BSkyB Opens Its Sky Store Rentals To All Broadband Users
BSkyB set a challenge today to streaming providers in the UK such as Netflix and LoveFilm by announcing it has opened its Sky Store movie rental service to anyone with a broadband connection. The service does not require a Sky subscription, meaning all users in the UK and the Republic of Ireland will have access. Sky, which is controlled by 21st Century Fox, says new films including Man Of Steel and Despicable Me 2 are available from today with other fresh titles available at the same time as they drop on DVD. Those will rent for £3.49 ($5.70) each. Library titles will go for 99p-£1.99. There are already about 1,200 movies online which can be streamed through SkyStore.com, or via NOW TV, Roku and YouView. Sky’s had success with renting movies to its existing customers with 2.1 million rentals in the third quarter.
Report: Netflix Mulls Expansion Into France
Netflix has been a long time coming to France, Europe’s third-largest market, but is the tide about to turn? According to Reuters, executives from Netflix met with the staff of French President François Hollande this week to discuss the move. Netflix is available in 41 countries including France’s neighbors to the north such as the UK, the Netherlands and the Nordic region. A French launch has been rumored over the years, but moving into the fiercely protected territory is ornery for the streaming service given a complex film-windows chronology. There is no such protection for TV series, but many U.S. shows air as much as a year later than they do in the U.S. on traditional networks like TF1. TF1 has a VOD service that offers first-run U.S. series on a one-day delay and pay-TV leader Canal Plus airs first-run series within a few days; it even launched a new channel this year on which to showcase them. But movies are hampered by rules that prohibit films from appearing on monthly SVOD services until three years after a theatrical release. Rentals via a set-top box are permissible four months after theatrical. The windows issue has long been a thorny one in France, with industry opinions divided, but discussions are ongoing. A Hollande rep told Reuters, “Netflix wanted information about the legal conditions that would affect its potential arrival in France.” Read More »
The second season of the Netflix original series House Of Cards will premiere on Friday, February 14. Like with the first season, all 13-episodes of the second season will be available to watch instantly in all of Netflix’s territories. House Of Cards, from MRC and director David Fincher, stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. It just received its first PGA Award nomination yesterday. Here is the first teaser:
Netflix‘s march into the major TV awards circles continues. After an impressive showing at the Primetime Emmy nominations, the streaming service, which has been an original programming player only since January, today received two Producers Guild Awards nominations: for best drama series, House Of Cards, and best comedy, Arrested Development. The double nomination puts Netflix in the same category as awards juggernaut HBO as the only two outlets with multiple scripted PGA nominations. (HBO’s contenders are drama Game Of Thrones and comedy Veep.) For House Of Cards, this is a first PGA nom, while Arrested Development continued its streak of four consecutive PGA nominations for each of its seasons — three on Fox and one on Netflix. Ironically, Netflix’s most buzzed about original series, Orange Is The New Black, didn’t make the cut, exposing again the PGA Awards’ outdated eligibility window — which includes series that aired between June 1, 2012-May 31, 2013, a month before Orange premiered.
Related: PGA Awards TV Nominees Unveiled
House Of Cards provided the only change from last year in the best drama series field. But it was a significant one as the newcomer replaced AMC veteran Mad Men, which had been nominated every year it had been eligible so far and won twice. Once the most dominant drama awards contender, Mad Men also was shut out from winning Emmys the past two years. Joining House Of Cards are returning PGA nominees Showtime’s Homeland, which won the award in January; AMC’s Breaking Bad, hot off winning the best drama Emmy; PBS’ Downton Abbey; and Game Of Thrones. U.S. commercial broadcasters were shut out completely for a second straight year, underlining the awards struggle for network drama.
