Analyst: Netflix to Weather Content Migration — For Now

With Netflix set to release second-quarter (ended June 30) financial results on July 17, Michael Pachter, analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles and longtime Netflix bear, contends the subscription streaming video pioneer will add 5.3 million subscribers, including 300,000 in the United States.

The tally surprisingly exceeds Wall Street consensus and Netflix’s projection of 5 million new subs, including 4.7 million international subs.

Pachter argues that despite media attention to the departures of popular TV reruns “Friends” and “The Office” from Netflix in two years, the service has more than enough content in the pipeline and willingness to spend big on new programming to weather the storm.

“Friends” and “The Office” account for an estimated 5% of all viewing on Netflix, leaving other content that accounts for 95% of viewing on Netflix in place.

Indeed, Netflix launched 21 new shows in Q2, excluding 13 returning series. That compared to six news series and 17 returning series in the previous-year period.

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At the same time, content from NBC Universal, Fox, Disney and Warner Bros. currently accounts for upwards of 65% of Netflix viewing hours, according to Wedbush.

Pachter expects the migration of third-party content away from Netflix to competing platforms to be relatively slow and is unclear whether the service can successfully replace it with quantity and quality to keep its subscribers loyal.

“We think it is likely that Netflix will pay whatever it takes to attract high quality content and believe its competitors will be slow to gain scale,” Pachter wrote in a note. “Thus, we expect the status quo to be largely maintained until the end of 2021. For now, Netflix provides tremendous value for its subscribers.”

Ampere: U.S. Subscription Streaming Video Growth Resumes

Netflix subscriber growth in the United States may be slowing, but the domestic market for subscription streaming video is poised for expansion, according to new data from Ampere Analysis.

The London-based research group said growth in SVOD subscriptions in the U.S. resumed after peaking from Q3 2016 and Q1 2018.

Much of that renewed growth has come from Hulu topping 25 million subscribers earlier this year, in addition to pending service launches from Disney, Apple, WarnerMedia and NBC Universal.

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Although the proportion of Internet users in Europe who have a SVOD subscription is lower than in the U.S., there continues to be healthy sub growth across the Atlantic.

“The growth in SVOD subscribers in both regions will come as welcome news, particularly to those looking to enter the market this year such as Disney and Apple as it shows there is still room for growth and the opportunity to take a share of the revenue,” Minal Modha, consumer research lead at Ampere, said in a statement.

Indeed, about 80% of Internet users in Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have at least one SVOD subscription. Japan and France are the only countries where fewer than 50% have a subscription.

Subscriptions are being driven by younger demographics, with those under 35 over-indexing in each market except Saudi Arabia where it is driven by those aged 45 years and over.

All but two markets analyzed enjoyed subscriber growth between Q3 2018 and Q1 2019, with Saudi Arabia (+8.1%), Australia (+6.8%) and Denmark (+6.3%) spearheading expansion.

The Netherlands and Japan are the only markets where subscriber growth has stagnated since Q3 2018.

NBC Universal Taking Back ‘The Office’ From Netflix in 2021

As expected, NBC Universal June 25 announced it has secured the exclusive domestic streaming rights to “The Office.” All nine seasons of the catalog NBC sitcom will be available on the company’s soon-to-be-launched ad-supported/subscription streaming service for five years, beginning 2021.

The sitcom, similarly to Warner Bros. Television’s “Friends,” is currently exclusively licensed to Netflix. Both shows have become subscriber favorites for the SVOD behemoth — and thus coveted programming for NBC and WarnerMedia as they prep pending over-the-top video platforms.

“‘The Office’ has become a staple of pop-culture and is a rare gem whose relevance continues to grow at a time when fans have more entertainment choices than ever before,” Bonnie Hammer, chairman of NBC Universal direct-to-consumer and digital enterprises, said in a statement.

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“The Office” is the number one series on SVOD, according to the media company. In 2018, it was streamed for over 52 billion minutes, and in April 2019, it was viewed nearly twice as much as the next most-viewed program on SVOD.

“‘The Office’ is one of our most prized series,” said Pearlena Igbokwe, president, Universal Television.

