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

CBS All Access Will Be Rebranded Paramount+ Early in 2021

ViacomCBS plans to roll out Paramount+, a new version of its flagship streamer CBS All Access, that will take advantage of a larger program catalog created by last year’s merger of CBS and Viacom. Among the original shows exclusive to Paramount+ are “Lioness” from “Yellowstone” creator Taylor Sheridan and “The Offer,” a scripted series about the making of “The Godfather” saga. CBS All Access costs $5.99 per month with ads and $9.99 per month without them, but ViacomCBS didn’t release pricing for Paramount+. Continue reading CBS All Access Will Be Rebranded Paramount+ Early in 2021

Microsoft Launches Dual-Screen Foldable Surface Duo Device

Microsoft is reentering the mobile phone market with the Surface Duo, a dual-screen Android device priced at $1,399 and up. According to Microsoft chief product officer Panos Panay, the company is accepting preorders for the phone that will ship on September 10. The phone will be sold on Microsoft’s website, and at AT&T and Best Buy. The Surface Duo’s screens completely unfold to act as a phone or a book to provide more space for apps. The Surface Duo may appear before Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 2, which currently has no official release date. Continue reading Microsoft Launches Dual-Screen Foldable Surface Duo Device

T-Mobile Introduces First Nationwide End-to-End 5G Network

T-Mobile announced it has launched what it claims is the world’s first nationwide standalone 5G network. Up until now, AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon have all offered a version of 5G that is really 5G radios deployed on top of 4G LTE gear. T-Mobile’s new 5G network is completely “next-generation” and will enable new features as well as faster data speeds. T-Mobile stated that its 5G network is 30 percent larger than before, available in 2,000 more towns and cities in the U.S. Its network currently covers 1.3 million square miles. Continue reading T-Mobile Introduces First Nationwide End-to-End 5G Network

Brands Experiment With Placing Ads in Console Video Games

As an experiment, some advertisers are placing TV ads in video games with the aim of reaching a younger demographic less likely to watch traditional television. Ad tech firm Simulmedia is running the tests, such as enabling the Turner division of AT&T’s WarnerMedia to run ads promoting Turner properties — the animated “Rick and Morty,” sci-fi series “Snowpiercer” and celebrity golf show “The Match” — within Electronic Arts’ “UFC 3” fighting game. That was followed by Experian testing an ad for Experian Boost within the same game. Continue reading Brands Experiment With Placing Ads in Console Video Games

U.S. Examines Ways to Compete in 5G, Japan Joins the Race

The Trump administration is considering strategies for edging out Huawei and China’s 5G dominance. It has already unsuccessfully urged Cisco Systems to purchase Ericsson or Nokia and reportedly discussed providing those two companies tax breaks and export-bank financing or helping to take one of them private. Also proposed is a plan to support “mix and match” network technology to smooth the path for U.S. startups to develop new 5G technology. Japan’s NTT and NEC are also making a play for a bigger role in 5G. Continue reading U.S. Examines Ways to Compete in 5G, Japan Joins the Race

Qualcomm Snapdragon 690 Will Enable Mid-Tier 5G Phones

Qualcomm unveiled its next step towards widespread availability of 5G-enabled smartphones. The Snapdragon 690 is a more economical mobile platform with 5G connectivity, and support for cameras with up to 192-megapixel photos and 30-frame-per-second 4K HDR videos, the latter two based on AI chip enhancements for high bitrates. Snapdragon 690 incorporates the X51 modem, which offers global 5G band and global multi-SIM support, although it’s only capable of connecting to sub-6GHz 5G networks, excluding millimeter wave. Continue reading Qualcomm Snapdragon 690 Will Enable Mid-Tier 5G Phones

Streamer HBO Max Offers Wide Range of Movies, TV Shows

AT&T launched HBO Max this week, with a plan to spend $4.5+ billion on the streaming platform over the next few years. AT&T, which hopes to sign up 50 million HBO Max subscribers by 2025, bought Time Warner for $85.4 billion in 2018 with the idea of creating a significant streaming platform. HBO Max, which costs $15 per month, offers 10,000 hours of programming, including HBO series “Game of Thrones” and “Succession” as well as Warner Bros. hit TV shows such as “Friends” and “The Big Bang Theory.” Continue reading Streamer HBO Max Offers Wide Range of Movies, TV Shows

Executive Spotlight: A Talk With Tony Driscoll of Warner Bros.

