Tubi Expands Ad Sales Team

Ad-supported VOD service Tubi May 21  named former senior Viacom advertising executive Peter Graseck as VP of East Coast advertising sales. Graseck will lead the New York ad team and work alongside fellow VPs Heather Strofs, West Coast region, and Todd Segall, Midwest region.

The three report to chief revenue officer Mark Rotblat.

“Peter, Heather, and Todd are all talented executives with undeniable business acumen and integrity, and we look forward to leveraging their expertise during this pivotal growth period,” Rotblat said in a statement.

From Left: Peter Graseck, Heather Strofs, Todd Segall

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Graseck’s media career spans a wide variety of advertising and marketing functions; agency media planning at Young & Rubicam, marketing and branded entertainment at NBC Universal, and for the past 12 years at Viacom, he has held leadership roles in integrated marketing, client strategy, and both general market sales for Comedy Central, Spike, CMT, and TV Land, and direct response sales. Most recently, Graseck was the SVP of Viacom Partner Solutions where he oversaw all direct response accounts across Viacom’s cable networks and digital platforms.

Strofs came to Tubi with over 15 years of sales and leadership experience across the New York, Chicago, and West Coast Markets. She most recently served as VP, ad sales at The Oprah Winfrey Network where she collaborated with clients to create custom solutions that allowed advertising partners to reach their consumers in a unique and impactful way across linear, digital and social platforms. During her tenure, she brought on launch partners at OWN’s inception and continued to create innovative solutions across the studio, technology, and auto landscapes.

Segall joined Tubi from Roku where he was head of sales for their Central Region based out of Chicago and was responsible for building out their sales team and market presence. Prior to joining Roku, Segall was senior category sales director at AOL where he led the Finance Vertical as well as their mid-market sales team.

 

Roku CEO: We Are the No. 1 Smart TV Operating System in the U.S.

Roku said 33% of all Internet-connected “smart” televisions sold domestically in the first quarter (ended March 31) featured its branded operating system. That’s up from 25% of all TVs sold in 2018.

“In less than five years, the Roku TV has gone from a disruptive idea to the market leader,” founder/CEO Anthony Wood said on the fiscal call. “We have taken the leads from Samsung and are now the number one smart TV OS in the country.”

Anthony Wood

Wood attributed Roku’s transition from streaming media device manufacturer to ad-supported VOD distributor to ongoing consumer moves away from linear TV toward over-the-top video — and the CE industry’s sluggish efforts to develop “homegrown” software OS platforms in televisions.

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“We really think in almost all cases those [OS] solutions are probably uncompetitive and that we will just continue to see gains and share of licensed OS [platforms],” Wood said. “So there is a lot of room to grow. It’s a big opportunity.”

Meanwhile, Roku continues to drive an expanding AVOD market through its branded Roku channel. The AVOD market gained momentum following Viacom’s acquisition of Pluto TV, Comcast’s planned launch of AVOD distribution, Shout! Factory’s Shout TV, Sony Crackle and San Francisco-based Tubi, among others.

“We are excited about the increased investment and focus by major media companies on bringing free content over-the-top,” said Scott Rosenberg, GM, platform business. “When they do this, they ultimately accelerate the consumer move into OTT and expand the economic pie for all of us. We share in their success.”

Indeed, Roku said user accounts increased 40% to 29.1 million from 20.8 million last year. Consumer streaming hours increased 74% to 8.9 billion hours compared to 5.1 billion hours in the previous-year period.

“The most exciting thing about the Viacom/Pluto tie-up is the fact that Viacom is taking content that was previously only available through pay-TV subscriptions and making it available free through AVOD services,” he said. “That not only will that drive viewing on the platform, I think it will also help accelerate the shift of ad dollars over to streaming.”

Viacom Adds Flagship Networks to Pluto TV, Announces Slate of Original Digital Programming

Viacom Inc. announced the introduction of its flagship networks to Pluto TV’s channel lineup and a new slate of original digital programming during its second-annual NewFront event at the PlayStation Theater April 29.

BET, Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon will debut channels on ad-supported Pluto TV May 1, according to a Viacom press release, with content from Viacom’s library in three categories of branded channels: co-branded flagship channels that are curated versions of Viacom’s leading networks; signature channels with the most celebrated and diversified programming from each brand; and pop-up channels that deliver binge-worthy series in marathon-style airings, starting with MTV’s “The Hills” — in time for the revival series “The Hills: New Beginnings” premiering June 24.

