Paramount Home Entertainment Ups Q2 Domestic Revenue 3%

Paramount Home Entertainment May 10 reported second-quarter (ended March 31) domestic revenue of $104 million, up 3% from revenue of almost $101 million during the previous-year period. International revenue fell 19% to $50 million from $61.7 million.

Overall, home entertainment revenue dipped 5.6% to $154 million from revenue of $163 million last fiscal year. Revenue through the first-half of the fiscal year is down about 4% to $332 million from $346 million.

The studio’s top-selling disc, Instant Family, has sold almost $4 million in combined DVD/Blu-ray Disc units since its March 5 retail bow.

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Meanwhile, Paramount Pictures reported its ninth straight quarter of improved operating income to $29 million, which was up 222% from operating income of $13 million during the previous-year period.

Theatrical revenue leapfrogged 244% to $172 million from $70.5 million last year and largely driven by Bumblebee. Domestic revenue increased 144% to $66 million while international revenue increased to $106 million.

Separately, Nickelodeon’s child-based subscription streaming video service Noggin topped 2.5 million subscribers globally. Noggin, Nick Hits, Comedy Central Now and MTV Hits will be offered as Apple TV Channels on the new Apple TV app for iPhone, iPad and Apple TV later this month, on Samsung this spring and on Mac this fall.

In April, Paramount+ signed its first Latin American partnership with NET in Brazil and Claro video in the rest of Latin America, including on mobile.

At the end of April, monthly active users grew to approximately 16 million, up 31% from 12 million since December 2018.

Viacom also announced several new distribution and content deals. Comcast is adding Pluto TV in its Xfinity Flex service, and Pluto TV will be coming to Xfinity X1 soon. Grew roster of 150+ content partners with recent additions of CNN, BBC and Major League Soccer.

The company is launching Pluto Latino, its U.S. Hispanic channels, in July. International plans include launches in Latin America and Switzerland, and expansion in the U.K., Germany and Austria.

Animated ‘Wonder Park’ Rides to Digital June 4, Disc June 18 From Paramount

The animated adventure Wonder Park will be released on digital June 4 and Blu-ray combo pack and DVD June 18 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

It’s the story of a young girl named June who makes an incredible discovery — the amusement park of her dreams has come to life filled with wild rides operated by fun-loving animals. When trouble hits, June and her misfit team of furry friends begin an unforgettable journey to save the park. Wonder Park features the voices of Jennifer Garner, Mila Kunis, John Oliver, Kenan Thompson and Ken Jeong, among others.

The film made $45.2 million at the box office.

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The Blu-ray combo pack includes access to a digital copy as well as bonus content, including the deleted scene “Gus Yodeling”; “The Wonder Chimp Channel”; “The Pi Song Sing-Along”; “Making Noises (It’s Actually a Job?!!)”; “June’s Guide to Wonderland”; “June’s Welcoming Crew”; “Boardwalk Caricatures”; “Drawing Boomer”; “Drawing the Wonder Chimp Pirate”; and “Drawing the Wonder Chimp Princess.”

Viacom Takes Paramount+ Streaming Service to Latin America; Inks CNN Content Deal with Pluto TV

Viacom International Media Networks is set to expand the Paramount+ streaming video platform to Latin America.

The SVOD service, which first launched in Scandinavia (in response to HBO Nordics in 2017 and later in Central and Eastern Europe – known as Paramount Play), will become available May 1 in Brazil in a partnership with telecom NET, followed by wider distribution through a mobile deal with America Movil.

Paramount+ affords Viacom and Paramount Pictures international streaming distribution of more than 150 movies and original TV shows, including “Yellowstone,” starring Kevin Costner, “The Handmaids’ Tale” (available exclusively on Hulu in the U.S.), in addition to branded content from MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and Nick Jr.

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“By forging partnerships with the world’s leading operators and distributors, we are able to bring Viacom’s premium content to new global audiences,” David Lynn, president and CEO of Viacom International Media Networks, said in a media statement. “As the media landscape continues to evolve, we will aggressively innovate to expand our partner offerings, including Paramount+, across our massive global footprint.”

Indeed, while Paramount+ represents Viacom’s aggressive strategy to close the digital divide with rival studios, following the recent purchase of Pluto TV, Viacom is fortifying the ad-supported VOD platform with proprietary and third-party content.

