Disney’s $71B Fox Acquisition Effective After Midnight

The Walt Disney Co. announced that its $71.3 billion purchase of 20th Century Fox Film Corp. officially goes into effect at 12:02 a.m. ET on March 20.

The deal includes 20th Century Fox, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox 2000 Pictures, Fox Family and Fox Animation; Fox’s television creative units, 20th Century Fox Television, FX Productions and Fox21; FX Networks; National Geographic Partners; Fox Networks Group International; Star India; and Fox’s interests in Hulu, Tata Sky and Endemol Shine Group.

As part of the deal, Disney has agreed to sell 21st Century Fox’s Regional Sports Networks.

Disney is also acquiring approximately $19.8 billion in cash and assuming approximately $19.2 billion of debt of 21st Century Fox in the acquisition. The deal price implies a total equity value of approximately $71 billion and a total transaction value of approximately $71 billion.

“This is an extraordinary and historic moment for us — one that will create significant long-term value for our company and our shareholders,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a statement. “Combining Disney’s and 21st Century Fox’s wealth of creative content and proven talent creates the preeminent global entertainment company, well positioned to lead in an incredibly dynamic and transformative era.”

 

 

‘Umbrella Academy’ Spends Fourth Week Atop Parrot Analytics’ Digital Originals Chart

Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy” remains the most popular digital original series according to Parrot Analytics’ Demand Expressions chart for the week ended March 16, its fourth straight week in the top spot.

Demand for “Umbrella Academy” grew another 7.3% from the previous week, up to 53.3 million average daily Demand Expressions, the proprietary metric used by Parrot Analytics to measure global demand for TV content.

The Demand Expressions metric draws from 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.

A “digital original” is a multi-episode series in which the most recent season was first made available on a streaming platform such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Hulu.

The digital originals top five demand expressions top five were the same shows from the previous week, but in a different order.

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DC Universe’s “Titans” kept the No. 2 with a 6% gain in expressions, to 27.9 million.

“Star Trek: Discovery,” from CBS All Access, rose to No. 3 with 26.8 million expressions, up 8.8%. Netflix’s “Stranger Things” rose 2.7% to 24.9 million expressions, but slipped to slipped to No. 4.

DC Universe’s “Doom Patrol” slipped to No. 5 with 24.2 million expressions, down 6.2% from the prior week.

Elsewhere on the chart, Netflix’s coming-of-age dramedy “On My Block” jumped to No. 7 on the chart with 21.5 million expressions, a 50.2% increase that coincides with its March 16 debut. It had been No. 18 the previous week.

“One Day at a Time,” which was canceled by Netflix March 14 after three seasons, was up a spot to No. 9 on the chart with 19.4 million expressions, an 11.1% increase over the previous week.

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, based on the firm’s  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.

Purdue University Bans Netflix, Other Streaming Use in Classrooms

Purdue University has begun banning students from accessing streaming video services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube in classrooms.

The reason: Burgeoning streaming video and music service use during classes had slowed the school’s Wi-Fi speed to a crawl and was distracting students.

What began as an experiment in the fall expanded across the West Lafayette, Ind., campus March 18 as students returned from spring break.

“There’s a finite amount of bandwidth available,” Mark Sonstein, executive director of IT infrastructure at Purdue, told the Chicago Tribune. “If you have people who are streaming a movie, then they are consuming all of the available bandwidth.”

While many high schools and middle schools routinely collect cellphones from students before classes, Purdue reportedly is one of the first universities to erect a tech barrier.

“I heard about the bandwidth problem, but when the solution was implemented, I heard crickets,” said chemical engineering professor Steve Beaudoin.

Indeed, student reaction to the ban has been scant as most aren’t streaming episodes of “True Detective” or “Game of Thrones” during Chem 101, despite sitting in a lecture hall that seats 100.

Nineteen-year-old computer science sophomore Nick Pappas told the Tribune he doesn’t believe SVOD use in classrooms is as common as school officials contend. But he has seen some students engage – especially if they have wireless earbuds.

“People can get away with it so easily,” he said.

“If the bulk of the students participate, either because they agree with the purpose of the program, or because they aren’t inclined to take the steps necessary to circumvent it, then the purpose — freeing up bandwidth for academics — will be achieved,” Sonstein said.

