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Netflix Passes Disney in the Stock Market, Here’s What This Could Mean for the Entertainment Industry

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  • Netflix passed the Walt Disney Company in the stock market, signaling what could be a potential shift in the entertainment industry as lockdowns continue. 
  • As streaming becomes a go-to form of media consumption, Netflix has already seen massive success with projects like Tiger King.
  • In the next few months, other major new shows and movies are slated for release, making it one of the few platforms regularly releasing new, original content right now.
  • Meanwhile, traditional studios and movie theaters have been put on hold and are looking at the future. Right now, plans for reopening theaters could include half capacity seating and playing old classics if new releases continue to be delayed.

Netflix Passes Disney

Netflix passed the Walt Disney Company in the stock market in a move that could be very telling about what is to come for the entertainment industry as the country, and much of the world, stays at home.

On Tuesday night, Netflix closed up 3.2% with a market capitalization of $187.3 billion. Disney’s market cap sat just under at $186.6 billion, and closed by going up 2.5%. This could be a significant step up for Netflix as investors see potential for streaming to shine and traditional studios to fall behind as people are stuck at home. 

According to Forbes’ Tom Nunan, this is something that could have long-term impacts on Netflix.

“For Netflix itself, a high market cap not only means it’s worth more and will therefore have greater resources at its disposal to invest in programming and distribution,” Nunan wrote, “but the company’s leadership – – Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos – – can rightly congratulate themselves for creating a streaming service that the world loves and uses so much…it’s now worth more than the Magic Kingdom.”

As streaming becomes the thing to do in lockdown, Disney does have a horse in the race. Its service Disney+ has seen boosts since stay at home measures began, but for the media giant, Disney+ is just a small piece of its puzzle. The company is also home to huge blockbusters, theme parks, hotels, cruises, retail, and other branches that usually rake in money, but are relatively dormant right now. As a result, the company has furloughed employees in multiple departments. 

For Netflix, however, streaming is its meat and potatoes, and its appetizer and dessert, too. Meaning that while other studios lie in wait, it has the chance to take the spotlight. 

What Lies Ahead for Netflix

In many ways, it already has. According to data shared with Business Insider, visits to its sign up page have seen quite the surge. Throughout the whole month of March, “visits to Netflix’s US sign-up page rose year over year” by significant amounts. In the second week of of the month, when social isolation started to become the new normal, visits to the page rose by almost 40%.

In the third week, when stay-at-home measures became widespread, it was up 123%. Traffic on the sign-up page has remained at an increase of over 100% since then. 

While not everyone visiting the sign-up page may actually sign up, it’s safe to assume that a good chunk do, and the increases at least signify an elevated interest in the platform. And as subscribers go up, Netflix is also faced with the challenge of putting up new content. 

For the most part, Netflix is in the same boat as most major studios when it comes to current productions being put on pause. But, it still has an advantage, because its strategy ensures that there are almost always a plethora of new projects coming down the pipeline, making it one of the few places audiences can regularly stream new content right now. 

Between now and the end of April, there are several new releases for Netflix originals, including a new show from Mindy Kaling titled Never Have I Ever, a Ryan Murphy documentary called Circus of Books, a Chris Hemsworth-led action film called Extraction, and The Willoughbys, which is an animated feature with a star-studded voiceover cast. 

The month of May will bring more new content, including another Ryan Murphy project starring Darren Criss called Hollywood; and a limited series titled The Eddy, which comes from Oscar-winning La La Land director Damien Chazelle. 

So far, new content has served Netflix well during lockdown measures. It’s jaw-dropping docuseries Tiger King saw 34 million views in its first ten days and was the most-streamed title on the platform for two weeks. Buzz on social media generated a lot of interest for the series, which ended up getting a bonus episode shot in isolation. Comedian Joel McHale hosted a reunion among many of the documentary’s participants via web chatting, showing that the streaming giant knows how to capitalize on its quarantine popularity right now.

Movies Plan for the Future

While Netflix is seizing the day, pretty much the rest of the film industry is spending their time planning for the future. Movie theaters and studios are deciding what the plan should be when they return back to normal. But it’s still unclear what that “normal” might actually look like. 

