OTT.X Trade Group Expands Board of Directors With Two New Members

The OTT.X trade group Oct. 30 announced the appointment of two additional board directors.

They are TwentyOne14 Media, represented by Quincy Newell, founder and CEO, and VIX Inc., represented by Richard Hull, head of streaming platforms and chief strategy officer. The board of directors of OTT.X, which represents the streaming sector of the home entertainment industry, now has 16 members, including board chair Cameron Douglas of Fandango, vice chair Suyin Lim of Sony Interactive Entertainment, and Pedro Gutierrez Jr. of Microsoft.

These appointments are effective immediately. Directors will serve until the annual OTT.X organizational board meeting in mid-2024.

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“These new companies on the OTT.X board of directors will add to its effectiveness,” said Mark Fisher, OTT.X president and CEO. “Each director brings an important perspective, and their wealth of experience will benefit the membership as OTT.X continues to be the forum for the OTT industry.”

TwentyOne14 Media is a content distribution, production and strategic advisory company for the media and entertainment industries.

VIX Inc. is a Miami-based streaming service that considers itself a hub for Spanish-language movies, TV shows and other filmed content aimed at Latinos.

OTT.X Trade Group Announces ‘Impact Awards’ for Streamers

OTT.X, the industry trade association for streaming, on Oct. 13 opened submissions to the inaugural OTT.X Impact Awards.

The OTT.X Impact Awards is a program created by and for the over-the-top streaming industry to recognize creators, producers, platforms and channels who are using the power of streaming video to make a positive impact, the trade association says.

Submissions are being accepted at ottximpactawards.org through Nov. 9, 2020, for audio-visual works that premiere and are distributed through OTT channels and platforms. Nominations will be announced Nov. 16 and awards will be made at the annual OTT.X @Digital Media Pipeline on Dec. 10, 2020.

OTT.X to Host Career and Leadership Development Summit

OTT.X on July 28 announced plans to host its first-ever Career and Leadership Development Summit on Aug. 12, using an online format similar to its popular “OTT.X Online Live” sessions.

The summit will feature three components, including a conference session with career and leadership development presentations delivered by successful executives; a series of informal discussion sessions between industry executives and conference attendees; and a “happy-hour” networking session.

Steve Nickerson

Featured speakers include industry veterans Steve Nickerson, formerly of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and Toshiba Corp.; Jason Peterson, chairman of the GoDigital Media Group; and Michele Edelman, head of growth with Premiere Video.

Other speakers include Teresa Philips, CEO of Spherex; Narendra Reddy, EVP and GM of The Africa Channel; and Paulette Pantoja, CEO of Blu; Jill Allen, SVP of digital distribution for Sony Pictures; Beth Anderson, AVP of digital strategy and business development for BBC Studios; Allison Martin, senior manager of content planning for BBC Studios; Kristen Bedno, director of domestic distribution and marketing for Vision Films; Lise Romanoff, managing director and CEO of worldwide distribution for Vision Films; and Lonni Silverman, director of client services, for Sony Pictures.

“The goal of the summit is to help prepare an inclusive population of professionals interested in advancing in business and technical roles in the entertainment industry and to provide opportunities to develop their leadership skills, contacts and confidence,” said Mark Fisher, OTT.X president and CEO. “Supporting the growth and professional development of future leaders and the diversity of those holding leadership positions is vital to our industry’s continued success. Our first Leadership Development Summit will provide a platform for leaders to share valuable insights and for a diverse community of professionals of all levels to connect and learn from each other.”

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Jason Peterson

Fisher also will speak, as will Eric Hanson, OTT.X’s VP of industry leadership.

To create an inclusive and diverse community of participants, women and minorities are especially encouraged to register and attend, Fisher said. The morning conference portion of the event is free for all OTT industry professionals. Afternoon discussion and networking sessions are free to any employee of an OTT.X member organization.

The conference is being hosted by OTT.X’s Leadership Development Foundation (LDF), an organization dedicated to the vision of a diverse and inclusive business and technical workforce in the OTT video entertainment industry, supported by a broad range of career and leadership development opportunities. The LDF is overseen by a steering committee with representatives from content providers, channels, retailers and service providers in the OTT video industry.

