illustration of the number five, representing the five subscription business topics for this column, Five-on-Friday

Five on Friday: Acquisition News, Pizza and Procter & Gamble

Featuring Norton Lifelock, Funimation, Crunchyroll and Domino’s

We love covering subscriptions because no week is ever the same. In this week’s edition of Five on Friday, License Global magazine shares its fourth annual “The Influentials” report, featuring the top licensed brands of the 2010s and 2020s, including several popular subscription services. Acquisition news was also big this week with the announcement that Norton LifeLock will buy Avira, Funimation will acquire Crunchyroll, and the Federal Trade Commission will sue to block Procter & Gamble’s acquisition of direct-to-consumer brand Billie, Inc. Last but not least, Domino’s is doing a special promotion where they are offering a free 30-day subscription to streaming service EPIX NOW when customers buy a pizza online. Who’s up for pizza and a movie?

Top Entertainment and Streaming Brands of the 2020s and 2010s

In their fourth annual report, License Global magazine reveals the most influential brands of the 2010s and 2020s, including some popular subscription companies. The report highlights brands that capture the pop culture spotlight over the past 10 years and look to the next 10 years to predict who will be “hot” next. Each brand named in the 2020 Influentials report contributes to $292.8 billion in global sales revenue generated by licensed merch and services.

“This year we chose to chronicle the past 10 years of the brand licensing industry and shine a light on who to watch in the upcoming decade. The Influentials report honors brands that impacted people across the globe by extending more deeply into consumers’ lives and for the brilliant ways they connect with, drive cultural conversations and engage consumers. Amid such a challenging point in history, we are pleased to also spotlight brands that have risen to the forefront and will positively shape the future of consumerism and retail,” said Amanda Cioletti, content director of License Global.

2020s Future Top Brands include:

  • Anime Brands (Funimation, Toei Animation’s “Dragon Ball Z,” and Crunchyroll)*
  • J Balvin
  • Mobile apps (Headspace, Calm, Postmates, and DoorDash)*
  • Disney+*
  • Shopify*
  • “Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout”
  • Quick-service food (KFC, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Cheetos)
  • Cause-related brands (Patagonia, Seventh Generation, REI, and Warby Parker)
  • Peloton *
  • Plant-based powerhouses (Impossible and Beyond)
  • The NBA*
  • Athleisure (Champion, FILA, Lululemon, and Uniqlo)*
  • Spotify*
  • Tesla
  • TikTok
  • Zoom*

*Brands marked with an asterisk offer or are related to a subscription or membership product or service.

2010s Top Brands of the Decade include:

  • Adidas
  • Cartoon Network’s “Adventure Time”
  • BTS
  • Grumpy Cat
  • Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games”
  • Social Influencers (JoJo Siwa, Ryan’s World, Bethany Mota, Patrick Starrr, and LaurDIY)
  • L.O.L. Surprise!
  • Tyler “Ninja” Blevins
  • Preschool animation (“PJ Masks,” “PAW Patrol,” “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” “Octonauts,” and “Doc McStuffins”)
  • UEFA Champion’s League
  • Netflix’s “Stranger Things”*
  • Luxury fashion brands for the masses (Gucci, LVMH, Supreme, Off-White, and Moschino)
  • Marvel’s “The Avengers” franchise
  • The Kardashians
  • The Smiley Company

The complete report can be viewed online as an e-zine.

NortonLifeLock to Buy Avira for $360 Million in All-Cash Deal

This was a big week for acquisition news and announcements. On Wednesday, NortonLifeLock announced it has reached a deal to buy German IT security firm Avira for $360 million in an all-cash deal. Offering complementary products, Avira sells software security solutions that include anti-malware, threat intelligence and IoT solutions to help protect the online identity and private data of users. Avira utilizes a freemium model, offering some of its services for free as well as paid premium services.

“I am delighted to welcome Avira to the Norton family,” said Vincent Pilette, CEO, NortonLifeLock, in an announcement. “We strive to bring Cyber Safety to everyone, and acquiring Avira adds a growing business to our portfolio, accelerates our international growth and expands our go-to-market model with a leading freemium solution. Culturally, we are a great match. We share a relentless focus on delivering innovative products to customers and we always think customer-first. We cannot wait to get started with Avira.”

Travis Witteveen, Avira CEO, will join the combined company, along with chief technology officer Mattias Ollig, upon completion of the acquisition.

“NortonLifeLock and Avira are fiercely dedicated to helping protect consumers’ digital lives,” said Travis Witteveen, Avira CEO. “We are thrilled to become part of NortonLifeLock – a company that is synonymous with trust and leadership in Cyber Safety. By leveraging the scale of NortonLifeLock, we can reach and protect more consumers around the globe.”

According to the acquisition announcement, strategic and financial benefits include the following:

  • Furthers NortonLifeLock’s strategy to make cyber safety accessible to everyone
  • Accelerates international growth in Europe and emerging markets
  • Adds the freemium business model plus 30 million active devices to Norton
  • Adds three points of growth to revenue with more than 1.5 million subscribers
  • Expected to achieve 50% operating margin post-synergies in the first year

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2021. Earlier this year, Investcorp acquired Avira. Though terms of the deal were not disclosed, at that time, Avira was valued at $180 million.

