U.S. Home Entertainment Spending Rose 11.5% In 2018 To $23.3B, DEG Says

Read on: Deadline.

Overall home entertainment spending by U.S. consumers climbed 11.5% in 2018 to a record $23.3 billion, according to the Digital Entertainment Group, an industry consortium.
Announcing the preliminary annual figures during CES, the DEG noted an especial…

5 Questions With XUMO’s SVP of Product Chris Hall

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When it comes to TV viewing habits, cord-cutting is only going to continue, says Chris Hall, senior vice president of product at XUMO, a live television and video-on-demand service.
In his role, Hall leads the product strategy and development of XUMO’s core streaming media technologies. The services are integrated into a suite of connected devices (such as smart TVs and set-top-boxes) and free-to-download, consumer-facing applications (for platforms including Android, iOS and Roku).
The service leans in on live TV, much like Pluto, which is among Xumo’s direct competitors.

This week we caught up with Hall to talk about how XUMO plans to compete in an increasingly crowded OTT market. Hall discussed the company’s strategy for continued growth and offered a prediction on what trends he thinks will shape the streaming TV marketplace in 2019.

Also Read: Everything You Need to Know About Disney’s Streaming Service

TheWrap: As we’re approaching the end of the year, what major trends or developments do you think will shape the streaming TV marketplace in 2019?

Chris Hall: Cord-cutting will continue its upward trend. But media consumption isn’t slowing — it’s just shifting. In October of this year, the IAB released a viewer receptivity report noting that viewers value the content they’re streaming on XUMO nearly 10 percent more than what’s available through cable services. Increased interest and demand means that consumers will have even more choices and options for streaming entertainment in 2019 and beyond. Services that thrive will be the ones that not only deliver exceptional content, both in caliber and volume, but the ones who harness technology and new product capabilities to optimize their platform and viewing experiences — whether someone is watching on a connected TV or mobile device. With a great deal of investment in these areas, XUMO is both excited and bullish about our ability to continue scaling, innovating and helping to define the experiences of streaming TV.

From a product standpoint, what’s the key to building a free streaming TV service in today’s competitive market?

One of our most important achievements has been delivering simple, yet elegant interfaces that put usability at the top of the priority list. In order to do so, we’ve built an extremely intricate and highly automated infrastructure that allows us to intelligently program and operate over 150 channels that span multiple genres and delivery types. We facilitate, fully, live streams from top content partners like CBSN (live, breaking news) to the PGA TOUR (where we streamed live coverage of the FedEx Cup playoffs), while also bringing our user base nearly 5,000 movie titles from over eight different providers, and a full library of on-demand videos from each channel. Our commitment to quality content, presented at the right time and in a logical, easy-to-use UI has been instrumental in our gaining and maintaining a competitive edge.

With a foothold in connected TVs, does XUMO plan to grow the service via apps or other delivery methods?

Developing and supporting native integrations is our bread and butter. We were one of the first to pioneer these types of custom-built and platform-specific streaming services with LG, Hisense, Sharp and VIZIO years ago. From those early days until now, we’ve continued to build and tweak the offering, making data-driven alterations to enhance the overall quality of service — both on our native integrations and inside our owned and operated experiences. We aim to always provide a best-in-class experience for the viewer and there are a lot of opportunities to expand on this beyond connected TVs. In fact, by the end of the year, we’ll be making some big announcements about both distribution and new integrations that will bring our service to several million new viewers.

Also Read: Netflix Denies Serving Up Posters Based on Users’ Race

How does XUMO intend to compete with additional AVOD (advertising video on demand) products and services hitting the market like the Roku Channel?

We want to remain at the forefront of this AVOD trend and recognize the value of competition in the market. That being said, we believe the additional increase of eyeballs — in a space that we’ve been operating in for years — will actually be great for our business. To stay ahead of the game, we’re actually partnering with several device manufacturers to provide our intelligently curated, ad-supported linear streams to their platforms for an expanded audience to enjoy. To best unlock this exciting opportunity for new, off-platform distribution, our team of streaming media experts worked in partnership with the demand side of our business to develop our own SSAI (server-side ad insertion) solution. SSAI ensures that ads are dynamically inserted into these linear channels no matter where the stream is syndicated, while maintaining the targeting capabilities needed to maximize revenue. At present, we’re exploring the scalability and capabilities around this exciting new technology.