Produced by Universal Television in association with Deedle-Dee Productions and Reveille Productions, “The Office” takes a documentary-style look at the humorous and foolishness that plagues the 9-to-5 world. Based on the award-winning BBC hit, “The Office” is a fly-on-the-wall “docu-reality” parody of modern American office life that delves into the lives of the workers at Dunder Mifflin, a paper supply company in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

The show, which premiered on NBC in 2005, created indelible characters like Michael Scott, Dwight Schrute and Pam & Jim, and launched the careers of some of Steve Carrell, Ed Helms, John Krasinski, Mindy Kaling, Ellie Kemper, B.J. Novak, Craig Robinson and Mike Schur, among others.

“The Office” is executive-produced by Ben Silverman, Greg Daniels – who developed the series for American audiences – Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant, Howard Klein, Paul Lieberstein, Brent Forrester and Dan Sterling.

In addition to being NBC’s highest-rated scripted series for multiple seasons during its broadcast run, “The Office” was named one of the best shows on TV by dozens of media outlets, including TIME MagazineRolling StoneEntertainment Weekly and The Atlantic, while also being a consistent awards contender with 180 nominations and more than 40 wins.

Among its prestigious honors are the Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series, the Peabody Award, AFI Honors, the Producers Guild Award, the Writers Guild Award, the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy, and a Television Critic’s Association Award for Outstanding Achievement in Comedy.

Pluto TV Joins Comcast’s X1 Platform

Viacom’s online ad-supported TV service Pluto TV June 13 announced it has launched on Comcast Cable’s Xfinity X1 platform.

Pluto TV, which is already available on Comcast’s Internet-only $5 monthly Xfinity Flex service, joins Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime Video reaching the cabler’s cloud-based X1 subscribers.

“The launch of Pluto TV on Xfinity X1 is a pivotal moment for Pluto TV, expanding our reach to a whole new audience in search of free streaming entertainment,” Tom Ryan, CEO and co-Founder of Pluto TV, said in a statement. “Pluto TV is the perfect complement to the X1 platform, delivering a rich lineup of original live channels and on-demand movies and TV shows to Comcast’s customers right where they enjoy the rest of their entertainment experience.”

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The AVOD service would appear to complicate Comcast’s planned launch of an NBC Universal branded SVOD/AVOD service to subscribers in 2020. The ad-free version would be available to non-subs and priced comparable to Hulu and Netflix, or $9 to $14 monthly.

Regardless, Pluto TV, with 150 content partners, features movies: Pluto TV Movies 1 & 2and DramaComedyFamilyIndiesRomanceDocumentariesThrillersCult FilmsHorror 24/7Action MoviesFlicks of FuryThe Asylum, and Black Cinema.

News with Today’s Top StoryNews 24/7Cheddar NewsTYT NetworkNewsmaxTVTop Stories by NewsySky NewsBloomberg TV and WeatherNation.

Sports with Pluto TV SportsFox SportsMLS,Impact WrestlingFightCombate WorldStadiumSurf ChannelSports NewsWorld Poker TourCombat GoLucha Libre AAA, and Big Sky Conference.

Comedy with Funny AFPluto TV SitcomsStand Up TVMST3K,RifftraxFail ArmyCats 24/7The OnionCracked and Pet Collective.

Gaming with The FeedHiveAnime All DayAnime All AgesMinecraftvIGNGeek & Sundry and Nerdist.

Entertainment through the Crime NetworkThe New DetectivesUnsolved MysteriesForensic FilesDog the Bounty HunterPluto TV ConspiracyPluto TV AnimalsCold Case FilesShout TVBuzzrClassicTV,ConTVWipeoutKids TV, After School CartoonsClassic ToonsAwesomeness TVNoseyWhat?! and RevryMTV Pluto TVParamount (PZG) Movie Channel, Comedy Central Pluto TVSpike Pluto TVPluto TV LogoBET Pluto TVNick Pluto TV and Nick Jr. Pluto TV – all featuring iconic, hit shows from Viacom’s deep library.

