CEO: CBS May Put OTT Originals on Broadcast TV to Drive SVOD Traffic

For years Hollywood studios and producers put primetime TV shows on DVD to jumpstart consumer interest in a show’s upcoming fall season launch or syndication availability.

Now, CBS is considering bowing past seasons of original over-the-top video programs from the CBS All Access platform on broadcast television to help drive consumer interest in subscription streaming video.

All Access and Showtime OTT, which finished 2018 with more than 8 million combined subscribers, are projected to reach 25 million combined subs by 2022.

Speaking on the Feb. 14 fiscal call, acting CEO Joe Ianniello said the concept has become reality to media companies producing and distributing original content in the digital age.

“The great part of owning the intellectual property is you have [distribution] choices,” Ianniello said.

He said the traditional business model releasing an older TV show into syndication was to monetize catalog programming, increase consumer awareness of the program (if still airing on primetime) and the broadcast network in general.

Specifically, CBS management is considering broadcasting the original season of “The Good Fight,” the CBS All Access exclusive spin-off of “The Good Wife,” which ended its primetime broadcast run in 2016, on primetime.

“What if … we put it on the CBS broadcast network to drive subscribers back to CBS All Access?” said Ianniello, adding that SVOD original programming has to have mass appeal to work on the broadcast network.”

“The promotional platform that the TV network has is bigger than the streaming platform and/or other cable networks,” he said.

Separately, Ianniello said that unlike other media companies pulling original programs from SVOD services such as Netflix, CBS would continue to shop content to the best distribution channel.

As a result, Get Out director Jordan Peele’s reboot of “The Twilight Zone” for All Access in the United States will be distributed by Netflix internationally.

“If a third-party is better able to monetize it than our infrastructure, we should take the excess value we’ve receive and redeploy it into making more content,” Ianniello said.

Regardless, the executive said putting online original programming on broadcast TV could reduce content development costs and make more efficient use of intellectual property and CBS franchise brands.

“We’re discussing it as we speak,” Ianniello said.

 

 

 

Netflix Offices in Hollywood Put on Lockdown After ‘Deadly Weapon’ Threat

Netflix’s offices in the Sunset Bronson Studios in Hollywood were put on lockdown Thursday afternoon (Feb. 14) after police received reports of a person with a deadly weapon.

According to KTLA, whose offices also are in the complex, one person was taken into custody.

KTLA later reported that a Netflix employee “who had been recently fired called in a threat to a former coworker, saying he had a gun and was on the company’s Hollywood studio lot, prompting a lockdown affecting Netflix and KTLA …, according to lot security.”

The suspect was never actually on the lot, and when he was apprehended no weapon was found, Los Angeles Police told the TV station.

Police did not say where the suspect — a former Netflix employee who had been fired the day before, on Wednesday, Feb. 13 — was detained, only that police “did a ‘followup’ several blocks away in the 5600 block of Franklin Avenue,” according to KTLA.

Watch a KCAL news report on the incident

In a statement, Netflix said officials “received a tip about a potential law enforcement incident. Police are conducting a sweep of the lot out of an abundance of caution. There is no immediate danger or threat to our employees.”

The lockdown was lifted about 5:35 p.m., police said as reported by KTLA.

Sunset Bronson Studios is located near the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Van Ness Avenue in Hollywood.

The news was spread via social media, particularly Twitter, with people tweeting out pictures and video of the scene. Among them: writer, director and actor David Hayter.

Story was updated 7:42 p.m. Feb. 14

 

‘Handmaid’s Tale,’ ‘Russian Doll’ Big Winners Among Digital Originals, Parrot Says

Demand for the perennially popular “The Handmaid’s Tale” spiked 53% on the heels of the release of a season 3 teaser trailer, pushing the dystopian Hulu drama series to the No. 1 spot on the digital originals chart for the week that ended Feb. 9, according to Parrot Analytics.

The previous week, “The Handmaid’s Tale” was ranked No. 14. The Feb. 3 release of the trailer saw the number of average daily Demand Expressions rise to 29.2 million from 19 million the week before.

