AVOD: Quiet Before the Storm

With the crush of new subscription streaming VOD services entering 2020, new data from Ampere Analysis suggests ad-supported VOD, or AVOD, will build scale and roll-out internationally this year.

While AVOD use within the United States remains small compared to SVOD (from 3% to 6% of domestic online households), London-based Ampere believes this to be merely the quiet before the storm.

Major AVOD players include Pluto TV, Tubi, Crackle, Vudu, IMDb TV, Roku TV, Xumo TV, Shout! Factory TV and pending Peacock from NBC Universal, which will also be SVOD, among others.

Specifically, the researcher contends AVOD is filling the niche previously targeted by SVOD: catalog content. As SVOD services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu migrate toward original programming, AVOD streams older content for free — with advertising.

The proportion of Netflix’s catalog more than five years old fell from 50% in Sept. 2015 to 35% in Sept. 2019 — a trend that will continue across the sector. In the meantime, the long tail of older content has been embraced by the new AVOD services, who average nearly 80% of their catalog at five years old by title count, and in the case of Crackle, 70% of content is over 10 years old.

This demand for older content not only provides a new market for licensing deep archive, but also offers a boon for distributors and sales agents, according to Ampere.

“AVOD is coming, and it’s going to make its mark on the VOD landscape rapidly,” Guy Bisson, director at Ampere, said in a statement. “Its impact will be felt not just by the entertainment industry, but by advertising too as the shift that has already disrupted the subscription television market sweeps across the free-to-air sector.”

As advertisers rush to support AVOD, online video advertising will inevitably increase as the platforms spread globally in 2020. To date this form of advertising has remained relatively small — even in developed markets like the U.S. where 27.2% of online ad spend is on video, and in Canada where it’s just 5.85%.

Ampere expects the rush to AVOD to be supercharged by some of the studio direct models such as Disney’s Hulu and Peacock, which are expected to adopt a hybrid SVOD/AVOD model.

“AVOD services are treading a well-trodden path with an early reliance on older content, but as their market position grows, we can expect them to begin acquiring newer content and even moving into original production activity as they battle for eyeballs in an increasingly crowded market,” Bisson said.

Amazon Upping Ad-Supported Video Options for Non-Prime Subscribers

Amazon Prime Video, along with Netflix and Hulu, remains among the top subscription-based video-on-demand streaming platforms in the United States and around the world.

But the e-commerce behemoth is quietly increasing efforts around its ad-supported VOD subsidiary, IMDb TV, and streaming media devices such as Fire TV.

In the third quarter, Amazon announced more than 20 new Fire TV products, including the first Fire TV Edition soundbar; the updated Fire TV Cube; the first OLED Fire TV Edition smart TV; and the first Fire TV Edition smart TV with far-field Alexa voice control.

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Amazon also expanded the lineup of content for Fire TV customers, including the recently announced YouTube TV app, Apple TV app, and the free News app. In Q3, Fire TV announced more than 37 million active users worldwide and continues to be the No. 1 selling family of streaming media players in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and India, according to Amazon.

Speaking on the fiscal call, Dave Fildes, director of investor relations, said Amazon is slowly increasing ad-supported video access, including third-party brand access.

“It’s still early in this space, but we’ve done a few things with IMDb TV, live sports [‘NFL Thursday Night Football’], things like adding more inventory through Fire TV apps, adding more OTT video supply through Amazon Publisher Services or APS integrations and streamlining access for third party apps and really just making it easier for advertisers to manage their campaigns and provide better results,” Fildes said.

IMDb TV Gets Top-Rated Canadian Animated Series

Amazon-owned ad-supported streaming service IMDb TV Oct. 3 announced it has licensed Canadian animated series Corner Gas Animated as a branded IMDb Original series.

Beginning Oct. 15, 24 episodes of “Corner Gas Animated” seasons one and two will be available for the first time in the U.S. on the IMDb TV app on Fire TV, the Prime Video app, IMDb.com and the IMDb mobile apps.

The series is joined on IMDb TV by Canada’s highest-rated live-action comedy franchise of all-time, Corner Gas, including 107 episodes of the International Emmy Award nominated, six-season sitcom and the 90-minute feature film, Corner Gas: The Movie.

