Cinedigm Acquires Horror Streaming Service Screambox

Cinedigm Corp. has acquired Screambox, an enthusiast streaming service targeting the horror genre.

Called “The Perfect Horror Streaming Alternative to Netflix” by Tech Times and named one of the best Streaming Services for 2021 by PC Mag, according to a Cinedigm release, Screambox features a mix of content for casual and die-hard horror fans.

The service, which launched in 2015, is available across the web, mobile devices, Connected TVs, and as an Amazon Prime Channel, among other outlets.

Cinedigm will leverage its horror and thriller content library, app technology, and Matchpoint distribution platform to expand Screambox’s content offering, according to the release. The company will relaunch the service’s apps and expand distribution to Cinedigm’s more than 900 million global connected device footprint. Cinedigm also plans to expand the distribution of Screambox to its base of third-party subscription channel partners, including Roku, Comcast, Sling TV, Dish Network and others.

“The company anticipates the service could reach seven figure subscriber levels within the first 36 months after the acquisition is completed, with a focus on rapid global expansion and distribution,” according to the press release.

Cinedigm will continue to offer Screambox on a subscription basis alongside Bloody Disgusting TV, an ad-based horror service operated in partnership with Bloody Disgusting, the largest horror website with more than 20 million monthly visitors. The company will also bundle subscription offers with its fandom subscription service, CONtv, for one price and will draw from a pool of more than 4,000 relevant film titles in its library, including thousands of newly obtained classic, cult and foreign horror titles from streaming service The Film Detective, which it acquired in December 2020.

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Cinedigm plans to more than double the available content on Screambox over the next 90 days, according to the press release.

Larry Baird, Screambox chief operating officer, will remain on board to oversee the transition.

The acquisition of Screambox follows Cinedigm’s recent acquisition of Fandor, an independent film subscription streaming service, and The Film Detective, focused on classic film and television programming.

“The acquisition of Screambox is another huge streaming opportunity for Cinedigm,” Chris McGurk, Cinedigm chairman, said in a statement. “Having just acquired Fandor, which The Wall Street Journal called ‘the Netflix of independent film,’ we see that same kind of potential for Screambox in the huge, underserved horror category where millions of enthusiasts around the world are looking for a widely-distributed streaming channel with a huge volume of premium horror content. Dan March, Screambox Founder, and his team did a fantastic job in laying the groundwork for all that, and we intend to deliver on his vision.”

“Despite more than 145,000 horror films listed in The Internet Movie Database, less than 5% of the genre is currently available for fans to enjoy in a subscription environment,” Erick Opeka, chief strategy officer of Cinedigm, said in a statement. “We plan to immediately expand that opportunity by building on top of the great foundation Screambox provides into a massive, global library of the world’s best classic, contemporary and foreign horror content — that will create a seven-figure subscriber opportunity in success.”

Interpret: 90% of Apple TV+ Subs Own at Least One Apple Device

Interpret research found that 90% of Apple TV+ subscribers own at least one Apple device, with 42% owning four or more Apple products.

Apple’s SVOD service (regularly $4.99 a month) has been free to any users who purchased an iPhone or other iOS device in late 2019. After extending the free period through February, the company extended the free service through July.

Pundits have noted that Apple TV+ lags in content offerings compared to other subscription streaming services, such as Disney+ and Netflix.

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Among those who cancelled their Apple TV+ subscription, nearly a third did so because of a “promotional price ending,” suggesting that viewers were anticipating the end of their free trials, according to Interpret.

 

Sling TV Raises Prices

Sling TV Jan. 27 raised prices for Sling Orange and Sling Blue base service customers to $35 per month, an increase of $5 per month. Via the multi-service discount, customers can get both Sling Orange and Sling Blue for $50 per month, also an increase of $5 per month.

Existing customer prices will not change through July 2021, when their existing subscription remains active.

“Unfortunately, we are forced to raise prices because the television networks keep charging us more, but we fight hard to get the best deal for our customers,” Michael Schwimmer, group president of Sling TV, said in a statement. “The proof of our commitment is apparent, as Sling TV is still the best deal in the market, keeping our prices much lower than cable and other live streaming services. Sling TV customers can rest assured that we’ll continue to offer the best combination of live news, sports and entertainment cable channels at the best value.”

