Insights: Could The Streaming Services Killing Movie Theaters Save Them Instead?

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It’s getting dire in the movie business: No. 2 chain Regal is closing theaters, remaining screens won’t see a significant new film until at least Thanksgiving, and the Oscars have been pushed back to April (and drive-in debuts are now eligible).

Both AMC Theatres and B&B Theatres, the No. 1 and No. 6 biggest U.S. chains respectively, have declared this week that they are in danger of running out of cash within a few months if they don’t get more movies and more moviegoers or some kind of government aid. They probably aren’t alone in that predicament.

Meanwhile, customers are getting used to watching blockbusters delivered by streaming services to their increasingly awesome home-entertainment systems. But could those streaming services providing a pandemic-proof panoply of programming become a source of content for struggling theater chains? That’s the suggestion from MoffettNathanson analyst Robert Fishman.

“Theater owners should consider finally striking a deal with Netflix, Amazon and other SVOD services as a lifeline to get more product on movie screens,” Fishman wrote in a new report.

Fishman predicts this year’s domestic box office will drop a stunning 81%, deflating to just $2.1 billion. After years where that number hovered somewhere around $11 billion, now there’s vast uncertainty about when, or even if, the movie business in the United States will fully recover, he wrote.

Theaters take the plunge, in a bad way

Fishman isn’t the only one predicting virtual collapse. PwC partner CJ Bangah told me her big consulting firm’s annual media and entertainment outlook is projecting a 65% drop in global revenues for the movie sector. And the industry “may slightly even underperform our forecast is the way it’s been looking recently,” she added.

The outlook for the rest of the world’s movie business isn’t much better than the domestic one, Bangah said. Territories that are doing best in managing the pandemic and recovering some normalcy (New Zealand comes to mind) aren’t  big enough to significantly improve the industry’s bottom line. Even China, which had been growing quickly and was for years projected to soon overtake the U.S. as the world’s biggest film market, is stalled out and now not expected to pass stateside business.

Worse, Bangah said, recovery for the film industry is a long ways away. As she delicately put it, it’s “within the realm of possibility” that the industry will fight through an “uphill battle” to full recovery, but “we’re not forecasting a return to 2019 revenue levels in the five years of our forecast for cinema.”

Rich Greenfield at LightShed Partners even suggests the Hollywood studios are ceding a huge opportunity to Netflix by refusing to push their blockbusters onto new streaming services like Disney+, Peacock, and HBO Max, and then folding the cost of those productions into the monthly subscription.

Netflix keeps rolling the reels

Netflix keeps rolling out movies, and keeps finding hits (The Old Guard, Extraction, Project Powerfeaturing big stars (Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, and Jamie Foxx, respectively) and franchise potential that can attract audiences worldwide, just like Hollywood studios used to do.

Greenfield pointed out that this month alone, Netflix will debut 18 feature-length movies from all over the world.  That equates to a Netflix movie premiere every 1.7 days, and represents more movies in a month than any Hollywood studio will be able to release for the entire year.

“Netflix already has the global scale to both attract talent and create ‘blockbuster hits,’” Greenfield wrote in a recent post announcing six reasons why he was raising Netflix’s target price by two-thirds, to $630 per share. “By 2026 if they hit 400mm subscribers, they will dictate the global zeitgeist across long-form video content, including film.”

Activist investor Daniel Loeb goes even further in his critique of the studios, which seem stuck in a useless limbo where they’re not releasing films in theaters and they’re not putting the films on streaming services.

Loeb and his Third Point Management sent a letter to Disney CEO Bob Chapek calling for Disney, the biggest studio by far, to drop its $3 billlion dividend payout. Instead, Loeb said, Disney should use that cash to beef up the sparse new programming on Disney+. The Mouse House spent about $1 billion on new programming for its streamer, most notably for Emmy-winning Star Wars series The Mandalorian. 

“A more aggressive content roadmap will distinguish Disney as the only traditional U.S. media company able to thrive in a world beyond the box office and the cable TV ecosystem, alongside digital-first businesses like Netflix and Amazon,” Loeb wrote.

So where does that leave the movie theaters?

In response to the Regal announcement that it would shut theaters for the next several weeks because of a dearth of new movies, AMC said it would remain open, then followed up a few days later with that warning about waning cash. But the company is depending for now in part on a landmark revenue-sharing deal with NBCUniversal that can position it to make money even if people don’t go to theaters to see an NBCU film.

