2012 Year in Review2 Jan, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel
UltraViolet gets retail support with the launches of the disc-to-digital program at Walmart and a compatible service at Barnes & Noble, giving the platform more consumer awareness. Meanwhile, Blu-ray Disc sales boost the industry, and consumer dollars spent on both Blu-ray and DVD sales overall beat out rental figures. The competition between disc and digital begins to cool off, as industry players begin to see a more synergistic relationship between the two formats.
» Paramount Pictures rang in the New Year with a float in the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., honoring the studio’s 100th anniversary.
» Netflix subscribers streamed more than 2 billion hours of content in the fourth quarter of 2011 — a tally one analyst says made the rental service the 15th most-watched “TV network” in the country.
» Pay-TV platform Epix launches a new movie channel for Dish Network’s Blockbuster Movie Pass subscribers.
» Sony Pictures Home Entertainment comedy Just Go With It is Redbox’s top-rented comedy in 2011.
» Universal Studios releases the first batch of classic films as part of the studio’s yearlong celebration of its 100th anniversary.
» Blu-ray Disc and DVD sales of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2, Bridesmaids and The Help spearhead home video sales during the month of December 2011, according to Amazon.
» Redbox tells Home Media Magazine that Warner Home Video’s plan to double the 28-day delay of new-release titles to rental channels isn’t going to affect the kiosk vendor.
» Dish Network plans to close more underperforming Blockbuster stores nationwide than originally planned, including converting some locations into satellite TV service centers.
» More than 750,000 UltraViolet accounts are registered three months after the digital locker’s launch, says Mark Teitell, executive director and GM of the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE).
» Netflix bows a streaming service in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
» Dish Network changes the name of its Blockbuster Movie Pass streaming platform to Blockbuster @Home.
» Congress delays action on two controversial piracy bills after major websites such as Google and Wikipedia go dark in protest.
» Best Buy announces two leadership changes, including putting longtime executive Mike Vitelli in charge of the consumer electronics chain’s U.S. business.
» There are about 66 million Xbox 360 consoles in American homes, along with 18 million motion- and voice-controlled Kinect sensors, according to Microsoft.
» Lionsgate bows Abduction on Facebook, the first time the social network has seen a film released on the same day it bows on disc.
» Paramount is the first studio to offer UltraViolet electronic sellthrough purchases of its movies.
» Blockbuster in the United Kingdom offers exclusive DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals of Oscar-nominated Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy weeks before the thriller’s retail release.
» Sales of Blu-ray Disc movies increased 11% in 2011, representing a bright spot for studios looking to boost sellthrough, according to a Morgan Stanley note.
» Sony Pictures Home Entertainment announces the creation of a new division, the Worldwide Commercial group, to oversee all commercial activity for its global business.
» Walmart releases The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1 with exclusive features on DVD and Blu-ray Disc in a special midnight opening at more than 2,700 stores nationwide.
» Frost & Sullivan analyst Dan Rayburn says Paramount and other studio prices for digital movies are too expensive in an era of $1 kiosk rentals and $7.99 monthly streaming.
» Lionsgate and Starz Entertainment sign a multiyear deal that brings more than 500 catalog titles to Starz’s 17 premium movie channels in the United States.
» Redbox says it will offer a digital movie service with Verizon by the fourth quarter and assumes control of NCR Corp.’s entertainment division — including 10,000 kiosks operating under the Blockbuster Express brand.
» Walt Disney Studios plans to impose a 28-day rental delay on new-release disc titles, says CEO Bob Iger.
» Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes says Warner Bros. is not against releasing UltraViolet digital titles earlier into the retail chain.
» Amazon Prime Instant Video finalizes a content license agreement with Viacom.
» Redbox is testing rental kiosks in select regions of Canada, Coinstar CEO Paul Davis tells an investor group.
