AT&T to Launch Ad-Supported HBO Max and Mobile Service

AT&T plans to introduce a lower-cost, ad-supported version of HBO Max in the spring, said chief executive John Stankey, who added that it would be a “light ad load.” Some shows, however, would only be available to subscribers who pay for the full-price version. With the move, HBO Max is joining Hulu and NBC’s Peacock that also offer a free or lower-price version that comes with commercials. Stankey also revealed the company is considering ad-supported wireless phone plans as soon as a year from now. Continue reading AT&T to Launch Ad-Supported HBO Max and Mobile Service

Walmart to Roll Out Subscription Service With Free Shipping

On September 15, Walmart will debut its anticipated Walmart+ subscription service. At $98 per year, the new offering is intended to compete with Amazon Prime, priced at $119 per year. Walmart+ requires an order of at least $35 for free shipping directly from stores to customers’ homes. It offers 160,000 items, including produce and groceries, and subscribers will also get a 5-cent-per-gallon discount at its affiliated gas stations. Walmart hopes its many stores’ proximity to customers will mean delivery of fresher food than its rivals.

Continue reading Walmart to Roll Out Subscription Service With Free Shipping

Spotify’s Ad Business and User Activity Are Trending Upward

With the COVID-19 pandemic, music streaming and media services provider Spotify Technology experienced deep losses in the quarter ending June 30 including declines in daily active users and listening time as well as payroll taxes that were higher than expected. Now the Stockholm-based company reported that its advertising business is improving just as its listeners’ time spent on the app reached pre-pandemic levels. In fact, by the end of the same quarter, all regions served by Spotify — with the exception of Latin America — returned to those levels. Continue reading Spotify’s Ad Business and User Activity Are Trending Upward

Netflix Names Sarandos Co-CEO, Subscriber Numbers Grow

Streaming giant Netflix announced that chief content officer Ted Sarandos is now co-chief executive officer with long-time chair & chief executive Reed Hastings. The move is largely seen as clearing the path for Sarandos to eventually succeed Hastings, who noted that the promotion “makes formal what was already informal — that Ted and I share the leadership of Netflix.” The company added 26+ million subscribers in the last two quarters as consumers began seeking more in-home entertainment while sheltering in place due to COVID-19. Continue reading Netflix Names Sarandos Co-CEO, Subscriber Numbers Grow

Parrot Analytics Develops a New Model for Streaming Metrics

Measuring the success of streaming video content has been challenging, but startup Parrot Analytics said it has created a solid metric — which it dubs Demand Expressions (DEx) — that not only counts viewers but also their levels of enthusiasm. From that data, the company said it can also extract information to accurately determine how many subscribers the show will attract. Chief executive Wared Seger noted the challenge of creating a “new standard” that will measure across “different shows, on different platforms, at different times.” Continue reading Parrot Analytics Develops a New Model for Streaming Metrics

Spotify Rolls Out Premium Feature for Party Mode Streaming

Spotify just debuted Group Sessions, a feature in beta testing for exclusive use of Premium subscribers. Group Sessions acts as a kind of “party mode” to allow two or more users in the same space to share control of the music being played in real time as well as contribute to a collaborative playlist for the group. The company points out that it is ideal for those quarantining together during the COVID-19 pandemic. Spotify anticipates the feature will now encourage more free users to convert to subscribers. Continue reading Spotify Rolls Out Premium Feature for Party Mode Streaming

Netflix Adds About 16 Million New Subscribers, New Content

At the end of Q1 2020, Netflix added 15.8 million new subscribers, more than double the company forecast. The growth spiked in March when people began to be confined due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Netflix stated that viewing and membership growth will decline when those circumstances end. As chief executive Reed Hastings put it, “We, too, are really unsure of what the future brings.” The company is still adding to its stock of original programs, buying the rights to a period piece set in the world of Sherlock Holmes. Continue reading Netflix Adds About 16 Million New Subscribers, New Content

Spotify Still Dominates Podcast Space, Acquires The Ringer

Spotify, reporting its Q4 results, revealed that it now has 271 million subscribers, up 31 percent from a year ago, with paying subscribers up 29 percent to 125 million. The company’s overall revenue reached $2 billion, up 24 percent from the previous year, with a gross margin of 25.6 percent. Spotify is still posting operating losses, with Q4’s pegged at $85 million, with its loss per share now at $1.26. Spotify also acquired Bill Simmons’ sports and pop culture website and podcasting network The Ringer. Continue reading Spotify Still Dominates Podcast Space, Acquires The Ringer

