Disney Q2 Home Entertainment Revenue Slips Due to Lower Catalog Sales

The Walt Disney Company May 11 said “content sales/licensing and other” revenue, which includes packaged media and transactional VOD, declined 3% to $1.9 billion, compared with $1.84 billion in revenue in the prior-year period. Segment operating income plummeted almost 95% to $16 million, from $312 million a year ago. The decrease in operating income was due
to lower TV/SVOD distribution results and, to a lesser extent, a decrease at home entertainment due to lower sales of catalog titles in the current quarter.

In the prior-year period, top-selling Disney titles included Mulan and Soul, while animated musical Encanto and residual revenue from Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings were the top-selling packaged-media titles in Q2.

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The decrease in TV/SVOD distribution results was due to a decrease in sales of episodic television content driven by higher sales of “Modern Family” and “How I Met Your Mother” in the prior-year quarter.

Speaking on the May 11 fiscal call, CFO Christine McCarthy said the decline in home entertainment revenue included management’s “strategic decision” to re-direct Disney titles to direct-to-consumer streaming channels, rather than legacy retail channels.

“As a reminder, these results are deliberately aligned with our decision to utilize our content on our own direct-to-consumer services,” McCarthy said.

Paramount Q1 ‘Licensing and Other’ Revenue Declines

Paramount Global May 3 reported first-quarter revenue (ended March 31) of $491 million in its “licensing and other” business segment, which was down 42% from revenue of $853 million in the prior-year period.

The business unit, which includes Paramount Home Entertainment, said the revenue decline was primarily driven by the benefit in the prior-year period from the licensing of erstwhile theatrical release Coming 2 America and Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse to Amazon Prime Video. The Coming to America sequel’s exclusive availability on Prime Video was due to ongoing closures of U.S. movie theaters due to the pandemic.

Theatrical revenue increased $130 million in the quarter and included revenue from the first quarter releases of Scream, Jackass Forever and The Lost City, while the prior-year period revenue of $1 million was impacted by the closure or reduced capacity of movie theaters in response to COVID-19.

Paramount disclosed that another “Jackass” series is in the works for Paramount+. The pending Jackass 4.5 movie featuring footage not used in the Jackass Forever movie, is slated to bow on Netflix May 20.

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When combined with advertising, the filmed entertainment segment saw a pre-tax loss of $37 million on revenue of $624 million. That compared with a pre-tax profit of $179 million on revenue of $860 million in the prior-year period.

Paramount said the decline was due to increased marketing expense associated with quarterly and future theatrical releases.

Paramount Q3 Licensing, Home Entertainment Dwarfs Theatrical Revenue

Paramount Pictures Nov. 4 disclosed third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) licensing and home entertainment revenue from movies of $513 million, which was down about 12% from revenue of $584 million in the previous-year period. When including television production, the “licensing and other” segment totaled more than $1.5 billion — up nearly 18% from revenue of $1.28 billion a year earlier.

Paramount, like other studios, no longer calls out home entertainment sales of packaged and digital media separately. The segment is now included in the studio’s licensing business.

That said, the studio’s wholesale distribution of movies dwarfs its box office. Paramount saw just $67 million in quarterly theatrical revenue, which was up from $6 million recorded in the previous-year period when most theaters were shuttered due to the pandemic.

So, while A Quiet Place Part II and Paw Patrol: The Movie performed relatively well at the pandemic box office, Paramount’s underwhelming year-to-date theatrical revenue of $202 million is attributed to just three movies, when including “G.I. Joe” spin-off Snake Eyes.

Major Tom Cruise tentpole theatrical titles Mission: Impossible 7 and Top Gun: Maverick, in addition to a relaunch of the “Scream” franchise, have been pushed back to 2022.

Meanwhile, the studio remains a major producer of TV programming, while also aggressively licensing content to third-party distribution channels, led by streaming, which include Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, as well the branded Paramount+ platform and sister service Showtime OTT.

Paramount generated $893 million in quarterly revenue licensing TV product to third-parties and retail channels. That’s up almost 80% from revenue of $498 million in the previous-year period.

Whip Media Adds Three Companies to Its Exchange, Appoints New VP

Whip Media, a software platform and data provider to entertainment organizations, announced that Globo, Univision’s VIX and Onza have joined the Whip Media Exchange, the company’s data and AI-powered content rights marketplace.

Jaime Otero

Whip Media also announced the appointment of Jaime Otero as VP of business development and content strategy to lead the Exchange’s global expansion.

Latin America’s largest media group Globo will distribute a selection of premium telenovelas, series, factual/lifestyle and kids content through the Whip Media Exchange. Univision will acquire content for VIX, to expand its Spanish-language programming on the streaming service. Onza, a leading distributor and content producer in Spain, will sell its telenovelas, series and documentaries.

“As our unique data and analytics highlight how TV content from Latin America and Europe is in increased demand and finding new audiences around the world, we are expanding our footprint by adding some of the largest global media companies to the Exchange,” Richard Rosenblatt, founder and CEO of Whip Media, said in a statement. “We’re excited to have Jaime Otero join our team to drive our international growth and honored to welcome truly innovative media companies like Globo, Univision’s VIX and Onza shortly after our launch.”

