‘The Cyanide & Happiness’ Show Picked Up For a Fourth Season on VRV

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“The Cyanide & Happiness Show,” a short-form series based on a web comic of the same name, is being picked up for a fourth season at VRV.

The 10-episode season will stream exclusively on VRV Select, a streaming service available on the VRV platform, which houses a collection of OTT channels that users can subscribe to individually or in a discounted bundle.

Originally released in 2017 on YouTube, where it has more than 8 million subscribers, the show was acquired in 2015 by NBC’s now defunct Seeso, which produced second and third seasons before selling the series to VRV in 2017.

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This will be the first full season of the show to air exclusively on VRV. The company, which is owned by Ellation via Otter Media (an AT&T-owned company), says the new season, which is being produced by Explosm Entertainment and Studio71, will premiere on the platform sometime later this year.

“If you’re a fan of the YouTube shorts, you’re really going to like Season 4!” said an Explosm Entertainment spokesperson. “With Season 4, we’re telling more stories with our favorite characters and introducing some new ones. We’re thinking of it as a big anthology of insane stories, some of which we’ve been working on since Season 1, but never had the chance to tell until now.”

“Explosm has cultivated a fanbase around ‘The Cyanide & Happiness Show’  that loves adult dark humor, which makes VRV the perfect home for season four,” said Gabriel VanHuss, head of programming, VRV. “With our expertise in world building and super serving the fandom community, we’re excited to unveil the show to our viewers later this year.”

Launched in 2016, the VRV is a fandom-focused video platform that features a collection of premium SVOD channels including Crunchyroll, NickSplat, Rooster Teeth, and Shudder, alongside its curated house channel, VRV Select.

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AT&T’s Otter Media Axes 10 Percent of Staff in Reorganization

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Otter Media has laid off 10 percent of its staff as the result of a reorganization within the company, a person familiar with the matter tells TheWrap. The company attributes the “ever-changing” market for digital media as the reason for the staffing cuts.

“As a result of these changes, we’ve had to make some difficult decisions related to the size of our organization and have to say goodbye to some valued colleagues,” Otter Media CEO Tony Goncalves said in an email to staff announcing the changes.

The reorganization included consolidating Otter’s direct-to-consumer businesses under Ellation and bringing WarnerMedia’s Machinima into the Otter family starting in January. The company has also unified shared services such as HR and legal across Otter Media and refocused the Fullscreen business to operate as three distinct divisions: Creator Services, which will be led by Beau Bryant; Brand Studio (influencer marketing and custom content) led by Maureen Polo; and Brand Services (social creative and video channel management) led by John Holdridge.

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“These groups will be free to operate independently and to integrate when it serves our clients best, while centrally leaning on our proprietary data as a key differentiator in the market,” Goncalves explained in the email. “Focusing on the businesses with higher yields and performance will be integral to overall success.”

The three new teams will report to Andy Forssell, Otter Media COO.

Additionally, Rooster Teeth will now operate as a brand alongside Crunchyroll and VRV, which will be led by Tom Pickett. Goncalves said that changes will be minimal to “ensure that we continue to maintain what’s special about both the Rooster Teeth and Crunchyroll brands and the unique capabilities of each, with the key exception that our consumer brands (including Rooster Teeth) will align all sales efforts for this special collection of brands.”

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Otter Media — which was founded by AT&T and the Chernin Group in 2014 to acquire, invest in and launch over-the-top video services — is now fully owned by AT&T via a $1 billion deal that took place in August. The company oversees Ellation, which has control over several streaming services including Crunchyroll, VRV and RoosterTeeth. 

“In our work we are at the tip of the spear for how youth consume media and are poised to meet consumer demands, redefine markets and create something worth following,” Goncalves added. “Remember this: our shows, videos, content, events and merchandise are not just ‘enjoyed’ by fans around the world — they’re loved. That love is why we do what we do, and it’s what we’ll continue to do, together.”

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Turner’s ‘Final Space’ to Stream Exclusively on VRV as Bond With WarnerMedia Strengthens

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VRV (pronounced “verve”) is adding to its collection of content in a new deal with WarnerMedia.

Under the agreement, Ellation-owned VRV — which houses more than 10 different streaming services — will be the exclusive streaming home to Turner’s “Final Space” and “Mike Tyson’s Mysteries.” “Final Space,” which usually airs on TBS and Adult Swim, is available on the platform starting Wednesday with “Mike Tyson’s Mysteries” — one of Adult Swim’s most successful shows — following in early 2019.

