CES: Sony Says It Will Introduce Cloud-Based Live And VOD TV Service This Year

By | Tuesday January 7, 2014 @ 9:50am PST

This would appear to be the potentially revolutionary virtual pay TV service that’s been widely anticipated by the media elitesony_logo__121101084843-200x133__130207090832__130530213852Sony Computer Entertainment Group CEO Andrew House told the International CES confab that the Sony Entertainment Network will be introduced as a “new cloud based service in U.S. this year” and it will include the “most popular live TV programs combined with a large library of VOD content” — although he offered no specifics. It will have “an intuitive and dynamic interface that gets to know you.” Users won’t need multiple boxes, and can view across devices. They also can harness social media connections and their own viewing history to help discover new shows. House — given a segment to talk during Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai’s keynote — says that Sony “will make TV a more personalized and dynamic service” adding that “no other company is better poised to lead the TV revolution than Sony.” The big question is whether Sony will be able to offer pay TV channels apart from the conventional cable and satellite bundles. If it can, then the service might promote cord-cutting — which could upend economic assumptions for traditional media companies.

Related: CES: Sony CEO Calls For An End To “Just Good Enough” Tech Products

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iN Demand To Offer Inception Media’s Content On VOD And Pay Per View

By | Tuesday December 17, 2013 @ 2:04pm PST

iNDemandThe deal will significantly expand the potential audience for Inception Media Group’s content, which includes many low-budget movies such as Danger In The Manger and Silent But Deadly, live comedy, and documentaries from Smithsonian Channel. iN Demand is the leading video-on-demand … Read More »

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John Sloss Posts ‘Escape From Tomorrow’ VOD Revenues; Dares Rivals To Do Same

By | Monday October 28, 2013 @ 9:15am PDT

EXCLUSIVE: John Sloss, whose Producers Distribution Agency is releasing the provocative unauthorized Disney World-shot Escape From Tomorrow, reports that in its first two weeks, the film grossed $139,334 in theatrical revenues — and $120,560 in VOD/digital grosses — for a total take of $259,894. VOD, he said, was $55,000 and broadband revenue was $65,000. Now, that’s chump change for a studio release, but groundbreaking in that Sloss even volunteered it. Unless it’s after the fact on a triumph like Margin Call or Arbitrage, it feels like most multi-platform distributors would sooner give out the numbers to their personal bank accounts than timely VOD grosses. It makes my job reporting specialty box office an incomplete exercise, because VOD/digital revenues play a bigger role on the specialty film release circuit every year. Distributors say their films clean up on cable and broadband, but there is no reliable mechanism for timely tally on VOD revenues the way there is on theatricals.

Related: Fantastic Fest: Can Disney-Set ‘Escape From Tomorrow’ Succeed If The Mouse Won’t Roar?

Sloss, who is on both sides of the coin in that his Cinetic Media brokers film distribution deals and PDA does multi-platform releasing on films like the Banksy documentary Exit Through The Gift Shop, has issued a challenge to his rivals: cough up the numbers as they get from cable companies, iTunes and other revenue providers, and create a level of transparency that shows what VOD really means to the bottom lines of prestige films.

“We are calling upon those distributors who have been pioneers of the day-and-date evolution to supply Cinetic with their cable and broadband VOD grow numbers,” Cinetic said in a statement. “When combined with the readily available theatrical gross numbers, it will enable us to post ‘Multi-Screen Grosses’ by Monday of each week. This service is designed to help filmmakers make more informed choices when deciding between more traditional theatrical scenarios and day and date releases.”

Right now, my specialty box office report leaves me with theatrical release givens like screen count, per screen average and total gross. The VOD numbers are anybody’s guess, even though they probably often dwarf theatrical revenue on day-and-date and ultra-VOD releases; there, theaters often won’t play those films at all, or not through the traditional revenue split system deals between distributors and theaters. That means distribs have to “four wall” theaters, or essentially rent the screens for a set fee.

