Does Katzenberg’s Quibi and its $100M in ad sales signal a streaming bubble?

Does Katzenberg’s Quibi and its $100M in ad sales signal a streaming bubble?

As we get ready to enter the second half of 2019, we will see several streaming video services launching, including the high profile ones from Disney and Apple, with more to follow in the coming quarters. No surprise as consumers flock to that aspect of our Digital Lifestyle investing theme, preferring to watch what they want, when they want on the device they want.

The question we are thinking through is how long until we see the once quality content filled streaming services become the new cable – filled with subpar programming and in some cases ads?

It seems every week there is a new streaming video service with recent ones including the ability to watch Broadway shows and short-form programming. An example of the latter is Quibi by Jeffrey Katzenberg, one of the former Disney Hollywood wonders, and in a world of other streaming services as well as short-form videos from Snap, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, the Tematica jury is out on its success.

What’s interesting in the price point at $7.99 for an ad-free subscription, which is less than the $6.99 starting price for Disney+. That same $6.99 starting price was one of the factors that led Comcast to rethink its own streaming service in favor of selling its stake in Hulu to Disney.

The bottom line is we’ve seen these rushes in the past, and invariably there is a shakeout that will washout a number of entrants looking to capitalize on the trend.

Quibi, the short-form video platform founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg, hasn’t even launched, but has already booked $100 million in advertising sales, according to a report from The WSJ this morning. The company, which aims to cater to younger viewers with premium content chopped up into “quick bites,” says it has already booked advertisers, including Protector & Gamble, Pepsi Co., Anheuser-Busch InBev, Walmart, Progressive and Google.

It still has around $50 million in unsold ad inventory ahead of launch.

It’s hard to imagine how a service like Quibi will compete in a market dominated by paid streamers like Netflix and free services like YouTube — both preferred by a younger demographic. But Quibi has been raising massive amounts of money to take them on. In May, it was reported that Quibi was going after another billion in funding, on top of the billion it had already raised.

Beyond the industry’s big bet on Katzenberg himself, Quibi has booked big-name talent, including Steven Spielberg and Guillermo del Toro, and is filming a show about Snapchat’s founding, which may draw in millennial viewers.

But it sounds like Quibi may also be relying on gimmicks — like Spielberg’s horror series that you can only watch at night (when it’s dark outside). Not to mention the very idea that Quibi thinks it’s invented a new kind of media that falls between today’s short-form and traditional TV-length or movie-length content found elsewhere.

On Quibi, shows are meant to be watched on the go, through segments that are around 7 to 10 minutes long. Some of the content will be bigger, more premium productions, while others will be more akin to what you’d find on cable TV or lower-cost daily news programming.

The service will launch April 6, 2020 with two tiers. A $4.99 per month plan includes a pre-roll ad before each video segment. The ad is 10 seconds if the video is less than 5 minutes, and it’s 15 seconds for any videos between 5 and 10 minutes. Some ads themselves will tell “brand stories” throughout the program breaks.

A $7.99 per month tier offers an ad-free experience.

Source: Jeffrey Katzenberg’s streaming service Quibi books $100M in ad sales ahead of launch | TechCrunch

Kraft Heinz agrees to buy paleo company Primal Kitchen

Kraft Heinz agrees to buy paleo company Primal Kitchen

We have seen a growing number of food and beverage companies acquiring businesses to help reposition their offering to include healthy, natural and good for you food. Kraft Heinz is joining a group that includes Hershey, Kellogg, PepsiCo, and Coca-Cola among others as they look to rise the tailwinds associated with our Clean Living investing theme.

With the Kraft Heinz purchase of Primal Kitchen, we’d note the valuation of 4x sales, which helps explain why Kraft Heinz is also launching a venture arm, Springboard, that will work with food start-ups that we suspect will also be in tune with our Clean Living investing theme.

Kraft Heinz said Thursday it plans to buy paleo condiment and dressing company Primal Kitchen for about $200 million, as the ketchup maker looks for a platform to help compete against upstart brands.

