Netflix Spain Raises Prices

Netflix is continuing to roll out price hikes across Western Europe with Spain reportedly the latest country to see a €2 monthly increase to €12.99 ($14.80) from €10.99 ($12.52).

Netflix previously raised prices in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Netflix Spain also upped the fee for Ultra-HD on up to four devices to €15.99 ($18.22) from €13.99 ($15.94). The basic plan remains unchanged at €7.99 ($9.11) per month.

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Netflix in January raised by $2 its most-popular plan in the U.S. to $12.99 from $10.99. The basic $7.99 non-HD plan increased to $8.99, while the premium plan allowing four simultaneous 4K streams increase to $15.99 per month from $13.99.

iQIYI Bows China’s First Interactive TV Program

Taking a page from Netflix’s playbook, iQIYI, China’s online entertainment platform, June 21 said it officially launched the erstwhile Communist country’s first domestic interactive film and television program, “His Smile.”

The program, which gives viewers 21 preset storyline options and 17 possible endings, comes a month after iQIYI announced the launch of the world’s first interactive video guideline.

Netflix, which is not available in China as a standalone service, last December became the first SVOD service offering interactive TV when it let subscribers choose an ending for original movie, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.

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“His Smile,” produced by iQIYI and Linghe Media, tells the story of the interaction between a newcomer in the workplace, who is an assistant talent manager at a media company, and members of upcoming boyband hoping to make their big break.

Through interactive TV, iQIYI enables viewers to enter the story as the character of the talent manager, making choices according to personal preferences, expanding the storyline related to it, and transforming the “viewer” to the “player”.

“With the accelerating growth of 5G technology, the traditional film and television content structure will continue to adapt based on the new technological environment,” Liu Wenfeng, chief technology officer at iQIYI, said in a statement. “The launch of “His Smile” also marks the introduction of a standard to interactive film and television works and that is bound to change the landscape of China’s film and television industry.”

Prior to the TV show, iQIYI applied interactive functions to variety shows and trailers, such as the first domestic interactive variety show trailer for “The Big Band,” available through the iQIYI app.

“[Interactive TV]  could actually ultimately give birth to the next mass medium with huge appeal, which could mean it could be very profitable,” Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, told the Los Angeles Times.

Netflix Announces a Series of Features, Including Lin-Manual Miranda’s Directorial Debut

Netflix June 19 announced several features for its upcoming slate, including Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut.

Tony, Grammy, Emmy and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, lyricist and actor Miranda (Hamilton) will direct Imagine Entertainment’s film adaptation of Tick, Tick … Boom!, to which Netflix has acquired worldwide rights. Tony Award winner Steven Levenson (Dear Evan Hansen, Fosse/Verdon) will adapt the screenplay based on the original stage show by the late Rent (Pulitzer Prize winner for drama in 1996) creator Jonathan Larson.

Set in 1990, Tick, Tick…Boom! tells the story of Jon, an aspiring theater composer who is waiting tables in New York City while writing Superbia — which he hopes will be the next great American musical and finally give him his big break. Jon is also feeling pressure from his girlfriend Susan, who is tired of continuing to put her life on hold for Jon’s career aspirations. Meanwhile, his best friend and roommate Michael, has given up on his creative aspirations for a high-paying advertising job on Madison Avenue and is about to move out. As Jon approaches his 30th birthday, he is overcome with anxiety — wondering if his dream is worth the cost.

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Netflix also announced the live action family movie The Main Event, set to premier on the service in 2020. It’s based on an original screenplay by Larry Postel, directed by Jay Karas and produced by WWE Studios’ Richard Lowell. WWE Studios is WWE’s multi-platform content division that develops and produces scripted and non-scripted series, documentaries and feature films.

The film follows an 11-year-old aspiring wrestler who, after discovering a magical mask, enters a competition to become the next WWE superstar. It stars Seth Carr (Black Panther), Tichina Arnold (The Neighborhood, “Everybody Hates Chris”), Adam Pally (“The Mindy Project”) and Ken Marino (The Other Two, Black Monday, Bad Milo), alongside WWE superstars Kofi Kingston, The Miz and Sheamus, among others.

Netflix will adapt August Wilson’s play Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom into a feature film starring  Academy Award winner Viola Davis (Widows, Fences), Chadwick Boseman (42, Get On Up, Black Panther), Emmy Award winner Glynn Turman (“How to Get Away With Murder”), Tony and Olivier Award Nominee Colman Domingo (If Beale Street Could Talk), and Michael Potts (Show Me a HeroTrue Detective). Academy Award winner Denzel Washington (who starred with Davis in the feature adaptation of Wilson’s Fences), Academy Award Nominee Todd Black and Dany Wolf will produce.

