NBC Universal, Roku Bow Reality TV Streaming Service Outside U.S.

Roku and NBC Universal March 16 announced the launch of a reality TV streaming service in the U.K. Dubbed, “hayu,” the service – available on the Roku Channel Store – offers more than 5,000 episodes of U.S. and British reality TV shows, including “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” and spin-off, “Life of Kylie,” in addition to “The Real Housewives” and “Million Dollar Listing” franchises.

Priced at £3.99 ($5.57), hayu offers subscribers a one-month free trial.

The shows – the majority of which debut on the service the same day as they premier in the U.S. – include on-demand access to catalog episodes from more than 150 shows such as “Vanderpump Rules,” “Top Chef,” “Shahs of Sunset,” and “Bad Girls Club,” among others.

“Reality TV continues to capture the hearts and attention of British consumers,” Ingo Reese, director content acquisition at Roku, said in a statement.

Hayu represents a further attempt by NBC Universal to market direct-to-consumer following the short-lived (one year) SVOD comedy platform SeeSo.

Hendrik McDermott, managing director at hayu, said the service enables NBC Universal to extend distribution of well-known U.S. brands beyond the pay-TV ecosystem in foreign markets.

“The launch of hayu … is an important step reaching even more consumers across the U.K.,” said McDermott.

The service is also available in Ireland, Australia, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.

Atom Tickets Gets Additional $60M Funding

Theatrical moviegoers may be decreasing, but the battle to sell them tickets online is escalating.

Atom Tickets March 8 announced it secured more than $60 million in new capital from Fidelity Management & Research Co. – less than two years after raising $50 million in funding from Lionsgate, The Walt Disney Co. and Twentieth Century Fox Film, all of whom contributed to the new investment.

The funding comes as Atom competes with NBC Universal-owned Fandango and subscription ticket service, MoviePass, to establish market share as gatekeepers in the margin-challenged theatrical business.

Launched in 2016, the Atom Tickets app tripled its users and ticket sales in one year. The service features advance ticket purchasing, the ability to invite friends and sit together while paying separately and concessions ordering.

In the last year, Atom Tickets formed an advisory board with Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, and Tyler Perry, among others. It teamed with T-Mobile and Chase Pay offering special ticketing offers, making purchasing tickets faster and more social.

Atom also partnered with studios to better connect them with moviegoers using proprietary data and targeting capabilities on Atom and across the web.

Exhibitor partners include AMC Theaters, Regal Cinemas, Southern Theatres, Showcase Cinemas, B&B Theatres and online movie database, IMDb.

“We’re pleased to participate in this latest round of financing for Atom Tickets, which has demonstrated enormous traction with exhibition partners, studios, and moviegoers during the past year,” Michael Burns, vice chairman at Lionsgate, said in a statement.

Hulu: 63% of Live TV Subs Streamed Winter Olympics

Hulu said 63% of Live TV subscribers streamed 6.5 million hours of coverage at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, which equates to 15 hours per viewer during the 18-day quadrennial event.

Most streamed events included women’s figure skating, bobsledding, snowboarding, alpine skiing, ski jumping and freestyle skiing, according to MultichannelNews.com.

The data isn’t surprising considering Hulu is co-owned by NBC Universal parent Comcast. It also offered a Winter Olympics customized interface enabling users easier selection of their favorite events.

The $39.99 live TV service launched last May and reportedly has about 450,000 subs.


NBC Universal Cutting TV Commercials 20%

In an era of ad-free subscription streaming video, NBC Universal Feb. 28 announced it would air 20% fewer commercials during original primetime programing – decreasing overall ad-time by 10% this fall.

The company is launching/marketing a new 60 second contextually-programmed “prime pod” in the first or last break of a show to two advertisers for stronger impact with viewers.

“Sometimes, a little bit less means a whole lot more,” Linda Yaccarino, chairman, advertising and client partnerships, NBC Universal, said in a statement. “We need to make the [TV] experience better for viewers.”

NBC isn’t alone. Turner and Viacom are experimenting with fewer ads across all of its networks.

Over the past five years, the video viewing environment has become more cluttered with more than 400,000 ads, according to Nielsen. As consumer behavior has shifted and viewers have migrated to other platforms, mass TV advertising effectiveness has waned.

As a result, NBC Universal is making reductions in more than 50 Primetime original shows across its entire portfolio. It will also unveil a suite of new ad products, including “interactive picture in picture,” and “social commercials,” and “social first pods.”

The new ad formats were experimented with during NBC’s telecast of the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

NBC contends contextually targeted ads fuel greater consumer conversion and will use a new artificial intelligence (AI)-based content targeting product that comb through scripts and data sources to make every ad that much more relevant to its audience.

“In TV now, what’s largely done is we don’t program our pods the way we program our networks,” Yaccarino told AdAge.com. “This is a wholesale effort to stop doing that and start programming our pods in a way that marry advertisers creative with our originals.”


FuboTV Streaming Pyeongchang Winter Olympics

FuboTV has inked a streaming deal with NBC Universal for access to 2,400 hours of the network’s multiplatform coverage of the Olympic Winter Games Feb. 8-25 from Pyeongchang, South Korea. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Sports-themed fuboTV, whose investors include 21st Century Fox, Sky and Scripps Networks Interactive, costs $34.99 monthly for 42 channels following an introductory two-month $19.99 monthly fee.

Live streaming of the Games is available only in markets where fuboTV carries the NBC network – about 70% of U.S. households.

“The Winter Olympics is a great example of the breadth and depth of live sports that our subscribers can stream … thanks to our partnership with NBC Universal,” Ben Grad, head of content strategy and acquisition at fuboTV, said in a statement.

In addition to coverage on NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, USA Network and Olympic Channel, viewers can access competition and ceremonies online at NBCOlympics.com, the NBC Sports app, Hulu With Live TV, YouTube TV, Sling TV Blue, DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue and CenturyLink Stream.