Hello and welcome to Protocol Entertainment, your business guide to the gaming and media industries. This Friday, we take a closer look at Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment’s recently-closed acquisition of Redbox, and share some recommendations for what to read, watch, and play this weekend.
Chicken soup for streaming
If you’re not following the minutiae of the streaming wars, you may have missed this nugget: Last week, Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment closed the acquisition of Redbox. That’s right, a subsidiary of the company that’s best known for its inspirational books but for some inexplicable reason also sells dog food is the new owner of those iconic red DVD kiosks.
Your head is still spinning? That’s how Bill Rouhana, CEO of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, likes it. “I love chaos,” Rouhana said when I chatted with him earlier this week.
“The industry is completely chaotic right now,” Rouhana told me. “It’s a total nightmare. It’s completely in a state of flux. I’m pretty comfortable with that.
Rouhana’s company went on a shopping spree for a few years now, strategically acquiring video assets that were unable to fully flourish under their previous owners.
- That includes ad-supported video pioneer Crackle, which Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment acquired from Sony in 2019.
- Other CSSE brands include Popcornflix, Frightpix and Truli. “Each of them has their own voice,” Rouhana said.
- By adding Redbox to the fold, Rouhana not only gains access to 36,000 DVD kiosks, but also a major digital rental business, a FAST service with 145 streaming channels and a customer loyalty program with 40 million members. – something he wants to use as a marketing vehicle for the company’s other departments, as well as a source of information.
- “People have a life outside of Netflix,” Rouhana told me. By learning what people are looking for in DVD kiosks, he hopes to gain better insights to refine personalized recommendations. “We are very interested in data,” he said.
And then there’s the real business of DVD rentals, which is still something people do, even today. If there is something to rent for them, of course.
- Not only has the pandemic disrupted film shoots and releases, it has also led major media companies to move their finished films directly to streaming, further cutting off Redbox and the rest of the home video market.
- “The newsstands themselves are pretty much at the low point where they’ll never be, because it’s been two years since there have been any theatrical releases,” Rouhana said.
- But it’s not like people aren’t interested in those cheap rentals anymore. Even during the pandemic, Redbox kiosks saw the same number of sessions as before, Rouhana said. “People kept coming and looking. They just had nothing to [rent].”
- That’s changing now, and not just because of an industry-wide recovery. A recent strategic shift at Warner Bros. Discovery also gives Rouhana hope that there will be plenty more movies to rent in the near future.
- The days of expensive streaming exclusives are over, he argued. “Everyone is going to end up in a window strategy.”
- Of course, eventually people will stop buying or renting DVDs, and Rouhana is willing to slowly wind down Redbox booth activity, starting with the locations that aren’t performing well. “But [that’s] a time horizon of 10 or 20 years,” he said. “It’s just not tomorrow.”
- In the meantime, Redbox also benefits from its corporate heritage: as a descendant of the Coinstar kiosk empire, the company has maintained kiosks for Coinstar and ecoATM as well as in-store lockers for Amazon, among others. “This [part of the business] grows like crazy, earns money,” Rouhana said.
Redbox kiosks are also a good insurance policy against inflation and a possible recession. Rouhana told me he doesn’t waste too much time on advertisers pulling out of streaming. But if things get really bad, Redbox might actually see a lot more business.
- After all, borrowing a record is still much cheaper than renting it online.
- “If there’s ever been a place that benefits from an inflationary environment or a recession, this is the place where you can get the same thing at the same time, for a third of [the] price,” Rouhana said.
- Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment can also use any possible slowdown to acquire a few more assets for its portfolio. “When there’s massive disruption, you have people who get hurt,” he said.
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#TGIF: How to spend your weekend
How the Three Arrows Capital Co-Founders Burned Down the Crypto Market — New York Magazine: The story of so-called crypto geniuses Kyle Davies and Su Zhu behind crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital is almost too unbelievable, and you can already sense that the limited-time HBO series or Hollywood feature film producers might try. to cook from these details. . By far, the best account of exactly what happened with TAC comes from New York Magazine’s Jen Wieczner, who chronicled the fund’s rise and fall in a new feature this week, uncovering some hilarious new details, including understood the name of the duo. A $50 million super yacht that now sits vacant in Italy while Davies and Zhu remain in hiding.
“Prey” – Hulu: The Predator franchise isn’t exactly known for its sensitive portrayal of indigenous cultures. Yet, inexplicably, the newest entry in the series about headhunting alien assassins manages to accomplish many different things at once – including an award-winning performance of a Comanche warrior from Sioux actress Amber Midthunder. The film features stellar action sequences and a deep, refreshing exploration of indigenous gender roles as Midthunder’s Naru is pitted against a technologically advanced adversary.
Cult of the Lamb—Switch, PlayStation, Xbox, and PC: Devolver Digital’s latest indie hit is Massive Monster’s Cult of the Lamb, an action-sim hybrid that blends Animal Crossing elements with roguelike dungeon crawling. Part of the game is growing a religious cult of followers through often vicious and manipulative means, as part of a vengeful plot to retaliate against the gods of old who sent you to be sacrificed. The other is to venture into randomized dungeons to grow your following and take down your enemies, while ensuring the growth of your religious order. The game’s sinister and comedic overtones mixed with its cartoonish art style keep the overall tone light, but with enough depth to say something meaningful about the perils of organized religion.
Fortnite Dragon Ball Z Event — Android, Switch, PlayStation, Xbox and PC: Fortnite’s latest animated collab is truly too good to miss. After a successful crossover with the Naruto universe at the start of the summer, Akira Toriyama’s “Dragon Ball Z” has finally landed in Epic’s battle royale, and it’s even better than we could have. to imagine. There are of course skins to buy with the protagonists Goku and Vegeta and a quest tracker to unlock other beautiful cosmetics for free. But it’s all the little touches – the in-game Kamehameha energy blast element and the ability to “light up” and transform your hair color, to name a few – that really push it to the limit and prove why Fortnite is truly at the forefront of the metaverse.
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