With streaming dominating the industry — and more services on the way — IndieWire is taking a closer look at the news cycle and breaking down what really matters to provide a clear picture of what companies are winning the streaming wars and how they're pulling ahead. By looking at trends and curating developments down to what matters, the Streaming Wars Report will offer a clear picture of what's happening overall and day-to-day in streaming. This column will cover the major players, from Netflix to Disney+ to HBO Max, and be sure to check out our Indie Edition for thorough coverage of the boutique services.New Numbers
Streaming Is Up, Subscriptions Are Up, But What Does It Mean for Quibi? ⇔⇔⇔
It’s almost here: the day some thought would never come. No, not an end to our collective social distancing — Quibi’s launch is tomorrow, April 6. With everyone staying home, staring at their screens, the new streamer’s rollout couldn’t come at a better time… right?
Optimists will argue Quibi’s launch date arrives during an unprecedented demand for new content. Not only is Nielsen reporting 85 percent growth in streaming last month, but subscriptions are on the rise, too, which wasn’t a given. Unemployment is spiking, plenty of people are still paying for cable, and just about every streaming service promises they’ve got everything viewers are looking for, so there was no guarantee a mounting demand for television would go hand-in-hand with a jump in subscriptions. But Antenna, a new streaming analytics company, reported a 64-percent rise across eight major streaming platforms in mid-March.
Nascent streamer Disney+ saw a whopping 212-percent rise in subscriptions from week to week, while HBO shot up 90 percent, Showtime 78 percent, and Starz — yes, Starz! — grew by 49 percent over the same period. Now, these numbers aren’t verified by the services or a third party, but any growth is a good sign for Quibi; it means people are open to spending a little more for new, desirable content.
But the problem facing Quibi aside from all the non-COVID 19 related problems facing Quibi is threefold:Marketing: All of the streamers seeing big gains in subscribers are known brands. The premium cable giants transitioning to streaming have been making that transition for years. Disney+, while new, has a deep catalogue of known brands to dangle in front of potential subscribers. Even Apple TV+ launched five months ago and has the added advantage of reminding anyone with Apple TV, an iPhone, or a Mac, that the service is one more option right now. Branding is key, and Quibi has to build a brand from scratch. Not only that, but it has to build a brand from scratch at a time when everyone’s attention is focused on one thing and one thing only:...
Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Show: The Secret History of Hollywood
Where You Can Stream It: The podcasting app of your choice.
The Pitch: The Secret History of Hollywood is the most compelling, immersive, and emotional podcast I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. Each season consists of deep dives into a major Hollywood figure, tracing its subject’s rise to prominence and giving incredible insight into their home lives, painting a portrait so captivating and well-rounded that biographies or books on the subjects could only dream to achieve.
Why It’s Essential Quarantine Listening: I’ve been thinking about this podcast a lot since I first stumbled across it several years ago, but I think it’s especially appropriate to recommend it right now because some of its episodes are incredibly lengthy – many clock in around an hour and a half, but some of them stretch to four, six, or even nine hours long. Yes, really. Some of you may scoff, but isn’t being in quarantine the perfect time to give a long-form podcast a chance?
Adam Roche, the voice behind the show, had no background in sound editing or sound production when he got started, but he could have fooled me: the series reminds me of an old-time radio show, complete with sound effects and Roche doing voices as he plays the people in a given scene. I realize that may sound cheesy, and it absolutely would be in less-capable hands. But trust me: Roche’s mellifluous voice and incredibly researched accounts are perfect for this type of storytelling.
The show has brought me to tears multiple times over the years, and I think a huge part of the reason for that is because of the long episode lengths. Like a great TV series you never want to end, you get to spend hours and hours with the subjects of these episodes and build emotional connections to them, so when they they experience hardships, a project goes wrong, or they lose a loved one, the results can be unexpectedly powerful.
The show has earned the attention of Hollywood vets like Peter Ramsey Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Mark Gatiss Sherlock, Game of Thrones, the latter of whom lends his own terrific voice to introductions of the most recent season, which covers the prolific producer Val Lewton Cat People, The Body Snatcher, The Ghost Ship. I knew nothing about Lewton or his work before I listened to the eleven episode season, but by the end, I feel like not only do I know all about him, but I feel I’ve experienced his highs and lows right alongside him. It’s truly spellbinding stuff, and it comes with my absolute highest recommendation.
I’ve talked about the show a couple...
Comcast has also committed $500 million to support employees impacted by the pandemic.
NBCUniversal and other parts of the Comcast family on Wednesday internally unveiled measures to support employees and others impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Top executives, including Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts, CFO Mike Cavanagh, Comcast Cable CEO Dave Watson, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell and Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch, are donating their salaries to charities engaged in coronavirus relief until the virus crisis passes.
Roberts, in a memo obtained by THR, also said that Comcast was committing $500 million to help staff with pay and benefits if their business units have been shut down due to the pandemic.
"Across our businesses, we have committed $500 million to support our employees through continued pay and benefits where operations have been paused or impacted, and we have committed significant resources to support our customers," Roberts wrote. "Additionally, effective today, and for the duration of this situation, our senior leaders, Mike Cavanagh, Dave Watson, Jeff Shell, Jeremy Darroch and I have chosen to donate 100 percent of our salaries to charities that support COVID-19 relief efforts," Roberts wrote.
Roberts' 2018 salary came to $3.2 million, while CFO Cavanagh's salary was $1.95 million that year and then-NBCUniversal CEO Stephen Burke took home a salary of $2.96 million in 2018. Comcast has yet to announce its executive compensation for 2019.
Roberts, his wife Aileen and their family previously said they were donating $5 million for the Philadelphia public school system to buy laptops for students doing online learning as local schools closed down during the coronavirus crisis.
Comcast is the latest media and entertainment company to unveil that top executives were forging their salaries amid the virus crisis, following the likes of the Walt Disney Co.
Read Comcast chairman and CEO Roberts' full memo to Comcast staff below:
As our world changes by the minute with the new reality that COVID-19 brings, I continue to be amazed and inspired by our people and the human spirit at Comcast, NBCUniversal and Sky. This is obviously an incredibly difficult time for our society. None of us has ever experienced anything like this before, and while it is easy to get mired in the many challenges we are all facing, I think that in uncertain times like these it is incumbent upon us to remain optimistic and look for the good, even if it can be elusive.
One of the bright spots for me has been watching our employees on the frontlines go above and beyond. Our Comcast and Sky engineers, technicians and call center representatives are working around the clock to keep our network running and make sure our customers maintain their vital internet connectivity. Our NBC and Sky news organizations are keeping our world informed — setting up remote...