Crunchyroll Raises Price to $7.99 a Month Due to Costs of Content and Infrastructure

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Anime-centric streaming service Crunchyroll is raising its monthly subscription fee to $7.99 per month (up from $6.95 per month), the company announced in an email to its two million paying subscribers.

Current members will have until August 1 before they are affected by the change, while all new sign-ups after May 1 will be enrolled at the new rate of $7.99 per month. Members who have prepaid for a year’s worth of Crunchyroll will see no change to their pricing until that year is up. Meanwhile, international Crunchyroll subscribers who are paying in USD will also be a part of the new subscription pricing, excluding Brazil.

Also Read: Inside Crunchyroll’s 4-Prong Approach to Driving Revenue

The $1.05 increase comes as a direct result of a rising cost of content and infrastructure, a spokesperson told TheWrap. Crunchyroll, which is run by AT&T’s Ellation, has one of world’s largest anime collections with 1,000-plus titles — a small but growing number of which are produced by Crunchyroll as original content.

“We are grateful to have focused on building out such a robust library for over the last decade, without a significant price change in our company history,” the spokesperson said. “However, due to rising costs of content and infrastructure, now is the time to introduce new subscription pricing.”

“This price increase will help us bring our community more of their favorite shows, allowing us to create even more experiences for them to connect with each other and through shared passion for anime.” added the spokesperson, explaining that price increase will not impact the monthly subscription cost of Ellation’s VRV, a streaming platform that bundles a mix of 12 anime-centric OTT services, including Crunchyroll, for a monthly cost of $9.99 per month.

Launched in 2006, Crunchyroll is a global streaming platform with more than 45 million registered users and 2 million paying subscribers, along with 29 million followers across its social platforms.

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Netflix Denies Arranging ‘Love, Death and Robots’ Episode Order Based on Users’ Sexual Identity

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Netflix is denying that the order in which viewers are presented with the episodes of “Love, Death and Robots” — its new Tim Miller and David Fincher-created adult animated anthology series — has anything to do with a user’s own sexual identity.

“We’ve never had a show like ‘Love, Death & Robots’ before so we’re trying something completely new: presenting four different episode orders,” Netflix said via Twitter on Tuesday. “The version you’re shown has nothing to do with gender, ethnicity, or sexual identity — info we don’t even have in the first place.”

That tweet was in direct response to a thread started by Out in Tech co-founder Lukas Thoms on Monday, where he wrote: “Just discovered the most INSANE thing. The ORDER OF THE EPISODES for Netflix’s new series ‘Love Death & Robots’ changes based on whether Netflix thinks you’re gay or straight.”

We’ve never had a show like Love, Death & Robots before so we’re trying something completely new: presenting four different episode orders. The version you’re shown has nothing to do with gender, ethnicity, or sexual identity — info we don’t even have in the first place.

— Netflix US (@netflix) March 19, 2019

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Thoms included screengrabs of the order that his episodes came in versus that of a heterosexual friend, noting: “On the left is my account, starting with the one with a lesbian storyline, and the right is my straight friend Andrew’s account, starting with the one that has the most realistic and explicit hetero sex.”

See below:

On the left is my account, starting with the one with a lesbian storyline, and the right is my straight friend Andrew’s account, starting with the one that has the most realistic and explicit hetero sex. pic.twitter.com/kSMuaFhSbU

— Lukas Thoms (@LukasThoms) March 19, 2019

“We’ve known for a while that Netflix personalized the marketing of their shows based on sexual orientation (trailers, cover images etc) but it’s next level weird to change the actual experience of watching it,” Thoms added. “Thought I was losing my mind trying to talk to Andrew about the show.”

When asked if the four different episode-order versions are assigned at random or by using some other kind of user data, a representative for Netflix declined TheWrap’s request for comment beyond the statement given by the streaming service on Twitter.