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“We are thrilled to expand the Pluto TV offering with the addition of Viacom’s world-class channel brands and iconic programming. This is a major step forward in our mission of entertaining the planet,” said Tom Ryan, CEO and co-founder of Pluto TV, in a statement. “Viacom has been entertaining audiences for decades with evergreen content that is bold, daring and inspires worldwide fandom. These channels are guaranteed to provide endless entertainment to both new and existing Pluto TV viewers.”

Viacom Digital Studios will produce new and returning original series around major tentpole events, linear franchises and popular digital shows from Awesomeness, BET, Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon, according to a Viacom release.

“Viacom is also teaming up with big-name stars and fan-favorite digital talent to deliver entirely new programming across Facebook, Snap, Twitter and YouTube for Viacom’s more than 880 million fans — the largest social footprint among entertainment companies,” according to the release.

The new content slate includes:

  • “How to Survive: A Break-Up,” in which Eva Gutowski stars in an AwesomenessTV scripted romantic comedy series;
  • “Black Coffee,” BET’s daily morning talk show starring Marc Lamont Hill that catches up with Black Twitter’s liveliest conversations and features interviews with celebrities, athletes, and social media stars
  • an untitled late-night show from David Spade, Comedy Central’s new late-night show hosted by Spade, which will launch show channels and publish content across YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
  • “MTV No Filter: Tana Turns 21,” which follows Tana Mongeau and her crew for a behind-the-scenes look as they navigate vlog life, studio time, partying and the occasional controversy;
  • “SpongeBob Smarty Pants Game Show,”a digital game show from Nickelodeon where two SpongeBob superfans compete to win The Golden Pineapple by answering trivia questions, completing messy stunts and competing in SpongeBob-themed games.

Cinedigm Bows CONtv on AVOD Service Pluto TV

Cinedigm April 16 announced the launch of genre-focused CONtv on the ad-supported online television service Pluto TV.

The latter’s users will have access to CONtv’s library of films, classic TV series and original curated programming as a linear ad-supported version or premium SVOD option.

Launched in 2015, the $4.99 monthly CONtv features access to thousands of hours of content from an eclectic collection that puts the spotlight on elusive cult films and television shows, and genre movies ranging from sci-fi, horror, and fantasy, to anime, grindhouse, and martial arts epics.

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Pluto TV, a Viacom subsidiary, features more than 100 live and linear channels and thousands of movies and TV series on-demand. As part of the deal, Pluto TV’s monthly users will also be able to access Cinedigm’s over-the-top networks (i.e. The Dove Channel, Documrama, etc.) across all streaming, mobile and web-based devices.

This month’s slate of new additions include classics, Hey Vern, It’s Ernest! and Angela Anaconda, as well as art tutorial “The Joy of Painting” with Bob Ross, thriller Open Windows, starring Elijah Wood, and Selena Gomez in the 2014 rock n’ roll comedy Behaving Badly.

“This launch marks the continuation of Cinedigm’s partnership with Pluto TV, furthering our commitment to redefining the traditional television landscape by offering viewers unique premium programming,” Erick Opeka, president of digital networks at Cinedigm, said in a statement.

“We constantly strive to provide content that appeals to both broad and niche audiences. CONtv delivers this ideal offering to viewers adding greater dimension to Pluto’s extensive library of content,” said Amy Kuessner, SVP of content partnerships for San Franciosco-based Pluto TV.

BBC Studios, Pluto TV Ink Content Deal

BBC Studios and Pluto TV April 8 signed an agreement that brings BBC’s programming to Viacom’s ad-supported streaming video service in the U.S.

Select titles from the BBC Studios library (about 1,000 episodes) will air across Pluto TV’s channel lineup and on-demand featuring acclaimed series, including “Being Erica,” “Bedlam,” “Primeval” and “Robin Hood,” among others.

The streamer also plans to launch two of its single-series “Pop-Up” channels with 200 catalog episodes of “Doctor Who” and 300 episodes of Antiques Roadshow.”

BBC Studios content will launch on Pluto TV in May 2019.

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“This new Pluto TV enterprise is appealing for us as we continue to attract new audiences … and expand on opportunities for existing fans to find their favorite shows to stream, in a unique way,” Beth Clearfield, SVP of digital strategy and franchise business management for BBC Studios Americas, said in a statement.