The story follows Ma Rainey, the “Queen of the Blues.” While making a record in a studio in Chicago, 1927, tensions boil between her, her white agent and producer, and bandmates.

Finally, Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis (Five Feet Apart and The Curse of La Llorona) are adapting the horror-fantasy children’s book Nightbooks by J.A. White for Netflix. The story follows Alex, a boy obsessed with scary stories, who is trapped by a witch in her modern, magical New York City apartment. His original hair-raising tales are the only thing keeping him safe as he desperately tries to find a way out of the twisted place.

French Broadcasters Up Content Production to Combat Netflix, Amazon Prime Video

After a slow start, Netflix France has topped five million subscribers despite alienating exhibitors ignoring local theatrical windows for original movies.

To combat Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and over-the-top video distribution in general, French broadcasters are increasing their investment in local original productions.

Last year, the country’s top broadcasters — France Télévisions, Canal+, TF1, M6 and Orange — spent €5.4 billion ($6.1 billion) on content, with over 40% of that spending dedicated to original programming, according to new data from Ampere Analysis.

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At the end of May, 106 new local shows were in development or production, while Netflix is currently producing 15 new TV shows for the French market.

“French consumers are adopting digital TV subscriptions quickly, and the local broadcasters know they must respond fast if they are to protect their revenues in a changing media landscape,” analyst Léa Cunat said in a statement.

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While increased competition from OTT services has French broadcasters on the defensive, proactively engaging in content production in the face of waning advertising revenue and budget cuts has some operators rethinking their business models.

As a result, licensing third-party content has given way to original productions. This strategy offers two significant benefits, according to Ampere: monetizable IP portfolios and a diversified revenue stream.

Pay TV group Canal+ launched a new SVOD service in March – Canal+ Séries – dedicated to a younger audience, supported by shows such as “Mouche,” a reboot of the BBC’s “Fleabag”.

TF1 just announced plans to further enhance its TVOD platform, MyTF1, with new advertising inventory and new exclusive content.

France Télévisions is focusing on international partnerships with other broadcasting groups to help support its local content investments.

Orange created a new division – Orange Content – merging pay-TV operations with the film division to produce original episodic programming. Literary adaptation The Name of the Rose was the first  original show to air, broadcast in March.

Ampere says SVOD represented only 3% of France’s €14 billion ($15.8 billion) audiovisual market in 2018.

France’s OTT market lags a number of its peers – including Scandinavia, the U.K. and the U.S. – but digital subscriptions are growing rapidly.

To tap into this growth broadcasters France Télévisions, TF1 and M6 announced the creation of Salto, a new SVOD platform set to launch later this year.

Offered alongside their free channels, Salto will provide TV shows and exclusive content with an emphasis on French and European productions.

Through this new service, the broadcasters aim to generate revenue from subscriptions and maintain control over content rights following their initial broadcast window.

For instance, France Télévisions has said it will cease licensing the French digital rights of “Call My Agent!” to Netflix and has signed an exclusivity time period on digital rights for the shows it co-produces or commissions.

“With increasing competition from international behemoths Netflix and Prime Video, there’s no shortage of tactics and strategies being employed to stay in the game,” Cunat said. “It’s a fascinating market to watch as it transforms.” 

Indeed, French broadcasters are looking abroad to grow key markets, including Africa where Canal+ has more than 4 million subscribers across 25 countries. This market has a rapidly expanding middle class with growing disposable income, which makes it particularly appealing.

Once again, the broadcasters have taken different approaches to international expansion.

Canal+’s production arm StudioCanal launched a new TV production unit in February 2018, dedicated to creating premium original content for an international audience.

Canal+ also produces content dedicated to its foreign local markets: “Invisibles” was released in October 2018, the broadcaster’s first African original series, a market the broadcaster has earmarked for growth.

The pay-TV operator also collaborates at an international level and has worked on the U.S. remake of its original “Calls” with Apple TV+ and “Safe” with Netflix via a U.K.-based subsidiary.

TF1 is increasing its investment in European creation via Newen, a global production company it acquired in 2015. It has also bought stakes in European production houses in Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark. Shows created by these companies include “Versailles,” “Ares” and “The Bridge”.

