Survey: More Than 14% of U.S. Netflix Subscribers May Cancel It in Favor of Disney+

More than 14% of U.S. Netflix customers are considering ditching their subscription in favor of Disney+ when the new streaming service launches in November, which could amount to a loss of approximately 8.7 million subscribers for the streaming pioneer.

Those are the findings of a survey of more than 600 U.S. Netflix subscribers commissioned by Streaming Observer.

In the survey, 12.7% said they “might cancel Netflix” while 2.2% said they would “definitely cancel Netflix” and get Disney+.

Survey respondents with kids in their household were more than two times as likely to say they plan to cancel Netflix for Disney+.

Roughly two in five Netflix subscribers in the survey said they will try Disney+, which costs $6.99 per month ($69.99 per year), when it debuts. One-fifth of those surveyed said they plan on subscribing to both services, and 40% said they have no interest in Disney+.

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Indian Content Streaming Service ShemarooMe Launches in U.S.

Shemaroo Entertainment Limited, one of India’s leading integrated media content houses, has entered the U.S. market with the launch of its OTT video streaming  service, ShemarooMe.

“Building on its vast content library and expertise gained over the past 57 years and in more than 30 countries, ShemarooMe will give Indian American audiences on-the-go access to the company’s exclusive portfolio of Bollywood, regional language, devotional and children’s content,” according to a company press release.

Shemaroo unveiled the streaming service in India earlier this year.

“As the second largest group within the Asian American population that has the highest household income as well, Indian American audiences will remain a sizeable growth opportunity for digital entertainment companies,” according to the release.

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Indian American consumers can choose from seven content categories: Bollywood Plus, Bollywood Classic, Gujarati, Punjabi, Marathi, Kids and Bhakti (devotional) through two subscription options. The customizable, individual category plans are priced at $4.99 per month/$49.99 each per year, and the all-access plan is priced at $9.99 per month/$99.99 per year.

“As a company we’ve always understood the pulse of our diverse audiences, and our history is a testimony to that,” said Shemaroo CEO Hiren Gada in a statement. “We are excited to extend our content offerings to loyal fans of Indian entertainment in the U.S. with a host of integrated features such as linear channels, live streams and video-on-demand services. With this launch, we look to further build strategic partnerships in the world’s leading OTT market.”

The ShemarooMe OTT app can be downloaded through Google Play, the iOS App store or online at http://shemaroome.com/, and will soon be available on Amazon Fire TV Stick, Apple TV and Roku, according to the release.

Netflix Inks Deal With ‘High School Musical’ Director and Choreographer

Netflix has entered into a multiyear overall deal with producer, director and choreographer Kenny Ortega, known for the “High School Musical” franchise, which earned him a Primetime Emmy and Directors Guild of America Award.

Ortega has directed and choreographed international hits including the “Descendants” trilogy, Newsies and Hocus Pocus, and choreographed classic films including Dirty DancingFerris Bueller’s Day Off and Pretty in Pink, among others.

Truman Alfaro will serve as Ortega’s development executive.

The first two projects Ortega will direct and produce for Netflix are Auntie Claus (working title), a film, and “Julie and the Phantoms,” an original series, which he will also executive produce.

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Auntie Claus is a musical based on the popular book series of the same name by Elise Primavera involving a young girl determined to get to the bottom of why her eccentric, Christmas-loving Aunt disappears every Christmas. It will be adapted by Tiffany Paulsen (HolidateNancy Drew).

“Julie and the Phantoms” is a musical comedy series in development based on an International Emmy Award-nominated Brazillian TV series. Julie is a teenaged girl who finds her passion for music and life with the help of a band of three teen boys (The Phantoms) who have been dead for 25 years. Julie, in turn, helps them become the band they were never able to be. Dan Cross and David Hoge (The ThundermansPair of Kings) will serve as showrunners and executive producers on the series, with George Salinas and Jaime Aymerich of Crossover Entertainment, as well as Hugo Janeba and Joao Tikhmiroff of Mixer Entertainment.

“Throughout the course of his career, Kenny Ortega has inspired generations of artists and audiences alike,” said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos in a statement. “That he has chosen to make Netflix his creative home to work on both feature films and series is thrilling. We can’t wait to see what he brings to Netflix to delight musical-loving families and audiences around the globe.”

