Fox Nation Inks Warner Bros. Distribution Deal Featuring Clint Eastwood Titles

Fox Nation, Fox News Media’s conservative-leaning subscription streaming video-on-demand platform, has signed a distribution deal with Warner Bros. Pictures showcasing Clint Eastwood movies and documentaries.

In August, Fox Nation will begin to offer six movies from the 91-year-old actor/director icon, in addition to two original Eastwood-themed documentaries. In January 2022, the platform will also feature five Warner Bros. films in a “Who Can Forget The ‘80s” catalog package.

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Movies streaming on Fox Nation include Dirty Harry, The Enforcer, Sudden Impact, The Dead Pool, Pale Rider and Heartbreak Ridge.

Eastwood gained legendary status among conservative voters after speaking at the 2012 Republican National Convention. The actor also criticized former President Trump for his social media posts and personal attacks.

“I would personally like for him to not bring himself to that level,” Eastwood told The Wall Street Journal in 2020.

 “Clint Eastwood is somebody that our audience holds in very high esteem and is very iconic,” and “It’s all about the data,” Jason Klarman, Fox Nation president, said in a media statement. “We know when they are watching us and what they are going to watch.”

Warner Acquires Feature ‘The Fallout’ for HBO Max

Warner Bros. Pictures has acquired worldwide rights to the SXSW multiple-award-winning feature The Fallout for HBO Max.

Written and directed by Megan Park in her feature filmmaking debut, the film won the Grand Jury and Audience Awards for Narrative Feature, and Park won the Brightcove Illumination Award honoring a filmmaker on the rise at this year’s SXSW Film Festival. The film will release exclusively on HBO Max where available globally and will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures in the balance of international markets.

The cast includes Jenna Ortega, along with Maddie Ziegler, Niles Fitch, Will Ropp, Lumi Pollack, John Ortiz, Julie Bowen and Shailene Woodley.

The story follows high schooler Vada (Ortega) as she navigates the emotional fallout she experiences in the wake of a school tragedy. Relationships with her family and friends, as well as her view of the world, are forever altered.

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“Making The Fallout was a journey I never expected to take and one that has changed me forever,” stated Park. “If by seeing this film just one teen feels less alone, less afraid, or somehow understood, that will make the journey worth every step.”

“What Megan Park has created with The Fallout is a sensitive and moving story, marking a stunning debut behind the camera, with an exceptional young cast led by a revelatory and powerful performance by Jenna Ortega and an emotionally impactful turn from Maddie Ziegler,” said Carolyn Blackwood, COO, Warner Bros. Pictures Group, in a statement.

“We shot the film during the height of COVID and despite all the stoppages and setbacks, we knew we had to tell this story now. HBO Max is the perfect home for this film, and we are pleased to be working with the whole team at Warner Bros. to bring the film to audiences around the world,” stated producers Shaun Sanghani, David Brown, Rebecca Miller and Cara Shine.

The Fallout was produced by Shaun Sanghani of SSS Entertainment and David Brown of Clear Horizon alongside Rebecca Miller, Cara Shine and Todd Lundbohm. Joannie Burstein and Giulia Prenna also produced.

‘Dino Ranch’ Preschool Series Renewed for Second Season on Disney Junior and Disney+

The animated preschool series “Dino Ranch” has been renewed for a second season at Disney, the production company Boat Rocker announced. Season two will air on Disney Junior and Disney+ in the United States and Latin America beginning in 2022.

“Dino Ranch” has received an incredible response from kids and parents around the world and we couldn’t be happier to have the opportunity to produce a second season,” said Michel Pratte, president of Boat Rocker Media and GM of Boat Rocker Studios, in a statement. “The show is a shining example of franchise IP for Boat Rocker and we are looking forward to continuing to build brand affinity and engagement love for ‘Dino Ranch’ with our partners.”

“We’re very excited to continue our strong partnership with Disney for ‘Dino Ranch,’” said Jon Rutherford, president of Boat Rocker Studios, kids & family, and rights, in a statement. “Disney’s incredible support, along with the show’s ability to resonate with audiences through its unique blend of dinosaurs, family, and engaging storytelling has helped us achieve immediate success. With Season two, we plan on deepening engagement with our fans by unveiling new characters and locations, and many new thrilling adventures with the Cassidy family.”

