Paramount Considers Absorbing Showtime into Paramount+

Just weeks after introducing a new bundled approach to marketing Paramount+ and Showtime, there are reports that Paramount Global is considering discontinuing Showtime as a separate streaming service and merging its content into Paramount+. Although couched as in the early phases of discussion, the idea would be to boost the signature platform’s consumer appeal in an increasingly crowded market. Showtime is currently available for $10.99 per month as a standalone service, and Paramount+ subscribers can get Showtime at special pricing through October 2, gaining access to its premium content, including “Billions” and “Yellowjackets.” Continue reading Paramount Considers Absorbing Showtime into Paramount+

Xperi Names Vestel First Smart TV OEM for ‘Neutral’ TiVo OS

Top European TV supplier Vestel has become the first OEM for Xperi’s new TiVo-branded TVOS. In addition to distributing TVs under its own imprimatur, the Turkish firm manufactures sets for Hitachi, JVC, Toshiba and Panasonic. Vestel will begin selling branded TVs with TiVo as the primary software OS in mid-2023, Xperi said. Smart set manufacturers have increasingly sought a portal approach that helps customers navigate among a dizzying array of individual content platforms while sidestepping the additional costs associated with interfaces from the likes of Amazon Fire, Roku, Google TV or Android TV. Continue reading Xperi Names Vestel First Smart TV OEM for ‘Neutral’ TiVo OS

Cox Launches Its New Mobile Service Pilot in Three Markets

Cox Communications has finally launched its long-awaited mobile offering. Cox Mobile is officially piloting in three markets where it is available only to Cox broadband customers: Las Vegas, Nevada; Hampton Roads, Virginia; and Omaha, Nebraska. Customers will initially be offered two plans, each featuring unlimited talk and text — Pay As You Gig and Gig Unlimited, with coverage including 4G LTE and 5G, in addition to 4 million Cox Wi-Fi hotspots. The company plans to expand Cox Mobile in new markets through the rest of the year. Continue reading Cox Launches Its New Mobile Service Pilot in Three Markets

Big Ten Rights Deal Most Lucrative in College Sports History

Comcast announced that Peacock and NBC will “become the exclusive home of ‘Big Ten Saturday Night’ football” beginning in 2023. CBS and FOX also get a piece of Big Ten action in a rights deal that also includes basketball. The college mega-conference will reportedly reap more than $7 billion over seven years, beginning July 1, 2023. CBS and FOX will share the remainder of the Saturday football schedule, with FOX broadcasting the noon games and CBS (and Paramount+) getting mid-afternoon play. The arrangement concludes ESPN’s 40-year run of Big Ten football programming. Continue reading Big Ten Rights Deal Most Lucrative in College Sports History

Nielsen Reports Streaming Leads Cable TV for the First Time

July was the first month in which streaming has overtaken cable viewing, according to Nielsen’s monthly snapshot The Gauge, which reports streaming captured a record 34.8 percent share of total U.S. TV viewership, cable 34.4 percent and broadcast 21.6 percent. While streaming has exceeded broadcast’s viewing share before, this is the first time it also exceeded cable, said Nielsen Global Media’s Brian Fuhrer, SVP of product strategy and thought leadership. Audiences spent 23 percent more time streaming content than they did in July 2021, 9 percent less time watching cable and 10 percent less time watching broadcast television. Continue reading Nielsen Reports Streaming Leads Cable TV for the First Time

Walmart+ Subscribers Get Basic Tier of Paramount+ for Free

Walmart is taking a page from Amazon’s playbook and providing its Walmart+ customers streaming video content thanks to a deal with Paramount Global. Walmart+ subscribers will receive an ad-supported Paramount+ subscription as a perk. In addition to helping Walmart keep customers happy, the deal will further Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish’s stated goal of having 100 million Paramount+ subscribers by 2024. Walmart launched Walmart+ about two years ago charging $98 a year, or $12.95 a month, in exchange for free shipping with online purchases, free grocery deliveries for orders above $35 and discounted prescriptions and gas. Continue reading Walmart+ Subscribers Get Basic Tier of Paramount+ for Free

Warner Bros. Discovery Explores Adding a New FAST Service

Warner Bros. Discovery reported Thursday that the number of direct-to-consumer subscribers to HBO, HBO Max and Discovery+ was up 1.7 million since the close of Q1, for a total of 92.1 million subs. As part of its effort to reach a broader streaming audience, the company plans to launch a combined subscription version of HBO Max and Discovery+ in summer of 2023. CEO David Zaslav revealed that the company is also exploring a free ad-supported TV service. “We see potential,” Zaslav said of launching a discrete FAST service, one that may offer different content from what is currently available on the premium VOD platforms. Continue reading Warner Bros. Discovery Explores Adding a New FAST Service