Lifestyle content with Pluto TV CarsPeople TVGordon Ramsay’s Hell’s KitchenComplex NetworksWahlburgersPluto TV HerPluto TV Her DramasPluto TV TravelPluto TV WeddingsFrontDoorAdventure TVFood TV and Faith TV.

Curiosty with Voyager DocumentariesScience TVPluto TV HistoryDocuTVPluto TV BiographyLaw & CrimePluto TV Military and NASA.

Sony, Viacom, CBS, Showtime, NBC Universal, AMC Network Join Growing Studio Sentiment Not to Work in Georgia Should Anti-Abortion Law Go Into Effect

Then the dam broke.

Sony Pictures, Viacom, CBS, Showtime, NBC Universal and AMC Networks, which has produced “The Walking Dead” in Georgia for more than 10 years, May 30 joined a bandwagon of Hollywood studios, producers and actors who have said they would cease doing business should the state’s new anti-abortion law go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

Gov. Brian Kemp signed the legislation on May 8 making it unlawful for a woman to have an abortion six weeks after pregnancy. Georgia currently bans abortions after 20 weeks.

The issue is unique to Georgia, which has become a prolific location for movie and TV show production, reportedly  accounting for 40 current content production outside of California and New York.

“If this highly restrictive legislation goes into effect, we will re-evaluate our activity in Georgia,” AMC said in a statement.

The network, which was one of the first to produce content in the Peach state with “Walking Dead,” said similar laws passed in other states have been challenged and so would the measure in Georgia.

“This is likely to be a long and complicated fight and we are watching it all very closely,” AMC said.

A spokesperson from Comcast-owned NBC Universal said the media company doesn’t expect the law to go into effect, but is ready to act if required.

“If any of these laws are upheld, it would strongly impact our decision-making on where we produce our content in the future,” said the spokesperson.

A Sony Pictures rep echoed the sentiment saying the Culver City, Calif.-based studio would continue to monitor the situation and “would consider our future production options” if warranted.

Tubi Expands Ad Sales Team

Ad-supported VOD service Tubi May 21  named former senior Viacom advertising executive Peter Graseck as VP of East Coast advertising sales. Graseck will lead the New York ad team and work alongside fellow VPs Heather Strofs, West Coast region, and Todd Segall, Midwest region.

The three report to chief revenue officer Mark Rotblat.

“Peter, Heather, and Todd are all talented executives with undeniable business acumen and integrity, and we look forward to leveraging their expertise during this pivotal growth period,” Rotblat said in a statement.

From Left: Peter Graseck, Heather Strofs, Todd Segall

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Graseck’s media career spans a wide variety of advertising and marketing functions; agency media planning at Young & Rubicam, marketing and branded entertainment at NBC Universal, and for the past 12 years at Viacom, he has held leadership roles in integrated marketing, client strategy, and both general market sales for Comedy Central, Spike, CMT, and TV Land, and direct response sales. Most recently, Graseck was the SVP of Viacom Partner Solutions where he oversaw all direct response accounts across Viacom’s cable networks and digital platforms.

Strofs came to Tubi with over 15 years of sales and leadership experience across the New York, Chicago, and West Coast Markets. She most recently served as VP, ad sales at The Oprah Winfrey Network where she collaborated with clients to create custom solutions that allowed advertising partners to reach their consumers in a unique and impactful way across linear, digital and social platforms. During her tenure, she brought on launch partners at OWN’s inception and continued to create innovative solutions across the studio, technology, and auto landscapes.

Segall joined Tubi from Roku where he was head of sales for their Central Region based out of Chicago and was responsible for building out their sales team and market presence. Prior to joining Roku, Segall was senior category sales director at AOL where he led the Finance Vertical as well as their mid-market sales team.

 

NBC Universal Planning to Offer ‘The Office’ on New Streaming Service

NBC Universal reportedly plans to stream popular catalog sitcom, “The Office” on its pending streaming video service.

The media company owned by Comcast disclosed the move May 13 during its advertising upfront at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

Comcast is slated to launch a free ad-supported VOD service for Xfinity subscribers next year. Non-pay-TV subs would be charged an undisclosed monthly fee.