» Mary Daily is promoted to president and chief marketing officer of worldwide marketing at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
» Strong disc sales contribute to Image Entertainment reporting third-quarter net revenue of $34.5 million, up 25% from the prior-year period.
» Netflix agrees to pay $9 million in a settlement of litigation regarding its compliance with the Video Privacy Protection Act.
» CBS says content license deals with subscription video-on-demand services help drive fourth-quarter entertainment operating income up 31.5% to $275 million.
» Universal Pictures’ Bridesmaids is the top-selling transactional VOD title in history, with more than 4.8 million orders, according to the studio.
» Comcast launches a subscription VOD service, Xfinity Streampix, enabling subscribers to stream movies and TV shows via portable media devices.
» Consumers purchasing movies with UltraViolet have redeemed more than 1 million digital rights, according to IHS.
» Dish Network plans to close 500 underperforming Blockbuster stores in the first half of 2012 — a third of its 1,500 stores.
» Netflix signs a first-ever multiyear streaming deal with The Weinstein Co. for select movies, including critically acclaimed The Artist.
» Summit Entertainment says first weekend disc sales of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1 top 5 million units.
» 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment plans to release 15 films through manufacture-on-demand (MOD) as part of MGM’s Limited Edition Collection.
» Coinstar agrees to pay investors $6 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that accused the company of failing to disclose information about Redbox’s agreements with studios.
» Redbox’s workaround program to acquire Warner discs is a success, says Coinstar CEO Davis.
» Summit Home Entertainment chief Steve Nickerson will not be making the transition to Lionsgate, sources tell Home Media Magazine.
» Verizon’s CFO announces the company’s joint venture subscription digital video offering with Redbox will launch in August.
» Starz Entertainment ceases offering Netflix movies from Walt Disney Studios and Sony Pictures, among other content sources, as its four-year license deal ends.
» Netflix CEO Reed Hastings says he isn’t opposed to bundling the SVOD service with third-party pay-TV subscriptions.
» Lionsgate names Steve Beeks president of its motion picture group as part of the ongoing integration of recent acquisition Summit Entertainment.
» Apple launches its iCloud movie service, giving owners of iTunes content access to what they own on any Apple device.
» Redbox rents its 2 billionth disc.
» 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment launches a promotion whereby shoppers can buy movies and TV shows advertised on walls at select shopping centers nationwide directly through a special app on their mobile phones.
» Gaiam says it is acquiring independent distributor
Vivendi Entertainment for $13.4 million.
» Lionsgate lays off 80 employees in its motion picture and home entertainment divisions as it integrates Summit Entertainment.
» Kaleidescape appeals a permanent injunction by a California court that found the company’s DVD and Blu-ray Disc movie storage system violates CSS license provisions of the DVD Copy Control Association.
» Blockbuster plans to close a disc distribution center in
McKinney, Texas, idling 171 employees.
» Amazon signs a SVOD deal with Discovery Communications for access to TV shows from Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery and Science and Military Channel.
» Netflix signs a deal with filmmaker Eli Roth for an original series set for release in early 2013.
» About one in four homes have a Blu-ray Disc player, up 47% from the end of 2011, according to Centris Research.
» Miramax CEO Mike Lang resigns, remaining a consultant until a successor is found, the studio announces.
» Best Buy reports a fourth-quarter net loss of nearly $1.7 billion, compared with net income of $651 million during the prior-year period.
» Rentrak says consumers spent more than $5.6 billion renting DVD and Blu-ray Disc movies in 2011, which topped comparable revenue from digital distribution channels such as Netflix.
» Bob Johnson, founder of BET (Black Entertainment Television), confirms he has entered into agreements to acquire Image Entertainment and Acorn Media Group.
» YouTube adds 500 Paramount movies for transactional VOD on Google Play, according to a blog post.
» Gregg Kaplan, president and COO of Redbox parent Coinstar, returns to the company following a two-month absence due to a family illness.
