Apple Previews New Operating System for Apple TV 4K, Announces Deal With Charter

Apple June 4 previewed the tvOS 12 operating system for Apple TV 4K with support for Dolby Atmos audio, new features to easily access shows and movies, and aerial screensavers shot from space. The company also announced that Charter Communications, the second-largest cable operator in the United States, will begin offering Apple TV 4K to its customers.

Apple TV 4K debuted last fall. The service offers customers the largest collection of 4K HDR movies, according to Apple, including free 4K HDR upgrades to previously purchased movies in customers’ iTunes libraries.

“This fall, iTunes will be home to the largest collection of Dolby Atmos-supported movies anywhere, and these titles will also include Dolby Atmos audio for free,” according to an Apple press release. “With tvOS 12, Apple TV 4K will be the only streaming player both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos certified, delivering the highest quality cinematic experience of stunning 4K HDR visuals and immersive sound that flows all around in three-dimensional space.”

Also, later this year, Charter customers in nearly 50 million households will have access to live channels and tens of thousands of on-demand programs via an all-new Spectrum TV app on their Apple TV 4K, iPhone and iPad, integrated with Siri and the Apple TV App, Apple reported. In addition, as part of this collaboration, Charter will be offering iPhones and iPads to customers as they grow their mobile presence. Charter joins AT&T’s DirecTV Now in the United States, CANAL+ in France and Salt in Switzerland, which have begun offering customers Apple TV 4K with their services.

The Apple TV App on iPhone, iPad and Apple TV allows customers to find and watch TV shows and movies from more than 100 participating video apps in 10 countries, according to Apple. Single sign-on for Apple TV and iOS has allowed users to sign in once to get access to all the video apps available through their cable subscription. With tvOS 12, Apple further simplifies the authentication process with “zero sign-on.” Apple TV detects the user’s broadband network and automatically signs them in to all the supported apps they receive through their subscription — no typing required, according to Apple. Zero sign-on begins with Charter later this year and will expand to other providers over time.

In collaboration with the International Space Station National Lab and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, Apple unveiled new aerials shot from space by NASA astronauts, “so Apple TV customers can enjoy even more stunning scenes filmed in 4K HDR,” according to Apple. Aerial screensavers will also be more interactive, allowing viewers to see the location information and swipe between dozens of aerials, the company noted.

Additional tvOS 12 features for Apple TV 4K and Apple TV 4th generation make it easier for customers to access shows and movies, according to Apple:

— With iOS 12, users can securely AutoFill passwords from iPhone and iPad to Apple TV to easily sign in to Apple TV apps.

— The Apple TV Remote will be automatically added to Control Center on iPhone or iPad for Apple TV users, giving users quick access to Apple TV controls.

— Home control systems such as Control4, Crestron and Savant can be used to control Apple TV, including using Siri for voice search and control.

“The arrival of Dolby Atmos on Apple TV, ‘zero sign-on,’ a deal with Charter Spectrum, a new TV OS and, perhaps more tangentially, Siri support for third-party apps, all point towards an evolutionary product, rather than a revolutionary one, which we have become accustomed to from Apple over the years,” read a Futuresource Consulting blog in response to the announcements.

Futuresource estimates that there were approximately 21 million Apple TVs in use worldwide at the end of 2017, approaching half of these in the United States.

“Apple TV continues to add features, build partnerships and is clearly striving to offer the best quality digital streamer experience there is — albeit at a higher price than its competitors,” read the Futuresource blog. “Service partnerships will therefore be key to driving the attractiveness of the product and a channels approach, akin or better than Amazon Channels and Roku’s equivalent, will also be hugely important if Apple still wants to become the main entertainment hub in the home — something which Amazon arguably has gained a lead in.”

The new tvOS will be available this fall as a free software update for Apple TV 4K and Apple TV 4th generation. For more information, visit apple.com/apple-tv-4K.

Report: Multichannel Subscriptions Fall Slightly in Q1, But Get Virtual Lift

Combined cable, direct broadcast satellite (DBS) and telecom multichannel subscriptions fell 0.8% sequentially in the first quarter ended March 31, to 93.2 million, including 90.3 million residential customers.

That’s according to the Q1 2018 U.S. Multichannel Subscriber Report by Kagan, a media research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence.

However, noteworthy gains for virtual platforms DirecTV NOW and Sling TV cut the quarterly subscription losses in half, raising the overall residential figure to 94.1 million.

Other findings:

  • The residential multichannel penetration rate stood at 76.1% as of March 31 when including the virtual smartphone platforms owned by AT&T and DISH Network (DirecTV NOW and Sling TV).
  • Cable operators logged their largest first-quarter video subscriber decline on record, with the top two multiple system operators, Comcast and Charter, accounting for 59% of the drop.
  • Telco video appears to be regaining its footing as AT&T’s U-verse stabilizes. The platform’s video customer losses fell below 100,000 for the first time since the third quarter of 2015.
  • DBS losses ramped back up in the first quarter, bringing the sector’s total down to 31.1 million.For more information, visit www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence.

Research: U.S. Pay-TV Affordability Has Dropped Since 2000

Consumers who complain about their cable bill may have good reason.

Multichannel video affordability in the United States has plummeted since the turn of the millennium, squeezing the penetration rate, particularly among the more economically vulnerable households, according to new data from Kagan, S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Since 2000, there has been a 74% increase in the inflation-adjusted pay-TV bill while incomes have stagnated, according to the research.