For more information and to register visit the OTT.X website.

Farewell EMA, Hello OTT.X

After more than three decades as one of the home entertainment industry’s key trade associations, the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) is broadening its focus and rebranding to become the OTT.X (the Over The Top Exchange).

According to CEO and president Mark Fisher, the new name reflects the organization’s aim to more broadly support the business of bringing entertainment to the consumer through all OTT means – including transactional video-on-demand (TVOD); subscription VOD, or streaming; and ad-supported streaming (AVOD).

Maintaining that the organization will support digital retailers, channels, networks, platforms, and MVPDs, Fisher said the vision of OTT.X is “a vibrant ecosystem of companies continually advancing the consumer experience and business of delivering audio-visual entertainment through OTT technologies,” while its updated mission is “to connect and nurture the OTT ecosystem enabling innovation, collaboration, and competition.”

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He said the association will  continue to focus on the business aspects of the industry, by facilitating business exchange and community, sharing industry insights and research, organizing and managing industry interest groups such as digital supply chain and retailing best practices, and managing a leadership development foundation.

The new OTT.X logo

The group was founded in 1984 as the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA), representing the proliferating independent video rental stores that had birthed the home entertainment industry several years earlier.

As the business shifted to regional and then national chains like Blockbuster Video, Movie Gallery and Hollywood Entertainment, the VSDA intensified its lobbying and supply chain efforts and tweaked its annual summer convention, generally held in Las Vegas, to focus more on meetings and less on elaborate booths and exhibits on the show floor.

With the arrival of DVD and the shift in the market away from rental and toward sellthrough, the VSDA scaled down its show even more and in 2006 merged with the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA) to become the EMA.

The last big summer trade show was held in Las Vegas in 2007; the association subsequently focused on smaller conferences and seminars and from 2012 until last year presented the annual Los Angeles Entertainment Summit for key retailers and content suppliers.

The association’s new direction — and name — are the result of its successful OTT_X Market and Conference last July and its OTT_X @ Pipeline in September, Fisher said.

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“After more than three decades, we continue to reinvent the definition of the industry that we serve as well as our model to serve and support it,” Fisher said. “I’m proud that our team — our board and staff, working together — drafted this transformational plan, positioning OTT.X to grow in both the size of its membership and the quantity and quality of its programs and services.”

“There are so many new and emerging channels and networks looking to collaborate with their peers in building a more effective ecosystem,” said Cameron Douglas, OTT.X chair and head of home entertainment at FandangoNow, one of the industry’s leading digital retailers. “I look forward to working more broadly with digital retailers, MVPDs, digital channels and networks, distribution platforms, consumer electronics manufacturers, and all the companies creating and distributing content to these channels, as well as technology-enabling services supporting our businesses.”

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Earlier in the year, Fisher told Media Play News that the association in 2020 will “formally, fully embrace the broad spectrum of OTT delivery, including SVOD and AVOD, while continuing to support TVOD. We plan to contribute significantly to supporting the ecosystem surrounding OTT including platforms, channels, content providers and service providers by expanding many of our already successful programs as well as launching new ones.

“This includes connecting companies for efficient business negotiations in events like our popular OTT.X business exchange, gathering and sharing valuable business insights and industry research in our conference sessions and facilitating the development, evangelization and education of industry best practices such as the digital supply chain work we’ve been doing over the last decade.”

 

Trade Groups Court Streamers, But Remain Focused on Transactional Side of the Business

The home entertainment industry’s two trade groups are aggressively courting streamers, but they remain focused on the transactional side of the business, as well.

Both Amy Jo Smith, president and CEO of DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, and Mark Fisher, president and CEO of the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA), believe both branches of the home entertainment industry can thrive.

“We know that 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is the premium choice for viewing content at its best,” Smith says. “And buying content allows fans to collect their favorites and watch at any time.  SVOD and AVOD services offer an exciting way to access all types of content, from award-winning originals to genre specific catalog titles to episodic television series.”

