Vudu Service Launches on PlayStation 5

Vudu, the transactional video-on-demand service owned by Fandango, is available on Sony Interactive Entertainment’s next-generation PlayStation 5 game console at launch Nov. 12, the company announced.

Vudu, which was already available on the PS4, offers more than 150,000 movies and TV shows, including thousands of titles in 4K.

“As longtime fans know, PlayStation consoles are not just for playing games; they’re one of the most widely-used media hubs and a popular way to stream entertainment content at home,” read a Fandango press release. “With Vudu on PS5, fans can watch more movies and TV shows from the comfort of their home with no subscription required.”

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“Vudu is focused on delivering fans the latest new-elease and premium event titles, as well as our comprehensive catalog of movies and TV shows, and we’re thrilled to offer all of that content on PS5 at launch,” says Kevin Shepela, EVP, chief commercial officer, Fandango. “It’s a great time for fans to find their favorites to stream on their consoles, as we head toward the holidays and our Thanksgiving week sales.”

New movies coming to Vudu this month include Come Away (Angelina Jolie, David Oyelowo), The New Mutants (Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy), The Personal History of David Copperfield (Dev Patel), Dreamland (Margot Robbie), along with thousands of films and TV shows on sale during Thanksgiving week and that are not yet available on subscription services.

Peacock Inks Distribution Agreement With Sony PlayStation

Peacock, NBCUniversal’s pending streaming service, July 14 announced it will be available on Sony Interactive Entertainment’s PlayStation 4 systems starting the week of July 20, shortly after Peacock’s national launch on July 15. Peacock will be available on PS4 and PS4 Pro, and Peacock will curate an always-on editorial row that features currently available content.

In April, Peacock’s early preview rolled out free to eligible Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Flex subscribers.

At launch, the platform will offer an ad-supported free tier of movies, TV shows and live and on-demand programming across news, sports, reality and late night. Peacock Premium will be available for $4.99 per month (with ads). Users can upgrade to an ad-free tier for an additional $5 ($9.99 total) per month.

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“We’ve made Peacock free to our distribution partners like Sony Interactive Entertainment so anyone can stream Peacock anywhere they choose,” Maggie McLean Suniewick, president, business development and partnerships, Peacock, said in a statement.

Peacock recently announced original programming available at launch including Brave New World, The Capture, Intelligence and Lost Speedways; sports documentary In Deep with Ryan Lochte; and the entire full-length film Psych 2: Lassie Come Home. In addition, customers will enjoy current season programming from NBC and Telemundo, access to hundreds of blockbuster movies like Jurassic Park, Do the Right Thing, and Shrek; and iconic 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 DreamWorks Cleopatra in Space.

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Peacock users 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 streaming channels including clip-based channels like the best Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers comedy sketches, the best sketches from the “SNL” Vault, plus news channels from NBC News Now and Sky News, and genre channels like True Crime, Reality Check-In and 80s Mix Tape.

Veronica Rogers Appointed SVP of Business Opps at Sony Interactive Entertainment

Veronica Rogers will oversee global business operations as the new SVP of business operations for Sony Interactive Entertainment, the company responsible for the PlayStation brand and family of products.

She will report to president and CEO Jim Ryan and will lead Sony Interactive Entertainment’s go-to-market organization globally. Rogers will help drive business growth, lead strategic initiatives, and evolve the culture of business operations from its previously regionalized structure into a single global system.

“Veronica brings a wealth of experience leading global sales organizations, managing strategic partnerships, developing innovative business models, and building world class teams,” said Ryan in a statement. “She will play a crucial role in scaling the business and I’m thrilled she has brought her expertise to the PlayStation family.”

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Rogers will be responsible for global alignment in sales operations, both physical and digital, as well as lead PlayStation subscription services. She has nearly 20 years of experience leading business development, strategic planning, and sales operations at large global organizations including Microsoft and Dell Technologies.

“The PlayStation brand is one of the most beloved in the world and I am excited to join a company that has such a passionate community, legendary history, and an amazing leadership team,” said Rogers in a statement. “My experience leading global sales organizations will help excel the PlayStation business and deliver the best gaming experiences to fans across the world.”

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Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) is responsible for the PlayStation brand and family of products and services. The 25-year-old PlayStation brand includes PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Store, PlayStation Plus, PlayStation Video, PlayStation Music, PlayStation Now, PlayStation Vue, and PlayStation software titles from SIE Worldwide Studios. The PlayStation 5 game system, which includes a UHD Blu-ray player, is scheduled to debut in the upcoming holiday season.

GameStop: Surviving the Waiting Game

As the world’s largest video game retailer, GameStop has big expectations for new generation consoles coming a year from now from Sony PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox platforms.

In the meantime, the Grapevine, Tex.-based chain continues to absorb fiscal body blows as gamers halt spending on packaged media and/or explore digital alternatives.

Global sales decreased 25.7% to $1.4 billion in the most-recent fiscal period. New hardware sales plummeted 45.8%, while new software sales decreased 32.6%.

GameStop CEO George Sherman

“While the near-term top line environment remains challenged, we do not believe these results are indicative of what we would expect for the business in the long term,” CEO George Sherman said on the fiscal call.

