‘Avengers: Infinity War’ to Hit Netflix Dec. 25

Disney may be leaving Netflix, but not without a parting Christmas gift.

The Disney/Marvel blockbuster Avengers: Infinity War, which has earned more than $678.8 million at the box office, will come out on the streaming platform on Christmas day, according to Netflix.

The streaming platform’s NX on Netflix Twitter account tweeted, “Oh, snap. Avengers: Infinity War is coming to @Netflix on December 25.”

Disney is readying the unveiling of its own streaming service in 2019, Disney+, which will be fueled by Disney content, including that from Marvel and Lucasfilm, which has the “Star Wars” franchise.

After helping grow Netflix with a streaming deal in 2012, The Walt Disney Co. in 2017 announced it would be withdrawing its content from the service to build its own subscription platform.

At a May 14, 2018, MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit in New York, Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos was asked about the impact of Disney going direct-to-consumer and the pending loss of its original movies.

“People always ask me, ‘Where you surprised Disney is going to go direct?’ I don’t know what took them so long, exactly,” said Sarandos.

Still, he said the loss of Disney content wasn’t much of a blow.

“[Our subs] watch [Disney movies], but it wasn’t particularly passionate watching and those films are widely available on a bunch of other channels,” Sarandos said.

Fox Networks Group Renews Deal for Content Distribution on AT&T Video Platforms

AT&T and Fox Networks Group have renewed a multi-year deal to continue distribution of Fox programming across AT&T’s video platforms DirecTV, DirecTV Now and AT&T U-verse.

The renewal includes Fox-owned local broadcast stations in 17 cities and the 22 Fox-owned regional sports networks. It also includes FS1, FS2, FX, FXX, FXM, National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo Wild, BabyTV, and Spanish-language services Fox Deportes, Nat Geo Mundo and Fox Life, as well as the Fox Soccer Plus pay-per-view service.

“We are pleased to have closed a multi-year deal with Fox for their entire array of content. Our customers will continue to enjoy their programming live and on-demand on all their devices, both at home and on-the-go,” said Daniel York, chief content officer and senior EVP for AT&T Communications, in a statement. “Fox has worked with us in this deal to deliver more choice for consumers and better value to AT&T customers.”

“We’re pleased to expand our partnership with AT&T through this wide-ranging agreement which ensures that our top-rated entertainment and sports programming will remain broadly available to DirecTV, DirecTV Now and U-Verse customers for the foreseeable future,” said Fox Networks Group president of distribution Mike Biard in a statement.

Fox Networks Group consists of Fox Television Group, which includes Fox Broadcasting Company and 20th Century Fox Television; Fox Sports Media Group; Fox Cable Networks, which includes FX Networks and National Geographic Partners; and Fox Networks Group Europe and Latin America.

Pureflix.com to Produce Three Original Series

Independent faith and family streaming site Pureflix.com has announced the production of three new original series to bow in 2019: “Mood Swings,” “Sons of Thunder” and ‘The Beverly’s.”

The three-year-old entertainment site, featuring movies, TV shows and kids’ programs, is a subsidiary of Pure Flix Entertainment, a faith-based entertainment company and Christian movie studio based in Scottsdale, Ariz., that produces, distributes and acquires Christ-based movies. Subscriptions are $10.99 a month or $99.99 a year.

“Mood Swings” is a comedy that stars Donna Mills (“Knots Landing”), Crystal Hunt (“One Life to Live”), Andrea Logan White and Larry Wilcox (“CHiPS”). It follows four generations of women who live together as roommates in the City of Angels as they deal with various life issues and surviving each other.

“Sons of Thunder” is a mystery drama starring Randall Reeder (Deadpool) and Vanessa Angel (“Being Mary Jane”). It follows a combat vet who travels across the country to find the owner of a mysterious bag. Along the way God gives him a mission to help others.

“The Beverly’s” is a family comedy that centers on a small town girl (Christian music artist Jamie Grace) who mentors three young orphan girls that dream of starting their own music group and along the way learn valuable life lessons.

Pure Flix has produced such faith films as the “God’s Not Dead” franchise, Do You Believe and The Case for Christ. Inspirational entertainment on Pureflix.com includes recently premiered new episodes of “Malibu Dan … The Family Man,” starring David A.R. White, Kelly Stables and Andrea Logan White with guest stars including Cheryl Ladd and David Rasche; “Hilton Head Island”; and “The Pure Flix Comedy All Stars,” with Sinbad and Louie Anderson.

Research: Live Broadcast TV Fell From 60% to 40% of Video Consumption From 2012 to 2017

A new whitepaper from Parks Associates reports live broadcast TV represented 60% of video consumption on televisions in early 2012 but only 44% at the end of 2017.