“As a fan of Netflix and their dynamic range of high quality content, I am thrilled to begin a creative relationship with the company,” said Ortega in a statement. “I’m super excited about the projects we already have in development and the shared enthusiasm I feel from the company. l look forward to this new Netflix collaboration with the highest hopes.”

Ortega has received three Emmy Awards, two Directors Guild of America Awards, The Fred & Adele Astaire Lifetime Achievement Award, Bob Fosse Award, American Choreography Lifetime Achievement Award, MTV Video Music Award, American Music Award, Billboard Award, ALMA Award, Nosotros Golden Eagle Award, Imagen Creative Achievement Award, and an NAACP Image Award, among others.

Apple Bows New Services, Including Apple TV+, Channels

Apple March 25 unveiled a new Apple TV app — dubbed Apple TV Channels — as well as enhanced Apple TV+, an ad-free platform featuring original content, access to all 100,000 iTunes titles, in addition to third-party online TV channels and subscription streaming video services.

The Channels platform mirrors Amazon Prime Channels — the later affording Prime members direct access to third-party SVOD services, includes HBO Now, Showtime, Starz, Epix and CBS All Access, among others.

Apple said the new Apple TV+ app would be added as an upgrade to the existing Apple TV app, in addition to availability for the first time on the Mac computer this fall, in addition to smart TVs from Samsung, Sony, LG and Vizio, with availability on Roku and Amazon Fire TV.

Users can share Apple TV+ and related subscriptions to Apple TV channels with family members for no additional charge.

Pricing for Apple TV+ will be revealed later this fall. The apps, which are available in 10 countries, will be expanded to more than 100 countries this year.

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To help launch Apple TV+, and a reported $2 billion original content budget, the company brought out a slew of actors and directors to highlight the app, including Steven Spielberg, who talked about the reboot of “Amazing Stories,” bowing later this year.

Spielberg said he first came into contact with “Amazing Stories” through an anthology magazine his father “devoured” when Spielberg was a young boy. The director said he would be working with Apple to resurrect “this 93-year-old brand.”

“The stories he read to me were ‘amazing,’ or so it seemed to 5-year-old me,” Spielberg said. “That amazement is a human birthright. And we want to transport the audience with every episode.”

In addition, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carell introduced “The Morning Show,” an episodic series starring the trio and revolving around the morning television industry. It’s Aniston’s first TV show since “Friends.”

“We pull back the dynamic between men and women in the high-stakes world of morning news shows,” Witherspoon said.

“All of this and the chance to collaborate again has brought me back to television, and I’m really excited about it,” Aniston added.

The “Apple Special Event” event ended with Oprah Winfrey announcing her involvement with Apple TV+ through two original documentaries about mental health and workplace sexual harassment.

“We’re honored that the absolute best lineup of storytellers in the world — both in front of and behind the camera — are coming to Apple TV+,” Eddy Cue, SVP of Internet software and services, said in a statement. “Apple TV+ will be home to some of the highest quality original storytelling that TV and movie lovers have seen yet.”

Apple News+

The event’s first hour brought word of a new news subscription service, Apple News+, that for $9.99 a month gives subscribers access to newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times, as well as upwards of 300 magazine, including Billboard, Sports Illustrated, Essence, National Geographic, The New Yorker and People.

Subscriptions may be shared at no cost with family members. The app features animated magazine covers. Apple stressed that advertisers would not be able to track data.

The Wall Street Journal later issued a statement clarifying that not all content in its daily digital edition would be available through Apple News+. Participating publishers reportedly are splitting upwards of 50% revenue with Apple on the new service.

Apple Arcade

Apple also teased a credit card (backed by Goldman Sachs and MasterCard) dubbed Apple Card through its Apple Pay platform. It also announced an online video game platform, Apple Arcade, it said would enable users access to more than 100 premium games. The move follows Google’s announcement of game platform through YouTube.

Dallas Lawrence, chief brand officer for OpenX, an independent ad exchange, said the Apple announcements had more to do with distribution than content or celebrity.