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“There are some movies that consumers are waiting impatiently to see on their home screen,” Fisher adds. “These movies generally won’t be available on subscription streaming services until much later.  Consumers may not fully appreciate the benefit of this window and that titles are available much earlier.”

Looking ahead at 2020, Smith says, “DEG will continue to support transactional businesses for content while also looking to support DTC services. We will support the studios in their work with retail partners to bring content front and center.  For DTC, our work involves aligning messaging so that consumers understand the opportunities for them in the burgeoning DTC environment.  We also want to make sure the experience of discovery and viewing is optimized.  It’s a very exciting time for both consumers as well as the industry providing and delivering content.

Fisher said the EMA in 2020 will “formally, fully embrace the broad spectrum of OTT delivery, including SVOD and AVOD, while continuing to support TVOD. We plan to contribute significantly to supporting the ecosystem surrounding OTT including platforms, channels, content providers and service providers by expanding many of our already successful programs as well as launching new ones. This includes connecting companies for efficient business negotiations in events like our popular OTT.X business exchange, gathering and sharing valuable business insights and industry research in our conference sessions and facilitating the development, evangelization and education of industry best practices such as the digital supply chain work we’ve been doing over the last decade.

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“We’re also excited to be launching our Leadership Development Foundation, dedicated to supporting recent entrants into the home entertainment workforce and providing professional development opportunities for women and underrepresented minorities.”

What’s in store in 2020 on the transactional side of the business?

“We’re still digesting the learnings from the industry-wide Ultimate Media Weekend promotion that we coordinated last year, anticipating another round this year,” Fisher says. “We’ll be examining every aspect of the program from timing to whether the program should be price-point based or not, to whether it should focus on VOD or EST or both.”

“Obviously,” Fisher adds, “this is the year that consumers will be navigating direct-to-consumer options. More consumers than ever before will cut their relationships with their cable TV providers and use OTT services.  Consumers will want to append their costly DTC SVOD services with less-costly SVOD specialty channels and especially with ‘free’ AVOD channels and platforms to supplement their viewing selection.

“The challenges will be to get noticed above the loud noise of the larger studios and existing leading services, and to make the consumer experience as friendly, reliable, and easy as we’ve gotten used to with our cable TV experience — both in functionality and in search and discovery of content.”

Fisher says he’s got “one more point for next year and the future — any launch of a new format or window needs to be coordinated across industries — physical and digital retailers and services/content providers/consumer electronics companies.  Lack of consistency in timing, in promotion, and in terminology have confused the consumer and slowed adoption.  We can do better, and we’re looking forward to supporting the industry as it continues innovating.”

Oh, What a Year — With Transformational Changes, Home Entertainment in 2019 Got Smaller — and Bigger

The phrase “transformational change” has been used so much it’s become a cliché — and yet there really is no better way to describe what happened in not just home entertainment, but also the entertainment industry overall, in 2019.

The completion in March of the Walt Disney Co.’s purchase of 20th Century Fox saw the number of major studios drop to five from six. Some of the home entertainment sector’s most familiar faces were suddenly gone, including Mike Dunn, the longtime leader of Fox’s home entertainment unit, and Danny Kaye, the visionary behind Fox Innovation Labs. Later, in the summer, Janice Marinelli, Disney’s home entertainment chief, also exited in a surprise move, given that she had opened an office on the Fox studio lot and was reportedly screening staffers.

In November, two new streaming giants emerged to take on longtime leader Netflix, Apple TV+ and, most significantly, Disney+.

Meanwhile, a new flavor of streaming gathered momentum: free to consumers, paid for by advertisers. Among the heavyweights jumping into what’s known as “AVOD” are ViacomCBS, with its Pluto TV acquisition, and Comcast Corp., which in December was reported to be in advanced talks to acquire Xumo TV, which boasts more than 140 digital channels of programming across 12 genres, including sports, news, kids and family entertainment.

The overall impact of all these developments on home entertainment: It got smaller — and bigger.

Smaller, because the traditional transactional business model that has defined home entertainment since its birth more than 40 years ago has increasingly come under fire, with subscription streaming, in particular, gobbling up more and more consumer attention — and dollars — that previously would have gone toward buying or renting movies, either on disc or through digital retailers.

