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

Amazon Launches Ad-Free, Streaming “Prime Music” Service

As expected, Amazon has launched Prime Music featuring more than one million songs and hundreds of playlists. The new service offers unlimited streaming without ads or restrictions. It is free to Amazon Prime members and could potentially help attract new subscribers (those who are interested can sign up for a free 30-day trial). Prime members can also listen to downloaded music offline on their Kindle Fire, HDX, iOS, Android and Mac/PC devices via Amazon’s Cloud Player. Continue reading Amazon Launches Ad-Free, Streaming “Prime Music” Service

Amazon Prime Ready to Launch its Anticipated Music Service

Amazon has reportedly reached agreements with record labels in order to launch a streaming music service by June or July. The Prime music service does not plan to feature recent song releases, but will offer a catalog of tracks and albums that are six months old and older — providing an additional benefit to Prime members who already enjoy access to movies and TV shows via Instant Video, an e-books lending library, and free two-day shipping on products ordered through the retail site. Continue reading Amazon Prime Ready to Launch its Anticipated Music Service

Netflix Turns to Original Series and Licensing 5-Star Content

According to Netflix CFO David Wells, the streaming service plans on spending $3.2 billion on streaming content in 2014. Netflix acknowledged that a large fraction of the currently available material is not necessarily popular with its audience and plans to spend more money on shows with higher potential. A content shift through the next few quarters toward more original series along with licensing exclusive and higher-rated shows will account for this extra spending. Continue reading Netflix Turns to Original Series and Licensing 5-Star Content

Pay TV: AT&T Agrees to Purchase DirecTV in $49 Billion Deal

AT&T has agreed to acquire DirecTV for $49 billion. The two companies’ boards approved the agreement yesterday. The deal, which comes just three months after Comcast’s $45 billion agreement to purchase Time Warner Cable, will create a new pay TV giant as video consumption continues to move online. Combining AT&T and DirecTV would result in a company with 26 million pay TV subscribers in the U.S., second only to Comcast and Time Warner Cable if regulators approve their deal. Continue reading Pay TV: AT&T Agrees to Purchase DirecTV in $49 Billion Deal

YouTube in Talks to Acquire Video Game Streaming Site Twitch

Google-owned YouTube is reportedly in active discussions to purchase live video-game streaming service Twitch. While Variety indicates a deal has already been reached for more than $1 billion, The Wall Street Journal more conservatively reports that the two companies are in talks, but in the early stages of a potential deal. Twitch was launched in 2011 by Justin Kan and Emmett Shear, the co-founders of Justin.tv, which was one of the first sites to live-stream user-generated video. Continue reading YouTube in Talks to Acquire Video Game Streaming Site Twitch

AT&T Could Reach $50 Billion Deal for DirecTV in Two Weeks

AT&T is close to striking a $50 billion deal to acquire satellite TV provider DirecTV, according to people familiar with the matter. An agreement between the two companies involving a mix of cash and AT&T stock could be reached within two weeks. Insiders say the two sides are discussing a share price for DirecTV in the low to mid-nineties (at $95 a share, such a deal would value DirecTV at almost $48 billion). The deal comes as AT&T considers video distribution a potentially key initiative for its future. Continue reading AT&T Could Reach $50 Billion Deal for DirecTV in Two Weeks

Netflix Raises Monthly Subscription Rate for New Customers

Netflix has raised its monthly price for new subscribers by $1 to $8.99, marking its first price increase in three years. CEO Reed Hastings recently announced that a price increase would likely be necessary to meet the rising costs of movies and TV shows. The video streaming service introduced a new $7.99 plan for subscribers not concerned with high-definition or the ability to stream programs on multiple devices, while a $11.99 premium plan lets users stream shows to four devices at once. Continue reading Netflix Raises Monthly Subscription Rate for New Customers

Optimistic Financial Reports from Electronic Arts and Activision

Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts released positive financial results and showed optimism about the holiday shopping season. EA said sales of new video game consoles from Microsoft and Sony exceeded their goals, as well as the sales of games for those devices. EA also announced a repurchase plan for $750 million shares, and a lofty profit forecast for the rest of the year. Activision reported that presales for the newest version of “World of Warcraft” are the strongest in the game’s history. Continue reading Optimistic Financial Reports from Electronic Arts and Activision

Comcast Customers to Soon Stream Games from Electronic Arts

Following two years of testing, Comcast and Electronic Arts are reportedly close to reaching an agreement that would allow customers to stream EA video games to televisions via Comcast’s X1 cable box system, and use their tablets as controllers. The cloud-connected X1 system features apps, viewing recommendations and voice control. According to sources familiar with the plans, games such as “FIFA,” “Madden” and “Monopoly” would be available to Comcast’s more-than 22 million U.S. customers. Continue reading Comcast Customers to Soon Stream Games from Electronic Arts

Hulu to Update its Mobile Apps for Streaming Free TV Shows

Hulu announced on Wednesday that it would update its streaming video mobile apps to allow users to view entire episodes of certain television shows, even if the users are not premium Hulu Plus subscribers. Emulating its desktop version, the update will feature free episodes with advertisements spliced in. Free shows will first be available for Android, and later for iOS via a redesigned Hulu Plus iPhone and iPad app coming this summer. Hulu Plus now has 6 million subscribers. Continue reading Hulu to Update its Mobile Apps for Streaming Free TV Shows

Rdio to Launch Free, Ad-Supported Music Service This Year

Music service Rdio is planning a free, ad-supported offering to launch later this year. The service is also expected to add more non-music content and morning shows from Cumulus, which became a significant investor in Rdio last year. Some of that may include sports and talk show content from WestWood One, which Cumulus recently acquired. Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey introduced the new ad-supported model during a Q1 earnings call earlier this week. Continue reading Rdio to Launch Free, Ad-Supported Music Service This Year

Charter and Comcast Joining Forces, End Dispute Over TWC

Charter Communications may have figured out another plan to become the nation’s second-largest cable operator, despite losing out to Comcast in its bid to acquire Time Warner Cable. As part of a new three-part deal with Comcast announced yesterday, Charter plans to pick up subscribers that Comcast will be divesting. Should the deals be completed, Charter will acquire a stake in a new public company to be launched by Comcast, and swap subscribers with the cable giant. Continue reading Charter and Comcast Joining Forces, End Dispute Over TWC

Netflix Reaches New Deal with Verizon to Improve Streaming

Netflix has reached a deal for direct access to Verizon’s network that should provide subscribers with better performance of streaming video in the coming months. Despite Netflix CEO Reed Hastings’ public complaints about paying extra for such connectivity, Verizon confirmed the new deal, which follows a similar approach to the agreement Netflix reached with Comcast earlier this year. As more Internet users stream movies and TV content, the debate over who should be responsible for infrastructure upgrades intensifies. Continue reading Netflix Reaches New Deal with Verizon to Improve Streaming

Netflix to Be Available to 500,000 Cable Subscribers Next Week

Netflix has reached an agreement with cable companies RCN, Grande Communications and Atlantic Broadband that will allow subscribers to basically access the streaming video service as if it were a cable channel starting next week. Netflix will be added as an app to set-top boxes to provide subscribers with the option of viewing the Netflix content they would otherwise access via computers and mobile devices. The offer is only available for customers of the cable companies who also subscribe to Netflix. Continue reading Netflix to Be Available to 500,000 Cable Subscribers Next Week

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