AT&T’s Hello Lab Originals Bows Three New Video Series

Hello Lab Originals, a joint venture between AT&T and Otter Media’s Fullscreen Media, Aug. 8 announced a slate of three original series streaming on the Internet.

Geared toward millennial and teen audiences, each series includes multiple points of story engagement, in addition to the scripted series, such as social media, companion vlogs and a podcast.

“Starter Pack” premieres Aug. 20 on Facebook Watch telling the story of a graduate of a prestigious art school turning her talent to an unexpected medium.

“Guilty Party” returns to YouTube Oct. 2 for the second series with a new storyline. Last season’s weekly vlogs return, joined by a new podcast series “Suspect”, where viewers can further immerse themselves in the world of true crime.

“The Bright Fight” centers around promoting online positivity and social responsibility. Digital media creators Scotty Sire, Nabela Noor and the Dobre Brothers use their reach to raise awareness for causes, including environmentalism, body positivity and cyber bullying. Content premieres on the digital creator’s social channels Oct. 16.

“With each of these shows, we’re talking about the realities of the connected generation’s daily life through humor, drama and empowering content,” Valerie Vargas, SVP, advertising and creative services, AT&T, said in a statement. “We hope viewers find a community within each of these shows that speaks to them and encourage each other to spread positivity and make constructive change in their own world.”

Maude Standish, VP of programming at Fullscreen, said the show’s content is increasing driven by viewer data seeking to avoid replicating content already on the Web.

“It’s important to remember that this kind of entertainment is a magic spell cast by us and completed by the audience,” said Standish. “They are critical to the success of all our programs.”


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.”

Comcast Adding Amazon Prime Video

Comcast Cable and Amazon Aug. 2 announced an agreement to launch Prime Video on Comcast’s Xfinity X1 cloud-based set-top. It marks the first time Prime Video content would be integrated on a pay-TV operator’s platform in the U.S.  The Prime Video app is expected to launch on X1 later this year.

Comcast incorporated Netflix, Pandora and YouTube into the X1 ecosystem last year.

Xfinity TV subscribers – which represent more than 60% of Comcast’s residential foot print – will have access to Prime Originals like “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” and “Goliath,” as well as live events and TV, titles available to rent or buy, or to watch with a Prime Video Channels subscription.

Customers can search Prime Video content using Comcast’s X1 voice remote, as well as enjoy shows and movies available in 4K Ultra HD and HDR.

“Amazon Prime Video’s growing list of originals, movies, shows, documentaries, and kids’ programming will be an excellent complement to the overall X1 viewing experience,” Dana Strong, president of consumer services at Comcast, said in a statement.

“The addition of the Prime Video app to X1 will make navigating between Prime Video and live TV easier than ever,” said Greg Hart, VP of Amazon Prime Video.


YouTube Teases Space Thriller ‘Origin,’ Orders Season 2 of ‘Impulse’

YouTube at Comic-Con on July 19 teased the intergalactic space thriller “Origin” during a panel at the show attended by the series creators and moderated by BuzzFeed’s Marcus Jones.

The 10-episode series, from director Paul W.S. Anderson and the producers of “The Crown” ​and “Outlander,” ​follows a group of outsiders who find themselves abandoned on a ship bound for a distant land. Now they must work together for survival, but quickly realize that one of them is far from who they claim to be.

From Left Bank Pictures and Sony Pictures Television, “Origin” stars ​Tom Felton (​”Harry Potter” film franchise, ​Rise of the Planet of the Apes​) and ​Natalia Tena (​”Harry Potter” film franchise, “Game of Thrones”). The cast also includes an international roster of talent including Sen Mitsuji, Nora Arnezeder, Fraser James, Philipp Christopher, Nina Wadia, Madalyn Horcher, Siobahn Cullen, Adelayo Adedayo and Wil Coban.

“Origin” is created, written, and executive produced by Mika Watkins. The series is executive produced by Andy Harries, Suzanne Mackie, and Rob Bullock from Left Bank Pictures, alongside Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec, Jeff Pinkner, and Scott Rosenberg from Midnight Radio, and Paul W.S. Anderson.

The series launches on YouTube premium in the fall of this year.

Also at Comic-Con, YouTube announced that it has ordered a second season of the acclaimed supernatural thriller “Impulse” from Universal Cable Productions (UCP). Since its debut on June 6, the first episode of “Impulse” has generated nearly 8 million views. Season 2 of the 10-episode, hour-long series will premiere on YouTube Premium in 2019.

In Season 1 of “Impulse,” Maddie Hasson stars as Henrietta “Henry” Cole, a rebellious 16-year-old girl who has always felt different from her peers and longs to escape from her seemingly quaint small town. During a traumatic event, Henry discovers she has the extraordinary ability to teleport, and her newfound power confirms Henry’s conviction that she really was different from everybody else – but it now makes her the focus of those who want to control her.

