Netflix Acquires Animated ‘The Mitchells vs. The Machines’

Netflix has acquired the Sony animated film The Mitchells vs. The Machines.

The comedy follows a family who encounters a tech uprising while driving their daughter to film school. As robots and household appliances around the world start to go haywire, they have to work together to save the world.

Directed by Mike Rianda and produced by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the film features the voices of Danny McBride, Abbi Jacobson (“Broad City”) and Maya Rudolph.

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The film originally had the title Connected.

Netflix Renews ‘Bridgerton’

Netflix has renewed “Bridgerton” for a second season.

The romance series, which hit screens on Christmas, is produced by Shonda Rhimes (“Grey’s Anatomy”) and is based on Julia Quinn’s bestsellers. It follows eight close-knit siblings of the Bridgerton family looking for love and happiness in London high society.

The second season will premiere in spring of 2021, Netflix announced.

On Jan. 4, shortly after its premiere, Netflix reported “Bridgerton” was on track to be streamed by 63 million subscriber homes in the 28 days — the fifth-highest tally in the SVOD pioneer’s history. Netflix reported the series was ranked No. 1 across 76 countries worldwide.

The series was also the top binge on the TV Time charts for the week ended Jan. 17.

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Interpret: Discovery+ Fills Strong Niche

Discovery Channel’s new Discovery+ streaming service, which launched Jan. 4 in the United States, is filling a strong niche, according to Interpret research.

Available for $5 per month with a commercial-free version at $7 per month, the platform not only offers shows from Discovery Channel, with more than 55,000 episodes at launch, but also content from Discovery-owned HGTV, TLC, Food Network, Animal Planet, OWN, and more. Discovery also has partnerships with BBC, A&E, Group Nine, and others to provide additional content.

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“Discovery’s portfolio of channels offers an array of science, reality, and non-fiction programming, providing it with a unique niche of content that is differentiated from Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock, or other broadcast and cable TV network-oriented streaming services,” according to Interpret.

Interpret’s New Media Measure® found that this type of content is popular, with viewership of Discovery’s portfolio of channels ranging from 7% to 20% of pay-TV subscribers.

“Discovery is betting that those same people will happily pay $5 per month, particularly if they leave traditional pay-TV,” according to Interpret.

Discovery+ is already available in the United Kingdom and Ireland and intends to roll out to 25 international markets this year. A promotion from Verizon provides as much as one year free of Discovery+ to its wireless customers.

‘WandaVision,’ ‘Bridgerton’ Top TV Time Charts

Disney+’s “WandaVision” was the top rising show and Netflix’s “Bridgerton” was the top binge show on the TV Time charts for the week ended Jan. 17.

“WandaVision” is an episodic series featuring the Marvel characters of Wanda Maximoff (The Scarlet Witch) and Vision. Starring Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, the Disney+ series parodies classic TV shows.

Moving up from No. 2 to No. 1 on the binge chart was romance series “Bridgerton,” which hit screens on Christmas. Produced by Shonda Rhimes and based on Julia Quinn’s bestsellers, the Netflix series follows eight close-knit siblings of the Bridgerton family looking for love and happiness in London high society.

Taking the second spot on the binge chart was Netflix’s “Lupin,” which hit screens Jan. 8 and is based on the books. It follows a man whose life was turned upside down as a teenager when his father died after being accused of a crime he didn’t commit. Now, 25 years later, inspired by the adventures of Arsene Lupin, gentleman thief, he sets out to avenge his father for an injustice inflicted by a wealthy family.

Taking the bronze on the binge chart and the second spot on the rising show chart was the adult animated show “Disenchantment,” season three of which hit Netflix Jan. 15. Created by Matt Groening (“The Simpsons,” “Futurama”), the medieval fantasy series follows Bean, a rebellious and alcoholic princess, her elf companion Elfo and her “personal demon” Luci.

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TV Time is a free TV viewership tracking app that tracks consumers’ viewing habits worldwide and is visited by more than 1 million consumers every day, according to the service. The weekly “Binge Report” ranks shows with the most binge sessions. A binge session is when four or more episodes of a show are watched and tracked in the app in a given day. The “Shows on the Rise” chart is calculated by determining the week-over-week growth in episodes watched for a given program. The network displayed is the network where the show first aired (e.g. “Friends” on NBC).