» PlayStation 3 owners now have access to Amazon Prime Instant Video, with Sony Computer Entertainment agreeing to feature the service prominently on systems in the United States.
» A California appeals court issues a temporary stay of injunction for Kaleidescape’s proprietary movie disc-storage system.
» Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn resigns less than two weeks after the retailer reports a net loss of nearly $1.7 billion.
» More than 4,000 movies from five major studios are available under Walmart’s disc-to-digital UltraViolet program, powered by its Vudu service and launching at more than 3,500 stores. The move gives a big boost to the cloud-based UltraViolet service.
» Coinstar says a quarterly revenue increase was driven by stronger-than-anticipated consumer demand, reflecting in part better-than-anticipated consumer acceptance of Redbox’s 20% price increase.
» Nearly one in four U.S. households have one television connected to the Internet directly or via a video game system, Blu-ray Disc player, Apple TV or Roku set-top player, according to the Leichtman Research Group.
» MPAA CEO Chris Dodd says the piracy bill Stop Online Piracy Act is “dead,” but adds that its aims are still alive.
» French media conglomerate Vivendi SA reportedly is planning to launch a SVOD service in Germany patterned after Netflix.
» Cinedigm Digital Cinema acquires independent distributor New Video Group for $14 million.
» Blockbuster bows a new rental campaign designed to guarantee in-store availability of select titles on their retail release date.
» Walmart’s cloud-based disc-to-digital program adds titles from DreamWorks Animation.
» Best Buy notifies employees at 42 stores that their locations will be shuttered.
» 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment announces it is releasing sci-fi action movie I, Robot on 3D Blu-ray later in the year — the first in a series of legacy movies the studio plans to re-release in the high-definition format in 3D.
» Netflix reports a first-quarter net loss of $5 million while adding 2.95 million streaming subscribers globally, including 1.74 million in the United States.
» Redbox says its best 17 rental days ever occurred during the first quarter of 2012, giving the kiosk operator a 40% jump in revenue.
» Amazon reports first-quarter net income of $130 million, down 35% the previous-year period.
» Consumer spending on home entertainment (rental and sellthrough) inched up 2.5% from the first quarter of 2011, to $4.45 billion, according to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.
» Consumers registering movies to the cloud-based UltraViolet digital locker topped 2 million accounts, according to Time Warner CEO Bewkes.
» Korean film company CJ Entertainment & Media launches its own home entertainment arm.
» CBS says revenue from third-party streaming services contributed to it posting first-quarter net income of $363 million, up nearly 80% from the same period last year.
» The market for pirated movie and music discs is being replaced by digital files and websites, according to a new report by the U.S. Trade Representative.
» Blockbuster reports operating income of more than $13.9 million on revenue of nearly $334 million during the first quarter.
» Redbox says it’s negotiating with Warner Home Video regarding the studio’s 56-day embargo proposal.
» Time Warner CEO Bewkes tells TV host Charlie Rose DVD and Blu-ray Disc movies should be cheaper.
» Image Entertainment acquires Amity Entertainment’s catalog.
» Samsung Electronics acquires cloud-based mobile entertainment company mSpot.com.
» Netflix plans to roll out a subscription plan enabling multiple users within a household to stream content on different devices.
» Former Best Buy CEO Dunn agrees to a $6.6 million severance package.
» Amazon signs a three-year agreement with Paramount Home Media Distribution that allows its Prime loyalty members to stream hundreds of movies on connected devices.
» 20th Century Fox Film Corp., Fox Broadcasting and Fox Television Holdings collectively file a lawsuit against Dish Network alleging breach of contract and copyright infringement regarding the satellite TV operator’s ad-skipping DVR.
» Netflix promotes veteran home entertainment executive Cindy Holland to VP of original content, while adding television content licensing for the domestic market duties to Jason Ropell, VP of content acquisition.
» Walt Disney CEO Iger says Dish Network’s rollout of a DVR enabling subscribers to skip advertising on recorded TV programs is harmful.