“Impulse” is directed and executive produced by Hypnotic’s Doug Liman (Bourne​ Identity, Live. Die. Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow​). David Bartis and Gene Klein, who produce UCP’s hit series “Suits” on USA Network and SYFY’s “Nightflyers,” also serve as executive producers. Lauren LeFranc (​”Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”​) is the series’ ​showrunner and executive producer.

Sony Pictures’ ‘Khali the Killer’ YouTube Release a Mistake or Shrewd Marketing?

NEWS ANALYSIS — Heading into the July 4 holiday, Sony Pictures released on YouTube what it said was a trailer to Khali the Killer, a crime drama about a retiring East Los Angeles hit man who develops empathy for one of his targets.

Instead of the trailer for the reported future theatrical release, viewers got to briefly see the entire 90-minute movie. And Sony received a windfall of media coverage about how it screwed up.

But did the studio really mess up, or did someone in marketing at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment use social media to its full viral advantage?

In a box office era dominated by superhero sequels and undermined by over-the-top video, developing an audience for a low-budget non-comedy about an ex-gang member (Richard Cabral) taking one last job to support his ailing grandmother is a challenge.

Yet, the Internet was abuzz about the alleged marketing misstep on the very day (July 3) SPHE released Khali the Killer on DVD for $14.95.

Khali may be “the hero you hate to love,” but you have to know a hero even exists before you can love them. And Sony successfully got people talking about it.

Not unlike what Artisan Entertainment (now merged with Lionsgate) accomplished 20 years ago with its low-budget ($60,000) indie horror movie, The Blair Witch Project.

Utilizing the nascent Internet and untapped social media channels at the time, Artisan cleverly “released” on YouTube video of what it claimed was selfie footage found from three student filmmakers who disappeared in 1994 searching for a mythical creature known as the Blair Witch in the town of Burkittsville, Md.

The studio/distributor also created a website (which still exists) chronicling the missing students’ last known contacts with town locals and interactions with family and friends. The website reportedly generated more than 21 million unique visitors/hits prior to the film’s release.

The studio had successfully tapped into the social conscience of the 18- to 34-year-old target audience. The Blair Witch Project would go on to generate almost $250 million at the global box office — and millions more on home video.


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.”


Starz Launches on YouTube TV

Lionsgate-owned Starz and YouTube today announced the launch of Starz and Starz Encore premium pay TV channels and services on YouTube TV.

The networks’ 14 Starz and Starz Encore channels are now available via YouTube TV for $9 per month along with access to the network’s full Starz and Starz Encore VOD catalogs featuring Hollywood movies, as well as both current and past seasons of Starz Original series, including the upcoming season five of “Power,” “Vida,” “Counterpart,” “Outlander” and “American Gods.”

“The addition of Starz on YouTube TV offers consumers another exciting new way to subscribe to our channels and access the breadth of top quality original programming and content with the freedom to watch it anywhere, anytime,” said Jeffrey Hirsch, chief operating officer at Starz, in a statement. “With breakthrough Starz original series, first-run hit movies including Rough Night and Spider-Man: Homecoming, as well as exclusive documentaries, Starz is a great value for consumers who subscribe to this platform.”

“We are excited to expand the YouTube TV offering with Starz just in time for the premiere of Season 5 of ‘Power,'” said Heather Moosnick, director of content partnerships, YouTube TV. “We know YouTube TV users will love exploring Starz’s incredible originals, movies and rich library in addition to our current ‘Best of TV’ base package, all in one seamless experience.”

YouTube TV offers cable-free live TV from more than 60 networks, including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, TNT, TBS, CNN, ESPN, AMC and FX, and local sports networks from NBC Sports, FOX Sports, and NESN in select markets. A YouTube TV membership is $40 a month.

Just-Renewed ’13 Reasons’ Still Top Digital Original, Parrot Analytics Says

The top five digital originals for the week ended June 2 are the same as in the prior week, according to Parrot Analytics Demand Expressions data.

Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” remains at No. 1, with a 15% increase in demand from the prior week.

The teen drama series, based on a teenage girl’s suicide, has just been renewed for a third season, Netflix announced June 6.

The second-most-popular digital original for the week ended June 2 is YouTube’s “Cobra Kai,” which also posted a 15% increase in demand from the prior week.

They are followed by Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” at No. 3 and two more Netflix shows, “Arrested Development” at No. 4 and “Orange is the New Black” at No. 5.

Season 3 of the DreamWorks’ children’s series “Trollhunters” premiered May 25, leading to an 87% spike in demand from the prior week – enough to propel the fantasy animation show to No. 6 on the weekly digital originals chart, up from No. 30 the prior week.

Netflix’s “Stranger Things” rose up a notch to No. 9 from No. 10 the previous week, after a nearly 11% increase in demand.