“Dino Ranch” takes place on a working farm, home to the tight-knit Cassidy family: Ma (Jane), Pa (Bo), and their three adopted kids, Jon, Min, and Miguel. But it isn’t an ordinary ranch. The Cassidy family is in charge of rounding up, riding and caring for a lively herd of racing, roaring dinosaurs who are also their best friends.

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Boat Rocker has developed a licensing program for “Dino Ranch,” partnering with Jazwares on a line of “Dino Ranch”-themed toys that will be available in fall 2021. The company is also working with publishing partner Scholastic to design and produce a range of “Dino Ranch” readers, sticker storybooks, novelty, activity books, and audiobooks with products due to launch in the fall. Further licensees have been secured in the United States for apparel, bedding and bath, watches, Halloween costumes, and costume characters for live events.

“Dino Ranch” is created by Matt Fernandes (of Industrial Brothers) and produced by Industrial Brothers and Boat Rocker Studios, in association with CBC Kids and Radio-Canada. Boat Rocker Studios manages global franchise development, including content distribution and consumer products. Animation services for season two of “Dino Ranch” will be provided by Boat Rocker’s Jam Filled Entertainment.

‘Never Have I Ever’ Again Top Binge, ‘Sky Rojo’ Top Rising Show on TV Time Charts

Netflix’s “Never Have I Ever” was again the top binge show and the service’s “Sky Rojo”  was the top rising show on the TV Time charts for the week ended July 25.

Netflix’s Spanish series “Sky Rojo,” from the creators of “Money Heist,” follows a fatal turn of events at a brothel that sends three women haunted by their pasts on a wild run from their pimp and his henchmen. Season two debuted July 23.

Season two of the coming-of-age comedy “Never Have I Ever,” created by executive producer Mindy Kaling, debuted July 15. It continues to follow Indian American teenager Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), who deals with the everyday pressures of high school and drama at home, while also navigating new romantic relationships.

Repeated at No. 2 on the binge chart was “Atypical,” season four of which debuted July 9. It’s another coming-of-age story following Sam (Keir Gilchrist), a young man on the autism spectrum, as he searches for love and independence.

Taking the silver on the rising show chart was Amazon’s Indian series “Hostel Daze,” which follows four school friends in their first year. Season two of the series debuted July 23.

The bronze on the rising show chart went to Disney+’s “Marvel Studios: Assembled,” a documentary series that chronicles the creation of Marvel Studios’ new shows and theatrical releases.

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TV Time, a Whip Media company, is a free TV viewership tracking app that tracks consumers’ viewing habits worldwide and is visited by almost 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 July 25 by Share of Binges:

  1. “Never Have I Ever” (Netflix) — 6.68%
  2. “Atypical” (Netflix) — 3.19%
  3. “One Piece” (Fuji TV) — 1.87%
  4. “Elite” (Netflix) — 1.68%
  5. “Modern Family” (U.S.) (ABC) — 1.63%
  6. “Grey’s Anatomy” (U.S.) (ABC) — 1.56%
  7. “Virgin River” (Netflix) — 1.23%
  8. “The Good Doctor” (U.S.) (ABC) — 1.10%
  9. “Friends” (NBC) — 1.04%
  10. “Sky Rojo” (Netflix) — 0.96%

 

Top “Shows on the Rise” Week Ended July 25 by Rise Ratio:

  1. “Sky Rojo” (Netflix) — 95.7%
  2. “Hostel Daze” (Amazon Prime Video) — 95.2%
  3. “Marvel Studios: Assembled” (Disney+) — 93.8%
  4. “Squeezie” (YouTube) — 93.6%
  5. “The Movies That Made Us” (Netflix) — 91.5%
  6. “Power Book III: Raising Kanan” (Starz) — 84.8%
  7. “Touch Your Heart” (TVN) — 78.3%
  8. “Australian Survivor” (Nine Network) — 72.6%
  9. “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV+) — 62.7%
  10. “Lego Masters U.S.” (Fox) — 53.2%

Hub: Ad-Supported SVOD Tiers Gaining Popularity

As the cost of stacking multiple streaming subscriptions rises, free-ad-supported TV (FAST) platforms are gaining users.  But new data from Hub Research’s annual “Monetization of Video” study suggests that tiered platforms – where viewers can choose between a paid, ad-free option and a less expensive (or free), ad-supported option – appeal to the largest cross-section of viewers.