Thomas updated his own thread Tuesday in a tweet that said, “a friend I trust at Netflix looked into this, and apparently the episode ordering is just a 100% random A/B test that doesn’t involve any ML. Identity-based recommendations are still a good discussion to have, in this case it was just random!”

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“This makes sense to me as episode ordering is completely new, and there’s nothing keeping them from using the data gathered here for future identity targeting,” he continued. “I hear Netflix thinks and cares a lot about ethical algorithms, but every company needs to be more transparent here.”

A final update: a friend I trust at Netflix looked into this, and apparently the episode ordering is just a 100% random A/B test that doesn’t involve any ML. Identity-based recommendations are still a good discussion to have, in this case it was just random!

— Lukas Thoms (@LukasThoms) March 19, 2019

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Inside CollegeHumor’s SVOD Strategy and the Future of the Company’s YouTube Channel

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With two new cast members on its team, CollegeHumor is kicking up the investment in its $5.99-per-month streaming service, Dropout. Lily Du (“Broad City,” “The President Show”) and comedian Tao Yang, whose hires were announced T…

How Tegna Is Finding a Second Life for Old News Coverage With Podcasts Like ‘Bomber’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Tegna, which operates 49 broadcast TV stations in 41 markets, is using the digital age to breathe life back into its old news coverage. Last week, the Virginia-based broadcaster (which broke off from Gannett four years ago) announced the launch of Vault, a new digital content studio that will produce a mix of multimedia projects starting with true-crime podcasts, a format that has mushroomed in popularity over the past several years.

First up: “Bomber: Manhunt in Austin,” which premiered last week and details how law enforcement hunted down a serial bomber who brought 19 days of terror to the Texas capital last year. The podcast draws on the wealth of reporting by Tegna’s Austin-based KVUE — but the hope is to appeal to an even broader audience as it rolls out about two new podcasts per quarter.

“Our TV stations cover about one third of the country, whereas podcasts can be accessed from anywhere through platforms like Apple and Spotify,” Tegna chief digital officer Adam Ostrow said. “We think stories like ‘Bomber’ and the others in our pipeline will have appeal well beyond the markets where they originally took place.”

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For Ostrow, podcasts offer a way to lure listeners who might not otherwise tune into Tegna’s local news coverage. “The audience is also often consuming the content during their commute, so we’re reaching them during a time when the audience isn’t necessarily going to be thinking ‘local TV,”‘ he said. “We’re expanding the audience geographically as well as the hours available to us during the day.”

We caught up with Ostrow to discuss Tegna’s new push into podcasting and how the company is utilizing its new digital studio to stay relevant in a world beyond broadcast.

Adam Ostrow

What type of prep work does it take for a company that traditionally works in broadcast to jump into the audio space? 

I think the good news for us, and what gives us a bit of an advantage, is that we aren’t starting from scratch when it comes to the content. We have decades worth of true-crime stories across the archives of our TV stations that we’ll be able to draw upon for this initiative. 

For example, with “Bomber,” we have all of the coverage of the serial bombings that our station in Austin did last year, as well as hours and hours of audio and video that never made it to air. And we have the reporters that were there, who can add color and tell us where we need to be looking as we build out the narrative for the show.

The new muscle for us is telling those stories in a compelling way for audio. For that, we’ve brought in some outside expertise. In January, we hired Will Johnson as our EP. He spent a decade at Investigation Discovery and has been producing podcasts since the iPod came out. Beyond that, we’ve started to develop relationships with new partners, like Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher so we can master the best practices for distributing our content in this world.

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It seems like every company and creator are launching podcasts. How does Tegna plan to stand out?

When we look at podcasts specifically, true crime is one of the most popular genres with listeners, about one-third of the top 50 podcasts on the charts right now are true crime. And that’s an area where we have so much material to work with, and data on stories that have resonated with communities all across the country. Combine that with the great storytelling that is core to Tegna’s DNA, and we think we have an opportunity to do impactful work that will resonate with audiences well beyond the markets in which we have TV stations.