FTC Wants to Block Procter & Gamble’s Acquisition of Billie, Inc.

Procter & Gamble got coal in their stocking from the Federal Trade Commission this week. In acquisition news this week, the FTC plans to file a lawsuit in federal court to block the company’s proposed acquisition of direct-to-consumer brand Billie, Inc. Billie has been selling women’s razors and body care products since November 2017. Procter & Gamble announced its intent to acquire Billie in January of this year.

In acquisition news, the FTC is trying to block Procter & Gamble's acquisition of Billie, Inc. Image courtesy of Billie.
In acquisition news, the FTC is trying to block Procter & Gamble’s acquisition of Billie, Inc.
Image courtesy of Billie.

The issue is that Procter & Gamble is the leading seller of men’s and women’s razors under various brand names (e.g., Gillette, Venus, Joy), so acquiring Billie eliminates some of their competition. Both companies offer razor subscriptions. Billie’s claim to fame is that the company targeted Gen Z and Millennial women with a quality, mid-tier razor. One of their marketing techniques was to draw attention to the “pink tax,” where women’s razors are pricier than men’s for very similar products.

“Billie saw an opportunity to challenge P&G’s position as the market leader by finding underserved, price and quality conscious customers, and building an innovative brand,” said Ian Conner, director of the FTC’s bureau of competition, in an announcement. “As its sales grew, Billie was likely to expand into brick-and-mortar stores, posing a serious threat to P&G. If P&G can snuff out Billie’s rapid competitive growth, consumers will likely face higher prices.” 

The FTC will file a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop the acquisition. An administrative trial to argue the matter is scheduled for June 22, 2021.

Sony’s Funimation to Buy Crunchyroll for $1.175 Billion in a Cash Deal

In other acquisition news, Sony and AT&T announced that Funimation will buy Crunchyroll, a direct-to-consumer streaming video anime service, for $1.175 billion in a cash deal. Crunchyroll is currently part of AT&T’s WarnerMedia, and it has been rumored for months that they were looking to sell off the business segment. Crunchyroll has more than 3 million paying subscribers and 90 million registered users in more than 200 countries and territories. The service also offers an ad-supported streaming version, mobile games, manga, event merchandise and distribution.

“The Crunchyroll team has done an extraordinary job of not only growing the Crunchyroll brand but also building a passionate community of anime fans. Crunchyroll’s success is a direct result of the company’s culture and commitment to their fans,” said Tony Goncalves, Chief Revenue Officer, WarnerMedia, in a news release.

“By combining with Funimation, they will continue to nurture a global community and bring more anime to more people. I’m incredibly proud of the Crunchyroll team and what they have been able to accomplish in the digital media space in such a short period of time. They’ve created an end-to-end global ecosystem for this incredible art form,” added Goncalves.

Crunchyroll made the announcement Wednesday in a blog post.

“It’s an exciting time for anime, as two brands you know and love look to unite. Our teams and brands have been dedicated to anime and its fans for decades, and we’ve got all the convention badges to prove it! Today is just the beginning…,” wrote Miles Thomas.

“We are excited to embark on this new journey. Crunchyroll has built a world-class brand with a passionate fan-base of over 3M subscribers, 50M social followers and 90M registered users. These amazing fans have helped to propel anime into a global phenomenon,” said Joanne Waage, general manager of Crunchyroll. “Combining the strength of the Crunchyroll brand and the expertise of our global team with Funimation is an exciting prospect and a win for the incredible art form of anime.”

Domino’s Promo: 30 Days Free of EPIX NOW with Online Pizza Orders

Anyone in the mood for pizza and a movie? If so, Domino’s has a deal for you! Now through April 11, 2021, Domino’s is offering 30 days of free access to premium streaming service EPIX NOW for customers who buy a Domino’s pizza online. EPIX NOW offers more than 2,000 movies and 300 hours of original series and specials. Customers can claim their offer by clicking on the link provided when they confirm their online order.

“Pizza and movies go hand-in-hand,” said Art D’Elia, Domino’s executive vice president – chief marketing officer. “Whether you’re looking for a fun way to entertain your family at home or you want a date night in, Domino’s has you covered. The best part is, no credit card is needed and you won’t be charged after the month is up. All you need to provide is an email address and you’re good to go!”

As a streaming service, no cable is required to watch shows on EPIX NOW. It features recent and popular hits, and normally costs $5.99 a month after a free seven-day trial.

“Individuals are using streaming services now, more than ever, as many of us have been spending more time at home,” added D’Elia. “With winter and colder weather approaching, we know families will be looking for more ways to stay entertained inside, and pizza and a movie is a great way to do so.”

This is a great promo for both Domino’s and EPIX NOW. Domino’s gets direct sales through customers who order pizza online versus through a third-party delivery service, and EPIX NOW gets the opportunity to get in front of Domino’s customers. Everybody wins.

Domino's Pizza and premium streaming service EPIX NOW have partnered to offer a pizza-and-movie-night promo.
Domino’s Pizza and premium streaming service EPIX NOW have partnered to offer a pizza-and-movie-night promo. Image courtesy of Domino’s.

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