Anime Supplier Funimation Acquires Manga Entertainment

Anime content supplier Funimation, a subsidiary of Sony Pictures Television, has acquired Manga Entertainment, the leading distributor of anime in the United Kingdom and Ireland, according to a Funimation press release.

Headquartered in London, Manga is a long-term partner of Funimation and serves anime fans across a wide range of channels, including Blu-ray/DVDs, broadcast, theatrical and digital (EST).

“Following its immediate consolidation of Funimation’s U.K. home entertainment business, Manga will become the largest distributor of anime Blu-rays/DVDs, offering fans more than 900 hours of subtitled and dubbed entertainment — the biggest catalog of titles available anywhere in the U.K. and Ireland,” according to the Funimation press release.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The acquisition also will allow most of the titles — many for the first time — to become available for streaming to fans throughout the U.K. and Ireland on the SVOD FunimationNow service over the coming months, according to the release.

Titles include such series as “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood,” “Naruto Shippuden,” “Ghost in the Shell: Innocence” and “Sword Art Online.”

“With this acquisition, we will create a truly immersive anime experience for fans in the U.K. and Ireland. This begins with providing fans access to Manga’s library of titles to enjoy whenever and wherever they want on FunimationNow,” said Mitchel Berger, VP of sales and distribution for Funimation in a statement. “Together with the Manga team, Funimation will bring its fan-first omnichannel approach to serving anime fans — engaging with them directly through the widest array of touchpoints.”

“On behalf of Manga Entertainment, we’re thrilled to join Funimation and their expanding global business,” said Jerome Mazandarani, managing director of Manga Entertainment, in a statement. “We’re excited for the new opportunities that lie ahead and to serve anime fans in the U.K. and Ireland in a bigger way than ever before.”

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Funimation, which today provides streaming, home entertainment, theatrical and broadcast distribution, as well as merchandise licensing in many territories around the world. With a catalog of more than 600 titles encompassing more than 10,000 hours of subtitled and dubbed entertainment, Funimation directly serves consumers in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand through its subscription service FunimationNow. In November 2018, FunimationNow became the first Sony Pictures Television service to launch on Amazon’s Prime Video in the U.K.

Report: SVOD Subs Don’t Want Video Advertising

Maybe there’s a reason Netflix continues to rebuff suggestions it start streaming video ads to its 150 million global subscribers.

SVOD subs don’t want the intrusion.

New data from London-based research group Differentology found that 72% of SVOD subs in a survey of 2,000 respondents in the United Kingdom don’t want ads mixed in with programming.

Outside of ad-supported VOD services, only Hulu (in the U.S.) streams ads on its basic subscription plan.

The report – first reported by Advanced-Television– found that 23% of Netflix subs surveyed said they would upgrade to an ad-free premium model, should Netflix begin to show ads; 39% of the same group said they would either cancel their subscription or switch to another paid service that did not carry ads.

“While advertising on SVOD services is currently not seen as acceptable by the majority of consumers, 43% of those who expressed a preference agreed that they accepted and enjoyed advertising on VOD and catch-up services, such as ITV Hub,” Dan Brilot, head of insight at Differentology, said in a statement.

Separately, the report found that 66% of respondents have never canceled their SVOD service, with 32% that did re-subscribed to the service in less than 90 days.

About 37% of subs said they would probably join a new SVOD service within six months, while 65% said the addition would be in addition to any existing service.

That additional service could be BritBox, the British-centric platform launched in the United States by the BBC and ITV.

About 44% of respondents said would likely try BritBox – a percentage that rises to 60% among respondents under the age of 35. More than 55% said the addition would be on top of any existing SVOD service.

Indeed, Brilot said 53% of respondents between the ages of 16 – 19, opt for SVOD before live TV. Another 17% of the age groups claim the number of paid SVoD subscriptions in their household will increase over the next three years.

“The mix of low-rolling monthly subscriptions, in addition to episodic content, means SVOD has unusually high levels of loyalty as a category, with one in six claiming to always go to an SVOD service first when deciding what to watch,” he said.



Study: Online TV Is Second-Most-Popular TV Viewing Choice in U.K., Sweden and Germany

A new survey of TV viewers in the United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany found that online TV is now the second most popular viewing source behind pay-TV, with usage ranging from just under 40% in Germany to more than 50% in the U.K. and Sweden.

Nielsen company Gracenote and digital media analyst firm nScreenMedia conducted the survey, “TV Universe — U.K., Sweden, Germany: How People Watch Television Today,” in the first quarter of 2019, focusing on pay TV, free-to-air and online TV viewership in the three European countries that account for 31% of the European Union’s total population, according to Statista.

