Amazon on Top in Harris Reputation Poll

Amazon took the top spot in the 2018 Harris Poll Reputation Quotient Rankings.

Disney ranked high at No. 5, and Netflix, at No. 21, beat out fellow tech giants Google and Apple, ranked Nos. 28 and 29, respectively.

Among mass merchant/consumer electronics retailers, Costco (No. 17) topped Best Buy (No. 46), Target (No. 49) and Walmart (No. 69).

According to Harris, the Reputation Quotient is “technically designed to understand how a company is perceived in modern culture.” The measure takes the top most visible companies (for good or bad reasons) and evaluates them across six dimensions of corporate reputation attributes to arrive at a corporate reputation ranking. If a company is not on the list, it does not necessarily suggest that they have either good or bad reputation, but rather they didn’t reach a critical level of visibility to be measured.

The Weinstein Co., which has been embroiled in executive Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual assault scandal, and Takata, with its infamously defective airbags, came in last on the list at Nos. 99 and 100, respectively.

Netflix Original Documentary Series on Bobby Kennedy Debuts April 27

Netflix will bow the original documentary series Bobby Kennedy for President globally on April 27.

The announcement was made on the same day Robert F. Kennedy declared his candidacy for president of the United States in the U.S. senate caucus room 50 years ago on March 16, 1968.

Dawn Porter directs the four-part series exploring the legacy of RFK, who served the country as attorney general and senator and, as a candidate for president, was assassinated on June 6, 1968, at age 42. The series utilizes rare and never-before-seen archival footage — much of it digitized for the first time — along with new interviews with those that worked closely with RFK and knew him well, including Harry Belafonte, Rep. John Lewis, Rep. Neil Gallagher, Dolores Huerta, Ambassador William Vanden Heuvel, Paul Schrade, Franklin A. Thomas, William Arnone, Marian Wright Edelman and Peter Edelman.

“I am honored that Netflix entrusted me with a story of this scale,” Porter said in a statement. “Bobby Kennedy remains one of the most important and influential figures in American political history, and we all felt that there was no better time to study his life and legacy. We take care to closely examine his transformation from law-and-order leader to a trailblazer with a progressive focus on civil rights and social justice in a tumultuous time for the country. I gravitate to making films that shed a light on truth and justice, and RFK’s story inspires me personally, and has helped me grow as a filmmaker and a citizen.”

Amazon Prime Video Viewership Revealed

Amazon Prime Video reportedly generated 26 million initial viewers for original programs in early 2017, including 5 million viewers for top shows such as “The Man in the High Castle,” “Transparent,” “Mozart in the Jungle,” and ‘The Grand Tour.”

Subscription streaming video heavyweights Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have staunchly refused to reveal viewership (or ratings) for their ad-free original programs, citing lack of required advertiser justification. It’s a stance that irritates ad-supported TV broadcasters beholden to live-or-die ratings.

Now, internal documents obtained by Reuters reveal in part why original programing is driving Netflix and Amazon to spend $8 billion and $5 billion, respectively, on programing in 2018: New subscribers. It’s growth that drives revenue – and that’s what Wall Street loves.

With Prime Video a free component of Amazon’s $99 annual Prime free two-day shipping membership program, original episodic programs and movies drive subscriber growth, which in turn drives growth of other items on Amazon – including movies.

Unlike Netflix, which reveals (if not champions) subscriber data, Amazon refuses to disclose Prime membership data, which was estimated to top 54 million in the United States at the end of 2015, according to a Consumer Intelligence Research Partners survey.

In a separate 2016 survey from “CutCableToday” of 380 Prime members, 40% said they rented or bought movies not available on Prime Video from Amazon Instant Video on a monthly basis. The survey also found that 20% of Prime members don’t use Prime Video.

“When we win a Golden Globe, it helps us sell more shoes,” Amazon founder/CEO Jeff Bezos told a 2016 tech confab. It’s an outlook CFO Brian Olsavsky drones on monotonously in Amazon’s conference calls.

Reuters reported that “High Castle,” which is an adaption of Philip Dick’s 1962 alternate historical fiction showcasing Axis powers Germany, Japan and Italy having won World War II, cost $72 million in first season production and marketing.