Verizon Adds More Wireless Subscribers via Disney+ Offer

Verizon Communications added 790,000 prepaid phone connections during Q4 2019, compared with 653,000 during the same period a year earlier, surpassing the expectations of JPMorgan Chase analysts who predicted 750,000 such connections. A free one-year Disney+ subscription for Verizon wireless customers may have helped lure new customers. AT&T added 229,000 postpaid connections and T-Mobile US added 1,000,000. Postpaid customers typically pay monthly under longer-term contracts and are less likely to change providers. Continue reading Verizon Adds More Wireless Subscribers via Disney+ Offer

Netflix Still Avoids Ads, But Heats Up Its Brand Partnerships

Netflix, which makes almost $16 billion in annual revenue from its 158 million global subscribers, prides itself on being free of advertising. But the company also is $12 billion in debt and facing increasing competition in the streaming video sector from rivals including Apple and The Walt Disney Company. According to eMarketer, Netflix’s “days at the top may be numbered,” and many experts believe that Netflix will eventually have to turn to advertising. Even without ads, however, Netflix is increasing brand engagement. Continue reading Netflix Still Avoids Ads, But Heats Up Its Brand Partnerships

Netflix Targets International Markets as U.S. Growth Slows

For the first time, Netflix released subscription details and numbers for global regions, including Asia, Europe and Latin America. The company stated in October that it would begin to release this information. It comes after another first: Netflix’s loss of U.S. subscribers — 126,000, to be exact — in Q2 2019. With 60 million Netflix subscribers in the U.S., Netflix appears to have saturated the U.S. market, which is valued at $9 billion annually, making its focus on global markets more crucial. Continue reading Netflix Targets International Markets as U.S. Growth Slows

Apple to Bundle News+, TV+, Music as Early as Next Year

According to sources, Apple, in a bid to gain more subscribers, plans to bundle its paid Internet services, including Apple News+, Apple TV+ and Apple Music, as early as 2020. Apple included a proviso in its recently inked media deals that allows it to bundle the News+ service with other paid digital content. Debuted in March, Apple News+ is a $10 per month subscription service that provides access to many publications, splitting the revenue in half with the newspaper and magazine publishers. The Apple TV+ streaming video service launched earlier this month. Continue reading Apple to Bundle News+, TV+, Music as Early as Next Year

Facebook Will Pay For News, But Will Not Mine or Sell Data

Facebook, which has had a mixed relationship with news media, debuted Facebook News, a section devoted to news stories from a range of publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed and Business Insider. Most notably, Facebook is paying for use of the content, inking some deals that top $1 million, and letting professional journalists choose some of the stories to be published. Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg urged all online platforms to support professional news outlets. Continue reading Facebook Will Pay For News, But Will Not Mine or Sell Data

TiVo Confirms That Ads Will Appear Prior to DVR Recordings

TiVo confirmed that it plans to introduce commercials that will play before DVR recordings, including movies and TV shows recorded by customers with a lifetime subscription plan. The introduction of pre-roll video ads will impact the company’s current devices (running TiVo Experience 4 software) within the next 90 days and will become a permanent part of the service. Some publications speculate that the update will eventually affect devices with TiVo Experience 3 as well. TiVo’s Roamio, Bolt and Vox will be the first models eligible for pre-roll ads. Customers will have the ability to skip an ad once it starts playing. Continue reading TiVo Confirms That Ads Will Appear Prior to DVR Recordings

MoviePass Officially Shutters its Cinema Subscription Service

MoviePass notified its subscribers last week that its cinema plan would interrupt service on Saturday, September 14. At one point, the MoviePass subscription service enabled customers to watch up to one movie per day in theaters for $9.95 per month, a model that proved unsustainable. Parent company Helios and Matheson Analytics (HMNY) announced that it is considering options, which includes a possible sale of the MoviePass company. While the business model was seen as a bold experiment by some, the company reportedly burned through cash, ultimately disappointing its shareholders. Continue reading MoviePass Officially Shutters its Cinema Subscription Service

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