WWE Inks Partnership With Twitch Streaming Video Platform

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) June 5 announced a multiyear partnership with Amazon-owned streaming video platform Twitch that will see the return of the official WWE channel and WWE Superstar channels, featuring live and exclusive content.

In addition to the launch of the channel, WWE is bowing a companion side-cast to “Monday Night RAW,” bringing the WWE Universe behind the scenes and closer to the in-ring action. The weekly show will be led by a rotating cast of hosts and will regularly feature appearances by WWE Superstars, exclusive content such as backstage interviews, among other content.

Viewers can stream the sidecast live every Monday beginning at 8 p.m. ET via https://www.twitch.tv/wwe or the Twitch App.

The official WWE channel will also be home to other live productions and will serve as an alternate live streaming feed for all of WWE’s premium live event press conferences.

The WWE’s subscription streaming service, WWE Network, in early 2021 became exclusive to NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming platform in a long-term license deal reportedly worth $1 billion.

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NFL: Arizona Cardinals vs. S.F. 49ers Most-Exclusively Streamed Football Game

The Dec. 26 NFL game between the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals was the first professional regular season football game to be exclusively streamed online without a national broadcast. The week 15 matchup was viewed in part by 11.2 million people, including 4.8 million “average minute audience” on Amazon Prime Video and Twitch — a record for an NFL game. The game was also broadcast locally in San Francisco and Phoenix — upping the “average minute audience” to 5.9 million.

Notably, the NFL said that viewers streamed more than 800 million combined minutes of the game, which would rank it among Nielsen’s weekly Top 10 streaming content chart tracking Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Disney+.

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Prime Video is the current streaming partner for “NFL Thursday Night Football,” which is broadcast nationally by Fox Sports.

 

Amazon Adds Programs to ‘Thursday Night Football’ Prime Video Streams

Amazon Oct. 5 announced a slate of new features and original programming for its exclusive live streaming access to NFL “Thursday Night Football” (TNF) on Prime Video and Twitch, which begins Oct. 8 featuring Tom Brady and the new-look Tampa Bay Buccaneers taking on the Chicago Bears in the Windy City.

“We know these are unusual times, and have developed a wall-to-wall lineup of exclusive features and original content from across Amazon that prioritizes real-time data and insights, provides expert analysis, and gives fanatic and casual football to more options,” Marie Donoghue, VP of Global Sports Video at Amazon, said in a statement.

Prime Video is once again producing multiple announcer options in addition to the longtime default Fox broadcast duo of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer return for their third season on Prime Video, and new this year Prime members can stream “Scout’s Feed,” which features podcasters and former NFL scouts Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah alongside sports podcast, radio, and TV host Joy Taylor. Prime members in the U.S. and Mexico will once again have access to the Fox Deportes Spanish-language broadcast.

On the heels of a successful first season, “NFL Next” returns with two-time Super Bowl Champion Chris Long, NFL Network’s Kay Adams, and Next Gen Stats analyst James Koh. New this year, former NFL receiver and Academy Award winner Andrew Hawkins joins the show as a co-host, providing a unique perspective on the NFL.

“NFL Next” is also shifting from a live pre-game show on Thursdays to a live and on-demand release on Tuesday evenings at 8p.m. ET. In addition to compelling moments, stats and stories from the prior weekend’s games; the show aims to amplify the social media pulse of the league, provide a fantasy football-themed look ahead to the upcoming week’s action; and give an in-depth preview of the upcoming weeks’ “Thursday Night” matchup via NFL Films’ “mic’d up” vault. “NFL Next” returns Oct. 6 at 8 p.m. E.T. on Prime Video.

Andrew Hawkins will also join Cari Champion for a new weekly “TNF” livestream that will air exclusively on Twitch every Thursday, with either Chris Long or Von Miller joining weekly throughout the season. Beginning Oct. 8, the “NFL Next Live” stream will give fans a broadcast that marries Amazon’s suite of sports offerings, including Next Gen Stats, Twitch, and Prime Video with a traditional NFL broadcast.