Related: Development Season 2013: Fewer Dramas Among Trends
There were no snubs on the comedy series side, with Arrested Development and Veep taking the spots vacated by Curb Your Enthusiasm and Louie, both not eligible this year. They join last year’s nominees, ABC’s Modern Family, which is aiming at a fourth consecutive PGA win; NBC’s departing 30 Rock; and CBS’ mega hit The Big Bang Theory. Read More »
When many studios license shows to Netflix they stipulate that the content can’t be distributed in the U.S. through a pay TV operator’s set top box — but that should change, TiVo CEO Tom Rogers told analysts today. Netflix “has clearly risen to the level of a must-have” for consumers who want streamed video. And once Netflix can negotiate changes in its contracts “increasingly we’re hearing operators wanting to include Netflix in their distribution” after years of considering it a threat. It would benefit TiVo if he’s right: Its DVRs can integrate broadband video with conventional cable channels. In September, UK cable operator Virgin Media said that it would include a Netflix app on the TiVo boxes it offers to some of its subscribers – blurring the distinction between the online service and premium channels like HBO. Rogers naturally wants more U.S. cable operators to let TiVo handle their advanced services. Cable “is beginning to pay a price for not having found the right balance [between marketing broadband and video] and not highlighting how video benefits flow from broadband connectivity.” Smaller operators have turned to TiVo while big companies such as Time Warner Cable haven’t. But Rogers says that he doesn’t “see it being sustainable that somebody in suburban Anchorage, Alaska, can have a vastly better advanced television experience than somebody in the media capital of the world living on Park Avenue and 60th Street.” Read More »
It’s déjà vu again for The Killing, which refuses to live up to its name. The mystery drama, which was cancelled by AMC last year only to be resurrected with a third-season order, is staging another comeback after being cancelled by the network again in September. This time, the series was picked up by Netflix, which was its exclusive digital partner for the first three seasons and still carries them worldwide. Now The Killing will become a Netflix original for a six-episode final installment. The series’ second resurrection is a testament to series producer Fox TV Studios’ tenacious efforts to keep it alive. The Killing‘s stars, Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman, are under long-term deals and set to return. Creator/executive producer Veena Sud is assembling a writing team, which is expected to begin work shortly. She will be joined by The Killing veterans, exec producers Dawn Prestwich and Nicole Yorkin, who had been on the show since the first season, and two other writers. “It’s a true testament to Veena Sud, and the stellar cast led so compellingly by Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman, that fans remained so passionate about the show,” FtvS president David Madden said.
The Killing‘s third season opened with an OK 1.8 million viewers and drew largely positive reaction from critics and fans. But it ended with 1.5 million for the season finale, up only slightly from the 1.4 million viewers of the second-season ender. Season 3 overall was essentially flat with Season 2 — ratings that had triggered the series’ first cancellation. However, the serialized drama’s strength always has been the digital/binge viewing play. “The rich, serialized storytelling in The Killing thrives on Netflix, and we believe that it is only fitting to give Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder a proper send-off,” said Cindy Holland, VP Original Content for Netflix. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Twilight screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg first was tapped to create a drama series based on Marvel‘s Jessica Jones character three years ago, when the project was set at ABC. In typical Marvel fashion, no one is confirming, but I have learned that Rosenberg is attached to the project’s new incarnation at Netflix as writer and executive producer. Jessica Jones is one of four series Marvel TV and ABC TV Studios sold to the streaming giant in a deal announced last week. Jessica Jones is slated second for release, following Daredevil, which is close to locking in Lost alum Drew Goddard as writer/exec producer. The other two Marvel series in the package are Iron Fist and Luke Cage, with the characters from each show then coming together for an Avengers-type superhero teaming in a chapter-closing miniseries. I hear Jessica Jones is undergoing redevelopment in its move to Netflix. The character, created by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, is a superhero suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder, which leads to her hanging up her costume and opening her own detective agency, where she ends up helping people and assisting other superheroes. Rosenberg most recently executive produced ABC’s drama series Red Widow.
Related: Bob Iger Talks Up Marvel-Netflix … Read More »
The Marvel characters to be featured on Netflix in the four-series deal the companies announced today are “not among the most popular,” Disney CEO Bob Iger just told analysts. Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage ”were never going to become feature films.” But that could change if the shows planned for the streaming service catch on. That makes the agreement “great for Netflix” — and opens “a great opportunity for Marvel to create more brand value…There are more opportunities beyond our platform to produce product for.”