Also Read: Netflix to Raise $2 Billion to Fund New Content

As the head of product, how have you evaluated the different viewing experiences a user should receive when presenting a mix of short and long-form content?

Consumers are gravitating toward our service in large part because we provide a vast range of programming across a multitude of formats. We’ve seen user viewing consumption grow by nearly four times year over year, and we’re looking at further growth trends this year. In fact, since launching earlier this year, our TV & Movies genre has crept up to become one of our top three consumed genres. These statistics indicate that there’s a healthy interest in long-form content and that our service is quickly becoming a regular entertainment habit for millions. Additionally, XUMO viewership data is showing a somewhat unsurprising/stable interest in live streamed programming, but also a steady and impressive growth trend in VOD consumption. We’re continually evaluating the different viewing experiences required to highlight both live and short and long form VOD, and we put a heavy emphasis on discoverability and surfacing the right content for the user at the right time to achieve that.

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‘Mandy’ Producer Elijah Wood: Nicolas Cage Back In Oscar-Level Form With Revenge Film’s Surprise Success

Read on: Deadline.

On screen, the revenge film Mandy is a ferocious fever-dream but off-screen it has been a game-changing success story for SpectreVision, the production company founded by Elijah Wood, Daniel Noah and Josh C. Waller. The film has won over critics and a …

Sesame Workshop And Shout Factory Reach Multi-Year Distribution Deal

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Sesame Workshop’s formidable home entertainment library will be handled by Shout! Factory, giving the indie distributor certain exclusive Sesame Street rights in North America.
Under a multi-year deal, Shout! will control DVD and Blu-ray and VOD,…

Reese Witherspoon To Host ‘Shine On’ Female Profile Series For Hello Sunshine VOD Channel On DirecTV With AT&T

Read on: Deadline.

After 2017’s Emmy-winning success of HBO’s Big Little Lies and the timely Meet My Mom on Facebook Watch earlier this year, Reese Witherspoon’s female-focused Hello Sunshine shingle is about to put the Oscar winner’s inaugural unscripted ser…

Nielsen’s First Deep-Dive Analysis Of A TV Series Shows How ‘Roseanne’ Scored

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ABC’s reboot of Roseanne is the first show Nielsen has publicly analyzed through its recently adopted Total Content Ratings and Digital Content Ratings tools.
A press event hosted by the measurement company in New York went deeper than ABC’…

Netflix Acquires ‘Les Affamés’; Horror Pic Won TIFF’s Best Canadian Feature Prize

Read on: Deadline.

From director Robin Aubert, zombie apocalypse drama Les Affamés (The Ravenous) was named Best Canadian Feature at the Toronto Film Festival last year and is up for five Canadian Screen Awards. Now, it’s coming to Netflix near you. The streaming company is continuing its drive into foreign-language fare, acquiring the title for release on March 2, outside Canada, Latin America and Eastern Europe.
Written and directed by Aubert (Saint Martyrs Of The Damned, Crying Out)…

U.S. Home Entertainment Spending Rose To $20.5 Billion In 2017, Thanks To Streaming

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Home entertainment spending rose 5% to $20.5 billion in 2017 as U.S. consumers showed their growing affinity for streaming services.
Spending on subscription video on demand services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime reached $9.5 billion last year, a 31% increase from a year ago, according to the DEG’s Year-End 2017 Home Entertainment Report. Electronic sell-through — that is, purchases of movie downloads — reached $2.2 billion for the year, up nearly 6% from the…

China Court Case Challenges SAPPRFT On Rules Over Gay Depiction Online – Report

Read on: Deadline.