Pluto TV just announced a new channel launch featuring content from WarnerMedia’s CNN – which itself is planning an OTT video product in 2020.

“At a time when news cycles are never-ending, in a world that is constantly evolving, CNN’s coveted daily reporting and in-depth features are perfect for our audience to be informed, with immediacy, accuracy and ease,” Amy Kuessner, SVP of content partnerships at Pluto TV, said in a statement. “Pluto TV’s mission to ‘entertain the planet’ also means informing the planet of what is going on in the world, and there is no better partner than the most trusted name in news.”

Viacom Inks Content Distribution Deal with T-Mobile

T-Mobile and Viacom April 3 announced they have entered into a content distribution agreement. Under terms of the deal, Viacom’s brands — MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, Nickelodeon, Paramount — will play a key role in T-Mobile’s pending mobile video services to consumers later this year.

The deal enables T-Mobile to bring together live linear feeds of Viacom channels as well as a broad range of on-demand content to serve the carrier’s nearly 80 million customers.

“TV programming has never been better, but consumers are fed up with rising costs, hidden fees, lousy customer service, non-stop BS,” John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile, said in a statement. And ‘Macgyvering’ together a bunch of subscriptions, apps and dongles isn’t much better.”

T-Mobile CEO John Legere

For Viacom, the agreement is another strategic effort to expand the media giant’s lagging digital footprint. The company recently acquired ad-supported VOD service Pluto TV.

‘[It] marks a major step forward in our strategy to accelerate the presence of our brands on mobile and other next-generation platforms,” said Viacom CEO Bob Bakish.

Last year, T-Mobile acquired cable TV disruptor Layer3 TV, and with that team, talent and technology, the company has been readying its first wave of home and mobile TV offerings.

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In recent months, T-Mobile executives have shared some of the company’s plans to launch first with an in-home TV solution, designed to replace cable for the 5G era, and longer term, executives say the company will introduce mobile TV services beginning with Viacom as a cornerstone launch partner.

 

Nickelodeon Buys ‘Sparkler’ for Noggin SVOD Service

Nickelodeon March 29 announced the acquisition of children’s learning technology platform Sparkler for its branded Noggin subscription streaming video service.

Viacom-owned Nickelodeon named Sparkler co-founder Kristen Kane EVP for the preschool subscription service that features more than 1,500 full-length library episodes, short-form videos, Spanish-language videos and music videos.

Over the next year, Sparkler’s technology will be integrated into Noggin’s platform, enabling parents to guide and support their kids’ growth and development through playable content and experiences on and off screen, with personalized features that track progress over time.

Kane will oversee the integration of Sparkler and drive Noggin’s strategy and next phase of development as an educational digital platform. She will be based in New York and report to Brian Robbins, president of Nickelodeon.

“Pairing Sparkler’s capabilities with our curriculum-driven content will fully transform Noggin into a premier interactive learning destination for preschoolers and their families,” Robbins said in a statement. “Kristen brings extensive experience in the education and technology space, and she will help drive Noggin’s growth with an increased focus on delivering even greater value to our direct-to-consumer service.”

Subject to the terms of the transaction, Sparkler’s work with schools, healthcare providers, and social services providers will continue through a new non-profit organization called Sparkler Learning, and Viacom will support its mission of helping families give their children a strong start in life through partnerships with educators, doctors, and others serving young families.

Previously, Kane was the founding COO of Amplify, an education technology company dedicated to collaborating with educators to create learning experiences for students K-12. Prior to that, she was COO of the New York City Department of Education in the Bloomberg administration, responsible for the implementation of reforms and oversight of daily operations. Kane also served at the Federal Communications Commission, where she led the development of strategies for applying broadband technologies in the education, healthcare, and energy sectors.

Since its launch in 2015, Noggin has ranked among one of the Top 10 Kids Apps on the Free Apps chart on the App Store, in addition to the No. 1 grossing app for music and video in the family category on Google Play. Noggin was also selected by Apple as an Apple TV app of the year.

Since launching in 2015, Noggin subscriptions have grown by triple digits from 2017 to 2018, and the service is currently available for iPad, iPhone, Apple TV, Android, Fire tablet and Roku devices, as well as on Amazon’s Prime Video Channels and The Roku Channel.