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Corner Gas fans can now enjoy the entire Corner Gas franchise for free in one place as it finds its new exclusive home on IMDb TV in the U.S.,” Mark Eamer, VP of IMDb TV, said in a statement.

Created, starring and executive produced by showrunner and stand-up comedian Brent Butt, the series centers around the colorful characters of Dog River — a fictional rural town forty miles from nowhere and way beyond normal.

The ensemble cast stars Brent Butt as Brent Leroy, owner of a roadside service station, with Gabrielle Miller as Lacey Burrows, Fred Ewanuick as Hank Yarbo, Eric Peterson as Oscar Leroy, Lorne Cardinal as Sgt. Davis Quinton, Tara Spencer-Nairn as Constable Karen Pelly, Nancy Robertson as Wanda Dollard, and Corrine Koslo who replaces the late Janet Wright as Emma Leroy.

The new IMDb Original series Corner Gas Animated features an all-star lineup of cameos, including actor Michael J. Fox, comedian Russell Peters, singer/songwriters Jann Arden and Sarah McLachlan, astronaut Chris Hadfield and Epic Meal Time’s Harley Morenstein.

“Corner Gas Animated” joins the IMDb Originals line-up alongside short-form series, including the animated, scripted series You’re Not a Monster, which will begin streaming later this month, as well as The IMDb Show, IMDbrief and Casting Calls.

These IMDb Originals complement IMDb TV’s extensive collection of premium movies and TV shows across a range of genres, including comedy, kids and family, romance, thrillers, science fiction, documentaries, horror and more.

Fans of the hit show The Middle can enjoy all nine seasons exclusively on IMDb TV, along with other popular series, like Midsomer Murders and Columbo. Movie buffs will also enjoy must-watch titles, including Academy Award-winning film La La Land, Academy Award-nominated film Drive, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and more.

TiVo Prepping Ad-Based VOD Service

Digital video recording pioneer TiVo is looking to join the “+” video bandwagon.

The company is quietly assembling an ad-supported video-on-demand service to compete against platforms such as The Roku Channel, Pluto TV, Philo TV, Shout! Factory TV, Tubi, Crackle+ and  IMDb TV, among others.

In a post on the TiVo community blog, Ted Malone, VP of consumer products and services, said the company has secured third-party content agreements for the service.

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“Our soon to be launched TiVo+ video service will include dozens of channels of free entertainment,” Malone wrote. “We have assembled an amazing set of partners as part of this service and will be evolving it in the coming months with many more channels, on-demand movies and shows and other specialty content coming as well.”

With Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu dominating the subscription VOD market as pioneers in the space, ad-supported VOD has emerged as a free alternative to consumers featuring largely catalog content.

With studios and other content holders eager to mine a new revenue stream, AVOD has gone mainstream beyond early pioneers Shout! Factory and Sony’s Crackle.

TiVo last week announced it would begin rolling ads playing ahead of consumers’ recorded TV content.

Malone, in his post, reiterated that users will be able to skip the ads, which are “served dynamically” when playback starts. Ads do not appear after a user pauses and resumed playback of content.

“As part of our commitment to improve the experience, we are measuring each step in the process and will be continually optimizing the ads to reduce latency and improve performance,” he wrote.

 

Amazon Reportedly Seeking Original Content for IMDb TV

A day after bowing mobile apps for its ad-supported video-on-demand service, IMDb TV, Amazon is reportedly in the hunt for original programming earmarked for the platform.

The platform, which is competing against The Roku Channel and Viacom-owned Pluto TV, has begun offering upfront license fees for content instead of previous revenue-sharing agreements. The move is seen as Amazon’s willingness to pay for content, and not just access.

The service made a play for Vice Media’s canceled “Vice Media News” on HBO, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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IMDb TV has also begun exploring linear feeds focusing on specific genres such as crime and lifestyle, celebrity, action and dramas.

The push for greater AVOD presence comes as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu face a slew of SVOD competitors, including pending Disney+, Apple TV +, HBO Max from WarnerMedia, a rebooted AT&T Now online TV service and a branded service from Comcast.