For the third week of ETC’s Executive Spotlight series, in which we interview leaders from our member companies about how they are adapting business operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, we had an opportunity to speak with Tony Driscoll, SVP of emerging technology strategy & data services at Warner Bros. Technology. Previously with AT&T, Driscoll is currently responsible for his studio’s strategies involving emerging trends and tech-driven innovation opportunities. He also works in close coordination with the WarnerMedia Innovation Lab. Warner Bros. has been using various technologies for remote collaboration since the offices began closing due to the pandemic in early 2020. We caught up with Tony at his home office. Continue reading Executive Spotlight: A Talk With Tony Driscoll of Warner Bros.

Pay-TV Providers Feel the Impact of Increase in Cord-Cutting

The COVID-19 pandemic is speeding up the ongoing trend of cord-cutting, according to industry experts. The major reason that consumers still hold on to pay-TV subscriptions is to watch live sports. Now, with all professional and college sports events on hold, that reason has disappeared. Additional reasons to cut the cord are high unemployment and an increasing number of free streaming options for entertainment. Cable, virtual cable and satellite TV companies have posted significant losses at the end of the last quarter. Continue reading Pay-TV Providers Feel the Impact of Increase in Cord-Cutting

‘Trolls’ Sequel Tests PVOD Model While Theaters Are Closed

“Trolls World Tour,” produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Universal Pictures, was due to release in movie theaters on April 10. But when the coronavirus pandemic closed theaters, Universal decided to release it as a $19.99 digital rental on platforms including Apple TV, Amazon and Comcast’s Xfinity. Three weeks later, “Trolls” has generated almost $100 million, more than the original 2016 movie. That has encouraged Universal execs to consider digital release as a real alternative to postponing a theatrical release. Continue reading ‘Trolls’ Sequel Tests PVOD Model While Theaters Are Closed

Apple Preps for Release of New iPhones, HomePod Speaker

Apple is readying the fall release of its new iPhone line-up, including the redesign and the addition of 5G to two high-end phones and two less expensive models to replace the iPhone 11. Sources report that among the redesign of the top-tier phones are flat stainless-steel edges and flat screens. Yesterday, the company delivered a virtual unveiling of its new iPhone SE, featuring a design similar to its older iPhone 8. Apple also plans to release a new version of its HomePod speaker that is smaller and cheaper than the original, in addition to Apple Tags for tracking keys, wallets and other objects. Continue reading Apple Preps for Release of New iPhones, HomePod Speaker

While Streaming Services Surge, a Number of Hurdles Loom

Streaming video is in high demand, as millions of people sheltering at home seek entertainment. According to a poll of 2,000 people by The Wall Street Journal and the Harris Poll, Americans spent $37 per month on streaming services in March, up from the $30 they spent in November. Amazon Studios chief operating officer Albert Cheng calls the rising metrics “jaw-dropping.” The Walt Disney Company is also experiencing a bump, with its Disney+ signing up 50 million global subscribers within five months of launching. However, existing and emerging services face a mounting recession and delayed productions. Continue reading While Streaming Services Surge, a Number of Hurdles Loom

T-Mobile & Sprint Complete Merger, John Legere Steps Down

T-Mobile has completed its $30 billion merger with Sprint, creating what the company dubs the New T-Mobile (the formal name will remain T-Mobile). Chief executive John Legere stepped down before the April 30 date in the contract, and his successor, former chief operating officer Mike Sievert, has taken his place. The new business, now with about 100 million customers, plans to use the combined infrastructure to ramp up the transition to 5G, with the capacity to offer speeds up to 15 times faster in the next six years and 14 times the capacity, reaching 99 percent of the U.S. with 5G coverage.  Continue reading T-Mobile & Sprint Complete Merger, John Legere Steps Down

AT&T Continues Its Steps to Create Nationwide 5G Coverage

In the transition to 5G, AT&T has focused on the 39GHz millimeter wave radio band, purchasing sizable blocks of this spectrum from FiberTower. Now, the carrier stated that its 39GHz spectrum holdings have more than doubled to 786MHz, which, in principle, should allow it to offer “at least 3Gbps download speeds” across the U.S. The big “if” in this scenario is AT&T’s ability to build nationwide towers to support this short distance mmWave bandwidth. By betting on 39GHz, AT&T will have 800MHz bandwidth in some markets. Continue reading AT&T Continues Its Steps to Create Nationwide 5G Coverage

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