Netflix Launches Free Plan in Vietnam

Netflix has launched a new free plan that will let anyone with an Android phone in Vietnam get the service free without ads. 

Vietnam is the only country in Asia where Netflix is offering the free plan, and the second one to experience the free plan, after Kenya, according to a blog post from Cathy Conk, director of product innovation.

“All you have to do is enter your email, confirm you are 18 or over, and create a password,” she wrote. “We won’t ask you for any payment information when you sign up for the free plan. Once you’re in, you can immediately start watching many of Netflix’s most popular series and films like ‘Squid Game,’ ‘The Witcher,’ ‘Money Heist,’ and ‘Kingdom,’ just to name a few.”

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The plan includes Netflix features such as recommendations, five profiles and “My List.” Parental controls are also included. In the coming months, the download feature will also be made available in the free plan, she wrote. 

To get the full catalog, more features, and the option to get Netflix on a TV or laptop, consumers must upgrade to a paid plan.

ViacomCBS to Acquire Stake in Spanish-Language Content Producer

ViacomCBS Networks International (VCNI) has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire a majority stake in the Spanish-language content producer Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico from The Walt Disney Co. and the founding family of Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico.

ViacomCBS International Studios’ VIS, a division of VCNI, will operate Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico as a collaborative partnership with the founding family. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions.

Through this transaction, VCNI will gain access to Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico’s studio operations in both Colombia and Mexico, as well as many hours of library content, including premium series, telenovelas, films, documentaries, unscripted, kids and family, branded and digital content, and live sports shows produced for various audiences. This content will fuel ViacomCBS’s global streaming platforms including Paramount+ and Pluto TV, and its linear networks around the world, according to the company. Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico will also bolster ViacomCBS’ Spanish-language content production capabilities to capitalize on significant content demand in the region and worldwide, the company noted.

“The acquisition of Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico, combined with ViacomCBS’s existing Spanish-language portfolio including Telefe and Chilevisión, reinforces the company’s position as a leading worldwide producer of Spanish-language content,” Raffaele Annecchino, president and CEO, ViacomCBS Networks International, said in a statement. “This content will fuel ViacomCBS’ global ecosystem across Paramount+, Pluto TV and its linear networks.”

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“This announcement is very fulfilling and I feel very honored that Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico will continue its expansion and growth in the hands of such an amazing company as ViacomCBS and its talented and visionary executives,” Samuel Duque Rozo, founder and CEO of Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico, said in a statement. “The extraordinary work that our team has made during all these years, combined with ViacomCBS’s vision, iconic brands, experience, professionalism, creativity among much more, will bring nothing less but the best for both businesses.”

Rozo will continue to exclusively support the business from a creative and strategic advisory position, and Samuel Duque Duque, current president, will lead the business. Fox TeleColombia & Estudios TeleMexico will fall under the remit of Juan “JC” Acosta, President of ViacomCBS International Studios and Networks Americas.

The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Content Marketplace Vuulr Partners With Kanal D

Vuulr, a global online content marketplace for film and TV rights that connects buyers and distributors worldwide, has partnered with Kanal D International (KDI), the global business arm of Kanal D, the leading TV channel of Turkey broadcasting under Europe’s Demirören Media Group.

Under the partnership, Kanal D International will list 24 titles on the Vuulr platform totaling approximately 2,160 hours of content, mostly in the romantic comedy and premium drama genres. Among the titles that Kanal D International is listing on Vuulr are dramas Twist of Fate and Recipe of Love, along with “Hekimoglu,” which is the Turkish version of the hit U.S. scripted series “House.”

“We’re excited to team up with Vuulr to ensure our content continues to be distributed all across the globe,” executive director at Kanal D International Ekin Koyuncu Karaman said in a statement. “There’s been an increasing demand for Turkish content worldwide. Vuulr’s global reach makes it easier  to get our titles into the hands of broadcasters and streaming platforms regardless of their location or time zone.”

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“As the demand for international content continues to soar, we’re delighted to expand the breadth of the catalogue available on Vuulr with this exciting partnership with Kanal D International, which will bring more than 2,000 hours of premium new Turkish series to our platform,” Vuulr chief content officer Natasha Malhotra said in a statement. “Their heartwarming dramas and world-class production have universal appeal and Vuulr makes this content available to buyers from around the world in a simple, frictionless way as we continue our mission to transform the distribution and acquisition ecosystem.”

