Nielsen: Disney’s ‘Soul’ Tops Weekly Streaming Chart

The debut of Disney/Pixar’s Soul on Christmas made the animated movie No. 1 on Nielsen’s weekly Top 10 streaming chart Dec. 21 – 27, 2020. The movie generated 1.67 billion minutes streamed on televisions, topping Netflix’s final week exclusively streaming “The Office,” with 1.43 billion minutes across 192 episodes. Netflix’s original series, “Bridergton,” tracked 1.2 billion minutes across eight episodes.

Disney made additional news by placing two programs on the chart, the first SVOD to do so in the Netflix-dominated era. The week also saw four movies in the Top 10 for the first time.

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Persons 2+ Total Minutes Viewed – Week of 12/21/20 – 12/27/20
Source: Nielsen SVOD Content Ratings (Amazon Prime, Disney+, Hulu, and Netflix), Nielsen National TV Panel, U.S. Viewing through Television.

Doc ‘Fake Famous’ About Social Media Influencers Debuting on HBO Max, HBO Feb. 2

The documentary Fake Famous, about social media influencers, will debut on HBO Max and HBO Feb. 2.

From first-time director and veteran journalist Nick Bilton, the film explores the industry of social media influencers through a social experiment. The film’s journey is driven by the casting of three people in Los Angeles who all have relatively small social followings and the attempt to grow them into famous influencers. By purchasing fake followers and an army of bots to “engage” with their social media, the newly made “influencers” discover both the wonders and costs of this unlikely, immersive lifestyle. Each of their stories illuminates the ephemeral world of online influence and the realities of a lifestyle based largely on fantasy.

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Bilton, a technology journalist, explores a fundamental question: What is fame and influence in the digital age? There are now hundreds of millions of people on social platforms who have such large followings that they are considered to be a new kind of celebrity. But are they really famous? Bilton and his team set out to explore what it all really means. Peeling back the layers to reveal what’s really happening behind the scenes of influencer fame, Fake Famous illuminates our obsession with the numbers of likes, followers and favorites we get, and how most of our online world is much more fabricated than we realize.

Joining Bilton in providing insights into today’s social media landscape are interviewees including New York Times technology reporter Taylor Lorenz; Liz Eswein of @newyorkcity; Bloomberg technology reporter Sarah Frier; Justine Bateman, author of “Fame: The Hijacking of Reality”; and others.

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%

Kantar: HBO Max Took 20% of New SVOD Subs in Q4

Broader app placement and a hit movie certainly have helped WarnerMedia’s HBO Max subscription streaming service, with a new data from Kantar Worldpanel showing the service took 20% of all new SVOD subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2020 ended Dec. 31, 2020.

That’s up from 13.4% in the third quarter. The research firm said last year ended with 233 million SVOD subs in the U.S.

For the full year, Disney+ led all services with 18.3% of new subs, followed by Amazon Prime Video (17%), Hulu (13.2%), Netflix (12.5%), Max (12%) and Apple TV+ (6.2%).

In the crowded SVOD market, HBO Max launched last May and struggled out of the gate due to a variety of issues, including disputes with Roku and Amazon over app placement and a confusing debut while HBO Go and HBO Now were still operational.

Since then, the two other HBO streaming services have been shuttered and Max has become available on Roku and Amazon Fire TV. But perhaps the service’s biggest boost was the same-day streaming access to theatrical release Wonder Woman 1984.

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Dominic Sunnebo, SVP at Kantar, contends that while Netflix subs remain highly engaged, the content slate and current pricing proposition does not appear strong enough to drive continued subscriber growth in the presence of multiple highly competitive service launches.

Of course, Netflix again defied naysayers, besting Q4 subscriber growth estimates and generating a record 37 million in new subs in 2020. The service ended the year with more than 203 million subs worldwide.

Pandemic Insight: SVOD, Movie Transactions, Churn Soar; AVOD Ads Decline

A silver lining in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has been a surge in home entertainment activity among consumers either on mandated lockdown or deprived of live and theatrical or venue options. Paid subscriptions are the dominant business model for streaming video services in the U.S., although competition from free ad-supported services is growing. Or is it?