In the survey, conducted in June among 1,607 U.S. TV viewers age 16-74, respondents were divided into two groups. Each group was asked to choose from three hypothetical streaming services with identical content.

Group one chose from a paid, ad-free subscription, a free-with-ads service, and a paid, limited-ads subscription (“fewer ads than you’d see on regular live TV”).

Group two chose from the same options, except the limited-ads service was replaced with a paid service offering two tiers to choose from: ad-free and ad-supported.

According to the data, almost twice as many consumers chose the service with tiered options (36%) as the service with a limited-ad option only (19%).

The percentage of respondents choosing the tiered service was just as high as the percentage choosing free-with-ads, and higher than the percentage choosing the service with only a single, ad-free option.

In a question asked before the ad-supported tier of HBO Max launched last month, almost 40% of current HBO Max respondents said they’d consider switching to the ad-supported tier. But more than a quarter of those who don’t subscribe to Max said they’d consider signing up with a less expensive ad-supported tier as an option.

“It’s true that some TV viewers will do almost anything, including paying a premium, to avoid ads. But there are many who will choose ad-supported TV if it saves money or lets them watch a show they can’t watch somewhere else,” Jon Giegengack, one of the study’s authors said in a statement. “Tiered plans give viewers control of their experience.  Whether they watch with ads or not, everyone is getting an experience they chose, and not one chosen for them.

Netflix, Disney+, Hulu Take on Peacock in Tokyo Olympics Ad Competition

On the first prime time competitions broadcast July 24 of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics on NBC, Netflix made a quiet entry into the TV commercial competition.

The 30-second spot highlighting original content aired during broadcast of Team USA’s first medals at the Games, when male and female swimmers snatched six medals, including the country’s first Gold by Chase Kalisz in the men’s 400-meter individual medley.

Disney+ and Hulu carried ad spots on the second primetime broadcast on July 25.

The price for a 30-second prime-time commercial at the Tokyo Games reportedly exceeds $1 million.

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The Netflix spot was the only SVOD promo to go up against NBCUniversal’s non-stop run of commercials for Peacock, the hybrid SVOD/AVOD platform launched a year ago. The Games NBC Sports host Mike Tirico shrewdly called out Peacock screen shots that viewers could toggle to watch ongoing competition in other sports (women’s softball) as well as VOD recaps of the men’s cycling road race.

Netflix ended the most-recent fiscal period with almost 210 million global subscribers. It also lost 430,000 net subs in North America.

NBCUniversal is pulling out the stops in an effort to jumpstart Peacock, which reported 42 million sign-ups through the first quarter (ended March 31), but reportedly just 10 million paying subscribers — suggesting the service needs an Olympian boost.

Peacock is featuring live coverage of some the Games’ biggest events, including gymnastics, track & field, and the U.S. Men’s Basketball Team’s pursuit of their fourth straight gold. In addition, Peacock will feature new daily live shows, original programming, Olympics channels and curated highlights of NBC Olympics’ coverage. All of Peacock’s Tokyo Olympics programming will be available to stream for free, with exception of USA Men’s Basketball live coverage that will only be available to Peacock Premium subscribers.

Regardless, the Games’ appeal to U.S. TV viewers could be declining. The network’s broadcast of the opening ceremony reportedly drew 16.7 million viewers, the smallest U.S. TV audience for the event in the past 33 years. At the same time, streaming viewership increased to 17 million across all digital platforms, including NBCOlympics.com.

Billie Eilish Concert Film to Premiere Exclusively on Disney+ Sept. 3

The Billie Eilish concert film Happier than Ever: A Love Letter to Los Angeles will premiere globally Sept. 3 on Disney+.