But we do have massive distribution through our TV stations, on both broadcast and digital, which will be helpful as well. In aggregate, our stations have more than 25 million followers across social media. And when you look at a story like “Bomber,” you have something that originated in Austin, where we have KVUE, but also had tremendous interest across Texas, where we have stations that reach 87 percent of TV households. We’ll use that distribution to our advantage in getting the word out through on-air and digital promotions.

Tegna’s podcasts will draw from the company’s collection of investigative reporting; who is digging through all those old files and videos and what’s the process of finding the right story for the podcast?

We kicked off this initiative internally with a contest to get the best ideas from our stations, and the response was overwhelming.  Reporters were excited about the opportunity to follow up on cold cases and revisit stories that riveted their communities at some point in the past. For newer stories, most of the archive content is digitized and relatively easy to access — for some of the older ones, it will be a bit more laborious, but most of the content does still exist in some form. 

Now that we’ve taken an initial inventory of what’s out there, we have a small group internally — a greenlight committee of sorts — that is evaluating the ideas on a variety of criteria, such as the depth of archive material available, who we think the audience is and how we think the story will play in audio form. And then what the marketing and distribution plan will look like. “Bomber” checked all of these boxes given the intensity of the story, the extensive reporting KVUE had already done and the big footprint Tegna has in Texas.

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How does Tegna plan to monetize its podcasts?

Our primary focus, for now, is on producing great content and building an audience for our shows. But we think audio is a great ad format, so we will certainly look to integrate advertising down the road.

Do you have plans for Vault beyond new podcasts?

Longer term, we think there’s also a strong connection back to our core business of TV.  You’re already starting to see popular podcasts get adapted into shows for cable and SVOD platforms. So, if we’re successful, we think these stories can make for great television as well, on our platforms or elsewhere.



 

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How Wattpad Is Courting Streamers and Producers Worldwide With User-Generated Stories (and Data)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

With studios like Disney and WarnerMedia hoarding content in preparation to launch streaming services, original content has become a priority among streamer’s attempting to build their subscriber base.

Hoping to capitalize on this trend is Wattpad, a text-based storytelling platform with more than 500 million user-generated stories and over 70 million users around the globe. The first fruits of Wattpad’s push into filmed content can already be seen: “Light as a Feather,” a supernatural thriller based on Zoe Aarsen’s episodic Wattpad stories that has gotten 3.3 million reads, debuted as a 10-part Hulu series last October — and last month got greenlit for a second season.

Sony Pictures Television last year announced plans to develop a series based on Katarina E. Tonks’ “Death is My BFF,” a story about a sarcastic Angel of Death who meets his match that garnered 92 million reads on Wattpad.

The Toronto-based company has also partnered with Universal Cable Productions (a division of NBCUniversal), eOne, Syfy and the CW Seed to create additional projects. And after raising $117.1 million from investors including Tencent, BDC, Globe Telecom’s Kickstart Ventures, Peterson Group, Canso and Raine, the text-based app hopes to expand its initial success with filmed entertainment projects into territories like Korea, Germany, Indonesia and India, where it has a growing readership.

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Wattpad offers more than just tens of thousands of user-generated stories to be adapted for film, TV and other entertainment projects — and a built-in fan base for its most popular content. By analyzing the trends emerging within its platform, the company believes it can offer entertainment partners data-backed content that will successfully connect with audiences worldwide.

“Right now the industry uses test audiences to understand how viewers will react to finished products,” head of Wattpad Studios Aron Levitz said. “We want to turn that process upside down, starting with audience insights first, and then making decisions based on what people are already excited about.”

The most popular stories on the platform, who are already compensated through in-story ads and donations from readers, receive additional compensation if a story is picked up by a studio or streamer (the amount varies).

Wattpad’s promise for international markets is data-backed content that can target specific demographics. Using machine-learning artificial intelligence, the company said it can identify plot line and subject trends taking place throughout content posted to its site. It can then narrow down the trends to specific regions and languages. These trends could include highlighting underlying themes, pointing out genres that drive the most interaction and identifying the most-read subjects on the platform.