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Top Binge Shows Week Ended Jan. 17 by Share of Binges:

  1. “Bridgerton” (Netflix) — 2.59%
  2. “Lupin” (Netflix) — 2.50%
  3. “Disenchantment” (Netflix) — 2.46%
  4. “Attack on Titan” (NHK) — 1.97%
  5. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (NBC) — 1.70%
  6. “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” (Netflix) — 1.66%
  7. “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC) — 1.55%
  8. “Modern Family” (ABC) — 1.39%
  9. “The Office” (NBC) — 1.39%
  10. “One Piece” (Fuji TV) — 1.34%

 

Top “Shows on the Rise” Week Ended Jan. 17 by Rise Ratio:

  1. “WandaVision” (Disney+) — 100%
  2. “Disenchantment” (Netflix) — 97.7%%
  3. “RuPaul’s Drag Race UK” (BBC Three) — 94.6%
  4. “Carmen Sandiego” (Netflix) — 93.8%
  5. “Servant” (Apple TV+) — 81.8%
  6. “Prodigal Son” (Fox) — 81.6%
  7. “That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime” (Tokyo MX) — 78.1%
  8. “Kemono Jihen” (Tokyo MX) — 78%
  9. “Log Horizon” (NHK) — 75.9%
  10. “The Resident” (Fox) — 75.3%

Cinedigm Acquires Fandor Streaming Service

Cinedigm has acquired Fandor, a subscription streaming service for independent films, documentaries and international features.

Fandor has a catalog of more than 4,600 film titles from more than 400 film companies.

Cinedigm plans to leverage its content library, technology, engineering and distribution capabilities to rapidly expand Fandor’s content offering, relaunch the service’s apps and dramatically expand distribution to Cinedigm’s global footprint of more than 900 million connected devices, according to a press release.

Cinedigm will continue to offer the service (currently at $5.99 per month) ad-free, but also plans to offer a free, ad-supported on-demand tier as well as a linear streaming channel.

Cinedigm plans to draw from a pool of more than 7,000 relevant film titles in its library, including thousands of classic, cult and foreign titles from streaming service The Film Detective, which it acquired in December 2020, according to the release.

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Cinedigm also plans to relaunch Keyframe, Fandor’s web and video-based publication dedicated to covering the art of cinema.

Phil Hopkins, president of Cinedigm’s Film Detective division, will oversee Fandor and Keyframe, with the goal of relaunching the service in the coming quarter.

“This acquisition of Fandor, coming on the heels of our Film Detective acquisition, solidifies Cinedigm’s position as the leading global streaming company for independent films,” Chris McGurk, Cinedigm chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “As a key element of our recently announced streaming rollup strategy, Fandor will immediately benefit from our streaming distribution muscle, huge library of independent films, Matchpoint technology, cost savings and infrastructure and synergies with our wide portfolio of enthusiast streaming channels. We fully expect an immediate EBITDA uplift from Fandor and strong revenue and profit growth going forward.”

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“The paradox of the streaming revolution is that it has never been harder to discover classic, essential and new independent and foreign films,” Erick Opeka, chief strategy officer and president of Cinedigm Networks, said in a statement. “The founders of Fandor had the right idea, launching very early in the streaming growth cycle while still establishing a strong and resilient brand and viewer base. Our mission at Cinedigm is to enable viewers, including independent film enthusiasts, to stream their passions, and I can’t think of a streaming service that is truer to our mission than Fandor.”

“The opportunity to leverage Fandor’s passionate community of independent film enthusiasts will be integral in the service’s growth,” Phil Hopkins, president of the Film Detective, said in a statement. “Being able to communicate and collaborate with this community of content creators, bloggers, and editorial writers will allow us to significantly expand Fandor into the global focal point for streaming independent films, documentaries, classics and foreign films.”

HBO Max Orders Series Based on Life of Julia Child

HBO Max has given an eight-episode first-season order to the Max Original “Julia,” based on the life of world-renowned chef Julia Child.

The series, from Lionsgate Television and 3 Arts Entertainment, stars Sarah Lancashire (“Happy Valley”) and David Hyde Pierce (“Frasier”), and is directed by Charles McDougall (“House of Cards”) and written by Daniel Goldfarb (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”).

