Amazon, Roku and Tubi make big original content moves at NewFronts

IMDb TV is ramping up its original content slate in 2021. (IMDb TV)

Amazon’s IMDb TV, The Roku Channel and Tubi – three of the biggest ad-supported streaming platforms in the U.S. – all made big original content splashes at NewFronts on Monday.

Amazon said that it now reaches more than 120 million monthly viewers of ad-supported OTT content across IMDb TV, Twitch, TV network and broadcast apps on Fire TV, and live sports on Prime Video. The company said its total reach is up from 20 million viewers in January 2020. IMDb TV has seen a 138% increase in viewership year over year, which could expand more after the service gets a standalone mobile app on both Android and iOS devices this summer.

IMDb TV is getting a handful of new original series – including a new drama from producer Dick Wolf and a new court program featuring Judge Judy Sheindlin. The service is also developing series with Norman Lear, Michael Schur, Sean Ryan and Michael Showalter.

Amazon on Monday also revealed that its exclusive deal for NFL Thursday Night Football is kicking off a year ahead of schedule in 2022. Marie Donoghue, VP of global sports video at Amazon, said the games will feature new pre-game, half-time and post-game shows along with interactive features like X-ray. As part of the deal, Amazon is also getting a weekly slate of original NFL programming and expanded rights for in-game highlights across all NFL games

Before Amazon closed out the first day of NewFronts presentations, Roku kicked things off to highlight OneView and its new branded content studio along with Roku Originals, which includes the slate of series and documentaries acquired from Quibi. The company still doesn’t have a specific launch date for Roku Originals but promised more information in May.

Roku, which now reaches U.S. households with an estimated 148 million streamers, said that OneView will be one of the only buying platforms to provide Nielsen reach and frequency reporting by age and gender across linear TV, TV streaming, desktop and mobile. The company also said that the Roku Channel ad inventory will be exclusive to OneView.

During the Upfront, Roku is expanding equivalized pricing beyond The Roku Channel to an entire media buys on its platform, meaning that select 15 second spots will be half the cost of a 30 second spot. The company also introduced its first-ever two-day options – down from 14 days previously – meaning marketers can adjust 100% of their campaigns within 2 days and move their entire buy across lines of business as needed.

Roku also touted its new branded content studio, which has brought in Maker’s Mark as its first partner to work together on a celeb-hosted talk show. The company also said it is developing a series of funny scripted vignettes for a potato chip brand while pitching other possibilities including a feature-length documentary sponsored or inspired by a brand.

Tubi, an ad-supported streaming service acquired by Fox about one year ago, also jumped in on the first day of NewFronts to show off its upcoming original content plans. The service, which recorded 798 million hours of total view time during the first quarter this year, said later this year it will debut more than 140 hours of Tubi original documentaries from Fox Alternative Entertainment; animated titles from Fox Entertainment’s animation studio, Bento Box Entertainment; and more titles across thriller, horror, sci-fi, romance and western genres.

Tubi also pushed its Advanced Frequency Management tool for help with cutting down on ad repetition and said it’s introducing on-device-sponsored integrations. The service is also providing access to its Content Intelligence insights for targeting and a Certified Measurement Partner Program with select vendors.

Crackle Plus also made multiple announcements during the first day of NewFronts including a new slate of original programming and the launch of a new Chicken Soup for the Soul AVOD network. The service said it recently acquire the assets of Sonar Entertainment, including a library with 700 movies and 1,800 TV episodes, which will support the launch of the Chicken Soup For The Soul service.

In the third quarter, Crackle will relaunch with new experiences for both smartphones and TVs. The redesigned Crackle connected TV applications will include improved content displays, better search recommendations, a content calendar and a new user experience.

The Crackle smartphone app will feature a new feed on the home page for upcoming content and provide new recommendation mechanics. The super casting feature will also allow users to browse for content on smartphones and automatically play back on any device.