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The company also instituted new pricing for Sling TV extras:

  • Sports Extra: New customers with Sling Orange or Sling Blue will now pay $11 per month (an increase of $1 per month); new customers who subscribe to both Sling Orange and Sling Blue will continue to pay $15 per month.
  • All other Extras: New customers who subscribe to Comedy Extra, Kids Extra, News Extra, Lifestyle Extra, Hollywood Extra and/or Heartland Extra, will now pay $6 per month for each Extra (an increase of $1 per month).
  • Total TV Deal: New customers who want all the programming Sling TV has to offer can now subscribe to the Total TV Deal for $21 per month with a Sling Orange or Sling Blue service (an increase of $1 per month), or $27 per month for new customers subscribed to both Sling Orange and Sling Blue (increase of $2 per month). The Total TV Deal provides customers with DVR Plus and all seven Sling TV Extras (Sports Extra, Comedy Extra, Kids Extra, News Extra, Lifestyle Extra, Hollywood Extra and Heartland Extra), a value of up to $56 per month.

 

All Sling Orange and Sling Blue customers will receive a free preview of Sling TV’s “4 Extras Deal” through Feb. 15. The 4 Extras Deal provides customers with Kids Extra, News Extra, Lifestyle Extra and Comedy Extra for $12 per month (a savings of $12 per month if purchased separately).

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Sling TV also expanded its DVR offerings to all existing and new subscribers. Sling TV customers can now enjoy 50 hours of free DVR storage, an increase from 10 free storage hours, or upgrade to “DVR Plus” for 200 hours of storage, up from 50, for $5 per month.

“A robust DVR feature is a must-have for a premium entertainment experience — customers have told us they want more, and we delivered,” said Schwimmer in a statement. “By more than quadrupling DVR for all customers at no charge, Sling TV continues to provide the best value for pay-TV in the industry.”

All existing DVR Plus customers will automatically receive 200 hours in their storage, starting Jan. 28.

Hulu Officially Launches Watch Party Feature

Hulu has officially launched the “Watch Party” feature for Hulu subscribers on Hulu.com, allowing up to eight Hulu subscribers to watch together.

After launching Hulu Watch Party through the “Watch Party” icon on each title’s Details page, viewers can share a link with up to seven other Hulu subscribers to join. Viewers must be 18 years of age or older to access the feature. While watching, group members are able to react in real-time through the chat function and control their own playback.

“Pen15” and “The Bachelorette” have been popular titles for Watch Party during the testing period, according to the service.

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Lionsgate Play SVOD Service Bows in India

Starz has launched the direct-to-consumer OTT app Lionsgate Play in India, making premium Hollywood content available in multiple Indian languages, the company announced.

The service is priced at INR 699 for a year or INR 99 per month. In India, the app will be available to download across platforms and devices including the Google Play store, Apple app store and Amazon firestick.

New content available at launch includes the Anna Kendrick starrer “Love Life,” a fresh take on a romantic comedy anthology series; “No Man’s Land,” a Syrian civil war series; and “The Goes Wrong Show,” a comedy series with each episode having a different theme, including a period romance, spy thriller, a Deep South melodrama and a Christmas fable.

Movies offerings include the Jennifer Lopez starrer Hustlers, Gerald Butler’s action thriller Angel Has Fallen, the fantasy thriller Hellboy, and the action comedy The Gentlemen, starring Matthew McConaughey, Colin Farrell and Hugh Grant.

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Starz first launched internationally with its Starzplay international premium streaming platform in 2018. This month it will expand its global footprint into 55 countries throughout Europe, Latin America, Canada, Japan and India.

“India has always been a key market for us,” Jeffrey A. Hirsch, president and CEO of Starz, said in a statement. “The large and diverse population, increased data usage in urban and rural markets, and adoption of OTT across all demographics created an exciting opportunity for us to launch Lionsgate Play. We’re confident that our unique, exclusive and exceptionally curated content will generate a great response from Indian audiences.”

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“We will also be launching Indian originals in the coming months, featuring untold edgy urban stories from some of the best creative minds in the Indian film industry,” Rohit Jain, managing director of Lionsgate South Asia, said in a statement. “And we will continue our Lionsgate Play journey by adding to our deep roster of premium content through partnerships with exciting millennial stars like Kriti Sanon, Tiger Shroff and Sanjana Sanghi increasing the breadth and scope of entertainment for our subscribers.”

Apple TV+ to Bow ‘Hedy Lamarr’ Starring Gal Gadot

“Hedy Lamarr,” an eight-episode limited series starring and executive produced by Gal Gadot (“Wonder Woman” franchise), will premiere globally on Apple TV+.

The series is written and executive produced by Golden Globe Award winner Sarah Treem (“The Affair,” “House of Cards,” “In Treatment”).