The series is inspired by Child’s extraordinary life and her long-running television series, “The French Chef,” which pioneered the now popular genre of cooking shows. Through Julia and her singular can-do spirit, the series explores an evolving time in American history — the emergence of public television as a new social institution, feminism and the women’s movement, the nature of celebrity, and America’s cultural growth. At its heart, the series is a portrait of a loving marriage with an evolving and complicated power dynamic.

In addition to Lancashire and Hyde Pierce, the series also stars Brittany Bradford (Broadway’s Bernhardt/Hamlet), Fran Kranz (“Homecoming”), Fiona Glascott (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald), Bebe Neuwirth (“Madam Secretary”), Isabella Rossellini (Silent Retreat) and Jefferson Mays (“I Am the Night”).

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“We are so happy to help bring the incomparable Julia Child back to the small screen, when we need her more than ever,” Sarah Aubrey, head of original content for HBO Max, said in a statement. “This show’s look into her life, marriage and trailblazing career as she transformed the way we talk about food is an absolute delight. Our incredible cast and formidable creative team are a recipe for success, and we couldn’t be more excited.”

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“We’re delighted to expand our relationship with HBO Max by teaming with our production partners at 3 Arts on ‘Julia,’ the complex and compelling story of the celebrated chef, author and TV personality who almost single-handedly invented the world of food television,” Jocelyn Sabo, Lionsgate Television Group SVP, said in a statement. “Combining an extraordinary creative team, powerhouse cast and timely subject matter, the series has all the ingredients to resonate with HBO Max audiences for years to come.”

Nielsen at CES: Kids Titles Rule Movies, ‘The Office’ Tops TV Shows in 2020 Minutes Watched

Eight of the top 10 movies were kids’ titles, and “The Office” was by far the top TV show in minutes watched in 2020, according to Nielsen data presented during the virtual CES.

Meanwhile, Netflix’s “Ozark” topped streaming originals in minutes viewed. In fact, Netflix originals took nine of the top 10 on the minutes-watched originals chart, with Disney+’s “The Mandalorian” coming in at No. 5.

Americans streamed the equivalent of more than 100,000 years of “The Office,” said Brian Fuhrer, SVP, product strategy and thought leadership, Nielsen — with one episode, season four’s “Dundar Mifflin Infinity,” the most streamed episode at almost 31 years.

While Netflix got the benefit of devoted “Office” fans in 2020, Peacock this year acquired the rights to the NBC show.

“We don’t think ‘The Office’ is used up,” said Fuhrer, who noted fans watch the show almost as a comfort.

Kids’ films dominate minutes of movies streamed for a simple reason.

“The kids’ movies have the tremendous advantage of repeat viewings,” he said, as children will watch a film over and over.

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The top movie in terms of minutes watched was Frozen II, followed by, in order, Moana, Pets 2, Onward and Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch. Among non-kids’ titles, only Disney+’s streamed Broadway show Hamilton and Netflix’s Spenser Confidential cracked the top 10.

Among originals, following “Ozark,”  the top most watched programs in terms of minutes were three other Netflix shows, in order, “Lucifer,” “The Crown” and the infamous “Tiger King.” Coming in at No. 5 was Disney+’s “The Mandalorian.”

Fuhrer said the idea of stretching out episodes of a series to create “water cooler TV,” as Disney+ did with “The Mandalorian,” is a growing trend.

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“I think we’re going to see more and more of that,” he said, adding “Amazon did it with ‘The Boys’ to great success.”

While everyone streamed more during the pandemic, one of the biggest changes is how it attracted older viewers, who adopted it and kept on streaming.

“As the older demographic started to stream, there was a lot of sampling,” especially of AVOD services as they were free, he noted.

As theaters closed, first-run movies hit streaming, a trend that is here to say, he said.

“One of the things I find most fascinating was the opportunity to deliver first run movies to consumers,” he said.

While cinemas aren’t going to go away, first-run streaming will become a “bigger and bigger piece of the television pie over time,” he said.

Another trend is an explosion in streaming outlets.

“Fragmentation is hitting streaming just like it hit traditional TV,” he noted.

For these services, “distribution is critical,” he said.

“If it’s not available on the device you have, it’s invisible,” he noted.

Value is another battleground in the streaming marketplace, with consumers evaluating the price versus the quality of content.

Netflix Announces Two Production Facilities in South Korea

Netflix announced the establishment of two production facilities in Paju-si and Yeoncheon-gun, just outside of Seoul, in Gyeonggi Province, Korea.