The firm noted that live viewing continues to decline, with survey data from the third quarter of 2018 showing live broadcast video now accounts for 42% of all video consumption on a TV.

The report “Video’s Critical Path: Success at Web Speed,” sponsored by MediaKind, documents the overall decline of pay-TV subscribers in North America and the shift to OTT video services, which consumers are embracing in large numbers.

“While OTT SVOD has significantly changed viewing patterns among consumers, live video is far from dead,” said Brett Sappington, senior director of research for Parks Associates. “We still see massive spikes in viewership for live events. However, an increasing amount of live viewership is on connected devices. Change does not come easily, but the scale of disruption in the video industry requires traditional pay-TV providers to address their business and service strategies in a new way. New strategies include delivering video to mobile phones and transitioning live video to online sources.”

Additional Parks Associates findings include:

  • The overall rate of OTT video service cancellation is steady at 18%;
  • More than 85% of U.S. millennials subscribe to at least one OTT video service; and
  • By 2022, more than 265 million households worldwide will have more than 400 million OTT video service subscriptions.

 

Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu Lead Parks Associates Top 10 OTT Services List

Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu, in that order, lead Parks Associates updated list of the top 10 subscription over-the-top (OTT) video services in the U.S. market. The list, released Nov. 7, is based on estimated number of subscribers.

The full list in order is:

  1. Netflix
  2. Prime Video Users (Amazon Prime)
  3. Hulu (SVOD)
  4. HBO Now
  5. Starz
  6. MLB.TV
  7. Showtime
  8. CBS All Access
  9. Sling TV
  10. DirecTV Now

 

“Which company is the leading OTT video subscription service remains a topic of debate,” said Brett Sappington, senior director of research, Parks Associates, in a statement. “According to our estimates, Amazon has more Prime Members than Netflix has subscribers. However, when you consider only those Prime Members that use Prime Video, Netflix is the largest. Hulu remains the third largest but continues to grow its subscriber base.”

The firm noted the rise of a second tier of OTT video services from services with recognized brands, including several with high profile original content. Online pay-TV services Sling TV and DirecTV Now round out the top 10, ahead of similar services Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV and PlayStation Vue. Online pay TV has been one of the fastest growing segments in the OTT video space, with aggressive marketing by all, according to Parks.

“HBO, Starz, Showtime, and CBS All Access demonstrate the powerful attractiveness of original content through series like ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Star Trek: Discovery,’” Sappington said in a statement. “This pattern suggests new services such as WarnerMedia’s DC Universe and the forthcoming streaming service from Disney could achieve success quickly.”

The top subscription sports OTT video services are MLB.TV, WWE Network and ESPN+. MLB.TV continues to lead the sports OTT subscription category, benefiting from its long tenure as a streaming service and popularity among dedicated baseball fans, according to Parks. WWE also has a dedicated fan base and publicly reported having more than 1.2 million U.S. subscribers at the end of Q3 2018, according to Parks. ESPN+ is a newcomer to the OTT video marketplace but recently announced that it had exceeded 1 million subscribers.

Other findings include:

  • OTT video subscription penetration has reached 64% of U.S. broadband households, with more than two-thirds subscribing only to one of the top three services, Netflix, Prime Video, or Hulu;
  • The online pay-TV audience is similar to the OTT audience — they are younger and quicker to adopt new technologies when compared to traditional pay-TV households; and
  • Over the past three years, OTT churn rates have gradually fallen each year from 31% of OTT subscriptions cancelled each year in 2015 to 28% in 2018.

‘Breaking Big’ Due on DVD, ‘Jamestown’ Streaming in November from PBS Distribution

“Breaking Big,” a documentary series that explores the unexpected journey to success of some of the world’s most influential artists, innovators, political leaders, athletes, authors and entrepreneurs, will be available on DVD Nov. 13 from PBS Distribution while season two of the series “Jamestown” will premiere on PBS Masterpiece Prime video and PBS Passport streaming services Nov. 21.

The epic drama “Jamestown,” from the makers of Downton Abbey and written by Bill Gallagher (Lark Rise to Candleford, The Paradise), follows the lives of three women who leave their dark pasts behind in England to start new lives on the edge of the Virginian wilderness in the 17th century colony of Jamestown. Season two takes viewers back to a thriving colony, where the tobacco plantations are starting to provide the wealth they promised and trade booms, but the status quo will soon be disrupted by births, deaths and broken marriages.

A new episode of “Jamestown” will be available each Monday on the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video channel, available to Prime members for $5.99/month after a seven-day free trial, and in PBS Passport, a member benefit for PBS station donors that offers extended access to public TV programming.