As previously reported, GameStop has begun to divest operations in the Nordics, including Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

“While this will take several months to complete, we believe this effort will yield roughly $15 million in [pre-tax earnings] improvement,” Sherman said.

GameStop also reduced in-store inventories 30%, in addition to investing $115 million in the company and repurchasing 22 million shares for a total investment of $175 million in the quarter.

“Despite the near-term demand headwinds for current generation gaming hardware and software products, GameStop’s evolution as an industry leader to reposition the business model are on track,” Sherman said.

The executive said the chain is also in the process of “re-imagining” the GameStop in-store concept with new layout tests in 12 stores in the Tulsa, Okla. region.

“We’re very encouraged by what we are learning from the numerous customer immersive experiences we are testing,” Sherman said.

GameStop Fiscal Woes Continue

As expected, GameStop Dec. 10 reported a third-quarter (ended Nov. 2) net loss of $83.4 million, which was an improvement of sorts from a net loss of $488.6 million during the previous-year period.

The narrowed loss is hardly a bright spot since the nation’s largest video game retailer reported significant declines in every business segment except collectibles.

Global sales decreased 25.7% to $1.4 billion, driven by a consolidated comparable store sales crease of 23.2%. New hardware sales decreased 45.8%, reflecting anticipated next generation console launches in 2020. New software sales decreased 32.6%, with growth in Nintendo Switch software titles more than offset by weaker title launches across other consoles in the quarter compared to last year.

Accessories sales decreased 13.4%, pre-owned sales declined 13.3% with declines in hardware and software. Collectibles sales increased 4.3%, with continued growth in both domestic and international stores.

Yet, collectibles, which includes memorabilia, T-shirts, action figures,  associated merchandise and has been the chain’s lone growth area, saw revenue grow just 4.3% — down from 14% last year.

“Our third quarter results continue to reflect the prevailing industry trends, most notably the unprecedented decline in new hardware sales seen across the market as the current generation of gaming consoles reach the end of their lifecycle and consumers delay their spending in anticipation of new hardware releases,” CEO George Sherman said in a statement.

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With console makers set to introduce new and innovative gaming consoles in late 2020, the gaming industry has been on life support as gamers cut spending. In addition, the industry — similar to other packaged media — is migrating toward digital distribution.

“We anticipate this trend to continue until the fourth quarter [next year],” Sherman said.

Regardless, the CEO said GameStop remains on track to achieve $200 million annualized operating profit improvement goal by 2021.

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“We believe our strategic initiatives will enable to us to achieve our long-term growth and profit objectives as we fully leverage our unique leadership position and brand in the video game space,” he said.

Wall Street wasn’t impressed. GameStop shares fell 15% in aftermarket trading.

Google Set to Reveal Video Game Streaming Service

As online gaming grows (and disc-based video games decline), tech/media giants such as Google and Apple are eyeing the $100 billion industry for new cloud-based streaming platforms.

Google is reportedly set to disclose a streaming platform March 19 offering high-end games across all platforms, including Android, iPhone, Mac, Chrome, Windows 10 and TVs at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. The search behemoth teased a YouTube video about it.

The company, which would enable users to buy games directly from the TV screen or portable media device, will also unveil a gaming controller (and possibly a console) that could be used with a smart TV.

The move comes as the gaming industry – dominated by Sony (PlayStation), Microsoft (Xbox) and Nintendo – grapple with changing consumer habits and distribution revolving around their longstanding gaming consoles.

Google’s service could enable users to play top games without having to buy an expensive console.

“Cloud gaming will enable publishers to broaden their reach even further by potentially taping into new audiences on any device and any screen,” Thomas Husson, analyst with Forrester Research, told CNBC. “Beyond music or video, gaming represents another opportunity to offer recurring streaming revenue for companies in the gaming ecosystem. For cloud platforms like Amazon, Google or Microsoft, it will also become an opportunity to offer cloud storage and services to game publishers, who spend more and more in their IT infrastructure.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oculus Partnering With Chinese Firm to Build, Market VR Headsets

Oculus, the virtual reality device company owned by Facebook, has partnered with Chinese-based Xiaomi to manufacture and market two new smart VR headsets – one exclusively to the Chinese market.

A smart VR headset is described as a standalone, multi-purpose device that is designed to be worn on the face and not carried, runs an operating system, and can run third-party computing applications.

The Oculus Go ($199) will be marketed globally this year, while the Mi VR Standalone headset will be sold in China. Both devices feature Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 821 mobile VR platform.

Mi VR Standalone shares the same hardware and software features and design as Oculus Go, thus enabling existing Oculus developers to bring their content to China.

Facebook, which acquired Oculus in 2014 for $2 billion, has been challenged to see much of return on its investment.

It reportedly sold fewer than 400,000 Oculus Rift units in 2016, which was less than competitors HTC Vive and Sony PlayStation VR.

That said, Canalys forecasts standalone smart VR headset shipments will pass 1.5 million in 2018, reaching 9.7 million units in 2021. Standalone VR headsets are expected to help push the VR headset market to 7.6 million units in 2018, twice the shipments forecast for this year.