Netflix Renews ‘Master of None’

Netflix Renews 'Master of None'

Master of None, the rookie comedy series from Aziz Ansari, will return for season two on Netflix in 2017.

Ansari tweeted the news, saying, “Master of None Season 2 coming 2017. Thanks for all the support everyone!!”

Netflix has confirmed.

Read more at broadcastingcable.com.

Mimik Wins CableLabs Innovation Showcase

Mimik Wins CableLabs Innovation Showcase

A Vancouver-based startup focused on personal media cloud technologies took down the Innovation Showcase at this week’s CableLabs Winter Conference in Orlando, Fla.

That company, mimik Technology, said it showcased a software platform that “turns every digital device into a micro-cloud server.” That software, it said, is built on a small memory footprint that can be ported to a wide range of devices, including smartphones, PCs, tablets, gaming consoles and even cable set-top boxes. mimik has developed an app for Android mobile devices and, according to the company’s web site, has a version for iOS “coming soon.”

With mimik’s software on board, those devices can be transformed into micro-servers that create a “virtual cloud” that can enable the secure sharing and control of digital content across devices, including sensors and other connected devices in the broader Internet of Things ecosystem.

As for its potential with MVPDs, the company’s mimikTV offering enables operators to support OTT apps and content from sources such as YouTube, Netflix, Hulu and Pandora on legacy set-top boxes. According to the company, mimikTV can also run on any commercial off-the-shelf Android-powered set-top, and supports multiple broadcasting standards.

“We are thrilled to have been chosen by CableLabs from hundreds of applicants to showcase the mimik software platform, and proud to have been voted by the cable industry professionals as the most innovative technology, Siavash Alamouti, mimik’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “Our platform is the result of many years of R&D and empowers consumers to take control of their digital assets as well as access and share content in a new way. This is what we call digital freedom.”

Update: Per CableLabs, others that participated in the Innovation Showcase included: CCS, iPosi, Kaybus, LISNR, Movius, OZ, PixelPin, Skyport Systems, and Storj.io.

WWE Stock Falters on O’Neil Suspension, OTT Miss

WWE Stock Falters on O’Neil Suspension, OTT Miss

World Wrestling Entertainment stock has taken a hit over the past few days in the wake of a 60-day suspension of an African-American wrestler who playfully grabbed CEO Vince McMahon’s arm briefly during a telecast, and a drop in subscribers at its online service WWE Network.

The twitter-verse lit up Wednesday night after WWE suspended wrestler Titus O’Neil for what it called “unprofessional conduct” after the wrestler grabbed McMahon’s arm during a taping of WWE’s Monday Night Raw in Seattle. The incident was not shown on the official broadcast – subscribers to its WWE Network were able to catch a glimpse though – and after news of the suspension hit, several versions of the video were widely available on the Internet.

Many fans saw the suspension – initially a 90-day suspension that was reduced by 30 days – as a racist move by the controversial CEO. WWE denied the suspension was racially motivated.

“The suspension of Titus O’Neil had nothing to do with race and everything to do with unprofessional conduct,” the company said in a statement to the New York Post.

The WWE also sent the post a copy of a text they said O’Neil sent the organization “‘I feel like sh** now so if you have to let me go, I understand. Stupid mistake.’”

O’Neil (his real name is Thaddeus Bullard) graduated from the University of Florida and played football for the Gators (1997-1999) as a defensive tackle under head coach Steve Spurrier. He is well-known for his charity work and is one of the more well-liked wrestlers on the circuit.

The O’Neil move likely played a role in WWE’s stock dipping on Feb. 10 – it fell 4.4% (72 cents each) to $15.75 per share from $16.47 the previous day.

While the incident did keep social media humming for awhile, the real hit to the stock occurred the following day (Feb. 11) when shares dipped as much as 10% after WWE revealed that subscribers for its WWE Network fell to 1.2 million in the fourth quarter from 1.3 million in the previous period. The stock finished the day at $14.94 per share, down 5.1%. WWE shares closed at $16.40 each, down 2%, (30 cents) on Feb.12.

The weak WWE Network numbers overshadowed what was otherwise a strong quarter for the content company – revenue was up 18% and the company reported $3.4 million in net income, compared to a loss of $600,000 in the previous year.

Rovi Rises on 4Q Beat

Rovi Rises on 4Q Beat

Rovi shares soared more than 15% Friday after the company posted Q4 results that beat analyst expectations.

Rovi, a key maker of interactive guide technology and a major supplier of metadata, pulled down Q4 net income of $26.3 million (65 cents per share), on revenues of $149.5 million, up 11% on a year-over-year basis. Analysts were expecting earnings of 40 cents.

Rovi attributed the rise in revenue in part to catch-up payments from AT&T and Sony. Rovi posted service provider revenues of $124 million in Q4, up 18%.

On Thursday’s earnings call, Rovi CEO Tom Carson said the strong quarter was “led by licensing,” noting it had renewed its intellectual property deal with AT&T (which acquired DirecTV last year), Sky, Europe’s largest pay TV operator, and inked a new deal with Canadian operator Shaw Communications. The Shaw deal, he said, includes its new Free Range TV mobile video app, which is powered by Comcast’s X1 platform.

Rovi has also salted away a multi-year license with Charter Communications, which is in the process of acquiring Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.

