Posts tagged with "Netflix"

Netflix plans to offer video games in push beyond films and TV

July 19, 2021

Netflixmarking its first big move beyond TV shows and films—is planning an expansion into video games and has hired a former Electronic Arts and Facebook executive to lead the effort, Fortune Magazine reports.

Mike Verdu will join Netflix as vice president of Game Development, reporting to COO Greg Peters, the company said on Wednesday, July17. Verdu was previously Facebook’s vice president in charge of working with developers to bring games and other content to Oculus virtual-reality headsets.

In Verdu, the company has an executive who worked on popular mobile games at Electronic Arts, including titles in the Sims, Plants vs. Zombies and Star Wars franchises. He also served as chief creative officer for Zynga between 2009 and 2012.

The idea, according to a source, is to offer video games on Netflix’s streaming platform within the next year, Fortune says. The games will appear alongside current fare as a new programming genre—similar to what Netflix did with documentaries and stand-up specials. The company doesn’t currently plan to charge extra for the content, said the source, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private.

Netflix has been seeking ways to keep growing, especially in more saturated markets such as the United States. That’s included building out its kids’ programmingopening an online shop to sell merchandise, and tapping Steven Spielberg to bring more prestigious movies to its lineup.

The company remains well ahead of streaming rivals such as Disney+ or HBO Max, Fortune notes, but it added fewer subscribers than expected in its most recently reported quarter.

Netflix will be building out its gaming team in the coming months, according to the person familiar with the matter. The company has already started advertising for game-development related positions on its website.

Ultimately, the move may make it easier for Netflix to justify price increases in coming years. Games also serve the purpose of helping market existing shows.

Netflix has previously licensed the rights to games based on its shows—including Stranger Thing—but this new initiative is much larger in scope. The Los Gatos, California-based company has yet to settle on a game-development strategy, said the person.

In typical Netflix fashion, the company may start with just a few games and build from there.

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

James Bond, meet Jeff Bezos: Amazon just bought MGM Studios for $8.45 billion

May 27, 2021

Jeff Bezos has a new pet lion, Fast Company reports.

Amazon has reached a deal to acquire the storied MGM Studios for $8.45 billion—a move that will significantly bulk up its content library and entertainment intellectual property (IP) in the escalating war between premium streaming services, reports Fast Company.

In a joint announcement on Wednesday, May 26, the companies said MGM’s arsenal of more than 4,000 titles—including franchises ranging from James Bond and The Pink Panther to the Rocky and Poltergeist movies—will complement the Seattle e-commerce giant’s existing Amazon Studios, which is largely focused on TV series.

For Amazon, the acquisition is the largest since it scooped up Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion in 2017, Fast Company says. It comes as competing firms such as Disney and Netflix are spending more and more each year to keep their streaming services replenished with fresh movies, TV series, and familiar franchises.

“The real financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of IP in the deep catalog that we plan to reimagine and develop together with MGM’s talented team,”

Research contact: @FastCompany

Hundreds of companies, CEOs band together to defend and protect voting access

April 15, 2021

Hundreds of business leaders and companies—including Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, General Motors,. and Netflix—have signed on to a statement promising to “defend the right to vote and oppose any discriminatory legislation” in the latest corporate response to a wave of Republican-led voting suppression bills being advanced in dozens of states.

Among the executive signatories are BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet, and Bloomberg CEO Michael Bloomberg.

According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, more than 300 companies, CEOs, and other executives signed the statement, which appeared as a full-page advertisement in The New York Times and other publications on March 14.

It was organized by Kenneth Chenault, the former chief executive of American Express, and Kenneth Frazier, CEO of Merck.

“There is overwhelming support in corporate America for this principle of voting rights,” Chenault said. “The right to vote is fundamental to America. It is not a partisan issue.”

According to the Journal, the statement doesn’t directly address specific voting legislation, nor does it call on companies to take business action or halt political donations to lawmakers supporting such bills.

“Clearly, we’re not being prescriptive about how people manifest their opposition,” Chenault said. “Who in their right mind would say that they want legislation that will limit people’s ability to vote?”

Research contact: @WSJ

Netflix begins cracking down on password sharing

March 15, 2021

Netflix has started clamping down on viewers who share passwords among separate households, CNET reports.

Some users recently have reported that they can no longer get past the login screen—having received a notification message informing them they needed to be in the same household as the account owner.

If you don’t live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching,” the message reads, according to user reports on Twitter. A Netflix sign-up button is included with the message.

