Comcast to Roll Out its Xfinity Prepaid Services in Five States

Later this year, Comcast will debut a prepaid service similar to the plans wireless companies use to attract low-income households. Dubbed Xfinity Prepaid Services, the customer can buy TV or Internet services for seven or 30 days at a time, with a one-time equipment set-up fee. Upon completion of the term, the user can renew the service with no limitations. Xfinity Prepaid Services will first be available in Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, Florida and Indiana. Comcast will extend the service to all its customers by end of 2017. Continue reading Comcast to Roll Out its Xfinity Prepaid Services in Five States

ABC Targets Cord Cutters with Expanded Streaming Offerings

ABC relaunched its streaming service yesterday to attract cord cutters with an increased number of TV shows and a collection of new digital originals. The network is introducing seven digital short-form series that focus on comedy and lifestyle, with more than 40 digital programs in development. The content is available via the free, ad-supported app and online at ABC.go.com. The app is debuting a redesigned user interface for iOS devices and Apple TV boxes. In addition, pay TV subscribers will have access to exclusive content and, in select markets, the ability to view live television. Continue reading ABC Targets Cord Cutters with Expanded Streaming Offerings

USA Gets Creative with Social Marketing of ‘Mr. Robot’ Return

The second season of the series “Mr. Robot” debuts this evening. But three days earlier, fans of the USA Network series who tuned into Facebook Live to watch a Q&A with the cast of the series, moderated by comedian Keegan-Michael Key, got a surprise showing. In a twist that emulates the show’s themes, fsociety, the show’s hacker organization, broke into the live Q&A to deliver a rant about the interview, followed by a sneak preview of the debut episode of Season 2. Then the full episode disappeared. Continue reading USA Gets Creative with Social Marketing of ‘Mr. Robot’ Return

Unplugged: YouTube’s Online TV Service Expected Next Year

YouTube has been developing an online TV service for today’s cord cutters, expected to launch early in 2017, and has reportedly been working on deals with ABC, CBS, ESPN and other major broadcasters. However, the video platform may pass on smaller cable networks, in hopes of creating YouTube channels with related video content. In May, Bloomberg reported that the $35-per-month service would be called Unplugged and could include smaller bundles of add-on channels. “Online TV services are still young, and there’s plenty of market for YouTube to go after,” suggests The Verge, noting that current obstacles include the availability of networks on services such as Sling, and the emergence of standalone services from CBS and soon, ESPN. Continue reading Unplugged: YouTube’s Online TV Service Expected Next Year

Twitter in Talks with NBA, MLS and Turner for Live Streaming

With the goal of being a player in live-streaming sports, Twitter is now in conversations with the NBA, Major League Soccer and cable network Turner, say sources. The company already has the rights to stream some of the NFL’s Thursday Night Football games in the fall. And although Twitter couldn’t stream live Wimbledon matches (ESPN holds those rights), it has streamed pre- and post-game material as well as live interviews and analysis. New deals could resemble either of these arrangements. Continue reading Twitter in Talks with NBA, MLS and Turner for Live Streaming

ESPN Planning to Offer Select Content via Streaming Package

ESPN is reportedly planning to offer a streaming package of live niche programming and select college sports directly to consumers via the Internet. The OTT offering is not expected to feature big league content, and ESPN does not have any immediate plans to make its core product available for standalone streaming. “Despite the growing selection of so-called ‘skinny bundles,’ earlier this year ESPN president John Skipper said that this isn’t the time to move away from the lucrative business of selling to TV providers like Comcast and Time Warner Cable,” reports The Verge. Last year, ESPN experimented with offering direct access to its Cricket World Cup coverage without the need for a pay TV subscription. Continue reading ESPN Planning to Offer Select Content via Streaming Package

Comcast, Netflix Ink Deal to Stream Videos on X1 Set-Top Box

Comcast just announced that it will allow Netflix to stream videos onto its X1 platform. According to a statement, both companies say they still have “much work to do” before they will be able to rollout the new service to consumers before the end of the year. Sources say that the deal will ultimately be similar to those that Netflix has created with smaller cable services across the country. In those arrangements, the Netflix app is seen on the platform, making it easier for users to sign in and access it. Continue reading Comcast, Netflix Ink Deal to Stream Videos on X1 Set-Top Box

Twitter Tests Live-Streaming Sports with Wimbledon Coverage

Twitter is live-streaming tennis tournament Wimbledon, finally giving viewers the chance to see what live-streamed sports look like on the platform. The company earlier this year paid NFL $10 million for the rights to stream some Thursday Night Football games but, up until now, no one had any idea what that would actually look like. Beginning on Wednesday, Wimbledon’s official Twitter account began tweeting the live feed, with the video stream at the top of a “Live” page, with scrollable tweets listed below. Continue reading Twitter Tests Live-Streaming Sports with Wimbledon Coverage