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“In a country like Indonesia, we found that the most popular romance stories tend to fall into a sort of Muslim romance, arranged-marriage kind of trope,” said Dexter Ong, who oversees Wattpad Asia Studios, which last August partnered with the Asian streaming company iflix to produce 26 films based on stories and trends on the platform.

Ong’s data is derived from the more than 9 million Indonesian readers engaging with stories by “liking” or commenting, down to a specific paragraph.

“It’s a bit tough in this part of the world to fill the demand for original content,” Ong said, noting that many Asian countries have small entertainment business and less creative talent compared to Hollywood. “So when you’re able to bring a solution where we have a tremendous volume of locally relevant authentic stories that are written in a local language and we have the data to back,” he added, it’s a big plus for a company like iflix.

Iflix, which is to announce the first slate of titles to come out of its Wattpad deal in the coming weeks, sees the advantages. “We now have the opportunity to work with thousands of talented Indonesian writers to bring their stories to life for millions of iflix users in Indonesia,” iflix chief content officer Sean Carey said.

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Wattpad also sees opportunities in India, announcing a partnership on Wednesday with Times Bridge, the global investment arm of the Times Group in India, to develop locally-produced Wattpad stories for adaptation into books, TV shows, films, and digital projects.

The platform currently has 2.6 million users and stories in multiple Indian languages including Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati, Punjabi, Assamese, Marathi and Oriya. Given the diverse number of languages spoken in India, a promise of content that can target a specific group is something that is welcomed by those breaking into the country.

“Millions of Indian readers and writers have already found a home Wattpad,” Devashish Sharma, Wattpad’s head of India operations, said. “Times Bridge and The Times Group have an unmatched media and entertainment portfolio, and connections with some of India’s most respected authors and cultural figures. We’re excited to work together to create new opportunities for Indian storytellers.”

Also Read: How YouTube Has Outpaced Netflix and Amazon in India

Additionally, Wattpad recently laid roots in Korea, where it partnered with a talent agency and production company Huayi Brothers Korea to produce content based on Wattpad IP. The partnership is open to any Wattpad stories available on the platform internationally. The Huayi Brothers Korea partnership follows a similar deal Wattpad signed in June with the German-based company Bavaria Fiction, which will also adapt content based on Wattpad stories.

“All across the industry, projects fail. Shows are canceled and films bomb. Why? Because executives make decisions based on what they think will work. People rely on their experience to rationalize intuitive decision-making,” Levitz said. “We’re coming to the end of that era.”

 

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Cinedigm to Buy Future Today Ad-Supported Video Network in $60 Million Deal

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Digital entertainment company Cinedigm on Friday announced plans to acquire Future Today Inc., a video platform company and AVOD channel network, for $45 million in cash and $15 million in Cinedigm common stock.
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Mark Cuban-Backed Video App, Portal, Introduces New Monetization Opportunities for Creators (Exclusive)

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The advertisement-free, video hosting app Portal has introduced subscription payments to its platform, the company announced Thursday morning.
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‘The Bachelor,’ ‘The Bachelorette’ Early Seasons to Stream on Tubi

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Former Yahoo Exec and Lucasfilm Alum Tapped by Crunchyroll to Head Events, Marketing

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Anime-centric streaming service Crunchyroll announced two new hires Wednesday morning, as the streamer looks to expand its events and marketing strategy.

The company instated Lucasfilm alumni Mary Franklin as the platform’s head of events and former Yahoo! executive Julia Renda as head of marketing. Franklin started with the company in February, while Renda started in January.

In the new role, Franklin is tasked with strengthening the company’s events business. Coming from ReedPOP and Lucasfilm, she has helped produce international events and major fan conferences and will use that experience to help grow the company’s annual Crunchyroll Expo.