The first three episodes of “Final Space” will be available for free on VRV, with additional episodes of  “Mike Tyson’s Mysteries” to stream on VRV Premium, which users can subscribe to for $9.99 per month. Included in that price is access to all other OTT channels housed on the platform including: Rooster Teeth, HDIVE, Crunchyroll, Geek & Sundry, Nerdist, Cartoon Hangover, Mondo, Nicksplat, Shudder, CuriousityStream, and Turner’s Boomerang, which will be coming to the platform on Nov.13.

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The addition of “Final Space” and ” Mike Tyson Mysteries” is the result of a growing bond between WarnerMedia (formerly Time Warner) and Otter Media (which owns Ellation) since AT&T took over both companies earlier this year. Last month, Ellation-owned Crunchyroll began streaming its content on Turner’s broadcast network, Adult Swim. Ellation also inked a deal with WarnerMedia that will see Warner’s Boomerang SVOD service — along with its collection of 3000+ cartoons — become available on VRV.

Since last year, VRV has more than doubled the number of registered users on its platform from 1.5 million last November to currently serving 4 million registered users — 2.5 million of which use the platform on a monthly basis. The company plans to continue this growth through international expansion, which is expected to take place next year, according to Eric Berman, VRV’s head of content partnerships.

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‘Courage the Cowardly Dog’ Among Cartoons Coming to VRV in New Partnership With WarnerMedia

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WarnerMedia’s OTT service Boomerang is coming to Ellation’s VRV streaming platform on Nov. 13, and bringing a slew of cartoons ranging from “Courage the Cowardly Dog” to “The Flintstones.”

Under the partnership, VRV users will be able to subscribe to Boomerang for $4.99 per month or to VRV’s complete collection of OTT channels — including Boomerang, Crunchyroll, NickSplat, Rooster Teeth and six other services — for $9.99 per month.

Boomerang brings with it a library of more than 3,000 cartoons from the Hanna Barbera, Looney Tunes and MGM libraries, including “Courage the Cowardly Dog,” “Scooby Doo,” “Tom & Jerry,” “Bugs Bunny,” “The Jetsons,” and “The Flintstones.” The service also houses new originals including “Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz,” “Wacky Races,” “Bunnicula,” and “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.”

Also Read: Ellation’s VRV Brings Back ‘HarmonQuest’ for Third Season (Exclusive)

The integration of Boomerang into VRV’s selection of OTT channels is a result of AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner and Ellation parent company Otter Media, which took place earlier this year. This is the second partnership to come from the two AT&T-owned companies in the past month.

Last week, Ellation’s Crunchyroll — an anime-centric streaming service — teamed up with Turner’s Toonami, an animation television block on Adult Swim (which is also owned by Turner), to premiere the series “Mob Psycho 100.”

Boomerang is one of the few niche services to survive AT&T’s take over of WarnerMedia, which has so far resulted in the closing of the Korean-centric streaming service DramaFever, which was shut down on October 19, and Turner Classic Movies’ FilmStruck, which will be shut down at the end of this month.

Originally launched in 2000 as a television network, Boomerang was relaunched in 2017 as a global 24-hour, all-animation network for kids and families dedicated to distributing older cartoons from the Cartoon Network, Warner Bros., Hanna-Barbera and MGM libraries, as well as exclusive acquisitions and original productions from around the world.

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Funimation Leaves the VRV Platform as HIDIVE Inks Partnership With the Service

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Funimation is parting ways with VRV, the over-the-top (OTT) aggregator run by AT&T-owned Ellation, the streamer announced Thursday.

The company didn’t go into detail as to why Funimation, which specializes in anime-centric content, decided to drop its OTT channel from the platform.

However, starting Nov. 11, VRV subscribers will need to go to Funimation’s owned and operated, $5.99 per month streaming platform if they want to keep up with its content.

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But as Funimation leaves the platform, another anime contender enters. VRV has inked a new partnership with anime-centric streaming service HIDIVE. The new channel will offer VRV users over 500 titles, including “Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma” and “Elfen Lied” along with a large catalogue of classic foreign anime dubbed in English.

Launched in 2016, VRV aggregates over 7 subscription OTT channels. Its users have the option of paying for the channels a la carte for about $3.99-$5.99 each, or they can opt into VRV’s “Combo Pack” for $9.99 per month, which includes all the OTT channels available on the service.