There are currently more than 30,000 unique films and TV titles available on Vuulr, amounting to more than 173,000 hours of content from 7,000 sellers in more than 120 countries, offering buyers a destination for content discovery and acquisition.

Whip Media and NATPE Launch New Report on Domestic Consumption of International TV Series

Software platform and data provider Whip Media and the National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) have announced a partnership to provide a new data report on how U.S. audiences are consuming international TV series.

The new NATPE Navigator report highlights what original content produced outside the U.S. is among the most viewed domestically, according to Whip. It is available every other week on the NATPE, and Whip Media websites and will be distributed in the NATPE newsletter.

Netflix’s Spanish series “Money Heist” topped the first report for Sept. 6-19.

The NATPE report is compiled utilizing Whip Media’s proprietary global panel of consumers who report what programs they follow and watch and, further, how they feel about those shows, according to Whip. The panel is made up of 18 million viewers in more than 170 countries and provides data on more than 4.5 million movie and TV episodes on 1,100 global platforms.

The NATPE Navigator ranks the top 10 most viewed non-U.S. TV series among U.S. viewers. According to Whip, the report also provides a snapshot of a specific global title, including who is watching it, how people feel about it, what else they are watching, and where that title is available on SVOD services globally based on real-time streaming availability data provided by Whip Media’s partner, BB, a media intelligence and content distribution researcher.

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“We at NATPE are proud of our position as a resource for this industry that has seen countless changes to the global content marketplace and are always looking for new ways to provide additional insights and guidance to our members,” J.P. Bommel, president and CEO of NATPE, said in a statement. “This partnership with Whip Media will do just that, and we are eager to see the results of their study as we continue to navigate the shifts our industry is going through.”

“With the growing consumer demand for new TV series and movies, content is no longer staying within its originating territories, but it’s still difficult to predict hits and what content will resonate with local viewers,” Carol Hanley, president of Whip Media, said in a statement. “We’re excited to partner with NATPE to provide this new actionable data to the industry along with insights on how to fill gaps in their programming in a marketplace now unbound by geography.”

HBO Max Launching in Latin America and Caribbean June 29

SVOD service HBO Max will be available in 39 territories in Latin America and the Caribbean starting June 29 with catalog and Max Originals plus live sports in Brazil and Mexico later this year.

“Our launch in Latin America and the Caribbean is the first step in our global rollout of HBO Max,” Johannes Larcher, head of HBO Max International, said in a statement. “We are thrilled that fans across the region will soon be able to enjoy HBO Max and its amazing collection of content. WarnerMedia is one of the most popular and trusted sources of entertainment across Latin America, and we are very excited that our global journey starts here.”

The platform will offer Warner Bros. movies at no additional cost 35 days after being released in theaters in Latin America, with titles such as Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical In the Heights, Space Jam: A New Legacy starring LeBron James, The Suicide Squad directed by James Gunn and starring Margot Robbie and John Cena, and Dune starring Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya and directed by Denis Villeneuve, among many other films. Recent premieres such as Tom & Jerry, Mortal Kombat, Judas and the Black Messiah and Godzilla vs. Kong will be available on HBO Max in 2021.

HBO Max will have exclusively new local original titles produced in the region with stories such as “Pop Divas,” a competition for the pop genre crown hosted by Pabllo Vittar and Luísa Sonza; the documentary series “PCC Secret Power”; the astrology show “Astral Journey” hosted by Giovanna Ewbank; a competition with the best stylists in “The Cut, Last Bravas”; a Mexican series about women’s soccer with screenwriters such as José Javier Reguilón, Luis Gamboa, Paula Rendón and Helen Santiago; “Love Spells,” a comedy starring Gabriela de la Garza; and the action comedy “Bunker,” among other titles.

Later this year, soccer fans in Brazil and Mexico can see matches of the UEFA Champions League.