The online TV viewership growth in the three countries “is a remarkable rise as online TV is a relatively new offering,” according to the research firms. In fact, Netflix launched in the United Kingdom in just 2012. Whereas 12 years ago most homes relied on a single-source for TV, today nearly half of viewers in all three of the countries studied are multi-source television households, the researchers noted.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“Consumer behavior relating to TV viewing is changing rapidly in Europe as it is around the world,” said Simon Adams, chief product officer, Gracenote, in a statement.

Pay TV is currently the most popular television source in the U.K. and Sweden with nearly two in three consumers in each market using it, the survey found, but in Germany the most popular source is free-to-air TV, which accounts for the vast majority of viewers at nearly eight in 10.

In all three European markets surveyed, consumers pointed to on-screen program guides and user interfaces as being critical tools for finding content to watch. Six in 10 viewers indicated visual imagery and TV artwork displayed in guides exert important influence on their viewing choices. Among the 18-to-24-year-old demographic, the number jumped up to around 90%. In addition, respondents indicated TV show and movie descriptions that shed light on content are also factors in their tune-in decision-making, with 70% of U.K. viewers, 65% of Swedes and 57% of Germans saying the program descriptions were at least somewhat important.

The study also found free-to-air TV is gaining traction on mobile with more free-to-air viewers using broadcaster apps to supplement viewing than pay TV viewers use their operator “TV Everywhere” apps. In fact, more than half of free-to-air users in each country use broadcaster apps.

The smart TV is the preferred device to watch video content on in all three countries, according to the study. A significant 70% of total viewing time is on the TV screen in the United Kingdom and Germany, while in Sweden, it is 60%. Samsung is the most popular TV brand in all three countries.

Other insights include:

  • 17% of the U.K. study group use all three TV sources available to them, higher than in Sweden and Germany;
  • While the on-screen guide is the dominant way Swedes and Brits find content to watch, newspaper TV guides and channel flipping are the main ways for Germans; and
  • 31% of Swedes consider online TV to be their primary TV source, the highest of the three countries studied.


“The new TV Universe study shows that online TV has become the second most popular source of TV entertainment in a remarkably short period of time,” said Colin Dixon, founder and chief analyst at nScreenMedia in a statement. “Also telling is the fact that, though most online viewing takes place on the television, consumers don’t have the discovery tools they need to efficiently find something to watch there. Features such as voice and cross-service search are thinly used in each country. There is also plenty of room for improvement with content recommendations as a quarter or less think they accurately reflect their interests.”

The consumer research study conducted from February to March 2019 surveyed 1,500 adult TV viewers in the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden. The data was weighted to represent the general population of each country. The full report is available for free download now at

Netflix to Release Viewership Data Going Forward; Top 10 Program Rankings in the U.K.

Netflix announced it will begin revealing more viewership data as the SVOD attempts to woo new subscribers and maintain its market leader status in a crowding over-the-top video ecosystem.

Speaking on the April 16 fiscal webcast, CCO Ted Sarandos said the service would become more transparent with data.

“Over the next several months, we’re going to be rolling out more specific and granular data and reporting,” Sarandos said.“First to our producers, then our members and, of course, to the press over time and be more fully transparent about what people are watching on Netflix around the world.”

Earlier Netflix disclosed it would begin releasing in the United Kingdom the Top 10 most-popular Netflix programs across different genres.

The SVOD pioneer, which has traditionally been reluctant to release viewership data, has been more forthcoming with viewer data for new-release movies, including Bird Box, Triple Frontier and The Highwaymen, among others.

Subscribe HERE to FREE Media Play Daily Newsletter!

“For those who want to watch what others are watching, this may make choosing titles even easier,” CEO Reed Hastings and CFO Spence Neumann wrote in the shareholder newsletter. “After a few months we’ll decide whether to end or expand the test.”

The listing, which would not include actual viewership data, underscores increased scrutiny on streaming viewer data as new players such as Apple TV+ and Disney+ prepare to enter the market.

Netflix secretive viewership data has prompted third-party services such as Parrot Analytics and The Binge Report to release weekly Top 10 digital viewership reports — often dominated by Netflix programming.


Netflix Partners with British Video Standards Groups for Children’s Content Ratings

Netflix has partnered with the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) and the Video Standards Council Rating Board to help alleviate parental concerns regarding inappropriate content available on subscription streaming video platforms.

The groups — with assistance from the British government’s department for digital, culture, media and sport – have devised “best practices guidelines” to help streaming services apply age-appropriate ratings for streamed content.

The move comes after internal research found 80% of parents are worried about content available online. Specifically, parents want the same ratings that are applied to theatrical movies, video games, DVD and Blu-ray Disc movies applied to online content.

“Our research clearly shows a desire from the public to see the same trusted ratings they expect at the cinema, on DVD and on Blu-ray when they choose to watch material online,” David Austin, CEO of the BBFC, said in a statement. “We know that it’s not just parents who want age ratings, teenagers want them too. We want to work with the industry to ensure that families are able to make the right decisions for them when watching content online.”