Most recently, the company partnered with Nickelodeon to bring the network’s NickSplat streaming service, which offers an array of classic cartoons from the 90s. Other channels available on the platform include Cartoon Hangover, Crunchyroll, CuriosityStream, DramaFever, Geek & Sundry, Mondo, Nerdist, NickSplat, Rooster Teeth, Shudder and VRV Select.

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Ellation’s VRV Brings Back ‘HarmonQuest’ for Third Season (Exclusive)

Ellation’s VRV Brings Back ‘HarmonQuest’ for Third Season (Exclusive)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Ellation-owned VRV, the streaming platform that aggregates over-the-top video services into one destination, has announced that it is bringing back HarmonQuest for a third season.

Produced by Universal Cable Productions and Starburns Industries, the series is a mix of adult animation and live improvisation. Created by Dan Harmon, the man behind the breakout hit “Rick and Morty,” and longtime partner Spencer Crittenden, production for the new season will begin this fall in Los Angeles.

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“Thanks to VRV’s dedication to serving fandoms and growing communities, they’re the perfect home and partner for HarmonQuest and all adventurous and fantastical content online, we’re proud to stand tall with Otter Media powerhouses like Crunchyroll and Rooster Teeth,” said Spencer Crittenden.

The new season will star Harmon, Crittenden, Erin McGathy and Jeff B. Davis, who gather together to play a Dungeons and Dragons-like roleplaying game called Pathfinder. In the past, the series has featured guest stars that include Patton Oswalt, Aubrey Plaza and Kumail Nanjiani.

The third season of “HarmonQuest,” which is executive produced by Harmon, Crittenden, and James Fino, will stream exclusively on VRV in the platform’s house channel, VRV Select, next year.

“We’re excited to bring HarmonQuest and its unique blend of comedy, animation, and gaming back to VRV,” said Sarah Victor, head of content development at VRV, Ellation. “We already have some great guest stars teed up for next season, and we can’t wait to unveil more about what Dan Harmon, Spencer Crittenden, and the gang have planned for season three.”

“HarmonQuest” originally launched in 2016 on the now-defunct Seeso, NBC’s comedy-focused subscription video service, before migrating to VRV for its second season last year. VRV is one of several properties owned by Ellation, which is controlled by AT&T’s Otter Media. Other properties that fall under the company’s umbrella include anime-centric streaming platform Crunchyroll and RoosterTeeth, a media and entertainment company located in Austin, Texas.

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5 Questions With Ellation’s Eric Berman on the Importance of Aggregation in a Saturated OTT Market

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Eric Berman is the head of business development and content partnerships for Ellation’s audience-focused subscription video on demand (SVOD) channel aggregation platform, VRV. Available across all major connected-devices, VRV offers fans a next-gen entertainment experience featuring premium SVOD channels including Crunchyroll, Funimation, NickSplat, DramaFever, Rooster Teeth, Shudder and more.

Before the launch of VRV, Berman lead distribution and strategic partnerships for Ellation’s platform Crunchyroll, the world’s largest streaming destination for anime and manga, growing the business from 250 thousand subscribers to over one million subscribers today.

Prior to joining Ellation, Berman worked at Hulu for four years where he oversaw the Hulu Plus living room distribution strategy from inception, growing the business to more than 5 million paid subscribers.

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We caught up with Berman to discuss the importance of aggregation in today’s over-the-top (OTT) market, which encompasses 200 services in the U.S. alone. The industry veteran also discusses VRV’s recent partnership with Nickelodeon, and the growing importance of original content to his company’s growth strategy.

VideoInk: Why is the aggregation of OTT channels so important?

Eric Berman: Over the last few years we have seen a dramatic influx of new OTT experiences coming to market, be it free AVOD apps, niche SVOD services and now Virtual MVPDs — thus, we continue to see cord cutting and digital video consumption rise year over year.

While each new service increases the overall OTT marketplace and content availability, they also add to the complication of the jigsaw puzzle that is the OTT app ecosystem. Each new app/service brings exclusive content to recall/associate to each service, unique device distribution or non-distribution, a new set of features and user experience to master and, everyone’s favorite, a different login/password/payment info to remember. Aggregation helps solve these issues.

