What Are You Missing? Oct 14 – Oct 27
Here are ten or more (spooky?) media industry news items you might have missed recently.
1) Our top story sees what could be a monumental shift in the battle between online streaming and cable operators, as Comcast has plans to offer a new promotion called “Internet Plus,” a broadband internet bundle that includes limited basic TV and, for the first time being offered through a broadband package, HBO and HBO Go. The move is seen as a reaction to recent gains in Netflix subscribers, the rise in piracy (particularly of HBO), and the increasing number of cord-cutters throughout the nation. This would be the first time HBO is available to consumers without a cable package, placing them in a better position to challenge Netflix.
2) The timing of the (apparently) insider information is intriguing, as just last week reports came out that Netflix was in talks with pay-TV companies like Comcast about making the streaming service available via set-top boxes. While Netflix is available on other entertainment boxes like Roku, XBox, and PlayStation, this would be the first time Netflix would be available through a cable company’s box. The report comes alongside even more good news, as Netflix has come to its first production deal with a major Hollywood studio, Sony Pictures Television. The order is for 13-episodes to be released exclusively on Netflix. All this news was good for Wall Street, as Netflix shares went up 8 percent following the reports.
3) FilmOn X, the broadcast-streaming rival to Aereo with a terrible name, is faring poorly in the courts, as a U.S. District Judge has refused to lift a near-nationwide injunction against the service as part of its lawsuit with multiple broadcasters. After restarting transmissions in Boston after Aereo won a similar (but different) ruling, Judge Rosemary Collyer was so upset with FilmOn X, she threatened to hold the company in contempt if they are unable to provide evidence as to why she should not. Meanwhile, Aereo continues to avoid injunctions, though broadcasters in that case are now petitioning the Supreme Court to address the suit.
4) One of the Internet’s largest BitTorrent websites, isoHunt has officially been disabled following a piracy lawsuit that saw the site settling for $110 million. The settlement was made between the operators of isoHunt and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) after the site was being sued by multiple Hollywood studios. And with this settlement, Hollywood will never have to worry about piracy again!
5) A new challenger approaches… The world’s largest toy manufacturer, Mattel has entered the original entertainment market with the launch of Playground Productions, an in-house studio devoted to multiplatform storytelling arm that will utilize a variety of Mattel brands like Hot Wheels, Barbie, He-Man, and more. The move is seen as a way for Mattel to retain more control over its intellectual properties, as well as a way to more directly enter the lucrative entertainment market of TV, video games, and direct-to-video titles. The approach known as “push-to-play” emphasizes how Mattel wants the entertainment properties to encourage kids to play with the toys associated with the property.
6) The Federal government shutdown might be over, but Ted Cruz is still devoted to making sure nothing gets accomplished on Capitol Hill. The Texas Senator and Tea Party favorite has blocked the nomination of Tom Wheeler as the next FCC chairman. The hold, according to Cruz, is due to Wheeler not addressing a question about whether the FCC has the authority to require campaign spots to reveal the source of their funding. So, once again, hooray Congress!
7) Break out those checkbooks but keep the memo to 140 characters, as Twitter has set its IPO price at $17-$20 per share. The social media company anticipates selling 70 million shares, which would come out to… well, the company would be valued at $12 billion. #baller
8) In the latest update to the ongoing legal troubles of SiriusXM, the satellite radio company has struck back against the class action lawsuit brought against them for distributing pre-1972 recordings without license. The company contends that no state law requires them to pay such fees, and federal copyright of sound recordings didn’t apply before 1972. SiriusXM claims the lawsuit would upend traditional practice for use of pre-1972 sound recordings, massively shifting the industry and causing major harm.
9) Sticking with music, Sony Music is suing United Airlines for copyright infringement, claiming the airline did not obtain permission for use of licensed music for inflight entertainment. Sony is seeking an injunction and damages, citing the music system on the airline being “interactive, on-demand” means the use is not covered by an outside royalty collection firm.
10) A new study out of Cologne University in Germany has finally answered the question no-one realized was being asked: Eating popcorn makes theater ads less effective. The awesomely-titled report “Popcorn in the Cinema: Oral Interference Sabotages Advertising Effects,” is in the latest issue of the Journal of Consumer Psychology.