“There are a group of distributors that are increasingly moving toward day-and-date releases,” Sloss told me. “There must be a reason they’re doing that. They know it. There’s no reason why filmmakers and financiers shouldn’t know it as well. Rather than just making a decision based on faith, they should be able to do just like the distributor is doing by making decisions based on information. It’s time for that statistics to be known. It should have happened immediately when distributors moved from pure theatrical to day and date because it is the functional equivalent to theatrical box office.” Read More »

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Specialty Box Office: Tragic Numbers For ‘Romeo & Juliet’ ; Sloss Promises VOD Numbers For ‘Escape From Tomorrow’

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.

Indie FilmsSpecialty alternatives to Gravity and Captain Phillips failed to attract significant numbers this weekend as newcomers including Relativity’s Romeo & Juliet release turned in poor-to-adequate numbers. Producers Distribution Agency, which has released a half dozen titles including 2010′s Banksy hit Exit Through The Gift Shop, opened Escape From Tomorrow from first time feature filmmaker Randy Moore in 30 theaters to a so-so $66K ($2,204 PSA). More importantly: Entertainment lawyer/sales agent John Sloss has vowed that this film will be a template in transparency. Sloss told me last week and again this morning that Escape‘s VOD/digital numbers will be reported and he hopes this will encourage others to do the same. VOD numbers have remained a mystery in box office reporting, though it’s widely accepted that they are a huge chunk if not the bulk of many specialty films’ overall gross. I told a rival distributor at the closing night of the New York Film Festival that Sloss/PDA said they would disclose VOD/digital numbers and that person conveyed sympathy for filmmakers, agents etc. for wanting or needing to know the numbers. He also thinks it could be a disservice because the “general public” naturally gravitates to what is popular in terms of numbers and they’ll be exposed to “spin” by the media… Read More »

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Disney Exec Praises Ad-Supported VOD With Fast Forward Disabled: Cable Show

By | Monday June 10, 2013 @ 8:36am PDT

Disney Media Networks co-Chair Anne Sweeney talked up the controversial idea in a panel of program execs at the opening session of the National Cable Show this morning. Comcast and other cable operators hope to land series … Read More »

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Comcast Sees Huge VOD Ad Growth: Report

By | Thursday June 21, 2012 @ 12:05am PDT

Comcast predicts advertising within video-on-demand programming to increase tenfold within the next 12 months, according to Multichannel News. Chip Meehan, Comcast Spotlight’s West regional vice president of integrated media sales said “We have 400 million monthly VOD … Read More »

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Can Actors Be Sold On The VOD Business Model? Sundance Buyers Ponder That…

By | Monday January 23, 2012 @ 9:35pm PST
Mike Fleming

The longer the 2012 Sundance Film Festival deal-making stalemate continues, the more VOD-centric deals will take center stage as they did in Toronto. A lot of the movies that came in with visions of theatrical releases are considering overtures from bidders who intend to emulate the Margin Call model where video-on-demand is equal to or more important than theatrical.

If VOD is to become a viable business that leads films on the margins to being widely seen, some obstacles have to be worked out of the system. The biggest: convincing actors accustomed to seeing their work play on 2,000 movie screens that the VOD model doesn’t mean their careers are on the downswing and that they’ve been relegated to pay-per-view. The only real equivalent actors have had for this was when they made a stinker that went straight to video obscurity. Will those actors spark to the potential of VOD riches and embrace the idea of promoting films to cable delivery systems instead of the ego-boosting traditional selling system of commercials and print ads? This is a psychological hurdle for stars. When Margin Call sold at Sundance last year with the Lionsgate/Roadside Attraction distribution VOD deal, veteran actors like Kevin Spacey had to be convinced this wasn’t necessarily a step down from a traditional theatrical release.
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Mike Fleming On 2012 Sundance: Deals Will Come But Film Buyers Wary Of Overpaying

By | Thursday January 19, 2012 @ 7:22pm PST
Mike Fleming

Redford Sees Opportunity In Alternative Distribution
Sundance: 10 Actors Catch Early Buzz
All Premieres Films For Sale In Sundance First

Sundance Film Festival 2012As the acquisitions crowd of buyers and sellers rolls into Park City tonight, there is heightened expectation that even more films will sell this time than at last year’s festival, when more than 40 films were bought. It is hardly a surprise to expect a brisk pace of dealmaking, but numerous buyers would be surprised if the numbers reach last year’s level.