As things currently stand, no big pictures are set to hit theaters until mid-July when Mulan and Tenet hit screens, assuming they do not get further delayed. With these dates in mind, Cinemark, one of the largest theater chains in the country, is developing a game plan to open its doors. 

According to CNBC Cinemark is looking to let people back in, but only filling theaters up to 50% of their capacity. They are also considering implementing staggered seating arrangements to allow for social distancing. If movies keep getting pushed back and a lack of new films end up being an issue, they could also dive back into their library and get audiences by playing some of the classics.

While opening up theaters to only partially filled crowds sounds like a financial risk, Cinemark maintains that this will be profitable. They claim they can easily profit if only under a third of the available seating is full, and have even turned profits when turnouts are as low as 10%. 

See what others are saying: (Variety) (Vanity Fair) (The Verge)

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Joe Rogan Says Grimes Did Not Give Dave Chappelle COVID-19

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  • Comedian Dave Chappelle is under quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. He is asymptomatic and his remaining shows in Austin, Texas have been canceled.
  • The news comes just days after Chappelle was photographed with Joe Rogan, Elon Musk, Grimes, and several others backstage at one of his Austin performances.
  • “Because people are asking, I was not exposed to the person who had covid and I have tested negative every day this week,” Rogan wrote on Instagram Friday. “Also, the person that gave covid to Dave was NOT Elon’s partner @grimes.”

Chappelle Tests Positive

Comedian Dave Chappelle has tested positive for coronavirus and is currently under quarantine, according to one of his representatives.

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, that rep also confirmed that he is currently asymptomatic and has canceled all of his remaining shows at Stubbs Waller Creek Amphitheater in Austin, Texas.

“Chappelle has safely conducted socially-distanced shows in Ohio since June 2020 and he moved those shows to Austin during the winter,” the statement read.

“Chappelle implemented COVID-19 protocols which included rapid testing for the audience and daily testing for himself and his team. His diligent testing enabled him to immediately respond by quarantining, thus mitigating the spread of the virus,” it continued.

Joe Rogan Speaks Out After He Was Photographed With Chappelle

Two of the remaining Austin shows were supposed to include fellow comedian Joe Rogan. Rogan took to Instagram Friday morning to announce that they will be rescheduled as soon as possible.

Still, many fans had questions about Rogan’s current state of health. The news of Chappelle’s positive test comes just days after he was photographed maskless with Rogan, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, musician Grimes, and several others backstage at one of his Austin performances.

Since Grimes, who is also in a relationship with Musk, recently had COVID, many were concerned that she may have exposed the group. Others wondered if Chappelle may have spread it.

Rogan eventually updates his Instagram caption to dismiss the ideas.

“Because people are asking, I was not exposed to the person who had covid and I have tested negative every day this week,” he wrote.“Also, the person that gave covid to Dave was NOT Elon’s partner @grimes.”

See what others are saying: (The Hollywood Reporter) (CNN) (AP News)

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Netflix Passes 200M Subscribers as Other Streamers Struggle With Retention

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  • In a letter to shareholders, Netflix said it has hit over 200 million subscribers following a successful year of growth.
  • The pandemic gave Netflix a significant subscriber boost in March and April. The company continued to perform well even in its final quarter, gaining 8.5 million subscribers when it was only projected to add 6 million.
  • The data also highlights how relatively unaffected Netflix has been by new streaming services entering the market. While companies like Disney+, HBO Max, and Peacock continue to grow, they also struggle to retain the subscribers that sign up.

Netflix Passes 200 Million Subscribers

Netflix has topped 200 million subscribers following a year of strong growth in 2020.

In its Tuesday letter to shareholders, Netflix announced that it added 8.5 million subscribers in its fourth quarter. This exceeds projections, which estimated the streaming giant would only add around 6 million. In total, Netflix gained 37 million new memberships throughout 2020, bringing the company to 203.6 million subscribers.

Pandemic lockdowns gave Netflix a substantial boost in March in April. In the company’s first two quarters, it added a combined 25.7 million subscribers. According to data from the letter, Netflix had added over 10 million more subscribers by May of 2020 than it had by May of 2019.