MoffettNathanson’s Fishman is advocating something similar to the AMC-NBCU deal, but also suggested that “we would recommend reaching agreements with their studio partners on alternative windowing strategies to help ease the decision-making process for studios to bring back their movies.”

Of course, if studios aren’t freeing up their films, that leaves a very short list of other options: Netflix, Apple TV+, and Amazon Prime.

Perhaps Netflix would do short-run theatrical releases to help market some of its films. It’s done that the last two years during awards season to get extra attention and awards voter engagement, even though most big chains declined to participate. Now, given their difficult situation, maybe some of those chains would reconsider.

Apple might be open to a conversation too, as it continues to build out its TV+ service with more acquisitions, marketing, and greenlighted projects, but it has less original programming (despite lots of recent announcements) than Disney.

Could Amazon be the answer?

But the real possibility here might be Amazon, especially if the deal includes some benefits for Amazon’s broader initiatives.

How about a slate of a dozen projects over six months, in exchange for, say, the ability to convert part of theater lobbies into holiday displays of Amazon Fire TVs, Alexa smart speakers, and Kindle readers, as well as some other Amazon Basics clothing and products with other house brands? Could they do the sort of attendant-free grab-and-go shopping that Amazon already has in a few of its own branded stores?

Or maybe theaters could include room for lockers for easy pickup of Amazon packages at the theater, so customers could safely pick up parcels and see a show. And finally, how about integrating ticket purchases into the Amazon interface?

It’s too soon to see what’s going to happen to the theater business. Congress and the president remain split over another round of stimulus spending, and it’s not clear an eventual deal would include struggling industries beyond the airlines.

But it’s pretty clear the theaters need to adapt quickly. To their credit, as PwC’s Bangah pointed out, in response to changing markets, the theater chains first adopted digital projection, then moved over the past decade to significantly upgrade the moviegoing experience with better food, seating, premium dining and drinking options, and much else.

Now, they’ll need to figure out how to survive a killer virus and give people reasons to come back, even if they can’t get help from traditional studio partners. Maybe this is the time for streamers to help as much as they’ve harmed Hollywood’s oldest business partner.

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Top 50 Most Viewed US YouTube Channels • Week Of 10/12/2020

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[Editor’s Note: Tubefilter Charts is a weekly rankings column from Tubefilter with data provided by GospelStats. It’s exactly what it sounds like; a top number ranking of YouTube channels based on statistics collected within a given time frame. Check out all of our Tubefilter Charts with new installments every week right here.]

Scroll down for this week’s Tubefilter Chart.


This week, on the US-only version of our Tubefilter charts: A team of butt-kicking children, some wacky kid-friendly special effects, and a Southern California-based animator that refuses to relinquish its status as the most-viewed US-based channel of the week.

Chart Toppers

Cocomelon – Nursery Rhymes continues to rule the early education world on YouTube. The animation studio is once again at the top of our ranking of the 50 most-viewed US-based YouTube channels of the week. This time out, its seven-day total reached 864.8 million weekly views, and it added 600,000 new subscribers as well; it now has more than 95 million subscribers in all, and could soon join an exclusive group of channels that possess nine-digit subscriber counts.

As for the rest of our US-only chart, the top five channels remained unchanged, with three family vlogs following behind Cocomelon in second, third, and fourth place. Vlad and Niki was the first runner-up, thanks to the 767.3 million weekly views it added to its Florida-based operation. The third-place finisher, Kids Diana Show, saw its viewership remain relatively flat since our last chart, but 683.6 million weekly views is still good enough for #3. In the fourth position, we find Like Nastya, which was unable to move up in the rankings despite a 24% week-over-week traffic increase. Its ultimate seven-day tally came in at 631.3 million weekly views.

For the second week in a row, Movieclips beat out WWE for the #5 spot. The Fandango-owned purveyor of cinematic content scooped up a total of 341.4 million weekly views.

Top Gainers

When I was a kid, I used to run around my living room pretending to be a ninja (except real-life ninjas probably didn’t break any floor lamps). That fantasy is one I have in common with the stars of this week’s Top Gainer, NinjaKidzTV, but there are a few differences between those Utah-based upstarts and myself.

For one, according to the NinjaKidz About page, the children who feature in those skits are “skilled ninjas, martial artists, gymnasts, and parkour athletes” who “are properly trained to safely perform all the skills and stunts in our videos.” And while the only person who witnessed my take on ninjutsu was myself, NinjaKidzTV has millions of adoring fans.