Major distributors like Focus Features, The Weinstein Company, Sony Pictures Classics, Fox Searchlight, Open Road and CBS Films are looking to round out their already full 2012 schedules with a couple of films, and a lot of smaller distributors and newcomers like Mickey Liddell will use the festival to build their slates. Distributors like Magnolia and IFC need product to churn through their VOD-centric releasing platforms, and same with Village Roadshow, Roadside Attractions, Anchor Bay and smaller distributors.

There is a Sundance catalog full of titles that didn’t come in with distribution, and the festival did a better job than ever keeping bootleg copies of the films from being slipped to buyers like in past years (password-protected online viewing gets the credit). That means acquisition teams will be seeing the films at the same time, which should ramp up the competition. And Margin Call‘s impressive showing as a day-and-date VOD title has some feeling that VOD-centric deals will become a major part of the dealmaking, particularly with former Magnolia execs Tom Quinn and Jason Janego attending their first Sundance since starting a VOD division for Harvey Weinstein. The majority of deals made at Toronto last fall were VOD-centric, and there is no reason we won’t see smaller films get gobbled up here.

So films will sell. But will buyers spend drunkenly?

Here are the factors buyers and sellers mentioned to me that could help determine how good this festival marketplace will be:

The Harvey Factor: Last year’s Sundance kicked off a strong acquisition year for Harvey Weinstein, and many believe it fueled strong buying not only here but at Cannes and Toronto. The fact that Weinstein had more face time on the Golden Globes than host Ricky Gervais, and three of his four films feted there were acquisitions, gives buyers hope that he will keep buying. “If Harvey Weinstein comes to buy, this will be a great festival,” said one seller. “Last year’s pace was directly attributable to Harvey making a few big deals.” TWC COO David Glasser, like several other buyers, promised to be disciplined: “Harvey does set the tone, but we’re not coming here to overbid or to find five films,” he said. “We’re looking for the two or so gems, and if we find the right picture at the right price, we’ll make a deal. We’ve learned a lot over the last three years, seeing what worked and what didn’t. The margins in this business are very tight and that extra million you overpay could have gone to marketing. We’ll bid numbers that will allow us to be here five years from now.” Let’s see what happens if Harvey decides he has to have one of those Sundance films, like he did pre-Cannes when he acquired The Artist.

The Big Buyer Contraction Factor: Some sellers were concerned about the uncertainty over big buyers. Lionsgate’s acquisition of Summit Entertainment eliminated one buyer, though sellers note that Summit usually sniffed but didn’t buy that many Sundance films. Relativity Media is in an uncertain situation with its financing; and when Bob Berney exited, FilmDistrict head Peter Schlessel set most of his big-ticket films with Tom Ortenberg’s Open Road. Does that mean FilmDistrict won’t buy and that Open Road won’t have to fill many slots? Schlessel tells me he will be at Sundance and will buy if the right film comes along. It isn’t a priority, though, because the company has a strong slate this year. The priority is to hire marketing and distribution executives and have them in place by Cannes.
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Did Movies On Demand Marketing Pay Off?

