Third Season of Animated ‘Infinity Train’ to Stream Exclusively on HBO Max

The third season of the animated series “Infinity Train” will exclusively premiere on the HBO Max streaming platform this summer.

“Infinity Train” was created by Owen Dennis (“Regular Show”) and is produced by Cartoon Network Studios.

The first season, Book 1, tells the story of a precocious young girl named Tulip on a mystery adventure that finds her on a train full of infinite worlds going against all odds to find her way back home. The second installment, Book 2, follows Mirror Tulip, an escaped reflection from the mirror world. Themes of identity, friendship and peer pressure arise while she and new friend Jesse, find themselves on the run. Books 1 and 2 of the animated series are now streaming on HBO Max.

In Book 3, Grace and Simon are the leaders of the Apex, an anarchic group of kids on a mysterious train. During one of their destructive missions, Grace and Simon get separated from the rest of the Apex and must find their way back. As the duo navigate through the myriad worlds of the train, they meet Hazel, an optimistic young girl, and Tuba, her gentle gorilla companion. Will Grace and Simon find new inspiration in Hazel’s innocence, or will the ways of the Apex recruit yet another aboard the train?

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“’Infinity Train’ takes us on a mystery adventure of resolution and growth that we love to experience,” Billy Wee, SVP of original animation for HBO Max, said in a statement. “We are thrilled to work on this project with Owen to continue this fantastical journey and tell a classic story about inner-strength and determination in a new and exciting way.”

“I’m really excited for fans to see Book 3! The story this time is … I don’t want to spoil anything, but it’s definitely something fans are gonna flip over! When we started working on ‘Infinity Train,’ I couldn’t have imagined where it would take us, but thanks to our loyal and vocal fanbase, we get to continue on this amazing ride,” Dennis said in a statement.

Funimation Streaming Service Coming to Latin America

Anime content provider Funimation is expanding its streaming service to Latin America this fall.

Currently available in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, the service will expand to Mexico and Brazil later this year.

Funimation also announced it would offer select subtitled and dubbed anime series in Spanish and Portuguese. The announcement was made during FunimationCon 2020, a free two-day virtual fan festival celebrating anime.

“Anime is special in that it speaks equally to people from different cultures, regions and languages around the world,” said Colin Decker, CEO of Funimation global group. “Audiences in Latin America are among the most passionate in the world and have been clamoring for more. Expanding Funimation to Mexico and Brazil is the natural next step for us to serve those fans and extend our brands.”

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Funimation is an independently operated joint venture between U.S.-based Sony Pictures Entertainment and Japan’s Aniplex, a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment (Japan). Its streaming services offer a catalog of more than 700 anime series and 13,000-plus hours of content available on 15 platforms and in 47 countries, according to the company.

Sling TV Offers One-Year Price Guarantee

Sling TV has instituted a one-year price guarantee for all new and existing customers as online competitors, such as FubiTV and YouTube TV, have announced price hikes.

“In the current economic environment, many Americans are taking a hard look at their budgets,” read a July 1 company blog from Michael Schwimmer, group president, Sling TV. “Sling TV knows how difficult it can be to see any bill go up while trying to make ends meet or saving for the future.”

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For customers who sign up for Sling TV or who have an existing account by Aug. 1, 2020, Sling TV will guarantee their current price on any Sling TV service through Aug. 1, 2021.

“We believe now is not the time to make our customers choose between staying informed and entertained, and putting dinner on the table,” he wrote. “Our hope is this one-year price guarantee will bring a sense of much needed stability in a time that feels uncertain to us all.”

Other offers include a 14-day free trial through July 6 and a free AirTV 2 with an OTA antenna for prepaying for three months of Sling TV (the combo allows access to local over-the-air broadcast networks).

Netflix to Bow New Animated Series ‘DeadEndia’ in 2021

Netflix and Blink Industries announce a new 2D animated series “DeadEndia” based on the graphic novels from creator Hamish Steele.

The series will be produced at the Blink Industries studio in London and will premiere globally on Netflix in 2021.