The estimated nominal average monthly multichannel revenue per subscriber across the cable, DBS and telco platforms rose at a 5.5% CAGR between 2000 and 2017. Kagan calculated U.S. multichannel purchasing power based on 2017 inflation-adjusted annual multichannel average revenue per user, or ARPU, and average income figures. The affordability calculation dropped from a 10 in 2000 to a 6 in 2017.

Multichannel offerings have evolved a great deal since 2000, including a greater number of networks and advanced services such as video on demand, DVR services and improved user interfaces, with the vast majority of the packages delivered to subscribers digitally and in HD, but consumers’ ability to pay the price for that improvement didn’t grow much.

“The eroding legacy multichannel affordability partly explains the popularity of over-the-top services such as Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Video,” according to Kagan.

Research: OTT Sub Households to Far Outstrip TV Sub Households in 2020

U.S. OTT subscriber households will far surpass TV subscriber households in 2020, according to new data from Convergence Research.

In five years at the current run-rate Netflix will have in the United States as many subscribers as all the the traditional TV access providers combined, according the Convergence’s Brahm Eiley. Amazon Prime at the current run rate will surpass the traditional U.S. TV access providers in terms of subscribers in three years.

However, the average revenue per unit (ARPU) for U.S. TV subscribers in 2020 will still be four times U.S. OTT subscriber households’ ARPU, down from 6 times in 2017.

Convergence has just released its annual 2018 Couch Potato Reports, “The Battle for the American Couch Potato: OTT, TV, Online” and “The Battle for the American Couch Potato: Bundling, TV, Internet, Telephone, Wireless.”

Convergence estimates that U.S. OTT access revenue (based on 55 OTT providers led by Netflix) grew 41% to $11.9 billion in 2017, forecasts $16.6 billion for 2018 and $27.6 billion for 2020.

The firm estimates 2017 U.S. cable, satellite and telco TV access (not including OTT) revenue grew 1% to $107.6 billion ($94.30 per month ARPU) in 2017, forecasts $107.4 billion ($97.90 per month ARPU) for 2018, and $106.9 billion for 2020.

In 2017, the United States saw a decline of 3.66 million TV subscribers and in 2016 a decline of 2.2 million. Convergence forecasts a decline of 3.72 million TV subs for 2018.

The firm reports that 2010 saw the start of the rise in cord cutter/never households, and as of the end of 2017 estimates 32.13 million U.S. households (or 26.1% of households) did not have a traditional TV subscription with a cable, satellite or telco TV access provider, up from 27.56 million (22.6% of households) at the end of 2016. Convergence forecasts 36.76 million (29.6% of households) will be cord cutter/never households by the end of 2018.

Meanwhile, 2017 saw U.S. residential broadband subs surpass U.S. TV subs, growing to 96.95 million. Convergence estimates 2.33 million U.S. residential broadband subs were added in 2017 (2.66 million in 2016) and revenue grew 7% to $56.8 million; the firm forecasts 2.57 million additions and 6% growth to $60.5 billion for 2018.

“The gloves are off,” commentary in the report reads. “The TV-movie Industry is being reconstructed from the inside and by the outside, as programmers now directly compete against their traditional TV access and independent OTT buyers that rival them in terms of content spend. Amazon, Apple, DAZN, Facebook, Google and Netflix all have the money muscle to finance their own productions or outbid on programming including major sporting franchises.”

Because the OTT services are acting more like studios and vying for top content, traditional content owners may fight back, the commentary reads.

“We expect especially for the U.S. market going forward fewer content deals between programmers and independent OTT providers: 2017 saw Disney choose not to renew with Netflix and embrace OTT, HBO not renew with Amazon in the U.S., Hulu (which is spending more on content on a per U.S. subscriber basis than Amazon or Netflix) continue to bolster its offerings, compete more directly against TV access providers, and A+E, AMC, Discovery, Scripps, and Viacom back supply Philo,” the firm commented. “The traditional TV ecosystem does not show decline ‘yet’ except for TV subscribers. TV access players continue to raise prices (ARPU is growing but we forecast TV access revenue decline going forward), and programmers have kept up increases in programming fees and advertising rates, but this architecture cannot last in the long run.”

Study: Cord Cutters Saving More Than $100 a Month by Dumping Cable

Cord cutters are saving an average of $115.33 a month by nixing cable, according to a survey from personal finance site LendEDU.

LendEDU surveyed 500 cord-cutters who canceled their traditional cable services within the last two years and 500 consumers that are still using a cable subscription for their homes.

Cord cutters are also saving an average of $51.38 a month by using online streaming subscriptions that are not theirs, the survey found. About a third of cord cutters (34%) use a service that isn’t theirs.

Cord cutters did spend a bit more on streaming services after cutting cable, an average of $35.33 a month versus $33.74 before.

Meanwhile, even cable subscribers spent an average of $30.87 a month on streaming services, and just over half (52%) of that group said they used their cable service more than streaming. Still, that means 48% of cable subscribers said they use streaming more — an ominous sign for the future of cable, according to LeadEDU

“As the years go by and cable is rendered useless, due to online streaming services becoming more robust, one would have to imagine these results will reverse,” the report stated.

Even the majority of cable subscribers (56% versus 44%) said they would consider cutting the cord, according to the survey.

“Chances are that if cable users are already thinking about cutting the cord in mass, it will happen eventually,” the report stated.

For more on the report visit: https://lendedu.com/blog/cord-cutters-saving-money/