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

FaceBank Group and fuboTV Announce a Merger Agreement

Florida- and New York-based FaceBank Group, Inc. — developer of hyper-realistic digital humans for use in artificial intelligence, entertainment, productivity and social media — is merging with OTT live TV streaming service fuboTV, which currently touts “more top Nielsen-ranked sports, news and entertainment channels for cord cutters than any other live platform.” The combined digital entertainment company, to be led by fuboTV CEO and co-founder David Gandler, will be named fuboTV, Inc. with plans to offer a premium viewing experience across a global distribution network. Continue reading FaceBank Group and fuboTV Announce a Merger Agreement

AT&T TV Launches Today With Hundreds of Live TV Channels

Following several months of testing in 13 U.S. trial markets, AT&T TV launches nationwide today. The broadband service features a 4K- and HDR-capable Android-based set-top box, 500 hours of DVR storage, access to hundreds of live television channels and 40,000 on-demand titles. Streaming services such as Disney+, Netflix, Pandora, Spotify and YouTube are available, as well as 5,000+ apps through the Google Play store. Additionally, the voice-enabled remote control is integrated with Google Assistant. Chromecast support is also built in. AT&T TV will be integrated with HBO Max when it launches in May. Continue reading AT&T TV Launches Today With Hundreds of Live TV Channels

WarnerMedia Deal to Bring HBO and Cinemax to YouTube TV

Google’s streaming OTT service YouTube TV — which provides subscribers with live television and news, on-demand video, cloud-based DVR, and live and local sports from 70+ networks— will carry Cinemax and HBO for the first time under a new distribution deal with AT&T’s WarnerMedia. As part of the agreement, YouTube TV will also offer the upcoming streamer HBO Max when it debuts in May, and will continue to provide Turner cable networks such as Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, CNN, HLN, TBS, TNT, truTV and Turner Classic Movies.  Continue reading WarnerMedia Deal to Bring HBO and Cinemax to YouTube TV

Verizon to Drop Cable Bundles in Favor of Customer Choice

To prevent further cord-cutting, Verizon Communications is abandoning traditional cable bundles. Fios customers will be able to select Internet speeds and TV packets separately, at preset rates, and can change their services on a monthly basis. Verizon senior vice president Frank Boulben stated that customers can then avoid promotional pricing that expires — and then skyrockets. Altice USA, Comcast and Charter Communications are offering lower cost wireless plans for Internet/TV customers. Continue reading Verizon to Drop Cable Bundles in Favor of Customer Choice

CES 2020: TiVo Joins Streaming Wars With HDMI Dongle

At CES this week, TiVo announced a new device described by CEO Dave Shull as a “tiny little HDMI puck” that will bring the company “full on into the streaming wars.” The $50 TiVo Stream 4K, hitting shelves in April as a competitor to Roku and Amazon devices, is designed to expand the company’s current user base by offering streaming and live television for today’s cord cutters and cord shavers. While TiVo plans to continue offering its signature cable-ready DVRs, the new 4K dongle could be a glimpse into the company’s future. In December, TiVo announced its $3 billion merger with licensing firm Xperi. “This transformation for TiVo enabled the merger,” said Shull. Continue reading CES 2020: TiVo Joins Streaming Wars With HDMI Dongle

WhatsApp and Twitter Manipulated for Political Campaigns

Evidence of social media manipulation for political gain is increasing. In Brazil, in response to an investigation into the spread of misinformation during the last presidential campaign, WhatsApp revealed it banned 400,000+ accounts between August 15 and October 28, 2018, which had “breached its terms of service,” with mass mailings. In the U.K., during a debate between the prime minister and head of the opposition party, the former’s party rebranded its Twitter account with the aim of misleading the public. Continue reading WhatsApp and Twitter Manipulated for Political Campaigns

Hulu, Sling TV and YouTube Lead the Digital Pay TV Market

Research firm MoffettNathanson estimated that, at the end of Q3 2019, Hulu with Live TV added about 400,000 paying subscribers for a total of 2.7 million, taking first place as the biggest virtual pay TV service. It edged out Dish Network’s Sling TV, the long-time leader in digital pay TV, with 2.69 million subscribers signed up for its “relatively low cost” packages. It gained 214,000 subscribers in the same period. Meanwhile, YouTube added 200,000 customers in Q3 for a total of 1.6 million subscribers. Continue reading Hulu, Sling TV and YouTube Lead the Digital Pay TV Market

Japan’s Virtual YouTube Celebrities Test the Waters in China

Japan’s most popular YouTube star is Kizuna AI, a virtual teenager with thigh-high socks and a pink hair ribbon, brought to life by an off-screen actress. Millions of fans follow Kizuna, the brainchild of Activ8, a Tokyo-based company. According to Activ8 founder Takeshi Osaka, what sets such so-called virtual YouTubers (or VTubers) apart is that “you can believe they actually exist.” To create Kizuna, Activ8 uses motion capture gear to create skits, music videos and game streams for its over four million subscribers. Continue reading Japan’s Virtual YouTube Celebrities Test the Waters in China

CTA: Tech Sales to Reach New High of $401 Billion in 2019

The Consumer Technology Association forecast that U.S. consumer technology sales will grow 2.2 percent to $401 billion in 2019, due to AI-enabled devices, streaming services, and in-vehicle and other technologies. CTA chief executive Gary Shapiro noted that 5G will provide the faster connectivity that will help boost sales of new technologies, but warned, however, that “unnecessary tariffs — taxes paid by American consumers and businesses — threaten to slow down our nation’s economic momentum.” Continue reading CTA: Tech Sales to Reach New High of $401 Billion in 2019

Streaming TV Service Locast Receives a Boost From AT&T

Locast is a streaming service that allows those without a pay-TV subscription to watch sports, news and primetime broadcast programming. Backed by the non-profit Sports Fan Coalition, Locast last week received a $500,000 contribution from AT&T. The service has launched in New York and Los Angeles among other large markets. But Locast has not received TV stations’ consent to carry their feeds, something required by federal copyright law, nor is it paying fees, which comprise a significant portion of broadcasters’ revenue. Continue reading Streaming TV Service Locast Receives a Boost From AT&T

Verizon Partners With Google to Offer YouTube TV Service

Verizon announced a deal with Google yesterday that will bring YouTube TV to Verizon’s wireless, 5G Home and Fios broadband customers across the platforms of their choosing. “We were first in the world to bring commercial 5G to our customers and now another first on the content front as we offer our customers access to YouTube TV on whatever platform they choose,” said Erin McPherson, head of content strategy and acquisition for Verizon. YouTube TV offers 70 networks worth of live TV that is viewable on smartphones, tablets, computers and TVs. Continue reading Verizon Partners With Google to Offer YouTube TV Service

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

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

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