France Télévisions partnered with Italian broadcaster RAI and German broadcaster ZDF to fund and produce TV series for domestic and international audiences. Projects announced thus far include “Leonardo” and “Around the World in Eighty Days”.

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‘Black Mirror’ Tops Parrot Analytics Digital Originals Chart

“Black Mirror,” the Netflix anthology series that some critics have likened to a modern-day “Twilight Zone,” shot up to No. 1 from No. 4 on Parrot Analytics’ digital originals chart the week ended June 15.

The series, which often revolves around the unanticipated consequences of new technologies, generated more than 66.4 million average daily Demand Expressions during the week, Parrot says, a nearly 60% spike from the prior week.

The gain came after the June 5 debut of Season 5.

“Black Mirror” ended a three-week run at No. 1 for “Stranger Things,” which slipped to No. 2 with 62.9 million average daily Demand Expressions, a nearly 12% increase from the prior week. The series will likely reclaim the top spot in the coming weeks, as Season 3 is set to debut on July 4.

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Demand Expressions is a proprietary Parrot Analytics metric that 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.

“Black Mirror,” which premiered in December 2011, and ran for two seasons, on British television, was acquired by Netflix in September 2015. Two six-episode seasons debuted in October 2016 and December 2017, respectively. A standalone interactive film, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, was released last December.

Demand for third-ranked “When They See Us,” the controversial miniseries about the Central Park Five that was created, co-written, and directed by Ava DuVernay for Netflix, remained relatively flat, with 51.4 million average daily Demand Expressions compared to 52.5 million the prior week.

The four-episode drama series is based on the notorious 1989 Central Park jogger case, in which five juveniles – four black and one Latino – were sent to prison for allegedly raping a white woman jogger. They were exonerated after the real rapist confessed, but by then had already served their time.

“Lucifer,” based on a character from the DC Comics comic-book series “The Sandman,” slipped to No. 4 from No. 3 the prior week, with a 10% drop in demand.

Rounding out the top five on the digital originals chart was Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the same ranking as in the previous 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.

Netflix’s ‘Lucifer,’ Anime ‘Aggretsuko’ Top TV Time Charts

Two Netflix shows topped TV Time’s “Binge” and “Shows on the Rise” charts for the week ended June 16.

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 company.

“Lucifer,” a canceled Fox series rescued by Netflix about the Lucifer’s escapades in Los Angeles, came in at No. 1 on the weekly “Binge Report,” which 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.

Meanwhile, Netflix’s anime comedy “Aggretsuko” came in at No.1 on the “Shows on the Rise” chart, which is calculated by determining the week-over-week growth in episodes watched for a given program.

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Top Binge Shows Week Ended June 16 by Share of Binges:

  1. “Lucifer” (Neflix) 5.06%
  2. “Good Girls” (NBC) 2.22%
  3. “Friends” (NBC) 2.15%
  4. “The 100” (CW) 1.95%
  5. “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” (Netflix) 1.75%
  6. “Game of Thrones” (HBO) 1.7%
  7. “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC) 1.58%
  8. “Designated Survivor” (Netflix) 1.56%
  9. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (NBC) 1.42%
  10. “Trinkets” (Netflix) 1.25%

 

Top Shows on the Rise Week Ended June 16 by Rise Ratio:

  1. “Aggretsuko” (Netflix) 97.2%
  2. “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” (Netflix) 95.3%
  3. “Big Little Lies” (HBO) 86.7%
  4. “Kakegurui” (MB5) 85.2%
  5. “Krypton” (SYFY) 80.9%
  6. “Pose” (FX) 75.6%
  7. “Younger” (TV Land) 75.6%
  8. “Tales of the City” (Netflix) 75.3%
  9. “Good Witch” (Hallmark Channel) 71.7%
  10. “Siren” (Freeform) 67.5%

Netflix: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston Comedy ‘Murder Mystery’ Sets Biggest Opening Weekend with 30.8 Million Views

Netflix June 18 disclosed that its new Adam Sandler/Jennifer Aniston original comedy, Murder Mystery, set an all-time weekend streaming record with 30.87 million views.

The second Netflix comedy movie starring Sandler and Aniston — which launched June 14 — generated 13.37 million views in the United States and 17.5 million worldwide through June 15.

Netflix disclosed the info on Twitter.

The SVOD behemoth, which is typically reticent disclosing viewership data, has opened up this year revealing streaming data on select original movies, including Will Smith’s Bright with 11 million views; Bird Box with Sandra Bullock (45 million views) and The Christmas Chronicles (25 million) with Kurt Russell.