When it comes to the success of their fourth quarter, Netflix pointed to shows like “Bridgerton” and “The Crown.” The fourth season of “The Crown” hit the platform in November, prompting many to return to older seasons of the show. Netflix claims the series has been viewed by 100 million households since it first aired in 2016.

Success Amid Growth of Competition

The year 2020 could have been a difficult one for Netflix as new streaming services entered the market. Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Peacock and more have all made waves with their original programming or by taking some of their brand’s content from Netflix to host on their own site. User-based content on YouTube and TikTok also became increasingly popular throughout the pandemic, further posing as a threat to Netflix. 

Still, it reached a massive milestone. 

“Our strategy is simple: if we can continue to improve Netflix every day to better delight our members, we can be their first choice for streaming entertainment,” Netflix said in the letter. “This past year is a testament to this approach.”

Netflix potentially sees Disney+ as the biggest competitor among new platforms. In its letter, the company noted that the streamer added 87 million subscribers in its first year. In a Q&A, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings seemed enthusiastic about this competition.

“It’s super impressive what Disney’s done,” he said. “It’s going to be great for the world that Disney and Netflix are competing show-by-show, movie-by-movie. We’re very fired up about catching them in family animation, maybe eventually passing them, we’ll see. It’s a long way to go just to catch them, and maintaining our lead in general entertainment that’s so stimulating like ‘Bridgerton,’ which I don’t think you’re going to see on Disney anytime soon.”

Streamers Struggle with Retaining Subscribers

Even as new streamers have had impressive years, there is one hurdle that many are still struggling to jump over: retaining the subscribers who sign up. The Los Angeles Times named Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock, and Apple TV+ in particular, writing that people create accounts with these services, watch the TV shows or movies they are interested in, and cancel once they are done.

An October survey from Deloitte said that 46% of respondents canceled at least one streaming service in the last 6 months, which is up 20% from January of last year. Most who had canceled said they did so because they had finished watching whatever programming it was that brought them to that service. 

Places like Disney+ and HBO Max are really vulnerable to this because they have banked on drawing people in with exclusive marquis titles like “Hamilton” or “Wonder Woman 1984.” However, since they are newer, they are still building their original programming catalog, meaning that people can quickly burn through highlight titles. 

See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (Wall Street Journal) (The Hollywood Reporter)

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Paramount+ To Launch March 4

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  • ViacomCBS is launching Paramount+ in the United States and Latin America on March 4 before rolling out to other markets internationally later this year. 
  • The streaming service will be a relaunch and expansion of CBS All Access. It will include content from Nickelodeon, MTV, and more on top of the CBS-focused selection. 

Paramount+ Gets Launch Date

ViacomCBS will be launching its streaming service Paramount+ in the U.S. and Latin America on March 4 before rolling out in more countries throughout the year. 

It will be an expansion and rebrand of CBS All Access, the service the company currently offers that is used by nearly 8 million subscribers. Paramount+ will go beyond the CBS-centric content promoted there, including works from brands like Nickelodeon, MTV, BET, Comedy Central, and the Smithsonian Channel.

More details about their streaming strategy will be released during an investor event on February 24. Right now, ViacomCBS is boasting that the service will have over 30,000 episodes and movies in their catalog, which will also include live sports and breaking news. 

“The Paramount brand is known and loved all around the world, and is synonymous with great entertainment. It’s always brought people together, which makes it a perfect fit for a streaming service that’s uniquely positioned to do the same,” Josh Line the chief brand officer of ViacomCBS said during a brand announcement in September. “The Paramount+ streaming service will elevate ViacomCBS’ iconic family of brands.”

State of the Streaming Wars

Paramount+ has already announced a slew of original projects including a revival of “iCarly” and a series about the making of “The Godfather” titled “The Offer.”

The service is entering an already crowded battlefield as the streaming wars wages on. It will have plenty of uphill battles to fight since brand recognition for Paramount is not nearly as strong as it is for studios like Disney or NBCUniversal. It will also have to compete with Netflix, which leads the pack in subscribers and unveils new content regularly; HBO Max, which will be home to Warner Media’s new theatrical releases; and Hulu, which hosts original content as well as shows currently airing on cable and network television. 

ViacomCBS has not released information on pricing, but that will likely come during or before the February investor event.

See what others are saying: (Variety) (Deadline) (CNBC)

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