“While other companies are pushing advertisers out, we’re bringing you in,” said Linda Yaccarino, chairman of advertising and client partnerships at NBC Universal, told advertisers, according to Bloomberg, which first reported the move.

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Yaccarino is on Hulu’s board of directors, along with NBC Universal’s Matt Bond and Jeff Shell, chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment. NBC Universal co-owns Hulu with Disney.

The programming decision is significant since “The Office,” along with WarnerMedia’s “Friends,” remains extremely popular on Netflix. The SVOD behemoth recently renewed an exclusive license agreement for ‘The Office” through 2020.

Last year, it reportedly paid WarnerMedia $100 million for exclusive rights to an additional single season of the sitcom.

Netflix earlier this year tweeted it had signed “Office” star Steve Carell for a new workplace comedy created by “Office” showrunner Greg Daniels about people working in the new armed services unit: “Space Force.”

Comcast in Talks with Disney to Sell Hulu Stake

Comcast reportedly is in talks with Disney to sell its 30% stake in Hulu, which includes online television platform Hulu with Live TV, according to CNBC, which cited internal sources.

CNBC is owned by Comcast business unit NBC Universal.

Disney currently owns 60% of the 12-year-old streaming service with 25 million subscribers after it acquired 20th Century Fox. AT&T’s WarnerMedia unit just sold its 10% stake back to Hulu for $1.43 billion.

The discussions, which CNBC said are in the preliminary stage, were revealed hours after Comcast chairman/CEO Brian Roberts told investors the cable giant enjoyed owning a large stake of a Disney asset.

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“On Hulu, the relationship with NBC, it’s very much in everybody’s interest to maintain,” Roberts said on the all. “And we have no new news today on it, other than it’s really valuable. And we’re really glad we own a large piece of it.”

At the same time, with Disney firmly in control of Hulu and Comcast heretofore reluctant to move too far away from the pay-TV business model, selling its stake in an over-the-top business could help Comcast alleviate more than $100 billion in corporate debt following the $39 billion Sky acquisition.

Comcast reportedly could get $4.5 billion for its stake in Hulu, which lost $1.5 billion in 2018. Disney doesn’t expect Hulu to become profitable until 2024 — and only after possible international expansion.

At the same time, NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke remains skeptical of OTT business model, including Netflix.

“To be worth $150 billion, someday you’ve got to make at least $10 billion in EBITDA,” Burke told CNBC last year. “There’s at least a chance Netflix never makes that.”

Comcast, which only recently incorporated direct access to Netflix for its Xfinity pay-TV subscribers, plans to launch an OTT service for Xfinity in 2020.

Ted Sarandos: Most-Watched Netflix Shows are Originals

Much attention has been given to major media companies such as Disney, NBC Universal and WarnerMedia pulling back content licensing to Netflix for their own branded over-the-top video platforms — and what impact that would have on the SVOD juggernaut.

Not much, according to CCO Ted Sarandos, who says the streaming service has anticipated such changing market dynamics for the past seven years.

Speaking on the April 16 fiscal webcast, Sarandos said CEO Reed Hastings and others long ago concluded Netflix’s future required streaming original scripted series, unscripted series, feature films, documentaries, standup comedy and children’s programming.

“And that’s what we set out to do,” he said.

Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos

Longtime Netflix bear Michael Pachter, media analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, contends about 80% Netflix’s content license deals with WarnerMedia (“Friends”) and NBC Universal (“The Office”) expire in 2020.

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Disney’s exclusive feature film agreement ends this year. Netflix’s recently cancelled Marvel Defenders Universe series, which included “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones,” “The Punisher,” “Luke Cage” and “Iron Fist.”

“Netflix can thrive in the face of new [OTT video] competition only if it has the content to compete,” Pachter wrote in an April 17 note, aptly named, “Netflix: 57 channels (and Nothin’ On).”

Hastings characterizes any comeback strategy aimed at filling in exiting studio content with similar programming as “very minimalist.”

“You look at [global nature series] “Our Planet,” that’s not filling in for anything else, that’s setting a bold new vision of what programming can be,” he said.