Based on Hamish’s horror-comedy graphic novels of the same name and Web short Dead End, the series follows the adventures of Barney, Norma and magical-talking-dog Pugsley, as they balance their summer jobs at the local theme park haunted house while battling the totally real supernatural forces that dwell within it. Together with their guide to the underworld multi-plane, a sardonic thousand-year-old demon named Courtney, they face zombie mascots, demonic game show hosts, sleep-sucking witches and the scariest thing of all — their first crushes.

The graphic novels have been lauded for capturing the growing pains of early adulthood of characters with a wide variety of identities and experiences, including Barney, a transgender teen, and neurodiverse Norma, according to a Netflix press release.

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The series will star Zach Barack as Barney (Spider-Man: Far from Home), Kody Kavitha as Norma (Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Emily Osment as Courtney (“Almost Family,” The Kominsky Method”), Alex Brightman as Pugsley (Beetlejuice The Musical), Clinton Leupp a.k.a. Miss Coco Peru as Pauline Phoenix (“Will & Grace”), Kenny Tran as Logs (Maybe Happy Ending) and Kathreen Khavari as Badyah (“Marvel Rising,” Insecure,”Big Little Lies”).

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“’DeadEndia’ is about terrifying demons, vengeful ghosts and mysterious magic,” Steele said in a statement. “It is also about coming of age in a world that wasn’t made for you. It’s a drama about found family, identity and making mistakes. And of course it’s a laugh out loud comedy! I’ve always dreamed of making the show I needed as a lonely, horror-obsessed closeted gay kid and thanks to Netflix and our ridiculously talented, diverse and representative writers room and crew, we have shot way past my dreams and into wildest fantasy territory!”

‘Joy of Painting’ Coming to AVOD Service Tubi Via Cinedigm’s Docurama Channel

Fox Entertainment’s AVOD service Tubi (www.tubi.tv) bring 30 seasons of cult show “The Joy of Painting,” featuring the Bob Ross, to its library on the Docurama channel from Cinedigm.

More than 30 seasons and nearly 400 episodes will stream on Tubi by the end of July.

“Bob Ross and his unforgettable style make ‘The Joy of Painting’ the epitome of comfort TV,” said Adam Lewinson, chief content officer of Tubi, in a statement. “Tubi is proud to be a streaming home for this timeless and beloved series.”

“’The Joy of Painting’ has never been more popular, as evidenced by the ever-growing following and tremendous view count that Ross has garnered on social media platforms,” said Erick Opeka, president of Cinedigm Digital Networks, in a statement. “We are thrilled to be working with Tubi to introduce new audiences to this iconic program.”

In 1983 along with his partners Annette and Walt Kowalski, Ross launched the show on public television. From 1983 through 1994, Bob recorded more than 400 episodes and “The Joy of Painting” became one of the most popular and well-known shows on public television. His passion for teaching and inspiring others lives on today through the thousands of instructors who teach his method around the world. For many fans, Ross is the “King of ASMR,” the audio sensory meridian response that keeps people tuned in and watching his every move. He can also be found today at the forefront of an exciting and inspirational wellness movement.

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With total view time reaching a milestone 200 million hours of content streamed in April, Tubi has more 20,000 movies and television shows from nearly every major Hollywood studio.

Tubi is available on Android and iOS mobile devices, Amazon Echo Show, Google Nest Hub Max, Comcast Xfinity X1, Cox Contour, and on OTT devices such as Amazon Fire TV, Vizio TVs, Sony TVs, Samsung TVs, Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Android TV, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4, and soon on Hisense TVs globally. Consumers can also watch Tubi content on the web at http://www.tubi.tv/.

Parks: OTT Service Churn Rate Jumped to 41% During Q1

While consumers have jumped into streaming, they have been more fickle about committing to OTT services during the pandemic.

The churn rate for OTT services increased from 35% in Q1 2019 to 41% in Q1 2020, according to research from Parks Associates.

During the COVID-19 crisis, more than two in five U.S. broadband households have trialed an OTT service, and 8% of households have trialed four or more services, according to the report.

“We are seeing a record number of consumers experiment with new OTT services as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and the shifts in strategy in the industry,” Steve Nason, research director of Parks Associates, said in a statement. “OTT services are offering extended free trials to build up engagement, and 8% of U.S. broadband households report they have subscribed to at least one new OTT service since the COVID-19 crisis began.”

