NAB 2017: Sling Announces New Hardware Plus AirTV Promo

Sling Media announced its $999 SlingStudio hardware this week, intended as a cost effective and easy-to-use alternative for video creators who plan to share live video streams via Facebook Live or YouTube. Sling TV is also offering a significant discount on its AirTV Player and AirTV Adapter for customers who prepay for at least three months of service. Introduced at CES in January, AirTV is an OTA/OTT box that runs on Android TV. According to Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch, a recent study found that four out of five pay TV subscribers are interested in a la carte TV. Continue reading NAB 2017: Sling Announces New Hardware Plus AirTV Promo

NAB 2017: Parks Associates Study Finds That TV Is Still King

Parks Associates debuted a report looking at trends in OTT, focusing on 2010 through 2016. Senior research analyst Glenn Hower stated that TV remains the top viewing platform by hours of video watched in U.S. households. “Yes, people do watch video on lots of devices,” said Hower. “But it hasn’t cannibalized TV.” Among those devices, viewing on computers has leveled out, whereas mobile phones and tablets have seen modest increases, but low overall viewership, which means people are watching a lot of short form content.” Continue reading NAB 2017: Parks Associates Study Finds That TV Is Still King

AMC, Discovery, Viacom Mull a Sports-Free Streaming Bundle

Cable programmers such as AMC Networks, Discovery Communications and Viacom find themselves in competition with streaming Internet TV services. Consumers are cutting off expensive pay TV bundles in favor of skinny ones, and streaming services such as YouTube TV and Hulu are among those that pare down the offerings, leaving cable programmers in the lurch. In response, four to six pay TV providers are now in negotiations to create a new online service devoid of sports programming that would cost less than $20 per month.

Continue reading AMC, Discovery, Viacom Mull a Sports-Free Streaming Bundle

Hulu Readies Spring Launch of Its Live Streaming TV Service

Hulu’s live TV service, say sources, scheduled to launch this spring, will likely be priced at $39.99 per month, although a company spokesperson said that prices have not yet been finalized. The new live TV service, which will include access to Hulu Originals and on-demand content as well as live network broadcasts and broadcast networks’ on-demand content, will enter a crowded market, competing with Sling TV, DirectTV Now, YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue and other streaming services. Continue reading Hulu Readies Spring Launch of Its Live Streaming TV Service

Research Indicates Another Drop in Number of Pay-TV Subs

According to new research from Kagan, pay-TV providers in the U.S. lost about 1.9 million subscribers in 2016. Additionally, OTT providers such as Sling TV, DirecTV Now and Sony PlayStation Vue “gained about 900,000 subscribers last year, rising from approximately 600,000 at year-end 2015 to 1.5 million at the end of 2016,” reports Variety. “While the gains on the OTT front would appear to be good news for cable programmers, the problem is that many broadband-targeted TV packages are stripped-down ‘skinny bundles’ that omit many of the channels included in traditional basic cable lineup.” Kagan estimates 94.7 million residential pay-TV subscribers for the close of 2016, down 2 percent from 2015. Continue reading Research Indicates Another Drop in Number of Pay-TV Subs

Netflix Remains No. 1, But Faces Increasing OTT Competition

A comScore study conducted in December 2016 revealed that streaming services have exploded, with a total of 11 reaching one million or more homes in any given month. Put another way, of the 49 million U.S. households connected to Wi-Fi, at least 53 percent use at least one OTT service. Netflix still dominates, found in 75 percent of these Wi-Fi homes, but the real news is that it’s got stronger competition than ever before. YouTube now reaches 53 percent of homes, Amazon is in 33 percent and Hulu is at 17 percent. Continue reading Netflix Remains No. 1, But Faces Increasing OTT Competition

YouTube TV Aims to Convert Cord-Nevers to New Subscribers

YouTube TV has premiered in several cities with 40+ channels of entertainment, news and sports at $35/month. The aim is to entice so-called cord-nevers — millennials who have never paid for cable — to subscribe, to watch on-demand on any device. YouTube has already reached one billion viewers, so if even a tiny fraction signs up, it could be a win for advertisers and YouTube owner Google. Among its competition in the Internet TV market are Dish’s Sling TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now and Sony PlayStation Vue. Continue reading YouTube TV Aims to Convert Cord-Nevers to New Subscribers

Workplace: Facebook Tests Free Version of Slack Competitor

Facebook’s Workplace is a social networking tool designed for the enterprise, enabling an efficient chat and collaboration platform for employees. It is similar to the Facebook used by friends and family members, but instead is meant to foster interaction between co-workers. Now, Facebook is introducing a free version intended for smaller businesses that are not as interested in the administrative and analytical features offered to subscribers. (It is still being tested, so the release is limited.) The new version will be named “Workplace Standard,” and the paid version will go by “Workplace Premium.” Continue reading Workplace: Facebook Tests Free Version of Slack Competitor