“Despite all of the celebrity sizzle, the real meat of today had nothing to do with Reese Witherspoon or Oprah Winfrey. It has everything to do with Apple’s move to abandon its device strategy for OTT and bring Apple TV+ to Smart TVs everywhere,” said Lawrence.
He said internal research has shown OTT users do not want to be beholden to one device and operating system.
“Expanding Apple TV beyond Apple’s own device ecosystem shows that Apple understands that the platform is more important than the hardware, and this is a key move if they are going to become a ubiquitous video platform for every consumer,” Lawrence said.

Survey: Almost Half of Consumers Frustrated by Growing Number of Entertainment Subs and Services

Nearly half of consumers (47%) are frustrated by the growing number of subscriptions and services required to watch the entertainment they want, according to Deloitte’s 13th edition of the “Digital Media Trends survey.” Meanwhile, more than half of consumers (57%) express frustration when content disappears from their streaming libraries.

While consumers know exactly what they want to watch (69% of the time), they also expressed frustrations with content discovery across platforms:

  • Forty-three percent of consumers give up on the search for content if they can’t find it in a few minutes;
  • Forty-eight percent say content is hard to find across multiple services;
  • Nearly half (49%) say the sheer amount of content available makes it hard to choose what to watch.

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Consumers are also increasingly wary of how companies handle their data, with 82% citing they don’t believe companies do enough to protect their personal data, according to the study. Conversely, consumers overwhelmingly believe they are responsible for protecting (49%) and owning (88%) their data. Very few respondents (7%) believe that the government should play a role in protecting their data.

While streaming services may be frustrating to consumers, the survey also found consumer dissatisfaction with high volumes of advertising, pushing them away from pay TV.

  • Three quarters (75%) of consumers say they would be more satisfied with their pay-TV service if there were fewer ads, and 77% indicated ads on pay TV should be under 10 seconds;
  • Eighty-two percent believe there is excessive repetition of ads;
  • Forty-four percent of consumers cited “no ads” as a top reason to subscribe to a new paid streaming service;
  • While consumers indicated eight minutes per hour of ads as the right amount, they also report that 16 minutes or more is when they would stop watching.

“With more than 300 over the top video options in the U.S., coupled with multiple subscriptions and payments to track and justify, consumers may be entering a time of ‘subscription fatigue,'” said Kevin Westcott, vice chairman and U.S. telecom and media and entertainment leader, Deloitte LLP, in a statement. “As media companies and content owners wrestle with how to retain and grow their subscriber base, they should not only continue to strengthen their content libraries, quality, distribution and value, but also keep a close eye on consumer frustrations, including advertising overload and data privacy concerns.”

The average U.S. consumer now subscribes to three streaming video services, with 43% of consumers subscribing to both streaming and traditional pay television (TV) services, according to the study, which noted strong growth in streaming video subscription services (69%) and streaming music services (41%). Pay TV remained relatively flat with 65% of U.S. households subscribing, and 29% paying for live TV streaming services. High-quality, original content continues to be a dominant factor in streaming video growth, with 57% of current U.S. streaming consumers (and 71% of millennials, ages 22-35) subscribing to streaming video services to access original content.

The survey also found that 37% of U.S. millennials binge-watch every week, watching an average of four hours in a single sitting. Consumers also continue to spend more time streaming video from their paid services (46%) versus free video streaming services (29%). Consumers are not only binge-watching in high numbers, they are also streaming movies, with 70% of millennials reporting they stream movies weekly, and 40% doing so daily. Social media remains supreme with millennials (54%) in the search for new TV shows.

Study: U.S. SVOD Buyers Average 3.4 Services

Online video subscribers in the United States average 3.4 streaming services and pay an average of $8.53 per month per service, according to a new study.

The nScreenMedia study, “Keep My Customer — Why Consumers Subscribe To, Stay With, Cancel, and Come Back to Online Video Services,” also found that 70% of households in the United States and 40% of U.K. homes have a subscription to at least one streaming video service.

The study was commissioned by Vindicia, an Amdocs company providing business-to-consumer digital services monetization.

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Involuntary cancellation is a problem for the industry, according to the study. These payment failures occur when a credit card problem, such as insufficient funds, results in automatic cancellation of a customer. The study revealed that more than a quarter of U.S. and a third of U.K. online video streamers have had a SVOD service canceled due to a credit card problem. And of those groups, 30% did not return to the service.

