Netflix Opens New Paris Office

Netflix has opened a new Paris office in the 9th arrondissement.

“This new office reflects Netflix’s long-term commitment to France’s creative community, including over 20 French productions in 2020,” according to a company press release.

The French HQ is Netflix’s fourth office in Europe. Netflix France currently employs 40 people, across films and series, partnerships and marketing.

“It is a real honor to be in France, with its rich culture and history of storytelling,” said Reed Hastings, founding chairman and CEO of Netflix, in a statement. “This office is a sign of our long-term commitment to the country and will enable us to work even more closely with the French creative community on great shows and films that are made in France and watched all around the world.”

Netflix has, since launching in France in 2014, developed 24 French titles, including six films, nine series, five stand-up shows, three documentaries and one unscripted series, according to the release.

“2019 was a year of great success for original stories in France,” according to the release, citing the horror and YA sci-fi series “Marianne” and “Mortel,” comedies “Plan Coeur” and “Family Business,” the film Banlieusards, and the documentary series Grégory.

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French content executives unveiled several original shows to be produced by Netflix over the coming years as well as a range of series and films made by production partners for Netflix. They include:

  • BigBug, the new film by César Award Winner Jean-Pierre Jeunet that is a comedy set in the future with a cast including César Award Winner Elsa Zylberstein, César Award Nominee Isabelle Nanty, and Manu Payet;
  • A six-part series being developed by screenwriter Fanny Herrero following the lives of four young comedians trying to make it in the Paris stand-up scene.
  • The renewal (Season 2) of the original YA Sci-fi series “Mortel.”
  • Sentinelle, an action film starring Olga Kurylenko, directed by Julien Leclercq (Braqueurs and La Terre et le Sang).

This adds to a range of original shows already announced for 2020:

  • “Arsène Lupin,”starring Omar Sy, and created by George Kay in collaboration with François Uzan.
  • “La Révolution,” a historical thriller series created by Aurélien Molas.
  • “The Eddy,”Damien Chazelle’s series created by Jack Thorne, that reunites Leïla Bekhti and Tahar Rahim.
  • “Vampires,” starring Oulaya Amamra and Suzanne Clément, and created by Benjamin Dupas and Isaure Pisani-Ferry.
  • Two documentaries, one about Nicolas Anelka, developed by Franck Nataf, and the other featuring Maître Gims, directed by Florent Bodin.

“We are incredibly proud of the productions we’re currently filming, the ones we are developing and the ones we’ve unveiled today. The establishment of a new French creative hub brings new opportunities for us to work with the best and most exciting creative talent in France and to bring diverse genres and content to everyone who loves French storytelling,” added Damien Couvreur, Netflix’s director of series in France, in a statement.

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Netflix also announced a series of partnerships with major French creative institutions. Those partnerships include:

  • Strengthening Netflix’s existing partnership with La Fémis by supporting their Residency program, an 11-month full-time training course that helps young people from disadvantaged backgrounds get into film and TV.
  • 1000 visages, an association founded in 2006 by Houda Benyamina, which provides a number of training programs in the visual arts and promotes access to jobs within the creative industries. Netflix will become the main partner in the program dedicated to series’ screenwriting, to be launched in January 2020. Houda Benyamina is also the director of two episodes of “The Eddy.”
  • Since 2019, Netflix has partnered with GOBELINS L’École de l’Image, giving one graduate every year the opportunity to work alongside Netflix’s animation experts in Japan. In addition, Netflix will now contribute to Gobelins’ training program by funding four-year scholarships for five students as part of their Master of Arts in Character Animation and Animated Filmmaking.

Analyst: Expect Netflix Q4 Sub Growth Miss

In recent months, Netflix critics have focused on the streaming giant’s stagnate domestic subscriber growth as evidence of cracks in the Wall Street darling’s veneer.