The Exchange’s data-driven platform will allow Globo, along with existing sellers including Lionsgate, to identify the best content for existing partners, find new international partners, and generate more revenue, according to Whip Media. Buyers and distributors such as VIX and Onza will be able to access series, telenovelas, and kid’s programming as well as a growing library of international television content through the Exchange.

Otero joins Whip Media from RightsTrade, where he served as managing director. In that role, he designed and implemented the growth strategy of an online marketplace for film and television rights licensing, along with managing operations, content partnerships, marketing and sales. Otero brings two decades of international experience producing, licensing and distributing content across all platforms and territories and previously served as chief of staff in the Ministry of Culture of Spain, where he was in charge of revitalizing the European and Latin America film and TV industry.

“Jaime’s reputation, global network, deep knowledge of content buying and selling and broad experience leading online content marketplaces uniquely position him to help us grow the Exchange,” said Alisa Joseph, SVP of business development and strategy at Whip Media, said in a statement. “He has a proven track record of scaling ventures in the media, entertainment and technology industry, delivering results and increasing stakeholder value.”

“As someone who has been at the forefront of bringing content licensing online and making it more efficient, I believe Whip Media’s unique access to consumer data combined with their technology platform will transform our industry,” Otero said in a statement. “As more global buyers and sellers join the Exchange, we will be able to exponentially generate new revenue opportunities, ultimately benefiting the entertainment industry at large.”

The Whip Media Exchange connects buyers and sellers in a centralized platform to streamline discovering, buying and selling content rights. Using proprietary first-party data, the Exchange drives more intelligent licensing decisions through a new set of predictive analytics not previously available to the entertainment industry, according to Whip Media. Each TV and film title in the Exchange is assigned a new, proprietary Demand Score using models that leverage Whip Media’s sentiment and engagement data. The Demand Score is modeled based on consumer viewership and engagement insights from 18 million viewers in more than 170 countries across 4.5 million movie and TV episodes on 1,100 global platforms. The Demand Score provides a decision-making framework to predict content performance.

Former Dreamworks and Pixar Exec Kerry Phelan Joins Genius Brands as EVP and GM

Genius Brands International, a global brand management company that creates and licenses multimedia entertainment content for children, has appointed Kerry Phelan to the newly created position of EVP and GM of global franchise management.

Phelan will report to both Andy Heyward, chairman and CEO, and Harold Chizick, president of global content sales, marketing and consumer products.

In her new role at Genius Brands, Phelan will be responsible for global management of the company’s existing IP across licensing, merchandising, retail and promotions, including Stan Lee’s “Superhero Kindergarten,” “Shaq’s Garage,” “Stan Lee Universe” and “Rainbow Rangers,” as well as properties currently in development.

A 30-year consumer branding executive, Phelan successfully launched the “Star Wars” brand at Lego Systems and was recruited directly to Lucasfilm, where she led the global consumer products and promotional licensing business for the multi-billion-dollar “Star Wars” franchise in more than 60 countries worldwide. She then joined Pixar Animation Studios, reporting directly to Steve Jobs, where she launched, in concert with Disney Consumer Products,  the original “Cars” consumer product program, which became franchise totaling more than $8 billion in retail sales. Following her stint at Pixar, Phelan spent seven years at DreamWorks Animation as head of consumer products and licensing, driving the development of franchise management plans for the studio’s film and television properties, including “Shrek,” “Madagascar,” “Kung Fu Panda” and “How to Train Your Dragon.” At DreamWorks, she managed the retail consumer products business and doubled the consumer products revenue in just three years.  Most recently, she served as president of global franchise management at Lionsgate Entertainment, where under her leadership, the studio created brand extensions spanning location-based and live entertainment venues, consumer products, licensed merchandise, brand partnerships and an array of promotional ventures for such blockbuster franchises as “The Hunger Games” and “Twilight.”

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“Kerry’s pedigree and reputation in entertainment branding is unparalleled as she has driven the global revenue streams of some of the most lucrative franchises in history,” Chizick said in a statement. “In the coming year, we have multiple properties launching into the global retail marketplace, including Stan Lee’s ‘Superhero Kindergarten,’ which just premiered on Kartoon Channel!, as well as ‘Shaq’s Garage’ and ‘Stan Lee Universe’ plus more categories coming to market around ‘Rainbow Rangers.’ Kerry’s leadership and strategic guidance will be instrumental in driving the growth of our brands around the world. She is a dream executive to have on board to help us achieve our long-term goals.”

“The majority of my career has been spent building properties into global franchises, specifically in the children’s space.  Having had a peek at the coming pipeline, I am excited about the future at Genius Brands and the opportunity to build bigger brand ecosystems around their properties,” Phelan said in a statement.

Disney Inks Licensing Deal for Sony Movies

The Walt Disney Co. and Sony Pictures Entertainment have announced a multiyear content licensing agreement for U.S. streaming and TV rights to Sony Pictures’ new theatrical releases across Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution’s portfolio of platforms.

