In its first quarter financials, Franklin Covey Co. (NYSE: FC) reports a strong start to its fiscal year 2019 for the period ended November 30, 2018. Highlights include net sales of $53.8 million, an increase of $5.9 million or 12 percent; gross profit of $36.8 million, an increase of $3.9 million or 12 percent; and cash flows from operations of $8.1 million, a $5.8 million or 248 percent increase year-over-year. The organizational improvement firm attributes its successful quarter to its transition to a subscription-based model in its Enterprise Division.
Last week, Piano Software, Inc., a content monetization platform for digital media companies, announced it has raised $22 million in Series B funding. The funding round was led by Updata Partners, an investment firm that provides growth capital to software and software-enabled companies. The infusion of capital will be used to support Piano’s growth, specifically in research and development and client services and to expand into new markets. It may also be used for acquisitions, said Piano in a January 10 blog post.
IMDb is the latest entertainment company to offer free streaming video. Last week, the Amazon-owned IMDb announced the launch of Freedive, its free, ad-supported streaming video on demand channel, available to viewers in the U.S. Freedive takes IMDB beyond its existing content of short-form video, movie trailers and celebrity interviews to include top-rated movies like Awakenings, Donnie Brasco, Single White Female and The Illusionist; TV series including Fringe, The Bachelor, Heroes and Dallas; and IMDb originals including Casting Calls, IMDB at the Emmys and IMDb at San Diego Comic-Con. Though IMDb is owned by Amazon, a Prime membership is not required to watch Freedive.
In this week’s subscription headlines, we’ve got everything from A to Z, including Amazon, Apple, Susan Zirinsky and Mark Zuckerberg. CBS has named Susan Zirinsky as its next president, the first woman to lead the division. Also, Samsung signs a deal with Apple to bring iTunes-purchased content to its Smart TVs; Kroger and Microsoft partner on retail-as-a-service platform; and media experts are calling for Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to resign amid controversy.
At this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, HTC Vive announced a big upgrade to its Viveport VR subscription service. Starting April 5, which is Vive Day, Viveport will offer Viveport Infinity which will give subscribers unlimited access to its catalog of more than 500 virtual reality titles. With the existing subscription service, subscribers can only access five apps and games per month, including titles like Vestige, Time Carnage, AnimVR, Slightly Heroes and The Wizards from a variety of genres, including 360° video, action, adventure, business, comedy, creativity, health care, sports, music and education.
SiriusXM (NASDAQ: SIRI) is starting out 2019 on a positive note. On Tuesday, the company reported that its total paid subscriber base has hit a record high of 34 million. By the end of 2018, SiriusXM had added 1.4 million self-pay subscribers bringing the total self-pay subscribers to 28.9 million, exceeding the company’s 2018 guidance by about 40 percent. At year end, total net subscriber additions were 1.3 million, helping the company hit its record high.
The Dallas Morning News is attempting to position itself for financial success in the new year, by laying off 43 employees from its newsroom and other sections of the company, reports Maria Halkias for the newspaper. The cuts represent about 4.0 percent of total staff and include about 20 writers, editors, photographers and newsroom support staff. Among the cuts are beat reporters and administrative staff who were surprised by the layoffs, says WFAA, Channel 8 for ABC, who talked with several of the laid off workers in this interview.
National Geographic Learning, a division of Cengage, announced yesterday that it was launching a first-of-its-kind subscription service for high schools course materials. The new service is called Pathways, and it offers a curated collection of online educational programs for more than 200 career and technical education (CTE) and advanced placement (AP), honors and elective courses and nearly 70 programs to prepare students for college, said the company in a news release.
In a letter that accompanied its January issue, the publisher of Arkansas Life, a monthly lifestyle magazine, said the publication will cease if a “substantial number of paid subscribers aren’t found in the next two weeks.” The magazine’s subscription rate is $20 per year, and new subscribers have until January 15 to pay by credit card. Arkansas Life, which has been published since 2008, employs four who can apply for openings at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette if the magazine folds.
We may be just days into the new year, but the subscription economy is going strong with headlines around the globe. Here are a few we thought were interesting: Instagram releases a test update en masse, causing serious frustration among users, and Chargify acquires revenue recognition software ProRata. Also this week, Pearl Jam is canceling its subscription service, Facebook may be developing cryptocurrency for WhatsApp transfers, and Google and Facebook settle complaints over its political ads.
Happy New Year from Roku! On Wednesday, the streaming TV interface announced it would soon be expanding content on The Roku Channel to include more than 25 premium subscriptions such as SHOWTIME, Starz, College Humor’s DROPOUT, CuriosityStream and EPIX. In addition to more than 10,000 free ad-supported movies and TV shows, Roku (NASDAQ: ROKU) users will be able to find all their favorite programs in one spot, complete with personalized recommendations.
If you’re an iOS user and are considering a Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) subscription in the new year, or a canceled subscriber who wants to re-up, you won’t be able to make your monthly subscription payments via iTunes. According to TechCrunch, in 2018, Netflix conducted a two-month test in 33 countries across Europe, Latin America and Asia to see if omitting the payment option would be a deal breaker for new customers. Apparently not. Netflix told Venture Beat the change will be permanent and global. Netflix’s FAQ page has been updated to reflect this change.
Meredith Corporation (NYSE: MDP) is starting the new year with $150 million of new cash in its pocket, after closing the sale of FORTUNE magazine and the FORTUNE brand. FORTUNE was purchased by Fortune Media Group Holdings Limited, owned by investor Chatchaval Jiaravanon. Meredith first announced the sale on November 9. When the initial announcement was made, Jiaravanon said he would invest in FORTUNE’s digital capabilities, expand geographically and invest in editorial talent.
AMC Theatres is ending the year on a high note, boasting more than 600,000 members in its AMC Stubs A-List movie membership program. The program officially launched on June 26, 2018 and, at that time, AMC Theatres estimated it would hit 500,000 subscribers by the end of its first full year. The membership program has exceeded the company’s expectations, however, hitting its first-year goal in less than five months and adding another 100,000 members in the final six weeks of the year.
In this week’s subscription round-up, Netflix will overtake Sky’s satellite TV subscriptions by the end of this year, Apple is in trouble for sending unwanted, promotional push notifications, and CNN warns FedEx and UPS to watch out because Amazon is growing its air fleet again. Also this week, Elton John and Quincy Jones are working on a vinyl subscription service, and Avanan raises $25 million in funding.