X-Ray for “TNF” gives Prime members real-time access to live stats and key insights, allowing fans to watch and understand the game without taking their eyes off the screen or missing a play. With Next Gen Stats, fans on Prime Video have access to data previously only available to coaches and announcers. New this season to X-Ray is an interactive in-game on-demand replay experience, which allows fans to re-watch top plays from throughout the game in real-time, giving them deeper analysis and insights derived from in-game team and player performance data.

This new feature gives streamers more information about the key players involved in that play, including time to throw, running speeds, and completion probability, as well as trivia, which provides interesting facts or relevant milestones for that play.

In-game on-demand replays with X-Ray will be available on all Fire TV, Android, and iOS devices, and will launch on Web browsers later this season. X-Ray is available for football fans streaming “TNF” on web, Android, iOS, and Fire TV.

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Also new this season, in collaboration with NFL Films, Prime Video is producing a lineup of original content available exclusively on Twitch, which will air throughout the week leading up to the game each Thursday. On Mondays at 2 p.m. ET, Kyle Long and Andrew Hawkins will host “The NFL Comment Box,” giving streamers the chance to engage with Long and Hawkins. On Wednesdays at 6 p.m. ET, fans can join Kyle Long and Chad Johnson on “The NFL Machine,” giving streamers access to the NFL Films archive and allows hosts to walk through footage in the most live and interactive manner possible.

To round out a week of programming on Twitch, on Thursdays fans will be able to watch a live simulcast of the “Scout’s Feed,” as well as an “NFL Next Live” broadcast co-joined by either Chris Long or Von Miller.

Amazon Doc ‘All In: The Fight for Democracy’ Available Free Sept. 22

In support of National Voter Registration Day Sept. 22, Prime Video will stream the Amazon Original movie All In: The Fight for Democracy featuring Stacey Abrams to audiences globally, without needing a Prime membership.

The voting rights documentary will be in front of the Prime Video paywall for 24 hours. The film will also be available on Twitch and Twitter.

Also on Sept. 22 Twitter and Twitch will host watch parties. The Twitter watch party will be hosted by Stacey Abrams and Lin-Manuel Miranda starting at 4 p.m. PT at , and the Twitch livestream will be hosted by social influencer Neeko at 11 a.m. PT.

All In: The Fight for Democracy will stream at no cost for 24 hours on Prime Video.

In anticipation of the 2020 presidential election, All In: The Fight for Democracy examines the often overlooked, yet insidious issue of voter suppression in the United States. The film interweaves personal experiences with current activism and historical insight to expose a problem that has corrupted our democracy from the very beginning. With the perspective and expertise of Abrams, the former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, the documentary offers an insider’s look into laws and barriers to voting that most people don’t even know are threats to their basic rights as citizens of the United States.

“Voting is fundamental for our country and democracy, and should be accessible and available to Americans everywhere,” Abrams said in a statement. “All In: The Fight for Democracy will be accessible on multiple platforms in support of voter awareness and registration for all Americans.”

As previously announced, the filmmakers with support from foundations, private funders and Amazon Studios launched #AllInForVoting, a non-partisan social impact campaign aimed at educating and registering first-time voters, mobilizing communities to turn out to vote and training citizens to know their rights and report voter suppression. As part of the impact campaign, the 50 State Ambassador initiative brought together a team of influential actors, artists, musicians, athletes and newsmakers to use their platforms to educate voters and mobilize participation in the upcoming national and regional elections. The Ambassadors include Taraji P. Henson, Connie Britton, Tyler Blackburn, Zooey Deschanel, Don Cheadle, Gabrielle Union, Seth MacFarlane, Padma Lakshmi, Melissa Ethridge, Zach LaVine, Viola Davis and Janelle Monáe.

