‘Robotech’ Catalog Streaming on AVOD Platforms

All series and the feature Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles from the anime franchise “Robotech” are available to stream at no cost on AVOD platforms, including The Roku Channel, Vudu and FilmRise, FilmRise announced.

The announcement was made July 18 during the Robotech panel at San Diego Comic-Con by Harmony Gold.

The content available to stream includes all 85 episodes of  the original syndicated television series, all 85 re-mastered “original edit” episodes of the entire series, all 36 episodes of “Super Dimension Fortress Macross,” all 23 episodes of “Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross,” all 25 episodes of “Genesis Climber Mospeada,” the feature The Shadow Chronicles, and up to 11 hours of bonus features from both the series and the film.

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View the trailer here.

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.

Walmart’s Vudu.com Eyeing Original Content

Walmart may have shelved plans to launch a branded over-the-top streaming service, but the world’s largest retailer isn’t stepping away from producing content.

Bloomberg report said Walmart plans to produce upwards of half a dozen original series it would stream exclusively on Vudu.com – the transactional VOD service it acquired in 2010.

With Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu dominating the domestic SVOD market, streaming services are entering the content space in an effort to lure and retain subscribers with original content.

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Vudu is an established brand that sells and rents Hollywood digital movies, similar to iTunes, Redbox On Demand, Google Play, Prime Video, Microsoft Movies and TV, Fandango Now and Comcast Xfinity, among others.

Streaming original ad-supported content could expand digital transactions while luring incremental foot traffic to the platform. It could also help Walmart generate incremental advertising revenue in an OTT market where Netflix and Amazon don’t sell ads.

“[Vudu has] struggled to figure out [its] role in the new streaming environment,” Edward Yruma, analyst at KeyBanc Capital markets, told Bloomberg. “Walmart sells almost 50%of all TVs in the United States, so clearly they have some opportunities to better leverage the purchase.”

Similarly to Apple’s pending subscription streaming service, AppleTV+, which will feature original programming, Walmart is reportedly talking to Hollywood content creators about series that would appeal to families, kids, young couples and parents.

“A lot of advertisers haven’t worked with Vudu before, but having a new name out there, and having that name connected to Walmart, should spark interest,” said Andy Stone, VP at Horizon Media, who clients include Geico insurance and Corona beer, among others.

Sony Pictures Store Website to Close Jan. 31

The Sony Pictures Store website will discontinue operations after Jan. 31, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment announced.

Users were informed via a series of emails in January about the pending closure, and advised that any movies and TV shows they purchased through the site could still be accessed through Walmarts’ Vudu and Movies Anywhere. Users are instructed to make sure their Vudu.com account is linked to both UltraViolet and Movies Anywhere so that their Sony Pictures content can be accessed at those services.

As part of the shutdown process, Sony Pictures is offering a free digital movie through Movies Anywhere. Users can choose from 13 Going on 30, The Grudge, Underworld, The Water Horse, Big Fish, Maid in Manhattan, Freedomland or Lockout.

Sony has been consolidating its digital operations through its PlayStation Store, and the closure of the Sony Pictures Store is likely due to eliminating redundancies. The advent of Movies Anywhere also made a proprietary Sony store for movie playback less relevant.

The Sony Rewards program, which lets consumers earn points from movie and PlayStation Store purchases that can be redeemed for merchandise and gift cards, remains active at SonyRewards.com, though the system for redeeming codes from Blu-rays is being revamped and is expected to open again in early 2019, according to a notice on the site.

Comcast Xfinity Digital Store Seventh Digital Retailer to Join Movies Anywhere

Digital movie collection service Movies Anywhere on Dec. 5  added Comcast’s Xfinity Digital Store as its seventh digital retail partner.

Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Apple’s iTunes and Walmart’s Vudu were partnered with the service at launch last October. FandangoNow, Fandango’s on-demand video service, came aboard in March, joined in August by Microsoft Movies and TV.

Comcast’s 22 million Xfinity TV subscribers are now able to synchronize their accounts with Movies Anywhere,  combine eligible movie purchases from the Xfinity Digital Store with those from other Movies Anywhere digital retailers, and access them on Xfinity X1, the Xfinity Stream app and other Xfinity TV platforms.

Comcast is the first pay-TV provider to join Movies Anywhere. For a limited time, consumers who sync for the first time with Xfinity or one of the other participating digital retailers will receive a free digital copy of Happy Feet, a 2006 computer-animated musical family film with a domestic box office gross of nearly $200 million. Those who sync for the first time with two digital retailers also receive digital copies of The Martian and The Fate of the Furious.

“Comcast is one of the country’s leading pay-TV providers, with a customer base that, like ours, consists of people who are passionate about the movies they love,” said Karin Gilford, general manager of Movies Anywhere. “We are thrilled to now include Comcast’s Xfinity TV customers among those who can benefit from Movies Anywhere’s ability to bring their favorite movies together in one place that can be accessed across a multitude of devices using the Movies Anywhere app and across Xfinity TV platforms.”