This week, NinjaKidzTV earned 59.5 million weekly views, a 15% increase over the figure it posted in our last chart. That uptick was enough to push the shinobi-fueled destination from 55th place into the top 50, where it finally settled in 46th place.

One of the big hits the channel offered during the last seven days was a new video in which the vitality of each ninja kid was measured by his or her very own health bar, which makes this all seem like some kind of bloodless, family-friendly take on Mortal Kombat. Here’s hoping we see one of the ninja kids in a Scorpion costume in the near future.


Gospel Stats provides transparent social media stats you can trust. For more information visit GospelStats.com.

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Here Are The Starting Brackets For MrBeast’s ‘Creator Games 2,’ Streaming Oct. 17

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MrBeast is out to crown the “smartest creator in the world”—and toss a little cash to their fans.

This Saturday, Oct. 17, he’ll host 24 popular YouTubers, TikTokers, and Twitch streamers for The Creator Games 2, a YouTube Original live trivia competition that will reward the winner with $300,000 to give away to their fans.

Starting brackets are:

  • Addison Rae (64.7 million followers on TikTok) versus Ninja (16M on Twitch)
  • KSI (21.9M, YouTube) vs. Rosanna Pansino (12.6M, YouTube)
  • Mark Rober (14.6M, YouTube) vs. Gibi (2.8M, YouTube)
  • Safiya Nygaard (9.02M, YouTube) vs. Kwebbelkop (13.6M, YouTube)
  • Charli (92.9M, TikTok) and Dixie D’Amelio (40.6M, TikTok) vs. Preston (14.9M, YouTube)
  • Yes Theory (5.85M, YouTube) vs. Bretman Rock (7.84M, YouTube)
  • Typical Gamer (10.3M, YouTube) vs. Alexa Rivera (4.98M, YouTube)
  • Dream (11M, YouTube) vs. MatPat (13.2M, YouTube) and wife Stephanie
  • Alex Warren (2.57M, YouTube) vs. Lazarbeam (16.8M, YouTube)
  • Matt Stonie (12.7M, YouTube) vs. Marques Brownlee (12.3M, YouTube)
  • LaurenzSide (4.64M, YouTube) vs. ZHC (16.2M, YouTube)
  • and sWooZie (7.27M, YouTube) vs. Jaiden Animations (8.73M, YouTube).

Like the first Creator Games—which took place in April and, with 662K peak concurrent viewers, is one of YouTube’s most-watched live originals ever—this event will pit creators head-to-head, eliminating them in rounds until only one remains undefeated. Players will face off in games that test everything from general knowhow to geography to spelling.

Unlike the first competition, though, this one comes with two interactive twists for viewers who watch live.

First, players who get downed early aren’t necessarily out; viewers will have the chance to vote one back in, allowing them to compete once more. And second, Creator Games has hooked up with ESPN for a kind of mini March Madness that will award one viewer $5,000.

For that portion of things, viewers will have to head over to an ESPN “Pick’em” form before each round. There, they’ll select which creator they think will triumph out of each bracket. Each time they’re correct, they earn points. At the end of the tournament, the viewers with the most points have a shot at the grand prize.

The Creator Games 2 will stream live from MrBeast’s YouTube channel Oct. 17 at 5 p.m. Eastern.

You can check out the official trailer below:

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Awesomeness Sets New Series From YouTube Duos The Merrell Twins, Niki And Gabi

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ViacomCBS-owned Awesomeness, which creates content for Gen Z, has unveiled a duo of digital series starring two of YouTube’s most beloved sets of twins.

Veronica and Vanessa Merrell — known as the Merrell Twins (5.7 million subscribers, 17 million monthly views) — will star in Mystery Twin Bin on Oct. 17, while Niki and Gabi DeMartino (whose Niki & Gabi channel counts 9.5 million subscribers and 10 million monthly views) will debut a new series called Twintervention on Dec. 11.

Both the Merrells and DeMartinos already have series at Awesomeness — the dating show Twin My Heart (which Awesomeness confirmed is returning for a third season with bachelor Nate Wyatt) and reality series Niki & Gabi Take Bahamas, respectively.

In Mystery Twin Bin, the Merrells will receive mystery boxes containing clues to challenges, whereupon they will compete — head-to-head — across six episodes. Twintervention, which also compromises six episodes, will follow the polar-opposite DeMartino twins as their off-camera relationship reaches a breaking point. The series will see the girls confronting their personal issues while competing in a series of challenges that will make or break their bond, with tutelage from a panel of experts and surprise guests.