The impact campaign is in partnership with Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight Action and other leading civic engagement organizations including: Advancement Project, Alliance for Youth Action, ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, All Voting Is Local, Black Voters Matter, BLOC, Campus Voter Project, Community Change, Election Protection, Equality NC, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, GenEquality, HeadCount, Higher Heights for America, Indivisible, Jewish Women International, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, League of Women Voters and National Organization for Women (NOW), LUCHA, Movement Voter Project, National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC), New Virginia Majority, People for the American Way, Rock the Vote, Spread the Vote, Southern Poverty Law Center, Voto Latino Foundation and When We All Vote. Users are encouraged to join the movement by posting with “#AllInForVoting.” More information on activations and programming can be found at AllInForVoting.com.

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All In: The Fight for Democracy is directed by Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker Liz Garbus and Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker Lisa Cortés, and produced by Garbus, Cortés, Academy Award-winning producer Dan Cogan and Abrams. Amazon Studios acquired worldwide rights to All In: The Fight for Democracy from production company Story Syndicate.

Amazon Changing Twitch Name to Prime Gaming

Amazon Aug. 10 has quietly rebranded its Twitch Prime online gaming platform to Prime Gaming, in line with the e-commerce behemoth’s Prime membership platform, which includes Prime Video, Prime Reading and Prime Music.

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Amazon reportedly plans a formal announcement on the Twitch name change Aug. 11. It has owned the platform for the past four years, affording Prime members free access to video games and related content with a separate Twitch account. Now that separate authentication step will be removed.

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Amazon Launches First Major Proprietary Video Game

Amazon’s move into the video game game market begins today (May 20) with the debut of Crucible, a free online shooter game in which users in teams or solo hunt down creatures and animals on a foreign planet. A second game, New World, is set for release in August and reportedly priced at $40.

The debut comes as the video game industry is experiencing a rejuvenation due to large segments of the gaming community being homebound due to the coronavirus. Gamers in the first quarter (ended March 31) spent a record $10.86 billion on hardware, software and accessories, according to The NPD Group.

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“There’s tremendous room for invention in games,” Mike Frazzini, VP of Amazon Games, said in a statement. “We’re just getting started.”

Indeed, Amazon first entered the gaming segment in 2012 with digital titles targeted for its Fire TV streaming devices and Prime members. That was followed in 2014 with the acquisition of Twitch — an online gaming platform and the launch of Twitch Prime. Along the way Amazon has hired gaming talent to jump start business with limited success.

“Amazon Game Studios is still finding its way,” Susan Eustis, president of Wintergreen Research, told Bloomberg.

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Michael Pachter, media analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, doubts Amazon would release titles on disc, opting instead for its digital platforms. He said gamers don’t care where the game comes from.

“If the game is good, it will get traction; if not, it won’t,” he said in an email.

The analyst said Amazon’s deep pockets are no guarantee of success with video games. He cited Netflix spending $160 million on Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, which was nominated for myriad industry awards and still came up empty at the Oscars and Golden Globes.

Crucible is launching into a competitive marketplace, and it will perform based upon quality,” Pachter said. “People don’t care about the publisher, they care about the game play.”

German Synagogue Shooter Live-Streamed Killings on Amazon’s Twitch Video Game Platform

Amazon-owned Twitch has confirmed that the suspected shooter near a synagogue in Halle, Germany, that left two people dead, live-streamed the event on the video game streaming platform.

A suspect has been arrested in what German police called an anti-Semitic attack that occurred on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.

Twitch confirmed that the 35-minute video streamed on the platform had apparently been filmed with a head-mounted camera.

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“We are shocked and saddened by the tragedy that took place in Germany today, and our deepest condolences go out to all those affected,” a Twitch spokesperson told CNBC. “Twitch has a zero-tolerance policy against hateful conduct, and any act of violence is taken extremely seriously. We are working with urgency to remove this content and permanently suspend any accounts found to be posting or reposting content of this abhorrent act.”

 

Video Streaming Widens Appeal Over Pay-TV Among Telecom Customers

Video streaming expanded its lead over subscription TV service in terms of customer satisfaction, rising to a score of 76 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s 100-point scale.