Among these new subscribers, 49% subscribed to Disney+ and 27% subscribed to Apple TV+, according to Parks.

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A key question going forward is whether subscribers will keep these services as fewer households shelter-in-place, according to Parks. A significant challenge, especially for services relying on original programming, is delivering new content since production on many series has halted, according to the report.

“The industry is working on new hybrid content strategies as a result of production halts,” Nason said in a statement. “Major players like AT&T for Warner Brothers and Comcast for Universal Studios are greatly concerned about the delays in content production on the launches of new services, like HBO Max and Peacock. Free trials will bring in new subscribers at the launch, and roughly seven in ten have subscribed to at least one OTT service they have trialed. OTT services need to be creative in building an engaging service, but during this time of heavy video consumption, OTT services have the opportunity like never before to win over new video consumers and retain them as long-term subscribers.”

Ava DuVernay to Produce Scripted Series on Colin Kaepernick for Netflix

The adolescent life of athlete and activist Colin Kaepernick will hit Netflix in Colin in Black & White, a scripted limited series from Kaepernick and Academy Award nominee and Emmy Award winner Ava DuVernay.

The series will focus on Kaepernick’s formative high school years, lending meaningful insight into the acts and experiences that led him to become an activist. Emmy Award nominee Michael Starrbury writes and serves as executive producer, alongside DuVernay and Kaepernick who will appear as himself as narrator of the series.

The six-episode series, which was conceived in 2019 and recently completed writing in May, provides an introspective look at Kaepernick’s early life as a black child growing up with a white adopted family and his journey to become a great quarterback while defining his identity. The limited series reunites Starrbury and DuVernay who last worked together on Netflix’s acclaimed When They See Us, which received 16 Emmy Award nominations, including a nomination for Outstanding Writing for the duo and was recently honored with a Peabody Award.

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“With his act of protest, Colin Kaepernick ignited a national conversation about race and justice with far-reaching consequences for football, culture and for him, personally,” said DuVernay in a statement. “Colin’s story has much to say about identity, sports and the enduring spirit of protest and resilience. I couldn’t be happier than to tell this story with the team at Netflix.”

“Too often we see race and Black stories portrayed through a white lens,” said Kaepernick in a statement. “We seek to give new perspective to the differing realities that Black people face. We explore the racial conflicts I faced as an adopted Black man in a white community, during my high school years. It’s an honor to bring these stories to life in collaboration with Ava for the world to see.”

“We’re proud to bring Colin’s experience and his creative vision to life as he joins Ava to share his powerful story and message with all our members around the world,” said Cindy Holland, VP, original content for Netflix. “It is an unparalleled union of two strong and defining voices coming together to tell the story about what it’s like to be Black in America.”

Exercise Streaming Service Collagevideo.tv Offering 90-Day Free Trial

Exercise subscription streaming service Collagevideo.tv is offering an extended 90-day free trial for those who sign up through July 4.

The promo code for the Independence Day offer is “90EVERYONE.”

Consumers who cancel before the 90-day free trial is up will not be charged. After the trial period, the service is $9.99 a month. Consumers can cancel at any time with no obligation.

Content on the service ranges from Pilates to yoga to step aerobics, offers everything from beginner to advanced workouts, and features such fitness stars as Denise Austin, Kathy Smith and Gilad.

New content is added weekly.

“We’re expanding and working with more new instructors and producers, so stay tuned,” said marketing manager Nisreen Damatti at BayView Entertainment, which owns the service.

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Collagevideo.tv can be viewed on most devices, including iPad, iPhone, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Android, personal computers, laptops and many more.

Comscore: April U.S. Consumer Consumption of OTT Content Grew in Both Households and Total Hours Over Last Year

U.S. consumer consumption of over-the-top content grew in both total households and total hours from April 2019 to April 2020, according to a report from Comscore.

In April 2020, 69.8 million homes used OTT, an increase of 5.2 million homes compared to April 2019, and the average home viewed 102 hours of OTT content (including AVOD, SVOD and TVOD) during April 2020, an increase of 17 hours compared to April 2019, according to the “State of OTT” report.