A Beijing court has accepted a case that would require Chinese media authority SAPPRFT to clarify the legal or policy basis of its listing of homosexual relations as “abnormal” within a regulation that stipulates principles for online content providers. The Global Times reports that private citizen Fan Chunlin has filed suit with the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court and that a decision is expected within six months, his lawyer told the paper.
In June this year…

In A Twist, A&E’s ‘Live PD’ Ranks As Most DVR’d Show Of 2017, Per Vizio Survey

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Even though it airs live on Friday and Saturday nights, with a studio panel assessing police pursuits in real time, A&E’s Live PD ranked as the most DVRd show of 2017.
That’s one key finding in a tally of second-by-second viewing last year in 7.7 million households across OTT, on-demand, DVR and live viewing by Inscape, the data arm of smart-TV maker Vizio. (See full rankings below.)
The Walking Dead ranked second on the DVR list, but finished as the No. 1 show in…

Redbox Launches Digital Rental And Sell-Through Service, Minus Disney Titles

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Redbox, best known for its network of disc-dispensing red kiosks, is exploring new digital horizons with the launch of an online service offering movies for sale or rent.
The straightforwardly named Redbox On Demand offers movie and TV titles via Roku, iOS, Android, Google Chromecast and Samsung smart TVs. Two-day rentals start at $3.99, with electronic sell-through starting at $9.99.
Disney titles are notably not in the mix for now. Redbox’s offering of Disney digital…

Acorn TV Sets January Slate With ‘Detectorists’, ‘Girlfriends’ & More

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EXCLUSIVE: U.S. streaming service Acorn TV has set its January slate of premiering and returning international dramas and comedies. They include two Acorn TV Originals, Detectorists and Girlfriends as well as New Zealand legal drama, Dear Murderer. Acorn has steadily expanded its role as co-producer and in January will be participating for the first time at the TCAs with an executive panel and panels for Girlfriends and Irish drama Striking Out.
Detectorists, the BBC…

Apple Investment In Original Video Will Reach $4.2 Billion By 2022

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As it steps up from Carpool Karaoke and Planet of the Apps and deepens its well of original content, Apple will grow its investment in video from current levels of about $500 million to $4.2 billion in 2022, according to a projection by VC firm Loup Ventures.
The report, by former longtime Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, predicts that Amazon will top both Apple and current leader Netflix by spending $8.3 billion by 2022, an average annual growth rate. But Apple is on…

Fullscreen Media To Shutter Its SVOD Service

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EXCLUSIVE: After an 18-month effort to make headway in the saturated streaming video marketplace, Fullscreen Media is shutting down its subscription video on demand service next year.
The demise of its $6-per-month SVOD service follows a decision in September to trim about 3% of Fullscreen’s total staff of about 750. About 25 jobs would be lost as a result of the shutdown.
Fullscreen CEO George Strompolos said, in an email to staff, that millions had downloaded the app…

Wizard World To Launch SVOD Service In China For English-Language Content

Read on: Deadline.

Wizard World, a producer of live event pop culture expositions, is extending its reach in China, partnering with CNLive to launch an English-language SVOD service in the massive country. CNLive is one of only seven entities licensed to distribute content over the internet in the Middle Kingdom. It provides Wizard World China a multi-year right and license to program a 24/7, SVOD service across all of mainland China, including Macao and Hong Kong.
Wizard says its SVOD…

‘The Mantis’: Netflix Acquires Carole Bouquet Crime Drama – Mipcom

Read on: Deadline.

Adding to its range of local-language offerings, Netflix has picked up The Mantis, a French serial killer thriller starring Carole Bouquet. The six-part drama is made by Septembre Productions and will be available globally on Netflix on December 29. In France, it’s already been added to the streaming service where it runs after broadcast on TF1.
Handled by AB International Distribution, the series centers on Jeanne Deber (Bouquet), aka The Mantis. She’s a famous serial…

Hulu Acquires ‘Food Evolution,’ Acclaimed, Highly Controversial Doc

Read on: Deadline.

EXCLUSIVE: Hulu has acquired the exclusive U.S. VOD rights to Food Evolution from Academy Award-nominated director Scott Hamilton Kennedy (The Garden). The highly polarizing film is narrated by science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson. The film will premiere on Hulu on Sept. 21.
The doc is significant for a couple of reasons. First, it is one of the most controversial and contentious docs on the food industry because it delves into the positive side of GMOs on sustaining…

Labor Day Is Huge for VOD Rentals Thanks to Back-to-School Trends — And Beer

Read on: Variety.

On Labor Day, cinemas are usually stuck in the doldrums. This year, it’s the worst Labor Day weekend for the domestic box office in two decades. But for VOD rentals on pay-TV providers, America’s unofficial end to summer zooms off the charts. Over the last three years, VOD rental transactions have been approximately 100% higher on… Read more »