 

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Warner, Nickelodeon Present ‘Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the animated crossover movie Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles digitally May 14, and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray June 4.

A joint production of Warner Bros. Animation, Nickelodeon and DC, the film unites the forces of the Dark Knight and the Heroes in a Half-Shell to overcome the evil plans afoot in Gotham City when Shredder joins forces with Ra’s al Ghul.

The cast includes Troy Baker as the voices of both Batman and the Joker, the first time one actor has played both in the same film; Cas Anvar as Ra’s al Ghul; Rachel Bloom as Batgirl; John DiMaggio as Mr. Freeze; Tara Strong as Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy; Tom Kenny as Penguin; Carlos Alazraqui as Bane, Brian George as Alfred; Ben Giroux as Robin; Jim Meskimen as Commissioner Gordon and Scarecrow; Keith Ferguson as Two-Face and Baxter Stockman; Eric Bauza as Leonardo; Darren Criss as Raphael; Kyle Mooney as Michelangelo; Baron Vaughn as Donatello; and Andrew Kishino as Shredder.

The film is inspired by the comic book miniseries series Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles released in 2016 by DC Comics and IDW Publishing.

Blu-ray and digital bonus material includes the featurette “Cowabunga, Batman! When Comic Worlds Collide,” an exploration of the crossover concept; the featurette “Fight Night in Gotham,” about animating different fight styles; and a preview of the upcoming DC Universe animated movie Batman: Hush.

The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray will include Dolby Vision HDR and a Dolby Atmos soundtrack.

Viacom Has Global Plans for Pluto TV

On the heels of its $340 million acquisition of Pluto TV, Viacom plans to expand the ad-supported streaming video service globally, featuring the media company’s proprietary content-producing brands, including MTV, Paramount, Comedy Central, BET and Nickelodeon, among others, CEO Bob Bakish told an investor group.

The free streaming service with more than 100 channels launched operations in Germany, Austria and the United Kingdom at the end of 2018.

Speaking Feb. 26 at the Morgan Stanley technology, media & telecom confab in San Francisco, Bakish said Viacom’s decision in 2016 to pull back bulk content distribution through third-party digital channels was a double-edged sword.

“We kind of took it on chin for two years with respect to distribution revenue when we weren’t doing those kinds of deals,” Bakish said, adding that the content backlog presents distribution options for Pluto TV going forward.

The executive said Viacom generates upwards of 13 million monthly users to digital products that include Nickelodeon’s Noggin streaming service, in addition to platforms surrounding Comedy Central and BET.

Viacom also plans to market over-the-top distribution to its linear pay-TV business partners.

“This is a global opportunity,” Bakish said. “It’s going to accelerate our strategy on multiple dimensions. We see a very material opportunity there.”

At the same time, the executive said digital distribution has been hampered by the traditional pay-TV ecosystem, existing distribution agreements and related monetization opportunities.

“We don’t have a demand problem, we have a supply problem,” Bakish said.

The executive contends Pluto TV offers Viacom’s brands and advertisers a very “attractive” demographic that he claims are “essentially” not tethered to traditional pay-TV.

In addition, Bakish contends Pluto’s ad-inventory is 50% unsold due in part to a “nascent” ad force he said didn’t have access to Viacom’s portfolio of national brands and global marketers.

“They didn’t have those kinds of relationships,” he said. “[Now, they’ve] got access to money they never saw before. [Pluto TV] looks like television to advertisers.”

 

Viacom Inks Carriage Agreement with Sports-Centric Fubo TV

Viacom Feb. 20 announced a carriage agreement with online TV service Fubo TV incorporating entertainment brands such as Paramount, Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central to the sports-themed streaming service.

Viacom’s other media networks – BET, Nick Jr., TV Land and VH1 – will also be included in fubo TV’s base package. An expanded suite of Viacom channels will be available in the premier package, “fubo Extra,” including BET Her, BET Jams, BET Soul, Logo, MTV2, MTV Classic, MTV Live, mtvU, Nick Music, Nicktoons, and TeenNick.

This partnership also enhances fuboTV’s Spanish-language base package, “fubo Latino,” with Viacom’s Telefe and MTV Tr3s networks.