 

 

Study: U.S. SVOD Buyers Average 3.4 Services

Online video subscribers in the United States average 3.4 streaming services and pay an average of $8.53 per month per service, according to a new study.

The nScreenMedia study, “Keep My Customer — Why Consumers Subscribe To, Stay With, Cancel, and Come Back to Online Video Services,” also found that 70% of households in the United States and 40% of U.K. homes have a subscription to at least one streaming video service.

The study was commissioned by Vindicia, an Amdocs company providing business-to-consumer digital services monetization.

Involuntary cancellation is a problem for the industry, according to the study. These payment failures occur when a credit card problem, such as insufficient funds, results in automatic cancellation of a customer. The study revealed that more than a quarter of U.S. and a third of U.K. online video streamers have had a SVOD service canceled due to a credit card problem. And of those groups, 30% did not return to the service.

“Involuntary cancellations are a huge problem for the SVOD industry, particularly among young subscribers,” said study author Colin Dixon, founder and chief analyst at nScreenMedia, in a statement. “Young adults from 18 to 34 years old are twice as likely to have experienced involuntary cancellation in the U.K., and three times more likely in the U.S.”

“For video streaming services, the ability to acquire and retain subscribers is vital to their success,” said Anthony Goonetilleke, group president, media, network and technology, Amdocs, in a statement. “However, streaming services are losing subscribers — and millions of dollars in annual revenue — due to involuntary credit card cancellations. This kind of customer churn is largely preventable. By leveraging the right technology, video streaming providers can recover failed payment transactions and capture revenue that would otherwise be lost, enabling them to better compete in a highly competitive market.”

In terms of overall cancellations, the survey looked at how often people cancel their service and their reasons for doing so. In the United States, 38% of the survey group said they have canceled one or more services in the last year. Of that group, two-thirds said they had canceled one service only, and just one in 10 have canceled three or more services.

Netflix users are slightly less likely than average to have canceled service in the last year, according to the study, while Hulu users are slightly more likely. Amazon Prime Video users are no more or less likely than average.

The top two reasons cited for canceling a video service: people couldn’t find enough content they liked and didn’t find the service a good value for their money.

Previous customers are the best new prospects, as the study found that 33% of U.S. and 25% of U.K. cancellers have been persuaded to sign up for service again.

Discounted subscriptions are an under-exploited opportunity for service providers to win new customers. The survey revealed that a 20% discount for a three-month commitment generated the highest interest level, with 66% of U.S. and 57% of U.K. subscribers saying they were likely or extremely likely to take the offer. Three months is an important milestone, because subscribers that stay this long are much less likely to leave the service. Surprisingly, the study found that offering more than a 20% discount did not result in more interest.

The study also found that free-trial abuse is not a serious problem for online video service providers. While 49% of U.S. and 62% of U.K. online video subscribers have canceled at least one service within the free trial period, only 5% in the U.S. and 2% in the U.K. have canceled within the free-trial period four or more times in the last year.

When it comes to retaining existing subscribers, content is king. The study found that 64% of U.S. subscribers and 55% of U.K. subscribers have been with their longest-tenured service for one year or more. When asked why they stay, respondents said having plenty of interesting content to watch was the top reason. Value for money was a close second place, and ease of finding something good to watch came in third. Interesting original content was the fourth reason, while providing plenty of new shows took the fifth-place spot.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s expanding influence in the VOD market is evident. The study found that one-third of U.K. and U.S. Prime Video subscribers have purchased an add-on video service, with higher income individuals more likely to use Amazon Prime Video and to purchase an add-on. In the United States, the most popular video add-ons are premium services such as HBO, Starz, Showtime and Cinemax. CBS All Access is also very popular. In the United Kingdom, the most popular video add-ons are Eurosport Player, Discovery, ITV Hub+ and FilmBox.

To learn more about the nScreenMedia study or to download a copy, visit here.

Reed Hastings Welcomes Pending Netflix SVOD Competitors

Netflix co-founder/CEO Reed Hastings has steadfastly championed new competitors in the burgeoning subscription streaming video-on-demand ecosystem.

With the arrival of an Apple streaming video service expected to be announced on March 25 — without Netflix, according to Hastings — followed by Disney+ at the end of the year, and over-the-top platforms from WarnerMedia and Comcast in 2020, Netflix is about to get its most-serious streaming competition since launching OTT service in 2007.