Meanwhile, Renda will oversee marketing strategy, partnerships, audience development, brand strategy and customer acquisition and retention for Crunchyroll. She is tasked with engaging and growing the Crunchyroll community, which stands at over 30 million followers across the company’s social channels. Prior to her new role, Renda led marketing for Yahoo! View, the company’s VOD service, and served as head of marketing for Polyvore, a social commerce website that was acquired by Yahoo! in 2015.

Also Read: Inside Crunchyroll’s 4-Prong Approach to Driving Revenue

“Joining us from ReedPOP and Lucasfilm, Mary built and ran Comic Cons and ‘Star Wars’ Celebrations globally,” said Crunchyroll GM Joanne Waage in a statement. “Who better to take Crunchyroll Expo to the next level? At Yahoo!, Julia led marketing for Yahoo! View, their streaming video service and built Polyvore into a world class brand. She’ll now put her strength in brand and marketing to work for Crunchyroll and our content partners.”

“Delivering unforgettable experiences for fan communities is something I care deeply about,” Franklin said in a statement. “Crunchyroll delivers exceptional content and events for their fans, and I’m excited to be a part of this creative and passionate team.”

“Crunchyroll is the world’s leader in anime, and the platform has such an incredible, deep connection to their fans,” Renda added. “I’m excited to be a part of the Crunchyroll team as we create new ways to serve our community of fans.”

With more than 1,000 anime titles, Crunchyroll is the largest anime-centric SVOD service currently on the market. Owned by Otter Media, which falls under AT&T’s WarnerMedia umbrella, the service boasts more than 45 million registered users and 2 million paying subscribers. Over the past several years, the company has expanded its offering to include live events, video games, and e-commerce.

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Apple’s Streaming Service on Track to Have 100 Million Subscribers in 3-5 Years, Analyst Says

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Apple’s long-awaited streaming service is expected to acquire more than 100 million subscribers in the five years after its launch, according to a report released Tuesday morning.
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Dailymotion to Stream Footage From More Than 1,300 NBA G League Games

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Adult Swim Signs New Programming Partnership With Crunchyroll, Expands Distribution Agreement

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Adult Swim has expanded its distribution partnership with Crunchyroll, allowing it to tap the streaming service’s content library to fill its “Toonami” programming block, which consists mostly of anime programming.

Crunchyroll is an anime-centric streaming service owned by AT&T via OtterMedia, a division that was recently placed under the WarnerMedia umbrella following the telco’s acquisition of the company.

Previously, Crunchyroll partnered with Adult Swim to premiere its original series “Mob Psycho 100” on the cable network.

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Under the new agreement, Crunchyroll will distribute a collection of anime TV series on Adult Swim’s Toonami. However, there are no current plans to make Adult Swim’s programming available on Crunchyroll’s streaming platform, which has over 45 million registered subscribers.

“We’re exploring all options to maximize distribution for our series,” a spokesperson for Crunchyroll told TheWrap.

In addition to the expanded distribution deal, the two companies say they will continue to collaborate on licensed content and co-productions. Previously, the two worked together on “Blade Runner – Black Lotus,” an anime series and co-production with Alcon Television Group based on the Oscar-winning movie “Blade Runner 2049.” The English-dubbed episodes are expected to premiere on “Toonami” while Crunchyroll will handle worldwide streaming.

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“Our partnership with Crunchyroll will open up exciting new possibilities for both of us,” said Jason DeMarco, SVP and creative director for on-air at Adult Swim. “This will expand Toonami’s already great programming to include even more premiere and original anime. It’s a great time to be an anime fan!”

Adult Swim reaches an estimated 94 million households, while Crunchyroll says it has 45 million registered users and two million paying subscribers.  The expanded partnership between the two companies is another product of AT&T’s takeover of Time Warner, which has resulted in WarnerMedia’s assets working more in tandem, and a series of layoffs and resignations as the company looks to eliminate redundancies.

