PureFlix Adds Spanish-Language Content

PureFlix.com, the $10.99 monthly faith and family subscription streaming video service, is expanding its offerings to include Spanish-language content.

The new PureFlixEspanol.com platform will feature a variety of titles, including movies I’m Not Ashamed and God’s Not Dead 2, documentaries, talk shows, children’s programs, and animated shows, among others.

Self-help titles feature topics such as starting a new business, effective communication, overcoming a painful past and relationships.

More than 400 Spanish-language titles currently reside on PureFlixEspanol, with additional titles added monthly. An estimated 250 titles are expected to be added to the platform by summer 2018, including telenovelas and original content created exclusively for the new platform.

With the additional Spanish-language content, PureFlix now features approximately 8,500 titles.

“When Hispanic consumers talk, a responsible company needs to listen and act…and that’s exactly what we did,” CEO Greg Gudorf said in a statement. “Hispanic families are seeking clean, faith and family titles, and we want to be the streaming video service they turn to and trust.”

According to the Pew Research Center, 77% of Hispanics in the U.S. identify themselves as Christian and a combined 84% indicate that religion in general is “very” or “somewhat” important to them.

Turner Bowing Live Sports Streaming Service

As expected, Turner Sports will launch a live-sports streaming service in April. Dubbed, “Bleacher Report Live,” after the B/R online sports information platform, the service will initially be free, with “flexible” pricing plans to be rolled out later.

The platform reportedly will bow April 7 streaming “Spring League” football with Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.

The service – which is powered by Turner’s iStreamPlanet – is slated to carry UEFA Champions and Europa League soccer, NBA League Pass, PGA Championship, NCAA championship events (excluding football and basketball), lacrosse, rally racing and arm wrestling, among other sports.

“B/R Live” comes as Disney readies “ESPN Plus,” a $4.99 monthly SVOD service powered by BAMTech targeting cord-cutters, millennials and other non-pay-TV subscribers.

Notable to B/R Live – subscribers can acquire access on a per-game basis.

“That’s very important,” Lenny Daniels, president of Turner Sports, said March 27 at a press event.

Indeed, consumers will also be able to acquire “micro-transaction” access, which includes minutes of live action to a sporting event.

“When you have a two-and-a-half-hour event, some fans know they don’t have time to watch [a whole NBA game],” said NBA commissioner Adam Silver. “To me, it’s a logical evolution of where we’ve gone [with NBA Pass].”

HBO Go[es] Where HBO Now Can’t

HBO Go, the premium channel’s venerable TV Everywhere app, enables (often indifferent) subscribers in the United States on-demand access to current and catalog programs – including Hollywood movies – across myriad devices.

But three years ago, citing cord-cutting, sluggish TV Everywhere adoption industrywide, and eager to join the over-the-top video bandwagon, HBO launched HBO Now enabling domestic-only consumers without a pay-TV subscription access to all programing for a $15 monthly fee.

HBO Go, in the meantime, has prospered abroad – as a standalone SVOD service.

The app just launched in Poland, one of 17 countries HBO affords SVOD access to programing, including original content. The HBO channel is also available – like in the U.S. – through third-party pay-TV networks.

“The HBO service is already a great success across our territories within Europe. With this further expansion, we are making it even easier for series and film lovers to become HBO subscribers,” Hervé Payan, CEO HBO Europe, said in a statement.

HBO operates three regional OTT platforms in Europe, including HBO España, HBO Nordic (Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland), and HBO Go in 12 Central Europe.

The services include original series, movies and documentaries, local productions, third-party content, in addition to Hollywood movies and children’s programing.

“We believe new subscribers will be very satisfied with our unique offerings. We will also continue to increase our investment in local programming across all territories in Europe,” Payan said.



Parks: U.S. Broadband Homes Have More Than Seven Video Devices

In an over-the-top video world, Parks Associates announced new research claiming U.S. broadband households have on average more than seven video access devices, including TVs, computers, tablets, and smartphones.

The trend is consistent with previous reports suggesting almost 20% of younger consumers (aged 18-24) use live streaming video apps.

Last November, Parks reported that more than 50% of OTT video households subscribed to multiple SVOD services, with 81% using Netflix and at least one other service. That statistic is similar to broadband homes.

“Nearly 40% of U.S. broadband households subscribe to multiple OTT video services, and consumers expect to access their high-quality content on any platform, at any location where they live or go for work or fun,” said SVP Elizabeth Parks in a statement. “Demand for connected AV experiences is opening new business opportunities for integrators and companies that can provide expert managed services across multiple platforms and locations.”