Primal Kitchen is expected to generate about $50 million in revenue this year, Kraft Heinz said. The deal is expected to be completed in early 2019.

Primal Kitchen was founded by food blogger Mark Sisson, who started “Mark’s Daily Apple” in 2006 and has written a number of diet and exercise books. The company makes paleo-friendly products including mayo, avocado oil and dressings. It says its products are without processed or artificial ingredients, added sugars, soybean or canola oils.

Paleo diets focus on foods that were available in the Paleolithic era, like nuts, seeds, lean meats and vegetables. The idea, which has gained a strong following in recent years, is that the human body is best suited to eat the foods that early humans ate rather than the modern diet, which includes processed foods.

Kraft Heinz has begun to follow the playbook written by many of its peers seeking growth as eating habits change. For most Big Food companies, it is hard to duplicate the innovation and culture necessary to create the same success seen by younger brands like Kind Bar.

As such, Kraft Heinz joined other Big Food brands this year in launching a venture arm, Springboard, to partner with food start-ups.

Using Primal Kitchen as a platform would also echo a strategy that others have employed, to varying degrees of success. Kellogg has said it wants to use its $600 million acquisition of RXBar as a platform and Hershey is looking at its acquisition of Amplify Brands as a platform for its growing suite of snack brands.

Source: Kraft Heinz agrees to buy paleo mayo and dressing company Primal Kitchen

Weekly Issue: We aren’t out of the woods just yet

Weekly Issue: We aren’t out of the woods just yet

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Soft and hard seltzers gaining share and quenching consumer thirst

Soft and hard seltzers gaining share and quenching consumer thirst

When companies ranging from PepsiCo and Coca-Cola add aggressively to their product portfolio it likely means we are at or near an inflection point in terms of consumer preference. That is what we are seeing with flavored seltzers given PepsiCo’s 2018 introduction of its bubly Sparkling Water, its more recent acquisition of SodaStream and Coca-Cola testing its Dasani PureFill machine. Those perusing the shopping aisles may have noticed the influx of seltzer flavors but the observant shopper probably noticed the growing number of hard seltzers being offers from Spiked Seltzer, Nauti, and others. One has to wonder how long it will be until these Guilty Pleasures catch the eye of companies like Molson Coors and Constellation Brands.

 

While sparkling water on the whole has seen impressive growth, canned sparkling water in particular has emerged as a huge contributor to category performance. Nielsen reference data by package type shows that while bottled sparkling water commands the majority of dollar sales (64% of all sparkling water sales were from bottled varieties), canned sparkling water has performed exceptionally well this year, up 43% from last year to reach sales of over $803 million. And the week ended Aug. 18, 2018, saw sales of over $21 million for canned sparkling water, up 39% compared to the same week last year, whereas bottled sparkling water is up 11% during the same period. Above and beyond the effects of rising aluminum prices, growth in canned sparkling water is driving the category’s profits.

Stretching across the store, hard seltzers is a category on the rise in the alcohol market. Within the last 12 months ended July 14, 2018, sales of hard seltzers are up 177%. In fact, hard seltzers now represent about 10% of all flavored malt beverage (FMB) sales.

Renewed interest in sparkling waters is yet another reflection of consumers’ ongoing shift toward opting to make healthier choices. The sparkling water category across traditional beverage and alcohol beverage categories taps into several health and wellness trends popular with Americans today, such as the appeal of a low carbohydrate and low calorie option would could potentially be seen as a low guilt beverage and an offering that is gluten free. Beyond the potential health benefits consumers see, these drinks can be refreshing, provide interesting flavors and, within the beverage alcohol market, its versatility could appeal thanks to its ability to be part of a cocktail mix.