It reportedly generated 1.15 million new Prime subscribers, or about $63 in subscriber acquisition costs – 36% below the annual Prime membership fee.

Netflix Eyeing Current Events News Programming

Netflix reportedly is looking to launch a current event news program similar to “60 Minutes” on CBS and ABC’s “20/20.”

The program would cover both sides of the political aisle and feature field reports – the latter a dying feature among broadcast news organizations facing dwindling ratings and operating costs.

“Netflix [is] proceeding with caution over this because they’re well aware that most new current affairs shows underwhelm and are expensive,” an unidentified TV executive told MarketWatch.

The subscription streaming video pioneer, which is spending $8 billion on original content this year, has aggressively branched out from episodic programming to feature-length movies and high-profile talk shows.

Netflix reportedly is in negotiations with former President Obama and his wife Michelle for programming. It currently streams a periodic Q&A show with David Letterman (whose first guest was Obama), recently inked comic Norm Macdonald for a satirical look at news, in addition to “The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale.”

The latter similar to McHale’s former show, “The Soup” on E! featuring cutting commentary on TV programs and popular culture.

Jeff Wlodarczak, analyst with Pivotal Research, questioned Netflix’s move into the news genre, whose shelf life is limited.

“All of their content generally has durability — you can watch in months or years later and it is still interesting. But I can see them doing something similar to ‘The Daily Show,’” he said.

While a Netflix rep wasn’t immediately available for comment, the service earlier this month began streaming “Flint Town,” an eight episode docu-series about the aftermath of the Michigan town’s public water crisis.

The documentary is in partnership with Vox Media, and includes upcoming (March 16) release, “Wild Wild Country,” about a guru who attempts to start his own utopian city in rural Oregon.


‘Jessica Jones’ Takes Top Spot on Digital Originals Chart

Marvel’s “Jessica Jones” was the most in-demand digital original title for the week that ended March 10, according to Parrot Analytics’ Demand Expressions data. With the launch of season two on March 8, the Netflix/Marvel superhero series shot up to No. 1 on the digital originals chart from No. 7 the prior week,  displacing the longtime chart-topper “Star Trek: Discovery,” from CBS All Access, which slipped to No. 2 after eight weeks in the top spot.

The new season of “Jessica Jones” is a change of pace for the once-action-heavy show, as it focuses on the personal struggles of being a superhero rather than on combat and bloodshed.

Marvel’s “Daredevil” saw its demand rise 30% from the previous week as new artwork for the upcoming season was made public, bumping it up the chart to No. 5 from No. 9 the prior week.

“Black Mirror” rose up a notch to No. 4 from No. 5 on word that a new season has been ordered. And “Voltron: Legendary Defender” debuted on the chart at No. 7 after the March 5 launch of its fifth season.

Three of the most prominent Netflix titles have been in the media spotlight: “Stranger Things”, whose creators have been accused of verbal abuse, slipped to No. 3 from No. 2 but saw its demand spike 10%.

“Orange Is the New Black,” which fell out of the top 10 after finishing the previous week at No. 6, was the subject of a Hollywood Reporter story that theorized creator Jenji Kohan might split the cast into two new prisons.

Finally, the trailer for the final season of “House of Cards” was released on March 4, showing Claire Underwood at the helm. This may have contributed to a demand uptick of 87% for the political drama, putting it back on the digital originals chart at No. 10.

On the overall TV shows chart, “SpongeBob SquarePants” rode a sharp increase in demand to move up to No. 1 from No. 3 the previous week, ahead of both “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones.” This increase in demand was likely due to fictitious cancellation rumors.

Other animated titles — “Star Wars: Rebels” (ranked at No. 4) and “Rick and Morty” (No. 7) — also experienced a surge in demand. “Rebels” aired its final episode March 5.

Also on the overall TV shows chart, The CW’s “Supernatural” reappeared in the top 10 after news of a crossover with Scooby-Doo.

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. Parrot Analytics 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.

MoviePass Facing PVOD Ending?