The Disney chief also urged investors not to fret about the long time it’s taking for the entertainment giant to work out a new program carriage deal with Dish Network. The companies agreed to keep talking — without any programming black out — at the end of September when their previous agreement expired. “Progress is being made,” Iger says. Still, a deal “could take some time.” That’s because the negotiations are less about the price for carrying traditional TV channels than they are about the fees and conditions for Dish to stream Read More »
Wall Street says it is shortly after the social media company went public this morning. Twitter’s valued at $24.6B with its stock price hovering around $46 a share. That makes it less valuable than Discovery Communications ($30.2B) — but more valuable than Dish Network ($22.3B), SiriusXM ($22.2B), and Netflix ($19.5B). It’s also way ahead of big names in traditional media including Liberty ($18.5B), Sony ($17.2B), and News Corp ($10.0B). Investors still put a higher value on new media companies including Yahoo ($34.6B) and Facebook ($117.3B). Twitter’s valuation is already too rich for Pivotal Research Group’s Brian Wieser — who appears to have been the first analyst to downgrade the company to “sell” from “buy” today based on the 75%+ jump in its price following the IPO at $26 a share. “Twitter is simply too expensive” after it passed the high 30s, he says.
The companies call this an “unprecedented deal” and “Marvel‘s most ambitious foray yet into live-action TV storytelling.” Disney will provide Netflix with live action series and a miniseries featuring Marvel characters Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage set in the gritty world of heroes and villains of Hell’s Kitchen, New York. Netflix has committed to at least four, 13-episode series over “multiple years,” beginning in 2015, culminating with a miniseries, The Defenders, that “reimagines a dream team of self-sacrificing, heroic characters.” The arrangement, which involves some 60 episodes produced by Marvel TV and ABC Studios, grew out of the deal that will give Netflix exclusive rights to Disney films in the premium TV window beginning in 2016. It is “unparalleled in its scope and size, and reinforces our commitment to deliver Marvel’s brand, content and characters across all platforms of storytelling,” says Marvel Entertainment President Alan Fine. Also unprecedented was the secrecy surrounding the package. As we reported last month, breaking the news of Marvel shopping the four series and mini to Netflix and a couple of other VOD and cable players, no one was allowed to breathe a word, with the seller, all potential buyers and everyone else involved allegedly bound by strict confidentiality agreements. Committing to 60 episodes off the bat is a big undertaking but would help a new to scripted programming player like Netflix that is looking to quickly build up a slate and want to capitalize on the Marvel brand. Said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos, “Marvel is a known and loved brand that travels.” There had been talk of another Daredevil movie while Marvel TV first developed Jessica Jones as a series for ABC but it didn’t move past the development stage. The company’s first live-action series for Disney, ABC’s Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., premiered this fall and has been picked up for a full season. It has been a very strong performer in DVR/steaming viewing, hinting at the potential of other Marvel series on a service like Netflix. Here’s the release on the deal, brokered by CAA: Read More »
Lilyhammer ushered in original series on Netflix as the acquired Norwegian show became the first original drama offered on the streaming service when it bowed on February 6, 2012. A lot has happened since then, with Netflix unspooling a slew of home grown original series, including House Of Cards, Hemlock Grove, Orange Is The New Black and a new season of Arrested Development. Now, nearly two years after Lilyhammer‘s debut on Netflix, the service will release the series’ second season on December 13. (trailer below) As is Netflix’s MO, all eight episodes will be made available simultaneously. The series stars Steven Van Zandt as a mob fixer who enters the witness protection program in Lillehammer, Norway. As if life couldn’t get more complicated than balancing fatherhood with running a criminal operation, everything Frank cares for is threatened when his former mob associates find out he is still alive.
The Short Game, the first original documentary to be offered on the streaming service, will premiere on Thursday, December 12 at 12:01 AM ET. The 2013 SXSW Audience Award winner follows eight of the most competitive golfers around the globe, all who happen to be under the age of 7, as they train for and compete in the World Championship of Junior Golf. It was Academy qualified in a limited theatrical release through Phase 4 Films and Samuel Goldwyn Films. The pic will be available to stream in all territories where Netflix is available – U.S., Canada, the UK, Ireland, Latin America, the Nordics and the Netherlands. The Short Game is produced by Rafael Marmor, Christopher Leggett, and Josh Greenbaum, and executive produced by Jessica Biel, Justin Timberlake, Timm Oberwelland, John Battsek and David Frankel.
