‘Cobra Kai’ Tops Parrot’s Digital Originals Chart for Third Week; ‘WandaVision’ Joins Top 10

Netflix’s “Cobra Kai” remained No. 1 on Parrot Analytics’ digital originals chart for a third consecutive week the week ended Jan. 23. However, the show dropped to No. 3 on Parrots ranking of all TV shows after a 29.8% decline in demand expressions, the proprietary metric Parrot uses to gauge a show’s popularity. That also dropped it to having 84 times the demand of an average TV series for the week.

The Disney+ live-action “Star Wars” series “The Mandalorian” remained No. 2 on the digital originals chart and slipped to No. 5 on the overall TV chart, with demand expressions down 9.8% and the show having 67.4 times average demand.

Netflix’s perennially popular “Stranger Things” remained at No. 3, with 53.2 times average demand and expressions up 1.2%. It was No. 8 on the overall TV show list.

“WandaVision,” the first Disney+ series set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, made its first appearance in the digital originals top 10, climbing six spots to No. 6. The show premiered two episodes Jan. 15 and its third episode Jan. 22. It saw expressions climb 20.3% to give it 33.3 times the demand of the average show. While pre-premiere fan interest in “WandaVision” had been tracking higher than that for “The Mandalorian,” according to Parrot, response to the actual episodes, while mostly positive, was not as well received, likely owing to the niche structure of the early episodes as a parody of classic sitcoms from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, a format that might not jibe with younger viewers. Interest should tick up as questions regarding the show’s central mystery are answered.

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A “digital original” is Parrot’s term for 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+.

The No. 1 overall TV series was “Attack on Titan,” with 105.3 times average demand.

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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 demand for TV content in a given market 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. Results are expressed as a comparison with the average demand for a TV show of any kind in the market.

Netflix’s Taxes on the Rise in the U.K.

Netflix reportedly paid $4.4 million (£3.2 million) to HM Revenue & Customs in the U.K. in 2019, on revenue of $164 million (£120 million). It’s a major bill following years of tax avoidance in the famously tax aggressive country.

With around 13 million subscribers, the U.K. is Netflix’s No. 2 market following North America. The region has become a hotbed for content production, with the streamer spending in excess of $1 billion on programming in 2020. Netflix now operates three companies in the U.K., including Netflix Services U.K., Netflix Studios U.K., and Netflix Productions U.K. — underscoring the company’s push to legitimize its presence in the region.

The push to pay its fair share of taxes has taken baby steps. Until recently, Netflix lowered its U.K. taxes by paying subscription revenue through Netflix EMEA, based in Amsterdam, Holland. London-based research firm Ampere Analytics contends Netflix actual taxes in 2019 would have been around $34.1 million (£25 million) based on subscription revenue of $1.28 billion (£940 million).

Netflix last year announced its U.K. revenue and taxes going forward would be recognized in the U.K.

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“We are proud to be increasing our investment in the U.K.’s creative industries – spending over $1 billion in the U.K. on new, locally-made films, series and documentaries in 2020 alone, helping to create thousands of jobs and showcasing British storytelling and culture to the world,” a Netflix rep said in a media statement. “We pay all taxes required and are committed to playing an active role in supporting British production and creative talent for the long term.”

Netflix, which generated a $2.76 billion profit on $25 billion in revenue in 2020, allocated $437.9 million in taxes for the fiscal year — up from $195.3 million in 2019.

Netflix Acquires Animated ‘The Mitchells vs. The Machines’

Netflix has acquired the Sony animated film The Mitchells vs. The Machines.

The comedy follows a family who encounters a tech uprising while driving their daughter to film school. As robots and household appliances around the world start to go haywire, they have to work together to save the world.

Directed by Mike Rianda and produced by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the film features the voices of Danny McBride, Abbi Jacobson (“Broad City”) and Maya Rudolph.

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The film originally had the title Connected.

Netflix Renews ‘Bridgerton’

Netflix has renewed “Bridgerton” for a second season.

The romance series, which hit screens on Christmas, is produced by Shonda Rhimes (“Grey’s Anatomy”) and is based on Julia Quinn’s bestsellers. It follows eight close-knit siblings of the Bridgerton family looking for love and happiness in London high society.