Sarandos said Netflix original interactive series “You vs. Wild” has been streamed by about 25 million households in its first 28 days of release. Pending releases include Klaus, Netflix’s first animated feature film from veteran animator Sergio Pablos, and “Green Eggs and Ham,” an Ellen DeGeneres-produced 13-episode animated series.

“It’s pushing storytelling forward, which I think we’re trying,” he said.

The longtime content executive contends most TV programming is largely interchangeable. Netflix’s focus, according to Sarandos, is original programming (such as India’s “Sacred Games,” and “Love Per Square Foot,”) targeting local audiences that can appeal globally as well.

“If you look at our Top 10 most-watched shows on Netflix, they’re all Netflix original brands,” he said, adding that only four TV series among the service’s Top 25 have at least one season available elsewhere.

“It’s hard to imagine a couple of years ago when Fox said, ‘sunset all of their second-window content on Netflix off of the service to focus on their own efforts,’ and we’ve seen how we’ve been doing since 2017, so we’re pretty happy about it,” Sarandos said.

So is Wall Street, which lifted Netflix shares nearly 3% in April 17 pre-market trading.

On Eve of Financials, Netflix Naysayers Out in Force

NEWS ANALYSIS — With Netflix reporting first-quarter fiscal results after the market close today, some pundits suggest the subscription streaming video behemoth has suddenly become vulnerable to a host of challenges — both real and imagined.

Disney is set to launch a branded SVOD service in November with content previously earmarked for Netflix, and WarnerMedia and NBC Universal are pulling back licensed programming (“The Office,” “Friends” and “Grey’s Anatomy”) as well for proprietary services.

As a result, scuttlebutt suggests Netflix is scrambling to fill the void.

“Just throwing tens of billions at developing more original TV series and movies may not be enough on its own to keep the company growing domestically at the rate needed to reach its goal of 90 million US subscribers,” Helen Back with research firm “Kill the Cable Bill” wrote in a post.

Separately, online pundit “The Entertainment Oracle” contends Netflix has a “Game of Thrones” problem that has nothing to do with the fact the ratings hit resides on rival streaming service HBO Now.

The argument being that the high profile fantasy series — currently airing/streaming its last season — continues to fuel old-school water cooler buzz through weekly episodic programming rather than subscribing to Netflix’s “batch” distribution model.

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‘They are losing that weekly buzz that has helped ‘Thrones’ rise to new [viewership] levels,” wrote The Oracle.

The pundit suggests that adhering to weekly programming has helped Amazon Prime Video and Hulu secure industry awards, while apparently ignoring Netflix’s binge/Emmy/Golden Globes success with “House of Cards,” “Orange Is the New Black,” “The Square,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “Grace and Frankie” and “Bloodline,” among others.

“Netflix does have its big hits and its instant-conversation starters, but by remaining so steadfast in its “all-at-once model”, it’s hurting the long-term possibilities for shareholders and that’s expanding out into the marketplace,” wrote The Oracle.

What’s ignored is that HBO Now (with more than 5 million subs) remains tethered to Amazon Channels to drive sub growth while Netflix has grown domestic subs organically to the tune of 5.4 million net additions annually over the past five years.

Netflix is projected to top 90 million domestic subs by 2024.

From ‘Kill the Cable’ research

More importantly, driving that sub growth is original programming, according to Netflix management.

“I’d say the vast majority of the content that’s watched on Netflix are our original content brands,” CCO Ted Sarandos said on the Q4 fiscal webcast.

Sarandos added that ranking episodic programs by individual seasons on Netflix is “dominated primarily by our original content brands.”

In addition, unscripted programing now accounts for more than 50% of viewer hours in the genre on Netflix, according to CEO Reed Hastings.

Impressively, Netflix says domestic subscribers stream about 100 million hours of content each day, or 10% of the 1 billion hours of daily TV consumption nationwide.

Hastings said Netflix has withstood competitive threats in the past and would do as well going forward. The executive also said he would subscribe to Disney+ when it launches.

“What we have to do is not get distracted,” Hastings said on the Q4 call. “We’ve got a path ahead, everyone else in streaming is trying to find one.”