Apple Pursues Premium Bundle to Sell HBO, Showtime, Starz

In its latest pay TV proposal, Apple wants to offer a premium bundle that combines HBO, Showtime and Starz, three channels it already sells individually (sources say Apple does not yet have a deal with any of the networks for a package deal). The bundle would be different than a traditional subscription level offered by a conventional pay TV operator, since Apple could offer its proposed premium bundle as a “standalone product, delivered via its iOS devices and its Apple TV set-top box,” reports Recode. “Sony, AT&T and Dish all sell Web TV packages, and Google and Hulu have announced plans to sell their own.” Continue reading Apple Pursues Premium Bundle to Sell HBO, Showtime, Starz

Comcast’s Upcoming Streaming Option to Target Cord-Cutters

Comcast is planning a third quarter launch for its expanded streaming video service called Xfinity Instant TV. The $15-$40 per month service, targeting broadband subscribers looking to opt out of traditional cable bundles, “will include major broadcast networks as well as add-on options for sports channels like ESPN and Spanish language channels such as Telemundo and Univision,” reports Reuters. The company hopes customers will later upgrade to the X1 platform. Xfinity Instant TV is a new version of its Stream service that was tested earlier in Boston and Chicago. Dish and AT&T are already targeting cord cutters, but “Comcast’s service is different in that it is limited to its territories and to its own broadband subscribers.” Continue reading Comcast’s Upcoming Streaming Option to Target Cord-Cutters

Sling TV Expands Cloud DVR Access in Early Access Program

Dish’s Sling TV is rolling out its new Cloud DVR to customers with Amazon devices through an early access program. The feature has been in private beta for Roku users since November. While one potential advantage of the cloud is never running out of storage space, “Sling TV isn’t offering infinite storage or even different storage capacities,” reports TechCrunch. “Instead, ‘First Look’ customers pay an extra $5 per month for up to 50 hours of storage, with no expiration on those programs. When capacity runs out, the oldest ‘watched’ recordings are removed first, to make room for others.” Sling TV’s Cloud DVR also allows users to record multiple programs simultaneously (although limited based on rights deals with broadcasters). Continue reading Sling TV Expands Cloud DVR Access in Early Access Program

Amazon Is Open to Streaming Content Through Cable STBs

Amazon, which recently won its first Oscars for “Manchester by the Sea” and “The Salesman,” is taking on pay-TV providers and game developers as it expands beyond e-commerce into various media initiatives. Now, the company suggests it would be open to discussing deals that would enable it to stream content through the set-top boxes of cable operators, similar to Netflix’s approach. “Amazon is definitely open to those partnerships,” explained Amazon Video managing director Alex Green at Cable Congress 2017 in Brussels. Continue reading Amazon Is Open to Streaming Content Through Cable STBs

BrightLine, Nielsen Partnership Aims to Better Target OTT Ads

Aiming to improve digital advertising for the OTT market, BrightLine is partnering with Nielsen Marketing Cloud, with its 60,000 audience segments, to enable advertisers to better target their messages on connected TVs and over-the-top streaming devices. Hulu, Discovery Communications and Viacom already use BrightLine technology to add interactivity and personalization to linear ads for ordinary TVs. For example, on OTT devices, a user can click on a car ad to see related video content or access dealer information. Continue reading BrightLine, Nielsen Partnership Aims to Better Target OTT Ads

HPA Tech Retreat: Impact of OTT Video on TV/Film Production

The Digital Production Partnership (DPP), formed and funded by UK broadcasters BBC, ITV and Channel 4 to help broadcast companies maximize the potential benefits of digital TV production, conducted in-depth research into how OTT video is produced. It reports that more audiovisual content is now commissioned for uses other than broadcast distribution, with many production companies now producing entirely for the non-broadcast market. At the HPA Tech Retreat in Indian Wells, DPP managing director Mark Harrison addressed how this is impacting the film/TV production industry. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Impact of OTT Video on TV/Film Production

HBO Now Service Has More Than 2 Million Subscribers in U.S.

During a conference call yesterday with analysts detailing HBO’s strong 2016 earnings, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes announced that the cable network’s standalone streaming service HBO Now, which launched in April 2015, has officially surpassed the 2 million domestic subscriber mark. “Wall Street has been keenly attuned to the pace of subscriber growth for HBO Now as a bellwether of how major media giants will evolve their businesses in the digital era,” reports Variety. The service is vital to Time Warner since “HBO is in the midst of carriage renewal deals with major MVPDs, including the two largest cable operators, Comcast and Charter Communications.” Time Warner is also looking to merge with AT&T, parent of DirecTV. Continue reading HBO Now Service Has More Than 2 Million Subscribers in U.S.

