Penske Media Group, MRC to Acquire ‘The Hollywood Reporter,’ ‘Billboard,’ ‘Vibe’ in Joint Venture

In a major consolidation move within the entertainment trade publication space, Variety owner Penske Media Group is acquiring The Hollywood Reporter and other assets in a joint deal with Media Rights Capital (MRC).

Financial terms of the deal, which brings industry rivals Variety and The Hollywood Reporter under the same roof, was not disclosed. Penske also owns trades Deadline, WWD, She Media, Sportico and Robb Report. The deal also includes Billboard and Vibe.

MRC, which owns Dick Clark Productions, was the producer of  the Netflix original series “House of Cards,” and is also the producer of the streamer’s current series “Ozark.” The company has also produced movie hits Knives Out with Lionsgate, Sony Pictures’ Baby Driver and Universal Pictures’ Ted.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Rolling Stone, Billboard, Vibe and Music Business Worldwide will be operated under a new entity dubbed PMRC. MRC will be tasked with developing the collective brand IP across all of its content divisions, including television, film, live and alternative, and non-fiction.

“We have a great deal of respect for … the leadership at PMC, who we’ve gotten to know well and look forward to partnering with in both these businesses,” MRC co-CEOs Asif Satchu and Modi Wiczyk, said in a statement.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“These are all brands I’ve long admired,” added Jay Penske. “Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, and Vibe have created some of the finest content in their respective industries and have contributed immensely to the heightened quality of journalism covering entertainment and music today. We feel very fortunate for this valuable partnership with the exceptional MRC team and the opportunity to continue the legacy of these tremendous brands for the next many decades.”

Survey: Consumers Willing to Pay $22 Monthly to See Three Theatrical Movies Monthly

As theatrical ticket subscription pioneer MoviePass struggles to remain in business, a new survey reveals consumers are willing to pay more than twice the $9.95 fee MoviePass currently charges subscribers.

The survey conducted Oct. 11-14 among 2,201 adults from Morning Consult and commissioned by The Hollywood Reporter, found respondents would pay upwards of $22 monthly to watch three theatrical screenings monthly.

Respondents said they would also pay $25 to see three movies per week, and $33 for unlimited screenings.

MoviePass set the exhibition industry on its ear last year when it launched service offering subscribers daily access to a theatrical screening for less than $10 per month. With the service paying exhibitors such as AMC Theatres and Regal Cinema face value for each ticket consumed by subscribers, fiscal losses began to spiral out of control.

MoviePass now limits subs to three select screenings per month. Restrictions that resulted in AMC and Cinemark launching competing ticket subscriptions – the former priced at $19.95 enabling subs access to three screening weekly in any format, including Imax, Dolby Cinema and RealD 3D.

Three in 10 frequent moviegoers subscribe to AMC Stubs A-List, while 27% subscribe to MoviePass.

Notably, the survey revealed that just 6% of respondents are “very likely” to purchase a subscription service, while 23% could go either way. That left 71% of respondents who said they were either not very likely (32%) to purchase a subscription or had no interest (29%) in buying one. Another 10% didn’t know or had no opinion.

Millennials are the most likely to purchase a ticket subscription.

According to the survey, perks that would incentivize consumers to use a subscription service include: unused tickets rolling over to the next month (22%); ability to choose from a variety of plans/theaters (19%); the number of movies included (15%); and the ability to use subscription tickets to bring friends (25%).

 

Survey: Half of MoviePass Subs Likely to Cancel

Fiscally challenged MoviePass got more bad news Aug. 28 after a survey found nearly 50% of MoviePass respondents will likely cancel their membership.

In the August survey of 1,558 moviegoers — including 424 MoviePass subscribers — conducted by National Research Group for The Hollywood Reporter, just 48% of MoviePass respondents said they were satisfied with the service — which was down from 83% approval in a previous survey this spring.

Central to the service’s problems — beyond financial — are the ever-changing rules of engagement, according to the survey. A short-lived price hike from $9.95 to $14.95 was scuttled, with subscribers limited to three screenings per month. That change was followed by more restrictions on what titles subscribers could see and when.

“MoviePass’ innovation was offering the freedom and flexibility to see any movie, at any time, at almost any theater, for a low price,” NRG CEO Jon Penn told THR. “By constantly changing the terms of service — limiting which films subscribers could see and when they could see them — MoviePass has eroded brand trust and undermined their leadership position.”

Survey respondents appear in favor of ticket subscription services, with 23% interested in AMC Theatres’ A-List Stub platform. Another 39% said they would favor any service that could be sustainable.

“There remains immense opportunity and moviegoer appetite for innovation in movie ticket buying,” said Penn. “Future services that offer value, flexibility and convenience — in an economically viable way — will help drive moviegoing to new heights.”