In case it’s the account owner trying to log in from a different location, Netflix gives the option of sending a verification code, CNET notes. So far, the message reportedly appears only on TV devices. Roku and iPhones are excluded.

Netflix commented on the situation, saying it’s more of a security measure, to make sure people are using accounts with permission.

“This test is designed to help ensure that people using Netflix accounts are authorized to do so,” a spokesperson from Netflix told CNET.

It’s unclear whether the measure will affect more devices in the future.

Research contact: @CNET

The next season of ‘Great British Bake Off’ will be totally star-studded

February 2, 2021

Each season, Great British Bake Off introduces viewers to a group of amateur bakers who have made cookies, pies, breads, and other pastries for their friends and families—but only have dreamt of doing the same for the likes of master bakers Prue Leith, Mary Berry, and Paul Hollywood.

Most of the past 11 seasons feature ten shows, during which contestants each prepare three bakes—for a total of 30—working under pressure; but also cosseted by the smiles, hugs, and jokes of the judges and two jolly hosts. Audiences fall in love with the aspirational participants, the spectacularly baked—or botched—breads and pastries, and the personable presenters.

So viewers worldwide will be happy to learn that, even under pandemic conditions, the Great British Bake Off is determined to produce some special segments during 2021, Delish reports.

Instead of Brits of all ages, backgrounds, and baking proficiencies, the new season will feature The Great Celebrity Bake Off —and the winner will not go home with the money, but will donate it to benefit Stand Up To Cancer. To raise the funds and keep GBBOfans entertained, celebrities will be stepping into the famous tent to show off their baking skills—or lack thereof, perhaps.

This special edition of the show will be a five part series that is set to premiere in the United Kingdom this spring, according to Deadline.

The contestants will include actors, Olympians, X-Factor winners, and musicians. Star Wars Daisy Ridley and X-Men‘s James McAvoy are on the list, as are Little Mix‘s Jade Thirlwall. Other names include Dame Kelly Holmes, John Bishop, Stacey Dooley, Tom Allen, David Baddiel, YouTuber KSI, Ade Adepitan, Philippa Perry, Nick Grimshaw, Rob Beckett, Alexandra Burke, Anneka Rice, Reece Shearsmith, Dizzee Rascal, Anne-Marie, Nadine Coyle, and Katherine Ryan. Phew.

Fans  will notice the absence of host Noel Fielding this time around. Digital Spy has reported that just as Noel skipped out on the Christmas special to spend time at home with his daughter (who was born in October), he’ll be doing the same this time around. No worries, we all still willl have Matt Lucas, Prue Leith, and Paul Hollywood gracing our screens. Praise be.

In the States, the show will air weekly on Netflix this spring. No more specific date has been offered yet.

Research contact: @DelishDotCom

A new service seeks to streamline your streaming

January 8, 2021

As the streaming landscape keeps getting more crowded, a new entrant is looking to help declutter it, The Wall Street Journal reports

Struum—a Los Angeles-based streaming service co-founded by former Discovery and Walt Disney  executives—won’t offer its own slate of original programming when it launches this spring. Instead, it will aim to give customers à-la-carte access to all content from hundreds of niche streaming services, offering users a way to stream individual shows and movies from various platforms without having to subscribe to each plan separately.

Co-founder Paul Pastor told the Journal that Struum would give more visibility to lesser-known services—which he said have “fantastic content” but have trouble “being part of someone’s daily habit,” because there is only so much money households will spend on streaming services every month.

The coronavirus pandemic has been a boon for major streaming services, including Netflix., Disney’s Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, whose subscriber base soared last year in the midst of growing demand for content from shut-in customers. Some 95% of U.S. households subscribe to at least one of these three services, according to Parks Associates, a research firm.

Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, whose Tornante is Struum’s main financial backer, told The Wall Street Journal that the decision to invest was a no-brainer.

“When I heard about this idea of an aggregation platform that would pick up smaller streaming services that don’t have brand awareness particularly like Netflix does have, I thought this was a great idea,” he said.

Struum declined to name any of the services whose content would be available on its platform at launch, but said it has already struck deals with nearly three dozen services—accounting for more than 20,000 TV series, movies, and shorts.

Subscribers will get monthly credits that can be used toward watching shows and movies, the company said. Its co-founders—who also include Lauren DeVillier, formerly of Discovery, and Eugene Liew and Thomas Wadsworth, formerly of Disney—said there would be multiple packages to choose from. A likely one, they said, would cost subscribers $9.99 a month for 100 credits, which should allow them to watch about one program a day.