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YouTube TV Hires NBCU Executive Lori Conkling as Global Head of Partnerships

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AT&T’s DirecTV Now to Restructure Pricing Model, Will Raise Price $10 Per Month

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John Oliver Shreds HBO Parent AT&T During Robocalls Takedown (Video)

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John Oliver tackled the “bulls–t” that is robocalls on Sunday, when he also used the topic as an opportunity to fire a few (more) shots at HBO’s new parent company, AT&T. The FCC still got the worst of it last night.

The “Last Week Tonight” host has had it up to here (we know, that idiom doesn’t really work in print) with robotic spam calling — and studies show it’s only going to get worse as we become even more reliant on mobile communication.

“We can’t go back to the days where everyone would just shout their message into a jar, and then mail that jar across the country,” Oliver said. “That was a terrible system, as it was only marginally more accurate than having AT&T now.”

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Rut-roh, AT&T owns HBO — and all of the rest of Time Warner — these days.

“Oh! You like that business-daddy?” Oliver tweaked his new parent company. “Johnny’s acting up again!”

“I’m gonna get some spicy jars in the mail about that,” he said.

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A little later in the segment, which had a big payoff at the very end, Oliver ripped AT&T’s cell service again.

“Oh that’s right — you’ve inherited a problem child,” he said after. “Let’s dance.”

Oliver closed the evening by revealing the robocall he set up to harass all five FCC commissioners. It was super-easy, he said, and yes, it involves bagpipe music.

Watch the video above.

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How Kanopy Wants to Revolutionize Libraries With a Pay-Per-Play OTT Service

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Olivia Humphrey is on a mission to bring Kanopy, an indie film-centric streaming service that she originally launched in Australia, to every library-card holder in the United States. The Kanopy business model is different from other typical “free” OTT services. While VOD platforms such as Popcornflix and Tubi rely on ads to fund content for users, Kanopy members rely on their local libraries to foot the bill.

Instead of paying a monthly fee for the service, participating libraries pay for each movie played by one of its card holders. Libraries pay $2 per play regardless of the movie, according to people familiar with the arrangements. That fee is split 50/50 between Kanopy and the licenser of the film, according to an individual familiar with the business, which Humphrey said was a more generous cut than most OTTs offer content owners.

Like most streaming services, Kanopy wouldn’t disclose revenues or the number of active monthly users on the platform. However, Humphrey said the business is profitable and achieved a 100 percent increase in revenue from 2017 to 2018.

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The VOD service offers more than 20,000 independent films and documentaries, including the 2016 Oscar-winning drama “Moonlight,” the 2014 sci-fi film “Ex Machina,” the 2001 drama-fantasy “Donnie Darko” and 400 titles from the Criterion Collection. Kanopy is also home to the entire A24 catalogue, which includes Greta Gerwig’s Oscar-nominated 2018 dramedy “Lady Bird.” (A24 declined a request for comment on the partnership.)

Kanopy is currently available to 50 million library users across the U.S. and still growing, signing up around 50 new libraries per month. In total, Kanopy now services 3,000 U.S. libraries and 1,500 U.S. college campuses.

Since partnering with Kanopy at the start of February, Mid-Columbia Library in Washington state has had thousands of visits to its Kanopy site and more than 300 people have signed up for the service, according to the library’s communications and advancement director David Diaz.

“Kanopy’s thought-provoking videos are the perfect complement to our existing DVD collection,” Diaz said. “We were excited to offer our customers another quality product from our vast digital branch.”

The library, like others that partner with Kanopy, set a monthly limit on the number of films its members can watch to protect the library from being blindsided by unexpected costs if users stream too many movies. The New York Public Library limits users to 10 videos a month, while the Brooklyn Public Library allows six.

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“We are solving a big problem for public libraries, which is engaging their community and maintaining their relevancy,” Humphrey said.

While library use among Americans has dropped 6 percent since 2012, Pew Research from 2017 found that 46 percent of Americans 18 and older had visited a library at least once in the 12 months prior.