Hailed as “the most beautiful woman in the world,” Hedy Lamarr was first exalted and iconized, then destroyed and eventually forgotten by American audiences, all the while keeping her brilliant mind active through a series of inventions, one of which became the basis for the spread spectrum technology used today. The series will follow the life story of the Hollywood glamour girl, spanning 30 years from Hedy’s escape from prewar Vienna, to her meteoric rise in the Golden Age of Hollywood, to her fall and eventual disgrace at the dawn of the Cold War.

The notion for the historical drama originated from Gadot and producing partner Jaron Varsano (“My Dearest Fidel”), who then partnered with Emmy and BAFTA Award winner Warren Littlefield (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) and Treem, the latter of whom created the series, according to an Apple release.

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In addition to Gadot and Treem, “Hedy Lamarr” will be executive produced by Littlefield and Katie Robbins (“The Affair”). Gadot and Varsano will produce through their production company, Pilot Wave. Adam Haggiag (Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story) and Alexandra Dean (Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story) will serve as co-producers, with Hedy Lamarr’s children Anthony Loder and Denise Deluca consulting on the series.

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Apple TV+ is available on the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, Mac, select Samsung and LG smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices, as well as at tv.apple.com, for $4.99 per month with a seven-day free trial. The Apple TV app will be available on Sony and VIZIO smart TVs later this year, according to the release.

DC’s ‘Stargirl’ Top Rising Show, CW’s ‘Dynasty’ Top Binge on TV Time Charts

DC’s “Stargirl” was the top rising show and the CW’s “Dynasty” was the top binge on the TV Time charts for the week ended May 24.

“Stargirl,” based on the DC comics character, debuted on the DC Universe streaming service May 18 airing the following day on The CW. It follows a high school sophomore who discovers a cosmic staff.

Taking the silver on the rising chart was TNT’s “Snowpiercer,” which premiered May 17. The futuristic drama follows up on the graphic novel and the 2013 film from Bong Joon-ho (Best Picture Oscar winner Parasite). Seven years after the world becomes a frozen wasteland, the series follows the passengers of the Snowpiercer train while exploring class warfare and the politics of survival.

“Trailer Park Boys: The Animated Series,” season two of which debuted May 22 on Netflix, came in at No. 3 on the rising show chart. The Canadian animated mockumentary TV series focuses on the misadventures of a group of trailer park residents, some of whom are ex-convicts, living in the fictional Sunnyvale Trailer Park in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

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Top binge “Dynasty” is a reboot of the 1980s soap opera. It led perennial binges “Friends” and “The Office,” at Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, on the binge chart.

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 May 24 by Share of Binges:

  1. “Dynasty” (The CW) — 2.18%
  2. “Friends” (NBC) — 1.71%
  3. “The Office” (NBC) — 1.68%
  4. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (NBC) — 1.48%
  5. “Dead to Me” (Netflix) — 1.46%
  6. “Modern Family” (ABC) — 1.40%
  7. “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC) — 1.32%
  8. “The 100” (The CW) — 1.31%
  9. “How to Get Away With Murder” (ABC) — 1.28%
  10. “Skam Italia” (TIMvision) — 1.24%

 

Top “Shows on the Rise” Week Ended May 24 by Rise Ratio:

  1. “Stargirl” (DC Universe) — 99.9%
  2. “Snowpiercer” (TNT) — 99.7%
  3. “Trailer Park Boys: The Animated Series” (Netflix) — 96.4%
  4. “Selling Sunset” (Netflix) — 92.4%
  5. “Homecoming” (Amazon) — 88.1%
  6. “Super Dragon Ball Heroes” (YouTube) — 79.3%
  7. “Ex on the Beach” (MTV Brazil) — 79.1%
  8. “Inhuman Resources” (Arte) — 73.5%
  9. “Dynasty” (The CW) — 70.7%
  10. “Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj” (Netflix) — 65.4%

Netflix Helping Long-Dormant Subs Cancel Service

Netflix in a blog May 21 announced it is sending emails to long-dormant subscribers asking them if they would like to cancel the service.

The emails will go to those not using the service for more than a year. If they don’t reply to the email, Netflix will automatically cancel their subscription.

“You know that sinking feeling when you realize you signed up for something but haven’t used it in ages?,” wrote Eddy Wu of product innovation. “At Netflix, the last thing we want is people paying for something they’re not using.

“So we’re asking everyone who has not watched anything on Netflix for a year since they joined to confirm they want to keep their membership. And we’ll do the same for anyone who has stopped watching for more than two years. Members will start seeing these emails or in app notifications this week. If they don’t confirm that they want to keep subscribing, we’ll automatically cancel their subscription.”