The co-founders said Struum would sort out the economics—for example, how many credits should a hit show or movie be worth compared with more run-of-the-mill programming—on a case-by-case basis with each streaming partner, depending on demand. The company will share subscription revenue with the streaming services.

Research contact: @WSJ

‘The Great British Bake Off’ will be back for 2020—but some key ‘ingredients’ have changed

July 30, 2020

In a television landscape filled with cancellations and postponements, news that The Great British Bake Off—shown on PBS Food and  Netflix in America—is returning to our screens later this year is very welcome indeed.

And it’s not just those who have become avid bread bakers during the pandemic who will celebrate the return of the amateur contestants and their judges. In fact, according to the analytics group YouGov, The Great British Bake Off is the second-most-popular food and drink show of all time (after MasterChef)—as well as the most famous—to come out of the UK.

Along with a brand new host and location, the upcoming eleventh season will adhere to safety measures recommended for avoiding infection by COVID-19. So, although GBBO is coming back in 2020, viewers can expect a much different series this time around.

As Deadline reportsproduction on Bake Off’s latest run is now currently underway, after filming plans were derailed back in April following the nation-wide-and worldwide—pandemic lockdown.

The show’s entire cast and crew,—including brand  new host comedian and actor Matt Lucas, replacing Sandi Toksvig—each quarantined before filming started to allow filming to commence. Physical interactions on-set will also be limited with social distancing. The Paul Hollywood salutory handshake is a thing of the past, tooper a report by Eater London.

The show—which usually is filmed over a leisurely eleven weeks—is being filmed in just four, according to Deadline. New rules surrounding food safety and personal hygiene are also being observed. The crew cannot eat leftovers, for instance, and contestants cannot see their family while filming.

As Metro reports, the long-running baking competition also has moved from its usual home in Welford Park, Berkshire, and instead set up shop in a fresh, more COVID-secure filming spot. “It’s all happening in deep secret, somewhere in darkest deepest Britain in the shires,” teased Sky Studios Chief Commercial Officer Jane Millichip. However, Bake Off’s new home has since been revealed to be situated within the grounds of Down Hall Hotel in Essex.

Speaking to Metro, a representative for the show’s production company previously reassured fans that all efforts have been put into making sure the 2020 series goes ahead. “We’re working hard to deliver Bake Off to the audience this year, the priority is the safety of everyone involved in the production of the series,” the Love Productions rep explained.

The newest member of the cast, Lucas, is set to co-host alongside fellow Bake Off presenter Noel Fielding throughout the upcoming season, and discussing his delicious new TV gig, he told Britain’s  Channel 4 news: “I’m chuffed to bits to be joining the most delicious show on television. I can’t wait to break bread with Noel, Prue and Paul and meet the brilliant bakers.”

While the exact date of the new season premiere has not been announced, Sky Studios’ Millichip recently commented that “You will have your Victoria sponge this year.”

Research contact: @DEADLINE

Michelle Obama’s podcast debuts on Spotify on July 29

July 17, 2020

Spotify has announced that “The Michelle Obama Podcast“—the first podcast to be released as part of the platform’s partnership with the Obamas’ production company, Higher Ground—will debut on July 29 and will be available for both free and paid subscribers, Axios reports.

Following the success of her biography, Becoming, and the subsequent documentary; the podcast represents the latest big media project from the former first lady. Her stated goal, alongside former President Barack Obama, is to use media platforms like podcasts, film, and social media to help Americans achieve a greater understanding of the world and to inspire young people.

Among the key need-to-know information about the podcast is the following:

  • The podcast, hosted by Obama, will focus on the relationships that shape people, like those with parents, siblings, friends, mentors and partners.
  • It will feature guests who have helped shape Obama’s life, including her mother and brother—Marian and Craig Robinson—and family confidant Valerie Jarrett.
  • Salesforce and Procter & Gamble brands Dawn and Tide will serve as the first season’s presenting sponsors.

“What I love about these conversations is they’re topics and issues we’re all dealing with no matter what’s going on, whether its a global pandemic or a nationwide reckoning with race,” Obama said in a promotional video about the podcast.

According to Axios,Because young consumers are spending more time on their phones with apps like Spotify and Netflix, former politicians are increasingly targeting that space to reach them —instead of eyeing more traditional paths, such as cable news.

A case in point: Hillary and Chelsea Clinton were in talks last year about creating a similar production company of their own.

