WarnerMedia reshuffles, Hulu goes annual, and Quibi pivots

Presented by 43Twenty

WarnerMedia reworks its media operations.

On Friday, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar unveiled a significant reworking of the company’s operations, ousting top programming leaders at HBO Max, Robert Greenblatt, and Kevin Reilly and rolling all over WarnerMedia’s production operations into a single operation. In their place, Kilar put Warner Brothers chief Ann Sarnoff in charge of developing content for the new streaming service as well as the company’s big entertainment-focused basic-cable networks: TNT, TBS, and truTV. Andy Forssell, general manager of HBO Max, was put in charge of the new entity’s business operations. WarnerMedia is expected to let go at least 800 staffers at its Warner Brothers and HBO operations as part of a broad restructuring put in place by the unit’s CEO, Jason Kilar. Other media companies have begun to shed staff as they grapple not only with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, but also a rush of consumers from linear television to on-demand streaming video. Link

Jason Kilar on the reshuffle.

Here’s a condensed conversation with Kilar, who spoke with Variety shortly after the announcement was made to break down what it all means. Link

Benefiting the mothership.

Apple continues to uniformly drive the industry with decisions made in the Apple App Store. Link

AMC Networks accuses AT&T of abusing market power.

AMC Networks has filed a complaint with the FCC accusing AT&T of abusing its market power in order to unfairly advantage its own networks, HBO and TNT. Link

And adds months-early access to new shows on expanded ad-free streaming service.

AMC is giving users the opportunity to watch two of its upcoming original dramas (Gangs of London and The Salisbury Poisonings) several months before they will debut on the linear network. Link

With exhibition on the brink, Paramount Decree topples.

A court ruling last week allowing movie studios to buy theaters (whether or not they want to — and they probably don’t) is the latest snub to an industry that’s been rattled by change for years, in particular since March and COVID-19. Link

Paramount Decrees: Let's take this from the beginning: Block Booking, Blockbusters, and B-Titles.

There's no doubt that the industry has gone through a massive change. Consider the consolidation that's happened at the studio level and the concentration of films coming from now just five major studios (Disney, Warner Bros., Universal, Sony, and Paramount). 43Twenty

Pluto TV now has 26.5 million monthly active users, Showtime and CBS All Access reach 16.2 million combined.

Pluto TV also saw an increase for the quarter, reaching 26.5 million monthly active users, a 61% increase year over year. Contributing to the free streaming service’s success was expansion into Latin American markets and Europe, with 6.5 million international monthly active users added, as well as distribution expansion with deals with Verizon, TiVo, and LG. Link

ESPN+ price getting hiked to $6 monthly for new customers.

Now that sports have started back up after the months-long COVID hiatus, the Disney-owned programmer has decided to raise the price of ESPN+ by 20%: Starting on Wednesday, the monthly price of an ESPN+ subscription for new customers will go up to $5.99 per month, versus the $4.99 monthly price that the streaming service launched with in April 2018. ESPN+ had racked up 8.5 million paid subscribers as of June 27, gaining 600,000 in the most recent quarter and more than tripling year-over-year. By raising the monthly price of ESPN+ to $5.99, Disney obviously is looking to boost revenue. But the change also seems to be aimed at driving subscribers to lock into the one-year plan or opt for the ESPN+/Disney+/Hulu bundle and avoid paying any platform tax to companies like Roku, Amazon, and Apple. Link

Hulu rolls out a discounted annual subscription for ad-supported users.

The plan, which is available for existing ad-supported viewers on the streaming service, costs $59.99 for a year, instead of the $71.88 that ad-supported viewers would pay under the usual monthly plan of $5.99 each month for 12 months. That’s a 16% discount compared to the monthly rate. Annual plans can be valuable for streamers that are hoping to reduce churn on their services, and can also free up marketing resources for focus on customer acquisition and engagement. The decision from Hulu to offer up an annual plan comes as the service increasingly advertises its less expensive ad-supported tier, which already makes up about two-thirds of its base. Link


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Roku reports strong Q2 earnings as CTV continues to outpace the overall ad market.

In its Q2 earnings, Roku announced that its net revenues were up by 42% year-over-year (YoY), reaching $356.1 million. The company attributed this growth in part to its strong ad business. Link

TikTok reaches Amazon’s Fire TV before HBO Max, Peacock, and Quibi.

Tik Tok has launched an app on Fire TV called “More on TikTok.” The app marks the first time TikTok is officially available on a connected-TV device. Link

ViacomCBS to launch global streamer in early 2021.

Having teased the prospect of a broad pay streaming product back in May, ViacomCBS Networks International has unveiled plans for a premium SVOD service for all audiences, underpinned by major output deals with Showtime and CBS All Access and a “super-sized” selection of content from ViacomCBS brands including CBS, MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, and some first-run Paramount films. Link

Philo OTT bundle Hits 750,000 subscribers, up 300% in the past year.

And last Wednesday, the company got a shout-out from Discovery’s David Zaslav who told Wall Street analysts that  Philo has been a valuable driver for the company. Link

Quibi launches a completely free ad-supported tier in Australia and New Zealand.

Meanwhile, one-third of Quibi subscribers say they plan to drop in the next 3 months. Link

Disney+ nears 5-Year streaming goal In the first 8 months, with 57.5M subscribers.

Disney reported 57.5 million subscribers to Disney+, the direct-to-consumer streaming service that launched last November. Hulu, the company said, now has 35.5 million subscribers to its on-demand service and live TV bundle combined, while ESPN+ is now at 8.5 million, more than triple its level a year ago. The streaming numbers were a bright spot during an otherwise gloomy quarter reflecting the full impact of COVID-19. The pandemic has shuttered movie theaters, quieted tourism, and blown the whistle on live sports — all areas of specialty for Disney. Link


INSIGHTS


OTT TV and video revenues at $83 billion in 2019. Link


Are we in the midst of a watershed moment for streaming?. Link


Understanding channel capability for better digital marketing strategy. Link


eMarketer’s Connected TV trends 2020 roundup. Link


Conviva releases State of Streaming Q2 report. Link


Mulan’s move to Disney Plus proves how quickly the pandemic forever changed entertainment. Link


CTV viewers are watching ad-supported content. But how do they respond to ads? Link


How NFL Game Pass segmented data to reach the sales end zone. Link


Roku, Amazon devices risk losing grip on streaming TV. Link


Feeding consumer "app-etite" for digital engagement. Link


Disney+ vs Hulu vs Netflix: How Many Subscribers Do They Have? Link


The Harry Potter films are headed to Peacock, in a perfect example of how confusing streaming is. Link


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