Comcast Launching XiOne Streaming Device and XClass TVs

Comcast is upping its hardware play, launching a branded wireless streaming device, the XiOne, and offering TVs running its own software, dubbed XClass in the U.S. The cable giant plans to make XiOne its branded global platform. Comcast describes XiOne as a plug-and-play device with faster processing, more memory and a voice-activated remote. It supports Dolby Atmos, Dolby Vision, Wi-Fi 6, 4K UHD and HDR. XiOne boxes are currently available in Italy and Germany to some subscribers of Sky Q, which Comcast owns. Comcast has begun introducing the devices in the U.S. to customers using older boxes.  Continue reading Comcast Launching XiOne Streaming Device and XClass TVs

Amazon Readies Launch of Fire TV Sets with Alexa Assistant

E-commerce giant Amazon is readying the October launch of its own Fire TV sets featuring its Alexa voice assistant. The Amazon Fire TV Omni Series 4K, which starts at $409.99, and the Amazon Fire TV 4-Series 4K, which starts at $369.99, will be available on Amazon’s website and at Best Buy stores. Toshiba and Insignia, Best Buy’s house brand, have sold TVs powered by Amazon’s Fire TV operating system, the latter since 2018. Amazon adds TVs to its other branded products including clothing, groceries and even batteries. Continue reading Amazon Readies Launch of Fire TV Sets with Alexa Assistant

FOX’s Tubi Plans to Expand Sports Programming in the U.S.

FOX is introducing a sports content hub on its free streaming service Tubi. “Sports on Tubi” will add 10 live-streaming sports channels to its existing offerings, including FOX Sports, FOX Deportes, NFL, MLB, beIN Sports Xtra and beIN Sports Xtra en Español, Fubo Sports Network, Pac-12 Insider, Stadium and USA Today SportsWire, as well as channels for the ACC and Real Madrid later this year. The channels, which will only be available in the United States, will debut first on Amazon Fire TV and Roku and Android devices. Continue reading FOX’s Tubi Plans to Expand Sports Programming in the U.S.

Vizio Upgrades Content, Navigation, Discovery for WatchFree

Vizio refreshed its WatchFree+ streaming service (that now sports a plus sign) with a new look, customized recommendations and new navigation features to improve search and discovery. Also on tap is a programming guide with hundreds of free channels across multiple genres and a “featured” category for seasonal content, themed collections, pop-up channels for limited time programming and Vizio-exclusive custom-curated channels including Fork and Flight for food and travel and Investigation for true-crime shows. Continue reading Vizio Upgrades Content, Navigation, Discovery for WatchFree

NBCU Merges FandangoNOW and Vudu as Single Streamer

NBCUniversal has merged its FandangoNOW on-demand movie and TV platform with Vudu, the video streaming service it purchased from Walmart last year. FandangoNOW customers will be able to transfer their accounts and collections to Vudu, which uses Roku Pay as its in-app payment system. In a revenue-sharing deal, the new Vudu-branded offering will serve as Roku’s official film and TV store. Fandango executives concluded that Vudu had a stronger brand and that the merger would help to “rapidly innovate and make bolder, faster enhancements to benefit consumers and partners.” Continue reading NBCU Merges FandangoNOW and Vudu as Single Streamer

Samsung TV Plus Is Now Streaming Online After Soft Launch

Samsung debuted its TV Plus streaming service on the Internet, with the ability to cast videos to devices that support Google’s Chromecast to its mobile app. Previously, TV Plus was only available on Samsung’s smart TVs and smartphones. The web-based TV Plus apparently had a soft launch in May but had not yet been publicly announced by the company. With this expansion, TV Plus has become a rival to other free streaming services such as Pluto TV and Tubi. U.S. consumers will have access to about 140 streaming channels. Continue reading Samsung TV Plus Is Now Streaming Online After Soft Launch