“Star Trek: Discovery,” from CBS All Access, dropped to No. 8 from No. 6 with a 5.5% decline in demand.

Media Play News has teamed with Parrot Analytics to provide readers with a weekly top 10 of the most popular digital original TV series in the United States. Parrot Analytics uses a proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

Despite the Hype, Out-of-Home Video Consumption Remains Small

NEWS ANALYSIS — Pay-TV distributors and over-the-top video platforms have long pushed for mobile video consumption in an effort to expand viewership and market size.

New data from IHS Markit suggests out-of-home video consumption is still a minor activity — even among Internet users between the ages of 17 and 24 who seemingly can’t exist without their smartphones.

More than 50% of Internet users surveyed in the United States, United Kingdom, Brazil, Japan and Germany watched video content out of their homes at least once a month, according to the study conducted in the first quarter of 2018.

Of those viewers, nearly 17% did so on a daily basis. Among the previously-mentioned younger demo, 80% viewed video content outside the home at least once a month, with a quarter doing so on a daily basis.

That also means the vast majority of respondents DO NOT view video outside the home or on portable devices.

IHS correctly contends pay-TV operators are expanding distribution of their multiscreen services across devices and bringing third-party apps onto their own set-top boxes. The latter is true only for in-home consumption.

“In the U.K., Virgin Media customers are twice as likely to have a Netflix subscription than Sky TV customers, highlighting the benefits of content discovery integration,” said Fateha Begum, associate director for connected devices and media consumption at IHS Markit.

Indeed, more than half of survey respondents said watching video on their mobile devices was “somewhat or very important,” rising to 75% among those aged 17 to 34.

Yet, that same demo also said they only used multiscreen services on a smartphone or tablet “at least once a month,” compared with 50% among those aged 35 to 54.

“At least once a month” does not portend a trend or paradigm shift in video consumption.

YouTube, Netflix and Amazon were the most popular video platforms in the five countries surveyed — beating pay-TV and video-on-demand services.

In the Netflix earnings call in April, CEO and co-founder Reed Hastings said apps represented the new TV network.

“All apps on your phone will have some form of video, or most apps will,” Hastings said. “And so, you just see a very wide spread of entertainment options, some of which are movies and TV shows, some are more interactive.”

All true, except accessing that video on mobile devices takes data. Lots of data. And data costs money — a challenge to younger demos.

Indeed, IHS said the popularity of these platforms varied according to geography. For example, YouTube was the most popular service in Japan, with 84% reporting it as their first choice when looking for something to watch, while Sky TV in the U.K. was the only pay-TV operator to maintain the top position in any country surveyed, with 30% of respondents claiming it their first choice.

“The extensive reach of online video platforms, covering customers from across the various pay TV platforms and devices, threatens pay-TV service viewership and value perceptions,” said Begum. “Bringing online video services to set-top boxes allow pay-TV operators to maintain and control their customer relationships and experiences, while presenting their platforms as the best way to find and view the widest variety of content.”

Again true, but not outside the home.

Michelle Slavich Joins Warner

Michelle Slavich has been named EVP, global publicity and strategy, Warner Bros. Pictures.

In her new role, Slavich will oversee domestic and international publicity and work with her teams to develop global publicity strategies on all releases from Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema across media outlets and platforms worldwide. She’ll also work closely with the marketing group’s senior management team on PR campaign design and strategy for both individual film titles and key franchises. Slavich will report to Blair Rich, president, worldwide marketing, Warner Bros. Pictures Group and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

“Michelle is a well-respected publicity executive with an impressive track record of leadership, innovation and strategic vision,” said Rich in a statement. “As we tackle the constantly evolving landscape of film publicity, she’s a great choice to lead the team and further our already-excellent publicity teams in supporting our world-class films and filmmakers.”

Slavich joins Warner from Google, where she most recently served as head of entertainment communications for YouTube, overseeing the platform’s entertainment and music PR initiatives, as well as corporate and creator communications. She was with Google more than five years, and in the last two years, her team launched more than 50 publicity campaigns for the company’s YouTube Original series and movies. Slavich was also responsible for the PR launch campaigns for the company’s subscription services YouTube TV and YouTube Red.

Before that, Slavich served as VP of publicity at Universal Studios Home Entertainment (USHE), overseeing publicity, promotions and events for NBC Universal film and TV releases. In this role, Slavich supervised more than 200 publicity campaigns for Universal Pictures, Focus Features & NBC.

Prior to USHE, Slavich held positions at Rogers & Associates and PeopleSupport Inc., as well as in theatrical publicity at DreamWorks/Amblin Entertainment. She began her career as a publicity assistant at the Shoah Foundation, Steven Spielberg’s nonprofit organization dedicated to the recording of Holocaust survivor testimonies for educational use.