Cineverse Inks Deal to Use Whip Media’s Content Partner Payments Platform

Entertainment and streaming technology company Cineverse has announced a partnership to use Whip Media’s Content Value Management (CVM) software platform.

With the platform, Whip Media will help Cineverse automate and more efficiently manage content partner royalty payments for its expansive distribution network across Cineverse direct and third-party platforms.

Cineverse distributes content from hundreds of content providers through its FAST/AVOD channels, SVOD service, TVOD/EST distribution and physical home entertainment products.

“The rapid growth of Cineverse required a new system to scale and efficiently handle financial activities for the high volume of content partner contracts and licenses, such as royalty calculations, revenue statement generation and issuance of payment to partners on a monthly and quarterly basis,” according to a press release.

Currently, Cineverse must create more than 1,700 complex financial statements per quarter which require significant manual effort to manage, according to the release.

Cineverse will leverage the CVM platform for content partner payments to capture all contractual financial terms for each content provider, and ingest performance and revenue data from Matchpoint Insights — part of Cineverse’s proprietary suite of streaming technology products. By consolidating sales, performance and revenue data, CVM can automate the calculation of royalties due to each provider and accurately generate royalty statements, according to the release. What has historically been a manual process will be transformed into a highly scalable solution that radically reduces costs, increases efficiency, and improves accuracy, according to the release.

“We’re excited to partner with Cineverse, an entertainment technology and streaming trailblazer that has created an innovative solution that eliminates the expensive, time-consuming manual process required for preparing film and television assets for broad global distribution,” Saj Jayasinghe, Whip Media’s EVP of global revenue, said in a statement. “Our partnership will allow Cineverse to optimize their workflow and automate their digital supply chain by utilizing our platform to streamline their financial reconciliation process and extend automation to a much higher level on the financial side.”

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“Our partnership with Whip Media is critical as it helps fill a gap in our technology stack,” Tony Huidor, chief operating officer and chief technology officer at Cineverse, said in a statement. “We feel that developing financial-based software is not our core competency so partnering with Whip Media and leveraging their best-in-class technology allows us to address a significant unmet need in the rapidly growing streaming marketplace: an end-to-end solution from content ingestion and delivery all the way to reporting and payment,””This comes at a time when the legacy entertainment industry desperately needs to shift towards video-on-demand and FAST services, giving us the ability to scale quickly via automation and pave the way via an all-in-one solution.” 

Blu Digital Group Launches New Quality Control Technology

Digital media services and software supply chain company Blu Digital Group has launched BluQC, a cloud-based interactive quality control solution with automation technology.

The solution significantly enhances how organizations conduct automated and manual reviews of media file packages, such as linguistic and technical checks on video and localized audio and subtitles, according to the company. BluQC is offered as a complete cloud-based workflow environment through its enhanced proprietary interactive video player. Coupled with BluConductor, users are equipped with extended capabilities such as scheduling, assigning, version control, and API integrations, according to Blu Digital.

BluQC helps operations teams to review media files fully in the cloud with DRM security, frame-accurate controls, and automated checks. The interactive environment also incorporates automated technical analysis of video, audio and subtitle files without any human interaction, according to the company. Results can be reviewed within the BluQC online interactive UI using features such as “click-to-timecode,” which takes users directly to the frame accurate location of the reported issue, along with the proper audio and subtitle language components automatically loaded.  

BluQC also allows users to playback streaming video within a dual, triple or quad-player view for an in-sync review of multiple subtitle files. This allows users to toggle between audio and subtitle components in real time, according to Blu Digital.

With its integration into BluConductor, users can access BluQC and provide feedback, approvals/rejections, assignments, etc., based on individual user permissions, giving a full workflow and orchestration solution for quality control checks of media. Research through use cases has shown increased workflow efficiencies of more than 150% and decreased costs by 77%, according to Blu Digital.

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“Media operations teams have unique needs that standard off-the-shelf systems don’t address,” George Rausch, chief product officer, Blu Digital Group, said in a statement. “Many software run automated QC checks, and even more tools that generate QC reports. But BluQC is the first solution that combines project management, QC reporting, enhanced media playback, and automation into one fully secure system, and completely in the cloud.” 

Blu Digital Group will demonstrate its full digital media distribution software suite at the NAB Show in Las Vegas April 16-19.

Study: Piracy Software Not Detrimental to SVOD Platforms, ISPs

The use of piracy software doesn’t negatively impact subscription streaming video services and/or multiservice pay-TV operators (MSOs) selling high-speed internet access, according to a new academic report from researchers at the University of North Carolina and University of Delaware.

The 37-page study, “The Impact of Video Piracy on Content Producers and Distributors,” found that consumer adoption of third-party software technology allowing access to licensed and unlicensed content did not negatively impact subscription VOD platforms or pay-TV operators.

The report focused on the impact the controversial free open-sourced Kodi software (and set-top box) had on user access to video content. The results contend that numerous SVOD services such as Netflix appeared to have benefited from Kodi adoption despite being party to litigation against the software alleging piracy damages.