Discovery Launches Streaming Service on Multiple Platforms

Discovery launched its discovery+ streaming service in the U.S. this week, which can be downloaded from an extensive list of platforms, including Amazon Fire TV, Fire Edition TVs, Apple TV, Android TV, Roku, Samsung Smart TVs (2017 and newer), Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S (but not PlayStation 4 or 5), on mobile via Android and iOS, and via the web on Chrome OS, macOS and Windows PCs. TVs with built-in Chromecast or AirPlay support can cast content from the app. The SVOD service launches with more than 55,000 episodes from channels including Animal Planet, Discovery, Food Network, HGTV, ID, OWN, TLC, Travel Channel and others. Continue reading Discovery Launches Streaming Service on Multiple Platforms

Comcast, Walmart Discuss a Potential Smart TV Partnership

Comcast and Walmart are discussing a partnership whereby the former would develop smart TV software, and the latter would promote the TVs, possibly under its own brand Onn, and get a share of recurring revenues. The TVs would be manufactured by a third party. Comcast, whose software would aim to help consumers navigate streaming apps, would be able to market its TVs nationwide. The Comcast sets would put it in competition with Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Roku, the dominant players in streaming platforms. Continue reading Comcast, Walmart Discuss a Potential Smart TV Partnership

T-Mobile to Debut Pay TV Service Starting at $10 Per Month

T-Mobile US is aiming to lure cord-cutters with a new TV service that costs as little as $10 per month. Next week, the No. 2 mobile carrier will offer three tiers of service: TVision Vibe, a bundle without sports channels for $10 per month; TVision Live, with local broadcast channels, sports channels and news brands such as CNN; and TVision Channels, a bundle with premium cable options like Showtime and Starz. T-Mobile customers will be able to access the service this Sunday, followed by Sprint customers later in November. Continue reading T-Mobile to Debut Pay TV Service Starting at $10 Per Month

Quibi Shutters Video Platform That Targeted Mobile Viewers

After launching only six months ago, Quibi is shuttering its doors. According to sources, Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg called investors to give them the news. As a startup, Quibi raised $1.75 billion but, since its debut, failed to sign up subscribers, garnered low download numbers and faced a well-funded lawsuit from interactive video company Eko, which claimed credit for its video streaming technology. Quibi also contended with the coronavirus pandemic while promoting a mobile platform. Katzenberg envisioned Quibi as “quick bites” of 5- to 10-minute videos formatted for the mobile screen. Continue reading Quibi Shutters Video Platform That Targeted Mobile Viewers

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

Disney+ Service Has Strong Start With 41 Million Downloads

Since its debut two months ago, the Disney+ mobile app has been downloaded from the Apple Store and Google Play 41 million times — four times as many as HBO Now — earning nearly $100 million, reports Sensor Tower. That news sent Disney shares up two percent to $146.72. In Q4 2019, Disney+ was downloaded 30 million times, more than twice that of TikTok. According to a YouGov survey, 76 percent of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with Disney+ compared to 48 percent for Apple TV+. Continue reading Disney+ Service Has Strong Start With 41 Million Downloads

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

Advertisers Turn to Streaming Services For More User Data

As streaming services proliferate, so does the technology that tracks their viewers. AT&T, Roku, and ad giant Publicis, among others, are harvesting viewers’ email addresses and the devices they use to stream content. Privacy advocates are concerned, with Center for Digital Democracy executive director Jeff Chester calling the practice a “digital daisy chain of data-gathering on viewers.” But advertisers find the opportunity to gather the specific data available with streaming services too appealing to pass up. Continue reading Advertisers Turn to Streaming Services For More User Data

Hulu Advances Personalization With Like/Dislike Buttons

Ahead of the launch of two new streaming services, Disney+ and Apple TV+, Hulu is taking steps to add more personalization to its platform. After launching an enhanced recommendation engine that takes into account what viewers watch and when, it’s now introducing Like and Dislike buttons that will enable more personal and accurate content recommendations. The new buttons now appear across the Hulu platform. When using a living room device, you’ll see them on the Details page; when using a computer, you’ll see them on the Homepage.

Continue reading Hulu Advances Personalization With Like/Dislike Buttons