YouTube Red Original Series ‘Cobra Kai’ Bowing Premiere Episodes With ‘The Karate Kid’ Theatrical Screening

The 1984 box office hit The Karate Kid will have a one-day theatrical screening April 25 in 700 theaters nationwide to promote upcoming YouTube Red Original series “Cobra Kai.”

The new series from Sony Pictures Television debuts at the Tribeca Film Festival April 24 and begins streaming May 2 on YouTube Red.

A commercial success, the original movie spawned a franchise of memorabilia, three sequels, a television series, and a 2010 remake featuring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan.

Ralph Macchio, who played young high schooler Daniel Russo in the original Karate Kid (along with the late Pat Morita and William Zabka), returns as a family man operating a string of car dealerships. His life become intertwined with high school adversary Johnny Lawrence (Zabka), who seeks redemption reopening the famous Cobra Kai karate dojo.

“A beloved American classic, The Karate Kid film continues to be one of the most searched entertainment properties on YouTube,” Susanne Daniels, global head of original content at YouTube, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to recreate the world inside the dojo in this exciting new YouTube Red Original Series, featuring iconic cast members from the original film.”

Tickets for “Cobra Kai: Premiere Feat. The Karate Kid” can be purchased beginning Friday, March 23, at www.FathomEvents.com or participating theater box offices.

Kiwis Up SVOD Usage

More consumers in New Zealand are streaming video entertainment. Nearly 70% of Kiwis surveyed consider over-the-top video a good value proposition compared to pay-TV, according to new data from Canstar Blue. That was up 5% from last year.

Not surprisingly, Netflix has a lot to do with changing consumer behavior. Since launching service in Australia and New Zealand three years ago – the first in Asia Pacific for Netflix – consumer adoption has skyrocketed.

Netflix growth in Australia exceeded TV broadcast over an 18-month period last year – reaching more than 7.5 million subscribers through June, according to Roy Morgan Research.

But that affection didn’t immediately replicate itself in neighboring New Zealand.

“Until relatively recently, our TV choice was terrestrial TV, or paid service, Sky,” said Jose George, GM at Canstar. A sentiment, George said, was underscored by public perception that over-the-top platforms offered limited content.

“[Yet], streaming services continue to evolve, offering exclusive TV series on standard or HD services at a fraction of the cost [of pay-TV],” George said. “You don’t have to scratch too deep to see why there’s been such a surge in consumer sentiment.”

The uptick in over-the-top video in New Zealand has been helped by billions in infrastructure investment, resulting in more than 1.9 million broadband connections in 2015.

“Evidently, Kiwis love the Internet and the services it allows us to tap into,” George said.


NBC Sports Snags Indy 500 Broadcast, Streaming Rights

NBC Sports Group March 21 confirmed it has acquired broadcast/streaming rights to the famed Indianapolis 500 car race, beginning in 2019. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Once a mainstay on “ABC’s Wide World of Sports,” the venerable oval track race has been broadcast on Disney-owned ABC Sports for the past 54 years.

Currently, IndyCar broadcasts are split between NBC and ABC, with NBC also splitting NASCAR broadcasts with Fox.

“This arrangement brings all of IndyCar to one home, increases our exposure and includes our first direct-to-consumer offer for our fans,” Mark Miles, CEO of IndyCar (formerly Indy Racing League), said in a statement.

Indeed, NBC Sports Gold, NBC Universal’s direct-to-consumer sports service, will stream all non-broadcast Indy events, including practice sessions, Indy Lights races and IndyCar racing replays.

Jon Miller, president of programing at NBC Sports and NBCSN, said IndyCar racing has seen a steady viewership increase over the past 10 years.

“We hope to continue that growth throughout the series by leveraging the TV, digital, production and marketing assets,” he said.

IHS: Pay-TV Subs Topped One Billion in 2017 For the First Time

OTT video may be all the rage, but pay-TV continues to hold its own globally.

Digital pay TV subscriptions globally, including cable, satellite, telecom and online TV, exceeded one billion for the first time in 2017, according to new data from IHS Markit.

The milestone comes despite burgeoning growth of over-the-top (OTT) subscription video services, like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. SVOD services added three subs for every new pay-TV sub.

Western Europe added eight OTT subscriptions for every pay-TV addition, while in Central and Eastern Europe the number of OTT and pay-TV additions were equal. Overall pay-TV growth was fueled by the Asia-Pacific region and China – the latter driven by online TV.

