive said Warner is the only studio to release 18 movies in theaters and on streaming in the past 12+ months during the pandemic. With pending releases The Matrix Resurrections, King Richard and Dune not streaming on the AVOD option, Kilar said parity between the platforms would occur in 2022 when Max and Max AVOD have access to select Warner theatrical titles on day one.

WarnerMedia launched its controversial day-and-date theatrical/Max streaming strategy on Dec. 25, 2020, with the release of Wonder Woman 1984. 

Kilar again defended his decision to simultaneously release Warner theatrical movies on streaming, saying such a decision was the result of “being in the middle of a pandemic” that had seen most theaters operating at limited capacity or closed.

“We’ve been very much leading, and the first over the wall in terms of bringing our 2021 slate to customers in a way that can work for them, but can also work for exhibition and our participants,” he said.  “What we’ve learned is that motion pictures continue to matter. We feel very good about the quarter and where things are going.”

HBO, HBO Max Near 70M Global Subs, Despite Estimated 5M Sub Loss Due to Amazon Channels Exit

AT&T Oct. 21 announced that WarnerMedia’s branded HBO property had 69.4 million HBO Max and HBO combined subscribers globally at the end of the third  quarter (ended Sept. 30). That tally is up 12.5 million subs from the previous-year period of 56.9 million. Domestic subs topped 45.2 million, up 7.1 million, from 38.1 million a year ago.

Notably, AT&T said Max subs increased 1.9 million from the second quarter (ended June 30), but were offset by an estimated 5 million sub loss due to Max’s departure from the Amazon Channels platform affording Prime members direct access to third-party SVOD apps. AT&T made the decision to withdraw due to Amazon’s margins on Max subs, among other issues. Other high-profile SVOD exits from Amazon Channels include Netflix and Disney+.

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AT&T said the average revenue per HBO/HBO Max sub is $11.82 monthly, with total WarnerMedia revenue up 14.2% to $8.4 billion. Overall direct-to-consumer subscription revenue is up about 25%.

WarnerMedia assets include Warner Bros. Pictures, HBO and Turner.

“We continue to execute well in growing customer relationships, and we’re on track to meet our guidance for the year,” John Stankey, CEO of AT&T, said in a statement.

Disney+ Eyeing Critical Validation at 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards

NEWS ANALYSIS — Heading into the 2021 Emmy Awards, Netflix and HBO again headlined the competition with 130 and 129 network nominations, respectively. Not too far behind the slugfest sat Disney+ with 71 nominations, a significant tally for a streaming service less than two years old. Disney+ generated Emmy 19 nominations in its first year.

Many of the Creative Arts categories were handed out Sept. 11-12, with the major awards doled out Sept. 19 in a Los Angeles ceremony broadcast by CBS.

While streamers, including Apple TV+, for the first time spearhead the favorites among major Emmy categories in drama, comedy and limited series, Disney+ has a legitimate chance of winning drama and limited series with “The Mandalorian” and “WandaVision,” respectively.

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It’s a potential feat Netflix has failed to do despite generating 65 major nominations over the years entering the 2021 Emmys. The streamer did win Outstanding Lead Actress in 2018 for Claire Foy in “The Crown.”

This year “The Mandalorian” generated 24 nominations, rivaling “The Crown,” with “WandaVision” just behind with 23 nominations. Notably, Apple TV+ series “Ted Lasso” set a record with 20 noms for a freshman show.

At the Creative Arts Emmys, Disney+ won 13 Emmys, bringing its total for the year to 14. Its Creative Arts wins included three for “WandaVision,” the first Emmys for Marvel Studios — including Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for the popular song “Agatha All Along.” Meanwhile, “Star Wars” series “The Mandalorian” won seven trophies in the technical categories.

When factoring in all of Disney’s over-the-top video brands (ESPN+ and Hulu), the media giant tallied a leading 146 nominations, with Hulu’s “PEN15” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” among the competition in the major categories.

More importantly, Disney+ (with 103 million subs) is projected to pass Netflix (209 million) with 300 million global subs by 2024, according to Ampere Analytics data published by The Guardian. The tally is driven in large part by Disney’s acquisition of Indian streaming platform Hotstar through its $71.3 billion 20th Century Fox assets purchase.

HBO Max won its first Emmy Sept. 12 with Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music for “The Flight Attendant.”

‘Sex and the City’ Series and Movies Due in Blu-ray Boxed Set Nov. 2

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release all six seasons of the HBO comedy series “Sex and the City” plus both feature films based on the show as a Blu-ray Disc collection for the first time on Nov. 2.

“Sex and The City: The Complete Series + 2 Movie Collection” features 96 episodes of the series plus Sex and the City: The Movie and Sex and the City 2 in one boxed set. It arrives in time for the next chapter “And Just Like That …,” which debuts on HBO Max later this year.

Winner of seven Emmy Awards, and the first cable show to win Outstanding Comedy Series, “Sex and the City” celebrates the bond of female friendship. It stars Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw, a New York-based writer who explores and experiences the unique world of Manhattan’s dating scene, chronicling the mating habits of single New Yorkers. The series also stars cast regulars Kim Cattrall as PR executive Samantha Jones, who’s seen — and done — it all; Kristin Davis as Charlotte York, still trying to hold on to the idea of happily ever after; and Cynthia Nixon as corporate lawyer and mother Miranda Hobbes, a pragmatist trying to balance the idea of love with the realities of life.