Longtime Netflix bear Michael Pachter, with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, suggests the service is going to miss meeting fourth-quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2019) domestic subscriber growth projections of around 600,000. Netflix is projecting 7 million new subscribers outside the United States.

“Domestic subs guidance and overall [earnings per share] guidance may be at risk given the heavy television advertising we observed in the latter half of Q4,” Pachter wrote in a Jan. 17 note.

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Netflix typically ramps up marketing efforts to drive lagging subscriptions when the number of existing subs not renewing (churn) increases.

The analyst contends marketing spending and a “solid slate” of high-profile new content released during the quarter should help dampen overall subscriber churn.

“We expect international subscriber growth momentum to continue,” Pachter wrote.

Indeed, the launch of Disney+ on Nov. 12 and the impending loss of most Disney and Fox content could cost Netflix another 25% of total viewing hours, according to Pachter, who ads that content from Comcast, Fox, Disney and Warner Bros. accounted for 60% – 65% of Netflix viewing hours in 2019.

“We expect most of it ultimately to migrate away,” he wrote.

That said, the flurry of new over-the-top video platforms does not imply the imminent demise of Netflix as Pachter expects the migration of third-party content to be relatively slow due to existing licensing contracts.

While it’s a guess whether Netflix (or any distribution channel) can replace content sufficient to subscribers and viewers loyal, Pachter think it is likely Netflix will pay whatever it takes to attract high quality content, and believe its competitors will be slow to gain scale.

Separate Wall Street reports say Netflix will spend upwards of $17 billion on content in 2020 — dwarfing all competitors, including Disney+.

“We expect the status quo to be largely maintained until the end of 2021,” he wrote. “For now, Netflix provides tremendous value for its subscribers.”

Netflix reports fourth-quarter fiscal results on Jan. 21.

Netflix Inks First-Look Deal With ‘Big Bang Theory’ Co-Creator

“The Big Bang Theory” co-creator Bill Prady has entered a first look deal with Netflix for scripted series programming.

Prady will work with Netflix to develop, write and produce TV series across a range of genres including, drama, fantasy, science fiction and comedy.

“The opportunity to partner with Netflix is about more than just the support and creative freedom they have enthusiastically offered,” said Prady in a statement. “Their approach to television and respect for the viewer allow for the kind of in-depth storytelling I have long been a fan of. We are excited to not only develop and produce our own projects, but also to find and champion new voices with new visions.”

“Bill Prady is a renowned storyteller, and with ‘The Big Bang Theory’ he created characters who have defined a generation and will transcend the test of time,” said Netflix VP of original content Channing Dungey in a statement. “We’re excited to tap into his treasure trove of ideas and bring his next slate of projects to life.”

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Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Prady began his work in entertainment in 1983 at Jim Henson Productions (then Henson Associates Inc.). Working with Jim Henson, Prady wrote a wide variety of projects, the last being “The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson,” a posthumous tribute to the late puppeteer for which he received one of his five Emmy nominations.

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Following his work with Henson, Prady wrote for a number of television comedy and drama series. His first produced episode of series television was an episode of “Married… With Children” in 1991; his first staff writing job was on the HBO series “Dream On” in 1995. In 1997 he joined the writing staff of “Dharma & Greg,” rising to executive producer and taking over as showrunner in 2001. In 2007, Prady co-created the CBS series “The Big Bang Theory” with television veteran Chuck Lorre. He served as an executive producer of that series until its finale in May 2019.

Analysts: Netflix Spending $17 Billion on Content in 2020

Go big or go home. That appears to be the motto at Netflix when it comes to original content spending.

New data from BMO Capital Markets contends the SVOD behemoth will spend about $17 billion on original content this year, up $2 billion from 2019. Netflix ended the third-quarter (Sept. 30, 2019) with more than $24 billion in long-term debt to bond holders and third-party content producers.

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By comparison, NBC Universal’s pending Peacock streaming service reportedly will spend upwards of $2 billion on original content in 2019. HBO Max and Disney+ are spending from $1 billion to $2 billion on content this year.