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In 2017, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and all the major studios (Warner Bros. Pictures, Universal Pictures, 20th Century Fox Studios, Columbia Pictures and Paramount Pictures, and Disney, among others, sued the parent of Kodi alleging content copyright infringement. The platform spawned a host of third-party add-on apps, many of which have also run afoul of content holders.

Hollywood and Kodi reportedly reached a settlement in 2019.

Meanwhile, researchers found that Kodi users spent more money on high-speed internet, or broadband, accessing streaming video. This would correspond to the ongoing market shift toward increases in broadband subscribers and the decrease in pay-TV subs.

“This suggests that legal consumption of digital content over the internet actually increased, even if it was accompanied by an increase in piracy,” read the report.

Researchers also found that consumption of digital content through TV services offered by MSOs was negatively impacted as Kodi adopters were more likely to cut the pay-TV cord.

At the same time, the report found that MSOs with low TV margins relative to internet margins benefited from Kodi through increased demand for internet services, while larger MSOs with higher TV margins, and content producers that rely on the pay-TV operators for distribution, were harmed by reduced demand for TV content.

“As new technologies facilitating illegal access to digital goods emerge, similar difficulties will continue with regard to detection and quantification of damages,” read the report. “MSOs can play an important role in both aspects, and future research can help guide the evolution of policy while balancing consumer privacy concerns.”

Video Game Sales Continue May Decline

Sales of video game hardware and titles dropped 11% to $641 million in May compared to sales of $720 million during the previous-year period, according to new data from The NPD Group.

The decline was spearheaded by 20% drop in consoles to $149 million from $186 million, and 13% drop in software sales to $262 million from $301 million last year.

It was the worst May for software sales in six years. Sales of accessories and game cards remained flat at $230 million.

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Analysts contend the slowdown is largely due to consumers waiting for pending new edition – i.e. Microsoft’s Project Scarlett – consoles in 2020.

“Console makers will likely ensure that physical discs exist for at least one more console cycle, which could reverse negative comp trajectory,” Wedbush Securities media analyst Michael Pachter wrote in a recent note.

Indeed, Pachter doesn’t expect the next console cycle to eliminate physical discs altogether. He says consumers still value physical games for their portability, ease of gift giving and the ability to trade them in at retailers such as GameStop and Best Buy.

“Notwithstanding dire pronouncements about the imminent demise of physical media, our covered game publishers still sell over 50% of their console games in physical form,” Pachter wrote.

Best Buy Widens Q1 Entertainment Sales Decline

Christmas is officially over. The post-winter holiday blues hit Best Buy entertainment sales with a thud.

The nation’s largest consumer electronics retail chain May 23 reported a 12.7% drop in same-store entertainment sales to $424 million for the quarter ended May 4. The business unit includes DVD/Blu-ray Disc movies, video game hardware and software, books, music CDs and computer software.

Entertainment sales declined less than 1% to $504 million in the previous-year period.

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International entertainment sales dropped 14% to $33 million, compared to an 8.3% decline to $41.8 million in the previous-year period.

Overall, Best Buy upped domestic operating income 24.3% to $332 million from $267 million last year. Revenue upped less than 1% to $8.48 billion from $841 billion.

The largest comparable sales growth drivers were appliances, wearables and tablets.

Domestic ecommerce revenue of $1.31 billion increased 14.5% on a comparable basis primarily due to higher average order values and increased traffic. As a percentage of total domestic revenue, online revenue increased to 15.4% versus an increase to 13.6% last year.

On June 11, CEO Hubert Joly transitions to the newly created position of executive chairman. CFO and strategic transformation officer Corie Barry becomes Best Buy’s fifth CEO and first female chief executive.

Joly appears to relish the transition from day-to-day operations to cushy board oversight.

“I am very proud of the seamless transition we have decided to implement, as it reflects positively on our momentum as well as our focus on executive development and succession planning,” Joly said in a statement.

Roku Enhances User Experience with Software Update

Roku April 9 revealed it is rolling out new software – dubbed OS 9.1 – designed to make user access to video and music content easier.

The Los Gatos, Calif.-based streaming media co-pioneer (along with Netflix) search for content genres using text or voice search now features a browsable collection of movies and TV shows. The titles are categorized from free, on-demand, subscription and 4K.

New voice commands include saying “replay” to go back a few seconds, “turn closed captions on/off,” to toggle closed captions, or if you can turn the TV display off while streaming select music channels like Pandora, iHeartRadio and TuneIn by saying phrases like “turn display off.”

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A new “guest” mode (previously known as Auto Sign Out Mode) allows third-party users  to sign in to subscription channels using their own account credentials on your device. You can enable or disable the feature for specific Roku devices from the “my linked devices” section on the “my account” page on Roku.com. You can also sign a guest out of a device if the guest left early or selected the incorrect sign-out date.

In addition to a “my offers” link affording Roku users to special deals and discounts, the software upgrade enables users to bypass re-entering log-in credentials when activating a new Roku device.

“Automatic account link” is available on nearly 10 subscription streaming services including Pandora and Sling TV, with additional services expected to be supported soon.

The software update is available on select Roku streaming players today and is expected to roll out to all supported players in the coming weeks,” Ilya Asnis, SVP Roku OS, wrote in a blog.

Roku TV models are expected to receive the update in early summer.