Milestone: YouTube TV Surpasses 8 Million Global Subscribers

In his annual letter about the state of YouTube, CEO Neal Mohan shared that YouTube TV has passed 8 million subscribers in seven years. Mohan also revealed that YouTube viewers watch a daily average of 1 billion hours of the 19-year-old streaming video platform on a TV screen. With more than 3 million channels in the YouTube Partner Program, the platform has in the past three years paid over $70 billion to creators, artists and media companies. Now, as YouTube integrates AI, Mohan envisions developing “entirely new ways of empowering creative expression, managing rights, and driving revenue.” Continue reading Milestone: YouTube TV Surpasses 8 Million Global Subscribers

FCC Votes to End Cable and Satellite Early Termination Fees

The Federal Communications Commission is proposing to eliminate penalties for early termination and other so-called junk fees from cable and direct broadcast satellite television providers. The agency will also be studying the impact of such practices on consumers, which it believes may be subject to undue hardship when penalized for things like moving, unexpected financial hardship or poor service. During its December Open Meeting last week, the FCC voted to adopt a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) to end what it appears to feel are unjustified fees that also potentially harm competition by adding costs to switching services. Continue reading FCC Votes to End Cable and Satellite Early Termination Fees

Comcast Makes Its Xumo Boxes Available for One-Time Fee

Comcast is now making Xumo Stream Boxes available to its Xfinity broadband customers. New customers can get one Xumo Box for a $15 activation fee and no monthly charge. Additional units will be billed at $5 per month, the company says. The Xumo Stream Box comes preloaded with hundreds of streaming apps. In addition to NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service, popular favorites like Disney+, Hulu, Max, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube are on the menu. Free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channels are also packaged in, with 20 options from Xfinity Stream and more than 300 from Xumo Play. Continue reading Comcast Makes Its Xumo Boxes Available for One-Time Fee

Comcast’s FreeWheel Teams with OrkaTV to Target FAST Ads

Streaming platform OrkaTV has teamed with Comcast’s FreeWheel adtech firm on a product designed to help marketers reach target audiences for their advertising in the FAST sector. The partnership allows marketers using FreeWheel to access OrkaTV’s more than 3,500 free ad-supported streaming TV channels. The end result is expected to be “access to a more diverse pool of FAST ad inventory” that in turn helps drive up demand for inventory, according to the firms, which say the “more accurate contextual advertising targeting abilities” also raise the ante. Continue reading Comcast’s FreeWheel Teams with OrkaTV to Target FAST Ads

Merged Disney+ and Hulu App to Launch as Beta Next Month

Disney, which is in the process of completing its purchase of NBCUniversal’s 33 percent stake in Hulu, will begin beta testing a combined Disney+ and Hulu bundle next month for subscribers of both services, according to CEO Bob Iger. Last week, Disney announced it would pay Comcast at least $8.61 billion for the Hulu stake, indicating the final cost could be higher, based on market value estimates by each party’s investment bankers. “We remain on track to roll out a more unified one-app experience domestically via Disney+,” Iger said in discussing the September quarter on an earnings call. Continue reading Merged Disney+ and Hulu App to Launch as Beta Next Month

Disney to Purchase Remaining Stake in Hulu from Comcast

Disney announced it plans to purchase the remaining one-third stake in Hulu from Comcast’s NBCUniversal in a move that has been widely expected. The announcement follows Disney’s acquisition of Fox’s entertainment assets in 2019, which gave the entertainment giant two-thirds of streaming service Hulu. Disney, which is expected to pay at least $8.61 billion for the remaining stake, currently offers the Hulu service as part of a streaming bundle with its Disney+ and ESPN+ platforms. “The acquisition of Comcast’s stake in Hulu at fair market value will further Disney’s streaming objectives,” explained the company in a press release. Continue reading Disney to Purchase Remaining Stake in Hulu from Comcast

Comcast-Charter Venture Starts Shipping Xumo Stream Box

Xumo, a joint venture between Comcast and Charter Communications, has begun rolling out its Xumo Stream Box to Charter’s Spectrum customers, with plans to bring it to Comcast’s Xfinity homes soon. The Xumo Stream Box is powered by Comcast’s Entertainment Operating System (EOS), designed to simplify the process of finding content, regardless of where it resides. “Xumo is streaming simplified, bringing a live TV experience together with all the top apps,” Charter President of Product and Technology Rich DiGeronimo said of the new device. Xumo Stream Box can be used to find, discover and select content on-demand using voice control. Continue reading Comcast-Charter Venture Starts Shipping Xumo Stream Box

FCC Preps Draft Proposal That Plans to Restore Net Neutrality

Championed by the Democratic members of the Federal Communications Commission, net neutrality rules are making a comeback now that the party again controls the FCC’s majority. Enacted when Barack Obama was president and repealed in 2017 during the Trump administration, the guidelines that once prohibited telecommunications and cable companies from blocking or throttling smaller content platforms, or those in which they had no ownership stake, could get a vote as early as next month. Speaking at the National Press Club, FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said she is “sharing with [her] colleagues a rule making that proposes to restore net neutrality.” Continue reading FCC Preps Draft Proposal That Plans to Restore Net Neutrality