The second season will premiere in spring of 2021, Netflix announced.

On Jan. 4, shortly after its premiere, Netflix reported “Bridgerton” was on track to be streamed by 63 million subscriber homes in the 28 days — the fifth-highest tally in the SVOD pioneer’s history. Netflix reported the series was ranked No. 1 across 76 countries worldwide.

The series was also the top binge on the TV Time charts for the week ended Jan. 17.

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Netflix Hits 200 Million Subs: Reed Hastings Orders Denny’s Takeout

With Netflix officially surpassing 200 million paid subscribers (actually 203 million) through Dec. 31, 2020, co-founder and co-CEO Reed Hastings took to Twitter to post a picture eating Denny’s takeout solo at home.

While some might wonder why a guy reportedly worth close to $6 billion would celebrate the milestone not ordering a Grand Slam breakfast (!), the venue has special meaning to Hastings. The executive has marked several subscriber accomplishments during the streamer’s 20+ years eating steak at Denny’s — alone.

Hastings did the same in 2017 when Netflix topped 100 million subs and in 2003 when it reached 1 million subs renting DVDs through the mail — underscoring the moves with the hashtag: #superstitious.

Hastings eating solo after 100 million Netflix subs in 2017.

 

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A noteworthy post among responding messages on social media came from Netflix’s other co-founder Marc Randolph: “Congratulations Reed. I never imagined this crazy idea would get this far.”

Indeed, Randolph and Hastings’ crazy idea at the time had little to do with streaming video and everything to do with one question: Could you send a CD disc in the mail and not have it arrive cracked, chipped or scratched? The answer was yes and the by-mail DVD rental business was launched with initial TV ads featuring Ryan Seacrest pitching the concept to consumers.

Randolph’s post also included a financial spreadsheet marking Netflix topping 500,000 subscribers on Jan. 13, 2002. He said that milestone took three-and-a-half “brutal years” to realize at a time when Blockbuster Video dominated the market.

“I think this only merited a celebratory cupcake,” Randolph wrote.

 

 

 

 

‘WandaVision,’ ‘Bridgerton’ Top TV Time Charts

Disney+’s “WandaVision” was the top rising show and Netflix’s “Bridgerton” was the top binge show on the TV Time charts for the week ended Jan. 17.

“WandaVision” is an episodic series featuring the Marvel characters of Wanda Maximoff (The Scarlet Witch) and Vision. Starring Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, the Disney+ series parodies classic TV shows.

Moving up from No. 2 to No. 1 on the binge chart was romance series “Bridgerton,” which hit screens on Christmas. Produced by Shonda Rhimes and based on Julia Quinn’s bestsellers, the Netflix series follows eight close-knit siblings of the Bridgerton family looking for love and happiness in London high society.

Taking the second spot on the binge chart was Netflix’s “Lupin,” which hit screens Jan. 8 and is based on the books. It follows a man whose life was turned upside down as a teenager when his father died after being accused of a crime he didn’t commit. Now, 25 years later, inspired by the adventures of Arsene Lupin, gentleman thief, he sets out to avenge his father for an injustice inflicted by a wealthy family.

Taking the bronze on the binge chart and the second spot on the rising show chart was the adult animated show “Disenchantment,” season three of which hit Netflix Jan. 15. Created by Matt Groening (“The Simpsons,” “Futurama”), the medieval fantasy series follows Bean, a rebellious and alcoholic princess, her elf companion Elfo and her “personal demon” Luci.

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TV Time is a free TV viewership tracking app that tracks consumers’ viewing habits worldwide and is visited by more than 1 million consumers every day, according to the service. The weekly “Binge Report” ranks shows with the most binge sessions. A binge session is when four or more episodes of a show are watched and tracked in the app in a given day. The “Shows on the Rise” chart is calculated by determining the week-over-week growth in episodes watched for a given program. The network displayed is the network where the show first aired (e.g. “Friends” on NBC).