In addition to their work for Awesomeness, the Merrell Twins have flexed their acting chops on CW‘s Jane The Virgin, as well as on several appearances on Nickelodeon‘s YouTube channel (which is also owned by ViacomCBS). The DeMartinos are YouTubers and recording artists, who have released several singles together and individually, including “RU”, and “Hair Tie.”

In addition to its short-form work, Awesomeness also creates premium programming for Netflix (To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before) and Hulu (Pen15). In May, the company unveiled its quarantine-themed slate comprising four shows produced remotely, and in July it announced a five-part limited series titled What It’s Like exploring key issues in the lead-up to the 2020 Presidential election.

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Awesomeness Sets New Series From YouTube Duos The Merrell Twins, Niki And Gabi

  • Post category:Other

ViacomCBS-owned Awesomeness, which creates content for Gen Z, has unveiled a duo of digital series starring two of YouTube’s most beloved sets of twins.

Veronica and Vanessa Merrell — known as the Merrell Twins (5.7 million subscribers, 17 million monthly views) — will star in Mystery Twin Bin on Oct. 17, while Niki and Gabi DeMartino (whose Niki & Gabi channel counts 9.5 million subscribers and 10 million monthly views) will debut a new series called Twintervention on Dec. 11.

Both the Merrells and DeMartinos already have series at Awesomeness — the dating show Twin My Heart (which Awesomeness confirmed is returning for a third season with bachelor Nate Wyatt) and reality series Niki & Gabi Take Bahamas, respectively.

In Mystery Twin Bin, the Merrells will receive mystery boxes containing clues to challenges, whereupon they will compete — head-to-head — across six episodes. Twintervention, which also compromises six episodes, will follow the polar-opposite DeMartino twins as their off-camera relationship reaches a breaking point. The series will see the girls confronting their personal issues while competing in a series of challenges that will make or break their bond, with tutelage from a panel of experts and surprise guests.

In addition to their work for Awesomeness, the Merrell Twins have flexed their acting chops on CW‘s Jane The Virgin, as well as on several appearances on Nickelodeon‘s YouTube channel (which is also owned by ViacomCBS). The DeMartinos are YouTubers and recording artists, who have released several singles together and individually, including “RU”, and “Hair Tie.”

In addition to its short-form work, Awesomeness also creates premium programming for Netflix (To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before) and Hulu (Pen15). In May, the company unveiled its quarantine-themed slate comprising four shows produced remotely, and in July it announced a five-part limited series titled What It’s Like exploring key issues in the lead-up to the 2020 Presidential election.

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Snap Brings In Facebook, Google Exec Alexa Levine To Head Entertainment Ad Sales

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One week after revealing plans to double down on original docuseries and unscripted programming, Snap has brought in former Google and Facebook exec Alexa Levine to head up its entertainment ad sales team.

Levine will serve as the company’s U.S. head of entertainment, and will work with stateside clients advertising on Snapchat, Variety reports.

Levine joins from Facebook, where she oversaw relationships with advertisers for the company’s film, TV, streaming, and live events, per Variety. Before moving to Facebook in 2017, she spent four years at Google, working as a product solutions specialist, then mobile brand manager, and most recently as a senior account executive in media and entertainment.

She’ll be based in Los Angeles and will report to Snap’s U.S. head of verticals, Clayton Peters.

With Levine, Snapchat is likely looking to expand ad efforts for its 100+ original shows. At its Advertising Week presentation Oct. 6, the company said its series collectively reach 75% of the U.S.-based Gen Z population, and touted impressive view counts for popular shows, including Will from Home (35 million unique viewers), Nikita Unfiltered (22 million), and Endless (38 million).

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Snap Brings In Facebook, Google Exec Alexa Levine To Head Entertainment Ad Sales

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One week after revealing plans to double down on original docuseries and unscripted programming, Snap has brought in former Google and Facebook exec Alexa Levine to head up its entertainment ad sales team.

Levine will serve as the company’s U.S. head of entertainment, and will work with stateside clients advertising on Snapchat, Variety reports.

Levine joins from Facebook, where she oversaw relationships with advertisers for the company’s film, TV, streaming, and live events, per Variety. Before moving to Facebook in 2017, she spent four years at Google, working as a product solutions specialist, then mobile brand manager, and most recently as a senior account executive in media and entertainment.

She’ll be based in Los Angeles and will report to Snap’s U.S. head of verticals, Clayton Peters.

