AT&T Looks to Attract Cord Cutters With New Video Service

AT&T launched WatchTV, a “skinny bundle” video service aimed at luring cord cutters. The package offers a select number of TV channels for as little as $15 per month and gives free access to subscribers on unlimited data plans. For now, the service will be free with the company’s two top-tier wireless plans; the $15 per month plan will launch later. Among the channels to be included are AMC Networks and Discovery; Viacom’s Comedy Central and MTV2 will be added after launch. AT&T just acquired Time Warner for $81 billion. Continue reading AT&T Looks to Attract Cord Cutters With New Video Service

Gray Television, Raycom Media to Merge in $3.6 Billion Deal

Gray Television and Raycom Media jointly announced plans to combine their companies in a $3.65 billion cash-and-stock deal. Gray will acquire Raycom for $2.85 billion in cash, $650 million in a new series of preferred stock, and 11.5 million shares of Gray common stock. After spinning off nine stations, the combined company will operate 142 stations in 92 markets. Raycom president and CEO Pat LaPlatney will become Gray’s president and co-CEO, while Gray’s current chief Hilton Howell will serve as executive chairman and co-CEO.

Continue reading Gray Television, Raycom Media to Merge in $3.6 Billion Deal

Roku to Offer Subscription Video Market Similar to Amazon’s

According to sources, Roku will debut a marketplace similar to Amazon Channels, allowing consumers to sign up for video subscription services without downloading separate apps on Roku devices. Roku already offers access to HBO Now, CBS All Access and other subscription services via its channel store, but, up until now, consumers have needed to download a dedicated app (which Roku calls a “channel”) onto their device and then sign up for the service. The new marketplace is expected to make it much easier to access such services. Continue reading Roku to Offer Subscription Video Market Similar to Amazon’s

The World Cup Is Finally Available in 4K HDR in Your Home

For the first time, the FIFA World Cup is available in 4K HDR in your living room. Those interested in viewing the world’s single biggest sporting event this way have several choices. Via the Fox Sports World Cup app, cable subscribers can view 4K HDR streams on Hisense’s H6E, H8E or Laser models. Dish is offering 56 of the 64 games live in 4K HDR, and DirecTV is broadcasting all the games that way. Layer3 TV/Altice is also broadcasting in 4K and Comcast Xfinity X1 subscribers can watch 4K HDR on demand the next day. Continue reading The World Cup Is Finally Available in 4K HDR in Your Home

Federal Judge Rules in Favor of AT&T-Time Warner Merger

Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court in Washington has approved the proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner, despite the Justice Department’s claim that the deal would stifle competition. Judge Leon ruled the Justice Department did not prove that AT&T’s $85.4 billion takeover of Time Warner would result in fewer consumer choices and higher prices for Internet and TV services. While AT&T aims to move forward with the transaction, the DOJ is reportedly considering its options. The decision is expected to impact the future of media and telecom industries, and spur additional mergers and related deals. Continue reading Federal Judge Rules in Favor of AT&T-Time Warner Merger

Vestberg Named Next Verizon Chief Exec, McAdam to Retire

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam announced he plans to step down from his position on August 1, at which point Hans Vestberg will take over as chief exec. Vestberg joined Verizon last year as the company’s chief technology officer and EVP and president of Global Networks, after serving for seven years as CEO of Swedish telecom and networking company Ericsson. McAdam has been Verizon’s CEO since August 2011 and its chairman since January 2012. He will remain executive chairman until the end of the year and serve as non-executive chairman thereafter. Continue reading Vestberg Named Next Verizon Chief Exec, McAdam to Retire

Amazon Debuts 4K Fire TV Cube With Alexa-Centric Strategy

Amazon, which started shipping its Fire TV video streaming devices four years ago, is now planning the release of its 4K Fire TV Cube, which combines Fire TV capabilities with Amazon Echo and acts as a TV control center for other devices. Fire TV Cube offers built-in Alexa and was designed with a “voice first” strategy to, as Amazon Fire TV vice president of product development Sandeep Gupta said, “highlight the use of voice.” Priced at $119, Fire TV Cube is the most expensive device in the segment and the sleekest. Continue reading Amazon Debuts 4K Fire TV Cube With Alexa-Centric Strategy

European Broadcasters Partner to Fend Off Amazon, Netflix

Spain’s three major broadcasters — state-run RTVE and privately run Mediaset España and Atresmedia — are joining forces to launch LovesTV, an 18-channel streaming platform featuring programs from all of them. This paradigm is also taking place in the U.K., France, Germany and Italy, as competitors join forces to co-produce programs or stream programs online. It’s a strategy to fend off Netflix, Amazon and HBO, all of which are increasing their budgets to offer streaming programming for European audiences. Continue reading European Broadcasters Partner to Fend Off Amazon, Netflix

