Regulators Set Conditions for Approval of Charter-TWC Deal

While federal regulators are closer to approving the Charter Communications acquisitions of both Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, the FCC and Justice Department have introduced conditions designed to protect streaming video companies and help provide affordable broadband services for low income households. The $71+ billion deal would make Charter the second-largest broadband service provider in the U.S. with about 19.4 million subscribers, and the nation’s third-largest cable TV provider with 17.4 million customers. Continue reading Regulators Set Conditions for Approval of Charter-TWC Deal

Media Giants Join Forces Against FCC Opening Set-Top Box

The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to begin to allow third-party companies to develop devices and apps to carry pay TV signals, thus loosening the grip of the set-top box manufacturing market and the pay TV companies that lease them. But now Disney, CBS, 21st Century Fox, A&E Television Networks, Time Warner, Scripps Networks Interactive and Viacom have banded together to oppose the move, in comments filed with the FCC. The founder of Roku has come out against the idea as misguided and unnecessary. Continue reading Media Giants Join Forces Against FCC Opening Set-Top Box

Netflix Considers Offering Downloads, Unveils its HDR Plans

Downloading content appears to be on the table at Netflix. For some time, the company executives have insisted that downloads would not be “a compelling proposition,” because they add complexity to the system and, due to more widespread speed connectivity, are unnecessary. Now, chief executive Reed Hastings says the company should “keep an open mind” on the topic. This takes place at the same time that Netflix plans to introduce more than 150 hours of HDR content to the roster by end of year. Continue reading Netflix Considers Offering Downloads, Unveils its HDR Plans

TV Globo Brazil Debuts OTT Simulcast, VOD, 4K in the Cloud

At NAB 2016, Globo Play TV program manager Marcos Rayol described that the Brazilian broadcaster’s OTT effort, Globo Play, offers simulcast, VOD and 4K in the cloud. Developing the concept was the most difficult part. “We spent a lot of time developing interfaces,” he said. “Once we began coding it, it was very straightforward.” Brazil has 115 million people with Internet access, 38 percent of whom have broadband connections. Of the 80 million with smartphones, only 34 percent accessed video in 2015. Continue reading TV Globo Brazil Debuts OTT Simulcast, VOD, 4K in the Cloud

Amazon Offers New Monthly Subs, No Annual Commitment

Amazon unveiled two new Prime plans on its website, introducing a video-only option for monthly subscribers. The new offering could ramp up the competition between its video service and Netflix. The first new plan costs $8.99 per month to stream TV shows and movies through a video-only version of Prime, while the second runs $10.99 per month for all Prime benefits, including video and music streaming, free two-day shipping on Amazon purchases, and more. Amazon hopes to reach consumers that have been reluctant to pay $99 up front for an annual Prime membership. Continue reading Amazon Offers New Monthly Subs, No Annual Commitment

Google’s Daniel Alegre on Perils and Promise of the New TV

At NAB 2016, Google president of global partnerships Daniel Alegre gave the closing keynote on how television is transforming. “If you search for the term ‘TV is dead’, you’ll find 338 million results,” said Alegre. The TV set and viewing of our childhood, he explained, is gone, as the TV evolves to incorporate a computer and the hours of video viewership continue to climb. “A newer better TV is rising from the ashes, better than ever,” said Alegre, who noted mobile video is predicted to be responsible for 80 percent of all Internet traffic by 2018. Continue reading Google’s Daniel Alegre on Perils and Promise of the New TV

Netflix’s Two-Stream HD Plan Increasing by $2/Month in May

Starting next month, Netflix will increase the price of its two-stream HD service plan by 25 percent for long-term streaming customers. Subscribers previously paying $7.99 monthly will now be charged $9.99 per month for the service’s standard plan. The rate change will be based on subscriber billing periods. Those who signed up at $8.99 per month following the previous increase in May 2014 will experience the jump to $9.99 this October. Netflix members will have the option of continuing at $7.99 for a single stream SD plan or keeping the HD plan at $9.99. Continue reading Netflix’s Two-Stream HD Plan Increasing by $2/Month in May

Netflix, Not AT&T or Verizon, Throttles Speeds Over Networks

For the last five years, Netflix has been throttling speed of its service to AT&T and Verizon subscribers so they would not exceed mobile data caps and incur extra charges that could discourage viewing on mobile devices. After T-Mobile’s chief executive noted that AT&T and Verizon customers were watching Netflix at slower speeds, the two carriers were initially blamed, but denied the charges. Net neutrality rules prevent wireless carriers from throttling the speed, but those rules appear not to apply to content companies. Continue reading Netflix, Not AT&T or Verizon, Throttles Speeds Over Networks

