Court Decision Allows California to Enforce Net Neutrality Law

In 2018, former California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill making the state the first to enact a net neutrality law. The Trump administration sued to block it, and the Biden administration dropped that suit, but the telecom industry had filed a separate suit. Now, U.S. District Court judge John A. Mendez denied the telecom suit, allowing the state to enforce the 2018 law. State senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) called the decision “a huge victory for open access to the Internet, our democracy and our economy,” while some industry groups suggest federal legislation would be a preferred approach to a state-by-state model. Continue reading Court Decision Allows California to Enforce Net Neutrality Law

Municipalities Want Streaming Services to Pay Franchise Fees

As streaming media services increasingly resemble cable bundles, more towns and counties are looking to regulate them. In Georgia for example, three municipalities filed a federal lawsuit against Netflix, Hulu and other services for as much as 5 percent of their gross revenue in an attempt to treat them as cable services. According to the lawsuit, Netflix earned about $103 million over the recent five years from subscribers in Gwinnett County, Georgia. If treated as a cable provider, that would represent $5.15 million in retroactive fees. Continue reading Municipalities Want Streaming Services to Pay Franchise Fees

Netflix Tops 200 Million Subs in 2020, Lifted by the Pandemic

By the end of 2020, Netflix signed up a record 37 million new subscribers for a total of 203.7 million users, driven by the home-bound people eager for more entertainment during the COVID-19 pandemic. This latest bump in subscriber numbers took place in an increasingly competitive environment with new streaming services, including Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max and Comcast’s Peacock. Unlike other TV networks, Netflix has been able to offer more new content during the pandemic, with 500+ new titles in post production or ready to air. Continue reading Netflix Tops 200 Million Subs in 2020, Lifted by the Pandemic

Streaming Platforms Benefited from 2020 COVID Lockdowns

In 2020, many analysts expected a shakeout among the burgeoning number of streaming services. Instead, the COVID-19 pandemic led to record-breaking viewing. U.S. subscription numbers are expected to finish the year 50+ percent higher than a year ago, according to data from Moffett Nathanson and HarrisX, whose chief executive Dritan Nesho said “streaming coexistence and parallel growth” were leitmotifs for the year. Newcomers AT&T’s HBO Max and Disney+ also saw a rise in app downloads when they debuted feature films. Continue reading Streaming Platforms Benefited from 2020 COVID Lockdowns

Federal 5G Spectrum Auction Raises Nearly $70 Billion So Far

An auction of wireless licenses, which began December 8 and is conducted by the Federal Communications Commission, has thus far reaped $69.8+ billion. The auction shut down during the holidays but recommenced January 4, meaning the total bids will likely increase. The previous record, in 2015, was the $44.9 billion raised by a sale of mid-range cellular licenses to boost 4G coverage. The winning bidders will not be revealed until the auction ends, but AT&T and Verizon are pegged by analysts to be dominant. Continue reading Federal 5G Spectrum Auction Raises Nearly $70 Billion So Far

Disney+ Subs Skyrocket as Company Focuses on Streaming

Disney’s new streaming service Disney+ now has 86.8 million global subscribers and is growing so fast that the company expects it to triple to 260 million by 2024. The subscription VOD service has already passed Disney’s previous guidance, which stated it hoped to reach between 60 million and 90 million subscribers by that date. Disney has ratcheted up enthusiasm on its investor days, with bullish predictions in large part based on high-profile shows through its Marvel and Lucasfilm franchises as well as Disney Animation and Pixar Animation.  Continue reading Disney+ Subs Skyrocket as Company Focuses on Streaming

Discovery to Introduce Its New Streaming Service in January

Discovery plans to debut a streaming service, discovery+ that will include shows from its major networks TLC, Food Network, Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. It will also license library programming from the BBC, A&E Networks and Group Nine Media. The new service will launch in the United States on January 4 and cost $4.99 per month with ads and $6.99 without. Discovery and Verizon Communications inked a deal to provide the service free to the telecom’s U.S. customers for a year, with the two companies sharing the cost. Continue reading Discovery to Introduce Its New Streaming Service in January

Biden Reiterates Commitment to Create Universal Broadband

President-elect Joe Biden and top Democratic allies in Congress, including James Clyburn (D-South Carolina), are focused on significantly increasing federal spending on broadband to improve Internet access and affordability, especially in rural areas. The effort is more urgent as the pandemic continues, and the first step towards this goal is part of the new coronavirus stimulus package. Biden already endorsed the relief bill, passed by the House, that includes $4 billion for Internet access to low-income Americans. Continue reading Biden Reiterates Commitment to Create Universal Broadband

Universal, Cinemark Sign Deal for Shorter Exclusivity Window

Comcast’s Universal Pictures teamed with Cinemark Holdings, the third largest theater chain in the U.S., to permit online distribution of movies after three weekends (or 17 days) in theaters. The exception is movies that gross $50+ million domestically during their first weekend, lengthening the exclusivity window to five weekends or 31 days. Universal inked a similar deal with AMC Entertainment in July. Pre-pandemic, the exclusivity window was 2-1/2 months from a film’s premiere in theaters until it could be distributed to homes. Continue reading Universal, Cinemark Sign Deal for Shorter Exclusivity Window

NBCU and PayPal Ink Deal to Create TV-Based E-Commerce

NBCUniversal and PayPal have inked a deal that will make it easier for viewers to buy products suggested by TV programs. The move is part of the media conglomerate’s effort to create a new revenue stream as the television advertising business faces new challenges. NBCUniversal earlier launched e-commerce on its Syfy cable network and, later, on Spanish-language Telemundo. With PayPal on board, it will now allow viewers to buy products from 60 retailers; PayPal will also make shoppable online gift guides available. Continue reading NBCU and PayPal Ink Deal to Create TV-Based E-Commerce

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

Comcast Posts Strong Q3 with Peacock, High-Speed Internet

In July, Comcast reported that its NBCUniversal Peacock streaming service had 10 million subscribers. Now, the company announced, Peacock has 22 million subscribers, adding that it is “a differentiating factor for customers considering Xfinity broadband and is also improving churn.” In the same quarter, Comcast added 633,000 high-speed Internet customers, for its best quarterly results in its history. Comcast stated that, in the first nine months of 2020, cable added more broadband sign-ups than in all of 2019. Continue reading Comcast Posts Strong Q3 with Peacock, High-Speed Internet

Netflix Raises Monthly Prices of Its Standard, Premium Plans

As Netflix faces a growing collection of competing video services, the company is raising the monthly subscription cost of its most popular standard plan from $12.99 per month to $13.99, its first increase since January of last year. While the entry-level basic plan will remain $8.99 per month, the premium plan will increase from $15.99 to $17.99 per month. Yesterday, the company announced that price changes will go into effect immediately for new subscribers, while current subscribers should expect a fee adjustment within the next two months. Subscribers will receive a warning of the increase 30 days prior to the change. Continue reading Netflix Raises Monthly Prices of Its Standard, Premium Plans

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

Universal Adopts a New Theatrical/Online Distribution Model

During the holiday season, to pump up motion picture theater attendance, Comcast’s Universal Pictures is trying a new distribution model — releasing more movies and making them available sooner for online rental. On December 4, it will release “All My Life” to U.S. theaters, the eighth film slated for domestic release by the end of 2020. That’s almost double its releases during the same period in 2019, and far more than other Hollywood studios. Meanwhile, AMC is offering its theaters for rent, starting at $99.

Continue reading Universal Adopts a New Theatrical/Online Distribution Model

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