With Levine, Snapchat is likely looking to expand ad efforts for its 100+ original shows. At its Advertising Week presentation Oct. 6, the company said its series collectively reach 75% of the U.S.-based Gen Z population, and touted impressive view counts for popular shows, including Will from Home (35 million unique viewers), Nikita Unfiltered (22 million), and Endless (38 million).

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Netflix Nixes Free Trials In U.S.

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Netflix says no more trying before buying.

The streaming service appears to have nixed free trials across numerous regions, including the U.S., Canada (where it just raised subscription prices), and India. According to its Help Center, some countries—many in the Middle East—still have free periods, but for the vast majority of potential consumers, they are gone.

Netflix confirmed to The Verge that it is phasing out free trials for stateside consumers this month. At least for now, folks who want to tune in will have to pay $8.99 (for the basic plan), $12.99 (standard), or $15.99 (premium) from the jump.

“We’re looking at different marketing promotions in the U.S. to attract new members,” a company spokesperson told The Verge. They apparently did not comment on other regions, so Tubefilter has reached out to Netflix for more information.

One of Netflix’s “different” marketing promotions may already be available. In August, it unpaywalled a selection of original programs, debuting a free-to-watch hub with films like Bird Box and The Two Popes as well as first episodes of house-made TV series like Stranger Things, Grace and Frankie, Love Is Blind, and Our Planet.

Other streamers have also tweaked their free-look strategy recently. Disney+ stopped offering free trials shortly before debuting the official Hamilton film, while Apple TV+ extended the yearlong free trial it offered purchasers of new Apple devices by three more months.

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Netflix Nixes Free Trials In U.S.

  • Post category:Other

Netflix says no more trying before buying.

The streaming service appears to have nixed free trials across numerous regions, including the U.S., Canada (where it just raised subscription prices), and India. According to its Help Center, some countries—many in the Middle East—still have free periods, but for the vast majority of potential consumers, they are gone.

Netflix confirmed to The Verge that it is phasing out free trials for stateside consumers this month. At least for now, folks who want to tune in will have to pay $8.99 (for the basic plan), $12.99 (standard), or $15.99 (premium) from the jump.

“We’re looking at different marketing promotions in the U.S. to attract new members,” a company spokesperson told The Verge. They apparently did not comment on other regions, so Tubefilter has reached out to Netflix for more information.

One of Netflix’s “different” marketing promotions may already be available. In August, it unpaywalled a selection of original programs, debuting a free-to-watch hub with films like Bird Box and The Two Popes as well as first episodes of house-made TV series like Stranger Things, Grace and Frankie, Love Is Blind, and Our Planet.

Other streamers have also tweaked their free-look strategy recently. Disney+ stopped offering free trials shortly before debuting the official Hamilton film, while Apple TV+ extended the yearlong free trial it offered purchasers of new Apple devices by three more months.

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YouTube Newcomer Overwatch League Brings Record 1.55 Million Viewers For 2020 Grand Finals

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Overwatch League’s first world final since moving to YouTube was its most-watched match ever.

A record 1.55 million viewers tuned in for the closing game of the esports series’ third season, Forbes reports. That’s a 38% increase from the 2019 finale, which pitched winners San Francisco Shock against the Vancouver Titans and aired live on Twitch and ABC. This year’s battle between the San Francisco Shock (now two-time champions) and Seoul Dynasty broadcast on Overwatch League’s official YouTube channel as well as international TV channels CC, Huya, and Bilibili.

Overwatch League also streamed all other matches from the three-day Grand Finals. Crystallized versions of the daily live streams have accumulated 498K, 494K, and 582K views, respectively.

“I’m so proud of the entire Overwatch League staff who worked incredibly hard to put on a great show for our fans,” Jon Spector, VP of esports at Overwatch developer Activision Blizzard, said in a statement. He added that YouTube is “a great partner” for the company.

Overwatch League moved to YouTube earlier this year thanks to a multi-pronged, reported $160 million deal between Activision Blizzard and YouTube’s parent company Google. Prior to the deal, the 20-team league had an exclusive agreement with Twitch; on that platform, its second season brought an average per-match viewership of 1.12 million people.

Overwatch League isn’t the only Activision Blizzard esports outfit to break viewership records since switching to YouTube. Newly formed Call of Duty League held its very first championship at the end of August, and the final game between the Dallas Empire and Atlanta FaZe was Call of Duty’s most-watched esports match ever, with a peak of 331,000 concurrent viewers on YouTube.

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