AirTV Rolls Out Networked Tuner to Access Local Broadcasts

Dish subsidiary AirTV just launched a new device, also dubbed AirTV, that lets its subscribers watch free live content from broadcast networks, including ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS and Fox, on TVs and mobile devices. AirTV is a networked tuner that comes with Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity. Priced at $120, AirTV also comes with a $25 credit for Dish’s Sling TV streaming service, which mainly provides access to cable channels. With AirTV, Sling TV subscribers can access over-the-air channels via their Sling TV app. Continue reading AirTV Rolls Out Networked Tuner to Access Local Broadcasts

Hulu Draws 800,000+ Subscribers to its New Live TV Service

In an interview with CNBC, Hulu CEO Randy Freer revealed that his company’s $40 per month Internet streaming service, Hulu with Live TV, which launched a little more than one year ago, has surpassed 800,000 subscribers. Dish Network’s Sling TV reached 2.3 million customers at the end of Q1, and AT&T’s DirecTV Now has about 1.46 million subscribers. Other competitors in this space include Google’s YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue from Sony, and the sports-focused fuboTV. In total, Hulu has more than 20 million paying customers (half subscribe to the ad-free $11.99 monthly package). Continue reading Hulu Draws 800,000+ Subscribers to its New Live TV Service

FCC’s O’Rielly Asks Amazon, eBay to Remove ‘Rogue’ STBs

FCC commissioner Michael O’Rielly is urging Amazon and eBay to pull listings from their sites for “rogue” set-top boxes that enable consumers to watch pirated TV shows. On Friday, the commissioner sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and eBay CEO Devin Wenig noting that the STBs in question often falsely feature the FCC logo, and are responsible for encouraging “intellectual property theft and consumer fraud.” O’Rielly recognized that the companies have been working to address the problem, but wrote “despite your good work in this area, devices continue to make it to consumers through your websites.” Continue reading FCC’s O’Rielly Asks Amazon, eBay to Remove ‘Rogue’ STBs

Samsung Zeroes In on AI to Meet 2020 Goal for Smart Devices

Samsung has committed to integrating artificial intelligence and Internet connectivity into all its products by 2020, even as Google and Amazon beat the South Korean company to market with their AI-powered smart speakers. Samsung’s goal is to have every device from televisions to refrigerators synch with each other and drive demand for its smartphones. Samsung eventually plans to centralize these devices with its SmartThings app, acquired in 2014. It also will include its own virtual assistant Bixby, which debuted last year on its flagship Galaxy S8 smartphone. Continue reading Samsung Zeroes In on AI to Meet 2020 Goal for Smart Devices

Viewers Not Warming to Recommendations by Video Services

According to research from UserTesting, the personalized viewing recommendations offered by video streaming services are failing to gain traction with most consumers. While results varied across services, only 29 percent of participants indicated that they watch content recommended to them. In addition to relevant recommendations, the study rated services based on metrics such as speed, availability of content, episode scanning, and overall ease-of-use. With a total score of 89.5, Netflix led the field, followed by Hulu (86.8), Amazon Prime (85) and YouTube TV (80.7). Continue reading Viewers Not Warming to Recommendations by Video Services

Media Outlets See Advertising Boon in Legal Sports Gambling

The Supreme Court’s ruling now permits states to make their own decisions about legal gambling on sporting events. For media and advertising companies, the ruling could also be a boon to their bottom line. With gambling, viewers will want to follow live sports in greater detail, and expanded sports coverage means more advertising dollars. In anticipation of such legalized gambling, media executives are mulling over ideas for programming on their digital platforms that include more stats and betting options. Continue reading Media Outlets See Advertising Boon in Legal Sports Gambling

Amazon Channels Making a Splash in Subscription Video Sales

According to The Diffusion Group (TDG), Amazon is now responsible for 55 percent of a la carte direct-to-consumer video subs. Amazon Channels is “the company’s platform for reselling subscription services like HBO and Showtime,” explains Variety. TDG’s new research indicates that “53 percent of all consumers who don’t get HBO through their pay TV provider are purchasing it via Amazon Channels,” notes the article, adding that “72 percent of Showtime subscribers get the network’s direct-to-consumer offering via Amazon Channels, and 70 percent of Starz a la carte subscribers receive it from Amazon.” Continue reading Amazon Channels Making a Splash in Subscription Video Sales

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