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Such inactive accounts represent less than half of 1% of Netflix’s overall member base, according to the blog, amounting to “a few hundred thousand,” and are already factored into financial guidance.

“We’ve always thought it should be easy to sign up and to cancel,” read the blog. “So, as always, anyone who cancels their account and then rejoins within 10 months will still have their favorites, profiles, viewing preferences and account details just as they left them. In the meantime, we hope this new approach saves people some hard-earned cash.”

Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt to Star in Feature ‘Ball and Chain’ for Netflix

Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt will star in the feature Ball and Chain for Netflix.

Loosely based on the 1990s comic book, the film follows a troubled married couple that receives superpowers that only work when they are together.

“Netflix is the perfect partner to deliver this epic superhero/romantic comedy experience alongside us, and we’re excited to be back in business with the Netflix team,” Dwayne Johnson, star, producer, and co-founder of Seven Bucks Productions, said in a statement. “I’m also excited to not only reunite with dear friend Emily Blunt in front of the camera, but to also collaborate as producing partners as we bring Emily V. Gordon’s script to life.”

Johnson and Blunt co-star in Disney’s Jungle Cruise, which will be released next summer.

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“We’re thrilled to continue the evolution of our partnership with Netflix and welcome Ball and Chain into the Seven Bucks universe,” Dany Garcia, producer on the film and co-founder of Seven Bucks Productions, said in a statement. “Our Netflix partnership is rooted in our mutual understanding that investing in the right stories with universal appeal is our number one priority. The incomparable chemistry of our leads and powerful storytelling elements will ignite fans across the globe. We can’t wait to bring this electric story to life.”

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“Dwayne and Emily have a chemistry together that is unmatched in our business right now,” Scott Stuber, head of Netflix film, said in a statement. “They are the perfect duo to bring Emily V. Gordon’s electric superhero story to life, and take the world of Ball and Chain to new heights. We couldn’t be happier to be in business with Emily Blunt, as well as continue our relationship with Dwayne, Seven Bucks and Kevin Misher.”

Reese Witherspoon to Star in Pair of Rom-Coms for Netflix

Netflix has reached an agreement with Reese Witherspoon and her company Hello Sunshine to produce two romantic comedy features starring Witherspoon.

Your Place or Mine is based on an original script from Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”), who will be making her feature directorial debut. Jason Bateman and Michael Costigan will produce the film through Aggregate Films, as part of their first-look deal with Netflix, alongside Witherspoon and Lauren Neustadter for Hello Sunshine and McKenna for Lean Machine. The story follows two long-distance best friends who change each other’s lives when she decides to pursue a lifelong dream and he volunteers to keep an eye on her teenage son.

The Cactus is based on Sarah Haywood’s New York Times bestselling novel of the same name and was Witherspoon’s Book Club pick in June 2019. Witherspoon and Neustadter will produce for Hello Sunshine. In the story, an unexpected pregnancy at 45 causes a reserved woman to rethink the structured life she has created for herself and leads her on an unconventional journey toward love, family and learning to embrace the unexpected.

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“We have been looking for the right feature opportunities to collaborate with Ted Sarandos, Scott Stuber and the entire team at Netflix for a while and we couldn’t be more excited to be working with them on these two romantic comedies,” said Witherspoon in a statement. “Both Sarah Haywood’s and Aline Brosh McKenna’s stories blend everything we love about traditional rom-coms with strong, smart and determined female leads. “

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“Jason and I are thrilled to be producing Aline’s feature directorial debut with our great friends and partners at Netflix, and with a giant talent and friend like Reese and Hello Sunshine,” Michael Costigan said in a statement on behalf of Aggregate Films. “This is the perfect home for our movie, and with the ideal creative partners to be making a sophisticated and very contemporary romantic comedy that we believe global audiences will be excited to see.”

“We are thrilled to work alongside our long-standing partners and friends, Jason and Michael at Aggregate on Your Place or Mine,” said Scott Stuber, head of Netflix Films, in a statement. “They brought us this brilliantly funny romantic comedy from Aline that we immediately fell in love with and can’t wait to work with the Aggregate and Hello Sunshine teams on bringing it to life.

“Reese and her team at Hello Sunshine have made a tremendous mark on the industry and we’re excited to have found two terrific projects to collaborate with them on.”

“I’m the hugest Reese Witherspoon fan on earth, not just of her immense talents as an actor but also her producing skills,” said Brosh McKenna in a statement. “I couldn’t be more excited to direct this movie for Netflix, working alongside Aggregate and Hello Sunshine.”