CBS Debuts its Combined Showtime and All Access Package

CBS has launched the anticipated bundle of its CBS All Access and Showtime streaming services. Available initially to current subscribers, sign-up for the skinny bundle is accessible via cbs.com or showtime.com. “CBS All Access today goes for $5.99 per month, or $9.99 per month if you want to ditch the ads,” reports TechCrunch. “Showtime’s over-the-top option is $10.99 per month. The new, combined pricing is $14.99 per month for both services, or $18.99 per month if you want the CBS All Access commercial-free plan.” CBS and Showtime are available for subscribers across Web, mobile apps, and TV platforms. Continue reading CBS Debuts its Combined Showtime and All Access Package

YouTube Expands its Original Programming With 40+ Shows

YouTube plans to produce new original series to be available for free on its site. Actor and comedian Kevin Hart, talk-show host and producer Ellen DeGeneres and Internet comedy duo Rhett & Link are producing unscripted series to roll out in 2017. The Google-owned company will also invest more in its paid video and music streaming service YouTube Red, which launched in October 2015. YouTube will fund more than 40 original shows and movies in the next year. By devoting hundreds of millions of dollars to programming with high-profile stars, YouTube hopes to attract more advertisers. Continue reading YouTube Expands its Original Programming With 40+ Shows

Roku Hires Lobbyists, Prepping for Changes to Net Neutrality

Roku seems to be gearing up for a battle regarding net neutrality, as the FCC is expected to repeal or change regulations that require ISPs to treat all Internet traffic equally. Such changes could make it more challenging and potentially more expensive for Roku and others to provide services at top download speeds. In a first for the company, Roku has hired two DC lobbyists to focus on net neutrality issues. The President Obama-era net neutrality rules treat telecoms similarly to utilities. Those who support the regulations believe they are necessary to prevent service providers from throttling speeds or charging media companies more for content delivery. Continue reading Roku Hires Lobbyists, Prepping for Changes to Net Neutrality

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

Netflix Dominance Pushing Studios to Earlier Release Window

Big spending digital players Netflix and Amazon are shaking up traditional TV stalwarts. Netflix is expected to spend $6 billion on original and acquired programming this year, up $1 billion from last year. That figure is five times more than what cable outlets FX (owned by 21st Century Fox) and Showtime (owned by CBS Corp.) spend and more than twice that spent by Time Warner’s premium channel HBO. TV actors are demanding $250,000 an episode, twice their previous rate, and there’s a feeding frenzy for A-list below-the-line crews. Continue reading Netflix Dominance Pushing Studios to Earlier Release Window

Plex Integrates Alexa Voice Control with Popular Media Player

Media player Plex, joining many device manufacturers, has added Alexa voice control for its first foray into home automation. Now, via the company’s Plex Skill for Alexa, the user can ask for favorite content, even music, from her Plex media library without a remote control. But Alexa for Plex isn’t as simple as it is for Spotify or Pandora, which rely on the Alexa mobile app. Instead, users have to enable Remote Access for their media server in the software’s setting, to turn requests into API calls in Plex’s cloud services. Continue reading Plex Integrates Alexa Voice Control with Popular Media Player

Apple Cuts Fees Charged to Streaming Services in App Store

Apple is halving the amount it charges streaming services to sell video on its App Store, in response to widespread discontent among content partners. Earlier, Apple tried unsuccessfully to create its own live TV service, but instead released an app that relies on programs from streaming services including HBO, Hulu and Showtime. Apple is now cutting its share from 30 percent to 15 percent. Some non-video apps will also dip to 15 percent after the customer has been a subscriber for a year. Continue reading Apple Cuts Fees Charged to Streaming Services in App Store

AT&T Set to Launch DirecTV Now 100-Channel OTT Service

On the heels of acquiring DirecTV for almost $50 billion, AT&T plans to roll out DirecTV Now, an Internet video service, by the end of 2016. This new over-the-top service challenges the pay-TV industry with its ability to stream a 100-channel line-up to TVs and mobile devices without a satellite dish, cable set-top box or annual contract. Sources say that AT&T is likely to charge about $50 a month for the service. Currently 25.3 million subscribers pay an average of $117 a month for AT&T’s pay-TV business. Continue reading AT&T Set to Launch DirecTV Now 100-Channel OTT Service