“We continue to believe the ‘streaming wars’ narrative is false and there will be multiple winners in global streaming,” analyst Dan Salmon wrote in a note. Indeed, BMO remains bullish on Netflix with a “buy” rating on the stock.

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In Q3, Netflix launched 802 hours of original programming, including Golden Globes winners and Oscar contenders, The Irishman and Marriage Story.

“We continue to believe Netflix will hit or exceed its U.S. paid net add guide,” John Blackledge, analyst with Cowen & Co., wrote in a separate note.

Netflix reports fourth-quarter fiscal results on Jan. 21.

TiVo: Ad-Supported VOD Gaining Traction

The subscription streaming video market is getting crowded. Pioneering behemoths like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video dominate, spending tens of billions of dollars on original content to lure and retain subscribers in the face of newcomers Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock and Quibi, among others.

As a result, ad-supported VOD content is attracting greater market share, according to new data from TiVo, which found the average U.S. household had 6.9 streaming services in the fourth quarter 2019, up from five services during the same period in 2017.

At more than 73%, YouTube remains the most popular source of free streaming content, followed closely by Facebook (62.3%). Free video from network sites has skyrocketed in popularity (up 31.9% from the previous-year period), while Crackle (+2.4%), Tubi (+3.8 %), The Roku Channel (o.2%), Xumo, Vevo (+5.4%) and Twitch (+3.3%) also gained viewers.

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Indeed, 37.5% of respondents from a fourth-quarter online survey of 6,145 participants in the United States and Canada, said they were “very satisfied” with AVOD, up from 35.4% during the previous-year period. That compared to 33.1% who said they were “very satisfied” with SVOD, down from 33.5% last year.

As expected, the report found that most respondents still find new movies and TV shows to watch through SVOD services Netflix (34.7%) and Prime Video (25.2%), followed closely by free YouTube videos (23%) and pay-TV (21.2%).

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For TV series that consumers watch regularly, it’s a different story. TiVo said pay-TV dominates, with 35% of respondents indicating they find new episodes of their regularly watched series through cable or satellite TV.

Notably, respondents cited transactional VOD services such as iTunes, Amazon, Redbox On Demand, Vudu, and Google Play, among others, as go-to platforms in search of new movie content. That was ahead of platforms such as Hulu, Showtime OTT and Starz.

Another 54% of respondents say they find out about new shows or movies from commercials or ads that run within their current pay-TV or AVOD content.

“Consumers are increasingly ready and willing to adopt innovative (yet simple) technology, devices or services that can serve as guides on their quest to find what they want to watch,” read the report. “They need technology that adds value to their lives, whether by helping them efficiently locate the content they’re looking for or by leading them to the video pathways that suit their needs and desires.”

Merchandising: ‘Maleficent’ Is Mistress of Exclusives

Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil arrived at retail Jan. 14 with a couple of retailer exclusives.

Target offered the fantasy sequel based on “Sleeping Beauty” as a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a filmmaker gallery book for $34.99.

Target’s ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ 4K UHD Blu-ray Gallery booklet

Best Buy had a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil for $34.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ Steelbook

Best Buy also had a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook for Disney’s 2016 version of The Jungle Book, which was just released in the UHD format.

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Walmart had an exclusive tied to Paramount’s Gemini Man, offering a bonus Vudu digital movie of xXx: Return of Xander Cage with the Gemini Man Blu-ray ($22.96) or 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray ($27.96).

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Netflix Orders Dark Animated Comedy Series ‘The House’ From Nexus Studios

Netflix has joined forces with BAFTA award-winning Nexus Studios on “The House,” a stop-motion animated dark comedy.

The project centers on a house and the surreal tales of three generations of families who made it their home.

Nexus is behind Academy Award-nominated short This Way Up and the Emmy- and Annie- nominated Back to the Moon.