Dish’s AirTV Box Fuses Streaming, OTA Channels with EPG

At CES, Dish debuted AirTV, a 4K set-top box that features Sling TV, Netflix and Android TV for streaming apps and OTA channels, with the Sling TV guide as an organizer for all of the content. The accompanying remote control, which connects to the box via Bluetooth and offers voice controls, provides dedicated buttons for the streaming libraries. The set-top box is “about the size of an Apple TV or Roku box,” with ports for power, Ethernet, HDMI and USB. AirTV is priced at $100 or $130 for the antenna-compatible version. Continue reading Dish’s AirTV Box Fuses Streaming, OTA Channels with EPG

Leaders Discuss Multi-Screen Experience and Future of OTT

A Digital Hollywood panel on the “multi-screen OTT experience” took a look at the entire ecosystem in a conversation led by Altman Vilandrie & Company director Jonathan Hurd. “A year ago, the multi-screen experience would have meant something different than today,” he said. “This year, we’ve had a big disruption with the Virtual MVPD (Multichannel Video Programming Distributor) model, including Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and, soon, the introduction of a similar service from Hulu. Where are the pain points for consumers?” Continue reading Leaders Discuss Multi-Screen Experience and Future of OTT

CES: Advances in OLED, 4K, HDR TVs and Streaming Options

Television displays are must-see products at CES. Last year saw LG’s 98-inch 8K display and that company’s prototype 18-inch rollable display among other highlights. This year, expect to see more manufacturers unveiling what was shown last year — 4K and 8K, HDR and OLED — in more varied and mature versions. But the biggest, brightest TV displays don’t matter a whit for an entire generation that’s happy with a few streaming video services and a laptop. They too will have more choices at CES 2017. Continue reading CES: Advances in OLED, 4K, HDR TVs and Streaming Options

As Viewing on Smart TVs Increases, Advertisers Gain Interest

More Americans are watching TV on-demand and over-the-top. Although some services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime are ad-free, the number of OTT ads is growing. Pivotal Research reports that smart TV viewing skyrocketed 65 percent over the last year, accounting now for 8.1 percent of TV viewing for the 18-to-49 demographic. In line with that finding, Innovid, which serves ads to TV apps and web video outlets, says the share of ads now placed on connected TVs has quadrupled in the same time frame. Continue reading As Viewing on Smart TVs Increases, Advertisers Gain Interest

Amazon Expands its A La Carte Offerings with HBO, Cinemax

Prime video members can access premium cable content from HBO and Cinemax now that Amazon has introduced the channels to its add-on packs in Amazon Channels, which now features more than 70 add-ons available to subscribers willing to pay more each month. “HBO is an additional $14.99 per month, and Cinemax is $9.99 monthly, with both offering 30-day free trials,” notes TechCrunch (HBO’s standalone HBO Now also runs $15/month). “The HBO add-on provides access to HBO’s current hits and past hit shows and limited series, as well as their current licensed movies, and news shows. Likewise Cinemax provides access to their original shows, as well as movies.” Continue reading Amazon Expands its A La Carte Offerings with HBO, Cinemax

AT&T Reveals Details About DirecTV Now Streaming Service

AT&T filled in details about its streaming service DirecTV Now, which goes on sale this week for between $35 and $70 a month. Four tiers of service range from 60 channels to 120 channels, delivered to Web browsers, mobile phones and streaming devices, including Amazon’s Fire TV stick and Apple TV. AT&T is currently offering a promotional deal of a 100-channel package, which will be priced at $60/month, for $35/month. The company, which bought DirecTV for $50 billion last year, will continue to sell its satellite service. Continue reading AT&T Reveals Details About DirecTV Now Streaming Service

Dish’s Sling TV Introduces Beta Test of a Cloud DVR Feature

Dish’s Sling TV is launching a cloud DVR feature, to better compete with Sony PlayStation Vue and other companies that already offer that capability. The new feature will allow consumers to record TV shows and movies for later viewing, and is slated to go into beta in December, according to Sling. The beta test is at first only available to those accessing Sling TV through Roku devices. To sweeten the deal, Sling says its recordings will not expire after 28 days, the length of time that PlayStation Vue saves them. Continue reading Dish’s Sling TV Introduces Beta Test of a Cloud DVR Feature

Warner Bros. Acquires Machinima for Digital Networks Division

Warner Bros. announced its plan to purchase the rest of gamer-centric YouTube network Machinima, which the studio first invested in two years ago. The digital media company will join the recently created Warner Bros. Digital Networks arm to help the studio develop new digital and over-the-top offerings. “With Machinima now wholly under its control, Warner Bros. hopes to tap deeper into the network’s loyal audience of young consumers who devour video game-related programming — especially content related to Warner’s own franchises including DC,” reports the Los Angeles Times. Machinima also “provides video programming for services including Playstation Vue, Amazon Prime and the CW network.” Continue reading Warner Bros. Acquires Machinima for Digital Networks Division