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Top Binge Shows Week Ended Jan. 17 by Share of Binges:

  1. “Bridgerton” (Netflix) — 2.59%
  2. “Lupin” (Netflix) — 2.50%
  3. “Disenchantment” (Netflix) — 2.46%
  4. “Attack on Titan” (NHK) — 1.97%
  5. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (NBC) — 1.70%
  6. “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” (Netflix) — 1.66%
  7. “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC) — 1.55%
  8. “Modern Family” (ABC) — 1.39%
  9. “The Office” (NBC) — 1.39%
  10. “One Piece” (Fuji TV) — 1.34%

 

Top “Shows on the Rise” Week Ended Jan. 17 by Rise Ratio:

  1. “WandaVision” (Disney+) — 100%
  2. “Disenchantment” (Netflix) — 97.7%%
  3. “RuPaul’s Drag Race UK” (BBC Three) — 94.6%
  4. “Carmen Sandiego” (Netflix) — 93.8%
  5. “Servant” (Apple TV+) — 81.8%
  6. “Prodigal Son” (Fox) — 81.6%
  7. “That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime” (Tokyo MX) — 78.1%
  8. “Kemono Jihen” (Tokyo MX) — 78%
  9. “Log Horizon” (NHK) — 75.9%
  10. “The Resident” (Fox) — 75.3%

Netflix Stock Opens at Record High Following Record 2020 Report

As expected, Netflix shares opened Jan. 20 up nearly 14% to a record $573.43 per share following the previous day’s 2020 fiscal report that underscored the the streaming behemoth’s market dominance. The service saw a record 37 million new subscribers, record revenue of nearly $30 billion and profit of $2.76 billion.

The SVOD topped 203 million paid subscribers for the first time, driven by a global market eager to consume content at home during the ongoing pandemic. Nowhere was that more prevalent than in North America — Netflix’s first and most-saturated market. The streamer added more than 850,000 subs in the U.S. and Canada — well above the projected 300,000+ subs.

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“Importantly, while Netflix beat subscriber expectations in all major territories, Netflix’s most mature market U.S./Canada reported materially better than expected, which highlights that the ultimate penetration for Netflix’s services globally could be higher than anticipated,” analyst Jeff Wlodarczak with Pivotal Research Group wrote in a note.

Moving past the headlines, Netflix appeared to turn the page on what has always rankled some on Wall Street: free cash flow, or the cash left over after a company pays for its operating expenses and capital expenditures. Netflix historically has operated in the red, to the tune of $1 billion or more.

But in its fiscal 2021 guidance, Netflix said cash flow is moving toward a breakeven level at around $1 billion, an impressive turnaround driven in part by reduced spending due to the ongoing pandemic. Then the kicker: Netflix believes it no longer needs to raise external financing for day-to-day operations.

“Netflix has been working toward this moment for multiple years, and is now in the unique position to continue its aggressive content spend, while still generating significant future cash flows,” Jefferies analyst Alex Giaimo wrote in a separate note.

Longtime Netflix bear Wedbush Securities media analyst Michael Pachter, in a Jan. 20 note, said service “has consistently surprised us” by keeping its foot on the gas pedal for subscriber growth, while benefiting from a disruption in production to generate positive free cash flow.

“While we are far more constructive about Netflix than we have been at any point in nearly a decade, we continue to question its valuation,” Pachter wrote.

The analyst lauded Netflix’s pledge to be free cash flow positive through 2030. Rather than continuing to borrow to finance its content needs, Pachter said it has become clear that Netflix has reached a point where it can maintain a healthy balance sheet and finance operations from operating cash flow. He still contends the stock remains overvalued.

“We have been consistently wrong about Netflix, but optimism about the company’s potential to generate free cash flow growth of more than $1 billion per year seems to us to be misplaced,” Pachter wrote.

Netflix Rolling Out ‘Linear TV’ Service Globally

Netflix is planning to expand worldwide a test feature that allows subscribers to simply click a button and let the streamer pick programming to watch. Tested in France and other markets, the “Shuffle Play” feature acts as an old-school TV channel broadcasting shows on a loop.

Greg Peters, COO and chief product officer, said that as Netflix subs come to the service seeking to be entertained in a whole variety of ways, deciding what movie or TV show to stream can be daunting.

“Sometimes … [subs are] not really sure what they want to watch,” Peters said. “And so we’ve had the opportunity to try and be innovative and try new mechanisms to sort of help our members in that particular state.”