In addition, we are seeing more and more OTT channels not make it. Especially for “niche” services. There is a theoretical maximum limit to the potential audience, and more mature OTT apps — two-plus years and older — know this well. At VRV, we believe aggregation is a step in the right direction, and we are seeing many major players push on this from Amazon Channels, Apple’s TV App, and even Roku. However, we’re taking things a step further by jumping into the next phase of the value chain: the bundle value. Not only are we aggregating premium channel partners and curated fandom content, but for $9.99 per month, you can access all the content and channels on VRV — over $50 in value if you were to subscribe to each service individually. We hope we can win over consumers with our focus on their desires, their world, and the simplicity of one experience for a value they can’t find anywhere else.

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VRV recently partnered with Nickelodeon to house NickSplat, the network’s OTT channel for its older cartoons. How did this partnership come about and what made VRV decide it was the right fit for its audience?

We have two goals for the content acquisition strategy for VRV. First, we are looking for ultra-premium narrative, character-driven series. Second, these series need to elicit a strong emotional reaction from our fans. Working with Viacom, our plan was to lean into the nostalgia factor of classic Nickelodeon, and all the characters and stories our users grew up with.

Through our internal research, we know the median age of our community is 26, and we know our core user-base grew up watching Nickelodeon. From a business perspective, we see an opportunity to work with traditional players who are anxious to get into the direct-to-consumer base and help them use their large library and amazing skill-set of creating premium content, to maintain and grow their brand for a digital-first, cord cutting, or cord-never audience. We are able to incubate OTT channels for these partners using the VRV platform, leveraging our SVOD know-how and, more importantly, our engaged, young and passionate audience who is willing to pay for quality content.

VRV currently houses over 10 SVOD channels on its platform. How do these partners benefit if traffic is landing on the VRV platform rather than their O&O platforms?

Our goal for our partners is to always add an additional, new, and unique audience to their channel offering. We are very aware that the hardcore fans will and should go to the channel partner’s O&O so they can enjoy special features or the unique benefits tailored for that audience. We understand this very well, as we also own and operate Crunchyroll.

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VRV is a great place for broader audiences who might enjoy one show from any of our individual partner offerings, but not enough to pay or remain a paying subscriber to a dedicated niche service. Because VRV has a more broad approach to fandom with a robust content offering, we have found that these subscription fundamentals prove to be very strong. We are also able to take a unique approach to the channel on VRV versus what is possible with the O&O.

For instance, with DramaFever we promote the fantasy and adventure content on VRV over love stories — which are more popular on the O&O — because we understand that these genres may resonate more with our audience. In addition, all of our partners benefit from our distribution, especially when it comes to living room devices. We have great relationships with not only the major streaming players but with gaming devices like Xbox and Playstation where many of our partners do not have app experiences.

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On VRV, consumers can sign up for an individual SVOD service for anywhere from $3-$7, or sign up to all of the 13 services housed on the platform $9.99/mo. The monthly cost almost seems too good to be true. How does this price point benefit both parties?

Anyone who has been operating an SVOD for two-plus years truly understands how difficult this business is. We all wake up each morning thinking about that next big content deal, the next feature product launch, marketing promotion, or simply what tweaks we can make to limit churn rates by fractions of a decimal point. It’s a day in and day out business, and the worst thing that can happen for a subscription video service is to stall out.

When partners join VRV, not only are they able to access a new audience but we provide guaranteed revenue commitments for participation in VRV Premium. This allows our partners to obtain an additional line of revenue that they can invest back into their offering and into creating new content, which continues to fuel the business forward and benefit consumers.

Ellation recently launched an original content studio that will create programming for Crunchyroll as well as VRV. Why is exclusive content a necessary next step for VRV, a platform that focuses on the aggregation of OTT channels?

We are incredibly grateful for the content our partners bring to VRV. We have had both exclusive content and exclusive channels premiere on the service since launch and we continue to see the value of exclusive content from a brand awareness and growth perspective. It would be tremendous if there was an OTT channel for every content category we feel we need to fulfill on VRV, but that is still coming to be. The most important thing for us is to do right by our fans and deliver the best content experience we possibly can.

In addition, the best thing we can do for our partners is grow the VRV user base, and, in our industry, originals and exclusives continue to be the main value proposition for OTT. Lastly, you are not truly a media company unless you are making your own content. Our long-term vision is to expand VRV much further beyond video, and in order to do that it is critical you own IP and have the flexibility to leverage that IP in a variety of ways to the benefit of your fans, be it merch, games, events and more. We are aiming to deliver on that vision for our fans, to be a full 360 experience and to fulfill all of their content desires, beyond just video.

