Amazon Offers Expanded Music and Podcast Catalog Ad-Free

Amazon Music has taken a major leap forward, expanding its catalog from about 2 million to 100 million songs that will be made available ad-free to Prime members as part of their existing $139 annual membership fee. Starting this week, Prime members can “shuffle play any artist, album, or playlist, plus stream a selection of All-Access playlists on demand” as well as “access the largest catalog of ad-free top podcasts,” the online retail giant said. The move underscores a new battleground for membership-focused retailers, including Costco and Walmart, who see streaming as an opportunity to add value. Continue reading Amazon Offers Expanded Music and Podcast Catalog Ad-Free

Clippers Become First NBA Team to Host a Streaming Service

ClipperVision is the new direct-to-consumer regional streaming service for viewing Los Angeles Clippers basketball games and related content. The six channel options will make more than 70 of 84 regular season games available to fans located primarily in Southern California for $200 per season. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer purchased the LA Clippers for $2 billion in 2014 and has since been strategizing an improved television platform for the franchise. The new offering makes the Clippers the first NBA team to host its own streaming platform, accessible without any additional TV subscription. Continue reading Clippers Become First NBA Team to Host a Streaming Service

Apple Music Displaces Pepsi as Super Bowl Halftime Sponsor

Apple has secured main sponsorship rights to the Super Bowl LVII halftime show, with Apple Music replacing Pepsi, which had a lock on the slot for the past 10 years. The event takes place February 12, 2023, at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, broadcasting on FOX. The price wasn’t disclosed, but the NFL had reportedly been asking $50 million for the prime halftime positioning. The deal played out against a backdrop of the NFL’s Sunday Ticket rights sale, with a reported $2.5 billion asking price and Apple said to be the most serious bidder. Continue reading Apple Music Displaces Pepsi as Super Bowl Halftime Sponsor

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

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

Disney Reports Strong Revenue and Subscriber Growth for Q2

Disney+ outperformed its subscriber goals, helping The Walt Disney Company to 23 percent revenue growth in its fiscal second quarter, ended April 2. “Our strong results in the second quarter, including fantastic performance at our domestic parks and continued growth of our streaming services — with 7.9 million Disney+ subscribers added in the quarter and total subscriptions across all our DTC offerings exceeding 205 million — once again proved that we are in a league of our own,” Disney CEO Bob Chapek summarized for investors. Disney+ now reaches 137.7 million subscribers. Continue reading Disney Reports Strong Revenue and Subscriber Growth for Q2

40 Blue-Chip Media Partners Join Snapchat to Stream News

Snapchat’s new feature, Dynamic Stories, uses RSS feeds from 40 media partners to automatically generate Stories that will appear in its Discover section. Early partners include Axios, Bloomberg, CNN, Condé Nast, ESPN, The Wall Street Journal and Vice. Publishers are already seeing results, Snapchat reports, with The Washington Post reaching more than 1.1 million Snapchatters with coverage of the war in Ukraine. Using RSS automation, Snap is lowering the barrier to entry for legitimate news publishers by eliminating the need for manual updates. After their initial appearance the Stories will update in real time. Continue reading 40 Blue-Chip Media Partners Join Snapchat to Stream News

Snap Renews Major Content Deals and Updates AR Shopping

Snap has secured multiyear global content collaborations with Disney, NBCUniversal and ViacomCBS. The three corporations will not only continue bringing their current shows to Snapchat’s Discover feature, but also individually plan to expand offerings in the future. The deal sees programming from ESPN, Paramount+ and E! returning to the platform. Snap says more than 100 million monthly users watch entertainment content on the short-form Snapchat Discover. The mobile app, which turned 10 last year, reported 306 million daily active users worldwide as of September 30. Continue reading Snap Renews Major Content Deals and Updates AR Shopping