By | Wednesday December 14, 2011 @ 4:11pm PST

EXCLUSIVE: Backers are ready to take a victory lap for their two-year Movies On Demand marketing campaign for cable built around the slogan: ”The Video Store Just Moved In.”  But the evidence that they’re starting to circulate fails to demonstrate that they attracted lots of new rentals following their TV, print, and online sales pitches, which began last year with a $30M commitment. They point to figures from Rentrak that show cable subs viewed VOD more than 6.4B times in the first 10 months of this year, up 10.3% vs the same period last year. The problem? That figure isn’t just movie rentals — it also includes movies shown for free as well as TV shows. They also note that newcomers to VOD movies — people who hadn’t ordered one in at least three months — paid an average of $7.71 a week this past summer. That’s up 67% from the spring, and it’s “a massive increase since early 2010, when they weren’t spending at all” for VOD movies, says Char Beales, who oversees the Movies on Demand campaign. While she’s probably right, it doesn’t mean much because the group doesn’t tell us Read More »

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CBS Research Chief Says Broadcasters Will Recapture Ad $$$ From Cable: UBS Confab

Nobody delivers the pro-broadcast network message more effectively than CBS Chief Research Officer David Poltrack. But he was far more bullish than usual today at his yearly industry forecast during the UBS Annual Global Media and Communications Conference. He … Read More »

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UPDATE: Universal Halts ‘Tower Heist’ VOD Plan As Exhibitors Agree To Further Talks

By | Wednesday October 12, 2011 @ 12:25pm PDT

UPDATE, 12:25 PM: The resolution of the spat between Universal and theater owners comes after a week of what we’re told were “dozens and dozens and dozens” of phone conversations exhibition company chiefs had with Universal Studios president Ron Meyer and chairman Adam Fogelson. Some theater owners were surprised this morning when they learned of Universal’s decision to scrap the premium video-on-demand experiment with Tower Heist. The exhibition companies had not made a specific concession, though Cinemark was joined by several smaller circuits and National Amusements in saying it would not screen the movie if the VOD plan — set for two cities, Atlanta and Portland, Ore. — went forward. But it’s considered noteworthy that the statement from the National Association Of Theatre Owners says that the trade group “recognizes that studios need to find new models and opportunities in the home market, and looks forward to distributors and exhibitors working together for their mutual benefit.” In a separate statement, Regal CEO Amy Miles reiterated the theme saying: ”We understand and respect Universal’s interest in finding a successful model for ancillary markets and we remain willing to assist Universal, and our other studio partners, in developing a strategy that is acceptable and productive for both parties.”

(Washington, D.C. and North Hollywood, Calif. – October 12, 2011) In response to Universal’s decision to cancel its planned release of Tower Heist to the home on Video on Demand just three weeks after its theatrical debut, National Association of Theatre Owners president and CEO John Fithian stated, “NATO would like to thank Universal for responding to various theater owners’ concerns and cancelling the PVOD test it was contemplating. They have been engaged with individual exhibitors on this test, and while it was something that many theater owners could not ultimately support, the open and collaborative nature of the dialogue is appreciated. NATO recognizes that studios need to find new models and opportunities in the home market, and looks forward to distributors and exhibitors working together for their mutual benefit.”

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National Amusements Comes Out Against ‘Tower Heist’ VOD Plan

By | Wednesday October 12, 2011 @ 9:30am PDT

Theaters Demand Longer Wait For ‘Tower Heist’ Premium VOD Test

Add Sumner Redstone’s exhibitor company National Amusements to the list of chains who won’t show Universal’s upcoming caper comedy Tower Heist. The 950-screen circuit said today that it won’t screen … Read More »

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Cinemark Threatens Boycott Of Universal’s ‘Tower Heist’ Over Early VOD Experiment

By | Thursday October 6, 2011 @ 6:00pm PDT

Comcast-Universal Testing ‘Tower Heist’ At $59.99

Cinemark, the nation’s third-largest movie theater chain, today threatened not to carry Universal’s upcoming caper comedy Tower Heist over the studio’s plan to offer the movie on video-on-demand just three weeks after its November … Read More »

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Comcast And NBCU Partner To Promote VOD Ad-Swapping Technology