“This is a great opportunity to continue to grow our reach and audiences across the OTT landscape and connect with our fans wherever they consume content,” Tom Gorke, EVP, head of distribution and business development, for Viacom, said in a statement.

Notably, Viacom earlier this year acquired ad-based online TV service Pluto TV for $340 million.

The fubo TV deal offers subscribers access to MTV’s “Jersey Shore: Family Vacation,” Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” Nickelodeon’s “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” and Telefe’s “Campanas en La Noche,” among other programs.

“We’re very excited to enter into this strategic partnership with Viacom, which continues to make prescient and aggressive moves in the digital media space,” said Joel Armijo, CFO, fuboTV. “fubo remains singularly focused on offering sports fans a compelling pay-TV alternative with a robust content offering able to serve the viewing needs of the entire household.”

Viacom CEO: We’re Seeing Incredible Turnaround at Paramount

Among major studios, Paramount Pictures has taken an outsized share of fiscal hits in recent years — only generating its first operating profit since 2015 in March.

Speaking Sept. 12 at Goldman Sachs 27th Annual Communacopia confab in New York, Bob Bakish, CEO of corporate parent Viacom, said Paramount is a very different place today — thanks in part to a trio of theatrical hits and increased television content production, among other initiatives.

Specifically, low budget titles A Quiet Place and romantic comedy Book Club, together with Mission: Impossible – Fallout, the sixth installment in the Tom Cruise-starring franchise, overperformed at the box office – with A Quiet Placeand Book Club now generating significant sellthrough revenue.

Indeed, A Quiet Place grossed more than $188 million domestically, making it the second-highest grossing horror film in the U.S. over the past decade. The film has earned more than $332 million worldwide with a production cost of approximately $20 million.

Released in May 2018, Book Club earned more than $68 million at the domestic box office — more than six times its $10 million acquisition cost. The titles were released in retail (digital and physical) channels on July 10 and Aug. 28, respectively.

“Both those films are killing it in transactions for us right now,” Bakish said.

The executive said that when combined with the global box office of Fallout– the largest in Mission: Impossible franchise history, Paramount has turned the fiscal corner.

“Take those three things together, and there’s no question the [Paramount] mountain is back,” Bakish said.

In addition to movies, Paramount Television has upped content production from nine series on broadcast and online to 16 shows this year and is poised to generate $400 million in revenue.

Notable series include “13 Reasons Why” for Netflix; “The Alienist” for TNT and “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” from Amazon Prime Video. Original movie production for third-party SVOD players has begun with announcements pending, according to Bakish.

“Paramount is not only back in the TV production business, it’s a hit maker,” said Bakish. “It’s a great opportunity.”

What Viacom is not doing is developing a mass market SVOD service to compete with Netflix.

“That business is looking more and more crowded,” Bakish said. “It is a very capital-intensive game if you look what program expenses at those platforms are.”

Instead Viacom is approaching over-the-top video with strategy targeting niche SVOD services such as Noggin.com and distribution through third-party platforms such as Amazon Channels.

“Putting Noggin on Amazon Channels more than doubled subs rather quickly,” Bakish said. “And we’re in the late stages of adding other distributors. We think that’s a very effective strategy.”

Viacom is launching an ad-supported OTT video service featuring library content, and creating third-party licensed content featuring Viacom brands MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, etc.

Bakish says its “part promotion, part revenue,” with digital initiatives produced under Viacom Digital Studios, which launched nine months ago.

“We’re feeling very good about the momentum we have going into the [current] fourth quarter. We are very focused on operating the assets we already own. It’s a quest for scale both inside and outside the company,” he said.

 

 

 

Nickelodeon ‘Paw Patrol’ DVD Available Exclusively at Walmart Ahead of TV Debut

Nickelodeon’s TV movie Paw Patrol: Mighty Pups will be available exclusively at Walmart on DVD Sept. 11 ahead of its TV debut.

The DVD of the 44-minute program retails at $17.99 and includes a digital copy on Vudu.

In this mission, the Paw Patrol are given Mighty Pup powers after a mysterious meteor lands in Adventure Bay. When Mayor Humdinger and his nephew trap Ryder and steal the meteor to take over the city, the pups must work together and use their new powers to race to the rescue and save the day.

Paw Patrol: Mighty Pups is produced by Nickelodeon Home Entertainment and distributed by Paramount Home Media Distribution.