“Xfinity X1 is the only platform that provides customers with seamless, integrated access to all of their entertainment choices within one user interface, whether that content is live, on demand, streamed, recorded, rented or owned,” said Daniel Spinosa, VP of entertainment services at Comcast Cable. “And by joining Movies Anywhere, Xfinity TV customers can now easily link their accounts across participating digital retailers and watch their consolidated digital library on X1, or anywhere in the country via the Xfinity Stream app and portal.”

With the addition of Comcast to the Movies Anywhere lineup, Movies Anywhere collections owned by the cable company’s customers will be accessible for the first time directly on the TV through Xfinity On Demand, and on devices via the Xfinity Stream app and web portal. All Movies Anywheres users are also able to access their collections via the Movies Anywhere app and web portal on an array of additional platforms.

One of the top digital retailers for new releases, the Xfinity Digital Store offers Xfinity TV customers the ability to easily purchase and access thousands of movies, many featuring enhanced extras via X1 and across devices via the Xfinity Stream app and web portal.

Movies Anywhere is backed by five Hollywood studios — Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox Film, Universal Pictures (including Focus Features, DreamWorks and Illumination Entertainment), The Walt Disney Studios (including Disney, Pixar, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm) and Warner Bros. Paramount Pictures and Lionsgate are not part of the service, which also does not feature television programming.

In October, Movies Anywhere celebrated its one-year anniversary, announcing that since launch fans have streamed more than 35 million movies on more than 100 different devices. The service turned 1 with 6 million registered users, 150 million movies collected and more than 1 billion minutes viewed.

Movies Anywhere in February 2018 won Media Play News‘ inaugural “Fast Forward” award, honoring people, technologies, organizations, products or services that move the home entertainment industry forward. The awards are an outgrowth of the Home Entertainment Visionary Awards, which were launched in 2002 by the now-defunct Home Media Magazine. Comcast’s Brian Roberts was the 2017 honoree.

Movies Anywhere also was nominated for “Fan Favorite App” in the Google Play Best of 2018 Awards.

Consumer spending on digital purchases of movies, TV shows and other filmed content rose 18% in the third quarter of this year compared with the same quarter in 2017, a significant uptick from the single-digit gains posted in prior years, according to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

Movies Anywhere Celebrates First Birthday With 6 Million Users and 150 Million Movies Collected

Movies Anywhere, the cloud-based digital movie library service backed by most of the major studios, is celebrating its first birthday with 6 million registered users, 150 million movies collected and more than 1 billion minutes viewed.

To mark its first year, for a limited period, fans who sync for the first time with one digital retailer will receive a copy of Happy Feet. Those who sync for the first time with two digital retailers also receive The Martian and The Fate of the Furious.

“This has been a very exciting first year of growth and immersive engagement for Movies Anywhere,” said Karin Gilford, GM, Movies Anywhere. “Our users are among the most passionate and engaged movie fans, so it’s been incredibly rewarding to see them embrace and value our product in such a positive way.  We look forward to further evolving and enhancing the Movies Anywhere experience in the upcoming year.”

The service, which allows consumers to access their digital movie purchases in one place with one password, is backed by five Hollywood studios and six digital retailers. Studios include Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film, Universal Pictures (including Focus Features, DreamWorks and Illumination Entertainment), The Walt Disney Studios (including Disney, Pixar, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm) and Warner Bros. Participating digital retailers are iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, Google Play, Microsoft Movies & TV and FandangoNow.

Other first-year milestones for the service include:

  • Fans have streamed more than 35 million movies on more than 100 different devices;
  • 95 percent of users reported high levels of satisfaction with the app, according to an August 2018 Futuresource report; and
  • The service was nominated for “Fan Favorite App” in the Google Play Best of 2018 Awards.

 

The digital movie sales and rights-locker storage service launched last October with support from five of the six major studios, four of the biggest online retailers, and an opening library of more than 7,300 movies. Over the past year the service has grown to more than 7,500 movies and has added FandangoNow and Microsoft Movies & TV to its digital retailer lineup. Paramount Pictures and Lionsgate are not part of the service, which also does not feature television programming.

Digital purchases of movies, TV shows and other filmed content, known in the industry as “electronic sellthrough,” or EST, rose 18% in the third quarter compared with the same quarter in the year prior, a significant uptick from the single-digit gains posted in prior years, according to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group. Industry observers attribute at least some of the gain to the rising popularity of Movies Anywhere platform.

 

Vudu Inks Deal for MGM Original Programming

Walmart-owned Vudu.com reportedly signed a deal with MGM Studios for original content to be made available on the transactional VOD platform’s ad-supported “Movies on Us” service.

The deal includes exclusive North American access to original episodic series based on MGM intellectual property.