The Nov. 13 two-disc “Breaking Big” release ($34.99) features 12, 30-minute episodes. Produced by OZY Studios and hosted by Carlos Watson, the series looks at the twists and turns on the road to thriving careers for some notable figures in various fields. It features 12 talented men and women, from country music superstar Jason Aldean and former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, to Oscar-winning director Lee Daniels and chef and restaurateur Eddie Huang. All overcame obstacles and long odds. The program includes analysis from eminent social scientists, marketing experts, film critics, book editors and others to help viewers understand their risk-taking and bold moves.

Cinedigm Will Launch Chinese Content Channel Bambu in First Quarter 2019

Cinedigm announced it will launch Bambu, its Chinese content entertainment channel, in the first quarter of 2019, unveiling the channel’s logo.

Bambu will be available as both a free, ad-supported service and an ad-free subscription-based service providing content for $3.99 a month.

“While the network will appeal to Americans of all ages, Bambu’s primary focus is on Gen Z viewers ages 16-24, and Millennial viewers ages 25-35,” according to the Cinedigm announcement. “These ‘digital natives’ have been exposed to global culture from an early age, and hunger to stay at the forefront to discover the latest global trends — as evidenced by the unparalleled rise of Anime and K-Pop in North America in recent years.”

These viewers represent more than 27 percent of the U.S. population, according to Cinedigm, and Bambu aims to provide Chinese entertainment previously unavailable to American audiences.

Curated offerings will span beyond martial arts and period epics to contemporary action epics, serial dramas, romantic comedies, sci-fi, horror, fantasy adventure sagas, music and reality series, and educational programming ranging from instructional Chinese language courses to cultural cooking shows, according to Cinedigm.

The company billed the site as “the only complete Chinese entertainment platform in the United States.”

Cinedigm will provide content for Bambu from licensor partners, as well as from Chinese licensors and distributors, according to the announcement. Content will potentially include hundreds of hours of first-run television programs, made available through Cinedigm’s partnership with state-run broadcaster Central China Television and others, the company announced. Select titles include the bomb squad thriller Shock Wave, starring Andy Lau; the sci-fi epic Kung Fu Traveler; and Donnie Yen and Chow Yun-Fat in the 2016 fable The Monkey King: Havoc in Heaven’s Palace. Bambu will also feature such series as the most watched show in Chinese TV history “Journey to the West”; “Nirvana in Fire”; the thriller “Lost in Translation”; the popular food/cooking documentary series “A Bite of China”; the fantasy crime show “The Four”; and new shows such as “The Advisors Alliance” and “Diamond Lover.”

“Young Americans are incredibly culturally savvy, and proudly receptive to the latest global trends,” said Erick Opeka, Cinedigm’s president of digital networks, in a statement. “Bambu allows these modern tastemakers to stay at the cultural forefront, introducing them to a roster of new series and up-and-coming artists that they can discover and show their friends. It also presents tremendous potential for substantial marketing opportunities, opening up China’s prolific and profitable content industry to a massive American audience. This is phase one in what we envision as a fruitful partnership between the United States and China, enriching both cultures by providing them with the absolute best in Chinese and American entertainment, respectively.”

“Bambu is another very important step in our bilateral content distribution strategy for China and North America,” said Bill Sondheim, president of Cinedigm Entertainment Group, in a statement. “We have made tremendous progress in that regard over the last year with the key Bison, Starrise and Youku agreements, as well as many other important content and distribution deals with key Chinese media companies either announced or in final stages. Bambu is the perfect vehicle to expose undiscovered quality film and TV content to North American audiences and provide vital feedback to Chinese producers, which should help them create Chinese content with the potential to be much more successful abroad.”

Bambu is “an important vehicle to provide immediate and invaluable” audience feedback to Chinese producers working to produce films and television for a global audience, according to Cinedigm, and the consumer data should help better inform the development process in China about the categories of entertainment content, stories and characters that appeal most to an American and eventually a global audience.

Vizio Adds Features to Smart TV Experience

Vizio announced the rollout of new features to its smart TV experience, SmartCast Home, adding such entertainment apps as CBS All Access and allowing users to personalize their SmartCast Home experience via the app sorting feature.

The latest iteration of SmartCast Home is rolling out via free cloud-based updates to Vizio SmartCast 4K Ultra HD TVs and displays, as well as select HD and Full HD models.

