Following U.S. Success, Amazon Brings Channels to Europe

For a year-and-a-half, Amazon has been promoting subscriptions to HBO, Starz and other streaming services. Now, it plans to expand Amazon Channels to Austria, Germany and the U.K. with between 25 to 42 live and on-demand channels from its content partners, thus offering the kind of a la carte TV that many viewers want. Apparently, the success of Channels took Amazon by surprise, and it has created two new channels — Anime Strike and Heera for Bollywood fans — while postponing plans for its own live service. Continue reading Following U.S. Success, Amazon Brings Channels to Europe

Comcast Rolls Out Xfinity Mobile, With Streaming TV Service

On its official Xfinity Mobile website, Comcast is now allowing its Xfinity Internet customers to sign up for the service at a discounted rate of $45 per month. The regular price will be $65 per month for unlimited mobile service. Xfinity Mobile was unveiled in April and will roll out to stores over the coming months throughout Comcast’s current markets. The service runs on top of Verizon’s network, but access to Comcast’s 16 million Wi-Fi hotspots means users will automatically be switched over to Wi-Fi when available. Continue reading Comcast Rolls Out Xfinity Mobile, With Streaming TV Service

Pluto TV Now Offers Free On-Demand Movies and TV Shows

In addition to its more than 100 TV-like linear channels, Pluto TV is now offering thousands of free movies and TV shows on demand via its streaming platform. Pluto TV is expanding its “ad-supported service with VOD as it positions itself as a kind of Spotify for premium video,” reports Variety. “It’s worth noting that Ken Parks, Pluto’s executive chairman, was Spotify’s first U.S. employee and led the music streamer’s negotiations with record labels.” The startup, which launched in 2014 and currently touts more than six million monthly viewers, may introduce a hybrid free/subscription model in the future. Continue reading Pluto TV Now Offers Free On-Demand Movies and TV Shows

CBS Debuts its Combined Showtime and All Access Package

CBS has launched the anticipated bundle of its CBS All Access and Showtime streaming services. Available initially to current subscribers, sign-up for the skinny bundle is accessible via cbs.com or showtime.com. “CBS All Access today goes for $5.99 per month, or $9.99 per month if you want to ditch the ads,” reports TechCrunch. “Showtime’s over-the-top option is $10.99 per month. The new, combined pricing is $14.99 per month for both services, or $18.99 per month if you want the CBS All Access commercial-free plan.” CBS and Showtime are available for subscribers across Web, mobile apps, and TV platforms. Continue reading CBS Debuts its Combined Showtime and All Access Package

Ad-Supported Streamer Tubi TV More Than Doubles Funding

Investors believe Tubi TV may be on the right track with its ad-supported streaming service that now offers more than 50,000 premium movies and TV shows for consumers willing to sit through four to five minutes of commercials for every half hour of content. The San Francisco-based service, which launched in 2014, has more than doubled its funding to $34 million with a new $20 million infusion from four VCs led by Jump Capital. According to Tubi TV founder and chief executive Farhad Massoudi, the service now has “many millions” of users. Continue reading Ad-Supported Streamer Tubi TV More Than Doubles Funding

Early Reviews Largely Positive for Hulu’s New Live TV Service

Hulu’s Live TV has rolled out in beta, offering more than 50 channels for just under $40 per month. What makes Hulu stand out from competing services is that it now offers a combination of streaming video plus live television. Among its live content, Hulu offers the four major broadcast networks, ESPN, HGTV and an array of news and animation content. Original content includes “The Handmaid’s Tale” and the service also boasts day-after TV shows and B-list movies, all melded into a single library. Continue reading Early Reviews Largely Positive for Hulu’s New Live TV Service

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

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 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