Off the heels of her new album Happier than Ever, the Disney+ original will feature a performance of every song  in the album’s sequential order — for the first and only time — from the stage of the Hollywood Bowl. Directed by Robert Rodriguez and by Oscar-winner Patrick Osborne, the special will also include animated elements, taking viewers on a dreamlike journey through Billie’s hometown of Los Angeles and its most iconic backdrops. Happier than Ever: A Love Letter to Los Angeles features Finneas, the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by music and artistic director Gustavo Dudamel, and world renowned Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo, with orchestra arrangements by David Campbell.

“Disney is incredibly iconic, so to collaborate on something like this is a huge honor,” Eilish said in a statement. “To be able to present my album in this way and dedicate it to the city that I love and grew up in is so exciting to me. I hope you love it.”

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“We are all huge admirers of Billie and Finneas here in our household. They are such impressive, world class talents that it’s a real honor to work with them on this film,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “The way the narrative story and animated pieces weave through her incredible concert performance, makes this a spectacular event that is truly unique.”

“Billie has captivated fans around the world with her soulful voice and raw, honest lyrics, and we are proud to bring this incredibly cinematic and unique concert experience to Disney+,” Michael Paull, president, Disney+ and ESPN+, said in a statement.

WarnerMedia Launching CNN+ Streaming Service in Q1 2022

Calling it the most important launch since billionaire Ted Turner bowed the Cable News Network in 1980, WarnerMedia is hiring 450 staffers to help launch a branded subscription streaming video service in early 2022.

Dubbed CNN+, the venture joins a SVOD market saturated with myriad entertainment alternatives, and some news offerings. Fox News has Fox Nation and Paramount+ is streaming CBSN and other news-related content. Pricing for CNN+ was not disclosed.

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The platform will focus on video with a dedicated staff working in parallel with more than 4,000 CNN personnel around the world.

“CNN invented cable news in 1980, defined online news in 1995 and now is taking an important step in expanding what news can be by launching a direct-to-consumer streaming subscription service in 2022,” Jeff Zucker, chairman of WarnerMedia News and Sports and president of CNN Worldwide, said in July 19 statement.

The platform comes as more consumers are dropping pay-TV bundles for specific standalone over-the-top video alternatives. CNN reportedly generates $1 billion in annual revenue from its legacy TV networks worldwide.

“On top of a television offering that has never been stronger, which remains at the core of what we do today, we will offer consumers a streaming product that grows the reach and scope of the CNN brand in a way that no one else is doing. Nothing like this exists,” Zucker said.

The platform will be headed by Andrew Morse, chief digital officer, with upwards of 12 hours of live programming daily, original series, catalog content and localized features presented by existing and newly hired on-air talent.

CNN+ will launch with a deep library of nonfiction, long-form programming including past seasons of CNN’s award-winning original series and films, including “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown,” “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy,” “This is Life With Lisa Ling” and “United Shades of America” with W. Kamau Bell.

Additionally, CNN+ will build upon that library with new original series and films developed for CNN+, which will be unveiled later this year.

CNN will continue to have a single app where CNN+ subscribers can access CNN+ programing and pay-TV subs can get the “TV Everywhere” experience. The app will include CNN’s linear TV feeds of CNN, CNN International, HLN and CNN en Español channels, which will be available exclusively for pay TV subscribers. Pay-TV subs can also subscribe to CNN+ to access the full CNN+ programming all in one place.

“We are going to take a pretty big swing here, and the company’s behind it,” Morse told CNN. “It’s not going to be a news headline service.”

Theater Group Slams Disney’s ‘Black Widow’ PVOD Release Strategy Following Box Office Drop

NEWS ANALYSIS — Following the 80% drop at the domestic weekend box office for Disney/Marvel Studios’ Black Widow, which saw Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes sequel Space Jam: A New Legacy, featuring NBA superstar LeBron James, finish No. 1 in ticket sales, one interested party is blaming Disney+ and PVOD.

The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) has long been a champion of the theatrical window — the 90-day exclusive period enriching exhibitors and studios while laying the groundwork for secondary distribution channels such as packaged media retail, digital and pay-TV.