Xperi Advances Its Plan for TiVo OS Smart TVs in Sharp Deal

TiVo has indicated it will enter the North American smart television set market, announcing a “multi-year, multi-million-unit agreement” with Sharp that will see sets start to ship in 2024 beginning in Europe. The move to populate the TV ecosystem with hardware running Xperi’s TiVo OS pits the company against an entrenched group of smart TV competitors that includes Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Google TV, Roku, Samsung Tizen and LG Electronics’ webOS. Added to those is the Comcast and Charter Communications Xumo brand, and also Telly, which offers free TVs supported by ads. Continue reading Xperi Advances Its Plan for TiVo OS Smart TVs in Sharp Deal

NBCUniversal to Introduce Dozens of FAST Channels in July

NBCUniversal has plumbed its vaults to fuel nearly 50 new FAST channels launching in July on Amazon Freevee and the new Xumo Play joint venture from NBCU parent Comcast and Charter Communications. The lineup, taken from NBCU’s Television and Streaming and Global Distribution libraries, includes verticals for “Saturday Night Live,” “Top Chef,” “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and “The Real Housewives,” as well as Spanish-language programs from Telemundo. There are also nostalgia channels featuring “The Lone Ranger,” “Little House on the Prairie” and “Murder, She Wrote,” and genre-based streams of comedy, criminality and monsters. Continue reading NBCUniversal to Introduce Dozens of FAST Channels in July

Databricks Acquiring OpenAI Competitor MosaicML for $1.3B

Data management firm Databricks has agreed to purchase generative AI company MosaicML in a deal valued at $1.3 billion. The three-year-old generative AI startup has developed a platform it says makes it “fast, cost-effective, and easy” for companies to train LLMs and deploy tools to use them. MosaicML has privately raised roughly $64 million to date. Its last valuation was $222 million in January, which means it was purchased for a healthy 6x multiple in a move that appears to prime Databricks for what one brokerage calls an “inevitable” IPO. Continue reading Databricks Acquiring OpenAI Competitor MosaicML for $1.3B

Sky Glass TVs Add Interactivity with Motion Tracking Camera

Comcast’s UK broadcaster Sky is upping the ante on its Sky Glass smart TVs with a new camera called Sky Live designed to make content more immersive. In addition to Kinect-style games and interactive workouts, Sky Live supports Zoom calls and watch parties. Sky Live runs on the company’s proprietary Entertainment OS and requires a television that is part of that ecosystem. The camera launch comes as Xumo, the U.S. joint venture between Comcast and Charter Communications prepares to launch a new family of 4K smart TVs in partnership with Element Electronics. Continue reading Sky Glass TVs Add Interactivity with Motion Tracking Camera

Comcast’s NOW TV Streams 60 Channels, Peacock Premium

Comcast announced NOW TV this week, a new streaming solution that includes more than 40+ live channels, 20+ integrated FAST channels and a subscription to Peacock Premium, priced at $20 per month for Comcast’s Xfinity Internet customers. NOW TV is designed for “the value-conscious consumer who wants an entertainment product that is simple and convenient with quality programming movies, top shows, live sports, and news,” the company explains. Launching in the coming weeks, NOW’s live cable offerings feature A+E Networks, AMC Networks, Hallmark and Warner Bros. Discovery, among others. Continue reading Comcast’s NOW TV Streams 60 Channels, Peacock Premium

Hulu Content Is Coming to Disney+ for ‘One-App Experience’

Disney will soon be incorporating Hulu content on Disney+ in the U.S. said CEO Bob Iger, describing the move toward “a one-app experience” for investors on the company’s quarterly earnings call this week. Iger also confirmed discussions about Hulu’s future with Comcast, which holds a 33 percent stake in the Disney-owned streamer. “Where we are headed is for one experience that would have general entertainment and Disney+ content together,” Iger told investors. “How that ultimately unfolds is to some extent in the hands of Comcast.” Continue reading Hulu Content Is Coming to Disney+ for ‘One-App Experience’

Disney Could Be Planning to Create a Mega Bundle with Hulu

Speculation is afoot as to the fate of popular subscription streaming service Hulu, initially launched 15 years ago. Disney presently owns 67 percent of the company, and Comcast 33 percent. The two had agreed to come to terms of a sale by January 24, but now there is talk that Disney wants to resolve the matter sooner and is planning to buy out Comcast and integrate Hulu into Disney+, providing access to titles from Disney’s “Star Wars” and Marvel Universe franchises along with popular Hulu originals such as “Only Murders in the Building,” “The Great” and “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Continue reading Disney Could Be Planning to Create a Mega Bundle with Hulu