Three of the leading directors in independent stop frame animation will direct episodes.

Emma de Swaef and Marc James Roels will direct one chapter of “The House.”  The Belgian creator’s most recent film, This Magnificent Cake!, was an official selection at Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, Toronto International Film Festival, Telluride and Animation Is Film Festival and received an Annie Award nomination, the André-Martin Award at Annecy and the top feature animation prize at the Ottawa Animation Festival.

Swedish director and animator Niki Lindroth von Bahr will direct one chapter. Her 2017 short film The Burden received top prizes at Annecy and the Toronto International Film Festival among others. Von Bahr was named one of the Top 10 Animators to watch by Variety in 2018.

Paloma Baeza will direct one chapter. The creator behind BAFTA and Annie award winning short film Poles Apart, she was also named one of the Top 10 Animators to watch by Variety in 2018.

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“The House is a collection of cinematic stories that are intelligent, witty, inquisitive, warm and yet packed with offbeat humor,” said Charlotte Bavasso, co-founder and producer, Nexus Studios, in a statement. “For this project, Nexus are bringing together, for the very first time, three of the most unique and multi-awarded voices in independent stop motion animation today in Niki, Marc & Emma and Paloma. This production is an organic collaboration between brilliant and like-minded storytellers. We’re thrilled to have found in Netflix such a perfect home for The House.”

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“Nexus Studios has a remarkable history of working with the best animators from all over the world,” said Mike Moon, head of adult animation for Netflix. “We’re thrilled to partner with Nexus and their incredible directors to bring The House to life.”

Platforms Avoid Netflix Movies in Pre-Oscar Showcases

Netflix earned an impressive 24 Oscar nominations ahead of the 92nd Academy Awards on Feb. 9 — largely around two movies: Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman and Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story.

Walmart-owned Vudu.com and exhibitors Cinemark, AMC Theatres and Regal Cinema have launched pre-Oscar events showcasing best picture nominated films — with the exception of Netflix’s titles.

That’s because Netflix — per longstanding policy — does not abide by Hollywood’s traditional theatrical release strategy affording exhibitors exclusive 90-day access. Instead, the streamer mandates all original movies be made available across all distribution channels(including theatrical) at the same time.

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This has angered exhibitors and industry insiders domestically and abroad (i.e. Cannes Film Festival) for years — the result being Netflix movies are largely ignored by major theater chains.

Indeed, Cinemark’s “Annual Oscar Movie Week Festival,” which runs from Feb. 3 – 9, enables consumers (for $35) to screen all nominated films — with the exception of Netflix’s titles. Vudu is taking pre-orders for Oscar-nominated titles with the exception of The Irishman and Marriage Story.

“I don’t see the utility of making a film available on VOD or in theaters, if it’s available for free to anyone with a subscription or trial account at Netflix,” said Wedbush Securities media analyst Michael Pachter. “Netflix would rather people sign up for a free trial and watch these films than it would care for the 50% – 65% it might earn from a movie ticket or VOD.”

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Last year, Netflix’s first Oscar nominated best picture title, Roma, was also ignored by major exhibitors. It went on to win for best director (Alfonso Cuarón) and best foreign language film (Mexico’s first) — but no best picture. The movie reportedly generated about $200,000 in revenue from pre-nomination screenings over the extended Thanksgiving weekend at select indie theatres in Los Angeles.

The imbroglio made headlines when director Steven Spielberg suggested movies that forgo the traditional theatrical run should not be considered for Oscars. The Academy’s annual board of governors post-Oscar meeting nixed that idea.

Netflix responded (on Twitter) at the time stressing “we love cinema” and ubiquitous distribution. “These things are not mutually exclusive,” the streamer tweeted.

While Roma did become Netflix’s first to be included in The Criterion Collection on Blu-ray Disc and DVD, it arguably left millions of dollars in box office revenue on the table.