“Assuming the Time Warner Cable acquisition closes, we will have two of the big four U.S. service providers under new contracts,” Carson said.

Carson said Rovi is working to get renewals done with the other two – Comcast and Dish Network.

But it’s not counting those chickens yet. Rovi forecasted 2016 revenues of $490 million to $520 million, and earnings of $1.35 to $1.65 per share. “We are excluding any revenue associated with renewing these two deals from our estimates, including any advertising or TV Everywhere revenues from Comcast after Q1,” Carson said.

In addition to getting those renewals done, Rovi said another big focus this year involves Fan TV, the video navigation platform Rovi acquired in 2014 for $12 million.

Though IP-connected Fan TV devices are no longer part of Rovi’s game plan (Time Warner Cable stopped selling those last fall), Rovi has since evolved Fan TV into a modular entertainment discovery platform for service providers and developers, offering it via APIs, apps and as an operating system for set-top boxes.

Carson said a “large European service provider agreed to use the Fan TV platform,” but won’t be saying more until after that customer announces their product and service plan that will rely on Fan TV.

Rovi said it expects to announce new deals for Fan TV, both as a full solution, and as an element that complements other discovery services during the course of the year.

Showtime to Premiere ‘Roadies’ June 26

Showtime to Premiere ‘Roadies’ June 26Luke Wilson (r.) and Carla Gugino star in Cameron Crowe’s Showtime comedy “Roadies.” CREDIT: Showtime

Roadies, a one-hour ensemble comedy from Cameron Crowe, will debut on Showtime June 26 at 10 p.m. (ET), the network said.

The series, with Luke Wilson and Carla Gugino in the cast, offers “an insider’s look at the reckless, romantic, funny and often poignant lives of a committed group of ‘roadies’ who live for music and the de facto family they’ve formed along the way,” according to Showtime.

Showtime will start production on 10 episodes in March. Crowe’s many films include the rock ‘n roll road picture Almost Famous.

Read more, and watch the trailer, at broadcastingcable.com.

Study: Netflix Integration Good for Pay TV Biz

Study: Netflix Integration Good for Pay TV Biz

When it comes to integrating Netflix at the set-top box level, the good outweighs the risks for MVPDs, according to a new study from IHS.

Though Netflix doesn’t provide a “meaningful” revenue-generating opportunity for pay TV operators that opt to integrate the OTT service on leased boxes, it still results in a net-positive on the operational performance of those MVPDs, IHS found in the study – Netflix on Pay TV: A Marriage of Convenience.

Per IHS, Netflix has partnerships in place with 25 pay TV providers. Examples include Dish Network and several MSOs that use a TiVo-powered platform, including Virgin Media, RCN, Com Hem, Suddenlink Communications and GCI, among others. IHS expects many more to join the crowd amid Netflix’s big global expansion.

“Many of the operators working with Netflix have seen customer satisfaction ratings improve under the partnerships, which have helped foster positive operational performances,” Ted Hall, research director at IHS Technology, said in a statement.

Though Netflix integrations aren’t direct revenue producers for MVPDs, the tactic does help to keep consumers on the MVPD’s platform.

IHS said Netflix plays a “likely small” role as an upsell driver to more advanced boxes for some operators, noting that this appears to be the case for 10 of Netflix’s 25 operator partners that use TiVo as their technology partner, in addition to Orange, Bouygues and Elisa.

But, the firm added, there’s some caution among MVPDs on how stitching in Netflix could impact the broader performance of their video businesses. Among the concerns – integrating Netflix could put pressure on their core channel packages and VOD offerings.

“Netflix is a both less lucrative and more dangerous content partner to work with than the other premium networks pay TV providers traditionally partner with, such as HBO,” Hall added. “But collaborating with the ever-popular streaming service is necessary for many operators positioning their platforms as one-stop-shop ecosystems for TV and video content.”

But forging a connection with Netflix isn’t the right move for all MVPDs, particularly those that are investing in their own movies and entertainment content, such as Sky, the study noted.

A recent study from SNL Kagan found that about 20% of U.S. pay TV subs get service from an MVPD that integrates OTT offerings, but said the net effect of those integrations remain “inconclusive.”

CBS All-Access Considering Ad-Free Service

CBS All-Access Considering Ad-Free Service

CBS could follow online video pioneer Hulu with an ad-free version of its own over-the-top service CBS All Access, charging an additional $4 per month on top of the $5.99 monthly fee the broadcaster gets for the offering.

On a conference call with analysts to discuss fourth quarter results, CBS chairman and CEO Les Moonves said nothing is carved in stone, but that the company is considering offering an ad-free version of CBS All-Access.

“We’re exploring it,” Moonves said on the call. “We’re not there yet.”

He added that the ad-free offering “hasn’t worked quite well” for Hulu so far.

Hulu launched the ad free version in September, charging an additional $4 per month on top of its $7.99 monthly charge for the service. The online service continues to offer its original service which includes ads for $7.99 per month.

CBS launched CBS All-Access in October 2014, and Moonves said the service received a boost in customers after it aired a commercial during the Super Bowl. Although CBS would not say how many customers the service has, it did say that it is attracting a younger demographic.

CBS has been developing new programming for the All Access service – its new Star Trek television series will appear exclusively on the service after its first episode debuts in January 2017 on the broadcast network. Moonves added on the call that its own CBS Studios could create additional programming for the OTT service.