At YCDSMC — Studio 139, the company will lease six stages and supporting spaces of approximately 9,000 square meters. At Samsung Studio, it will lease three stages of approximately 7,000 square meters.

From 2015 to 2020, Netflix’s investment in Korean content reached $700 million, with more than 80 shows made in Korea and watched by audiences around the world, according to the company. ​

“These two facilities are another important example of our continued commitment to investing in Korea’s creative ecosystem,” read a Netflix statement.

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Netflix is planning to support the production of upcoming Netflix Korean original series and films at the new spaces including the Korean adaptation of “La Casa de Papel.”

“Netflix is thrilled to deepen its investment in Korea, as well as Korean Films and Series,” Netflix VP of studio operations Amy Reinhard said in a statement. “With these new studios, Netflix is better positioned than ever to increase our production of great stories from Korea while also providing a wealth of production-related jobs for talented professionals in Korea’s creative community.”

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Members from the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Qatar, UAE, India and watched the recently released Netflix Korean original series “Sweet Home”; while Korean shows such as “Kingdom Season 2,” “The King: Eternal Monarch,” “Start-Up” and “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay” were amongst the most popular TV series in Hong Kong, Thailand, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan and beyond, according to the service.

Korean-made stories currently in production or development include “Move to Heaven,” “Kingdom: Ashin of the North,” “Silent Sea,” “Squid Game,” “Hellbound,” “All of Us are Dead” and “D.P.”

Discovery+ Launches in MENA Territories Via Starzplay

Discovery has formed a strategic partnership with the Starzplay SVOD service to launch its SVOD service Discovery+ across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) territories.

The deal allows Starzplay subscribers to watch Discovery+ content within a dedicated branded area across all Starzplay platforms in 18 countries and territories across MENA.

The Discovery+ service features a range of exclusive content and series across lifestyle and relationships; home and food; true crime; paranormal; adventure and natural history; science, tech and environment; and many high-quality documentaries.

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“The launch of discovery+ across MENA represents a major step toward adding 18 additional countries and territories to the global expansion of the platform, giving customers options to access the content that they love and have come to expect from Discovery,” Kasia Kieli, Discovery president and MD EMEA, said in a statement.

“The unprecedented growth of online streaming has driven the need for compelling content that provides value for subscribers,” Maaz Sheikh, CEO and co-founder of Starzplay, said in a statement. “We have built strategic partnerships to offer our subscribers more online content and varied choices We are confident that the discovery+ add on will be welcomed by the MENA audience and we look forward to growing this partnership further.”

Global Discovery+ franchises include “Shark Week,” “MythBusters,” “Gold Rush,” “Expedition Unknown,” “House Hunters International,” “90 Day Fiancé,” “NASA’s Unexplained Files” and “Say Yes to the Dress.” Subscribers also have access to Discovery+ originals, including “The Impossible Row,” “Amy Schumer Learns to Cook (Uncensored)” and “JonBenet Ramsey: What Really Happened?”

Additionally, Discovery+ will offer programs from the home of Arabic cooking, Fatafeat, along with a collection of environmental programming with access to the BBC’s natural history library, including “Planet Earth” and “Blue Planet.”

Discovery+ is available for an additional subscription price.

‘A Thousand Cuts’ Debuts Jan. 9 on PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel

The “Frontline” documentary A Thousand Cuts will debut on the PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel Jan. 9.

The film follows Philippine journalist and Time Person of the Year Maria Ressa as she is targeted by President Rodrigo Duterte for exposing the truth of the political corruption in her country on her news site, Rappler. The film offers an inside look at the key players in the escalating war between press and government in the Philippines and the ongoing threat against freedom of the press.

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It examines social media disinformation campaigns and the crackdown on the news media in the Philippines by Duterte — who has made Ressa one of his top targets. At great personal risk, Ressa has been at the forefront of holding Duterte and his government accountable for their violent war on drugs. In response, Duterte has barred Rappler reporters from the presidential palace and revoked Rappler’s license. Ressa herself has been charged with a cyber libel case. Ressa places the tools of the free press — and her own freedom — on the line in defense of truth and democracy in “A Thousand Cuts.”

The film received a Grand Jury Prize nomination from the Sundance Film Festival and a Best Documentary Award Nomination at the Gotham Independent Film Festival.

The subscription rate for the PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel is $3.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription.