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

Top Peacock Tier Adds Live NBC Affiliates from 210 Markets

NBCUniversal’s OTT video streaming service Peacock is adding local NBC affiliate channels from 210 markets to its $9.99/month Premium Plus tier. The 24/7 feature is phasing in gradually, with all stations scheduled to be live by November 30, when subscribers will see a homepage tile that syncs the local broadcast feed, offering everything from NBC hits like “Law & Order” and “Saturday Night Live.” Integration of a live option puts Peacock on a more direct footing with Paramount+, which offers live CBS affiliate feeds. Continue reading Top Peacock Tier Adds Live NBC Affiliates from 210 Markets

Comcast, Charter Provide Details of Xumo Streaming Venture

Comcast and Charter Communications have christened their streaming joint venture Xumo, taking the name from the FAST platform Comcast acquired in 2020 for a reported $100 million. Built to challenge biggies like Amazon, Apple, Google and Roku, the Xumo joint venture aims to create “an entire entertainment ecosystem” to include hardware as well as content and a platform to help advertisers “reach audiences at scale.” The first Xumo devices are targeting late 2023 delivery, with distribution through Comcast, Charter and Walmart (and other vendors to be announced). Xumo’s FAST service will be rebranded Xumo Play. Continue reading Comcast, Charter Provide Details of Xumo Streaming Venture

AR/VR Meta Quest Pro Targets Productivity Sector for $1,500

Meta Platforms unveiled its anticipated mixed reality headset yesterday at Meta Connect. The $1,500 Quest Pro, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced as “the first in our new line of advanced headsets,” becomes the first full-color AR/VR device to hit the U.S. market on October 25. Although Meta is positioning the Quest Pro as a productivity device, the thrust was that app makers will be encouraged to develop for it. Meta also announced that NBCUniversal content and Microsoft Office, Windows, Teams and Xbox Cloud Gaming are coming to Meta Quest headsets. Continue reading AR/VR Meta Quest Pro Targets Productivity Sector for $1,500

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

Paramount Considers Absorbing Showtime into Paramount+

Just weeks after introducing a new bundled approach to marketing Paramount+ and Showtime, there are reports that Paramount Global is considering discontinuing Showtime as a separate streaming service and merging its content into Paramount+. Although couched as in the early phases of discussion, the idea would be to boost the signature platform’s consumer appeal in an increasingly crowded market. Showtime is currently available for $10.99 per month as a standalone service, and Paramount+ subscribers can get Showtime at special pricing through October 2, gaining access to its premium content, including “Billions” and “Yellowjackets.” Continue reading Paramount Considers Absorbing Showtime into Paramount+

Peacock Offers Shows for Next-Day Streaming at New Price

Peacock is having a sale for new customers in September. As part of “a special Fall celebratory offer,” the rate for a Premium plan will be reduced from $4.99 a month to “just $1.99 a month,” or $19.99 for the year. Premium subscribers see up to 5 minutes of ads per hour and can stream news and first-run entertainment content next-day. Peacock also offers an ad-free Premium Plus plan for $9.99 per month and a free Basic plan that has ads but no next-day streaming. September will also be the month Peacock adds current NBC and Bravo shows for next-day streaming. Continue reading Peacock Offers Shows for Next-Day Streaming at New Price

YouTube Explores Plans for a Multi-Service Streaming Portal

YouTube is launching an online streaming video store and is in talks with entertainment companies to engage their participation. Internally referred to as a “channel store,” it could reportedly be open for business as early as this fall. Currently, subscribers who pay $64.99-a-month for the YouTube TV package of cable channels can add services such as HBO Max. The new marketplace would let consumers add streaming services a la carte via the main YouTube app. YouTube, a division of Alphabet-owned Google, will be competing with platforms including Amazon, Apple and Roku, which all have hubs that sell streaming video services. Continue reading YouTube Explores Plans for a Multi-Service Streaming Portal

Paramount+ Adds 3.7 Million Subscribers in Second Quarter

Paramount Global reports adding 3.7 million Paramount+ subscribers in Q2, growing the total count to 43.3 million paid customers despite 1.2 million disconnects in Russia (following the invasion of Ukraine). The company’s other streaming platforms — including Showtime, BET+ and Noggin — collectively recorded a loss of subscribers. However, Paramount’s SVOD services will close 2022 in a total of 60 markets, CEO Bob Bakish said. Meanwhile, the company’s filmed entertainment unit received a 126 percent boost propelled largely by “Top Gun: Maverick,” which just passed “Titanic” to become the seventh-highest grossing film of all time at the U.S. box office. Continue reading Paramount+ Adds 3.7 Million Subscribers in Second Quarter

Big Tech Drives Up Sports Prices as Amazon, Apple Go All In

Big Tech has become a disruptor in the marketplace for sports rights, with Amazon and Apple bidding against traditional media for rights to NFL and MLB games in addition to college conference competition and Formula 1 racing, according to recent reports. Among the prizes, DirecTV’s expiring rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket, a package that is being shopped with a $2.5 billion annual price tag, $1 billion more than the satellite operator’s current deal, which ends in January. In addition, Google is said to be bidding on behalf of YouTube. Beginning September 15, Amazon Prime Video begins its exclusive carriage deal for “Thursday Night Football.”  Continue reading Big Tech Drives Up Sports Prices as Amazon, Apple Go All In

Netflix Names Microsoft as Sales and Tech Partner for Ad Tier

After much speculation, Netflix has revealed it has chosen Microsoft to help with configuring and launching an ad-supported subscription tier. Netflix announced plans for the new tier in April, explaining that a partner might be brought in to accelerate the effort and fuel innovation. Microsoft will supply ad-placement technology and ads served on Netflix will be exclusively booked through the Microsoft platform. “Microsoft offered the flexibility to innovate over time on both the technology and sales side, as well as strong privacy protections for our members,” Netflix COO Greg Peters explained in a statement. Continue reading Netflix Names Microsoft as Sales and Tech Partner for Ad Tier

Netflix Said to Be Retooling Deals as it Readies New Ad Tier

Netflix has reportedly entered into discussions with studios including Warner Bros., Universal and Sony Pictures Television to revise licensing terms to include their content on the streamer’s planned ad-supported tier. The talks include shows created specifically for Netflix — like Sony’s “The Crown” and Universal’s “Russian Doll” — as well as second-run programming like Sony’s “Breaking Bad” and Paramount Global’s “NCIS.” Sources say the studios will likely be angling for a premium of 15 percent to 30 percent for duplexing the shows on the new tier. While Netflix self-produces some original content in-house, much of it is acquired externally. Continue reading Netflix Said to Be Retooling Deals as it Readies New Ad Tier

HBO Max Ad-Supported Tier Bodes Well for Netflix Ad Plans

As Netflix strategizes its rollout of a cheaper, ad-supported subscription tier, industry analysts are citing HBO Max data to predict the plan will be a win for the streaming service. A survey by Insider Intelligence says that 67 percent of HBO Max subscribers are opting for the $14.99 per month ad-free streaming tier, while 28 percent have chosen the $9.99 ad-supported tier. Launched in June 2021, the economy tier offers access to the same movie and series content, but is capped at 1080p and without the convenience of downloading for offline viewing. Continue reading HBO Max Ad-Supported Tier Bodes Well for Netflix Ad Plans

Sarandos Talks Netflix Ad-Supported Tier at Advertising Fest

Netflix is actively exploring partnership options for an ad-supported variation of its video platform. Company CEO Ted Sarandos confirmed last week that the company is speaking to multiple partners. Alphabet’s Google and Comcast’s NBCUniversal have emerged as leading contenders. “We’re talking to all of them right now,” Sarandos said during the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity advertising conference. “We want a pretty easy entry to the market — which, again, we will build on and iterate in. What we do at first will not be representative of what the product will be ultimately. I want our product to be better than TV.” Continue reading Sarandos Talks Netflix Ad-Supported Tier at Advertising Fest

Ad Tech, Brand Messaging Take Center Stage at TV Upfronts

While this year’s TV Upfronts were packed with celebrity appearances and musical performances, the focus had clearly shifted from scheduling to content that could be watched anytime and anywhere and the technologies that facilitate ad insertions and brand messaging opportunities. In addition to changing viewer habits, streaming and binge watching have resulted in new priorities for program services, now focused on libraries that amount to inventory by the ton, according to reports from the television industry’s annual New York pitch event for advertisers. Continue reading Ad Tech, Brand Messaging Take Center Stage at TV Upfronts