Specifically, the BBFC and Netflix are collaborating on a year-long self-ratings pilot, which will see the SVOD giant move towards in-house classification using BBFC age ratings, under license.

Netflix, which has nearly 10 million subscribers in the U.K., will use an algorithm to apply BBFC standards to its own content, with the BBFC setting those standards and auditing ratings to ensure consistency. The goal is to work towards full coverage of BBFC age ratings across the platform.

“The BBFC is a trusted resource in the U.K. for providing classification information to parents and consumers and we are excited to expand our partnership with them,” said Mike Hastings, director of editorial creative at Netflix. “Our work with the BBFC allows us to ensure our members always press play on content that is right for them and their families.”

Netflix, like Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, currently offers separate streaming access for kids featuring age-appropriate content.

BBFC’s Austin said the partnership with Netflix would help in the group’s goal to offer age-ratings across all content available in the U.K.

“We hope that others will follow Netflix’s lead and provide comprehensive, trusted, well-understood age ratings and ratings info, consistent with film and DVD, on their U.K. platforms,” he said. “The partnership shows how the industry [is] working with us to find new and innovative ways to deliver 100% age ratings for families.”



Studios, Digital Platforms Seek ‘Mega’ Movie Campaign to Jumpstart Retail Sales in the U.K.

Hollywood and British studios have partnered for a retail marketing campaign in the United Kingdom intended to jumpstart digital sales of movies and TV shows in the over-the-top video era.

Dubbed “Mega Movie Week,” the campaign, which initially ran through Jan. 28, seeks to drive consumer awareness of the benefits of digital ownership through special deals and promotions.

Participating studios include BBC Studios, Entertainment One, HBO, Lionsgate, NBC Universal, Paramount Home Entertainment, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, StudioCanal, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment U.K. and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Retail partners, which include Comcast’s Sky Store, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, Rakuten TV, BT TV store, PlayStation Store, Microsoft and Chili, say the yearlong initiative hopes to engage new video consumers.

“The video category continues to offer audiences a huge degree of flexibility when it comes to ownership and consumption of physical and digital home entertainment products and we know that millions of us enjoy having access to a library of titles we love,” Liz Bales, CEO of BASE, said in a statement.

The trade group said 63% of consumers in 2018 rented or streamed movies and TV shows, while 37% preferred ownership of content on disc or download.

Analysis to the effectiveness of the “Mega” campaign will be done by the British Association for Screen Entertainment (BASE) and The Digital Entertainment Group Europe (DEGE).

“Mega Movie Week represents an unprecedented collective vision from across the category to embrace an opportunity to capitalize on the growth of digital transaction seen in 2018 by encouraging engagement,” said BASE chairman Robert Price, who is also managing director at Fox Home Entertainment U.K.



Viacom Launches MTV Mobile App in the U.K.

Viacom may be playing catch-up in over-the-top video distribution in the United States, but across the Atlantic Viacom International Media Networks is set to launch MTV’s first SVOD mobile streaming app.

Dubbed “MTV Play,” the £3.99 monthly service targets the younger mobile demo (ages 18-34 years old), with additional distribution planned through U.K. telecoms.

“MTV Play puts the full MTV content experience directly into the hands of young people for the first time in a way that is accessible and affordable,” Arran Tindall, SVP, commercial and content distribution at VIMN, said in a statement.

Subscribe HERE for FREE Daily Newsletter!

Tindall said the app is not a replacement for traditional distributors such as Sky, Virgin Media and BT, who he said do an “excellent job” bringing MTV to younger audiences across the U.K.

“But we know there is a segment of younger potential MTV fans who sit beyond the basic pay-TV bundles,” Tindall said.

MTV Play will offer TVOD options, including catch-up episodes “Geordie Shore,” “Teen Mom U.K.,” “Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club” and “The Charlotte Show,” as well as catalog series such as “The Hills,” “The Valleys” and “Jersey Shore.” It will also feature short-form digital original series, including “Show Us Ur Phone,”“What the Yuck”and “MTV Meets”.

“MTV’s reality and music content continues to resonate incredibly strongly with young audiences in the UK and we believe there’s a further appetite for an app like this,” said Dan Fahy, VP, commercial and content distribution, VIMN UKNEE. “We’re speaking with telco providers and other platforms about how they can make MTV Play available to their subscribers, which will form an important part of our distribution strategy alongside D2C.”



Comcast Cuts Spain’s Llega Sky SVOD Pricing 31%

Llega Sky, the British satellite operator’s nascent streaming video service in Spain, is cutting the monthly subscription price 31% to €6.99 from €9.99.

