Weekly E-Newsletter

Disney+ Officially Launches

The Walt Disney Co. early on Tuesday said that its Disney+ streaming service has launched, as planned, in the U.S., Canada, and The Netherlands with nearly 500 films and 7,500 TV episodes and revealed some new details.

The company, for example, said it expects the direct-to-consumer service to “launch in most major global markets within its first two years.”

For example, Disney+ is set to launch in Australia, New Zealand and Puerto Rico on Nov. 19. Disney also previously said that on March 31, 2020, Disney+ will launch in markets across Western Europe, including the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and “a number of other countries in the region.

“The launch of Disney+ is a historic moment for our company that marks a new era of innovation and creativity,” said Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger in a press release with the headline “Disney+ Lifts Off, Ushering in a New Era of Entertainment from The Walt Disney Company.” “Disney+ provides an exceptional entertainment experience, showcasing our library of beloved movies, TV series and exclusive original content from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic.”

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

The Take

Ever since it was announced November 8, 2018, Disney+ has become the most-hyped streaming video service in history. Digital TV Research predicts that DIsney+ will reach more than 101 global subscribers by 2025.

But Disney’s direct-to-consumer video plans go back more than 5 years ago.

In 2013, the company began experimenting with releasing content, such as Teen Beach, Goldie & Bear, and Descendants, exclusively on their WATCH Disney “TV-Everywhere” apps before airing on linear television. Typically, TV-Everywhere apps don’t offer much more than you could get directly through a cable set-top, so this was clever for Disney to begin getting users accustomed to using TV and mobile apps to watch programming.

In 2015, Disney launched its first standalone streaming service, DisneyLife, in the United Kingdom. It offered thousands of movies, songs, TV episodes, and books for £9.99 (about $13) per month.

As is the situation a lot of companies are currently finding themselves in, Disney struggled to manage existing distribution deals while launching its service. For example, one might expect DisneyLife to include Star Wars movies, since Disney owns Lucasfilm, however, those movies were wrapped up in licensing deals with other companies. And more often than not, the content on DisneyLife was already available on other platforms.

As a result, the service didn’t catch on and some may even call it a failure. But Disney used the project as a testing ground, learning what customers wanted and how to retain them (i.e. exclusive content). They also expanded the service to Ireland to experiment with processing transactions in multiple currencies. Lastly, they ultimately decided to cut the price of DisneyLife to £4.99 (just under $7) per month. (By the way, Disney+ is priced $6.99).

In 2017, Disney started taking back it’s programming from Netflix and other competitors. Later that year, it was reported that Disney was in talks to acquire 21st Century Fox’s filmed entertainment, cable entertainment, and direct broadcast satellite divisions.

So while it may appear that Disney is entering the streaming wars as a newcomer, the company has had over 5 years to prepare for this day. And for the record, Disney+ may already started the day with over 1 million subscribers.

Roku Hits 30 Million Accounts, Stock Surges 10% on Big Q2 Revenue Growth

Roku surpassed 30 million active accounts and reported strong revenue growth when it shared its Q2 financial performance last Wednesday afternoon.

For the three months ending June 30, the device maker added 1.4 million accounts to hit 30.5 million overall, according to their most recent earnings report. Roku reported its customers streamed 9.4 billion hours of content during the quarter —  or about 3.4 hours per day on average — setting a new company record in the process.

Roku’s revenue increased 59% year-over-year, hitting $250.1 million and topping analyst estimates of $224.2 million. The company also reported a narrower dip than anticipated, with a loss of 8 cents per share; analysts projected a loss of 22 cents per share.

Source: TheWrap

The Take

With 32.3 million active users, Roku’s going all-in on its advertising strategy and wants to be a one-stop-shop for digital ad buyers. The company already operates “The Roku Channel”, its AVOD offering, has inventory across various 3rd party apps, in addition to selling placements on and off the Roku platform.

Most of the advertising Roku sells is direct, however, Roku CEO Anthony Wood thinks ad buying will become more automated over time. If that’s the case, last month’s Dataxu acquisition should help further its ad selling capabilities and allow Roku to work with a broader range of clients.

Roku’s platform business, which includes advertising, The Roku Channel, and its TV operating system is by far the company’s most profitable business. In Q3, platform revenue grew 79% year over year, reaching $179 million.

Yes, Roku sells streaming boxes and TV software, but in case we needed to remind you, Roku is an advertising company.

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Disney+ Secures Amazon Fire TV for Launch. Multichannel

Forecast: US advertisers to put $7bn on connected TV. Advanced Television

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings says subscriber numbers aren’t the right metric to track competition. CNBC

Lionsgate reports higher revenue, record Starz OTT subscribers for Q2. Realscreen

Dish Network Avoids Cord-Cutter Exodus, Posts Strong Q3 Subscriber Gains Thanks to Sling TV. TheWrap

Discovery plots big, new streaming video service that combines content from across its portfolio, including Discovery Channel, HGTV and other networks. Fierce Video

NBA TV Now Available as Direct Streaming Service, No Cable or Satellite TV Required. Variety

Connected TV Projected To Have Sustained Double-Digit Ad Growth. Mediapost

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