The biggest winner, however, was Netflix’s “Russian Doll,” a quirky comedy starring Natasha Lyonne as a software engineer who repeatedly dies and relives her 36th birthday party night in an ongoing loop.

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The series, which also stars Greta Lee, Yul Vazquez, Charlie Barnett and Elizabeth Ashley, premiered Feb. 1. During the week that ended Feb. 9, the average number of daily Demand Expressions soared a whopping 374% to 21 million, landing the series in the top 10 with a No. 8 debut.

Demand Expressions is a proprietary metric used by Parrot Analytics to measure global demand for TV content. The 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.

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 or Hulu.

The prior week’s top digital original, “Marvel’s The Punisher,” from Netflix, fell to No. 5, with a 13.5% drop in demand.

Similar, “Stranger Things,” also from Netflix, held onto the No. 3 spot despite a 6.2% decline in the number of average daily Demand Expressions.

Rounding out the top five on the digital originals chart was “Star Trek: Discovery,” with new episodes in the CBS All Access science-fiction series to the No. 4 position on the digital originals chart, up from No. 6 the prior week.

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.

Report: Apple Video Service Bowing Without Netflix, HBO, Hulu

When it comes to streaming video, Apple has largely been a spectator. In fact, the late Steve Jobs infamously considered Apple TV a “hobby.”

But the company synonymous with consumer electronics innovation is spearheading a major push into OTT video this year, including spending more than $1 billion on original content.

With a brand as powerful as Disney’s, Apple apparently believes it is worth a lot in the OTT ecosystem.

CEO Tim Cook said as much on the recent fiscal call.

“We see huge changes in customer behavior taking place now and we think that it will accelerate as the year goes by with the breakdown of the cable bundle,” he said. “I think that it’ll likely take place at a much faster pace this year.”

Indeed, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company is upping the ante for third-parties along for the streaming ride on its platform — reportedly set to launch by May without heavyweights Netflix, Hulu and HBO Now.

While both brands are available on the Apple TV streaming media device, CNBC reports the new platform will operate similarly to Amazon Channels as facilitator to original and third-party OTT services — the latter for a cut of the subscriber action.

Apple, which gets 15% commission per third-party subscriber generated through the App store, now wants 30% per sub on the new platform, according to CNBC. The Wall Street Journal previously reported Apple is looking at a 50% split for its pending news streaming service.

Apparently, Netflix, Hulu and HBO aren’t biting, while Lionsgate-owned Starz, Showtime OTT and Viacom are. HBO, Starz and Showtime are available on Amazon Channels.

 

Netflix’s ‘Russian Doll,’ ‘Sex Education’ Top ‘TV Time’ Binge Week Chart

Netflix created the binge-viewing phenomenon, so it’s understandable if two of the SVOD pioneer’s original series ranked among the top-three binged TV shows from Feb. 4 to Feb. 10, according to TV Time.com.

Top series streamed repeatedly included Netflix’s “Russian doll,” starring Natasha Lyonne, and “Sex Education,” starring Gillian Anderson, Kedar Williams and Asa Butterfield, among others.

Notably, re-runs of “Friends” finished third, underscoring why Netflix paid $100 million to series’ owner Warner Bros. Television for the rights through 2019.

TV Time claims to rank shows with the most binge sessions. A binge session is when four or more episodes of a show are watched and tracked in the TV Time app within a given day.

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Separately, TV Time reports that actress Natasha Lyonne was the No. 1 trending talent of the week, based on fan votes. Lyonne’s role as Nadia Vulvokov in “Russian Doll” is currently the third runner-up out of Lyonne’s cast of characters following “Orange Is the New Black” and “Smoky Quartz.”

 

 

Georgia Looking to Tax Netflix, Other Streaming Services

Georgia is looking at becoming only the fourth state in the country to tax digital entertainment services such as Netflix, Spotify, e-Books and video games.

The proposed 4% tax would add 52 cents, or $6.24 annually, to Netflix’s $12.99 monthly plan. Similar taxes are already on the books in Hawaii, Washington and Pennsylvania. A 9% “amusement services” tax drafted by Chicago in 2015 was upheld last summer by a local circuit court. The ruling is under appeal.