The new programming and channel collaboration with BBC Studios will join Pluto TV’s 100+ live, linear, curated channels and thousands of movies on demand from nearly 150 major studios, networks, publishers and digital first outfits. 

“Pluto TV is elated to be able to expand our range of programming by adding such an esteemed and regarded brand as the BBC,” said Amy Kuessner, SVP of content partnerships at Pluto. “The BBC has long been a key international entertainment leader known for captivating audiences with content that transcends time.”

An assortment of fan-favorite “Classic Doctor Who” stories starring Tom Baker (in The Deadly Assassin, The Ark in Space, The Robots of Death), Peter Davison (in EarthShock, The Caves of Androzani), Jon Pertwee (in Planet of the Spiders, Terror of the Autons), and the very first Doctor, William Hartnell (in The Dalek Invasion Of Earth) will be featured on Pluto TV’s Pop-Up channel.

 

Viacom Inks Content Distribution Deal with T-Mobile

T-Mobile and Viacom April 3 announced they have entered into a content distribution agreement. Under terms of the deal, Viacom’s brands — MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, Nickelodeon, Paramount — will play a key role in T-Mobile’s pending mobile video services to consumers later this year.

The deal enables T-Mobile to bring together live linear feeds of Viacom channels as well as a broad range of on-demand content to serve the carrier’s nearly 80 million customers.

“TV programming has never been better, but consumers are fed up with rising costs, hidden fees, lousy customer service, non-stop BS,” John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile, said in a statement. And ‘Macgyvering’ together a bunch of subscriptions, apps and dongles isn’t much better.”

T-Mobile CEO John Legere

For Viacom, the agreement is another strategic effort to expand the media giant’s lagging digital footprint. The company recently acquired ad-supported VOD service Pluto TV.

‘[It] marks a major step forward in our strategy to accelerate the presence of our brands on mobile and other next-generation platforms,” said Viacom CEO Bob Bakish.

Last year, T-Mobile acquired cable TV disruptor Layer3 TV, and with that team, talent and technology, the company has been readying its first wave of home and mobile TV offerings.

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In recent months, T-Mobile executives have shared some of the company’s plans to launch first with an in-home TV solution, designed to replace cable for the 5G era, and longer term, executives say the company will introduce mobile TV services beginning with Viacom as a cornerstone launch partner.

 

Viacom Completes Pluto TV Acquisition

Viacom March 4 announced the completion of the acquisition of AVOD service Pluto TV.

The acquisition, for $340 million in cash, will advance Viacom’s strategic priorities while solidifying Pluto TV’s leadership in the domestic free streaming video market and accelerating its growth globally, according to a Viacom press release.

Pluto TV will operate as an independent subsidiary of Viacom, led by President and CEO Tom Ryan.

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“The completion of this deal marks an exciting next step in Viacom’s evolution and a powerful opportunity for us to extend our consumer reach and broaden our ability to add value across the industry as the media landscape continues to segment,” said Bob Bakish, Viacom president and CEO, in a statement. “Together with Pluto TV, we look forward to becoming a stronger partner to distributors, advertisers, content providers and audiences around the world.”

Founded in 2013, Pluto TV streams more than 100 channels and thousands of hours of on-demand content spanning television and movies, sports, news, lifestyle, comedy, cartoons, gaming and trending digital series. It has more than 12 million monthly active users across devices, including smart TVs, streaming players, mobile devices, desktops and gaming consoles, according to the release.

“Pluto TV will have a crucial role in expanding Viacom’s presence across next-generation distribution platforms as a standalone free over-the-top (“OTT”) product, a direct-to-consumer cornerstone, and a partnership solution for wired, mobile and OTT distributors to serve their broadband only and video bundle subscribers on a zero incremental cost basis,” stated the release.

Pluto TV also benefits Viacom’s advanced marketing solutions (“AMS”) business, serving as a source of targeted inventory — particularly for younger demographics — thereby strengthening Viacom’s ability to serve advertising customers and their associated agencies, the release stated.

Viacom Has Global Plans for Pluto TV

On the heels of its $340 million acquisition of Pluto TV, Viacom plans to expand the ad-supported streaming video service globally, featuring the media company’s proprietary content-producing brands, including MTV, Paramount, Comedy Central, BET and Nickelodeon, among others, CEO Bob Bakish told an investor group.

The free streaming service with more than 100 channels launched operations in Germany, Austria and the United Kingdom at the end of 2018.