» Cable network TNT is considering licensing repurposed content to SVOD services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Google Play, says CEO Phil Kent.
» LoveFilm Instant, the European SVOD service owned by Amazon, signs a multiyear distribution agreement with NBC Universal.
» Starz Digital Media will make available Piranha 3DD for cable and Internet transactional VOD the day of the film’s theatrical debut.
» Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment begins delaying new-disc releases 28 days to kiosks, video stores and Netflix, a studio representative confirms.
» Netflix says it will develop a proprietary content delivery network in an effort to reduce reliance upon (and solve streaming service issues with) third-party CDN providers.
» Family Dollar Stores inks a multiyear agreement with Redbox to bring disc kiosks to some of its 7,200-plus stores in the United States.
» Consumers spend more money buying movies on DVD and Blu-ray Disc than renting them, according to a new IHS report.
» Netflix’s SVOD market leadership position helps it pass Apple’s transactional VOD business, according to IHS.
» Viacom says it employs a minimum 21-day embargo on all current-season TV programming earmarked for SVOD.
» The U.S. Justice Department reportedly is probing domestic cable operators to determine whether they manipulate monthly user data caps, among other issues, in order to thwart online video competition.
» Netflix will offer Latin America subscribers streaming access to The Hunger Games the same day the box office hit bows in the retail window in North America.
» There are more than 3 million registered accounts for UltraViolet, according to DEG.
» Redbox launches its first online affiliate program designed to attract new kiosk movie renters via third-party websites.
» Netflix’s streaming service is rated superior to pay-TV and transactional VOD, according to Parks Associates.
» Redbox parent Coinstar completes its $100 million acquisition of NCR Corp.’s entertainment division, including 10,000 kiosks operating under the Blockbuster Express brand.
» Replicator Cinram reaches an agreement to sell its assets and businesses to private investment firm Najafi Cos., owner of Direct Brands, SkyMall, Trend Homes and other brands.
» Google Play begins selling TV shows and movies via the online and Android devices store.
» A federal judge allows a lawsuit requiring Netflix to include closed captioning on all its streamed content to move forward.
» Redbox says it has rented 18 million video games in the first year of offering them.
» The World Intellectual Property Organization says China agreed to officially recognize intellectual copyrights on movies and related audio with the signing of the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances.
» News Corp. says it is splitting the company’s entertainment and publishing businesses into two separate publicly traded units, both chaired by founder Rupert Murdoch.
» HBO and Showtime put season premieres of the shows “The Newsroom” and “Weeds” on the Internet for free without authentication or registration.
» Netflix subscribers in June for the first time streamed more than 1 billion hours of content, according to a post on CEO Hastings’s Facebook page.
» Consumers are spending less on new-release physical and PC-based video games, with sales in the first quarter dropping almost 13% to $3.4 billion, according to The NPD Group.
» Rentrak begins tracking VOD data for the studios.
» Litigation over Dish Network’s Hopper DVR, featuring controversial ad-skipping technology, heads to separate trial courtrooms across the country.
» DVDNow expands to its 15th country, Costa Rica, giving that country its first-ever DVD rental kiosk.
» Ingram Entertainment promotes Robert Webb to president and CEO of the company, and Robert Geistman to EVP of sales and marketing.
» Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment release a second-screen application for The Avengers more than two months before the Sept. 25 Blu-ray Disc release.
» Blockbuster acquires the assets of retail software provider Alpha Bay Corp.
» Amazon brings TV shows “The West Wing” and “Fringe” to its subscription-based Prime Instant Video under a licensing agreement with Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution.
» Netflix’s aggressive international expansion, coupled with weaker-than-expected domestic subscriber growth in the second quarter, sends shares to their lowest level since January 2010.
» Amazon reports second-quarter profit of $7 million, down 96% from a profit of $191 million during the previous-year period.