Big Tech Drives Up Sports Prices as Amazon, Apple Go All In

Big Tech has become a disruptor in the marketplace for sports rights, with Amazon and Apple bidding against traditional media for rights to NFL and MLB games in addition to college conference competition and Formula 1 racing, according to recent reports. Among the prizes, DirecTV’s expiring rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket, a package that is being shopped with a $2.5 billion annual price tag, $1 billion more than the satellite operator’s current deal, which ends in January. In addition, Google is said to be bidding on behalf of YouTube. Beginning September 15, Amazon Prime Video begins its exclusive carriage deal for “Thursday Night Football.”  Continue reading Big Tech Drives Up Sports Prices as Amazon, Apple Go All In

NFL Subscription Streaming Service Targets Fans On-the-Go

The NFL has launched its long-awaited streaming service, NFL+, offering two tiers of live local and prime time regular season and postseason games on mobile devices, and live out-of-market preseason games on any device. Priced at $4.99 per month or $39.99 per year for the basic service, NFL+ also provides live local and national audio for every game and programs from the NFL Films archive. NFL+ Premium offers more live games and commercial-free replays on any device for 9.99 per month or $79.99 per year. Premium will absorb the $99.99 per year NFL Game Pass, launched in 2015, which will no longer be available as a separate subscription in the U.S.  Continue reading NFL Subscription Streaming Service Targets Fans On-the-Go

Netflix Names Microsoft as Sales and Tech Partner for Ad Tier

After much speculation, Netflix has revealed it has chosen Microsoft to help with configuring and launching an ad-supported subscription tier. Netflix announced plans for the new tier in April, explaining that a partner might be brought in to accelerate the effort and fuel innovation. Microsoft will supply ad-placement technology and ads served on Netflix will be exclusively booked through the Microsoft platform. “Microsoft offered the flexibility to innovate over time on both the technology and sales side, as well as strong privacy protections for our members,” Netflix COO Greg Peters explained in a statement. Continue reading Netflix Names Microsoft as Sales and Tech Partner for Ad Tier

TiVo Owner Xperi Acquires OTT Software Firm for $109 Million

Technology company Xperi has purchased Norway-based OTT software maker Vewd for $109 million. Xperi purchased TiVo for $3 billion in December 2019, with the goal of integrating TiVo’s video UX with its smart TV expertise. Xperi intends to compete with companies like Amazon, Comcast, Google and Roku for the “gatekeeper” position in the world’s connected-TV living rooms. The Vewd deal gives Xperi access to an installed European footprint of roughly 15 million devices that it plans to target for activation of TiVo+, a free ad-supported TV (FAST) service. Continue reading TiVo Owner Xperi Acquires OTT Software Firm for $109 Million

Sarandos Talks Netflix Ad-Supported Tier at Advertising Fest

Netflix is actively exploring partnership options for an ad-supported variation of its video platform. Company CEO Ted Sarandos confirmed last week that the company is speaking to multiple partners. Alphabet’s Google and Comcast’s NBCUniversal have emerged as leading contenders. “We’re talking to all of them right now,” Sarandos said during the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity advertising conference. “We want a pretty easy entry to the market — which, again, we will build on and iterate in. What we do at first will not be representative of what the product will be ultimately. I want our product to be better than TV.” Continue reading Sarandos Talks Netflix Ad-Supported Tier at Advertising Fest

Ad Tech, Brand Messaging Take Center Stage at TV Upfronts

While this year’s TV Upfronts were packed with celebrity appearances and musical performances, the focus had clearly shifted from scheduling to content that could be watched anytime and anywhere and the technologies that facilitate ad insertions and brand messaging opportunities. In addition to changing viewer habits, streaming and binge watching have resulted in new priorities for program services, now focused on libraries that amount to inventory by the ton, according to reports from the television industry’s annual New York pitch event for advertisers. Continue reading Ad Tech, Brand Messaging Take Center Stage at TV Upfronts

New Federal Program to Make Internet Access Available to All

The Biden Administration has secured private sector commitments designed to provide free or reduced-rate Internet to American families. As part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) allows tens of millions of U.S. households to lower their monthly bills or sign-up for new service. Among the 20 leading Internet providers participating in the plan, which reaches more than 80 percent of the population, are AT&T (Spectrum), Comcast (Xfinity) and Verizon. The list also includes smaller rural providers such as Jackson Energy Authority in Tennessee and Comporium in North Carolina. Continue reading New Federal Program to Make Internet Access Available to All

Paramount Global’s Streaming Subs Exceed 62 Million in Q1

Paramount Global’s worldwide streaming subscribers for Paramount+ and Showtime rose to more than 62 million in Q1, driven by Paramount+, which added 6.8 million for a total of close to 40 million, the company said in its earnings report. Paramount+ is poised to add the United Kingdom and South Korea to its global portfolio next month, Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish told investors Tuesday. Paramount+ plans to launch in Italy, Germany, France and Austria in the second half of 2022, and in India next year. Pluto TV also grew, launching over 102 new channels internationally, totaling more than 1,000 global channels. Continue reading Paramount Global’s Streaming Subs Exceed 62 Million in Q1