NEWS ANALYSIS – MoviePass, the upstart theatrical ticket subscription service, seeks to replicate the Netflix business model with movie-going consumers.

It’s a populist concept that gives subscribers daily access to a non-premium screening for $9.95 monthly fee. To date, the service has attracted more than 2 million subscribers — and plenty of controversy.

Since the service pays exhibitors full value for each ticket used by MoviePass subs, the business model is predicated upon users going to movies infrequently — and/or extracting revenue-sharing for tickets and concessions from exhibitors.

Ted Farnsworth, CEO of corporate parent Helios and Matheson Analytics, hasn’t been shy touting MoviePass’ industry-disrupting mojo, including data on sub activity before, during and after watching a movie.

“100 percent our business is viable — we have studios and distributors paying us right now. What I saw from day one is that whoever controls the theatre really controls all the other revenues,” Farnsworth told

Farnsworth contends the service will account for 15% of the domestic box office when it reaches 5 million subs.

“We are like the Airbnb of the theater business; we are selling as many tickets as the No. 4 theater chain in America on a monthly basis and we have no bricks and mortar, no infrastructure,” he said.

That’s the thing, MoviePass isn’t really like Airbnb at all. It doesn’t control the theater, exhibitors do. And unless it acquires a theatrical chain, it is far from the industry gatekeeper Farnsworth believe it is — no matter how many film festivals it sponsors.

In fact, MoviePass is less of threat than Premium VOD, the business model studios (except Disney) envisioned enabling users to access theatrical titles day-and-date with exhibitors or within the initial 17-day theatrical window.

Earlier this month Adam Aron, CEO of AMC Theatres, the nation’s largest theatrical chain, pronounced PVOD dead.

“That should be a relief to many of you,” Aron said on the fiscal call.

He said PVOD could only happen if “our shareholders’ interests” were fully compensated. AMC is looking at PVOD alternatives with studios to grow the fiscal pie for all parties involved.

It’s an opinion Aron shares about MoviePass, contending the subscription model is a “great concept” — depending upon who controls it.

Aron said several hundred thousand MoviePass subs visited AMC theaters in January — or about 2.7 visits per subscriber.

“They paid us approximately $11.90 per ticket, which means that MoviePass paid us in excess of $32 per sub that showed up at an AMC theater where they were charging [that sub] $9.95 a month. We don’t see how those numbers add up,” he said.

Aron disputes the value of moviegoer data MoviePass collects as leverage with exhibitors. He said the AMC Stubs membership program has 12.5 million households, or more than 32 million consumers, including extensive movie-going expenditures.

“We market to those people approximately 75 times a year, one-and-a-half times a week,” Aron said.

Michael Pachter, media analyst at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, says two or more visits per month on average would drive significant losses for MoviePass. He says the service is seeking a $3 cut per ticket, in addition to 25% of concessions.

Pachter contends MoviePass will continue to block subscriber entrance at higher-priced exhibitors — including blocking select movies outright — to save money. It will also have to raise the monthly price once it nears its projected 5 million sub count.

“Attendance at these rates in January indicates to us that these subscriber rates are ultimately unsustainable,” Pachter wrote in a note.

CEO: Showtime ‘Punching Above Our Weight’ Competing with Netflix

Showtime, along with HBO, once ruled the edgy episodic programing market – a position increasingly under siege by subscription streaming video services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.

As a result, CBS-owned Showtime now finds itself trying to stay competitive with Netflix, which is spending $8 billion on original TV shows and movies this year. It launched a branded SVOD service in 2015 – now more than 2.5 million subscribers.

Speaking March 12 at INTV confab in Jerusalem, Showtime CEO David Nevins the onslaught of over-the-top video and episodic programing has resulted in Showtime “punch[ing] above our weight” in an effort to keep up.

“It’s a deluge right now, particularly from the streamers — Netflix more than anything,” Nevins said, as reported by Variety. “They’re still in high-growth mode. They’re not trying to deliver earnings.”

Maybe, but Netflix is delivering earnings. The streaming pioneer generated $627 million in profit on revenue of more than $11.1 billion in 2017. It now has more than 117 million subs globally.