“Involuntary cancellations are a huge problem for the SVOD industry, particularly among young subscribers,” said study author Colin Dixon, founder and chief analyst at nScreenMedia, in a statement. “Young adults from 18 to 34 years old are twice as likely to have experienced involuntary cancellation in the U.K., and three times more likely in the U.S.”

“For video streaming services, the ability to acquire and retain subscribers is vital to their success,” said Anthony Goonetilleke, group president, media, network and technology, Amdocs, in a statement. “However, streaming services are losing subscribers — and millions of dollars in annual revenue — due to involuntary credit card cancellations. This kind of customer churn is largely preventable. By leveraging the right technology, video streaming providers can recover failed payment transactions and capture revenue that would otherwise be lost, enabling them to better compete in a highly competitive market.”

In terms of overall cancellations, the survey looked at how often people cancel their service and their reasons for doing so. In the United States, 38% of the survey group said they have canceled one or more services in the last year. Of that group, two-thirds said they had canceled one service only, and just one in 10 have canceled three or more services.

Netflix users are slightly less likely than average to have canceled service in the last year, according to the study, while Hulu users are slightly more likely. Amazon Prime Video users are no more or less likely than average.

The top two reasons cited for canceling a video service: people couldn’t find enough content they liked and didn’t find the service a good value for their money.

Previous customers are the best new prospects, as the study found that 33% of U.S. and 25% of U.K. cancellers have been persuaded to sign up for service again.

Discounted subscriptions are an under-exploited opportunity for service providers to win new customers. The survey revealed that a 20% discount for a three-month commitment generated the highest interest level, with 66% of U.S. and 57% of U.K. subscribers saying they were likely or extremely likely to take the offer. Three months is an important milestone, because subscribers that stay this long are much less likely to leave the service. Surprisingly, the study found that offering more than a 20% discount did not result in more interest.

The study also found that free-trial abuse is not a serious problem for online video service providers. While 49% of U.S. and 62% of U.K. online video subscribers have canceled at least one service within the free trial period, only 5% in the U.S. and 2% in the U.K. have canceled within the free-trial period four or more times in the last year.

When it comes to retaining existing subscribers, content is king. The study found that 64% of U.S. subscribers and 55% of U.K. subscribers have been with their longest-tenured service for one year or more. When asked why they stay, respondents said having plenty of interesting content to watch was the top reason. Value for money was a close second place, and ease of finding something good to watch came in third. Interesting original content was the fourth reason, while providing plenty of new shows took the fifth-place spot.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s expanding influence in the VOD market is evident. The study found that one-third of U.K. and U.S. Prime Video subscribers have purchased an add-on video service, with higher income individuals more likely to use Amazon Prime Video and to purchase an add-on. In the United States, the most popular video add-ons are premium services such as HBO, Starz, Showtime and Cinemax. CBS All Access is also very popular. In the United Kingdom, the most popular video add-ons are Eurosport Player, Discovery, ITV Hub+ and FilmBox.

To learn more about the nScreenMedia study or to download a copy, visit here.

Oscar-Winning Documentary ‘Free Solo’ Streaming on Hulu

Hulu is now streaming Free Solo, the Academy Award-winning Best Documentary Feature highlighting soloist climber Alex Honnold.

The film, which began streaming on the service March 13, is from award-winning documentary filmmaker Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and world-renowned photographer and mountaineer Jimmy Chin. It’s an unflinching portrait of Honnold as he prepares to achieve his lifelong dream of climbing El Capitan, the 3,200-foot peak in Yosemite National Park, without a rope.

Free Solo is a true masterpiece that combines awe-inspiring camerawork with the kind of authentic storytelling that Hulu viewers love,” said Lisa Holme, VP of content acquisition at Hulu. “We couldn’t be more excited to partner with our friends at National Geographic Documentary Films to add this extraordinary film to the growing slate of award-winning documentaries available on Hulu.”