“The rapid growth of free, ad-supported video streaming services has taken the industry by surprise, given that there is already so much out there,” Alan Wolk, co-founder of media consulting firm TVRev, told The Journal. “I suspect people watch them as lean-back or background TV, often as something to have on as they’re doing something else.”

Indeed, San Francisco-based Pluto TV, which Viacom acquired this year for $340 million in cash, earlier this month unveiled a new slate of genre and “pop-up” channels rolling out with content licensed from Viacom’s IP library.

The new channels include a lineup of 150+ live, linear, curated channels and thousands of on-demand movies from studios, networks, publishers and digital media companies.

 

IMDb TV Now Has a Mobile App

IMDb TV, the ad-supported streaming video service owned by Amazon, Aug. 26 announced it is now available through a branded mobile app on iOS and Android devices.

Users can now stream IMDb TV content from their phones or tablets. Interested parties can download the app from the Google Play Store and Apple App store.

Through new distribution deals with Paramount Pictures and Lionsgate, IMDb TV is upping its selection of acclaimed movies. Viewers have free access to Academy Award-winning Silver Linings Playbook (Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence), Age of Adaline (Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Harrison Ford) and In the Heart of the Sea (Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy), as well as TV shows like “The Middle” (Patricia Heaton, Neil Flynn), which is exclusively available on IMDb TV.

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Some of the top streamed movies this summer on IMDb TV included Academy Award-winning La La Land (Ryan Gosling, Emily Stone), Academy Award-winning Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise, Renée Zellweger), Practical Magic (Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman), A Knight’s Tale (Heath Ledger, Rufus Sewell) and Drive (Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan).

Other top streamed movies on IMDb TV included Max (Thomas Haden Church), Step Dogs (Joris Jarsky), Zookeeper (Kevin James, Rosario Dawson), Paddington (Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins) and The Never Ending Story (Noah Hathaway), among others.

IMDb Announces First Scripted Series ‘You’re Not a Monster’

Online site IMDb has announced its first-ever scripted show, the animated series “You’re Not a Monster” debuting this fall.

Fans at San Diego Comic-Con this month will get a sneak peek of the 10-episode, short-form series when its trailer premieres on the IMDboat.

The show joins other IMDb original series “The IMDb Show,” “IMDbrief” and “Casting Calls.”

In “You’re Not a Monster,” Kelsey Grammer (“Frasier”) voices a former psychiatrist-turned-vampire who mentors his great-great grandson Max (Eric Stonestreet), a therapist who has inherited his practice. In each four- to five-minute episode, Max treats classic monsters, including Frankenstein, The Invisible Man and Medusa, as they seek therapeutic help. Rounding out the voice cast is Aparna Nancherla as a demon receptionist, Ellie Kemper as a therapist who thinks Max is imagining everything, and Peter Grosz, Langston Kerman, Joel Kim Booster, Patton Oswalt, Adam Pally, Amber Ruffin, Amy Sedaris and Milana Vayntrub as monsters.

Show creators and cast members, including Grammer and Nancherla, will participate in an exclusive interview with host Kevin Smith on the IMDboat at Comic-Con July 20.

“Monsters are people, too,” said Grammer, who serves as executive producer of the series, in a statement.

The comedy series is created and written by four-time Emmy-winner Frank Lesser (“The Colbert Report”). Lily Stuart Streiff serves as Animation Director.

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“As a movie fan, I’ve always loved IMDb and am excited to work with them to humanize these inhuman creatures,” said Lesser in a statement. “Plus, I figured this would be the easiest way to get another credit on my IMDb page. ‘You’re Not a Monster’ is a show with a lot of heart. And, yes, sometimes that heart is lying in a pool of blood, but it still looks adorable thanks to Lily’s Streiff’s delightful character design.”

“We are thrilled to offer a new original comedy series to our fans as we shine a light on the daily struggles faced by classic movie monsters,” said Steve Bernstein, GM of IMDb Video, in a statement. “’You’re Not a Monster’ is not only the first-ever animated series for IMDb, but also our first scripted program, and introducing the show on the IMDboat at San Diego Comic-Con is the perfect place to share its fun narrative alongside members of the incredible cast.”

“You’re Not a Monster” premieres this fall at www.imdb.com/monster, on the IMDb TV free streaming video channel, and on the IMDb iOS and Android apps.