Sony PS Vue Offers HBO, Cinemax as Standalones or Bundle

Following Sony’s recent announcement that the company’s PlayStation Vue streaming service would offer HBO and Cinemax, both premium cable channels are now available as standalones for $15 per month or as part of a new bundle. In addition, the HBO Now app launched yesterday on PS3 and PS4 consoles. According to The Verge, “the new Ultra bundle will include all of Vue’s current offerings, including HBO and Showtime, for $64.99 per month in most locations, and $74.99 per month in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, and Miami. PlayStation says Vue is the first streaming service to offer live programming from HBO and Cinemax without a bundle subscription.” Continue reading Sony PS Vue Offers HBO, Cinemax as Standalones or Bundle

FX Chief Warns of Runaway TV Production Fueled by Netflix

Next year is shaping up to see another record number of TV productions, mainly propelled by Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. According to FX Networks chief exec John Landgraf, who offered his predictions at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, networks will produce 500 original scripted shows in 2017, nearly 20 percent more than the 419 produced in 2015. As in past years, Landgraf warned of a glut of programming. He earlier coined the term “Peak TV,” suggesting the industry is producing content at a pace that is overwhelming critics and viewers. Continue reading FX Chief Warns of Runaway TV Production Fueled by Netflix

Lionsgate to Purchase Premium Channel Starz for $4.4 Billion

Lionsgate announced it has agreed to acquire premium cable network Starz for $4.4 billion in cash and stock. Starz president and CEO Chris Albrecht, who just signed a new contract that runs through 2020, is expected to continue running Starz. It is not clear if the deal would have any impact on Lionsgate’s stake in Epix, which the company owns with Viacom and MGM, and serves as the pay TV home to Lionsgate films. The deal will bring 17 Starz- and Encore-branded channels and Anchor Bay Entertainment video distribution to Lionsgate. Continue reading Lionsgate to Purchase Premium Channel Starz for $4.4 Billion

Viacom Debuts BET Streaming Service for International Market

Viacom rolled out a standalone online service this week dubbed BET Play, targeting an adult audience (last year, Viacom launched Nickelodeon-related app Noggin for kids). The video-on-demand application will feature BET’s award programs, such as this week’s 2016 BET Awards, in addition to TV series, musical performances, documentaries, comedy specials and news. BET Play will launch for iOS, Android and Apple AirPlay-enabled TVs without the need for a broader pay TV subscription. It will be available in 100 countries outside the U.S. for the equivalent of $3.99 per month. Continue reading Viacom Debuts BET Streaming Service for International Market

Niche Audiences, Binge Watching Impact Testing of TV Pilots

Television networks are in the midst of their annual process of testing new shows to decide which ones they’ll pick up. The typical test audience is made up of 50 people, recruited based on age, sex and race, and a network’s core demographic. The audience members watch the show, judging it via a handheld device that has a knob enabling them to express like and dislike. Not every media outlet embraces the concept of test audiences, and the testing services are modifying their criteria to better reflect today’s viewing behavior. Continue reading Niche Audiences, Binge Watching Impact Testing of TV Pilots

Growth Slow for Skinny Bundles, Attracting Younger Demos

In-home video entertainment is expected to be a $381 billion global business by 2019, of which about $100 billion represents the North American market. That’s why TV conglomerates aren’t eager to offer skinny bundles, and Apple, for the meantime, has given up on it. In the U.S., video entertainment tends to be spread among five different apps on at least two different hardware platforms, costing between $120 and $14o a month, including a TV package of 200+ channels from providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Dish. Continue reading Growth Slow for Skinny Bundles, Attracting Younger Demos

Media Giants Join Forces Against FCC Opening Set-Top Box

The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to begin to allow third-party companies to develop devices and apps to carry pay TV signals, thus loosening the grip of the set-top box manufacturing market and the pay TV companies that lease them. But now Disney, CBS, 21st Century Fox, A&E Television Networks, Time Warner, Scripps Networks Interactive and Viacom have banded together to oppose the move, in comments filed with the FCC. The founder of Roku has come out against the idea as misguided and unnecessary. Continue reading Media Giants Join Forces Against FCC Opening Set-Top Box

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