Survey Finds Binge-Watching by Younger Viewers on Upswing

Deloitte’s 11th annual “Digital Democracy Survey” found that 73 percent of U.S. consumers have binge-watched video, up from 68 percent two years ago. Binge-watching TV is more common with younger audiences — 90 percent of millennials (ages 20-33) and 87 percent of Gen Z (ages 14-19) — who are increasingly watching on mobile devices. While televisions are losing popularity among younger audiences for marathon-viewing, older demographics — 60 percent of Gen X (ages 34-50) and 80 percent of Baby Boomers (ages 51-69) — still prefer TV. Nearly 40 percent of younger viewers binge-watch TV on a weekly basis, averaging about five hours of content per session. Continue reading Survey Finds Binge-Watching by Younger Viewers on Upswing

Hulu TV Service Will Likely Offer Simultaneous Streams, Alerts

Hulu’s upcoming live TV service will compete for cord cutters with offerings such as Dish’s Sling TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now, Sony’s PlayStation Vue and YouTube TV. While details of the new service have been limited, the company’s marketing site (where it’s currently taking sign-up requests) has teased a few tidbits. The service will likely offer a combination of Hulu’s on-demand content with the option of live TV for a monthly fee below $40. It will also feature a DVR option; a new interface with user profiles, guest profiles, and recommendations; the ability to pause a live TV show for later viewing; real-time custom alerts for events and programs; and support for multiple, simultaneous streams on live TV. Continue reading Hulu TV Service Will Likely Offer Simultaneous Streams, Alerts

PlayStation Now Service to Support Streaming of PS4 Games

Sony’s cloud-based PlayStation Now service currently offers subscribers access to 483 PS3 titles for streaming via PS4 consoles and Windows PCs. The service is about to expand its offerings with support for a new platform. In the next few weeks, the company will launch a private test of PlayStation 4 games on PS Now (select subscribers will receive emailed invitations). This means that gamers will no longer need a PlayStation 4 to experience the platform’s games. According to Sony, additional details will be shared “as we get closer to launch.” Continue reading PlayStation Now Service to Support Streaming of PS4 Games

Sling TV Expands Cloud DVR Access in Early Access Program

Dish’s Sling TV is rolling out its new Cloud DVR to customers with Amazon devices through an early access program. The feature has been in private beta for Roku users since November. While one potential advantage of the cloud is never running out of storage space, “Sling TV isn’t offering infinite storage or even different storage capacities,” reports TechCrunch. “Instead, ‘First Look’ customers pay an extra $5 per month for up to 50 hours of storage, with no expiration on those programs. When capacity runs out, the oldest ‘watched’ recordings are removed first, to make room for others.” Sling TV’s Cloud DVR also allows users to record multiple programs simultaneously (although limited based on rights deals with broadcasters). Continue reading Sling TV Expands Cloud DVR Access in Early Access Program

Milestone: Netflix Service Surpasses DVR in U.S. Households

According to Leichtman Research Group’s latest on-demand study, more TV households in the U.S. now have Netflix (54 percent) than a digital video recorder (53 percent), marking a first for the streaming service. The study also found that 64 percent of households presently use SVOD services from Netflix, Amazon and/or Hulu. “In 2011, according to the research firm, 44 percent of TV households had a DVR and 28 percent had Netflix,” reports Variety. “About 23 percent of all adults in TV homes stream Netflix daily … compared with 6 percent who did in 2011. LRG president Bruce Leichtman noted that Netflix’s penetration is boosted by password sharing.” Continue reading Milestone: Netflix Service Surpasses DVR in U.S. Households

Twitch Introduces its Twitter Competitor Designed for Gamers

Amazon’s game-themed streaming site Twitch is launching a Twitter competitor called Pulse — “a place where streamers can post and engage with all of their followers and the greater Twitch community right from the Twitch front page,” according to the platform’s blog. “It’s an always-on way to share clips, stream highlights, schedules, photos, and more so followers are more informed, engaged, and connected.” This will help broadcasters promote news streams and share content with those who missed earlier streams. “If Twitter were ever going to be disrupted,” writes Casey Newton for The Verge, “this is exactly what I’d imagine it would look like at the beginning.” Continue reading Twitch Introduces its Twitter Competitor Designed for Gamers

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