Launched in September 2017, Llega Sky offered TV series and on-demand movies from around the world in Spanish, predominantly in HD.

Despite including 12 popular pay TV channels, combined with access to TV shows “The Walking Dead,” “Big Bang Theory” and Grey’s Anatomy,” and hundreds of movies, the service has struggled to resonate with consumers.

Llega Sky reportedly has generated just 114,000 paying subscribers – significantly behind market leader Netflix with 2 million, HBO (475,000) and Rakuten (147,000).

The move follows Hulu’s decision in the United States to reduce the basic subscription plan (with advertising) to $5.99 from $7.99. The SVOD service recently disclosed it had topped 25 million subscribers, which includes online TV platform, Hulu with Live TV.

Sky’s corporate parent Comcast last week revealed it plans to expand over-the-top video platform Now TV platform across Europe.

Now TV offers monthly entertainment packages targeting movies (Sky Cinema), general entertainment, Premier League soccer (Sky Sports), children’s programming (Sky Kids) and reality TV-based Hayu – which is owned by NBC Universal and available in the U.K., Ireland, Australia, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Canada, Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg.




ERA: Physical Discs Still Coveted for Movie Ownership in the U.K.

It may be a streaming video world dominated by Netflix, but when it comes to owning the biggest movies of the year, DVD and Blu-ray Disc still resonate best among consumers in the United Kingdom.

New data from the Entertainment Retailers Association found that among sales of the Top 20 movies in 2018, more than 74% occurred on physical disc. Among the Top 20 music albums, 61% were sold in the physical format.

Meanwhile, subscription streaming services helped the entertainment market in the United Kingdom reach an all-time-high of £7.5 billion ($9.5 billion) in revenue in 2018, according to new data compiled by the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA).

For a sixth successive year of growth driven by digital services from the likes of Spotify, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Apple and Google, digital revenue accounted for more than 76% of entertainment sales in 2018, according to ERA.

Digital revenue now dominates all three sectors, with digital generating 80% of games revenue, 72.3% of video and 71.3% of music.

The biggest music and video hit of the year, Fox’s The Greatest Showman, sold nearly two-thirds of its combined 4.3 million sales on CD, DVD and Blu-ray. The biggest-selling console game of the year, FIFA 19, sold 2.5 million units, around 75% on physical formats.

“The data shows that if you want a real mass-market hit, you need the reach and convenience of physical formats,” Kim Bayley, CEO of the ERA said in a statement. “The challenge for physical retailers is to tap into this huge market of occasional buyers.”


ERA Preliminary Entertainment
Sales Totals 2018 (£m)

2017 2018 % change
Music Physical £459.4 £383.2 -16.6%
Downloads £165.0 £122.6 -25.7%
Streaming £601.9 £829.1 37.7%
Total Music £1,226.3 £1,334.9 8.9%
Video Physical Retail £742.1 £616.9 -16.9%
Physical Rental £40.5 £31.7 -21.7%
Digital £1,341.0 £1,689.4 26.0%
Total Video £2,123.6 £2,337.9 10.1%
Games Physical £792.4 £769.9 -2.8%
Digital £2,750.0 £3,094.0 12.5%
Total Games £3,542.4 £3,863.9 9.1%


U.K. Home Entertainment Trade Groups Bow Weekly Video Chart Show

The Official Charts Company, the British Association for Screen Entertainment (BASE) and the Entertainment Retailers Association last month launched “The Official Film Charts Show,” a weekly online video presentation showcasing the most-popular movies to buy or rent on disc or digital in the United Kingdom – the world’s second-largest home entertainment market.

The show tabulates the top 10 best-selling selling movies on disc and download for the week and also includes trailers for upcoming releases.

The video is available on now includes movie downloads from Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, Sky Store, Virgin Media Store, Rakuten TV, Talk Talk TV, as well as 4K UHD Blu-ray, standard Blu-ray and DVD disc sales.

“The Official Film Chart will be the definitive snapshot of the U.K.’s favorite movies on disc and download – for the first time, both film fans and the industry will be able to review the biggest selling titles every week across both physical and digital formats, which is a huge step for the industry,” Martin Talbot, CEO of The Official Charts said in a statement.

Through six months in 2018, U.K. consumers downloaded more than 15 million movies – exceeding 2017 – and helping grow the overall market to about 55 million video sales across all formats (download, 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD).

Liz Bales, CEO of Base, said the need for a consumer-based online video promotional vehicle for home entertainment was long overdue.

“In an ever-changing, but consistently dynamic home entertainment industry, it has been felt for some time that there should be a method of both celebrating and signposting audience engagement with owned content,” Bales said. “With significant growth in digital ownership, and ongoing engagement with the full suite of physical options – including 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD – it is clear that film in all its forms continues to be a must-own commodity.”