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Nickelodeon Classics Like ‘Doug,’ and ‘Kenan & Kel’ Head to New Streaming Channel

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The ’90s are back in a big way on NickSplat, the new streaming channel launched by Nickelodeon on Tuesday, with dozens of classic kids shows like “Doug,” Rocko’s Modern Life,” “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” and “Kenan & Kel” now available to viewers.

The streaming video-on-demand channel is available on VRV (pronounced “Verve), the two-year-old platform for niche content. NickSplat will have 30 classic Nickelodeon series in its rotation for $5.99 a month, or $9.99 a month as part of VRV’s premium bundle.

“Our partnership with Viacom is a first of its kind,” Eric Berman, VRV’s head of content partnerships, said in a statement. “We’re very proud to be the premiere launch partner to bring a NickSplat channel into SVOD and share these nostalgic series so our passionate audience can fall in love with them all over again.”

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VRV is available on several devices, including Apple TV, Roku, XBOX, PS4, and Fire TV. It launched in 2016 under Ellation, which is part of AT&T’s Otter Media and has 12 channels now, including Crunchy Roll and Rooster Teeth. Nickelodeon’s move to streaming is the latest signal Viacom CEO Bob Bakish is betting on digital after the company bought VidCon, the online video conference beloved by teens, earlier this year.

“VRV, with a sophisticated user base that loves the best in animation, is the perfect platform to launch our NickSplat channel,” Sam Cooper, Viacom’s EVP of distribution and business development partnerships, said in a statement. “Viacom’s content — including our deep library of genre-defining television — is highly in demand, and our audiences are always looking for new and innovative ways to enjoy our programming.”

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Ellation Launches Division To Create Original Content, Names Women In Animation President Margaret Dean Studio Head

Read on: Deadline.

Ellation Media today announced the launch of Ellation Studios, a new unit devoted to creating original content for its anime-focused Crunchyroll and VRV communities.
Margaret Dean, former general manager of Stoopid Buddy Stoodios and current president …

Niche Streaming Service VRV Adds New Titles, Desktop Platform

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While Paramount’s “Ghost in the Shell” is bringing anime to the big screen, anime, animation and sci-fi-focused streaming service VRV — pronounced “verve” — is adding a bunch of new shows and the ability to watch on desktop computers as it builds a curated niche platform.

VRV, developed by Ellation, owned by AT&T-backed Otter Media, launched last June at the E3 show in Los Angeles with content geared to gamers and niche action sports fans. Its main product is essentially a “skinny bundle” for niche content that tends to appeal to anime fans. Anime-dedicated Crunchyroll, also owned by Ellation, is the largest niche streaming video on demand service in the market, and the company decided to create a larger platform that allows people to subscribe to other niche services on an a la carte basis, or get multiple channels as part of a $10/month combo pack.

“There’s an opportunity to create a value bundled offering,” Arlen Marmel, VRV’s general manager, told TheWrap. “Bundling has got a bad rap — traditional bundles have got a little too big. If you can appropriately craft a bundle, what you see is a really frictionless discovery system and benefit to all of our partners as we scale.”

Also Read: How Crunchyroll Turned a Niche Audience Into a Streaming Powerhouse

The additions include season 2 of “My Hero Academia,” which will be available on both the Crunchyroll and Funimation channels, allowing anime fans to watch it subtitled (on Crunchyroll) or dubbed (Funimation). Season 15 of popular gaming-focused series “Red vs. Blue” will be airing on the Rooster Teeth channel. VRV is also bringing on board fan favorites like season 2 of “Attack on Titan” and “Boruto: Naruto Next Generations.”

VRV subscribers can now also simulcast the first episodes of the anime spring lineup on its Crunchyroll channel — for free and ad-lite — which is typically only available to premium subscribers on Crunchyroll.

The company also launched a beta version of its desktop platform, creating yet another way to watch the service. It’s currently available on Android and iPhone, or PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Chromecast, with Roku coming soon.

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And as luck would have it, VRV’s new initiatives come at what the company is calling sort of a golden age of anime. Not only are big Hollywood establishment players like Paramount (“Ghost in the Shell”) and Netflix (“Death Note”) adapting some of the genre’s best-known titles, but the current crop of new frontline shows — which air on TV in Japan — have raised anticipation to a level VRV execs say they haven’t seen.

“The level of these shows come around almost once a decade,” Ace St. Germain, VRV’s head of content and programming, told TheWrap. “It’s an unprecedented time for anime.”

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