Related: Hot SXSW Trailer: ‘The Short Game’
Just in time for Halloween — and two days after Ted Sarandos’ throwdown with theater owners — Netflix has struck a deal with CBS to stream Showtime‘s serial killer drama Dexter. The first four seasons will be available for instant viewing starting October 31, with Seasons 5-8 following on January 1. Dexter‘s series finale wrapped up in September drawing record ratings for Showtime. “We’re thrilled to have Dexter, one of Showtime’s highest-rated shows on Netflix, and so quickly after it completed its record-breaking run,” said Sarandos. The Halloween debut invites binge viewing on a Thursday leading into the moviegoing weekend. Will Ender’s Game, Free Birds, and Last Vegas fall victim to Dexter Morgan?
EXCLUSIVE: NATO president/CEO John Fithian struck back at Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, who today gave the keynote speech at the Film Independent Forum and charged theater owners with potentially killing the movie business by being inflexible with shrinking theatrical windows. Fithian said that if anybody is imperiling the time-tested movie going experience, it is upstarts like Netflix.
“Subscription movie services and cheap rentals killed the DVD business, and now Sarandos wants to kill the cinema as well,” Fithian said. As for Sarandos’ assertion that studios should offer their films on Netflix day and date with theatrical openings, Fithian said that “The only business that would be helped by day-and-day release to Netflix is Netflix. If Hollywood did what Sarandos suggests, there wouldn’t be many movies left for Netflix’s customers or for anyone else. It makes absolutely no business sense to accelerate the release of the lowest value in the chain.”
Netflix is just the latest party to join the ongoing argument over how movie distribution models should evolve, if at all. TV has grown nimble, with cable systems and networks making it easier than ever for audiences to catch shows so that initial air times are almost irrelevant. In the independent film space, multi-platform releasing continues to grow as a viable alternative to a theatrical model which requires a significant P&A spend. The major chains have largely refused to play ball, and often force multi platform distributors to “four wall” screens, instead of the revenue split formula that is usually the way distributors and theaters do business. Many have argued that it is inefficient for studios to spend huge P&A sums to open films in theaters, and then be forced to wait half a year or more, and spend more money to rebuild awareness for the DVD, VOD and pay windows for films that consumers have long since forgotten about. But the last time a studio tried to buck the system, as Universal did on the Brett Ratner-directed Tower Heist, the major film chains banded together and arm-twisted Universal to shut down a limited test that would have offered day and date VOD viewing at a premium price. The theaters are protecting their own business, after having gone to the expense of building and upgrading theaters all over the country.
Related: Netflix Shares Hit New Highs in Q3
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“Our intent is that the show keep going for sure,” said Netflix‘s Ted Sarandos today. “It was a 26-episode commitment. It was not our intent that it just run for two seasons,” he added of House of Cards’ run on the streaming service. Netflix’s Chief Content Officer was delivering the keynote Saturday at Film Independent‘s 9th annual confab at DGA HQ. “Talks are in progress right now,” he told me afterwards on a further deal to lock in more seasons of the Emmy-winning political drama, “so stay tuned.” Former House of Cards EP Rick Cleveland said last month that the series would wrap up after its second season. The lack of any new deal announcement despite the breakout HoC proved to be for Netflix fueled speculation about its demise after the current two season deal was up. The second season of the Kevin Spacey starring series, which is presently in its last week of production, is expected to debut on Netflix early next year. The Film Independent Forum continues Sunday.