But also bigger, because streaming, in its various incarnations, is now widely accepted as being part of home entertainment — which is now broadly defined as people watching what they want, on demand. There’s even a new name for all of this — direct-to-consumer — which was first adopted by Disney and is now used interchangeably with “home entertainment.”

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Bob Buchi, president of Paramount Home Entertainment, says 2019 “was the year of transition.”

“From media mergers and changing consumer viewing habits to the explosion of streaming services, the landscape has shifted dramatically,” he says.

The Nov. 1 launch of Apple TV+ marked the tech giant’s entry into the content business, with nine original series. One of them, “The Morning Show,” picked up several Golden Globe nominations from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), a first for a new streaming service.

Less than two weeks later, Disney launched its much-ballyhooed Disney+, with a full menu of in-demand movies and series — including the “Star Wars” spinoff “The Mandalorian.” Disney said more than 10 million people signed up for the service in the first 24 hours. By the end of November, the service had 24 million subscribers, according to estimates from Wall Street firm Cowen & Co. (Netflix as of October had more than 60 million domestic subs.)

“It’s an exciting time and we believe we have a unique and significant role to play,” Ricky Strauss, president of content and marketing for Disney+, told Media Play News on the eve of the service’s launch. “Disney+ will compete based on the unparalleled strength of our brands, the quality of our intellectual property, and expertise in high-quality video streaming.”

And yet industry insiders insist that despite streaming’s growth, there’s room for transactional — largely because new theatrical films, particularly the blockbusters, aren’t available on SVOD services. This distinction has prompted FandangoNow, one of the big digital retailers, to boldly proclaim on its home page, “New releases not on Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu subscriptions.”

“Because we’re the first point of entry for fans to see movies in theaters, and first at home, we’ve seen a significant growth among consumers who are excited to own movies as soon as they’re available digitally,” says Cameron Douglas, head of FandangoNow. “Fans looking for high-quality content right out of theaters, including 4K HDR movies, don’t have to wait until they arrive later on subscription services, and innovative deals like rental binge bundles and the availability on new platforms keep them coming back to transactional digital services like our own.”

“New movie releases continue to be sought out by consumers during the first window in the home amidst the frenzied buzz around new streaming services,” adds Michael Bonner, EVP of digital distribution for Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. “While there’s no denying the landscape is becoming more competitive, this business has successfully co-existed with abundant availability of non-transactional content for a long time and we expect it to continue to do so.”

“There is space — and demand — for both transactional content as well as streaming — just as there is consumer interest in both digital and physical,” says Amy Jo Smith, president and CEO of trade association DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

Beyond new releases, streamers have a limited selection of older films and TV shows, particularly with their increased focus on original content.

“For many consumers, their streaming options are good enough,” says Mark Fisher, president and CEO of home entertainment trade association the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA). “But just like the days when the first video rental stores opened and made it easy for the consumer to watch anything they wanted to watch when they wanted to watch it, online VOD retailers offer that same opportunity to the consumer. I know that every time I see a montage of old movie clips, I’m driven to watch titles that aren’t new releases — and these are titles not readily (or easily) found on the streaming services.”

Sales of digital movies, in particular, were a bright spot, with consumer spending up nearly 7% in the first nine months of 2019, according to trade association DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

“We’ve continued to see growth in EST (electronic sellthrough) — both in our new releases and in our catalog,” says Jason Spivak, EVP of distribution, for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. “Certainly the enhanced consumer experience enabled by Movies Anywhere is part of that, as is increasing consumer connectivity in their homes. EST continues to gain prominence in our marketing planning, release data scheduling, and retailer partnerships.”

Ron Schwartz, president of Lionsgate Home Entertainment, says Lionsgate EST revenue grew 30% this year, “four to five times faster than the overall industry. With increased collaboration between studios and retailers, and more offerings such as dynamic bundling, customers are starting to build their lockers up to 10-plus titles. Recent data shows that once a customer gets to between 10 and 12 titles in their locker, their EST purchasing behavior doubles.”