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The release includes more than three hours of previously released special features, including “Inside Sex and the City,” “Meet the Cast of Sex and the City,” “The Writers of Sex and the City,” “The Fashion of Sex and the City Sex and the City: Real New Yorkers,” and many more.

Sex and the City: The Complete Series, Sex and the City: The Movie and Sex and the City 2 are also available to own on digital via purchase from digital retailers, and to stream on HBO Max.

HBO and HBO Max Add 2.8 Million Combined Q2 Subs

AT&T July 22 announced that its WarnerMedia subscription streaming video service, HBO Max, and HBO pay-TV channel added 2.8 million combined subscribers in the second quarter (ended June 30).

The platforms ended the period with 47 million combined subs, a gain of 10.7 million subs over the past year, and 67.5 million globally, up 12 million.

WarnerMedia ended the quarter with more than 12 million standalone HBO Max subscribers in the United States and 31.5 million transitioned subs from HBO pay-TV. HBO ended the quarter with 32,000 U.S. pay-TV subs and 3.5 million commercial subs — the former reflecting increased migration of subscribers from linear TV to streaming.

The company’s 20.5 million international Max and HBO subs consist of domestic and international, and exclude free trials, basic and Cinemax subscribers.

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AT&T now expects to generate upwards of 73 million global HBO Max/HBO subscribers by the end of this year. Max launched nationwide May 27, 2020.

Subscription revenue increased 21.3% to $4 billion, primarily reflecting the 38.5% growth of direct-to-consumer Max and HBO subscription revenue following the launch of Max in the year-ago quarter.

“HBO Max had another strong quarter and is ahead of plan to be a leading direct-to-consumer streaming platform, with both subscriber- and ad-supported choices,” AT&T CEO John Stankey said in a statement.

HBO’s ‘The Nevers’ Arrives on Disc Oct. 5

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release The Nevers: Season 1 Part 1 on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Oct. 5.

The two-disc sets include the first six episodes of the HBO sci-fi drama created by Joss Whedon about a gang of women in Victorian England who suddenly manifest unusual supernatural powers and find themselves on a mission that could change the world.

In 1896, London is rocked to its foundations by a supernatural event that gives certain people — mostly women — abnormal abilities, from the wondrous to the disturbing. All who belong to this new underclass are in great danger, so it falls to mysterious, quick-fisted widow Amalia True (Laura Donnelly) and brilliant young inventor Penance Adair (Ann Skelly) to protect and shelter them against the brutal forces determined to annihilate their kind.

The cast also includes Olivia Williams, James Norton, Tom Riley, Rochelle Neil, Eleanor Tomlinson, Amy Manson, Pip Torrens, Denis O’Hare, Zackary Momoh, Elizabeth Berrington, Kiran Sonia Sawar, Anna Devlin, Viola Prettejohn, Ella Smith, Nick Frost and Ben Chaplin.

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Extras include the featurettes “Introducing The Nevers,” “A New Age of Power,” “Villains of the Nevers,” the six-part “Creating the Nevers,” six character portraits, three “The Craft” videos about the creative team and the Blu-ray and DVD exclusive featurettes “A Touch of Power: The Themes Behind The Nevers” and “Accustomed to the Impossible: The Making of The Nevers.”

The second half of the first season is slated to air on HBO in 2022.

HBO’s ‘Mare of Easttown’ Heading to Disc Sept. 14

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the HBO limited series Mare of Easttown on DVD Sept. 14. A Blu-ray Disc edition will be available the same day from Warner Archive Collection. The show is available now for digital purchase.

The seven-part drama stars Kate Winslet as Mare Sheehan, a respected small-town Pennsylvania detective investigating a local murder while also balancing her own personal life, which is rapidly falling apart around her.

The cast also includes Julianne Nicholson, Jean Smart, Angourie Rice, Evan Peters, Guy Pearce, David Denman, Joe Tippett, Cailee Spaeny, John Douglas Thompson, Patrick Murney, James McArdle, Sosie Bacon, Neal Huff, Kate Arrington, Ruby Cruz, Eisa Davis, Enid Graham, Justin Hurtt-Dunkley, Izzy King, Mackenzie Lansing, Cameron Mann, Kiah McKirnan, Jack Mulhern, Anthony Norman, Drew Scheid and Madeleine Weinstein.

Extras include the featurettes “Invitation to the Set,” “Mare of Easttown: A Closer Look,” “Welcome to Easttown” and “Making Mare of Easttown.”

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Samba TV: ‘Friends’ Reunion Drew 2 Million U.S. Households Over Long Weekend

HBO Max’s much-anticipated “Friends” reunion attracted 2 million U.S. households from May 27-31, according to Smart-TV viewer tracking service Samba TV.

The audience skewed younger, over-indexing with viewers age 54 and below, according the Samba TV. Viewers also tended to be more affluent, while Asian (+13%) and white (+7%) viewers over-indexed.

In both New Hampshire and Wyoming, 24% of all households watched the reunion, according to Samba TV data. But viewership was bigger in the United Kingdom, where 2.5 million households watched the special (It aired on linear TV in the United Kingdom, but only on streaming in the United States.).

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By contrast, “The Mare of Easttown” finale drew 1.7 million U.S. households May 30-31 (that program aired on both HBO and HBO Max) while Cruella, on Disney+ Premier Access, drew 686,000 U.S. households May 28-31.