Related: Netflix Shares Hit New Highs in Q3
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Talk about profit taking. The billionaire investor just made about $800M after selling nearly 3M Netflix shares that Icahn Enterprises says was done “in view of the 457% increase in the price of those shares since the original investment at approximately $58 per share.” Netflix hit an all time high of $389.16 early today after it unveiled stronger than expected Q3 results. But it closed at $322.52, -9.2% — with much of the decline likely due to Icahn’s sales. He still has nearly 2.7M shares, equal to about 4.5% of the company votes. He bought his holdings about a year ago, and briefly tangled with CEO Reed Hastings after Netflix adopted a poison pill – a takeover defense designed to prevent Icahn from engineering an unwanted sale. Today Icahn thanked Hastings and Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos “for a job well done.” He added that “last but not least, I wish to thank Kevin Spacey” who starred in Netflix’ series House Of Cards. Icahn says that as “a hardened veteran of seven bear markets” he knows that “when you are lucky and/or smart enough” to make such a big profit “it is time to take some chips off the table.” But his son, Brett, and another fund manager at Icahn Enterprises, David Schechter, elected to tie some of their compensation to the performance of Netflix shares. They call the $7.99 a month streaming service “one of the great consumer bargains of our time” and say that it “could ultimately raise prices to $9.99 per month over the course of the next five years.” They also are confident that Netflix can enlist as many as 90M domestic subscribers. Between that and growth opportunities overseas “we believe Netflix’s valuation is still relatively low.” Carl Icahn said in a July interview on CNBC that he wanted to sell his shares “100 points ago, and my son threatened to leave” the company. Netflix is down 2.2% in post-market trading following the Icahn announcement
Here’s the release from Icahn Enterprises: Read More »
David Bloom is a Deadline contributor.
You’d think a big new TV revenue source that has goosed income, built audiences and boosted marketing might be the favored guest at a show creator’s next holiday gathering, but that’s not necessarily the case, a panel of industry notables said today at a conference in Los Angeles. In fact, sometimes they spend as much time referring to Netflix as “the N word” as they do celebrating the good things it might do for their shows.
And there are some reasons for that ambivalence. As the streaming-video giant creates and markets more of its own shows, it creates branding problems and other conflicts for networks and producers with shows on the service. As Netflix pushes for the rights to run more recent shows, networks are pushing back. And as Netflix builds deeper knowledge about customer preferences, but doesn’t share enough of that data, distributors and creators have found new ways to be unhappy, even if they appreciate the very real benefits of their Netflix deals.
Related: Netflix Shares Hit New Highs in Q3
“I think [Netflix is] the true definition of frenemy,” said Chuck Saftler, FX Networks’ COO and President of Program Strategy, during the The State Of Next Generation Television panel at the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey. “We make money when Sons of Anarchy is on Netflix. But as they put out more original content, and call House of Cards a Netflix original, and Orange Is The New Black a Netflix original (and mix that with messages about FX shows), that becomes a concern because it starts to lump our brand in with theirs.” Read More »
A lot of tidbits from Netflix‘s quarterly conference call with analysts — including the fact that the final season of Breaking Bad won’t be available on the service until 2014. But one of the most interesting disclosures is that the execs want to back movies — which they would transmit to living rooms faster than conventional Hollywood productions do. The company is “actively looking at documentaries,” Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos says, though he adds that he’ll “keep my mind wide open” for other genres. The company’s intrigued in part because it wouldn’t have to wait for its titles to sell on home video before it can stream them to subscribers. “Even though that window is moving, it isn’t moving aggressively enough,” he says. A more aggressive timetable “would be good for our members.” But he squashed a recent report in The Wall Street Journal that said Netflix might be interested in cutting a deal to offer NFL games. “We’re still not interested in sports,” he says, calling matches “primarily a linear experience.”
Netflix Shares Hit New Highs in Q3
Netflix Orders Series From ‘Damages’ Creators
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The company closed near an all-time high today — and is up an additional 10% in post-market trading after it released the surprisingly strong Q3 results. Net income of $31.8M is +315% vs last year’s Q3 on revenues of $1.1B, +22.2%. The revenue figure is bull’s-eye with analyst expectations. But net income at 52 cents a share beat forecasts for 49 cents. Netfilx says it will build on that success by doubling its investment in original content in 2014. “Over the next few years we aspire to support creation of some of the most compelling and remarkable content ever produced,” CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells say in a letter to shareholders. Many were especially eager to see the net addition in domestic streaming subscriptions — and here, too, Netflix justified the optimists’ faith. It added nearly 1.3M, ahead of the consensus forecast for 1.16M. With 31.1M total domestic streaming subscriptions, including 29.9M paid, the company can claim to be bigger here than HBO which has about 28.7M. But Hastings and Wells say that “we have a long way to go to match HBO’s 114 million global member count or their well-deserved Emmy Award leadership.” Netflix forecasts that it will end Q4 with as many as 33.5M domestic streaming subs, with as many as 31.8M paid. Analysts expected strong Q3 results based on the popularity of Orange Is The New Black, and increase in its unique … Read More »