In addition to selling movies, digital retailers also offer them for a la carte streaming, the digital equivalent of a physical movie rental. Redbox remains the only retailer to offer both digital and physical rentals, the former through an e-commerce site and the latter, through a network of more than 40,000 kiosks situated outside (or inside) large retailers like Walmart, convenience and drug stores, and other retailers.

“Redbox owns the transactional space with more transactions across physical and digital formats — for rental and purchase — than any other transactional provider,” says Redbox CEO Galen Smith.

In 2019, he said, Redbox expanded its offering of 4K Ultra HD discs into new markets, and stepped up promotions as well, with its Back to the Movies campaign and a joint Dinner & A Movie offering with meal delivery service DoorDash.

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In addition, Redbox Entertainment, a new content acquisition and production division, has further transformed Redbox into a multi-channel content provider and programmer. Launched in October, the new division is headed by Marc Danon, who spent eights at Lionsgate, most recently as SVP of acquisitions and business development.

Disc sales in 2019 continued to decline in the low double digits, with DEG reporting that in the first nine months of the year, combined 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray Disc, and DVD revenues were down 18.5% to an estimated $2.3 billion — exactly half what they amounted to five years ago, in 2014.

But studios continued to support the disc. And while a trend among smaller titles is to release them only on DVD and digital, bypassing Blu-ray Disc, major new releases are still getting significant marketing campaigns behind them, particularly for the 4K Ultra HD editions. The UHD disc also made headlines last August when the UHD Alliance, along with leaders in consumer electronics, the Hollywood studios and members of the filmmaking community, announced collaboration on a new viewing mode for watching movies called “Filmmaker Mode,” designed to reproduce the content in the way the creator intended. Filmmaker Mode, bowing next year, will allow viewers to enjoy a more cinematic experience on their UHD TVs when watching movies by disabling all post-processing (e.g. motion smoothing, etc.) so the movie or television show is displayed as it was intended by the filmmaker, preserving the correct aspect ratios, colors and frame rates.

“For the time being, 4K UHD is still the gold standard for at-home content,” says Jim Wuthrich, president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment & Games. “With hardware costs dropping and television functionality such as Filmmaker Mode being made available next year, there is still a great value proposition in owning content in 4K UHD, both physically and digitally, as is still represents the best home-viewing experience.”

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“As evidenced by the exceptional growth of 4K UHD to date, it is clear that there is a sizable appetite for premium high-definition products, and that format plays a meaningful role in boosting retail traffic,” says Eddie Cunningham, president of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Retail partnerships are key, Cunningham adds. “Given that physical and digital transactional consumption rates are remaining steady year over year and that disc purchases are making up more than half of that consumption, there’s no question that movie buyers continue to be vitally important to retail,” he says. “At no other time in our industry has it been more critical to ensure that we work together to retain the loyalty of movie consumers, creating urgency for our products and delivering the utmost value, quality, accessibility and convenience possible.”

 

EMA Sets Dates, Location for 2nd Annual OTT Confab, Announces Biweekly Webinar Series

The Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) has announced preliminary plans for the second annual OTT_X Market and Conference.

The home entertainment trade group also announced a biweekly webinar series, beginning next year, that will give member companies the chance to present thought leadership and showcase their products

The 2020 OTT_X Market and Conference will be held at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles on  July 21 and 22. The centrally located facility has been home to EMA’s OTT_X (formerly Digital Media) Pipeline for the past decade. The OTT_X Market and Conference will expand to include two full days of conference sessions  as well as specialized tracks of breakouts and work groups.  A themed “show floor” will be added, providing space for organizations interested in acquiring content (retailers/channels/platforms) to meet with those looking to license their content (studios/networks/aggregators) as well as technology and service providers.  Private meeting rooms will be available as well.

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Another new element will be the Partner Showcase, where content providers and technology and service providers can present or demonstrate their offerings. The event also will offer networking opportunities at breakfast and lunch functions and at the Industry Cocktail Party.

“This is the perfect venue to enable all aspects of OTT_X including business exchange, education, knowledge sharing, networking and advancing cross-industry initiatives,” said Mark Fisher, EMA’s president and CEO.  “Both casual meetings and private meetings are comfortably accommodated, and the venue is perfect to host our main conference program, our breakouts, and our show floor.”