According to the ACSI Telecommunications Report 2018-2019, subscription TV service stagnated at 62, tied with internet service providers for last place among all industries tracked by the ACSI — subscription TV, ISPs, fixed-line telephone service, video-on-demand service and video streaming service.

Video streaming topped all industries tracked.

“Video streaming once again proves itself to be the best of the telecom industries in customer satisfaction,” said David VanAmburg, managing director at the ACSI. “Traditional telecom providers have tried to step up their game, but they’re not providing original content the way video streaming is, and in part they suffer guilt by association — if customers aren’t satisfied overall with Comcast, they’re probably going to ding Comcast’s on-demand service too.”

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Among video streaming services, Netflix secured first place at 79 after sharing the lead with Sony’s PlayStation Vue and Amazon Twitch the previous year. Netflix ranked at the top for original content among all streaming services, according to the ACSI. Sony’s PlayStation Vue landed in second place at 78, followed by the Microsoft Store at 77. Hulu stepped up to match Amazon Prime Video and Apple iTunes at 76. Five services clustered at 75: CBS All Access, Google Play, Amazon’s gaming platform Twitch, Walmart’s Vudu and Google’s YouTube. Dish Network’s Sling TV was the most improved, meeting HBO at 74. Starz matched the combined score of smaller platforms at 72, while Showtime followed close behind at 71. AT&T’s DirecTV Now fell to 69, ahead of only Sony Crackle, which remained unchanged at 68.

For the past six years, customer satisfaction with subscription TV has languished in the mid-to-low 60s, according to the study. AT&T’s U-verse TV held the lead for subscription TV at 69, followed by Verizon’s Fios at 68 and Dish Network at 67. AT&T’s satellite TV service DirecTV came in at 66, Altice’s Optimum tallied 61, and Charter’s Spectrum came in at 59 to tie with Cox Communications. Frontier Communications and Comcast’s Xfinity came in at 57. Mediacom followed closely at 56. Altice’s Suddenlink tumbles to the bottom of the category at 55.

Customer satisfaction with video-on-demand service slipped to an ACSI score of 67 as viewers continue to turn toward streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, according to the study. AT&T’s U-verse TV service held the lead a year ago, but this year shared the top spot with Verizon’s Fios at a score of 72. Satellite provider Dish Network dropped to 71 but remained just ahead of DirecTV, unchanged at 70. Frontier Communications debuted in the category with a score of 67, in line with the industry average. Three decliners met at 66: Cox Communications, Altice’s Optimum and Comcast’s Xfinity. Charter’s Spectrum remains unchanged at the bottom of the category with a 64.

Unchanged at a score of 62, ISPs remain at the bottom of the ACSI rankings. Most ISPs are still falling short of providing good service at an affordable price, according to the ACSI release. Verizon’s Fios was stable at the top of the category with an ACSI score of 70, but AT&T Internet closed in at 69. Altice’s Optimum fell to 63 but remained the leader among coaxial providers. Meanwhile, Comcast’s Xfinity inched closer to the industry average at 61. Cox Communications tallied 60, tying Altice’s Suddenlink. Charter’s Spectrum and CenturyLink came in at 59.

DEW Speakers: Authenticity, Accessibility Key to Marketing Content

Authenticity and accessibility were two of the top themes for speakers on the “View From the Top: The Future of Content Marketing” panel at the Digital Entertainment World conference in Marina del Rey, Calif., Feb. 5.

“We’re in a very admirable position in that our content, movies, movie trailers, people view it as a form of entertainment,” said Sandro Corsaro, SVP and chief creative officer, Fandango. “Not many people here would watch three or four car commercials for entertainment, but people love trailers.”

He noted how entertainment has a natural viral nature.

“Our influencers, if you will, if you look at Chris Pratt on Instagram yesterday or the day before, he posted about The Lego Movie 2, he posted about the Rotten Tomato score (Rotten Tomatoes is a sister company to Fandango) and that pushed to Fandango,” he said. “We don’t pay him to do that. We don’t tell him to do that. He has a vested interest obviously in the success of the content, so we’re fortunate in that sense.”