Hastings, per usual, is taking it all in stride.

“We will make this a better industry if we have better competitors,” the CEO told attendees March 18 at Netflix’s Los Angeles headquarters. “All we have to do to succeed is to continue to stream great content and not get too distracted.”

Indeed, with the service projected to reach 148 million paid subscribers worldwide by the end of the first quarter (ended March 31), Netflix has effectively become the largest pay-TV service globally.

At the same time as subscribers consume increasing amounts of original and third-party content, Netflix is winning the battle for OTT video eyeballs.

“I think of it as us winning time away — entertainment time — from other activities,” Hasting said in January on the fourth-quarter webcast. “So, instead of doing Xbox and Fortnite or YouTube or HBO or a long list, we want to win and provide a better experience, [with] no advertising, on-demand [and] incredible content.”

The executive said Netflix — unlike branded services such as HBO, Showtime and Starz — offers content across a wide spectrum genres and interests, which Hastings characterized as a well-balanced stock portfolio.

“We compete so broadly with all of these providers that any one provider entering only makes a difference on the margin,” he said in January. “So, that’s why we don’t get so focused on any one competitor. I really think our best way is to win more time by having the best experiences in all the things that we do.”

Oscar-Winning Documentary ‘Free Solo’ Streaming on Hulu

Hulu is now streaming Free Solo, the Academy Award-winning Best Documentary Feature highlighting soloist climber Alex Honnold.

The film, which began streaming on the service March 13, is from award-winning documentary filmmaker Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and world-renowned photographer and mountaineer Jimmy Chin. It’s an unflinching portrait of Honnold as he prepares to achieve his lifelong dream of climbing El Capitan, the 3,200-foot peak in Yosemite National Park, without a rope.

Free Solo is a true masterpiece that combines awe-inspiring camerawork with the kind of authentic storytelling that Hulu viewers love,” said Lisa Holme, VP of content acquisition at Hulu. “We couldn’t be more excited to partner with our friends at National Geographic Documentary Films to add this extraordinary film to the growing slate of award-winning documentaries available on Hulu.”

The documentary debuted at the Telluride Film Festival and has screened at more than 30 film festivals around the world, including TIFF, IDFA, Adelaide, Mill Valley Film Festival, DOC NYC and the Savannah Film Festival. It is the second highest-grossing documentary of 2018 in the United States and has been honored with a BAFTA for Best Documentary Feature, along with three Critics Choice awards, three Cinema Eye awards, an ACE award for Best Documentary, and PGA and DGA nominations, among several other recognitions.

Disney to Close 20th Century Fox Acquisition on March 20

The Walt Disney Co. March 12 said it expects to close its $71.3 billion acquisition of 20th Century Fox Film Corp. and related businesses on March 20.

In a filing, Disney said 21st Century Fox shareholders have until March 14 to decide how they wish to receive their share/cash-based compensation. Disney said it would calculate the amount of cash and/or shares of new Disney common stock to be distributed to each 21st Century Fox stockholder based on all valid elections received and in accordance with the merger agreement.

About half ($35.7 billion) of the acquisition price is in cash.

Consummation of the mega merger makes Disney the largest Hollywood studio, in addition to majority owner of Hulu and online TV subsidiary Hulu with Live TV.

In its most-recent fiscal period, 20th Century Fox Studios reported operating income of $193 million, a 47% increase over the $131 million reported in the previous-year quarter.

Quarterly segment revenue decreased 4% to $2.16 billion, from $2.24 billion, primarily reflecting lower home entertainment revenue at the film studio and lower syndication revenue at the television production studio.

Through half the fiscal year (ended Dec. 31, 2018), revenue dropped less than 6% at $3.97 billion, compared with $4.2 billion in the previous-year period.

Disney Outranks Netflix and Amazon Prime in Brand Study

Disney ranked No. 1 followed by Amazon Prime and Netflix in the media and entertainment industry portion of MBLM’s Brand Intimacy 2019 Study.

The study is the largest study of brands based on emotions, according to the company.

Disney rose in the ranking from fifth overall in the 2018 study to first this year.