» Roku secures $45 million in funds from News Corp., British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) and another unnamed investor.
» Redbox and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment renew their kiosk distribution deal through 2014.
» Strong double-digit growth of Blu-ray Disc sales, coupled with digital distribution gains, help lift home entertainment consumer spending 1.4% during the first six months of 2012, according to new data from DEG.
» Roku is working with a number of consumer electronics manufacturers and retailers incorporating the media player’s pending Streaming Stick technology in future products.
» SVOD service Hulu Plus is now available on Apple TV.
» Lionsgate announces The Hunger Games will be its first UltraViolet release.
» Blockbuster reports a second-quarter operating loss of $13.3 million, compared with operating income of $10.4 million the previous year.
» Disc rentals from kiosks, brick-and-mortar retailers and Netflix account for 62% of movie rental orders during the first half of the year, compared with 38% from digital, according to The NPD Group.
» Liberty Media Corp. says it will spin off Starz LLC later in the year into a separate publicly held company.
» Best Buy founder and former chairman Richard Schulze sends the board of directors a letter offering to acquire all outstanding common shares of the CE retailer.
» Interest in video entertainment via Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus may be rising, and viewers are accessing digital content through Internet-connected Blu-ray Disc players and video game consoles, according to a new report.
» Warner Bros. says it is closing direct-to-video unit Warner Premiere, citing ongoing declines in the disc retail business.
» Trans World Entertainment Corp. plans to open several new retail stores in the fourth quarter, including a high-profile location at the Annapolis Mall in Maryland.
» Redbox names Anne Saunders as its new president, taking over for Gregg Kaplan, who will remain president and COO of Coinstar through March 2013.
» Lionsgate enters into a partnership with A&E Networks for home entertainment distribution of programming from A&E, History, Biography and Lifetime channels.
» Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment extends its home entertainment license deal with Discovery Communications.
» Netflix says it will bow a streaming service in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark by the end of the year.
» DreamWorks Animation selects 20th Century Fox Studios to distribute its movies, including home entertainment, replacing longtime distributor Paramount Pictures.
» Netflix says its streaming service has reached 1 million members in the United Kingdom and Ireland — the fastest subscriber growth in the company’s history.
» Best Buy names Frenchman Hubert Joly its CEO and member of the board.
» The home entertainment release of The Hunger Games sells an estimated 3.8 million DVD and Blu-ray Disc units in its first weekend of release, according to Lionsgate.
» Rovi Corp. announces a deal with Sainsbury’s in the United Kingdom that will allow the supermarket giant (1,000 stores) to launch an online transactional streaming platform.
» More than 50% of Facebook users say they wouldn’t pay $1.99 to watch a movie on the website, according to a Parks Associates survey.
» Rovi Corp. eyes the launch of a digital copy platform that would enable consumers with a connected Samsung television or Blu-ray Disc player to transfer DVD and Blu-ray movies to an UltraViolet cloud-based system.
» Best Buy reaches an agreement with founder Schulze granting him access to certain due diligence information to make an acquisition proposal.
» Netflix offers its 24 million streaming subscribers in the United States a free month of disc rentals.
» A number of Netflix subscribers file objections to a court decision on a privacy act, complaining the proposed $9 million class-action settlement leaves little for those allegedly wronged.
» DreamWorks Studios inks a deal with Mister Smith Entertainment for international distribution, including home entertainment.
» Complete seasons of “Friday Night Lights,” “Heroes” “Battlestar Galactica” and other NBC Universal TV series are available to Amazon Prime Instant Video subscribers.
» Amazon signs a distribution deal with Epix, enabling Prime members to stream more than 2,000 movies from Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate and MGM.
» 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is set to release Prometheus on electronic sellthrough about three weeks ahead of its release on disc. The sci-fi thriller will also be Fox’s first UltraViolet release.
» Najafi Cos. has completed its acquisition of replicator Cinram’s North American assets.