Georgia, which initiated sales taxes for online purchases on Jan. 1, seeks to use the tax revenue for the construction of high-speed Internet service in rural areas. About 16% of rural households in the state reportedly lack broadband access.

“This is not a new tax,” Jay Powell, a Republican representative from Camilla and author of the bill, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “Technology is changing. The bottom line is, I’m getting movies, sports, news and all the things I’ve always gotten, but I’m getting them via a different medium, which is streaming services as opposed to cable TV.”

Traditional pay-TV and telecommunication services operating in Georgia currently pay fees ranging from 5% to 7%.

Newly-elected Republican Gov. Brian Kemp isn’t in favor of the tax. Perhaps mindful of Hollywood’s $1.5 billion annual spending in the state on movies and TV show productions (Netflix’s “Ozark” is filmed at Lake Lanier), Kemp, who championed President Trump’s corporate tax cut, said he would prefer alternative options.

“My first inclination is not to look at tax increases to pay for this,” Kemp told Georgia Public Broadcasting. “If we’re going to have some sort of offset, I’d be open to looking at that. I don’t know that raising taxes is the answer for me.”

Georgia’s 2019 legislative session ends in April.

WarnerMedia Streaming Service Eyeing Original Content in 2020

WarnerMedia is launching a proprietary over-the-top video platform in the fourth quarter featuring catalog content from subsidiaries HBO, Warner Bros. and Turner.

The unnamed service plans to roll out original fare beginning in 2020, according to Kevin Reilly, president of TBS, TNT and head of content and strategy at the new service.

Speaking Feb. 11 at the Television Critics Association annual winter tour in Los Angeles, Reilly said the service would be beta-launched featuring catalog fare from Warner, Warner Bros. Television, New Line Cinema, HBO and Turner subsidiaries such as Adult Swim, The CW, and Cartoon Network, among others.

“Our beta will not have original programming, but we will introduce it in 2020,” Reilly said. “Expect it in all the verticals: kids and family, teens up to adult.”

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While traditional media and OTT services scramble to produce differentiating distribution platforms featuring original content, WarnerMedia intends to walk the fine line between licensing and restricting programming to third-party services.

WarnerMedia made news last year renewing the coveted “Friends” catalog to Netflix for one year for a reported $100 million. It was a move that contradicted in part CEO John Stankey’s stated mission to restrict proprietary programming to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and other services not named Hulu.

WarnerMedia is a co-owner of Hulu with Disney, Fox and Comcast.

“The dynamic those [SVOD] incumbents are playing with are still 75% to 80% of viewing tonnage is that licensed content,” Stankey told analysts last November. “Their pressure is they’ve got to make this pivot to get people off of viewing content that sits in our library, or the Disney library, and get it onto their own.”

Reilly concurs, saying he expects the “crown jewels” of Warner programming to eventually migrate predominantly to the new service.

“We’re not pulling it away [from third parties] but it certainly is something we’re looking to do,” he said. “I think for the most part sharing destination assets [like ‘Friends’] is not a good model. They should be exclusive to the [new] service.”

The executive said the service would also feature shows such as “Titans,” “Doom Patrol” and pending “Swamp Thing,” heretofore exclusive to DC Universe, the SVOD service launched last year.

“There is no piece of content in the Warner Media portfolio that will not be looked at for the service,” Reilly said. “That doesn’t mean every piece of content will end up on the service or end up on the service permanently. Content goes through a natural life cycle at which it benefits at times being off a platform or being on a new platform.”

 

Netflix’s ‘Roma’ Big Winner at 2019 BAFTA Awards

Heading into the Oscars, Netflix original movie Roma emerged the big winner at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts 2019 EE British Academy Film Awards held Feb. 10 in London.

The black-and-white film won awards for Best Film, Director, Cinematography and Film Not in the English Language. Director Alfonso Cuarón won in each of these categories as well.

Cuarón’s semi-autobiographical movie about growing up in Mexico has been nominated for 10 Academy Awards in the United States.