NBC, Samsung, OBS Team Up to Offer VR Olympics Coverage

NBC plans to release about 85 hours of virtual reality content of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games, marking the first time that the Olympics will be available as a VR experience. Participating cable/satellite operators will make the content available exclusively to their pay-TV subscribers on Samsung devices. Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) will do the actual production of the VR content, which will then be supplied to NBC Olympics. Among the content to be made available are the opening and closing ceremonies. Continue reading NBC, Samsung, OBS Team Up to Offer VR Olympics Coverage

Weather Channel Turns to AR Tech for 2016 Hurricane Season

The Weather Channel has launched three new augmented reality tools to help bring tropical storms and hurricane season to life during its broadcasts. SurgeFX offers a realistic to-scale surge forecast, Shear Factor displays real data in three dimensions, and 3D visualization tool Tropical Replay tracks past storms to provide historical context. Last year, the network unveiled its AR capabilities with an in-studio tornado simulation. “For the 2016 hurricane season, the network is adding a data dimension to its augmented reality features,” reports Mashable. “Instead of just simulating weather phenomena, the products will incorporate real-time data through dazzling graphics.” Continue reading Weather Channel Turns to AR Tech for 2016 Hurricane Season

Disney to Buy Stake in BAM Tech, MLB Streaming Video Unit

Disney is acquiring a 33 percent stake in the streaming video unit of Major League Baseball’s MLB Advanced Media tech arm. The deal values the unit, dubbed BAM Tech, at $3.5 billion. Terms of the deal also reportedly include a four-year option for Disney to purchase an additional 33 percent stake. The deal raises the prospect that Disney “is poised to expand its range of online-video services,” reports Variety. “The league formed MLBAM in 2000 to launch MLB.tv, one of the earliest Internet-delivered video subscription services. Since then, it has grown the division to operate streaming services of several other companies — including Disney’s WatchESPN.” Continue reading Disney to Buy Stake in BAM Tech, MLB Streaming Video Unit

Dish Unveils New Sling TV Packages and Adds More Channels

Dish announced it is updating its Sling TV streaming service to include popular channels such as Bravo, BBC America, NBC, Syfy and USA. Sling TV will also offer new price packages intended to attract those without pay TV service. “Dish has named its basic $20 single-screen package Sling Orange, and added Sling Blue, a $25 multiscreen package, which will feature local NBC broadcasts in 10 cities,” reports Bloomberg. “Customers can buy a combination of Blue and Orange for $40 a month.” Sling currently has more than 700,000 subscribers. Continue reading Dish Unveils New Sling TV Packages and Adds More Channels

Lionsgate to Purchase Premium Channel Starz for $4.4 Billion

Lionsgate announced it has agreed to acquire premium cable network Starz for $4.4 billion in cash and stock. Starz president and CEO Chris Albrecht, who just signed a new contract that runs through 2020, is expected to continue running Starz. It is not clear if the deal would have any impact on Lionsgate’s stake in Epix, which the company owns with Viacom and MGM, and serves as the pay TV home to Lionsgate films. The deal will bring 17 Starz- and Encore-branded channels and Anchor Bay Entertainment video distribution to Lionsgate. Continue reading Lionsgate to Purchase Premium Channel Starz for $4.4 Billion

PlayStation Vue on Roku Devices Offers Alternative to Cable

Sony’s PlayStation Vue streaming TV service is now available on Roku’s set-top boxes, media sticks and television sets. The Vue service enables users to stream dozens of cable channels such as CNN, Comedy Central, ESPN, Fox News and MTV over the Internet. Vue can be accessed as a Roku app in addition to apps for iPhones, iPads and Amazon’s Fire TV. Next week Vue will be offered for Android users. “Now that Vue is available nationwide and on many streaming-video devices, it’s truly a viable alternative to a traditional cable-TV service,” suggests The Wall Street Journal. Continue reading PlayStation Vue on Roku Devices Offers Alternative to Cable

Comcast Rolls Out X1 Search & Record Tool for Rio Olympics

Comcast developed X1, a voice-controlled remote technology that allows its subscribers to search, similar to virtual assistants from Amazon and Apple. Now chief executive Brian Roberts has a good reason to roll it out: the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. NBC plans to broadcast every event live on TV or online — a programming equivalent of 24 hours a day for 250 days — and X1 will make it all searchable, by event, athlete or country. Subscribers can even get alerts when an American is close to winning gold. Continue reading Comcast Rolls Out X1 Search & Record Tool for Rio Olympics

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