IMDb, also worldwide source for information on movies, TV shows and celebrities, is an Amazon company.

Ad-Supported VOD Revenue to Reach $56 Billion by 2024, Driven by U.S.

Ad-supported video-on-demand, the free streaming video alternative to subscription VOD, continues to gain momentum.

New data from Digital TV Research projects AVOD revenue will more than double between 2018 and 2024 topping $56 billion across 138 countries — including notably in the United States. Online TV and video advertising has been considerably boosted in recent years by the rapid growth in mobile advertising, according to DTR.

While AVOD penetration in the Asia Pacific region is well-established, topping $10.73 billion in 2018 with 49% of the global marketshare, the rest of the world is catching up. Despite more than doubling to $25.14 billion by 2024, Asia Pacific’s marketshare will fall to 45%.

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From the $34.42 billion additional revenue to be generated between 2018 and 2024, Asia Pacific will contribute $14.41 billion and North America $14.20 billion. All of the other regions will at least double their totals.

“China is the largest AVOD country — commanding 36% of the 2018 global total, with $7.78 billion,” Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV Research, said in a statement. “Most OTT viewing in China is on mobile phones to AVOD-supported platforms. China will still generate 29% of the global total by 2024 with $16.60 billion.”

Murray said the U.S. will become the AVOD leader by 2023.

Indeed, several large platform domestic launches (i.e. NBC Universal, Sony Crackle) are expected in the near future, in addition to San Francisco-based Tubi TV, which bowed in 2014 with more than 9,000 movies and television shows, Amazon’s IMDb TV (formerly IMDb Freedive) and The Roku Channel, among others.

“The U.S. will more than triple its AVOD revenue total between 2018 and 2024 to $19.23 billion — or 34% of the global total,” Murray said.

IMDb TV Going to Europe, Adding Content

Amazon-owned ad-supported VOD service IMDb TV (formerly IMDb Freedive) June 17 announced it would triple its content selection this year, in addition to launching in Europe.

Through new deals with studios like Warner Bros., Sony Pictures Entertainment and MGM Studios, viewers can enjoy box-office hits like Academy Award-nominated Captain Fantastic (Viggo Mortensen) available now and La La Land (Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling) available July 1, marking the first time the Academy Award-winning film is available on an ad-supported streaming service.

“With IMDb TV, viewers have discovered TV the way it ought to be — a free collection of premium TV shows and movies available anytime,” Mark Eamer, VP of IMDb TV. “We deliver a top quality discovery experience that makes it easy to be entertained. With more titles than ever before coming to IMDb TV and our upcoming European expansion later this year, we’re excited for customers to tune in and enjoy all that IMDb TV has to offer, all at no cost.”

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IMDb TV offers titles customers love across a range of genres, including comedy, kids and family, romance, thrillers, science fiction, documentaries, horror and more. Popular series include Fringe (Joshua Jackson), Kitchen Nightmares (Gordon Ramsay), Duck Dynasty(Jase Robertson) and The Bachelorand fan favorite movies include Academy Award-nominated Drive (Ryan Gosling), Donnie Darko(Jake Gyllenhaal), Academy Award-winning Monster (Charlize Theron) and Academy Award-winning Dances with Wolves (Kevin Costner). A new wave of movies will join the IMDb TV lineup on July 1 such as Academy Award-winning Sense and Sensibility (Emma Thompson), Draft Day (Kevin Costner) and A Knight’s Tale (Heath Ledger).

In addition to being available in the U.S. on the IMDb website and as a free channel within the Prime Video app across hundreds of devices, IMDb TV is available on Fire TV, the #1 streaming media product in the U.S. with over 34 million active users worldwide. Fire TV customers in the U.S. have enjoyed IMDb TV since it launched earlier this year, and this free service has quickly become one of the top ad-supported apps on Fire TV.

“Our Fire TV customers are always looking for compelling content at a great value. In fact, usage of free, ad-supported apps has increased by over 300 percent in the last year,” said Marc Whitten, VP of Fire TV. “IMDb TV brings some of the best free content into the living room and we’re excited that our U.S. customers now have access to even more free TV shows and movies through the app and that customers in Europe can soon enjoy this great service on the biggest screen in their home.”