Separately, Oscar nominee The Favourite was named Outstanding British Film, with Olivia Colman receiving the BAFTA for Leading Actress, Rachel Weisz taking Supporting Actress and Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara winning Original Screenplay. Sandy Powell won Costume Design, Fiona Crombie and Alice Felton won Production Design and Nadia Stacey won Make Up & Hair.

Colman has assumed the role of Queen Elizabeth II (from Claire Foy) for the upcoming third season of Netflix original series “The Crown.”

Meanwhile, Rami Malik won Leading Actor playing the late Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody; the film also won the award for Sound.

Supporting Actor went to Mahershala Ali for Green Book; BlacKkKlansman won Adapted Screenplay. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse took the award for Animated Film, and Documentary was won by Free Solo.

A Star Is Born won Original Music and Vice took the BAFTA for Editing. Black Panther received the BAFTA for Special Visual Effects.

 

 

 

Netflix Acquires Sundance Award Winning Political Doc ‘Knock Down the House’

Netflix has acquired worldwide distribution rights to the Sundance Audience Award-winning documentary Knock Down the House, which chronicles the campaigns of four female progressive candidates, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, against powerful incumbents in the 2018 midterm elections.

The Sundance Institute also announced Knock Down the House as the winner of the Festival Favorite Award, selected by audience votes from the 121 features screened at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

The film, directed by Rachel Lears and produced by Lears, Robin Blotnick, and Sarah Olson, also features Amy Vilela, Cori Bush and Paula Jean Swearengin.

When tragedy struck her family in the midst of the financial crisis, Bronx-born Ocasio-Cortez had to work double shifts in a restaurant to save her home from foreclosure. After losing a loved one to a preventable medical condition, Amy Vilela didn’t know what to do with the anger she felt about America’s broken health care system. Cori Bush was drawn into the streets when the police shooting of an unarmed black man brought protests and tanks into her neighborhood. Paula Jean Swearengin was fed up with watching her friends and family suffer and die from the environmental effects of the coal industry. At a moment of historic volatility in American politics, Knock Down the House follows these four women as they decide to fight back despite having no political experience.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Netflix on the release of Knock Down the House,” said director Lears, who also co-wrote the film in addition to producing, in a statement. “This platform will allow us to reach huge audiences worldwide, including viewers who may not usually watch independent documentaries. We’re also very excited to be working with Netflix on a campaign to spark wider cultural conversations about our democracy and how it can continue to evolve.”

“It is a transcendent moment when skilled filmmakers are able to train their lens on a major transformation,” said Lisa Nishimura, VP of Original Documentaries for Netflix, in a statement. “With intimacy and immediacy, Rachel Lears and Robin Blotnik, bring viewers to the front lines of a movement, as four women find their voice, their power and their purpose, allowing all of us to witness the promise of true democracy in action.”

Netflix’s ‘The Kominsky Method’ Sees Demand Spike for Globe Winners

Parrot Analytics has weighed in on the age-old question about the impact of awards, or even award nominations, on movies and TV shows.

Parrot Analytics is a data analytics firm that uses a  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.

With a 94% increase from the win and an already high baseline demand, BBC America’s “Killing Eve” is the Golden Globes winner that had the highest absolute demand after the awards. With a peak of nearly 40 million Demand Expressions in the United States, “Killing Eve” was the 14th most in-demand of all TV titles in the United States immediately after the ceremony.

By comparing baseline demand with the demand peak for each show that immediately followed the ceremony, the show that gained the biggest increase in Demand Expressions was Netflix’s “The Kominsky Method,” which after the results were announced, gained 216% in demand compared to its baseline demand.

“The Kominsky Method” won two Golden Globes, for best comedy series and for Michael Douglas as best actor in a comedy series. Netflix last month announced the series, which co-stars Alan Arkin, has been picked up for a second season.

The second-biggest increase from the award win was for FX’s “American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” which gained 151% additional DEx.

Parrot Analytics’ correlation analysis (see chart, below) reveals that the higher the baseline demand a title had before winning, the less of a boost in demand it gets from winning. “This result makes intuitive sense, as a lesser known title has more room to grow its fan base on the back of the publicity from a big win than an already huge title can,” Parrot says.