The podcast is only the first from the Spotify-Higher Ground partnership, so expect more to come

Research contact: @axios

Space Force drops first recruitment video: “Maybe your purpose on this planet isn’t on this planet”

May 12, 2020

The United States Space Force has released its first recruitment video—a 30-second clip that encourages potential recruits to ponder joining the newest independent branch of the U.S. military at this “incredibly exciting time.”

“Maybe your purpose on this planet isn’t on this planet,” the video suggests..

In a press release, the agency explains, “The FY20 National Defense Authorization Act approved a new, independent Space Force within the Department of the Air Force. As this new military branch takes shape in 2020, we’ll be recruiting the brightest minds in science, technology, aerospace, and engineering to meet its needs. Join us. The future is where we’ll make history.”

“Some people look to the stars and ask, ‘What if?'” a narrator is heard over footage of a man looking up at the sky. “Our job is to have an answer.”

The video then shows a montage of military personnel working within the new military branch, interposed with images of space. Available jobs include: Space Operations Office, Fusion Analyst, and Intelligence Officer.

According to a report by CBS News, even before the video was posted, officials said they’ve received lots of interest. The Secretary of the Air Force, Barbara Barrett, said during a livestream presented by the Space Foundation on May 6 that “there’s been an avalanche of applicants.”

As of that day, there were 88 “commissioned space professionals” working within the Space Force,  Barrett said, and the number is expected to grow “substantially” by the end of 2020. The service’s “total force” is projected to eventually be approximately 16,000 strong.

The recruitment video dropped just one day after Netflix released the new teaser trailer for its upcoming comedy series “Space Force,” starring Steve Carell. The show revolves around Carell’s character, a fictitious four-star general who is tasked with starting up the military branch. The

Chief of Space Operations, General John Raymond said in a less serious moment at the end of the press release,  “The one piece of advice I’d give to Steve Carell is to get a haircut. He’s looking a little too shaggy if he wants to play the Space Force Chief.”

Research contact: @SpaceForceDOD

Netflix’s ‘Tiger King’ is the show we’re all hooked on during the pandemic

April 1, 2020

It’s not exactly a National Geographic documentary. It comes across more like a Christopher Guest “mockumentary” (such as Spinal Tap or Best in Show), says Boston Globe Correspondent Lauren Daley, but it’s all real—and America is #Obsessed.

We’re a nation in quarantine, and, with a seemingly infinite number of programs to stream, many of us have apparently opted for “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” on Netflix.

What, exactly, is the show’s appeal? It’s billed by Netflix as a “true murder-for-hire story from the underworld of big cat breeding,” featuring a “cast of eccentric characters.” But Daley can only say, “It’s so much more.

She’s fascinated by larger-than-life characters like Joe Exotic, a mulleted big-cat lover who also makes his own music videos; and Doc Antle, who rides elephants, and comes across like a Will Ferrell character.

Combine them with a three-person wedding, breakups, a common enemy, in-fighting, love, a mystery surrounding a disappeared millionaire, a torn-off limb, and a multitude of cats—and you’ve got a binge-watching bonanza.

As soon as “Tiger King” debuted, Daley writes in the Globe, a home-bound audience around the country became glued to their screens—including more than a few actors who are now sitting home dreaming about the eventual Hollywood biopic. (“I mean, there has to be one, right?” she speculates.)

Following the show’s debut on March 20, Twitter (and other social media) blew up with suggested “dream cast” members—among them, the actors Danny McBride or David Spade (to be cast as Joe Exotic), Katherine O’Hara as Carole Baskin, Jim Gaffigan or Will Ferrell as Antle …. The lists go on.

Dax Shepard—most recently seen as Mike on “Bless this Mess” on ABC-TV— tweeted: “If I don’t get cast as Joe Exotic in the eventual biopic, Hollywood is broken.” He followed that by posting a photoshopped image of himself with a mullet and a tiger, just to show how committed he would be to the role.

However, not everyone was on board with that (potential) casting. Oscar-nominee and Boston native Edward Norton countered: “Um, step aside, pal. You’re way too young and buff and you know it.”

And he was not the last to be heard from. Comedian Dane Cook chimed in as well: “I already got asked but I’m sure there is a villain role supporting me we could slot you in. #howdareyou.”

Now, the Globe’s Daley reveals, what many didn’t know before this Netflix juggernaut is that apparently there is a limited series coming, centered on Baskin, with Kate McKinnon starring.

We’ve got popcorn ready.

Research contact: @BostonGlobe