Rental Kiosk Leader Redbox Readies Video Streaming Service

Redbox plans to launch a video streaming service called Redbox Digital. The DVD rental company previously launched Redbox Instant, a streaming service joint venture with Verizon, which lasted 18 months. The new effort will be a video-on-demand store similar to iTunes, Vudu or Google Play, letting consumers stream or buy digital copies of movies or TV show episodes. Redbox Digital will be part of the service’s existing loyalty program, integrate into its mobile apps and support TV-connected platforms like Chromecast and Roku. Continue reading Rental Kiosk Leader Redbox Readies Video Streaming Service

Hulu Unveils its First VR App, Content for Samsung Gear VR

Hulu debuted an app for Samsung’s Gear VR now available in the Gear VR Oculus Store, the first of several VR apps for different platforms that the company plans to unveil. The app allows users to watch Hulu’s 2D TV/film content library in a 360-degree immersive environment, choosing from several settings (a living room, a big screen movie theater, a beach). Among original content is Hulu’s first VR film, “The Big One,” produced in partnership with Lionsgate and featuring Freddie Wong and his RocketJump brand. Continue reading Hulu Unveils its First VR App, Content for Samsung Gear VR

ABC and Warner Bros. Ink Deal for Network’s Digital Platforms

ABC just struck a deal with Warner Bros. Television to make all in-season episodes of any future series from the studio available on ABC digital platforms. That’s a victory for the network over other streaming services, in particular Netflix, which often insists on exclusivity, thus blocking networks from securing so-called stacking rights, or five rolling episodes of a current show. The ABC-Warner Bros. deal means that ABC will have more relevant content for its own time-shifted options, including the revamped WatchABC app. Continue reading ABC and Warner Bros. Ink Deal for Network’s Digital Platforms

Google Cast Technology Powers New Vizio TVs and Speakers

Vizio is launching a SmartCast TV set and several soundbars and speakers, all based on Google Cast, the same technology as that company’s Chromecast streaming stick. With the SmartCast TV, the user can control streaming services directly from his or her phone, without a remote control. Vizio just introduced a companion Android app on Google Play that will allow volume control and other basic functions as well as a movie/TV show guide. One partner in the launch is Walmart’s video service Vudu. Continue reading Google Cast Technology Powers New Vizio TVs and Speakers

Amazon, Netflix Producing Local Content for European Markets

Amazon and Netflix have both entered a new arena: producing local content in Europe that, they hope, will also have global appeal. Germany, as Europe’s largest and wealthiest country, is of particular interest, but Amazon and Netflix also have competition. In one example, Britain’s Sky – which has 21 million subscribers — and German broadcaster ARD are shooting a 12-episode TV series, “Babylon Berlin,” about the years before Hitler’s rise, at a new $13 million outdoor set constructed at the Babelsberg Film Studio. Continue reading Amazon, Netflix Producing Local Content for European Markets

Media Companies Turn to A La Carte Sales in Foreign Markets

Viacom, 21st Century Fox and The Walt Disney Company are among the numerous entertainment companies offering their content a la carte — in Europe, Latin America and Asia. In the U.S., these networks are still parts of more expensive bundles proffered by Comcast, DirecTV and other pay TV services. That reflects a much lower penetration of homes outside the U.S. that have a cable or satellite subscription, which makes it possible for media companies to make a la carte offers without running afoul of pay TV providers. Continue reading Media Companies Turn to A La Carte Sales in Foreign Markets

CBS Five-Year Plan Looks to Expand OTT and Skinny Bundles

During an investor day in New York on Tuesday, CBS chairman and CEO Les Moonves unveiled the network’s five-year business plan, which intends to ramp up business online and overseas, and cash in on retransmission fees in order to increase overall revenue by $3.75 billion. To help achieve its goal, the company plans to reach 8 million subscribers for its OTT services — CBS All Access and Showtime streaming — and add another 4 million subs for its skinny bundle packages. Sources also indicate that CBS has expressed interest in adding Starz to its cable portfolio. Continue reading CBS Five-Year Plan Looks to Expand OTT and Skinny Bundles

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