2021 OTT.X Impact Awards

The winners of the 2021 OTT.X Impact Awards were honored Dec. 7 at a ceremony at the IPIC Theatres Tuck Room Tavern in Westwood, Calif. OTT.X created the awards show to celebrate the content creators and organizations using their art and technology to inspire positive action and promote acceptance of, and equality for, all people. Echoing and furthering the organization’s mission was the highlight speaker of the night — David Lenga, a 94-year old Holocaust survivor and the inspiration behind Here Media’s award winning No Goodbyes. Lenga shared his harrowing tale of survival and perseverance with the audience and emphasized the importance of taking action against inequalities and injustices.

The 2021 Impact Award winners were:

  • No Goodbyes (Here Media) — Impactful Short Title
  • “Dime Quien Soy” (NBCUniversal) — Impactful Series
  • Best Summer Ever (Freestyle Digital Media) — Impactful Full-Length Feature, Fiction
  • Vice Versa CHYNA (VICE/Rock Salt Releasing) — Impactful Full-Length Feature, Non-Fiction
  • SpherexGreenlight (Spherex) — Impactful Technology Innovation
  • Google TV Watch With Me (Google) — Impactful Technology Innovation

(Photos by Alondra Gutierrez)

OTT.X Adds Six Members

OTT.X (formerly the Entertainment Merchants Association) has added six members: Breaking Glass Pictures, Here Media, MVD Entertainment Group, MyBundle.tv, Vizio and Xumo.

Founded in 2009 by industry veterans Rich Wolff and Richard Ross, along with Susan Helfrich, Breaking Glass Pictures is a film distribution and media company that focuses on releasing independent films, inclusive of all genres, from around the world. In addition to theatrical, DVD, digital, and VOD releases in North America, Breaking Glass functions as an international sales agent. With an average release slate of 45 to 50 titles a year, and a catalog of more than 400 titles, Breaking Glass also represents other studio’s catalogs for platform placement as aggregators.

Here Media operates media brands serving the LGBT market across the print, television, digital, social media, tablet, events and mobile.

MVD offers a catalog of audio and visual digital rights and has direct relationships with the major digital and VOD platforms.

MyBundle.TV guides consumers through the cord-cutting process by recommending customized bundles of streaming services based on a user’s set of circumstances. At the same time, MyBundle.TV provides OTT services a platform to reach their potential consumers.

Vizio is an American-based TV brand and sound bar company formed in 2002 offering among its products smart TVs.

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Xumo, an ad-supported streaming service, offers more than 190 digital channels of programming across 12 genres in 45 million U.S. households via a multi-screen distribution network of smart TVs, mobile, web and streaming boxes.

EMA to Present OTT Conference July 16-17

The Entertainment Merchants Association will present an over-the-top channels market and conference “OTT_X” July 16-17 at the Universal Hilton in Universal City, Calif.

The invitation-only event for C-level leaders in the OTT segment of the entertainment industry will consist of one-on-one business meetings between content providers and ad-supported and subscription OTT channels, a half-day conference featuring industry analysts and thought leaders, a service and technology providers showcase, high-speed introductory meetings specifically designed for burgeoning OTT channels, and networking events, according to the EMA.

OTT_X will be co-located with, but separate from, the EMA’s Los Angeles Entertainment Summit, the annual get-together of the home video industry, according to the EMA.

Erick Opeka, president of Cinedigm Digital Networks, will chair the confab.

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“Until now, there hasn’t been a set marketplace where buyers and sellers, providers, and distributors of OTT content can come together to network and connect in a meaningful way,” Opeka said in a statement. “That’s one of the driving forces that makes OTT_X such an important event. Through this dynamic gathering of industry leaders and pioneers, we have created an incredible opportunity where executives can explore potential partnerships with the outlets and providers that are best suited to their unique interests and needs. Our ultimate goal is that this will enable efficient and effective agreements to be made, while further expanding and revolutionizing the OTT landscape.”

“The OTT segment of the video industry is growing tremendously and needs a premier event to bring key players together to do business, share knowledge, and expand their contacts, and that is what EMA is providing with the OTT_X market and conference,” added Mark Fisher, EMA president and CEO, in a statement.

The OTT_X steering committee consists of David Bloom (media journalist), Dean Cates (The Africa Channel), George Chung (JungoTV), Paul Colichman (Here Media), Gary Delfiner (Digital Sylvia), Pat McDonough (Mill Creek Entertainment), Colin Petrie-Norris (Xumo), Steve Raymond (Vubiquity), Carlos Sanchez (Legendary Entertainment) and Randy Wells (Magnolia Pictures).

LAES: OTT About Change, Speakers Say

While there are many forms of over the top, or OTT, distribution, the term OTT is ultimately a “signifier for change” in the entertainment marketplace, said Erick Opeka, EVP of digital networks at Cinedigm July 17 at the OTT Channels Conference. The conference, which Opeka chaired, took place during the Los Angeles Entertainment Summit, produced by the Entertainment Merchants Association.

Speakers on the panel, “OTT 2022: Prognosticating the Future,” discussed the varied landscape for OTT players, from paid subscription to free ad-supported distribution, and the dominance of goliaths such as Netflix.

Panelists speculated about where Netflix would be in the next five years.

“They will look much bigger,” said Pluto TV’s Jeff Shultz. “It will be much harder for anyone to catch them given the lead they have created.”

Neil Davis of Ucast TV speculated that Netflix would be acquired by Apple, and Roku’s Randy Ahn quipped that it would be owned by Roku.

Meanwhile, National Research Group’s Jeff Hall said it would be continuing to expand internationally.

Many panelists noted the many opportunities for international growth of OTT.

Content on Indian knitting patterns can find an audience in India, Hall noted.

“Listen to the consumer,” he said.

Panelists also discussed ways to compete in a market dominated by the likes of Netflix, Amazon and other giants.

“It’s really challenging for an independent to find a place,” Davis said.

Content discovery is key, noted Ahn.

“We make it easy for publishers to build channels,” he said, noting that the Roku Channel is “essentially like a supermarket endcap” for OTT distribution, making it easier for consumers to use and discover OTT content.

Having a strong brand can also be a help “if the brand is important enough,” Shultz said.

HBO’s online service “has a chance to be a Netflix-like brand,” Hall said.

Panelists also addressed the impending Walt Disney Co. streaming service.

“I think they are going to have a harder time than I would like them to have,” Hall said, noting the service would have to expand beyond family programming.

Meanwhile, Ahn said Disney could “potentially redefine entertainment,” and Shultz, noting Disney’s valuable IP, wondered “at what expense it will come to Netflix.”

In another presentation, Tubi’s Adam Lewinson called his AVOD service “free Netflix” and noted it had accumulated 8,000 movies and series, using machine learning to help each piece of content find its audience.

Targeting a niche is also a way to find an OTT audience, noted Here Media’s Paul Colichman on another panel.

“Anyone who’s trying to compete with Netflix [with its wide appeal] should go home now,” he said.

Speakers agreed that OTT has put traditional TV on a path of decline.

IHS Markit research analyst Dan Cryan told the audience that 2016 was the peak of traditional TV.

“In five years, we won’t be talking over the top because it will all be over the top,” said Pluto TV’s Shultz.