Speaking Feb. 26 at the Morgan Stanley technology, media & telecom confab in San Francisco, Bakish said Viacom’s decision in 2016 to pull back bulk content distribution through third-party digital channels was a double-edged sword.

“We kind of took it on chin for two years with respect to distribution revenue when we weren’t doing those kinds of deals,” Bakish said, adding that the content backlog presents distribution options for Pluto TV going forward.

The executive said Viacom generates upwards of 13 million monthly users to digital products that include Nickelodeon’s Noggin streaming service, in addition to platforms surrounding Comedy Central and BET.

Viacom also plans to market over-the-top distribution to its linear pay-TV business partners.

“This is a global opportunity,” Bakish said. “It’s going to accelerate our strategy on multiple dimensions. We see a very material opportunity there.”

At the same time, the executive said digital distribution has been hampered by the traditional pay-TV ecosystem, existing distribution agreements and related monetization opportunities.

“We don’t have a demand problem, we have a supply problem,” Bakish said.

The executive contends Pluto TV offers Viacom’s brands and advertisers a very “attractive” demographic that he claims are “essentially” not tethered to traditional pay-TV.

In addition, Bakish contends Pluto’s ad-inventory is 50% unsold due in part to a “nascent” ad force he said didn’t have access to Viacom’s portfolio of national brands and global marketers.

“They didn’t have those kinds of relationships,” he said. “[Now, they’ve] got access to money they never saw before. [Pluto TV] looks like television to advertisers.”

 

Viacom Inks Carriage Agreement with Sports-Centric Fubo TV

Viacom Feb. 20 announced a carriage agreement with online TV service Fubo TV incorporating entertainment brands such as Paramount, Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central to the sports-themed streaming service.

Viacom’s other media networks – BET, Nick Jr., TV Land and VH1 – will also be included in fubo TV’s base package. An expanded suite of Viacom channels will be available in the premier package, “fubo Extra,” including BET Her, BET Jams, BET Soul, Logo, MTV2, MTV Classic, MTV Live, mtvU, Nick Music, Nicktoons, and TeenNick.

This partnership also enhances fuboTV’s Spanish-language base package, “fubo Latino,” with Viacom’s Telefe and MTV Tr3s networks.

“This is a great opportunity to continue to grow our reach and audiences across the OTT landscape and connect with our fans wherever they consume content,” Tom Gorke, EVP, head of distribution and business development, for Viacom, said in a statement.

Notably, Viacom earlier this year acquired ad-based online TV service Pluto TV for $340 million.

The fubo TV deal offers subscribers access to MTV’s “Jersey Shore: Family Vacation,” Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” Nickelodeon’s “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” and Telefe’s “Campanas en La Noche,” among other programs.

“We’re very excited to enter into this strategic partnership with Viacom, which continues to make prescient and aggressive moves in the digital media space,” said Joel Armijo, CFO, fuboTV. “fubo remains singularly focused on offering sports fans a compelling pay-TV alternative with a robust content offering able to serve the viewing needs of the entire household.”

Report: Apple Video Service Bowing Without Netflix, HBO, Hulu

When it comes to streaming video, Apple has largely been a spectator. In fact, the late Steve Jobs infamously considered Apple TV a “hobby.”

But the company synonymous with consumer electronics innovation is spearheading a major push into OTT video this year, including spending more than $1 billion on original content.

With a brand as powerful as Disney’s, Apple apparently believes it is worth a lot in the OTT ecosystem.

CEO Tim Cook said as much on the recent fiscal call.

“We see huge changes in customer behavior taking place now and we think that it will accelerate as the year goes by with the breakdown of the cable bundle,” he said. “I think that it’ll likely take place at a much faster pace this year.”

Indeed, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company is upping the ante for third-parties along for the streaming ride on its platform — reportedly set to launch by May without heavyweights Netflix, Hulu and HBO Now.

While both brands are available on the Apple TV streaming media device, CNBC reports the new platform will operate similarly to Amazon Channels as facilitator to original and third-party OTT services — the latter for a cut of the subscriber action.

Apple, which gets 15% commission per third-party subscriber generated through the App store, now wants 30% per sub on the new platform, according to CNBC. The Wall Street Journal previously reported Apple is looking at a 50% split for its pending news streaming service.

Apparently, Netflix, Hulu and HBO aren’t biting, while Lionsgate-owned Starz, Showtime OTT and Viacom are. HBO, Starz and Showtime are available on Amazon Channels.