Sports Illustrated Launches Original Video Series on Snapchat

Sports Illustrated makes its Snapchat debut with “America’s Best Sports Videos.” The Snap Original series aims to connect the 67-year-old sports franchise with younger audiences through user-generated footage debuting Fridays. According to Snap, more than 85 percent of the Gen Z population watched a Snap Originals video in the second half of 2020. Snap users can access the program by scanning SI’s unique Snapcode or searching by title on the Snapchat Discover page. The show is hosted by 28-year-old Ashley Nicole Moss, host and co-creator of SI’s “Laces Out” series about sneaker culture. Continue reading Sports Illustrated Launches Original Video Series on Snapchat

Disney: Streaming Subscription Growth, Theme Parks Reopen

At the end of Q3, Disney+ had 116 million subscribers, exceeding the 112-115 million analysts had predicted. The most popular content included the Pixar animated feature “Luca,” superhero series “Loki” and live-action film “Cruella.” Meanwhile, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products earned a profit of $356 million. Disneyland in California reopened with limited capacity on April 30 after being closed for 14 months. Disney chief executive Bob Chapek said that park bookings are “really strong” despite the surge of COVID-19 cases with the Delta variant.  Continue reading Disney: Streaming Subscription Growth, Theme Parks Reopen

TV Networks Urge Rating Council to Pull Nielsen Accreditation

The Video Advertising Bureau (VAB), a trade group with members including Disney, ESPN, FOX, NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS and others, urged the Media Rating Council (MRC) to strip Nielsen’s accreditation, stating that, “Nielsen’s COVID-period conduct as a ratings service violated at least five minimum standards, with the damage done to their largest subscriber clients still creating material negative impact into July 2021.” MRC chief executive George Ivie said his group takes the VAB’s concerns seriously but has “an independent process to execute.” Continue reading TV Networks Urge Rating Council to Pull Nielsen Accreditation

AT&T Creates Media Giant: Merges WarnerMedia, Discovery

AT&T announced today that it plans to combine WarnerMedia with Discovery. The deal, expected to to take effect in mid-2022 subject to regulatory approval, is a significant move for one of Hollywood’s largest studios to compete with top streaming players such as Netflix and Disney since it would combine the HBO Max and discovery+ streaming services. Under the agreement, WarnerMedia will be spun off and merged with Discovery as a new media company separate from AT&T, which could be valued as high as $150 billion. Discovery chief exec David Zaslav will run the combined business, which will be named shortly. Continue reading AT&T Creates Media Giant: Merges WarnerMedia, Discovery

New NFL Deal Is Part of Amazon’s Plans to Increase Content

Amazon inked a deal to make its Prime Video service home to the National Football League’s “Thursday Night Football” by 2023. Amazon paid an “average annual fee” of about $1 billion, making it the company’s biggest such deal to date. Currently, Amazon ranks third in digital advertising, after Google and Facebook, but the exclusive NFL games will likely supercharge viewing and advertising. Recently, Amazon also signed deals to put its free ad-supported IMDb TV into more homes and ordered a spin-off of popular show “Bosch.” Continue reading New NFL Deal Is Part of Amazon’s Plans to Increase Content

In Major Reorg, Disney Moves Streaming Services to Center

The Walt Disney Company is reorganizing to put more emphasis on its streaming video services Disney+ and Hulu. The company is creating content groups for movies, general entertainment and sports, with a distribution unit that will determine the best platform — streaming, TV network, movie theater — for every piece of content. According to Disney chief executive Bob Chapek, the move acknowledges that consumers now are more likely to watch content on a streaming service than broadcast and cable channels or movie theater screens. Continue reading In Major Reorg, Disney Moves Streaming Services to Center

IBM Provides AI-Based Solutions for U.S. Open Without Fans

In June, the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) opted to hold the 2020 U.S. Open in New York (August 31-September 13) without fans due to COVID-19. That decision launched many changes, from electronic line calling to food-ordering apps for athletes. USTA has been working with IBM to integrate artificial intelligence for such uses as creating broadcast highlight reels based on crowd reaction. The June decision was “a pivotal moment,” said IBM’s sports and entertainment marketing program director Kristi Kolski. “A lot of the solutions that we had in the pipeline were no longer going to be viable.” Continue reading IBM Provides AI-Based Solutions for U.S. Open Without Fans