» The retail release of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment’s The Avengers hits a snag involving a lawsuit filed over a special Blu-ray Disc boxed set.
» More than 50% of Netflix users would drop the service for an alternative SVOD option offered by their pay-TV operator, according to data from GfK Media.
» Netflix seeks to lure and retain subscribers through exclusive license deals and producing original programming, chief content officer Ted Sarandos tells an investor group.
» Dolby Digital Plus audio now can be encoded on UltraViolet files through the platform’s common file format, the company announces.
» Digital distributor M-GO signs with five of the six major film studios to offer content day-and-date with disc when it launches later in the year.
» Sales of Blu-ray Disc movies and catalog DVDs show significant resilience in 2012 — despite operating in a market inundated with less-expensive kiosk rentals and SVOD, according to separate 10Q filings by Hastings Entertainment and Trans World Entertainment Corp.
» The CEO of CBS says it is set to realize a $40 million payout by Netflix when it begins offering episodes of canceled “CSI: Miami” to the service’s 27 million streaming-only subscribers.
» Warner Bros. Television is in production for original programming earmarked for Netflix and other SVOD services, says Time Warner CFO John Martin.
» Amazon Prime Instant Video and its LoveFilm Instant SVOD in the United Kingdom are more of a media fascination than immediate competitor, Netflix CFO David Wells tells an investor group.
» Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman tells an investor group the slowdown of disc sales will lead studios to rework the entire economics of moviemaking.
» Time Warner CEO Bewkes tells an investor group the drop-off in movie disc sales is moderating.
» 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment launches Digital HD, offering consumers early access to select titles, including new releases for $15.
» Vudu, Walmart’s VOD service, launches a proprietary streaming channel on Roku.
» With more than 9 million subscribers in Latin America, DirecTV believes its satellite-TV service and on-demand movie platforms trump Netflix.
» CBS CEO Les Moonves nixes speculation Showtime Networks would bow a standalone streaming service.
» Barnes & Noble launches its own cloud-based video service compatible with UltraViolet.
» Canada video stores complain after Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment applies a 28-day embargo on new-release rentals.
» Redbox begins selling live event tickets for the Philadelphia market at both its kiosks and online, with plans to expand the service to the West Coast by early 2013.
» Warner Bros. Home Entertainment unveils elaborate plans for a yearlong global 90th anniversary celebration in 2013.
» Warner Bros. Home Entertainment assumes responsibility for marketing, merchandising and distribution of part of Paramount Pictures’ movie library.
» Blockbuster announces the launch of a “Cine Latino” movie section in about 200 stores.
» Replicator Cinram will begin offering disc manufacturing-on-demand products to its customers following an agreement with Allied Vaughn.
» Following up on a “Web-Slinger” smartphone app introduced with the theatrical release of The Amazing Spider-Man, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment bows a tablet-only app for the disc.
» Walt Disney rolls out a redesigned Disney.com website.
» M-GO, an entertainment application backed by Technicolor and DreamWorks Animation, signs content license deals with DreamWorks Animation and Relativity Media.
» Netflix announces it will bow all 13 episodes of the original series “House of Cards” Feb. 1, 2013, in North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Latin America and Scandinavia.
» Warner Home Video, Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment say they are releasing UltraViolet-enabled titles in Canada before the end of the year.
» A former business venture created by Stan Lee files a lawsuit against The Walt Disney Co. claiming the media company owes it billions in profits generated by Marvel characters depicted in Iron Man 2, Thor, X-Men: First Class, The Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man.
» Blockbuster is rated superior to Netflix for by-mail disc rentals due to its ability to match Netflix in the number of titles offered (100,000) and speed of delivery (about one day), according to a study.
» Toys “R” Us launches its own movie and TV episode streaming and download service, with more than 4,000 titles — some available before disc.
» Netflix launches a streaming rental service in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.