“Vizio continues to fulfill consumer demands by way of free, rolling cloud-based updates that enable new, intuitive smart TV features via Vizio SmartCast,” said Vizio chief technology officer Bill Baxter in a statement. “With versatility, simplicity and value in mind, Vizio SmartCast is an ever-evolving entertainment solution. Everyday users, cord-cutters and smart home enthusiasts alike are able to continuously receive new features, the latest apps and other beneficial enhancements that help ensure they are getting the most out of their viewing experience.”

With the update, Vizio SmartCast Home users can sort and position their favorite and most frequented apps on the home screen. To change the order of apps within the app row at the bottom of the SmartCast Home screen, users scroll to the end of the app row and select the “Sort App Row” icon. From there, they will be prompted with on-screen cues that guide them through the process of highlighting and selecting various apps to customize their position.

New to Vizio SmartCast Home is the CBS All Access app, offering such programs as “NCIS,” “The Young and the Restless” and “Madam Secretary”; exclusive original series such as “Star Trek: Discovery” and “The Good Fight”; and streaming of local live broadcasts. YouTube TV — which allows SmartCast users to watch and record live TV from more than 60 networks — Baeble and Toon Goggles, among other apps, have also been added to the SmartCast lineup.

With the latest updates, the Vizio WatchFree free streaming service is now also included in the App Row.

SmartCast also now offers dedicated TV and Movie Detail pages highlighting the selected title’s trailer and synopsis, along with cast and director credits, running time, parental ratings, critic insights and more. The TV and Movie Detail pages will also soon allow users to browse seasons and episodes across multiple apps such as FandangoNow and Hulu, and then view on their app of choice.

Cinedigm Partners With Chinese Streaming Channel Youku to Exclusively Distribute 30 Original Feature Films in North America

Cinedigm has announced a partnership with Chinese streaming service Youku to distribute 30 original Chinese feature films in North America on all platforms including digital, DVD and Blu-ray, and OTT, with a primary focus on major streaming platforms and niche outlets.

The films will also be included in the recently announced China-focused OTT channel Bambu that Cinedigm is launching later this year.

The films, never before seen in the United States or Canada, represent a wide range of Chinese film styles including urban thrillers, relationship-driven films, sci-fi fantasy, horror and costume fantasy, according to Cinedigm.

“We are excited to bring these innovative original films to the broad U.S. population in North America that are seeking new cutting-edge film productions from around the world,” said Bill Sondheim, president of Cinedigm Entertainment Group. “These films offer a unique and exclusive viewing opportunity for fans of new production styles and emerging Asian creative talent that is quickly evolving into an important film genre. Cinedigm is committed to help nurture this growing production style and feel the broadening distribution and availability of Youku’s content in mainstream US streaming outlets will be an important catalyst. We are honored with the opportunity provided by Youku to bring these films to hungry outlets throughout the North American distribution ecosystem.”

“Youku is excited to enter this new relationship with Cinedigm to broaden our distribution into America,” said Doria Dai, Youku Pictures producer. “We continue to make compelling original movies and TV series and expect this new cooperation agreement will allow Youku to build an audience of fans in the high-profile American Market.”

The Youku deal is the latest development in Cinedigm’s strategy to forge relationships with China’s leading content producers and distributors. Other deals that Cinedigm is finalizing include licensing current hit TV shows and movies from CITVC, the international licensing arm of CCTV, China’s largest broadcaster; agreements with Shanghai Media Group, the largest regional producer and broadcaster in China; and a relationship with CICC (China Intercontinental Communication Center), according to Cinedigm.

Matt Groening’s ‘Disenchantment’ to Continue on Netflix Through 2021

Matt Groening’s adult animated comedy fantasy series “Disenchantment” has been renewed through 2021 by Netflix.

The first installment of the series premiered on the streaming service in August of 2018. New episodes of season one will premiere in 2019. An additional 20 episodes have been ordered and will roll out in 2020 and 2021, according to Netflix.

“We’re excited to continue this epic journey with Netflix,” said creator and executive producer Groening (“Futurama,” “The Simpsons”) in a statement. “Stay tuned for more cranked-up suspense, infuriating plot twists, and beloved characters getting knocked off.”

“Disenchantment” takes place in the crumbling medieval kingdom of Dreamland and follows the misadventures of hard-drinking young princess Bean, her feisty elf companion Elfo and her personal demon Luci. Along the way, the oddball trio encounters ogres, sprites, harpies, imps, trolls, walruses and lots of human fools.

The series features the voice talents of Abbi Jacobson (Bean), Nat Faxon (Elfo) and Eric Andre (Luci), along with John DiMaggio, Billy West, Maurice LaMarche, Tress MacNeille, David Herman, Matt Berry, Jeny Batten, Rich Fulcher, Noel Fielding and Lucy Montgomery.