“Traditional pay TV operators have shown resilience in the face of increased competition, through continued investment in set-top functionality, exclusive content and on-demand services,” Fateha Begum, associate director of TV media, said in a statement.

While OTT penetration remains low in the Middle East and Africa, the region will grow rapidly in the coming years, as both international and local players leverage their original content and partner with local pay-TV operators and telecoms, said Irina Kornilova, principal analyst of home entertainment.

“We expect to see OTT subs growing globally over the next five years, as Amazon and Netflix continue to invest in local and localized content, and as [online TV] operators start to appear and grow outside the U.S.,” she said.

Meanwhile, pay-TV subs in North America continued to decline, losing 3 million homes in 2017, while OTT subs increased by nearly 30 million.

“Pay-TV services in North America continue to be affected by cord cutting, primarily due to higher average prices for pay-TV subs, compared to other global regions,” Begum said.

PGA Bows Ad-Supported Streaming Video Service

The PGA Tour has launched an ad-supported over-the-top video service on the Xumo platform featuring interviews, highlights, previews and select live tournament coverage.

The Xumo platform is available on Roku TVs and devices, in addition to LG, Hisense, Sharp, Zizio and Panasonic TVs.

“The PGA Tour channel on Xumo is our first distribution platform on Smart TVs,” Luis Goicouria, SVP of digital platforms and media strategy, PGA Tour, said in a statement.

Stefan Van Engen, SVP, content programming and acquisitions at Xumo, said the PGA channel helps the platform continue its “evolution” as a “free streaming” service.

Comcast Rethinking OTT Opposition?

NEWS ANALYSIS – Comcast’s surprise $30.9 billion bid last month for British satellite TV operator Sky may be more than an effort to thwart Disney’s global ambitions. It could signal that the country’s largest cable operator is finally coming to terms with over-the-top video.

In December, Disney announced it would acquire select 21st Century Fox assets, including Sky, for more than $52 billion.

To be sure, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said all the right things: Sky has “great people” and “capable management,” in addition to 23 million subscribers across the U.K., Italy and Germany. What he also admired is Sky’s technological innovation.

After Disney spent billions acquiring New York technology company BAMTech from MLB Advanced Media to further its branded OTT video platforms, Comcast had to reconsider its longstanding opposition to distribution channels other than linear television.

As Netflix revolutionized video distribution by creating the SVOD business model, Comcast responded with TV Everywhere, which attempted to give subscribers on-demand access to programing on digital devices. It then became the first pay-TV operator to offer transactional VOD and digital sell through of Hollywood movies.

While TV Everywhere has finally taken hold with consumers – after lengthy indifference – Netflix has more 117 million subscribers, including 53 million in the United States compared to Comcast’s 21.3 million.

At the same time, executives at Comcast Cable and NBC Universal continued to downplay OTT distribution. In a fiscal call last year, Steve Burke, CEO of NBC Universal, said that while the media company had deals with online TV services such as Sling TV, DirecTV Now, Hulu Live and YouTube TV, he doubted the platforms would make much of an impact.

“They’re off to a relatively slow start,” Burke said.

Indeed, NBC’s attempt at a standalone OTT comedy platform (SeeSo) shuttered after 18 months.

Neil Smit, former CEO of Comcast Cable, in 2016 infamously declared that he hadn’t seen an “OTT model that really hunts.” Less than a year later Smit stepped down as CEO, replaced by company veteran Dave Watson, whose stance on OTT is only slightly changed from his predecessor’s.

But opinions can change in the face of market reality.

NBC, working with Roku, announced the launch of a reality TV streaming service in the U.K. Dubbed, “hayu,” the service offers more than 5,000 episodes of U.S. and British reality TV shows, including “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” and spin-off, “Life of Kylie,” in addition to “The Real Housewives” and “Million Dollar Listing” franchises.

“[Comcast’s purchase of] Sky brings with it a trove of exclusive content and rights that could be the basis of an OTT service with a genuine moat, capable of rivaling Netflix itself,” analyst Craig Moffett with MoffettNathanson Research wrote in a March 12 note.

Indeed, while Comcast CEO Roberts has embraced Netflix to the point of offering it seamlessly to cable subscribers, he understands well enough that the SVOD pioneer has morphed into much more than global distributor.

“One can assume that Comcast believes that the combination of Sky’s and NBC Universal’s proprietary content will be enough of a deterrent to ensure that the margins available to an OTT provider don’t simply get competed away,” Moffett wrote.