Humphrey believes Kanopy can help stop the bleeding. “When we launched, say for example, in New York Public Library, they had a record amount of new members sign up,” she told TheWrap. “In fact, they had to hire a team of temps to cope with all the new members and all of the reactivated memberships.” The New York Public Library did not respond to requests for comment.

Humphrey, who previously worked in brand management at BBC Worldwide, originally launched Kanopy in 2008 as a DVD distribution business that would rent out and sell DVDs to Australian universities.

“We knew that university students go to the cinema quite often and bought the DVDs, but on campus there was just books and journals. The video was nowhere to be seen,” Humphrey told TheWrap. “It didn’t make any sense. These students are watching more film in the real world but not in their academic world.”

In 2010, around the same time that YouTube was gaining popularity, Humphrey decided to turn that DVD distribution business into an online streaming business. She eventually expanded her OTT beyond universities and brought the offering to libraries across Australia and the U.S.

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“There were 35 universities in Australia and around 4,500 in the U.S.,” Humphrey said, regarding why international expansion was a no-brainer for growth.

The company also recently launched a work space in the United Kingdom, which Humphrey says will be a big focus this year, along with beefing up its content library. The company has a 50-person team in San Francisco, which first opened six years ago.

Additionally, Kanopy is increasing its focus to encompass more children’s programming and has plans to relaunch its streaming platform, Kanopy Kids, sometime in the middle of the year.

Like most OTT services, Kanopy has challenges with discoverability. “The biggest challenge we face when we sign up a new library is communicating the fact that Kanopy is live to the members of that library,” she added.

Libraries like Florida’s LeRoy Collins Leon County Public Library have relied on Facebook to spread the word to its 6,000-plus followers since offering the service, the library’s services coordinator Michelle Ray told TheWrap.

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‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8 Trailer Racks Up 81 Million Views in Its First 24 Hours, an HBO Record

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Within the first 24 hours after winter arrived via the long-awaited trailer for the eighth and final season of “Game of Thrones” on Tuesday, the video was viewed 81 million times across Facebook, Twitter and YouTube combined — setting a record for HBO.

And if you were wondering who was the prior record holder for HBO, you probably already know that answer: the “Game of Thrones” Season 7 trailer, all the way back in 2017. That one racked up a combined 61 million viewers across those three platforms.

The two-minute Season 8 trailer (which you can view here) begins with Arya Stark, terrified and running in the dark, saying in a voiceover, “I know death, he’s got many faces. I look forward to seeing this one.”

The video then guides us through what we can expect when the show’s final season arrives next month — without giving too much away — including many teases of the Battle of Winterfell, which is supposed to be the longest battle sequence in cinematic history (both on the big and small screens).

Almost everyone makes it into at least one shot in the trailer, including Arya, Daenerys Targaryen, Jon Snow, Cersei Lannister, Jaime Lannister, Tyrion Lannister, Sansa Stark, Bran Stark, Brienne of Tarth, Davos Seaworth, Jorah Mormont, Grey Worm, Missandei, Samwell Tarly, Podrick Payne, Gendry, Varys and The Hound.

A couple of glimpses of the final six episodes have been doled out in teeny, tiny chunks over the last few months in HBO “sneak peek” promos, which were compilations previewing multiple new and returning series.

Also Read: 9 Takeaways From the ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8 Trailer

The first came in August and showed a single quick shot of Sansa and Jon embracing, and the second aired during the Golden Globes earlier in January. That latter tease showed what fans assumed is more from the previous scene, with Sansa handing Winterfell over to Daenerys in their very first meeting — and not looking too happy about it.

The eighth and final season of “Game of Thrones” will premiere Sunday, April 14 at 9/8c on HBO.

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Comedy Central to Premiere Five Original Shows Exclusively on YouTube

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After finding success on YouTube with short-form clips from “Key & Peele” and “Chappelle’s Show,” Comedy Central is doubling down on digital with the launch of five new digital shows and a fresh YouTube page: Comedy Central Originals.