 

Source: No Signs of Fizzing Out: America’s Love of Sparkling Water Remains Strong Through August

SodaStream to help Pepsico ride the Clean Living slipstream

SodaStream to help Pepsico ride the Clean Living slipstream

From reducing salt and fats from its snack business to the introduction of Bulby, its own line of flavored seltzer waters, PepsiCo continues to transform its business in line with shifting consumer preferences that are reflected in our Clean Living investing theme. With the acquisition of SodaStream, Pepsico takes several steps forward as it not only gains entrance into the home market but with a solution that is plastic bottle free and further shifts it away from sugary products and introduced healthier alternatives.

This move follows the recent introduction of healthier beverages at Starbucks and Coca-Cola testing vending machines offering clean, water-based drink alternatives.  While we may not be in the wee-early innings of this Clean Living transformation, we are still quite far from anywhere near the 7th inning stretch. We expect more M&A activity of publicly traded clean(ish) companies, as well as private ones in the coming quarters as entrenched food and beverage companies, look to ride the Clean Living tailwind.

 

Beverage and snack giant PepsiCo announced plans Monday to acquire at-home carbonated drink maker SodaStream for $3.2 billion.

Purchase, New York-based PepsiCo agreed to pay $144 per share in cash for SodaStream’s outstanding stock, a 32 percent premium to its 30-day volume weighted average price.The deal gives PepsiCo a new line through which it can reach customers in their homes rather than through stores.

It comes as U.S. grocers are in a state of transformation, with 70 percent of shoppers expected to buy groceries online by 2025, according to Food Marketing Institute and Nielsen. Meantime, retailers are squeezing brands on price and giving increasing shelf-space to upstart and private label brands.

“We get to play in a business — home beverages — where we don’t play,” PepsiCo CFO Hugh Johnston told CNBC.With this move, PepsiCo is doubling down on its drinks business, which has struggled in North America as consumers move away from sugary, carbonated beverages. It also seemingly addresses the challenge that buying new drink brands risks cannibalizing its legacy beverages.

Tel Aviv-based SodaStream makes a machine and refillable cylinders through which users can make their own soda or carbonated water drinks.

PepsiCo has made its own efforts at sparkling water, launching Bubly earlier this year to help fight against LaCroix.

Source: PepsiCo to buy SodaStream for $3.2 billion

Starbucks taps kombucha to pivot from sugary drinks and recapture consumers

Starbucks taps kombucha to pivot from sugary drinks and recapture consumers

First Cold Brew and now kombucha is being added to the beverage fold at Starbucks as it, much like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, are contending with the increasing consumer preference for healthier beverages, snacks, and food. In other words, less sugar as evidenced by the consumer wane for high calorie, high margin Frappucinos, and sugar soda as well as diet soda. While kombucha is a growing market, it’s not quite as mainstream as the Frappuccino was, which likely means it is part of larger salvo to be had by Starbucks as it looks to reposition its beverage portfolio to meet consumer tastes. Never an easy feat, and one that probably means trial and error.

 

Starbucks is brewing up some kombucha.The coffee chain announced it’s going to sell its own line of the trendy fermented tea. Starbucks (SBUX) is offering six flavors of kombucha under its Evolution juice brand and said the drinks have started shipping to stores in select cities.

Why kombucha? The cold-pressed drink is hot right now because of its probiotic punch and zingy flavor. Sales of the fermented tea totaled $1.2 billion last year, skyrocketing nearly 40%. Starbucks says “consumer interest” also spiked the same amount in 2017.

Tapping into the booming drink could help Starbucks reverse its fortunes. Recently installed CEO Kevin Johnson said customers have soured on sugary drinks, like the Frappucino, and he wants the brand to sell more healthy drinks. Evolution’s kombucha is low in calories and has 3 to 7 grams of sugar depending on the flavor.

Source: Starbucks’ new menu item: Kombucha

 Our Clean Living theme hitting Frappuccino sales at Starbucks

 Our Clean Living theme hitting Frappuccino sales at Starbucks

The war on sugar has hit companies like Hershey Foods (HSY), forcing it to pivot its snacking M&A strategy to better meet shifting consumer preferences for healthy, natural and organic snacks.