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Fandango also uses branded marketing.

“We had a program over the summer called Fanticipation with Microsoft Surface where we had a bunch of influencers get together and talk about movies using the Surface Pro to kind of diagram and design and talk about superhero movies,” he said.

Both instances involve authenticity and accessibility that make the campaigns more relevant for digital audiences.

“The expression of authenticity and the expression of accessibility through content marketing — those are the core tenets that we think of all the time when we talk about movies,” Corsaro said.

Kym Nelson, SVP of Twitch, noted that the gameplay live streaming service is one that tends to “resonate with Gen Z and the millennial audience, and [advertisers] recognize that that is their current and future consumer.”

Twitch has gathered those streamers into a force that brands can utilize.

“We’ve created a tool that automates the ability for all of our streamers to participate in a bounty if you will and we’re able to collect data on the backend and for any data we can match the information from the brand and the information from the streamers,” she said.

For instance, with Dollar Shave Club, Twitch utilized appropriate streamers to review and talk about the product. “We had them play with it and we knew it was a roll of the dice,” Nelson said.

Suffice it to say, there were unexpected streamed responses.

“They are laugh out loud funny,” offered Russell Arons, SVP and GM of Machinima.

Fandango, too, has been able to leverage comedy.

“Kevin Hart has been obviously on this meteoric rise,” noted Corsaro. “I think he’s what 135 pounds so we made him a belt that said, ‘Pound for Pound, Biggest Movie Star in the World.’ We gave him that belt in front of the Rock and we kind of watched it matriculate on the Internet.”

Authenticity, often proffered by comedy, is not the only thing marketing in the digital age requires; accessibility is also important.

“Experiential is the thing right now,” said Arons, referencing events such as Comic-con and the interaction with fans there.

“This desire to find their communities in person that they’ve been interacting with online is incredibly powerful,” she said.

Twitch’s Nelson added that “integrating [experiential] with a live stream platform so that that experiential experience can be broadcast to a wider audience so people in Mississippi, who may not be at Comic-con or South by Southwest, have that live experience [is also important].”

Tim Sovay, COO of CreatorIQ, noted the Feb. 1 event featuring DJ Marshmello and the Fortnite game platform.

“There was no brand involved in this, but it was just the power of the platform with the right artist and the right audience,” he said. “10 million confirmed viewers on a 10-minute concert took place live on the platform.”

Brazil’s Team Most Pirated at World Cup

Piracy prevention company Irdeto detected more than 5,000 unique illegal streams redistributing games over the internet during the group stage of the 2018 World Cup.

Brazil was the most pirated team, with more than 582 illegal streams detected for Brazil’s three group stage matches, followed by Morocco (561 streams) and Portugal (535 streams).

England was the fifth most pirated team with 523 streams despite all games in England being shown on free-to-air channels. Belgium just edged England out at fourth (526 streams). Germany’s poor showing at the World Cup mirrored the team’s lack of popularity with pirates, as it did not make the top 10 of pirated teams.

Social media channels, including Facebook, Periscope, YouTube and Twitch, were the main vehicle for illegal streams of the World Cup. Key social media statistics include:

  • 3,773 of the total 5,088 streams were detected on social media channels, reaching an estimated 4,292,874 viewers;
  • Portugal was the most illegally viewed team on social media channels with an estimated 826,660 viewers of their games;
  • Portugal was followed closely by Morocco and Brazil; and
  • The group stage game that attracting the most illegal viewers on social media was Brazil vs. Switzerland with an estimated 613,715 viewers.

“As one of the biggest sporting events around, the World Cup inevitably attracts a lot of global attention from pirates, as well as legitimate viewers,” said Rory O’Connor, Irdeto’s SVP of cybersecurity services, in a statement. “Content owners, rights holders and platform owners must continue to work together and enlist technology and proactive services to take down illegal streams in real-time as we progress further through the tournament. Meanwhile viewers of these streams really must consider the risks they are exposing themselves to by viewing illegal streams, and the potential threat of criminal penalties.”