» Hulu buys out Providence Equity Partners, the private equity firm that helped launch the online video service in 2007 with a $100 million investment.
» Redbox and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment announce a multiyear agreement to bring the studio’s new-release Blu-ray Disc and DVD movies to Redbox kiosks 28 days after their retail release dates.
» Entertainment Merchants Association president and CEO Crossan “Bo” Andersen announces his retirement, effective Nov. 15, following 17 years with the home entertainment trade association.
» Netflix posts a third-quarter profit of $7.6 million — down nearly 82% from a profit of $62.5 million during the previous-year period.
» Consumer spending on home entertainment in the first nine months of this year is up 1% from the first nine months of 2011, according to the latest report from DEG.
» Best Buy changes its senior management structure — a reorganization that sees Mike Vitelli and Tim Sheehan, president and EVP of U.S. operations, respectively, leaving the consumer electronics chain.
» Samsung is incorporating apps in Internet-connected televisions, enabling viewers to watch movies and TV shows via Amazon Instant Video and Amazon Prime.
» Redbox commemorates its 10th anniversary this year, while Walmart and Target mark their 50th anniversaries this year.
» The Walt Disney Co. acquires George Lucas’ Lucasfilm Ltd. and the “Star Wars” franchise for $4.05 billion, with plans for a new trilogy of movies starting in 2015.
» Calling the company undervalued, maverick investor Carl Icahn acquires a 10% stake in Netflix.
» Barnes & Noble signs content license agreements with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and NBC Universal for its Nook Video platform.
» Roku launches a movie and TV show search engine for the Roku LT, Roku HD and Roku 2 media players.
» Dish Network CEO Joe Clayton says a series of new marketing initiatives and better distribution agreements with the studios portend a robust fourth quarter for Blockbuster.
» Amazon begins testing a $7.99 monthly fee for its Prime membership program (currently offered at no extra cost with the $79 membership fee) — matching Netflix’s price.
» Netflix says its board enacts a shareholder rights plan (also called a “poison pill” agreement) after activist shareholder Icahn acquires 10% of the movie rental service.
» Retail revenue for The Hunger Games buttresses the packaged-media business, with strong sales of Blu-ray Disc and UltraViolet, Lionsgate’s Steve Beeks says in a fiscal call.
» Walt Disney’s Iger says the media giant “feels very good” about licensing opportunities in the SVOD market.
» Walmart offers a $39 LG Blu-ray Disc player with
Wi-Fi beginning at 8 p.m. local time on Thanksgiving.
» CBS is considering for the first time licensing past seasons of current TV shows and Showtime Networks serials to SVOD services.
» Gaiam says it has 20,000 subscribers on board as it completes beta-testing on Gaiam TV, an SVOD service with more than 5,000 fitness titles.
» Warner Archive Collection, the manufacture-on-demand DVD program, announces plans to offer films on Blu-ray Disc later in the month, a first among studio MOD programs.
» Best Buy names Sharon McCollam as its new CFO and chief administrative officer.
» Trans World Entertainment says it will open new retail stores in 2013, citing increased consumer and landlord demand for packaged-media sellthrough.
» The Consumer Electronics Association names Dish Network’s AutoHop feature an honoree of its International Consumer Electronics Show Innovations 2013 Design and Engineering Award.
» More than half of the country’s TV viewers have streamed a program over the Internet via a connected device, according to new data from The Harris Poll.
» Amazon stops testing a $7.99 price for the Prime membership loyalty program, continuing with the $79 annual fee.
» Best Buy reports a $10 million third-quarter loss, compared with $154 million in net income during the previous-year period.
» DVD, Blu-ray movies, video games, books and music CDs accounted for 39.8% of purchases during the Black Friday weekend, with consumer electronics (including Blu-ray players) accounting for 37.7% of purchases, according to the National Retail Federation. Those figures were comparable to 2011’s Black Friday weekend.
