Disney Finalizes Deal with Comcast to Take Control of Hulu

Comcast, which owns roughly one-third of Hulu, has agreed to sell its stake in the streaming video service to Disney. The deal calls for Comcast to sell its interest for Hulu’s fair market value no earlier than 2024. The Hulu joint venture launched nearly 12 years ago with the goal of providing a legal platform for television content that would serve as an alternative to YouTube and pirate sites. The platform has since become a major Netflix competitor. Disney’s share increased with its recent $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox’s movie and TV studios. AT&T, which picked up 9.5 percent of Hulu with its $85 billion deal for Time Warner, recently sold back its share to Hulu for $1.43 billion. Continue reading Disney Finalizes Deal with Comcast to Take Control of Hulu

Cable Providers Update Boxes to Retain Fleeing Customers

With its Xfinity X1, Comcast has remade the traditional cable box, with a voice-enabled remote that allows search across live TV, on-demand and sources such as Netflix. It combines the multiple apps, passwords and monthly fees of streaming services into one place, with one bill. Perhaps we don’t need to get rid of cable, but rather to improve it. With the advent of ever-more choices from Apple, Amazon, Roku to Verizon and T-Mobile, the major cablecasters have the chance to bring their services into the modern TV age. Continue reading Cable Providers Update Boxes to Retain Fleeing Customers

Netflix Facing New Competition as Domestic Growth Slows

Subscription video service Netflix is still growing, but the new subscription numbers come largely from the international market. In the U.S., Netflix reported 1.7 million new subs in Q1 2019 out of a total of 9.6 million new customers. The streaming giant’s slowed domestic growth — including predictions for a slower Q2 globally — is likely due to increased competition as well as its recently raised subscription fees. Netflix investors are also concerned that the company cannot maintain what has thus far been rapid growth. Continue reading Netflix Facing New Competition as Domestic Growth Slows

Hulu Positioned to Become Most Serious Netflix Competitor

Amazon, Apple, AT&T and Disney aim to compete against Netflix, the current giant in streaming video. The one contender that rises above is Hulu, which has gone through several owners (Disney, 21st Century Fox, Comcast and Time Warner). AT&T sold Time Warner’s stake, and with the purchase of Fox, Disney is now Hulu’s majority owner. Hulu originally streamed shows from other networks, but its profile changed with “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which became the first “streaming-native” show to win an Emmy for best drama series. Continue reading Hulu Positioned to Become Most Serious Netflix Competitor

AT&T Selling Back Its Share of Hulu to Disney and Comcast

AT&T is selling back its 9.5 percent minority share in Hulu LLC, in a deal worth $1.43 billion. The $15 billion online-streaming venture is now entirely owned by The Walt Disney Company and NBCUniversal parent Comcast Corporation (it was formerly co-owned by Disney, 21st Century Fox, Comcast and AT&T). “We thank AT&T for their support and investment over the past two years and look forward to collaboration in the future,” said Hulu CEO Randy Freer. “WarnerMedia will remain a valued partner to Hulu for years to come as we offer customers the best of TV, live and on demand, all in one place.” Continue reading AT&T Selling Back Its Share of Hulu to Disney and Comcast

FTC Orders Broadband Firms to Reveal Data Collection Info

The Federal Trade Commission ordered Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and other broadband providers to file reports within 45 days on why and how they collect consumer data and if they allow consumers to block such collection. The federal agency’s chair Joseph Simons said the move was “the first shot out of the box” in an investigation into the collection and use of personal data, with the potential aim of creating enforcement rules and helping Congress develop legislation on data privacy. Simons also promised more action. Continue reading FTC Orders Broadband Firms to Reveal Data Collection Info

TV Networks Partner on Technology to Deliver Targeted Ads

A consortium of television networks teamed up to create a technology standard for targeted advertising. Project OAR (Open Addressable Ready)’s watermark technology makes it easier to send specific ads to consumers with smart TVs. The consortium expects to complete its work by 2020. Such collaborative ventures are atypical for the highly competitive TV market. Currently, TV networks depend on cable and satellite operators to send targeted ads, and this technology will help networks control part of the process for smart TVs. Continue reading TV Networks Partner on Technology to Deliver Targeted Ads

NBC News Plans to Launch Free Streaming Service in May

NBC plans to launch its free, ad-supported NBC News Now streaming service in early May. The service will be available to everyone, whether or not they subscribe to NBCUniversal cable networks. “It will be something you can access on Apple TV or Roku or any of those other boxes,” NBC News president Noah Oppenheim told a crowd at SXSW in Austin, Texas. “We are going to launch with 8 hours of programming, including live updates at the top of every hour, and when breaking news mandates, we’ll go up live as well.” Continue reading NBC News Plans to Launch Free Streaming Service in May