Like the name suggests, the YouTube channel will house a slate of original content made specifically for a digital audience. In the past, the network has produced original content for digital viewers but the content was mixed in the network’s main Comedy Central YouTube page. Going forward, old and new original digital series will live on the new channel.

“Comedy Central Originals is your one-stop destination for comedy made for the internet,” reads a description of the YouTube channel. “From series like ‘Mini-Mocks’ and ‘The Foley Artist’ to curated classics from partners like Above Average to new series like ‘Comedians Solve World Problems,’ this channel has everything you need to put off that work you should be doing. You’re welcome.”

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Comedy Central did not respond to request for comment on the new service.

The launch of the new channel comes seven months after Comedy Central launched a YouTube channel for its large catalogue of stand-up performances. Comedy Central also plans to produce original content for the channel, starting with a one-hour special — “Emily Heller: Ice Thickeners” —  that will premiere exclusively on the channel on March 8.

The new slate of shows to launch on Comedy Central Originals include: “wellRED Comedy,” a sketch series from the perspective of millennials and progressives who grew up in the South;  “Comedians Solve World Problems,” where comedians try to solve issues such as racism, sexism, overpopulation and politics; “Shane Torres Conquers Your Fears,”  where comedians try to overcome their fears by participating in a series of immersion-therapy steps led by comedian Shane Torres; “Unsend,”  a series hosted by Joel Kim Booster (“Conan,” “The Other Two”) and Patti Harrison (“Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon,” “A Simple Favor”); and “My Least Favorite Thing,” where host Zack Bornstein travels to meet a celebrity as they prepare to do the one thing they that hate doing.

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Former CBS Sports Reporter Taylor Rooks to Host New Bleacher Report Interview Series (Exclusive)

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Taylor Rooks, a former CBS Sports Network reporter, will host Bleacher Report’s new digital interview-style series “Take it There With Taylor Rooks,” the digital media company announced Wednesday morning.

The new series, which will have a run time of 10-15 minutes an episode, will feature Rooks interviewing popular athletes, celebrities and influencers whom Bleacher Report describes as “newsmakers and trendsetters.” Rather than hosting the interviews in a studio, Rooks will conduct the conversations in locations that have a strong tie to the guest, like their home or favorite coffee shop.

Bleacher Report is currently in the mist of booking guests for the interview-style series, which is expected to premiere in April as part of the company’s “Premiere Month,” which will also see their Emmy-nominated “Game of Zones” and “The Champions” return from a fall hiatus.

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“Take it There With Taylor Rooks” is Rooks first series for Bleacher Report since joining the company in June. Prior to that, Rooks worked as a reporter for New York’s SNY, the CBS Sports Network and Big Ten Network.

Also Read: Turner’s ‘Bleacher Report Live’ Sports Streaming Service Set to Launch in April

Along with her extensive broadcast experience, Rooks brings a digital following of 300,000 across Instagram and Twitter.

Since joining Bleacher Report, Rooks has made several guest appearances at the Super Bowl, NBA All-Star Game and on Turner Sports programming including B/R Football’s UEFA Champions League coverage and the recently launched NBA on TNT Twitter live stream experience.

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“Taylor Rooks is a singular voice in the sports media world, communicating in a language that resonates with today’s fan and across platforms where they engage with content,” Bleacher Report’s chief brand officer Ed Romaine told TheWrap. “This really couldn’t be in better sync with B/R and the role we play as the number one digital destination for hyperconnected sports fans.”

“Take it There With Taylor Rooks” will premiere on April 3 across the Bleacher Report site, apps, and YouTube Channel, which has 942,000 subscribers and a total of more than 291 million views.

Founded in 2005 by four friends — David Finocchio, Alexander Freund, Bryan Goldberg and Dave Nemetz — Bleacher Report was acquired by Turner Broadcasting System in 2012 for $175 million. Finocchio, who served as CEO for the past three years, is expected to exit the company in June. Howard Mittman, who holds a dual role at the company as chief revenue officer and CMO, will take over for Finocchio after his exit.

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