Disney, via Marvel superhero movies, dominated the last pre-pandemic theatrical year in 2019 with more than $11.1 billion in global box office revenue. But the times have changed, and with vaccinations becoming politicized and moviegoers now presented with earlier in-home movie access via HBO Max (Warner) and premium VOD (Disney, Universal, Lionsgate) and Paramount+ and Peacock (NBCUniversal), NATO is fuming at the fiscal repercussions.

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Indeed, Warner is releasing its entire 2021 theatrical slate — including Space Jam: A New Legacy — concurrently for free to subscribers on Max. Disney has made select movies (i.e. Black Widow) available for $29.99 purchase on Disney+.

Citing Black Widow’s excellent reviews, positive word of mouth, and strong previews and opening day total ($13.2 million/$39.5 million), the trade group was surprised by the movie’s 41% second-day drop in ticket sales, a weaker-than-expected opening weekend, and a stunning second weekend collapse in theatrical revenues.

“Why did such a well-made, well-received, highly anticipated movie underperform?,” the group asked in a July 18 statement.

NATO contends that despite assertions that the pandemic-era improvised release strategy was a success for Disney and the simultaneous home entertainment release model, the legacy exclusive theatrical release window translates into more revenue for all stakeholders in every cycle of the movie’s life.

Based on comparable Marvel titles, and other successful pandemic-era titles like F9: The Fast Saga and A Quiet Place Part II opening day to weekend ratios, NATO says Black Widow should have opened to anywhere from $92 million to $100 million. Based on preview revenue, compared with the same titles, Black Widow could have opened to anywhere from $97 million to $130 million.

Widow opened with a $80 million domestic box office weekend.

NATO contends early analysis pointed at the $60 million in Disney’s Premier Access (PVOD) revenue and compared it to the domestic theatrical of $80 million and suggested a success, especially since Disney keeps every dollar of home release.

“It does not,” writes NATO. “Approximately 15% of revenue goes to the various platforms through which consumers access Disney+. It ignores that Premier Access revenue is not newfound money, but was pulled forward from a more-traditional PVOD window, which is no longer an option.”

The trade group pointed out the average number of people per household in the U.S. is 2.37 — a number considered to be higher among family-oriented Disney+ households.

“How much password sharing is there among Disney+ subscribers?,” asked NATO. “Combined with the lost theatrical revenue and forgone traditional PVOD revenue, the answer to these questions will show that simultaneous release costs Disney money in revenue per viewer over the life of the film.”

Piracy no doubt further affected Black Widow’s performance, and will affect its future performance in international markets where it has yet to open.
Pristine digital copies became available within minutes of release on Disney+. Black Widow was the most pirated movie for the week endedJuly 12. It was also available on myriad illegal streaming sites all over the Internet.

NATO said similar digital piracy/password sharing occurred for all simultaneous releases, including Wonder Woman 1984, Godzilla vs. Kong, Cruella and Mortal Kombat).

“This did not happen for F9 or A Quiet Place 2,” wrote NATO. “How much money did everyone lose to simultaneous release piracy?”

The trade group suggests that the many questions raised by Disney’s limited release of streaming data opening weekend are being “rapidly answered” by Black Widow’s “disappointing and anomalous” performance.

“The most important answer is that simultaneous release is a pandemic-era artifact that should be left to history with the pandemic itself,” wrote NATO.

Data: U.S. Q2 SVOD Growth Cools, Except For Amazon Prime Video

With Netflix set to release second-quarter financials July 20, research firm Kantar suggests the fiscal period will be a wake-up call to U.S. subscription streaming video services when it comes to domestic growth.

Citing in-house data, London-based Kantar contends that a pandemic-related home confinement restrictions end, there has been a significant drop in the number of U.S. households taking out a new SVOD subscription in the past three months — down to 3.9% in Q2 2021 from 12.9% Q2 2020.

“This is the smallest growth in new subscribers we have recorded,” Jennifer Chan, consumer insight director at Kantar, wrote in a post.

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Among U.S. streaming platforms, Amazon Prime Video regained the top spot for new subscribers for the first time since Q3 2020. Prime Video gained market penetration, up three points to 58%, and ranked No. 1 in terms of new subscribers.

