Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.
This week Colin and I parse Disney’s “Black Widow” opening weekend numbers, building on my analysis from yesterday. We agree that it is premature to extrapolate much from “Black Widow” and anyone doing so is on slippery ground. On the one hand, Disney getting 45% of its opening weekend from Disney+ PVOD is very impressive; on the other hand, it is far from definitive proof that streaming’s role will be robust in the first release window going forward.
The backdrop to all of this is of course consumers’ decision-making about whether to stay home and watch any of the myriad streaming originals available in the current “Peak TV” era, or choose to return to the theater. Inevitably, we observe the sizable role that quality plays in this decision-making process. Sadly, streaming TV and movies are going in completely opposite directions on this front, with the former getting relentlessly better and the latter getting relentlessly worse. I believe this alone is a key contributor to consumers choosing to stay home, as I wrote last week in “5 Reasons Going to the Movies is Facing an Irreversible Demise.”
Please let us know what you think!
Listen to the podcast (27 minutes, 33 seconds)
Yesterday’s news that Universal Pictures will release certain of its 2022 movies on Peacock no more than four months after their theatrical premiere was just the latest move by the owner of both a studio and a streaming service (in this case Comcast) to accelerate the demise of going to a theater to see a movie.
Universal’s move shouldn’t have surprised anyone. Back in April, 2020, in the early days of the pandemic, Universal decided to release “Trolls World Tour” as a digital rental to mitigate the closure of theaters. That touched off a highly public war of words with AMC Theaters’ head Adam Aron, who threatened to no longer carry Universal’s movies. Aron and NBCU head Jeff Shell ultimately buried the hatchet, signing a new deal that compressed the theatrical window from 90 days to 17. Aron may have gotten the last laugh when AMC’s stock unexpectedly got caught up in the meme frenzy and the company raised over $1.2 billion by issuing new shares over the past few months.
Of course, Universal is following a playbook being run by other cross-owned studios/streaming services. Disney has simultaneously released a number of its movies in theaters and on Disney+, experimenting with the premium rental model. ViacomCBS is compressing the theatrical window for Paramount movies to get them onto Paramount+ as quickly as possible. And of course WarnerMedia set off a firestorm back in December, ’20 when it abruptly announced all of its 2021 Warner Bros.’ slate would be simultaneously released on HBO Max (that decision was reversed for the 2022 slate).
Taken together, it’s pretty clear that studios are delicately, yet aggressively, prioritizing their streaming services over theatrical, irrespective of whatever soothing assurances studio executives continue to offer about the importance of the theater experience to assuage chain owners. But in reality, the studios’ moves are just one of at least 5 reasons why going to the movies is facing an irreversible demise as streaming upends every corner of the media and entertainment industry.
Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’a Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.
After weeks of rumors, Amazon officially announced its acquisition of MGM for $8.45 billion. On this week’s podcast Colin and I explore what the deal means to Amazon and to its Prime members. Colin sees benefits to Amazon beyond bolstering Prime member retention and acquisition, whereas I think these are the deal’s primary rationale.
Nearly five years ago, Jeff Bezos articulated the “flywheel” dynamic of Prime - how video contributes to member acquisition, usage and retention (jump to the 37 minute point in the video interview). I’m guessing that Amazon did extensive consumer research on different parts of the MGM massive catalog to understand how filtering them into Prime could move the membership needle.
While the James Bond franchise has received a lot of attention, the MGM catalog includes 4,000 movies and 17,000 TV show. These, plus the potential spinoffs or as Amazon’s Mike Hopkins put it - “the treasure trove of IP in the deep catalog that we plan to reimagine” - give Amazon a huge amount of programming optionality for years into the future. It will be fun to see how Amazon curates all of this programming into Prime.
Listen to the podcast (26 minutes, 13 seconds)
Welcome to the 544th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
Kids movies were a big part of the success of Disney+ in 2020, with the service having seven of the top 10 streaming movies, according to Nielsen. But as Colin and I discuss, Disney+ will be challenged this year by Netflix, HBO Max and others. With theaters still running at low capacity due to Covid, 2021 is setting up as a game-changing year for streaming movies.
Separate, this week AT&T pulled the plug on its AT&T TV Now virtual pay-TV service, which at one point a couple years ago led the category with nearly 2 million subscribers (when it was called DirecTV Now). Colin and I examine what went wrong and why AT&T shifted its strategy so dramatically.
Click here to listen to the podcast (25 minutes, 13 seconds)
I’m pleased to present the 529th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
This week Colin and I try to scope out whether Disney’s recent PVOD release of Mulan on Disney+ was successful. Disney was looking to both generate PVOD revenues and new Disney+ subscribers. Though it’s hard to discern from available sources exactly what the results were, it seems reasonable to conclude that Mulan wasn’t a home run. But it still seems like the right strategy for Disney to have pursued.
What does this mean for Disney’s next move in PVOD and PVOD in general as Covid limitations continue? Listen in to learn more.
Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 28 seconds)
New research by Hub Entertainment Research highlights strong interest in streaming first-run movies by younger audiences. According to Hub’s new “Monetizing Video” study, 63% of 18-34 year olds said they would probably or definitely pay to stream a first-run movie.
Further, 18-34 year olds showed little price sensitivity in deciding whether to stream a first-run movie. When the price to stream the movie is set at $15, 67% said they would probably or definitely stream; at $20, 65% said they would probably or definitely stream and at $50, 57% said they would probably or definitely stream.
Topics: Hub Research
I’m pleased to present the 512th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. We hope all of our listeners are staying safe and doing well.
On this week’s podcast Colin and I look at what’s ahead for premium video on demand (PVOD), whereby movies are released direct to consumer, preempting the theatrical window. PVOD has been a contentious topic and with theaters currently closed due to the pandemic PVOD’s appeal has accelerated.
PVOD was in the news earlier this week as the Wall Street Journal wrote how Universal Pictures’ PVOD release of “Trolls World Tour” generated 5 million rentals at $20 apiece. That yielded a split to Universal that was on par with 5 months of theatrical release revenue for the first “Trolls’ movie, underscoring PVOD’s profit potential for studios.
The article triggered pushback from executives at leading theater chains who are justifiably nervous about PVOD eating into their windows. Colin and I dig into the pros and cons of PVOD and what’s likely ahead as stay at home orders slowly lift.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (22 minutes, 34 seconds)
I’m pleased to present the 447th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
It’s been a tough couple of months for fans of classic movie streaming video services, with AT&T pulling the plug on FlimStruck while another independent/classic movie service, Fandor, is laying off most of its staff and putting its assets up for sale.
On this week’s podcast we explore possible explanations for why these services didn’t succeed, including relatively high monthly rates, lack of fit with target audiences, overall economics and more. Colin was a big FilmStruck fan, so he’s now going to have to find other outlets until the classic movies re-appear in the WarnerMedia’s SVOD service coming later in 2019.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 50 seconds)
I’m pleased to present the 421st edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
On this week’s podcast we cover 3 different topics. First up is Comcast’s announcement this week this it plans an all-cash offer for the Fox assets Disney has agreed to buy. We don’t have time to fully analyze the move, but both of us see it as a bold doubling-down by Comcast on the traditional multichannel TV model. We speculate about whether Comcast should diversify with a skinny bundle offering, as I described yesterday in taking control of Hulu.
Next up we discuss new research from ACSI focused on the lagging role of movies in SVOD and Netflix specifically (which is being addressed with 86 releases in 2018). Lastly, we turn to data from Advertiser Perceptions showing ad buyers are only willing to pay a small premium to be in lighter ad load environments. I’ve previously speculated about whether the math would work for TV networks by reducing their ad loads.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (24 minutes, 1 second)
I’m pleased to present the 413th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
This week Colin and I wade into the debate over Netflix’s films being banned from consideration at the Cannes Film Festival. We were both struck by Steven Spielberg’s support of the ban, as it seems to us backward-looking and dependent on an outdated definition of what constitutes a “film.” That said, we both understand the deep cultural and economic motivations behind banning Netflix. This week’s BBC report that younger viewers are now consuming more Netflix than BBC content reinforces the global vs. local battle that’s unfolding.
We contrast to this backward-looking approach, by highlighting how Hulu has embraced a viewer-first model, which appears to really be paying off for the service. There are lessons local broadcasters around the world could gain from observing Hulu’s model, starting with giving viewers as much choice as possible.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (24 minutes, 15 seconds)
I’m pleased to present the 410th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
Our first topic this week is data from a new Vimeo report showing that 60% of people who sign up for a free trial with an OTT service convert to become a paying subscriber (with an app, the rate jumps to 72%). As Colin and I discuss, these rates seem incredibly high, especially in the context of “freemium” service conversion rates which are often less than 10%. Granted, it’s not a pure apples-to-apples comparison, but still, the Vimeo data makes a compelling case for OTT services to offer free trials.
We then switch gears to discuss the Oscars which notched its lowest-ever broadcast audience this past Sunday night, with 26.5 million viewers. We explore the range of issues affecting the Oscars, some of which relate to the divergence between box office hits and award winners while some are more about changing viewers’ behaviors and fragmentation. The Oscars ratings reflect an industry in the midst of a huge change.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (22 minutes, 42 seconds)
By now we’re all familiar with the 3 big announcements Disney made yesterday: 1) a plan to launch its own entertainment-focused SVOD service, in turn sunsetting in 2019 its Netflix licensing deal for Disney/Pixar content, 2) a plan to launch an ESPN OTT service and 3) spending $1.58 billion to buy another 42% of BAMTech and take control of that business.
Focusing on Disney’s entertainment SVOD service it looks pretty clear now that by signing the original December, 2012 licensing deal with Netflix, Disney blew a big strategic opportunity to get in front of the trend toward direct-to-consumer online distribution.