We’ve seen a prononced shift for waters and seltzers that is driving companies like National Beverage Corp. (FIZZ), home of LaCroix, and Cott Corp. (COT), a now pure play company on water, coffee, tea and filtration, as consumers increasingly reach less frequently for sugary sodas or ones that have artificial sweeteners.

In other words, Hershey, Coca-Cola (KO), PepsiCo (PEP) are contending with the headwind associated with our Clean Living investing theme, while National Beverage and Cott are rising the tailwind.

Now we are seeing consumers balk at the sugar laden Frappuccino that has become a staple at Starbucks (SBUX) complete with seasonal specialites. While this is the latest thorn in the side of Starbucks, it has the potential to not only hit it on the profit line but also force an accelerated re-think on its beverage and even its food offerings.

 

Frappuccino sales are struggling, and concerns about how much sugar the slushy drinks contain may be among the reasons.Starbucks says sales from the drinks that mix coffee, ice, syrup and milk are down 3 percent from a year ago, and is blaming the “health and wellness” trend for the dip.”These are oftentimes more indulgent beverages — higher in sugar, higher in calories,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said during a presentation to investors Tuesday.

A 16-ounce Cupcake Creme Frappuccino has 400 calories and 63 grams of sugar. A Triple Mocha Frappuccino has 390 calories and 51 grams of sugar. That’s with 2 percent milk and whipped cream.

Peter Saleh, restaurant analyst for BTIG, notes that interest in healthy eating isn’t new: “It’s not something that popped up out of nowhere.”

Another problem may simply be “people not wanting to consume full-price Frappuccinos…” A medium Frappuccino costs between $4 and $5. Exactly how many calories the drinks deliver varies.

Source: Starbucks claims Frappuccino sales down due to ‘health and wellness’ trend | Fox News

With soda getting left in the cold, PepsiCo trots out Bubly sparkling water

With soda getting left in the cold, PepsiCo trots out Bubly sparkling water

 

Over the last decade, sugary soft drink volumes have been under pressure, but until recently soda companies have seen their case volumes bolstered by diet beverage that incorporate alternative sweeteners to deliver zero calories. With consumers becoming more health conscious as well as preferring healthier and good for you ingredients as part of our Food with Integrity investing theme, diet soda case volumes have also come under pressure and this is pushing companies like Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper Snapple, Cott Corp., and PepsiCo to deliver new formulations and offer healthier alternatives. One of the biggest pushes is in flavored sparkling water, and now PepsiCo is joining the fray with Bubly, going head to head with not only La Croix, but also Coke’s line of flavored sparkling water under its Dasani brand.

 

PepsiCo is introducing Bubly, a new brand of sparkling water that comes in eight flavors, including apple, strawberry and mango, in brightly colored cans with lowercase lettering and greetings on the pull tabs. (“Hey u!” “yo!”)Bubly marks the most direct attack yet on LaCroix, a brand of flavored sparkling waters that has, in recent years, seen sales soar as it developed a near cultlike devotion among millennials.For PepsiCo, Bubly is a big bet. The beverage and snacks giant will put its formidable marketing and distribution machine behind the rollout. Bubly will land on shelves this month, and two ads will appear during the Oscars broadcast on March 4.PepsiCo executives say Bubly, with no artificial flavors, sweeteners or calories, fits into its broader corporate initiative to offer consumers healthier snack and beverage products.Continue reading the main storyRELATED COVERAGELETTER OF RECOMMENDATIONLetter of Recommendation: LaCroix Sparkling Water MARCH 3, 2015‘Lady Doritos’? Pepsi Wants a Do-Over FEB. 6, 2018But it is also an acknowledgment that sales of carbonated soda are falling as consumers increasingly shun sugary drinks in favor of healthier options, including water.

Source: PepsiCo Dips Its Toes Into the Sparkling Water Market – The New York Times