The documentary debuted at the Telluride Film Festival and has screened at more than 30 film festivals around the world, including TIFF, IDFA, Adelaide, Mill Valley Film Festival, DOC NYC and the Savannah Film Festival. It is the second highest-grossing documentary of 2018 in the United States and has been honored with a BAFTA for Best Documentary Feature, along with three Critics Choice awards, three Cinema Eye awards, an ACE award for Best Documentary, and PGA and DGA nominations, among several other recognitions.

PBS Distribution Launches Lifestyle Content Streaming Service PBS Living

PBS Distribution has launched PBS Living, a new streaming service featuring public media lifestyle content across the food and cooking, home, culture, and travel genres.

The service is available by subscription from Prime Video Channels on Amazon for $2.99 per month after a seven-day free trial.

The channel offers subscribers a curated selection of hundreds of episodes from award-winning series with new content to be added each month. Content includes both classic and current series, such as Julia Childs’s “The French Chef,” “This Old House,” “Antiques Roadshow,” “No Passport Required,” “Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street,” “America’s Test Kitchen” and “Born to Explore.”

“Public television has a long history as a home for unique and compelling lifestyle programs,” said Andrea Downing, co-president of PBS Distribution, in a statement. “We are excited to offer viewers another way to explore their passions and find inspiration through these series, with the convenience of being able to watch anywhere, at any time.”

Select programs are also streaming in PBS Passport, a digital member benefit available through local stations.

Research: More Than 52% of Broadband Households Report Watching Internet Video on a Connected TV

A majority (52%) of U.S. broadband households are watching online video on a TV that is connected to the internet, according to research from Parks Associates.

The study, 360 View: Digital Media and Connected Consumers, also finds that watching TV or movies at home is the most popular leisure activity among U.S. broadband households, with 55% selecting this among their top two favorite leisure activities.

“While the total number of hours consuming videos has declined, consumers are watching more internet video on the largest screen available,” said Billy Nayden, research analyst with Parks Associates, in a statement. “The number of hours consumers report watching video on a TV increased for the first time since 2014, with connected devices enabling internet video services on TV and shifting consumers away from PC and mobile viewing. As OTT competition becomes a battle for the living room, the challenge for device makers and content producers is finding the correct product mix to maximize both profit and utility.”

The study found subscriptions are the dominant business model for OTT services.

As more services emerge, many stakeholders fear an impending subscription overload in U.S. households, according to Parks.

“As consumers’ taste for OTT experimentation wanes, they will start to resist the push to add another monthly subscription to their households,” Nayden said in a statement. “Many providers are starting to lead with freemium and ad-based models, in anticipation of this pushback.”

Other findings were:

  • 19% of consumers subscribe to either Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime Video and another OTT service, compared to 13% in 2017;
  • Consumers watched 25.7 hours of video per week in 2018, down from 29.5 hours per week in 2016;
  • Local broadcast/channels and programs are the most enjoyed type of programming.

Roku Devices Link With Amazon Alexa

Roku streaming player and Roku TV owners in the United States can now control their Roku devices using Amazon’s Alexa, Roku announced.

“Consumers often have multiple voice ecosystems in their homes. By allowing our customers to choose Alexa, in addition to Roku voice search and controls, and other popular voice assistants; we are strengthening the value Roku offers as a neutral platform in home entertainment,” said Ilya Asnis, SVP of Roku OS at Roku, in a statement. “Roku customers can get to the entertainment they love faster so they can enjoy more of it.”

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Roku users with Alexa-enabled devices — including Amazon Echo, Echo Show, Echo Dot, Echo Spot and Echo Plus — can pause a show, launch a streaming channel and search for entertainment with such voice commands as, “Alexa, find comedies on Roku,” “Alexa, pause Roku” or “Alexa, open Hulu on Roku,” according to the Roku press release. Additionally, Roku TV users can turn on the TV, change the volume, mute the TV, switch inputs and change channels if there is an OTA antenna connected by saying, “Alexa, turn on Roku” or “Alexa, turn up the volume on Roku.”

Customers can control Roku devices running Roku OS 8.1 or greater using their Alexa-enabled devices. To access the feature, customers open the Alexa app, go to settings and select “TV & Video,” enable the Roku skill, and link their account.

The Roku OS offers access to 500,000-plus movies and TV episodes via thousands of free or paid channels, according to the release.