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HBO Max will offer two subscription plans, starting from $3 (U.S.) per month; prices per plan and country can be found on HBOMax.com. The standard plan offers access to three simultaneous users, five personalized profiles, content downloads and video in high definition with some titles in 4K, across all supported devices. The mobile plan offers access to the same content catalog with a single, standard-definition stream on supported smartphones and tablets. Subscriptions for recurring periods of three or 12 months will also be also available with a discount of up to 30%.
HBO Max will also offer a seven-day free trial period and an option where users will be able to sample some of the best series and documentaries at no cost.

The platform will also be available through partners such as AT&T Mexico and regional partners such as DirecTV Latin America, Sky Brasil, DirecTV Go and Grupo América Móvil, which will offer HBO Max to their subscribers.

Those users who have an existing HBO linear subscription through participating distribution partners such as Claro Video (Mexico), Claro (Brazil), Claro (Latam), Oi (Brazil), Tim (Brazil), TotalPlay (Mexico), Vivo (Brazil), VTR (Chile), will have access to HBO Max at no additional cost. Additional distribution partners that will offer HBO Max will continue to be announced in the upcoming weeks.

Existing HBO Go users will receive instructions before the launch on how to access HBO Max.  As of HBO Max launch, the current HBO Go service in Latin America and the Caribbean will be discontinued.

“HBO Max is a platform built in Latin America for latinoamericanos,” Luis Durán, GM for HBO Max in the region, said in a statement. “In this context, our catalog delivers on the intensity and the passion of our region, our plans deliver on the experience users expect, and our prices deliver on our promise to entertain every member of the family. Our goal is to transform the streaming experience in Latin America, one word, one shot, one pixel at a time. And we are just getting started.”

Malaysian Martial Arts Film ‘Silat Warriors: Deed of Death’ Hitting Hi-Yah! Streaming Service June 4, Digital and Disc July 6 From Well Go

The Malaysian martial arts epic Silat Warriors: Deed of Death will debut exclusively on the martial arts streaming service Hi-Yah! on June 4, before hitting digital, Blu-ray and DVD July 6 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

When a reckless young gambler’s wild lifestyle of illegal betting, drag racing, and brutal street fights pits him against a ruthless criminal enterprise, his luck finally runs out. The gang shows up at his father’s home to collect on the debt, forcing his family to fight in order to save their land — and his life.

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In addition to actors Namron (One Two JagaDukunRedha) and Fad Anuar (Dollah Superstar, TV’s “KL Gangster: Underworld”), first-time film director Areel Abu Bakar selected much of the talent from martial arts training facilities and competitions in order to give a sense of realism the action sequences.

Silat Warriors: Deed of Death won the Daniel A. Craft Award for Excellence in Action Cinema at the 2020 New York Asian Film Festival, the first Malaysian film to win the award.

Netflix to Open Office in Colombia

Netflix will open an office in Bogotá, Colombia, the company announced.

“Ten years ago Colombia opened its doors to Netflix, a new way to enjoy the best series and movies directly in their homes,” read a Netflix announcement. “A few years later we embarked on our first local production and quickly witnessed the incredible talent of the country and the opportunity to create Colombian stories, by Colombians. This led to series such as ‘Siempre Bruja,’ ‘Distrito Salvaje,’ ‘Chichipatos,’ ‘Frontera Verde’ and ‘El Robo del Siglo’; comedy specials such as those of Liss Pereira, Ricardo Quevedo, Antonio Sanint, Julian Arango and Alejandro Riaño; and movies such as Lavaperros, but our story in Colombia is only starting.”

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The new office “will allow us to be even closer to the creative community and our members, taking Colombian stories to millions of homes around the world so that they can discover the incredible potential, talent, landscapes and culture of this country,” according to the Netflix announcement.

Additionally, through 2022, Netflix will bow more than 30 new projects, which include the already announced “Ritmo Salvaje,” “Locombianos,” “Juanpis,” “Nada Es Igual,” a comedy show starring Alejandra Azcárate, “Goles en Contra,” ‘Pálpito,” “Perfil Falso,” “Diomedes” and “Chichipatos” season two.

The titles are part of Netflix’s local content investment of more than $175 million since 2014, according to the announce.

Netflix Germany’s ‘The Barbarians’ Most-Popular Foreign-Language Series in the U.S. in 2020

Nielsen’s weekly Top 10 chart quantifying Netflix’s most-popular shows suggests U.S. television viewers love network reruns such as “The Office,” “Friends” and “NCIS,” among others.