» Cyber Monday tallies $1.46 billion in online spending, up 17% from $1.25 billion in 2011, representing the heaviest online spending day in history and the second day this season (in addition to Black Friday) to surpass $1 billion in sales.
» Blockbuster begins offering merchandise and an exclusive sweepstakes related to the 3D theatrical release Rise of the Guardians the same day as the DreamWorks Animation film’s debut.
» In a first, Trans World Entertainment says it will issue a special $15 million cash dividend.
» Best Buy offers exclusive online access to the documentary The Dark Knight Reborn with the $29.99 preorder of The Dark Knight Rises Blu-ray combo steelbook.
» Sony Electronics unveils a Blu-ray Disc video player pre-loaded with movies, enabling consumers to watch 4K resolution content on compatible televisions in the home.
» Warner Bros. International Television Distribution ups licensing of previous seasons of select TV shows and movies to Netflix Canada.
» Netflix and Disney announce a significant multiyear licensing agreement that will make Netflix the exclusive domestic pay-TV service (following the retail window) for the studio’s first-run, live-action and animated feature films, beginning in 2016.
» Veteran home entertainment executive Nickerson is named president of independent distributor Millennium Entertainment.
» Best Buy begins offering early digital access to Universal Studios Home Entertainment’s The Bourne Legacy with the online or in-store preorder of the Blu-ray combo pack, which includes an exclusive bonus disc featuring 30 minutes of additional material. The title includes UltraViolet access.
» Tom Adams, senior principal analyst of U.S. media for IHS Screen Digest, says the industry is at a “critical juncture, and we’re going to have to do some hard thinking” and “get behind UltraViolet and treat it like it is: a critical part of the packaged-media business.”
» Redbox Instant by Verizon likely won’t launch until spring 2013, marking another delay for the anticipated SVOD and kiosk rental service joint venture between the two companies.
» Loss-leader pricing and discounts contribute to a 20% increase in sales of Blu-ray Disc players during the Black Friday retail week ended Nov. 24, compared with the previous-year period, according to NPD.
» Wireless operator América Móvil launches an SVOD service in Mexico, offering unlimited streaming content to subscribers for about a third less monthly cost than Netflix.
» Saying the distribution world has “changed drastically” in the past few years, CBS CEO Les Moonves expects the company to expand content license distribution deals with Netflix and other SVOD services.
» Coinstar and Verizon Communications announce Redbox Instant by Verizon will launch a beta test to consumers, including 30 days of free service, this month.
» Sony Pictures Home Entertainment launches an online shopping website whereby consumers through the holidays can purchase, wrap and send digital movies with UltraViolet functionality.
» Blockbuster begins selling smartphones and service plans on its website — a move some observers believe means parent Dish Network is serious about entering the wireless business.
» Physical disc movie server company Kaleidescape launches an online e-commerce platform enabling users to purchase digital titles with UltraViolet functionality.
» Barnes & Noble subsidiary Nook Media LLC is offering an expanded selection of movies and TV shows in the United Kingdom for the Nook HD and Nook HD+ through new licensing partnerships with BBC Worldwide, HBO, NBC Universal, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Starz and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
» 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment says it is making action sequel Taken 2 available for download or streaming on Digital HD — 28 days before its retail release Jan. 15, 2013.
» Digital media services company Avail-TVN launches an SVOD service with Verizon FiOS becoming the first pay-TV operator to host the offering.
» Hulu says its SVOD service, Hulu Plus, will end 2012 with more than 3 million subscribers — more than double the sub count at the end of 2011.
» Amazon’s SVOD service signs license agreements with Turner Broadcasting System and Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, enabling subs to stream all episodes from drama series “Falling Skies” and “The Closer.”
» Starz Entertainment signs a TV Everywhere agreement with AT&T U-verse, which includes the launch of Movieplex Play, an SVOD service featuring about 200 movie selections per month.