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“The OTT_X conference is one of the premier digital events in our industry, offering invaluable resources to seasoned professionals and newcomers alike,” added Erick Opeka, president of Digital Networks at Cinedigm and the Conference Chair.

The webinar series begins Jan. 15. All EMA member companies are invited to propose a topic, along with an outline, for presentation in this webinar series.  Once approved, the presenting company will select from the calendar of dates available.  Presentations will take place on the first and third Wednesday of every month at 1 p.m. Pacific Time and will be scheduled for one hour.

Submissions can be made, starting on Dec. 16, to Mark Fisher at mfisher@entmerch.org.

EMA Elects Officers, Appoints Board Members

Cameron Douglas, VP of home entertainment, Fandango, has been re-elected chairman of the home entertainment trade group the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA). Douglas will be serving his second term as chairman.

Joining Douglas as officers are vice chair Suyin Lim, senior director, content acquisitions and partnerships, PlayStation Video; secretary Pedro Guiterrez Jr., director, digital stores movies and TV business and category management, Microsoft Corp.; and treasurer Michele Edelman, head of growth, Premiere Digital Services.

Eric Opeka

Bill Kotzman, Google/YouTube’s partner product manager, TV and Film; Erick Opeka, president, Cinedigm Digital Networks; and Jason Peterson, CEO of GoDigital Medial Group, will also serve on the association’s executive committee as at-large members.

Amazon returns to the EMA’s board, now represented by senior product manager Jude Fitzmorris.

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Other returning board members are Amit Balan, head of marketing at Vudu, and Marty Graham, SVP at ComScore.

Three members newly appointed board members are Opeka, Edelman and Elissa Brown, VP of finance and operations at Movies Anywhere.

“The companies on EMA’s board of director reflect the variety of delivery mechanisms and business models in our vibrant industry,” said Mark Fisher, EMA president and CEO. “Each director brings an important perspective, and their wealth of experience will benefit the membership as EMA continues to be the forum for the home entertainment industry.”

The EMA is a not-for-profit international trade association. Members include digital retailers, MVPDs, AVOD and SVOD networks and channels, platforms, companies creating and/or distributing content for these channels of distribution, and companies providing services or technology for the use of others in this community. EMA was established in April 2006 through the merger of the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) and the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA).

Studios, Distributors, EMA Team Up on Massive Digital Movie Rental Promotion

A consortium of studios and key digital retailers, cable companies and satellite providers is sponsoring a digital rental movie sale May 31 through June 3 in which consumers can stream up to 250 different movies at prices as low as $2.99 for recent releases and 99 cents for older, catalog titles.

The “Ultimate Movie Weekend” initiative, led by the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA), is believed to be the first time such a coordinated promotion has been undertaken in the United States.

The goal, according to EMA SVP Sean Bersell, is to “introduce consumers who haven’t rented digitally previously to the value and convenience of digital rental, and to entice consumers who haven’t rented digital recently to re-engage.”

The campaign will offer recent releases and catalog movies from Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros. Participating digital retailers and cable and satellite companies include Altice USA’s Optimum and Suddenlink TV, Amazon Prime Video, the Apple TV app and iTunes, Atlantic Broadband, Comcast’s Xfinity TV, Cox, DIRECTV, DISH, FandangoNOW, Frontier Communications, Google Play, Microsoft Movies & TV, PlayStation Store, Redbox On Demand, U-Verse, and Vudu.

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The tagline for the Ultimate Movie Weekend is “Rent the Biggest Movies for Less.” Participating retailers will offer between 50 and 250 movies at discounted prices as low as $2.99 for recent releases and $0.99 for catalog movies. The Ultimate Movie Weekend sale includes some of the latest releases that are not yet available on subscription video services. Among the movies in the promotion are A Star Is Born (2018), Bumblebee, Fifty Shades of Grey, First Man, Forrest Gump, The Hunger Games, Robin Hood (2018), Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Step Brothers, and Wonder Woman.