There has been a spike in OTT engagement since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that is holding steady for now, according to Comscore. OTT consumption saw “exceptional growth” starting in early March 2020 through April 2020 and has since plateaued, according to the report.

The “Big 5” streaming services (Netflix, Disney+, Amazon, Hulu and Youtube) accounted for 82.5% of OTT streaming hours in April 2020. In monthly OTT households from January 2020 to April 2020, Netflix grew 6%, Youtube 13%, Amazon 10%, Disney+ 14% and Hulu 17%.

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Growth in reach of ad-supported services is outpacing that of non-ad-supported services with ad-supported services growing 9% when comparing April 2020 to January 2020. Non-ad-supported services grew only 5%.

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Households streaming on smart TVs grew the most, up 22% from April 2018 to April 2020. Households streaming on boxes/sticks grew 15% during the time period, while those streaming on gaming consoles fell 6%.

Total viewing hours increased 2.3 billion viewing hours across live TV, DVR, VOD, and OTT in April 2020 versus April 2019. Of this, OTT alone added 1.4 billion total viewing hours.

In April 2020, 21% of connected TV viewing households were cord cutters (households who cut the cord within the past five years), up 3% from April 2019, with 21% cord nevers (households with no cable/satellite subscription in the past five years), up 3% within the same time frame.

The use of pure-play virtual MVPDs to view OTT content has seen a 70% year-over-year growth between the three-month average of February through April 2019 and 2020.

Peacock to Be Available on Vizio and LG Smart TVs at Launch in July

Peacock, NBCUniversal’s new streaming service, will be available on Vizio SmartCast TVs and LG smart TVs when it launches on July 15.

Consumers will be able to access Peacock through the LG smart TVs’ Home Launcher or the built-in application on the Vizio SmartCast home screen.

Peacock will offer a free tier featuring more than 7,500 hours of movies, shows, and live and on-demand programming across news, sports, reality and late night. Peacock Premium will also be available for $4.99 per month, featuring more than 15,000 hours of content. Viewers may also upgrade Peacock Premium to ad-free for an additional $5 per month.

“We want to provide fans of Peacock’s vast programming a choice of how and where they consume our content when we launch nationally next month, said Matt Bond, chairman, content distribution, NBCUniversal, in a statement. “Vizio and LG are great partners that will help provide these fans the viewing experience they’ve come to expect from us at NBCUniversal.”

“With increasing consumption on smart TVs, we are happy to make it easy for Peacock customers with Vizio and LG smart televisions to stream all our content,” Maggie McLean Suniewick, president of business development and partnerships for Peacock, said in a statement. “We offer Peacock as free to our distribution partners because we want people everyone to enjoy Peacock where and when they want it.”

Peacock original programming available at launch includes “Brave New World,” “The Capture,” “Intelligence” and “Lost Speedways”; sports documentary In Deep With Ryan Lochte; and the full-length film Psych 2: Lassie Come Home. Also available will be current season programming from NBC and Telemundo, access to hundreds of movies such as Jurassic Park, Do the Right Thing and Shrek; and shows including comedies “Parks and Recreation,” “30 Rock,” “Saturday Night Live,” “King of Queens,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Two and a Half Men,” “Frasier,” “George Lopez,” “Psych,” “Monk” and “Cheers”dramas “Law & Order: SVU,” “Downton Abbey,” “Yellowstone,” “Friday Night Lights,” “House,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Parenthood,” “Heroes,” and kids programing including “Curious George,” “DreamWorks Where’s Waldo?” and “Cleopatra in Space.”

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Peacock customers will also enjoy daily programming highlights from “Today,” “NBC Nightly News,” “Meet the Press,” “Noticias Telemundo,” MSNBC, CNBC, NBC Sports, “E! News” and “Access Hollywood,” and dozens of streaming channels including clip-based channels such as Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers comedy sketches, sketches from the “SNL” vault, plus news channels from NBC News Now and Sky News, and genre channels such as True Crime, Reality Check-In and 80s Mix Tape.

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In April, Peacock’s early preview rolled out to Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Flex customers at no additional cost. Peacock will also be bundled and included at no additional cost for eligible Cox Contour customers for national launch in July.