‘Multiplatform Entertainment’ Innovators Feted at 2018 Variety Hall of Fame

Paramount Pictures president of worldwide home media distribution Bob Buchi, YouTube global head of content Susanne Daniels, Incredibles 2 director Brad Bird and “Insecure” creator and star Issa Rae were honored at Variety’s Hall of Fame dinner Dec. 4.

The digital movie sales and storage service Movies Anywhere and digital retailer FandangoNow were also acknowledged with awards at the event “celebrating innovation in multiplatform entertainment,” which benefited City Year.

See our exclusive photos from the Variety Hall of Fame ceremony here.

Buchi noted his first job working for a studio was as a sweeper at Disneyland. The rule was if he saw $20 on the ground he could sweep it up and go backstage and put it in his pocket. “Here I am 20 years later, and I’m still trying to coax $20 at a time out of consumers’ pockets,” he joked.

Saying he was “very honored and humbled” by the award, he praised the industry’s collaborative nature. “We’re all competitors but we all rally around technical advancements,” he said.

Karin Gilford, SVP and GM of Movies Anywhere, accepted the Deloitte Media and Entertainment Innovation Award for one of those advancements, Movies Anywhere. The digital movie collection service backed by five major studios launched in October 2017 with industry teamwork, she said. “Movies Anywhere is a collaborative endeavor and the success that we’ve achieved this year reflects the boundless energy, amazing creativity and commitment to teamwork that we continue to see from our partners and colleagues at Disney, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Universal and Warner Brothers,” she said, noting that the service is backed by six, “soon to be seven,” major retail partners.

“We continue to believe Movies Anywhere is a game changer,” she said. “Digital ownership has tremendous value.”

Director Brad Bird gave a nod to the home entertainment industry, while also extolling the virtues of the theatrical experience. “Watching something uninterrupted with strangers in the dark, there’s nothing like it,” he said. Still, home entertainment widens the audience, he noted.

“It’s also a wonderful time for movies because there are so many ways to see them thanks to all the people in this room, and when movies go to that ethereal place that they all go to, they can be viewed at any time and that’s a wonderful thing and people can be comforted by stories and watch them conveniently,” he said.

YouTube’s Daniels counted herself lucky “to work with incredibly talented people who tell compelling stories that resonate with audiences young and old.” “I’m also lucky be part of YouTube, a platform that gives people across the globe a way to share their experiences and their voice,” she added.

Rae, who got her start on the web, noted, “I’m here because of the Internet, because of YouTube.” She acknowledged entertainment executives who allowed her “space to suck.”

“Sometimes as people of color, as minorities, we can be crippled by fear of failure because we know we only get one chance,” she said.

Cameron Douglas, VP of home entertainment, Fandango, accepted the Variety Innovation Award for the digital service FandangoNow.

He created an elaborate, comedic backstory for the retailer starting with the “Fandango brothers,” who lost their dance studio in San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake. They decided to create a digital movie service, he said.

“They didn’t know what that meant at the time, but they were determined,” Douglas joked.

(L-R): Cameron Douglas, Bob Buchi, Issa Rae, Susanne Daniels, Brad Bird and Karin Gilford at Variety Hall of Fame 2018. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Variety)

Comcast Adds Amazon Prime Video to X1 Platform

Comcast Dec. 5 announced that Amazon Prime Video will launch over the next week on its broadband-based Xfinity X1 platform. Prime Video joins Netflix and YouTube as major third-party over-the-top video services afforded direct access to Comcast subscribers.

The move underscores Comcast’s ongoing tug-of-war between branching out into branded OTT video and staying true to its pay-TV legacy.

“Prime Video is a fantastic extension of the programming choices available to our customers,” Matt Strauss, EVP, Xfinity Services, Comcast Cable, said in a statement.“By integrating hundreds of thousands of live and on demand choices from the best networks, studios and streaming services, our customers can instantly search, control and watch all of their entertainment in one place with their voice.”

X1 subs will be able to search Prime Video original programming, including Homecoming with Julia Roberts, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, The Marvelous Mrs. MaiselThe RomanoffsGoliath, Bosch, The Man in the High Castle, The Grand Tour  and a growing library of Prime Video programming in 4K Ultra HD and HDR.

Comcast users can launch the Prime Video app by saying “Amazon Prime Video” into the voice remote or by navigating to the X1 apps menu.They can also search an entire genre of programming, such as saying, “Watch The Americans, ”Show me Sneaky Pete,” or “Find comedies” into the voice remote.

“The launch arrives just in time for Season 2 of Emmy-winning “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Season 3 of “The Grand Tour” and holiday classics like It’s A Wonderful Life, which is now available exclusively on Prime Video,” said Greg Hart, VP of Amazon Prime Video.

In addition to the thousands of titles included with a Prime Video subscription, subscribers can access titles for rental or purchase, or choose from more than 150 Prime Video Channels to add to their video service, including Showtime and Starz.

 

YouTube Streaming Ad-Supported Hollywood Movies

YouTube has quietly begun offering catalog studio movies for free on its website, including titles such as Legally Blonde, Rocky IV, Zookeeper and The Terminator, among others.