An article in the WSJ over the weekend “Apple’s iTunes Falls Short in Battle for Video Viewers” caught my attention for a number of reasons, not least of which it touched on how quickly Comcast has succeeded in growing its market share in digital movie rentals and downloads.
While iTunes is estimated to still hold the market share lead in the digital movie rental and purchase industry with a share of between 20% to 35%, that’s down from over 50% in 2012. The article notes that Amazon’s share is now up to around 20% and Comcast’s is at 15%. For Amazon, video rentals and purchases represent another way it leverages its e-commerce expertise. Rentals/purchases are also very complementary to Amazon’s Prime Video service. In many ways, there’s nothing surprising at all about how Amazon has taken a bite out of Apple’s market share.
I'm pleased to present the 344th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
This week was busier than usual in the video industry and on today’s podcast, Colin and I discuss a number of news items that hit our radar. First we talk about the new Google-CBS deal for the upcoming Unplugged skinny bundle. Next up is VUDU’s Movies on Us, new free, ad-supported VOD service which we both think has potential. We then dig into Facebook’s new feature for advance scheduling and promoting live broadcasts. Finally we review LeEco’s new content and TVs (Colin attended the company’s big launch event this week.)
Clearly there was a lot happening this week as major players in the video industry continue jockeying for position. One news item that broke after we recorded is the rumor about AT&T acquiring Time Warner. That type of deal would be straight out of the Comcast-NBCU playbook and could trigger even more distribution-content tie-ups.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (26 minutes, 17 seconds)
Each week brings more innovation, product announcements and new business models to the ever-changing video industry. This week was certainly no different, and news from 3 companies - Google (a deal with CBS for its Unplugged skinny bundle), VUDU (a new ad-supported on-demand movie offering) and LeEco (a range of new products from the Chinese giant, including TVs and content) - caught my attention. Each has the potential to cause further industry disruption, or amount to nothing. Below I share thoughts on each.
Turner announced this morning that it will launch a new ad-free SVOD service this Fall dubbed FilmStruck, which will be managed by Turner Classic Movies and exclusively draw on movies from Criterion Collection. According to the release, FilmStruck is targeted to “diehard movie enthusiasts who crave a deep, intimate experience independent, foreign and art house films.”
A Turner spokesperson confirmed that Criterion’s 1,000 movie catalog will move over from Hulu in November, where it has been under an exclusive deal announced in February, 2011 and extended in April, 2014.
Amazon announced this morning plans to produce and acquire original movies for theatrical release and for distribution on its Prime Instant Video service. The company's goal is to release 12 movies per year, with production starting later in 2015.
One key twist of Amazon's plan is to release movies on its Prime Instant Video service in the U.S. just 4-8 weeks after theatrical debut, significantly shorter than the typical 39-52 weeks that movies usually take before showing up on Netflix or other SVOD services. One obvious question arising from the shorter window to SVOD release is whether audiences might be reluctant to buy increasingly expensive theater tickets to Amazon's movies when they'll be on the service so soon after (a year of Amazon Prime costs less than taking a family of 4 to the movies, when including pricey concessions). If that proves to be the case, theaters themselves may be reluctant to show Amazon's movies.
Digital purchases of movies in the U.S. boomed in 2014, to $1.55 billion, up 30% from $1.19 billion in 2013, according to new data from the Digital Entertainment Group. However, the $360 million increase was more than offset by a decline in purchases of physical movies (DVD and Blu-ray) of $844 million in 2014, to $6.93 billion, an 11% drop. In fact, as the chart below shows, physical sales have declined by over $2 billion since 2011 when they were nearly $9 billion.
I'm pleased to present the 252nd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
Colin and I recorded the podcast shoulder-to-shoulder in NYC, where we were both at VideoSchmooze on Thursday. There were many great insights from panelists throughout the morning and we share 4 quick takeaways on this week's podcast. (Note, I'll be posting all session videos over the next couple of weeks.)
Our takeaways include discussion around Nielsen's new Total Audience report, which showed a decline of linear TV viewing across all age groups, most particularly among 18-24 year-olds; funding of high-quality online originals; a data point shared by comScore's Anne Hunter, that 36% of online video ad impressions are by bots, not humans; and last, the rise of autoplay video content, driven by Facebook.
Listen in to learn more!
If you have kids that love to gorge themselves on Disney, Pixar and Marvel movies, then today's news that Disney Movies Anywhere (DMA) has been integrated with Google Play, allowing Android users full access to their purchased movies, is a huge win.
Since February, when Disney Movies Anywhere launched, movies have only been viewable on the web, in iTunes and on iOS devices. Given the close Disney-Apple relationship, it made a ton of sense for Disney to launch DMA with iTunes. However, there's a big mobile world beyond Apple devices, with comScore reporting Android accounted for 51.5% of smartphones in July '14 and IDC recently reporting that iPad market share has dropped to less than 23%. Getting beyond Apple was clearly an imperative for DMA.