Common Networks Has a Plan to Compete With 5G Carriers

While major carriers such as AT&T and Verizon begin the rollout of 5G networks in select areas, a San Francisco startup named Common Networks is developing an alternative that combines 5G with tech open-sourced from social giant Facebook. The startup is competing with ISPs by offering home broadband instead of mobile service. In Alameda, California, for example, it is using millimeter wave 5G tech to offer 1 Gbps service for $50 per month (the speed matches that of Google Fiber’s home broadband service). The millimeter wave service uses hardware design Terragraph, which Facebook open-sourced through its Telecom Infrastructure Project. Continue reading Common Networks Has a Plan to Compete With 5G Carriers

NCTA Lobbies For Paid Prioritization in Net Neutrality Rules

NCTA (National Cable TV Association) chief executive Michael Powell told Congress’ Communications and Technology subcommittee that the lobbying group agrees, “there should be no blocking or throttling of lawful content … [or] paid prioritization that creates fast lanes and slow lanes.” Even so, he did ask for exceptions that would allow Internet providers to charge for prioritization “under certain circumstances.” His request highlights the stark divide between the broadband industry and net neutrality advocates. Continue reading NCTA Lobbies For Paid Prioritization in Net Neutrality Rules

NBCUniversal, Viacom, Hulu Target Ad-Supported Streaming

The audiences for linear TV continue to shrink, but many major media players are eschewing subscription-based revenue for advertising-based video on demand (AVOD) services. That’s because Netflix and other super-aggregators as well as niche players are dominating — and saturating — the SVOD market. According to a Lab42 October 2018 survey, the average U.S. consumer subscribes to two to three streaming services, one of which is “almost always” Netflix. NBCUniversal, Viacom and Hulu are all making plays in the AVOD sector. Continue reading NBCUniversal, Viacom, Hulu Target Ad-Supported Streaming

Netflix Is Expected to Spend $15 Billion on Content This Year

Netflix is continuing to invest heavily in content for its popular streaming service. According to its 2018 fourth quarter earnings report, the company spent $8.9 billion in 2017 and $12.04 billion last year. Wall Street analysts predict Netflix will increase its spending around 25 percent in 2019, which would bring its investment to $15 billion. Netflix will also continue to spend big on marketing its original content; such costs increased 65 percent last year, and are projected to jump another 22 percent this year to almost $2.9 billion.

Continue reading Netflix Is Expected to Spend $15 Billion on Content This Year

Netflix Raises Subscription Prices to Fund Its Original Content

Netflix is raising its prices again, increasing the cost of its most popular plan to $13 per month, from $11, an 18 percent bump. The basic plan rose from $8 to $9 per month, a 13 percent increase. Netflix, which last raised prices in 2017, did so to offset its massive spending on original content. It is also a way to compete with rivals in streaming video from Amazon to Hulu as well as newcomers including AT&T’s WarnerMedia, Disney and Comcast’s NBCUniversal. In response to the news, Netflix shares rose 6.5 percent to $354.64. Continue reading Netflix Raises Subscription Prices to Fund Its Original Content

CES: Cable Operators Commit to 10G Cable Modem Speeds

At CES 2019, The Internet & Television Association (NCTA), CableLabs, and Cable Europe stated their intent to increase cable modems’ two-way speed from today’s 1-gigabit-per-second to 10+ gigabits. According to CableLabs, in 2018, 80 percent of homes had gigabit-per-second operations, up from 4 percent in 2016. U.S. cable operators whose networks pass 90 percent of homes and will enact the 10G initiative include Comcast, Charter, Cox, Mediacom, Midco, and international operators Rogers, Shaw, and Vodafone among others. Continue reading CES: Cable Operators Commit to 10G Cable Modem Speeds

CES Panel: AI Poised to Change the Entertainment Ecosystem

CTA senior director of publications Cindy Stevens looked at the various ways — from scriptwriting to production — that artificial intelligence can be integrated into entertainment. “Some people are afraid their creative talents could be replaced by machines,” she said. Comcast senior vice president of digital home, devices and AI Fraser Stirling, who noted that he prefers to use the term “machine learning,” is using it for deep search among other tasks. One project is to turn a three-hour NFL game into snackable pieces. Continue reading CES Panel: AI Poised to Change the Entertainment Ecosystem

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