The data is clear: SVOD services such as Netflix and Disney Plus have seen skyrocketing sub growth worldwide as consumer gravitate toward on-demand movies and TV shows. Upstart rival ad-supported VOD also experienced usage increases — and advertising declines.

Roy Morgan research in Australia found subscription TV services made large gains during 2020 with viewership soaring for the top five services compared to 2019. The strong increases across the board meant that more than 80% of Aussies (17.3 million), now watch SVOD in an average four weeks — up by more than 2.4 million viewers on a year ago.

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“Netflix remains the clear market leader in Australia and grew its viewership by 2.26 million (up 19%) from a year ago to 14.17 million viewers. Over two-thirds of all Australians aged 14+ (67.2%) now watch Netflix in an average four weeks,” read the report.

Media Partners Asia found that in Indonesia about 7 million people have subscriptions across the Top 10 services — up 3.6 million subs between Sept. 5th 2020 to Jan. 6th 2021. The research shows the top 4 Aussie platforms account for 83% of the total subscriber base with Disney+ Hotstar in the lead with 2.5 million new customers, followed by Viu (1.5 million), Vidio (1.1 million) and Netflix (850,000).

At the same time, ad-supported VOD saw a slight decline (5%) in annual ad impressions due to COVID-19 and the resulting fluidity in ad creatives and ad campaigns as the pandemic undermined content creation, according to new Canoe data.

“The lockdown measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 created a boost in viewership from March through May. Then, September through December viewing was impacted due to production shutdowns, delaying new fall-season entertainment content,” read the report.

Meanwhile, Deliotte found the pandemic has increased one-off content viewing among new SVOD viewers and slowed some churn among existing subs. The consulting giant found that among survey respondents who cut a streaming service since the start of the pandemic, 62% had signed up to watch a specific show and then cancelled once they were done. And they canceled quickly: 43% canceled the same day they decided they no longer wanted the service.

Overall, data from May to October 2020 suggests that SVOD providers may be getting better at demonstrating value to consumers. Those consumers who canceled due to cost fell from 36% to 31%, and those who left after a free trial or discount ended also decreased from 35% to 28%. By October 2020, 25% of subscribers had canceled a service and replaced it with another new service, up from 17% in May.

Notably, Deloitte found that 90% of respondents who paid to watch new movie releases at home said they would likely do so again — underscoring Hollywood’s move to offer new movies to consumers directly in the home sooner. Indeed, 23% of respondents said they would continue the platform if they could purchase new movie releases the same day they are released to theaters.

When Deloitte asked subscribers what would keep them from cancelling a paid streaming service, 27% said they would stay to see an exclusive new movie or series they were interested in, and 28% said they would stay if they could switch to a reduced cost, ad-supported tier of the service.

“In our January 2020 survey, only 20% of respondents who subscribed to a streaming video service had cut a service in the previous 12 months, but by October, 46% had cut at least one in just the previous six months,” read the report.

In May, Deloitte said 23% of respondents had added a streaming video service since the start of the pandemic, and 9% had added and canceled services. By October, 34% had both added and canceled streaming video services. The early part of 2020 saw greater acquisition, but the second half has been characterized by churn.

“While COVID-19 appears to have accelerated streaming video subscriptions, the dynamism we now see is likely the emerging characteristic of a more mature and competitive market,” Deloitte said.

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.”

ViacomCBS Launching Paramount+ Streaming Video Service March 4

ViacomCBS Jan. 19 announced that streaming video service Paramount+, a rebranding of CBS All Access, will launch in the United States March 4.

The platform will also bow internationally with initial debuts in Latin America on March 4; the Nordics on March 25; and Australia in mid-2021. The CBS All Access service in Canada will be rebranded to Paramount+ on March 4, and an expanded offering will be available later in the year.

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Additionally, the company will host an investor event and issue fourth-quarter and full-year financial results for the period ending Dec. 31, 2020, on Feb. 24. The presentation will deliver a comprehensive overview of the company’s streaming strategy, including Paramount+, Pluto TV, and Showtime OTT.