The ad-supported streams appeared last month alongside new releases promoted to buy or rent on YouTube.com (i.e. Google Play).

“We saw this opportunity based on user demand, beyond just offering paid movies. Can we do ad-supported movies, free to the user?” Rohit Dhawan, director of product management at YouTube, told AdAge. “It also presents a nice opportunity for advertisers.”

Indeed, with most of the titles already cycled through retail channels, including DVD, Blu-ray Disc, transactional VOD and SVOD, marketing the IP through the broadcast TV model online to more than 1 billion users offers incremental revenue opportunities for all parties involved.

With targeted advertising seen as a new way for marketers to reach select demographics, eMarketer estimates YouTube could generate billions in revenue annually from ad-supported movies.

“This is a huge business opportunity,” said Farhad Massoudi, CEO of ad-supported Tubi TV. “There’s a lot of consumer traction and I expect all the major companies will jump in at some point.”

Indeed, to help market the Feb. 9, 2019, theatrical release of The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, Warner Bros. Pictures and YouTube offered free streaming access to the original Lego Movie on Black Friday embedded in an online ad.

The promotion marked the first time YouTube rolled out a full-length movie within an ad.

 

Cinedigm’s Dove Channel Launches on Comcast Cable

Cinedigm Nov. 26 announced that its subscription video-on-demand service, Dove Channel, is now available similar to Netflix and YouTube via direct access on Comcast’s broadband-based Xfinity X1.

X1 subscribers can access Dove Channel’s library of family friendly movies, children’s programs, documentaries, and TV series, including new and noteworthy titles such as “A Christmas Kiss,” “1500 Steps,” and “Letters to God,” among others.

Xfinity X1 subscribers can access the service by saying “Dove Channel” into their X1 voice remote control or by finding it within the networks section of Xfinity on Demand. Dove Channel can be added to X1 customers’ service for $4.99 per month and included in the monthly cable bill.

Launched in September 2015, Dove Channel was created to offer programming, including children’s fare, that meets the content standards of The Dove Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to encourage and promote the creation, production, distribution and consumption of wholesome family entertainment.

“Cinedigm is pleased to bring our top-tier family-focused content to X1 and to reach even more viewers from coast-to-coast,” Bill Sondheim, president of Cinedigm Entertainment Group, said in a statement. “Dove Channel offers unique values-based films and programs that are safe for the whole family and Xfinity X1 is the perfect home for this vast library of inspiring content.”

 

 

 

Vanessa Hudgens Plugs New Netflix Holiday Movie on Black Friday

Move over Hallmark and Lifetime. Netflix, which is streaming original winter holiday-themed romantic comedy The Princess Switch, starring Vanessa Hudgens (Spring Breakers), upped public awareness of the title Nov. 23 by releasing a YouTube video featuring the High School Musical star sharing her holiday traditions and behind-the-scenes moments.

The movie, which finds a duchess switching places with an ordinary woman (both played by Hudgens) from Chicago and they each fall in love with each other’s beaus — co-stars British actor/musician Sam Palladio (“Nashville”). It was filmed in Romania.

YouTube Streaming ‘The Lego Movie’ Free on Black Friday

To help market the Feb. 9, 2019 theatrical release of The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, Warner Bros. Pictures and YouTube will include free streaming access to the original Lego Movie on Black Friday (Nov. 23) embedded in an online ad.

The promotion marks the first time YouTube has rolled out a full-length movie within an ad. For 24 hours, anyone checking out the trailer for the upcoming Lego movie can stream a full-length feature showing of the original film.

To launch their own personal screening, users should enter the YouTube search keyword “Brick Friday” and select the promoted video for The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part at the top of the search results.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part stars the voices of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Tiffany Haddish, Will Arnett, Stephanie Beatriz, Charlie Day and Alison Brie, among others.

 

 

Video Remains Double-Edge Sword for Facebook

Facebook ended its most recent third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) fiscal period with 2.3 billion people worldwide using the social media platform monthly, including 1.5 billion every day. Revenue grew 33% to $13.7 billion.

Facebook Watch, the ad-supported VOD service, was launched Aug. 10, 2017, followed by Instagram TV (IGTV) this past June. Both platforms targeting YouTube continue to pose challenges to Facebook’s business model structured around user exposure to advertising. Indeed, streaming video could actually hurt revenue, Facebook founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on the Oct. 30 webcast.

“Video monetizes significantly less well per minute than people interacting in [community] feeds,” Zuckerberg said. “So, this means that even though we’ve made video more community-oriented and minimized displacement of social interactions, as video grows it will still displace some other services where we’d probably make more money.”

In other words, as Facebook users consume video, they interact with “friends” less — and in turn deprive advertisers (which account for more than 90% of Facebook revenue) channels to pitch products and marketing campaigns.

“Video is a critical part of the future, it’s what our community wants, and as long as we can make it social, I think it will end up being a large part of our business as well,” said Zuckerberg.

