New Content vs. Ad Tiers: Analytics Report Suggests Staggering Subscriber Rollout
Streaming platforms may introduce ad-supported subscription tiers to lower costs and combat subscriber churn, but analytics firm Samba TV thinks that these tiers may create problems, especially regarding the rollout of highly anticipated tentpole content. In the firm’s Q2 The State of Viewership Report, data shows that new releases of large titles on these streaming services are often met upfront with high watch numbers. For example, in its first four days of release, the fourth season of Netflix’s Stranger Things was seen by 2.9 million households, which expanded to 4.6 million households by its fifteenth day online. Series on Disney+ (like Obi-Wan Kenobi and Moon Knight) saw similar patterns of content front-loading. Therefore, Samba’s report concluded that three quarters of all TV viewers will watch big shows in the first two weeks of their availability. This probability is even higher for film releases, thanks to their much shorter run time. Spiderhead earned 58% of its two-week viewership in just the first four days. It’s likely that scheduling these rollouts will change once ad-tiers are introduced. According to the report, this data “could foreshadow the future of an AVOD model that ‘windows’ original content in SVOD for 15 to 30 days before being released to ad-supported tiers.” A hybrid model could not only encourage people to be top-tier subscribers, but also keep them happy with advanced access to premium content. Streaming platforms that already offer ad-tier subscriptions have not updated their content rollouts in this way, though it may be interesting to platforms looking to implement a subscription model in the coming months.
Cord-Cutting Continues: Cable and Satellite Providers Show Massive 2022 Losses
Hollywood is wrapping up its quarterly earnings season. As anticipated, the “TV Pay” model continues to lose subscribers. Bruce Leichtman (who runs Leichtman Research Group that focuses on this sector) found that paid TV saw a total of 1.9 million net losses in Q2 alone. This equals a loss of 5,425,000 subscribers in the past year—a big decline from the previous year, which saw a loss of 4,550,000 subscribers. Providers experiencing this decline include Comcast, Charter, Cox, Altice, DirecTV, Dish, Verizon, and Hulu’s live TV tier. Industry analysts are updating their forecasts and seeing a bleak future for the old format. According to Wells Fargo analyst Steven Cahall, “From a peak of more than 100 million in 2015, pay TV subs are now about 82.5 million, and we estimate penetration to be around 55 percent of TV households, down from a peak of 81 percent.” And as more content is shifting to streaming platforms, the cord-cutting trend is expected to continue. 2022 will likely result in a 5.8% drop in pay TV subscriptions, but analysts are now forecasting a 6.7% drop in 2023. With these drops, a new focus is put on calendar year 2023 EBITDA (or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization). As Hollywood giants have traditionally received a high percentage of their revenue from cable networks earnings, the forecasted loss for the next calendar year puts a number of networks at risk, especially those who have little-to-no offsets in place.
Silver Screen Politics: USC Annenberg To Examine How Hollywood Tackles Major Issues
How does TV and film address controversial political issues such as abortion, reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ families, and gun safety? The USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative hopes to find out by launching a comprehensive tracking program. Founded by Dr. Stacy L Smite, the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative has been conducting annual surveys for the past several years, tracking diversity hiring in Hollywood for major roles and behind the camera positions. But the media holds a lot of power, and this new project aims to track how Hollywood and Washington intersect—especially regarding recent controversies like the overturning of Roe v. Wade. In a statement, Smith said, “Our goal is to illuminate how many opportunities there are to use storytelling as a tool to expand the conversation and create substantial attitude and policy change.” In addition to reproductive rights, the project will expand its research to include an examination of how firearm usage, voting rights, LGBTQIA+ couples and families are portrayed. This research will be used by Smith and her team as evidence to create some “best practices” for content creators across entertainment. The initiative is also working with the Women Moving Millions organization to launch a $25,000 grant that will support the development of scripts that focus on reproductive rights. Caron Spurch, Planned Parenthood’s National Director of Arts and Entertainment Engagement, said, “this new Annenberg Inclusion Initiative research project will provide an invaluable tool to ensure audiences are reached with medically and legislatively accurate storytelling about these issues.”
Seven Years for Seven Billion: Big Ten Reaches Massive Media Rights Agreement
The largest and most powerful collegiate sports conference has signed over its TV rights for a payout that will bring them $1 billion every year. Although the specific terms of the deal have not been disclosed, the contract begins on July 1, 2023, and ends after the 2029—2030 season. The networks included in this deal are Fox, CBS, and NBC. Some have slightly different payouts in place, depending on the content they'll air in a year. One big change comes in year two, as USC and UCLA enter the conference. USA Today found that in the recent fiscal year, $54.3 million was distributed to each of the 14 school members. This new deal could bring $80 to $100 million to the 16 schools. According to Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren, this new contract will not only bring stability to the athletic departments, allowing them to operate smoothly, but it will bring great amounts of exposure to student athletes with showcases on linear TV. All three networks will carry Big Ten Championship games for at least one year of the seven-year pact. The agreement was designed to pair each network with specific Saturday Football windows. This clear window separation with also help build the fanbase, as people will know exactly which network they should watch and at what specific time. The contract also outlines how the networks will work together to select which games they get to air, which will ensure that everyone is happy with their picks. Even with this new deal, some key players are absent. ESPN, who has worked with Big Ten since 1982, is not a part of the discussion, which sources believe is due to their rejection of the league's proposed $380 million contract. Turner, Apple, and Amazon are also absent, despite previous conversations with Big Ten reps.
In-Person in Tokyo: The 2022 Tokyo International Film Festival Is Back
The 35th annual Tokyo International Film Festival is gearing up for its first in-person event since the start of the pandemic. The festival will open on October 24 at the Tokyo Takarazuka Theatre and hold it closing ceremony on November 4 at the Tokyo International Forum. Three large cinemas will join the festival as screening venues, bringing the number of exhibitors to eight and expanding the number of potential screenings. Along with this increase, the festival is making good on its goal of engaging the locality and establishing stronger ties with Tokyo companies and administrations, including Chiyoda City. Shopping and business associations and other local organizations are onboard to collaborate with the festival. The festival recently made a relocation in 2021, as the previous iteration was only able to host a small number of people in accordance with the Covid-19 regulations of the time. Now, TIFF organizers expect to welcome many overseas guests to Tokyo this autumn, if current local Covid levels remain the same. The Tokyo content market, also called TIFFCOM, will be held at the same time as the festival, but will be an online only event for the third year in a row. Despite happening simultaneously, TIFFCOM will run for fewer days, between October 25 and 27. Japan has endured tight pandemic regulations over the past two years. International productions were just allowed back into the country in late March 2022, requiring locally sponsored visas to work. Tourists were only allowed back for travel in June of this year. The festival is moving forward, but another eastern festival that was set to take place right after TIFF (from November 3—9) is Gangneung International Film Festival in Korea, and it has been cancelled by the government to reallocate its funding.
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