Amazon Will Debut New UI for Fire TV Stick 4K, Fire TV Cube

Next month, Amazon is slated to launch a new Fire TV interface for its Fire TV Stick 4K and Fire TV Cube streaming devices. In 2016, Amazon pioneered the “content-first user experience,” which listed rows of movies and TV shows from various streaming apps on the home TV. This idea was picked up by many others in the industry, including Google, Vizio and LG. But, as the number of streaming services has expanded, this model has become unwieldy and chaotic — and Amazon is about to rein it in via a simplified navigation bar. Continue reading Amazon Will Debut New UI for Fire TV Stick 4K, Fire TV Cube

Roku Purchases Quibi Shows, May Produce Original Content

Roku is apparently planning to expand its VOD offerings by producing its own original content, having placed a LinkedIn ad in January looking for a “lead production attorney … [with] substantial experience in television and film production either at a studio, network, streaming service or entertainment law firm [for its] expanding slate of original content.” The ad also asked for someone with “experience working with Hollywood guilds and unions.” Roku recently purchased original content from the startup Quibi. During the holiday quarter, Roku experienced a 58 percent jump in revenue. Continue reading Roku Purchases Quibi Shows, May Produce Original Content

Spotify Reports Q4 Subscriber Growth, Focuses on Podcasts

Spotify Technology SA posted unexpectedly strong subscription growth during Q4 2020, to 345 million monthly active users, up 27 percent from a year earlier. Paid subscriptions grew 24 percent above the same period last year to 155 million. But average revenue per subscriber fell 8 percent to €4.26 ($5.13) due to discounted plans and lower rates in India and Russia. The company’s 2021 outlook takes into account that such growth could diminish in 2021. Shares of the company fell 9 percent to $315. Continue reading Spotify Reports Q4 Subscriber Growth, Focuses on Podcasts

LG’s Major Stake in Alphonso Boosts Its Streaming Ad Goals

Just prior to CES 2021, LG Electronics stated it spent $80 million to take a 60 percent stake in Alphonso, an advertising technology, data and measurement company, to advance its aim of building a streaming-TV advertising business. LG is buying out Manifest Investment Partners and other existing Alphonso investors. Founders, current and former employees and “various advisers” will hold onto the remaining shares. The company, which had a pre-money valuation of about $125 million, has raised $6.3 million thus far. Continue reading LG’s Major Stake in Alphonso Boosts Its Streaming Ad Goals

AT&T to Launch Ad-Supported HBO Max and Mobile Service

AT&T plans to introduce a lower-cost, ad-supported version of HBO Max in the spring, said chief executive John Stankey, who added that it would be a “light ad load.” Some shows, however, would only be available to subscribers who pay for the full-price version. With the move, HBO Max is joining Hulu and NBC’s Peacock that also offer a free or lower-price version that comes with commercials. Stankey also revealed the company is considering ad-supported wireless phone plans as soon as a year from now. Continue reading AT&T to Launch Ad-Supported HBO Max and Mobile Service

NBC Debuts Streamer Peacock With Free, Ad-Supported Tier

NBCUniversal’s streaming platform Peacock debuted today with three tiers: a free, ad-supported plan that features thousands of hours of content; a $4.99-per-month subscription that offers more than double the content of the base plan; and a $9.99 premium version without ads (both paid plans offer discounted annual subscriptions). Users of the free version can surf among 20 feeds, one featuring favorites like “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “The King of Queens,” another with NBC’s morning program “Today,” and another dedicated to its late-night shows. By offering a free version, said Peacock chair Matt Strauss, NBCUniversal is betting that people are looking for “more affordable options.” Continue reading NBC Debuts Streamer Peacock With Free, Ad-Supported Tier

Deloitte Study Warns Growth in Streaming Subs May Not Last

Per the 14th annual edition of Deloitte’s Digital Media Trends study, the average U.S. consumer now pays for four streaming-video services, up from three before the COVID-19 pandemic. Deloitte warns that, once lockdown restrictions are lifted, consumers may cut back on their streaming again. Pre-COVID, 73 percent subscribed to at least one paid streaming service, a number that has risen to about 80 percent. Deloitte compared the findings of a December 2019-January 2020 survey with a second one conducted in May 2020. Continue reading Deloitte Study Warns Growth in Streaming Subs May Not Last