Nevins contends that while Netflix is chasing headlines signing marquee content creators, Showtime is targeting curated programing such as “The Chi,” “Our Cartoon President,” “Homeland,” “Billions” (returning March 25), “I’m Dying Up Here” and “The Affair” (returning June 17), “Ray Donovan,” and pending “Escape at Dannemora,” from Ben Stiller, and “Patrick Melrose,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch, among others.

“There’s a counter-narrative that’s beginning that’s helpful to us,” he said.

Speaking in January at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour, Nevins said Showtime has the budget to attract top talent in and front behind the camera. Referencing the New York Yankees, he added that unlimited spending doesn’t guarantee success.

Indeed, Showtime in 2017 had its biggest ever year of subscription revenue growth and, on a percentage basis, the best sub growth in 16 years.

“But we are … maintaining our margins,” Nevins said. “We are spending more money because we are generating more revenue.”


Lionsgate Signs Second Talk Show with Netflix

Lionsgate March 9 announced it has licensed 10 episodes of new talk show, “Norm Macdonald has a Show,” to Netflix. The talker featuring “Saturday Night Live” (Weekend Update) alum and standup comedian Norm Macdonald, follows the recent Netflix launch of “The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale” — also created by Lionsgate Television.

Canadian-born Macdonald cut his teeth writing for “Roseanne,” in addition to making appearances on “The Drew Carey Show” and “NewsRadio.”

Per Macdonald’s dry wit, he tweeted the alleged exchange with Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos about launching a show.

Netflix streamed its first talker in 2015 with Chelsea Handler, which lasted two seasons. It recently aired the first of periodic Q&A show featuring David Letterman.


Netflix Said to be in Talks with Obamas for Original Programs

Netflix is reportedly in discussions with former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle for a series of original shows aimed at inspiring people.

While no agreements have been signed, The New York Times reports the content – unlike late night TV talk shows – would not be political or platforms aimed at criticizing President Trump or conservatives.

Since leaving the White House, Obama has kept a relatively low profile despite having more than 100 million followers on Twitter and 55 million “likes” of his Facebook page. He and Michelle were reportedly paid more than $60 million for their pending memoirs.

Obama recently appeared on the first episode of David Letterman’s original talk show on Netflix, which has more than 117 million subscribers – including 53 million domestically.

“If you watch Fox News, you are living on a different planet than you are if you are listening to NPR,” Obama told Letterman.

Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings and CCO Ted Sarandos have strong ties to Obama, with Hastings often attending state dinners and Sarandos’ wife, Nicole Avant, serving as the U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas during the Obama presidency.

Indeed, Hastings reportedly offered to resign earlier this year from the Facebook board over his disagreement with board member Peter Thiel and the latter’s support for Trump. The idea was shot down by Facebook founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Apple, Disney and YouTube Top Millennial Brands in New Report

Apple, Disney and YouTube, respectively, ranked as the top three most “intimate” brands among millennials, according to MBLM’s Brand Intimacy 2018 Report, which is the largest study of brands based on emotions. Brand intimacy leverages and strengthens the emotional bonds between a person and a brand.

“We were surprised and pleased to see YouTube as an addition to the top three most intimate brands for millennials this year,” stated Mario Natarelli, managing partner, MBLM. “We believe its rise is due to our culture’s continued need for escape and the brand’s immediate, diverse content, personalities and growing offerings in movies and live TV. YouTube is clearly an established ritual in the lives of many millennials today.”

By comparison, in MBLM’s 2017 report, Disney placed first, followed by Amazon and Netflix.

The other brands that rounded out the top 10 were Target, Amazon, Nintendo, Google, Xbox, Netflix and Whole Foods.

The age group of 18-24-year-olds had a slightly different mix of top companies. The top 10 for that group were Apple, Amazon, YouTube, PlayStation, Starbucks, Nintendo, Google, Netflix, Coca Cola and Walmart.

The report analyzed the responses of 6,000 consumers and 54,000 brand evaluations across 15 industries in the United States, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates. The full report will be released on March 13, 2018.