Report: Ads Could Boost Netflix Revenue 21%

With Netflix planning to launch an ad-supported subscription option by the fourth quarter, a new report suggests the move could generate a 21% spike in the streamer’s annual revenue. The company reported $3.35 billion in North American fiscal 2021 revenue, which was up from $3 billion in FY 2020 revenue.

Netflix currently charges $9.99 monthly for the basic plan, $15.49 monthly for the standard plan, and a $19.99 monthly for the premium plan.

The Information, citing data from SVOD competitors employing ad-supported options, contends Netflix would have to charge less when subjecting streamers to targeted ads. How much less remains to be seen.

Assisting Netflix in the ad-revenue generation would be its scale of subscribers. The service currently has about 221 million subscribers, including 74.5 million in North America. That’s more than HBO Max, Paramount+, Discovery+ and Peacock combined.

Hulu reportedly subjects streamers to the most ads per hour, while Paramount+ streams 50% fewer commercials than Hulu, according to Paramount Global CFO Naveen Chopra speaking at a recent investor event. HBO Max streams fewer ads as well.

“[Ad-supported subscription streaming] gives us the ability to package what is becoming increasingly scarce linear inventory with digital video inventory, which is a way to differentiate that inventory versus what some other platforms will be able to offer,” Chopra said.

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NBCUniversal Peacock Service Eyeing $4.99/$10 Price Options

NBCUniversal’s high-profile branded subscription streaming service Peacock reportedly will be priced at $4.99 monthly with commercials and $10 without.

Citing sources, The Information disclosed the price points, which launches in April 2020. NBC Universal has not disclosed pricing for the SVOD service.

The pricing rivals Apple TV+, while undercutting CBS All Access ($5.99), Disney+ ($6.99), Amazon Prime Video ($8.99), Netflix ($8.99), Showtime ($10.99) and HBO Max ($14.99), among others.

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Peacock will launch with more than 15,000 hours of content and takes center stage at the end of July during the 2020 Summer Olympics. It will feature NBC catalog shows, “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation,” in addition to movies from Universal Pictures, Focus Features, DreamWorks Animation, Illumination.

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Report: Comcast Plans to Drop Starz Platforms

In what could be a major blow for Lionsgate and its Starz business unit, Comcast has reportedly told the service that it plans to drop the multilevel video distributor at the end of the year.

Should Comcast sever ties with Starz and Starz Encore, the loss of subscribers to Starz would be significant — about 33% of the service’s domestic members.

More importantly, with Starz accounting for about 70% of Lionsgate’s profit, the sub loss could undermine Lionsgate fiscal fortunes, according to The Information, which broke the news citing sources familiar with the situation.

A Lionsgate representative was not immediately available for comment.

Indeed, news of the potential split sent Lionsgate shares freefalling before rebounding to close Aug. 30 down about 5%.

The stock rebound was in part due to Starz separately inking a carriage agreement with AT&T, including AT&T Now, DirecTV and U-verse.

While the scuttlebutt could be nothing more than Comcast attempting to negotiate a better fee agreement in the media, the nation’s No. 1 cable operator is reportedly interested in MGM Holdings — owned Epix filling the void.

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The moves come as Comcast navigates a rapidly changing home entertainment world with consumers increasingly switching to loss-leading subscription video-on-demand and online TV platforms instead of the traditional cable bundle.

With premium pay-tv services such as HBO, Showtime and Starz bowing standalone services, pay-tv operators such as Comcast, Dish Network and others are reconsidering their distribution agreements with the channels.

Regardless, the situation comes at a delicate time for Lionsgate, which is increasingly relying on Starz to buttress an uneven studio business and television production bottom line.

Earlier this year, Lionsgate reportedly rebuffed a $5 billion offer for Starz from CBS — the latter looking to acquire subscriber growth for its CBS All Access and Showtime OTT ventures.

Lionsgate has licensed Starz to Apple’s pending Apple TV+ launch, in addition to marketing the service via Amazon Prime Channels and expanding globally into 48 countries through Starz Play.

Meanwhile, MGM has been looking for a fiscal partner for Epix to help expand the platform’s reach internationally — a goal Comcast and its Sky subsidiary could help fulfill.

Hulu, FX Getting Lionsgate Movies

Disney-owned Hulu and FX reportedly are getting pay-TV access to select Lionsgate movies beginning in 2020.

Epix, the pay-TV channel owned by MGM Studios, currently has the rights to Lionsgate movies, which include Oscar winner La La LandThe Hunger Games and Saw franchises, among others.

The John Wicks franchise starring Keanu Reeves is licensed separately to HBO through 2021. Twentieth Century Fox, which Disney recently acquired, also has a deal with HBO through 2022.

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Lionsgate co-owned Epix with Viacom and MGM, until selling its stake to the venerable studio in 2017.

The two-year deal, first reported by The Information, enables Santa Monica-based Lionsgate to migrate its movies to Starz Play, the subscription streaming service launched in 2016.

Lionsgate acquired Starz in 2016 for $4.4 billion.

Notably, it was Starz that started licensing studio movies to OTT services through an exclusive deal with Netflix in 2008 that gave the SVOD pioneer access to 2,500 movies for pennies on the dollar from Disney, Sony Pictures and others.

Six years later, then-CEO Chris Albrecht would call the Netflix agreement “terrible,” as it helped the streaming service generate subscribers looking for cheaper access to Hollywood movies.

“For a very low price [Netflix] got access to all our stuff and it devalued our wholesale and resale prices,” Albrecht told an investor group. He left Starz earlier this year.