The promotional campaign will be supported by a significant media buy, social media marketing, direct-to-consumer outreach, and a dedicated website, www.ultimatemovieweekend.com. The Ultimate Movie Weekend sale is patterned after similar successful efforts last year in Australia, France and the U.K.

“While the popularity of digital movie rentals continues to grow, there is the opportunity to introduce even more consumers to the value and convenience of digital rental, so the industry has come together to offer a compelling promotion that we hope will attract new customers and remind infrequent digital renters of this option,” said EMA president and CEO Mark Fisher. “Plus, with the start of the summer, which is traditionally a heavy movie-viewing season, it’s a good time to remind consumers of the pleasure of getting together with family and friends for a movie night.”

According to industry statistics, in the first quarter of 2019, digital rental generated $564 million in consumer spending, which accounted for approximately 10% of all home entertainment consumer spending in the quarter.

“This is the first effort of its kind in the U.S., and the breadth of participants demonstrates that the home entertainment industry is making it a priority to communicate the value proposition of digital rentals to consumers,” said Richard Smith, SVP, domestic digital sales, for Paramount Pictures and chair of EMA’s Ultimate Movie Weekend planning committee. “We see significant potential to grow this sector of the industry, and in doing so grow the overall home entertainment market.”

“Our studio partners have assembled a fantastic slate of movies, many unavailable on subscription services, which FandangoNow will offer at compelling prices,” added Cameron Douglas, VP of home entertainment at Fandango and chair of the EMA. “Convenience and value have always been the hallmark of home entertainment, and these great movies at discounted prices draws attention to the ease and affordability of renting digitally.”

EMA Launches Leadership Development Foundation

The Entertainment Merchants Association has formed the EMA Leadership Development Foundation to support professional training and development within the home entertainment industry, and particularly within the EMA membership.

“It’s about time that we recognize that our industry, that of the retailing and streaming of entertainment content to the consumer, is a unique industry and with jobs classifications that are unique to this industry and yet common across our member companies,”said Mark Fisher, president and CEO of the EMA, April 4 at the Fast Forward Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, produced by Media Play News and hosted by the EMA.

The EMA Leadership Development Foundation will provide opportunities for recent entrants in the home entertainment workforce to learn how the industry operates and to interact with their peers in order to advance their careers and offer professional development opportunities in the industry for women and under-represented minorities, according to the EMA.

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The activities for the EMA Leadership Development Foundation will include:

  • Presenting seminars and workshops on the business of home entertainment;
  • Hosting informal professional networking sessions for individuals who work in the home entertainment industry;
  • Managing a structured mentoring program for women and under-represented minorities in the home entertainment industry; and
  • Recognizing individuals in the home entertainment industry who have made significant contributions to the industry, their community, and/or the advancement of diversity in the industry.

 

A Leadership Development Advisory Council will advise the EMA Leadership Development Foundation on programs and strategies for leadership development, education, and recognition within the home entertainment industry. The council will consist of individuals from both within and outside the home entertainment industry who have expertise in professional development and the promotion of diverse workforces.

“The programs of the EMA Leadership Development Foundation will help employees in the home entertainment industry gain a greater understanding of the business of home entertainment, introduce them to their peers in other companies, and provide them with mentoring opportunities,” Fisher said. “This will help them become more effective employees and prepare them for career advancement in the industry.”

The EMA Leadership Development Foundation is a not-for-profit entity incorporated in the state of Delaware. The EMA Board of Directors will also act as the Board of Directors for the EMA Leadership Development Foundation. The foundation will be managed by the EMA staff.

Initial funding for the EMA Leadership Development Foundation came from the dissolution of the EMA Scholarship Foundation and the transfer of its assets to the EMA Leadership Development Foundation.

“The EMA Scholarship Foundation provided a tremendous service to our industry,” Fisher said. “Between its establishment in 1987 and 2019, it helped more than 240 students achieve higher education through scholarship grants totaling more than $1 million. But our industry has evolved over the past three decades and the resources previously dedicated to the Scholarship Foundation we believe can better serve the industry in a new way. We believe that new way, the EMA Leadership Development Foundation, will provide a great service to our industry.”