ViacomCBS Reportedly Developing a New Streaming Service

The newly integrated ViacomCBS is combining its assets to fuel a streaming service based on CBS All Access, say sources. Executives are reportedly considering an ad-supported service that will integrate Viacom’s Pluto TV, Nickelodeon, BET, MTV, Comedy Central and Paramount Pictures with CBS All Access. Also on the drawing board is an ad-free version and a premium version including Showtime. No name or price point have been set, although sources stated the basic services will probably be less than $10/month. Continue reading ViacomCBS Reportedly Developing a New Streaming Service

Netflix Tests Feature to Skip Browsing and Begin Streaming

Netflix started a global test of a new feature — dubbed Watch Now — that allows users to skip browsing titles and begin streaming immediately. The new feature will appear as a button on the profile selection page that opens when the Netflix app launches on a smart TV or streaming device. Netflix is well known for testing features with specific local markets, device categories or audiences. Watch Now is being tested for a month or two with a small worldwide audience on TVs and TV-connected devices including Roku and Fire TV. Continue reading Netflix Tests Feature to Skip Browsing and Begin Streaming

TV Maker Vizio to Sell Ads on SmartCast Operating System

Television manufacturer Vizio is forming Vizio Ads to sell advertising on its Internet-connected SmartCast TV operating system. To do so, the company plans to hire “about two dozen” ad salespeople across the U.S. next year. Senior vice president Mike O’Donnell, who revealed that six salespeople have already been hired, stated that Vizio Ads will be housed with Vizio’s TV data unit Inscape, both of which reside in the company’s “platform business.” Currently, advertising is sold by companies whose programming streams on SmartCast. Continue reading TV Maker Vizio to Sell Ads on SmartCast Operating System

Netflix Preps For the Onslaught of New Streaming Services

In advance of the debut of Disney+ on November 12, Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings said he admires Disney and plans to subscribe to the new service. In addition to last week’s Apple TV+ launch, WarnerMedia’s HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock are also set to debut in 2020. Hastings noted that Netflix has always faced streaming competition with YouTube, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. Predicting that consumers will subscribe to multiple services, he said time spent on each service is the new metric. Continue reading Netflix Preps For the Onslaught of New Streaming Services

Vudu to Release Family Viewing Controls, “Mr. Mom” Reboot

Walmart’s video streaming service Vudu is introducing both a suite of tools to help parents better control what their children watch and its first original series, the family-oriented 11-episode “Mr. Mom,” a reboot of MGM’s 1983 comedy written by John Hughes. The first two episodes of “Mr. Mom” debuted September 12. The new tools include Family Play, which allows viewers to automatically skip or mute profanity, sex, nudity, violence and substance abuse. Also on tap are reviews and ratings from Common Sense Media. Continue reading Vudu to Release Family Viewing Controls, “Mr. Mom” Reboot

Amazon Seeks Exclusive Licenses to Add IMDb TV Content

Amazon, which is increasing its investment in IMDb TV, an ad-supported streaming service for movies/TV, is now asking content creators for exclusive licenses, according to sources. An example of this is its contact with Vice Media to make a deal for Emmy-winning “Vice News Tonight,” recently canceled by HBO. The tech company also now offers an upfront license fee for “some type of exclusivity,” as opposed to its earlier model of only sharing ad revenue. Some content owners prefer an upfront fee, which is a guaranteed payment. Continue reading Amazon Seeks Exclusive Licenses to Add IMDb TV Content

Ad-Supported YouTube Originals to Be Free For Everyone

YouTube has released new details regarding its previously announced transition to ad-supported free content to be made available via YouTube Originals. According to a statement from the YouTube team: “New YouTube Originals series, movies, and live events released after September 24, 2019 will be made available to non-members to watch for free, with ads. For series, members will get immediate access to every episode of a new season, while non-members will have to wait for each new episode to be released.” Continue reading Ad-Supported YouTube Originals to Be Free For Everyone

YouTube to Roll Out Free Originals, Measurement Analysis

At IAB’s Digital Content NewFronts in New York City last week, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki revealed that 2 billion monthly global users now watch more than 250 million hours of YouTube content on TV screens daily. The video hub is actively working on brand safety issues, plans to integrate Nielsen Catalina analysis to measure increases in offline sales, and — in a significant strategy shift — announced it would remove the paywall for some of its ad-supported original programming. Starting this year, all of the platform’s new original series and specials will be available for free. Continue reading YouTube to Roll Out Free Originals, Measurement Analysis

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