Kantar said Amazon is gaining subs through owned touchpoints such as offering a free trial and consumers visiting Amazon.com. Prime Video is currently among the highest for converted free trials at 31%, beaten only by Apple TV+ at 37%. Both factors indicate that Prime Video is still benefiting from the increase in Amazon Prime subscriptions taken out during lockdown.

Discovery’s branded SVOD platform, Discovery+, moved to No. 2 in terms of new subscribers, in just its second full quarter of operation. In Q2, Discovery+ generated one in 10 new SVOD subscribers according to the report.

The growth, combined with Prime Video, contributed to Netflix installed base declining to two-thirds of all U.S. subscribers — the behemoth’s lowest homeland penetration ever as streamer juggle increased competition. Meanwhile, the proportion of U.S. households who have a video subscription has remained consistent at 74.6%, meaning there are now 95.8 million households with subscriptions, as of June 2021.

Kantar said Disney+ series “WandaVision” was the top-rated title for the second quarter in a row, with Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” No. 2 and “Mare of Easttown” on HBO Max in third place.

Amazon Upping Pressure on Netflix

As well as gaining new subscribers, Prime Video’s average stacking of subscriptions increased from 2.6 to 2.8 year-over-year, compared with the market average of 3.1 to 3.8. This means there is less competition for viewership time and indicates that subscribers are getting what they need from fewer services.

When examining the reasons for satisfaction, the reports suggests Prime Video scores higher than the total market for touchpoints such as ease of use (48% vs 44%), the amount of original content (44% vs 41%) and value for money (44% vs 41%).

Over the past year, despite new entrants to the market such as HBO Max, Discovery+ and NBCUniversal’s Peacock, Amazon’s content acquisition has remained strong. This reflects the caliber of original content such as “The Boys” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

Kantar made no mention of Amazon’s $8.5 billion acquisition of MGM Studios.

“As people return to bricks and mortar stores, it will be interesting to see whether Prime Video’s original content can carry them through and prevent subscribers from canceling their Prime subscription,” Chan wrote.

Finally, Netflix’s share of SVOD-enabled U.S. households is at its lowest, down to 67%, from 74% in Q2 2020, and similarly its share of new subs hit 6% this quarter, down from 13% a year ago. Although the market share outranks the competition, the saturation of SVOD services may be resulting in Netflix subs trading the service in for a newer model, according to Kantar.

Whereas Disney+, Hulu and HBO Max take the top spots for content this quarter, Netflix comes in fourth and fifth position with “The Crown” and “Lucifer.”

“This is the first time they have missed out on a top three spot for content enjoyed for at least the past five quarters,” Chan wrote.

Indeed, Netflix went from having the lowest stacked subscriptions of the main services at 2.5 last year to three, meaning that Prime Video now has a lower average. This is another indication of Amazon managing to navigate the new landscape. In addition, the most common stacks for Netflix subs are Netflix, Prime Video and Hulu.

The report found that the cost of SVOD service stacking can quickly add up and Netflix subs cited saving money as the top reason (31%) for canceling service.

Interestingly, Netflix has the highest proportion of subscribers who say that someone else pays (27.4%), compared with Disney+ (26.3%) and Hulu (23.1%), suggesting a lot of account sharing is taking place.

Perhaps media attention around Netflix clamping down on account sharing has cast the streamer in a negative light among some subscribers. This may explain why Netflix received its lowest NPS score over the last five quarters with a score of 37, according to Kantar.

Stacked Subscriptions Continue to Climb

With three-quarters of U.S. households now accessing SVOD services, growth is slowing as subs now seek content rather than standalone gateways to streaming. In addition, with the rise in ad-supported VOD platforms, price sensitive consumers now have more options to drive down subscription costs.

HBO Max is launching an ad-supported option this month. For those stacking multiple subscriptions, $9.99 for HBO’s ad-free version is more attractive to a subscriber already paying $30 to $40 a month for SVOD, than Max’s $14.99 ad-free offer.

“If the content is there and the interface is good, consumers are still satisfied with ad-supported services,” Chan wrote.