“If Netflix wants to really be a movie company, and not just a highly successful television company, why won’t they consider the traditional movie business model?,” John Fithian, CEO of the National Association of Theater Operators, wrote in a 2018 blog post. “Wouldn’t Netflix make more money and establish a much deeper cultural conversation by offering a true and robust theatrical run first, and offering exclusive streaming to its subscribers later?”

Report: Disney+ App Downloads Topped 31 Million in Q4

Consumer interest in Disney+ continued strong through the end of 2019, with subscription streaming video platform’s app downloaded more than 31 million times in the fourth quarter, according to new data from SensorTower.

The app downloads were more than double the total for the next closest app, TikTok. Disney+ was also the top app on the App Store in the U.S. It ended YouTube’s four-quarter run at No. 1. By comparison, Netflix had nearly 10 million app downloads in the quarter, including 6 million on the App Store and less than 4 million on Google Play.

An app download does not automatically translate into a paid subscription. Netflix, as a matter of new policy, no longer reveals free trial subscriptions.

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According to tracking firm, Disney+, which launched Nov. 12, 2019, had more than 12 million U.S. installs on Google Play. No app had surpassed 10 million U.S. downloads on Google Play in a quarter since Messenger in 2017.

Disney+ was the No. 9 app by worldwide downloads in Q4 2019. It achieved this despite launching well into the quarter.

The report suggests Disney+ grossed more than $50 million in its first 30 days, even with a seven-day free trial, — ahead of SVOD rivals HBO Now and Showtime OTT. Disney+ reportedly earned more than HBO Now’s best month — the latter streaming the final season of “Game of Thrones”.

Worldwide, TikTok, the Chinese-owned social media/music platform, remains the most-popular app with nearly 220 million downloads. This represented a 24% increase over Q3 2019 and 6% growth from the previous-year period.

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WhatsApp remained popular, leading four Facebook-owned apps in the top five. WhatsApp experienced a huge growth of 39% Q/Q in 4Q19, after decreased downloads in the previous four quarters.

 

‘The Witcher’ Switches Spots With ‘Mandalorian’ on Parrot’s TV Demand Charts

Netflix’s “The Witcher” returned to the No. 1 spot on not only Parrot Analytics’ digital originals rankings the week ended Jan. 11, but also the data firm’s overall list of TV series from any platform, including broadcast and cable, again pushing the Disney+ “Star Wars” spinoff “The Mandalorian” to No. 2.

A “digital original” is a multi-episode series in which the most recent season was first made available on a streaming platform such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu or Disney+.

“Mandalorian” series was No. 1 most of the last couple of months of 2019 before “The Witcher” took over the last week of the year. “The Mandalorian” took the top spot back the first week of 2020.

For the week, “The Witcher” registered 118.4 million average daily Demand Expressions, the proprietary metric used by Parrot Analytics to measure global demand for TV content. That was down 10.5% in expressions compared with the previous week, when it was No. 2.

“The Mandalorian” was close behind, with 115.8 million expressions, down 18.5% from the previous week.

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Netflix’s psychological thriller “You” stayed at No. 3 on the digital originals chart, with expressions down 10.9% to 83.2 million.

Netflix’s “Stranger Things” stayed No. 4, registering 73.6 million expressions, down 6.8% from the previous week.

DC Universe’s “Titans” held onto the No. 5 spot on the digital originals chart, with expressions up 3.5% to 56 million.

DC Universe’s “Harley Quinn” animated series made a big move on the originals chart to No. 9, from No. 13 the previous week. Expressions rose 2.6% to 29.99 million. The season finale is due Jan. 17.

Netflix’s “Narcos” jumped to No. 10, from No. 14 the previous week, with expressions up 3.9% to 29.96 million. A new season of “Narcos: Mexico” debuts Feb. 13.

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The Demand Expressions metric draws from a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

Media Play News has teamed with Parrot Analytics to provide readers with a weekly top 10 of the most popular digital original TV series in the United States, based on the firm’s  proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.