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Dish Offering Netflix Access in Hotels

Dish Network June 18 announced it is now offering access to Netflix for guests staying at hotels connected to the satellite operator’s platform.

Separately, Bloomberg reports Dish is finalizing a $6 billion deal to buy assets from Sprint and T-Mobile to help the telecom meet regulatory approval for their merger.

Guests staying at hotels equipped with Dish’s Evolve platform can access to their personal Netflix accounts directly from the TV in their room.

Users can subscribe to Netflix or sign into their existing account by accessing the Netflix app via the on-screen TV menu, the linear channel guide or simply by pressing the Netflix button on the remote control. User credentials are automatically removed from the system when they check out of the room.

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The launch of Netflix access makes Dish the first major pay-TV provider in the U.S. to integrate the SVOD service on a customized hotel TV platform.

Dish also introduced a new streaming service that allows guests to watch TV anywhere in a hotel, in-and-out of their rooms, on personal devices connected to the property’s network.

“Hotel operators can [now] offer … entertainment options for guests by personalizing the in-room TV experience or providing the flexibility to watch content anywhere on the property, like at the pool or gym,” Alistair Chatwin, VP of Dish Business, said in a statement.

Launched in 2017, Evolve integrates live linear programming, casting and streaming apps via the Google Play Store. It is designed to work with any hotel wiring scenario, as well as existing or upgraded network infrastructure.

Dish’s streaming service is available on browser-enabled devices and features 24 channels selected by the hotel and delivered over the property’s IP network.

Hotel owners have the option to customize the guest experience with personalization and branding opportunities in the streaming TV service user interface.

Analyst: Demand for Disney+ Streaming Service Stronger Than Expected

Disney’s branded subscription streaming video service, Disney+, is launching on Nov. 12.

Wall Street investment bank UBS is the latest to jump on the self-serving bandwagon championing the pending Netflix rival.

The research firm said that 43% of respondents in an internal survey said they were interested in subscribing to the $6.99 Disney+ service. That tops UBS’ previous 20% to 30% market penetration prediction by 2030 for Disney+.

“Marketing for the service has yet to hit critical mass,” analyst John Hodulik wrote in a note.

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Morgan Stanley projects the SVOD service could help Disney generate more than 130 million subscribers when combining Disney+ with ESPN+ and Hulu.

Analyst Ben Swinburne contends Disney+ will have upwards of 90 million subs within five years, including 13 million subs by the end of 2020.

“We believe the market has often overstated the risk and underappreciated the reward of the transition to streaming,” Swinburne wrote in a June 13 note. “Investing in Disney shares is a play on the durability of its IP.”

‘Star Wars’ Director J.J. Abrams Reportedly Close to Mega Deal with WarnerMedia

One of the reasons Netflix claims it doesn’t pursue live sports programming is fiscal common sense. Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos argues he doesn’t want to become embroiled in vanity battles over escalating rights fees lavished by networks on MLB, the NBA and NFL for access.

Observers say that’s an odd reason, considering the SVOD pioneer has pushed content spending into the professional sports stratosphere. Netflix recently signed TV producers Ryan Murphy (“Glee,” “American Horror Story”) and Shonda Rimes(“Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal”) to record-breaking content deals valued at $300 million and $100 million, respectively.

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Warner Bros. TV shelled out a reported $400 million for producer Greg Berlanti (”Dawson’s Creek,” “You,” “Riverdale”).

And Apple inked deals with Oprah, Jennifer Aniston, Steven Spielberg and Reese Witherspoon, among others.

Now, Warner’s corporate umbrella, WarnerMedia, is reportedly close to signing director J.J. Abrams (Star Wars, “Westworld”) to an exclusive deal worth $500 million. An amount pushed by losing suitors Apple, Comcast and Netflix, among others.

WarnerMedia is swinging for the fences in part because it is backed by telco parent AT&T’s mushrooming debt spending ($171 billion) seeking a creative backstop for a pending branded SVOD service as well as leverage against the November OTT launch of Disney+.

WarnerMedia also recently signed smaller deals with Ava DuVernay (“When They See Us”), Mindy Kaling (“The Mindy Project”) and is reportedly close to re-signing Chuck Lorre (“Big Bang Theory,” “Two and a Half Men”) to another long-term production deal.

“With more streaming services competing for available content, we expect more [production] consolidation [i.e. spending] to occur over the next few years,” Wedbush Securities media analyst Michael Pachter wrote in a note.