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

Viewers Turn to Xumo and Other Ad-Supported VOD Services

Despite the focus on successful subscription streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+, free ad-supported TV services have actually been growing at a faster clip. AVOD (ad-supported video on demand) or FAST (free ad-supported TV) is flourishing largely via large media companies. Fox’s Tubi, ViacomCBS’ Pluto TV and Xumo, now owned by Comcast, are all performing well. Xumo has skyrocketed 2.5 times, reaching 24 million U.S. monthly active users. Comcast acquired Xumo in February 2020 from Panasonic and Meredith Corp. Continue reading Viewers Turn to Xumo and Other Ad-Supported VOD Services

Quibi Misses Paid Subscriber Goal, Looks at Funding Options

Quibi, the OTT streaming service focused on short-form mobile video founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg and launched in April 2020, is struggling to gain subscribers in a crowded marketplace. According to sources, the company is considering its options, including raising more money, going public via a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that helps fund deals, or a sale. Sources added that the company has enough cash for several months and is not expected to shut down in the near future. Continue reading Quibi Misses Paid Subscriber Goal, Looks at Funding Options

Plex Launches 80 Live TV Channels on Its Ad-Supported App

The free, ad-supported media app Plex just added 80 live TV channels, none of them cable channels like CNN, Lifetime or TBS. Rather, it offers a lineup that includes Reuters, Toon Goggles and the Bob Ross Channel, among others. In the current economic climate, consumers are gravitating to this kind of free linear programming, which harkens back to the early days of television. Plex got its start as a cord-cutting solution with free on-demand video and DVR functionality for on-air TV networks. Continue reading Plex Launches 80 Live TV Channels on Its Ad-Supported App

NBC Debuts Streamer Peacock With Free, Ad-Supported Tier

NBCUniversal’s streaming platform Peacock debuted today with three tiers: a free, ad-supported plan that features thousands of hours of content; a $4.99-per-month subscription that offers more than double the content of the base plan; and a $9.99 premium version without ads (both paid plans offer discounted annual subscriptions). Users of the free version can surf among 20 feeds, one featuring favorites like “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “The King of Queens,” another with NBC’s morning program “Today,” and another dedicated to its late-night shows. By offering a free version, said Peacock chair Matt Strauss, NBCUniversal is betting that people are looking for “more affordable options.” Continue reading NBC Debuts Streamer Peacock With Free, Ad-Supported Tier

Comcast Inks Deal to Adopt Mozilla’s Firefox DNS Encryption

In a new partnership, Comcast will be the first Internet Service Provider (ISP) to offer users of Mozilla’s Firefox browser with private and secure encrypted Domain Name System (DNS) services via Mozilla’s Trusted Recursive Resolver (TRR) Program. Comcast’s DNS over HTTPS (DoH) will be activated by default for Firefox over Comcast’s Xfinity broadband network. Users will be able to switch to Cloudflare or NextDNS, which were already included in Mozilla’s program. No date of availability was released. Continue reading Comcast Inks Deal to Adopt Mozilla’s Firefox DNS Encryption

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

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

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