The remaining brands in the Top 10 for the media & entertainment industry were, in order, PlayStation, YouTube, Xbox, Nintendo, Hulu, HBO and WWE.

MBLM defines Brand Intimacy as “the emotional science that measures the bonds we form with the brands we use and love.” Top intimate brands in the U.S. continued to significantly outperform the top brands in the Fortune 500 and S&P indices in both revenue and profit over the past 10 years, according to the study.

“Media & entertainment continues to be our most intimate industry,” Mario Natarelli, managing partner of MBLM, said in a statement. “The need to escape reality, consume content on demand, and lose ourselves in stories is a powerful combination of factors. Disney is leveraging its nostalgic associations to cultivate stronger bonds with customers. It has also improved its performance with men, while continuing to innovate and expand its offerings.”

Additional findings in the media and entertainment industry were:

  • Disney was the No. 1 brand with both men and women as well respondents aged 45-64;
  • Disney was also the top brand for people making over $100,000;
  • YouTube ranked first for millennials;
  • YouTube also ranked first for those making $35,000-$50,000; and
  • Media and entertainment was also the No. 1 industry for millennials.

The Brand Intimacy 2019 Study is based on the responses of 6,200 consumers and 56,000 brand evaluations across 15 industries in the United States, Mexico and the UAE. To view the media & entertainment industry findings, please click here. To download the full Brand Intimacy 2019 Study or explore the Data Dashboard click here.

‘Umbrella Academy,’ ‘Doom Patrol’ Maintain Top Spots on Parrot Analytics Digital Originals Chart

Demand for Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy” has grown since its Feb. 15 premiere according to Parrot Analytics’ digital originals Demand Expressions chart for the week ended March 2.

“Umbrella Academy” held onto the No. 1 spot for a second-consecutive week with 47.1 million average daily Demand Expressions, the proprietary metric used by Parrot Analytics to measure global demand for TV content. That was up from 41.7 million a week earlier, a 13% gain.

The show is adapted from the Dark Horse comic book about a band of sibling superheroes.

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DC Universe’s “Doom Patrol,” which launched on the same day as “Umbrella Academy,” held onto the No. 2 spot with 29.5 million expressions, up 4% from the prior week.

The Demand Expressions metric draws from 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.

A “digital original” is a multi-episode series in which the most recent season was first made available on a streaming platform such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Hulu.

DC Universe’s “Titans” rose a spot to No. 3 despite a 3.5% drop in expressions, to 27.8 million.

Netflix’s “Stranger Things” slipped to No. 4 with 26.8 million expressions, down 5%.

“Star Trek: Discovery,” from CBS All Access, rose two spots to No. 5 with 25.3 million expressions, up 6.4%. The show was renewed for a third season during the week.

Elsewhere on the chart, Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” rose to No. 7, from No. 12 the previous week, with a 9.8% jump in expressions to 22 million as news of the final season wrapping production made the rounds on social media.

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, based on the firm’s  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.

Hulu Online TV Service Tops 2 Million Subs

Hulu with Live TV, the subscription streaming video service’s separate online TV platform, has reportedly topped two million subscribers.

Launched in May 2017, Hulu’s online TV service ranks second in subscribers behind Dish Network’s pioneering Sling TV with 2.4 million (at the end of 2018), AT&T’s DirecTV Now (1.6 million) and YouTube TV (1 million). Sony’s PlayStation Vue reportedly has more 500,000 subs.

Hulu, which is co-owned by Disney, Fox, Comcast and WarnerMedia, continues to grow subscribers while DirecTV Now’s highly-publicized $39.99 service lost 267,000 subs in the most-recent fiscal period. AT&T attributed the decline to raising the monthly fee $5 to $44.99, among other factors.

Sling TV ushered in the online TV market in 2015 as a response to cord cutting and burgeoning SVOD services such as Netflix. It was the first service to offer standalone access to ESPN and other pay-TV channels traditionally tethered to big bundle subscriptions.

Disney, which is in the final stages of gaining regulatory approval of its $71.3 billion acquisition of 20th Century Fox, would become majority stake holder in Hulu and its 25 million subs.

The media giant reportedly is considering acquiring WarnerMedia’s 10% stake as the latter finalizes launching its own over-the-top video service in the fourth quarter along with Disney’s branded Disney+ SVOD service.