Indeed, the executive admitted Facebook has had to “rate-limit” video growth on the platform. Characterizing video consumption as “passive” compared to users aggressively engaging in community, political and social conversations, Zuckerberg said Facebook Watch is working with advertisers to better fit their marketing and ad-buying process for video.

In Q3, Facebook introduced a way for advertisers to buy video ads from specific content categories and pay only for ads that are watched to the end.

“The biggest thing that we need to do is make sure that the video experience is people-centric, and that we’re helping content creators [and advertisers] build a community and we’re helping people interact with each other,” Zuckerberg said.  “We build social products that help people interact. There are lots of places in the world that you can go to consume content, but we’re the Internet service that people use to help connect with other people, and we’re not going to let passive consumption get in the way of that.

“We needed to figure out a way so that video can grow, but people can also keep on interacting and doing what they tell us that they uniquely want from Facebook,” he said.

Zuckerberg said Facebook Watch user growth has tripled in the past few months.

“I think that’s a very exciting opportunity ahead,” he said. “And that’s one of the reasons that I’m very optimistic about the Watch growth.”

Comcast Q3 Pay-TV Subs Continue to Decline

Comcast Cable maybe slowly embracing third-party over-the-top video service such as Netflix, YouTube and Sling TV, but it continues to jettison pay-TV subscribers.

The cable operator Oct. 25 disclosed it lost 106,000 subscribers in the third quarter (ended Sept. 30), and improvement from the 125,000 subs lost in the previous-year period.

In reality, Comcast ended the quarter with 22 million video subs – down 375,000 subs from 22.39 million last year.

At the same time, Comcast is one of the nation’s largest ISPs, adding 334,000 residential broadband customers in the quarter – up 83.5% from 182,000 customer additions last year. The company ended the period with more than 24.7 million residential high-speed Internet customers, compared to 23.5 million customers last year.

It was the best Q3 for broadband additions in 10 years. Indeed, broadband revenue increased 9.6% in the quarter to $4.3 billion. Revenue is up 9.1% to $12.7 billion through the first nine months of the fiscal year.

“Comcast Cable’s pre-tax earnings growth was the fastest in six years, and customer relationship growth accelerated,” Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast Corp., said in a statement.

 

Survey: YouTube and Instagram Gaining Ground Among Social Media Users

Most people are using YouTube and Instagram more in 2018 than in the year before, outperforming other channels such as Facebook, according to a new survey from The Manifest, a business news and how-to website.

Nearly two-thirds of social media users report they are using YouTube (63%) and Instagram (61%) more in 2018 than in 2017, compared to 52% who say they are using Facebook more this year.

Also, women tend to use social media more frequently than men, according to the survey, with 75% of women saying they use social media multiple times per day, compared to 64% of men.

Although survey respondents report using YouTube and Instagram more often this year, most still use Facebook at least once a week. Eighty-two percent (82%) of respondents say they use Facebook, compared to 75% who use YouTube and 53% who use Instagram.

Social media is part of most people’s everyday lives with 86% of those surveyed using it daily, and 72% using it multiple times per day.

People use multiple methods to access social media – mobile, computer, and tablet apps in addition to web browsers and smartwatches, but the most popular are mobile apps and computer web browsers, according to the survey. Most social media users access social media from mobile apps (67%) and computer web browsers (57%).

The Manifest’s 2018 Consumer Social Media Survey included 627 people in the United States who use social media at least once per week.

Netflix Generates 15% of Global Internet Streaming Traffic

Netflix created the subscription streaming video market. It had more than 130 million subscribers globally at the end of June, including 57.3 million in the United States.

The subscription streaming video pioneer now accounts for 15% of the total downstream volume of traffic across the entire (worldwide) Internet, according to new data from Sandvine.com. That percentage, which tops 19% in the United States, is up 3% from the previous-year report.

By comparison, Amazon Prime Video ranked 4thin streaming video traffic in the U.S. – and is now available in 200 countries worldwide and is increasing its share of global traffic.

Streaming video dominates global Internet traffic, generating 58% of global Internet traffic – up more than 22% from last year.

The report said the volume of Netflix traffic in North and South America is what propels the service’s worldwide market domination. At peak hour on fixed networks (not mobile), Netflix’s streaming traffic can top 40% on some operator networks.

Netflix also ranks third (up 5.13%) in the Americas top 10 up-streamers (Google is 7th). Sandvine says the service’s internal analytics technology bookmarks subscribers browsing locations on the site, which results in automatic video previews and increased upload traffic.

Across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Netflix ranks 10thin streaming video traffic, up 1.7% — but trailing YouTube (up 4%) and Google (9.4%). Sandvine said Google is second in the EMEA region, reflecting the power of the search engine to generate requests and traffic on a wide variety of topics. This is the first region that Google specifically places near the top.

In the Asia Pacific region, which includes Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, etc., Netflix ranked 3rd(6.3%), behind Facebook Video (6.6%), but ahead of YouTube (4.9%). Sandvine attributed Netflix strong position to improved library of content selections, in addition to delivering more local content.