By | Tuesday July 26, 2011 @ 10:39am PDT

Dynamic ad insertion isn’t a sexy topic, but you should still pay attention to this announcement today from Comcast and NBCUniversal: It could become a milestone in TV’s evolution into a VOD business. The companies say that they will use a new technology to automatically update ads — initially from Chrysler and Kraft — that run just before and after shows from USA Network, E!, Syfy, Bravo, and Oxygen that viewers watch on-demand. Comcast expects to offer dynamic ad insertion in most of its cable systems by year end. If this is successful, then it could eliminate one of the big stumbling blocks for VOD: Advertisers often need to reach consumers right away, and don’t want to pay for spots on VOD that viewers may see days later. This has been a big concern for studios that want to promote new movies. If the Comcast-NBCU effort is successful, then more advertisers may decide to pay for VOD spots — and programmers will become more willing to offer their shows on-demand. Here’s the Comcast-NBCU release: Read More »

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Summit Will Put ‘Source Code’ On VOD Two Weeks Before Vid Release

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 12:40pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Los Angeles, CA May 31, 2011 – Summit Home Entertainment announced today that its Sci-fi film SOURCE CODE will be available to consumers via VOD and EST on Friday, July 8, 2011, approximately two weeks prior to the film’s home entertainment release date of Tuesday, July 26, 2011. Traditionally standard VOD and EST are available day and date with physical discs. This particular case will test the demand for viewing a bigger budgeted film digitally prior to the release of physical discs. Summit is not shortening the industry established window between a film’s theatrical release and its home entertainment debut, rather this test aligns with the studio’s ongoing efforts to find the best way to present its films digitally.

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Video: Bill Mechanic Thinks Studio 60-Day VOD Plan Short-Sighted And Destructive

By | Sunday April 3, 2011 @ 5:31am PDT
Mike Fleming

Former top Fox exec and Pandemonium producer Bill Mechanic thinks that studios are being short-sighted and will inflict long-term destruction by enlisting in a plan to allow DirecTV to create a premium VOD window. Consumers will be able to pay 30 bucks for a 48-hour viewing window, 60 days after theatrical release, which further erodes the traditional theatrical window. He was interviewed by Bloomberg TV West to respond to a threat by theater chains AMC and Regal to boycott films that go VOD so quickly. I wonder what these shortening windows will do to tweener movies that do OK opening weekend box office business and build by word of mouth. Two current movies, The Lincoln Lawyer and Limitless, have shown surprising resilience. If consumers know they don’t have to wait long to see those films, will they bother going to theaters for anything other than VFX-filled 3D tent poles? AMC and Regal just launched a distribution operation to brand its own product that will show on hundreds of Regal/AMC screens. With battle lines being drawn between studios and theater chains, these chains could further squeeze tweener films by shortening their runs and replacing them with their own product. Here’s Mechanic: Read More »

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Blockbuster Bankruptcy Shows Danger of Being Inflexible In Digital Age

By | Thursday September 23, 2010 @ 8:18am PDT
Mike Fleming

Blockbuster made it official today, filing its long expected Chapter 11 bankruptcy, with a line of creditors that includes its product suppliers like Fox, Sony, Universal, Warner Bros and Disney. It seems unfathomable that given Blockbuster’s supremacy at one time–think of all the mom and pop video stores that went … Read More »

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Magnolia Will Platform Joaquin Phoenix Mockumentary By Casey Affleck Sept. 10

Mike Fleming

phoenix_narrowweb__300x453,0Magnolia Pictures has completed an acquisition of I’m Still Here: The Lost Year Of Joaquin Phoenix, the mockumentary that Casey Affleck directed about his brother-in-law’s bizarre transformation from acclaimed actor to debauched hip-hop artist. Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles tells me the … Read More »

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FearNet To Become Basic Cable Channel

By | Monday June 21, 2010 @ 6:30am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Video-on-demand/online service FearNet is planning to go linear October 1. The multi-platform service, owned by Lions Gate, Sony Pictures TV and Comcast, said it will launch as a high-definition ad-supported movie channel. No carriage agreements have been announced though having No.1 cable operator Comcast as a parent should come in … Read More »

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