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Greg Peters

Peters said the new feature would enable subs to “skip browsing entirely,” click one button and let Netflix’s algorithms pick a title to instantly play.

“That’s a great mechanism that’s worked quite well for members in that situation,” he said.

Joining Peters on Netflix’s Jan. 19 fiscal webcast, co-founder/co-CEO Reed Hastings asked Peters if the feature was going to be called, “I’m feeling lucky,” or if he was going to come up with something better.

“We’re going to come up with something better than that, so standby for this,” he responded. “You’ll see it when it rolls out.”

Netflix Brass Come Out Swinging Following Record 2020 Report

Following a 2020 that saw record 37 million new subscribers, record revenue of nearly $30 billion and profit of $2.76 billion, Netflix is firing on all cylinders — the envy of the over-the-top video ecosystem and Hollywood. And the SVOD pioneer’s executives weren’t afraid to say so.

On the pre-recorded fiscal webcast, co-founder/co-CEO Reed Hastings appeared to take offense to a question from analyst/moderator Kannan Venkateshwar with Barclays Bank, who suggested Netflix was underachieving in comparison to Disney’s branded SVOD platform Disney+.

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“Underachieving, Kannan?,” Hastings responded. “The annualized return over 18 years being 40% … if that’s underperformance, we’ll do more of that.”

Hastings called Disney’s streaming video rise “super impressive,” and said Disney+ has “fired up” Netflix to up its game and compete against them on content, “show by show, movie by movie,” and catching/passing them in family animation.

“We have a long way to go just to catch them [in family animation] and maintaining our lead in general entertainment, it’s so stimulating, like [recent original] ‘Bridgerton,’ which I don’t think you’re going to see on Disney anytime soon,” Hastings said.

Earlier in the month Netflix reported that “Bridgerton,” the first original Netflix series from “Grey’s Anatomy” creator Shonda Rhimes, and featuring an interracial cast in the period piece, is on track to be streamed by 63 million subscriber homes in the 28 days following its Dec. 25 release — the fifth-highest tally in the SVOD pioneer’s history.

Spencer Wang, VP of finance and corporate development, was quick to point out that 30% of Disney+’s 87 million paid subscribers are actually from India’s Hotstar streaming service, “which I think we all sort of recognize as a bit of a different service.”

Wang said the Disney Plus sub count is actually closer to 60 million, with Netflix’s average revenue per user (ARPU) roughly double or more.

“So I think when you factor in those dynamics on the fact that we’re coming from a higher level of penetration globally, I think we feel very good about the performance,” he said.

Sarandos appeared to recognize the provocative nature of the questions posed by moderator Venkateshwar, telling Wang, “so you took the bait.”

“Can I just try to get us to chest pound some more?” he quipped.

Kantar: HBO Max Took 20% of New SVOD Subs in Q4

Broader app placement and a hit movie certainly have helped WarnerMedia’s HBO Max subscription streaming service, with a new data from Kantar Worldpanel showing the service took 20% of all new SVOD subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2020 ended Dec. 31, 2020.

That’s up from 13.4% in the third quarter. The research firm said last year ended with 233 million SVOD subs in the U.S.

For the full year, Disney+ led all services with 18.3% of new subs, followed by Amazon Prime Video (17%), Hulu (13.2%), Netflix (12.5%), Max (12%) and Apple TV+ (6.2%).

In the crowded SVOD market, HBO Max launched last May and struggled out of the gate due to a variety of issues, including disputes with Roku and Amazon over app placement and a confusing debut while HBO Go and HBO Now were still operational.

Since then, the two other HBO streaming services have been shuttered and Max has become available on Roku and Amazon Fire TV. But perhaps the service’s biggest boost was the same-day streaming access to theatrical release Wonder Woman 1984.

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Dominic Sunnebo, SVP at Kantar, contends that while Netflix subs remain highly engaged, the content slate and current pricing proposition does not appear strong enough to drive continued subscriber growth in the presence of multiple highly competitive service launches.

Of course, Netflix again defied naysayers, besting Q4 subscriber growth estimates and generating a record 37 million in new subs in 2020. The service ended the year with more than 203 million subs worldwide.