“We feel it will be a great source of family-friendly, advertiser-friendly content – which won’t be viewable anywhere else,” Scott Blanksteen, Vudu’s VP of product and ad-supported VOD, told Variety, which first reported the deal.

While media reports have suggested Walmart is dipping its toes into subscription video-on-demand distribution, Blanksteen said the MGM deal is not about SVOD, but rather ad-supported OTT video.

“I wouldn’t rule that out for the future, but there are no concrete plans or discussions for that now,” he said.

Launched in 2016, “Movies on Us” features a catalog of more than 7,000 catalog TV shows and movies free (with a Vudu account) to stream with commercials. Content providers include Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, MGM and Anchor Bay Entertainment.

The platform mirrors a growing number of ad-supported OTT video services such as The Roku Channel, Shout! Factory TV and Sony Crackle.

Vudu, which offers more than 180,000 studio movies to buy and rent, is also testing targeted advertising and direct-to-consumer ecommerce.

With Walmart actively promoting ecommerce in an attempt to better compete with Amazon, Vudu is testing direct shopping links as well as product information requests.

“Walmart tends to be a crawl-walk-run company,” Blanksteen said. “We feel like we are driving in the direction of building a great, on-demand network.”

Vudu Adds Sony TVs to 4K UHD Compatible Devices List

Walmart-owned online movie service Vudu.com has upgraded its Android TV app to include Sony televisions, enabling users to watch Vudu UHD titles in 4K with Dolby Vision HDR and HDR-10 functionality.

4K claims four time the pixels of 1080p with added life-like color of high dynamic range technology.

Vudu currently offers 4K UHD on most TV brands (Samsung, LG, Vizio, inadddtion to streaming media devices Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Roku, TiVo, Xbox One S and Nvidia Shield video game consoles.

“4K and HDR represent the best possible cinematic experience in the home – and we want to be able to deliver that experience to as many people as possible, accorss as many devices as possible,” Kristine Lopes, senior manager, product marketing at Vudu, said in a statement.

FandangoNow’s Cameron Douglas Elected EMA Chairman

Cameron Douglas, VP of home entertainment for Fandango’s on-demand video streaming service, FandangoNow, has been elected chairman of the Entertainment Merchants Association.

Douglas replaces Jonathan Zepp, head of worldwide movies and TV partnerships for Google Play.

Other officers include vice chair Suyin Lim, senior director, global content acquisition, Sony Interactive Entertainment; secretary Michele Edelman, EVP, marketing and content strategy, Vubiquity; and treasurer Matt Hill, head of vendor management, Amazon Prime Video.

EMA past chairmen Bob Geistman, EVP, sales and marketing for Ingram Entertainment, and Marty Graham, SVP, comScore, as well as Bill Kotzman, partner product manager, TV/film, Google/YouTube, will also serve on the association’s executive committee as at-large members.

Other members of the board are Amit Balan, head of marketing, Vudu; Lori Flynn, VP, content, Redbox Automated Retail; Ryan Gorman, director, merchandise buying, video games, Target; Pedro E. Gutierrez Jr., director, digital stores movies and TV business and category management, Microsoft; Steve Harkins, VP and GM, Baker & Taylor; Bill Miller, VP and divisional merchandise manager, DVD, Blu-ray, and Games, Trans World Entertainment; Jason Peterson, CEO, ContentBridge Systems; and Mark Vrieling, CEO, ScreenPlay Entertainment.

“In the ever-changing world of home entertainment retailing, we need an organized industry association more than ever,” said Douglas in a statement. “EMA collectively advocates for anyone involved in the consumer delivery of content, promotes and encourages adoption of standards, and establishes trade- and consumer-focused best practices. I am proud to devote my time to an organization so important to our industry.”

“The companies on EMA’s Board of Directors represent the spectrum of the home entertainment industry, including video and video games, physical and digital, and sellthrough, rental, and streaming,” said Mark Fisher, EMA president and CEO, in a statement. “These directors personify the diversity of products and business models in our industry and will help ensure that the industry’s trade association meets the needs of all market segments in our incredibly diverse industry.”

Fox, Vudu Show Off ‘Deadpool’s Dream Suite’ at Comic-Con

Fox and Walmart’s Vudu showed off “Deadpool’s Dream Suite” before awarding a lucky fan of the July 18-22 San Diego Comic-Con International a chance to stay there on the Saturday evening of the convention.

The location was converted from the most-expensive suite at the Hard Rock Hotel in downtown San Diego across the street from the convention center, and decorated to look like the apartment shared by Deadpool and Blind Al in the “Deadpool” movies. The design team loaded the room with special artwork, Deadpool 2 posters and many subtle nods to the films (but, alas, there was nothing buried under the floorboards).

After Comic-Con, Vudu will host a giveaway of select loot from the suite, with signups at the sweepstakes site beginning July 20.

Deadpool 2 will be available through digital retailers Aug. 7 and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Aug. 21 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.