Platforms include its streaming services Disney+ and Hulu, as well as linear entertainment networks ABC, Disney Channels, Freeform, FX and National Geographic.

The deal covers theatrical releases from 2022 to 2026 and begins for each film following its Pay 1 TV window. The agreement builds upon the companies’ prior arrangement, which saw Sony movies licensed to FX in the post-Pay 1 TV window.

The films will go to Disney platforms after Netflix, which also recently made a licensing deal with Sony.

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The deal also grants rights to a significant number of Sony’s library titles, ranging from the “Jumanji” and “Hotel Transylvania” franchises to Sony Pictures’ universe of Marvel character films, including Spider-Man.

The agreement provides Hulu access to a significant number of library titles beginning as early as this June.

“This landmark multiyear, platform agnostic agreement guarantees the team at Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution a tremendous amount of flexibility and breadth of programming possibilities to leverage Sony’s rich slate of award-winning action and family films across our direct-to-consumer services and linear channels,” Chuck Saftler, head of business operations for ABC, Freeform, FX Networks and acquisitions in DMED’s Networks division, said in a statement. “This is a win for fans, who will benefit from the ability to access the very best content from two of Hollywood’s most prolific studios across a multitude of viewing platforms and experiences.”

“This groundbreaking agreement reconfirms the unique and enduring value of our movies to film lovers and the platforms and networks that serve them,” Keith Le Goy, president, worldwide distribution and networks, Sony Pictures Entertainment, said in a statement. “We are thrilled to team up with Disney on delivering our titles to their viewers and subscribers. This agreement cements a key piece of our film distribution strategy, which is to maximize the value of each of our films, by making them available to consumers across all windows with a wide range of key partners.”

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Content Marketplace Company Vuulr Adds Two Execs

Vuulr, a global online content marketplace for film and television rights, has added two senior film industry executives. Daniel Gagliardi will serve as SVP of business development and strategy for the Americas. Andrew Marshall joins the team as head of legal and commercial partnerships.

“Great tech on its own is not enough, its needs to be wrapped with great support from industry experts who fully understand the challenges our buyers and sellers face in their business today,” Ian McKee, Vuulr’s global CEO, said in a statement. “I’m really excited to have Daniel and Andrew onboard as we scale the business.”

Gagliardi will lead efforts to help further develop the company’s growing position as a global online content marketplace for film and television rights, using his extensive and recent experience as both a content buyer and seller.

“As the content seller who helped drive the global rollout of services like Tubi, Pluto TV, Roku, and others, I know first hand the need for quick, efficient and strategic content licensing,” Gagliardi said in a statement. “What excites me most about Vuulr is our ability to transform the business of content licensing, not only with such a large selection of content, but by also offering hyper-local/regional content to help channels and platforms of all types expand around the globe.”

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Prior to joining the Vuulr team, Gagliardi was head of content at Vudu, a Walmart company, where he was responsible for building and leading the content partnerships team. During his tenure, Vudu debuted its first original television series, its first original film, commissioned a dozen additional originals, and partnered with hundreds of content licensors, including Disney, Warner Bros., Sony, Lionsgate, MGM and Samuel Goldwyn, among others. He also worked at Lionsgate where he was VP of worldwide television and digital distribution. In this role he built and led the company’s ad-supported licensing team, forging and overseeing deals with Hulu, YouTube, Tubi, Pluto TV, Roku, Amazon and Crackle, among others.

Marshall has held positions at ESPN STAR Sports, NBCUniversal and The Walt Disney Company.

“I am excited to join Vuulr as they pioneer the transformation of distribution and acquisition,” Marshall said in a statement. “Bringing the efficiencies of doing business online is a critical success factor for the industry as it transforms and the new normals emerge. Vuulr is on the leading edge of enabling this change which brings benefits to Buyers, Sellers and Audiences.”

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Marshall brings a deep understanding of the evolving legal, regulatory commercial landscape for media and entertainment companies, gained from working at leading industry players, according to a Vuulr press release. Marshall was previously general counsel and SVP of legal and business affairs at ESPN STAR Sports and a regional counsel for all lines of business in Australia, New Zealand and South-East Asia at The Walt Disney Company, with a focus on content licensing, including theatrical distribution, studio marketing and home entertainment. More recently, he was commercial director for Universal brand development, where he grew the character licensing business for NBCUniversal in Southeast Asia.

Vuulr launched in January 2019 as a global online content marketplace for film and TV rights that connects buyers with content sellers worldwide, providing both with a platform to negotiate and transact directly and securely. The company connects buyers and distributors regardless of time zone or geography, providing an opportunity to access an always-on, diverse selection of mainstream and niche content.

The Vuulr online sales platform currently features content from producers and distributors across the globe, comprising more than 23,000 titles/135,000 hours, across more than 60 genres and 70 languages. Vuulr aims to slash the cost, effort, and time involved in doing transactions for the industry, and licensing transactions on Vuulr close, on average, in 10 days, according to the company.