Now, new data from the SVOD behemoth contends American subscribers covet non-English-language movies and TV shows just as much. Indeed, the streamer’s most-viewed foreign titles in the U.S. in 2020 included The Platform (Spain), a dystopian prison hell where inmates eat food off a platform lowered to the ground between floors; “Kidnapping Stella,” in which a pregnant woman outsmarts her abductors; and Cuties, the controversial French film about young girls coming of age in the social media world.

On the episodic programming side, German original series “The Barbarians” features Germanic warriors holding off Roman Empire soldiers in Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 A.D.; Denmark’s “The Rain” showcases a brother and sister navigating post-pandemic Scandinavia; and “Dark” finds four families in a rural German town looking for two missing children.

“We have local-language original shows and local offices in many countries around the world — the growth in that area is very important to the company,” Bela Bajaria, head of global TV at Netflix, told The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the lists.

Again, Netflix registers a viewer of original programming two minutes after the start of streaming. The SVOD service’s most-popular international movies in the U.S.:

1. The Platform (Spain)
2. Lost Bullet (France)
3. Rogue City (France)
4. #Alive (South Korea)
5. Ip Man 4: The Finale (Hong Kong)
6. Kidnapping Stella (Germany)
7. Cuties (France)
8. The Crew (France)
9. The Paramedic (Spain)
10. Freaks: You’re One of Us (Germany)

Netflix’s most-viewed TV series in the U.S.:

1. “The Barbarians” (Germany)
2. “The Rain” (Denmark)
3. “Dark” (Germany)
4. “Money Heist” (Spain)
5. “Dark Desire” (Mexico)
6. “Ragnarok “(Norway)
7. “Always a Witch” (Colombia)
8. “To the Lake” (Russia)
9. “The Seven Deadly Sins: Imperial Wrath of the Gods” (Japan)
10.” The Protector” (Turkey)

CFO: Amazon Upping AVOD Focus, Growth in Foreign Prime Video Use

Lost in the glow of another colossal fiscal quarter for Amazon was an e-commerce launch in Sweden and increased focus on ad-supported VOD distribution going into 2021.

Speaking on the Oct. 28 fiscal call, CFO Brian Olsavsky said the number of Prime members who stream Prime Video outside the U.S. grew by more than 80% year-over-year in the third quarter, and international customers more than doubled the hours of content they watched on Prime video compared to last year. Prime Video expanded globally in 2016 to more than 2o0 countries.

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While Prime Video, like Netflix, remains ad-free, Amazon isn’t turning its back on ad-supported content and incremental revenue opportunities. The company owns and operates ad-supported IMDb TV, and is working with third-party apps on Fire TV for advertising opportunities.

“We’re seeing some good momentum with that,” Olsavsky said. “I think good momentum and a lot of good learning on some of those initiatives there. I won’t say too much about what we’ll look like next year, but that gives you kind of sense of priorities where we’re spending our time and focused on.”

Netflix Launches Hindi Interface

Netflix Aug. 9 launched its user interface in Hindi. The Netflix experience in Hindi, from sign up to search rows, collections and payment, is available across all devices on mobile, TV and Web.

Netflix members can switch to the Hindi user interface from the “Language” option in the “Manage Profiles” section on their desktop, TV or mobile browsers. On Netflix, members can set up to five profiles in each account, and each profile can have its own language setting. Netflix members outside India will also have the option to switch their user interface to Hindi.

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“Delivering a great Netflix experience is as important to us as creating great content. We believe the new user interface will make Netflix even more accessible and better suit members who prefer Hindi,” said Monika Shergill, VP of content for Netflix India.

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Netflix is investing heavily in Indian films and series across all genres and for all generations, including “Sacred Games,” “Bulbbul,” “Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai” and “Mighty Little Bheem.” The company recently announced a lineup of 17 stories, including “Ludo,” “A Suitable Boy” and “Mismatched” and the upcoming film Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, which will bow Aug. 12. Netflix members can also view stories from other parts of the world, such as “Stranger Things,” “Extraction, Narcos: Mexico,” The Protector, Klaus, “The Witcher” and “Old Guard” with Hindi dubs or subtitles.

Last year, Netflix introduced the mobile plan in India for Rs. 199 per month.