Spotify Inks a New Licensing Deal with Universal Music Group

Spotify and Universal Music Group, the world’s biggest record company, finally inked a global, multiyear licensing deal after two years of intermittent negotiations. With this deal in place, Spotify now has a better chance of convincing Sony and Warner to follow suit, and UMG, whose artists include Drake, U2, The Weeknd and Lady Gaga, has more flexibility on how it streams its music. Spotify’s contracts with UMG, Sony and Warner had expired long ago. Spotify, valued at $8 billion, now also has a clearer path to going public. Continue reading Spotify Inks a New Licensing Deal with Universal Music Group

HTC Unveils Subscription Service for Vive VR Headset Users

Taiwanese phone manufacturer HTC has rolled out its anticipated monthly subscription service for virtual reality content, including video games and short interactive films. For a $7 per month fee, users can download up to five VR titles a month from the online Viveport store. HTC is positioning the new service as a way for customers to try out an app before they decide to purchase it. The service is only available to owners of the HTC Vive VR headset. Among the titles initially available are “Everest VR” and “Mars Odyssey.” Continue reading HTC Unveils Subscription Service for Vive VR Headset Users

Apple Pursues Premium Bundle to Sell HBO, Showtime, Starz

In its latest pay TV proposal, Apple wants to offer a premium bundle that combines HBO, Showtime and Starz, three channels it already sells individually (sources say Apple does not yet have a deal with any of the networks for a package deal). The bundle would be different than a traditional subscription level offered by a conventional pay TV operator, since Apple could offer its proposed premium bundle as a “standalone product, delivered via its iOS devices and its Apple TV set-top box,” reports Recode. “Sony, AT&T and Dish all sell Web TV packages, and Google and Hulu have announced plans to sell their own.” Continue reading Apple Pursues Premium Bundle to Sell HBO, Showtime, Starz

Twitter Launches Marketer-Defined Advertising for Periscope

YouTube has been getting pushback from marketers for placing their ads next to offensive videos. Twitter, which will begin a trial of advertising on Periscope, isn’t making the same mistake. In fact, the company is letting advertisers have complete control over where their message appears. With Periscope’s live feed, which has covered crimes and other violence, that’s a difficult promise to keep. But Twitter vice president Matt Derella assures advertisers they will be able to control and scale their ads. Continue reading Twitter Launches Marketer-Defined Advertising for Periscope

Spotify Purchases Content Recommendation Startup MightyTV

Streaming music service Spotify has acquired New York-based startup MightyTV, which created an app that uses artificial intelligence to provide video recommendations based on individual personal preferences and aggregated user ratings. The acquisition will provide Spotify with technology that could be used to target ads. The company is looking to ramp up ad revenue, since most of its millions of users opt for the free ad-supported version of its service. MightyTV has already shuttered its video app, and plans to integrate the technology into Spotify. The deal will also bring MightyTV founder and CEO Brian Adams to Spotify as VP of technology. Continue reading Spotify Purchases Content Recommendation Startup MightyTV

Netflix Dominance Pushing Studios to Earlier Release Window

Big spending digital players Netflix and Amazon are shaking up traditional TV stalwarts. Netflix is expected to spend $6 billion on original and acquired programming this year, up $1 billion from last year. That figure is five times more than what cable outlets FX (owned by 21st Century Fox) and Showtime (owned by CBS Corp.) spend and more than twice that spent by Time Warner’s premium channel HBO. TV actors are demanding $250,000 an episode, twice their previous rate, and there’s a feeding frenzy for A-list below-the-line crews. Continue reading Netflix Dominance Pushing Studios to Earlier Release Window

Comcast’s Upcoming Streaming Option to Target Cord-Cutters

Comcast is planning a third quarter launch for its expanded streaming video service called Xfinity Instant TV. The $15-$40 per month service, targeting broadband subscribers looking to opt out of traditional cable bundles, “will include major broadcast networks as well as add-on options for sports channels like ESPN and Spanish language channels such as Telemundo and Univision,” reports Reuters. The company hopes customers will later upgrade to the X1 platform. Xfinity Instant TV is a new version of its Stream service that was tested earlier in Boston and Chicago. Dish and AT&T are already targeting cord cutters, but “Comcast’s service is different in that it is limited to its territories and to its own broadband subscribers.” Continue reading Comcast’s Upcoming Streaming Option to Target Cord-Cutters

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