Showbiz Sandbox 215: How Many Music Streaming Services Does It Take To Make A Profit?

December 2, 2013

Just when you thought the online music streaming space couldn’t get any more crowded or competitive, along comes Deezer. The French company already boasts 5 million paying subscribers in 80 countries and now plans to launch in the United States, where Spotify and Pandora are the market leaders. However, none of these companies are actually profitable, which may be why services like Rdio went through a round of layoffs in November and Turtable.fm is shuttering.

Profitability seems to be an issue for Sony Pictures too. The movie studio lost $181 million last quarter leading to the announcement of significant cost cutting measures in the wake of some summer box office duds.

Disappointing earnings and a declining subscriber base are also a problem at Time Warner Cable. As telcos and satellite providers continue to erode their market share, rumors have begun swirling that the second largest cable operator in North America might be acquired by one or more of its competitors, including Comcast.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the Thanksgiving weekend’s record breaking box office, “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark” lowers the curtains on its Broadway run and the mediocre sales figures of Lady Gaga’s latest album.

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Showbiz Sandbox 175: Fixing Electronic Oscar Voting In One Easy Step

December 31, 2012

When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced it would allow electronic voting for this year’s Oscar nominations many industry insiders felt it was long overdue.  However with a median age of 62, the Academy’s membership may not be ready to cast ballots online.  Heck, some members don’t even have computers.

Now reports have emerged that the Academy’s electronic voting procedure has hit a few speed bumps.  Members have had password problems and those that were able to log into the voting system found it difficult and complicated.  Some fear that voting for the Oscars will reach an all-time low.  Yet there may be a very simple way to overcome some of the security concerns the Academy and its members have in casting online ballots.

The National Film Registry cast a vote of their own last week, adding 25 films to its archives in the Library of Congress, declaring them culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.  Unfortunately this doesn’t necessarily mean these films will actually be preserved.

Of course, we cover the week’s top entertainment headlines, including a lucrative holiday box office, big changes for “The Walking Dead” and a historical court ruling for screenwriters.

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Showbiz Sandbox 158: A Rundown of The Year’s Top-Earning Authors

August 13, 2012

James Patterson tops the list of this year’s highest-paid authors according to Forbes. Working with a team of writers Patterson published an astounding 14 best-selling novels in 2011 to earn an estimated $94 million. Joining Patterson were regulars such as Stephen King and John Grisham among others, as well as newcomer George R.R. Martin whose “Game Of Thrones” series has become a best seller.

The Summer Olympics came to a close over the weekend. This must be disappointing to NBC which was just getting used to actually having an audience for a change. In fact, ratings for coverage of this year’s games set viewership records in both North America and Europe.

On previous episodes we’ve mentioned Hollywood’s new-found appreciation of China and it seems to only be growing. Last week filmmaker James Cameron announced the expansion of his 3D production company through a joint venture in China and DreamWorks Animation said they had agreed to work with a group of Chinese investors to develop a $3.1 billion culture and entertainment district in Shanghai.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including how Google plans to punish copyright thieves, a rumor that dead pop stars will perform on this season’s “X-Factor” and plans to adapt a cult 80’s television show featuring an alien puppet into a hit movie.

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Showbiz Sandbox 89: The Rising Fortunes Of Lady Gaga

January 24, 2011

Lady GaGa may be well on her way to earning more than $100 million dollars this year. With a new album and a world tour, Zack O’Malley Greenburg, a staff writer at Forbes, believes the pop star has the potential to become one of 2011’s highest paid musical performers. Greenburg stops by to help us do the math on Gaga’s ever increasing fortunes.

One event which won’t be contributing to Lady Gaga’s income is the Coachella Music Festival. Coachella, which is held in Southern California every April, anounced its lineup for this year’s event and Gaga isn’t on the bill. Even so, this year’s fest is overstuffed with acts you don’t want to miss and Los Angeles Times pop critic Ann Powers fills us in on all of them.

Meanwhile, MTV has a new hit on its hands with “Skins”, but advertisers and parents groups are protesting the show over its portrayal of teenage sex and drug use. At least three big advertisers have already pulled their support of the show. Over on Fox, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez have joined a revamped “American Idol”, which despite dropping 13% in the ratings still managed to beat out all its competitors.

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Showbiz Sandbox 85: How To Save The Movie Business

December 27, 2010

In an age of video on demand and mobile computing, the traditional method for releasing films doesn’t seem to be working. As ticket prices rise, moviegoing and ticket sales are declining. Even worse, the fastest declining segment of moviegoers is young adults who can’t find movies that speak to their generation. Independent producer Cotty Chubb has proposed a potential solution to the problem, but it requires the participation of reluctant theater operators.

In a open letter to Relativity Media topper Ryan Kavanaugh published on IndieWire, Chubb suggests that riskier movies be released “day-and-date” at lower prices not only in theaters but on multiple platforms such as DVD and iTunes. He joins us for an in-depth discussion about his plan and how to bring audiences back to the movies.

As 2010 comes to a close we take a look at some of the year’s highest grossing and most pirated films. We also say goodbye to our co-host Karen Woodward whose career as a social media consultant has truly taken off.

Of course, we cover the week’s top entertainment headlines during Big Deal or Big Whoop, including the latest news from the Broadway version of “Spider-Man”, a delay in the next “DaVinci Code” movie and Steven Soderbergh’s rumored retirement. Our Inside Baseball topic focuses on SoundExchange and the music industry’s rising digital fortunes.

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Showbiz Sandbox 61: Andrew Garfield Fills Spider-Man’s Reboots

July 5, 2010

That “Twilight Saga: Eclipse: wound up at the top of the box office over the Fourth of July holiday weekend with $280 million worldwide was not a big shock, however the casting of Andrew Garfield to play Spider-Man in the next installment of the franchise came as a surprise. Entertainment journalist Michael Giltz has been following the 26-year-old actor for several years, but the selection of the unknown had most industry insiders searching for his resume.

In all likelihood the next “Spider-Man” film will be shot in 3D though the format is not a guarantee of box office gold. Just ask M. Night Shyamalan whose “Last Airbender” had a disappointing opening despite being converted to 3D in post-production. Film critic Roger Ebert was not alone in trashing the film.

This week also saw Larry King announce his retirement from the nightly talk show he’s hosted on CNN for 25 years. King’s program has been slipping in ratings recently, as have late night talkers hosted by Jay Leno and David Letterman. But viewership continues to grow on cable television, not to mention on Hulu which will begin offering monthly subscriptions for expanded content offerings.

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