ViacomCBS Expands Distribution With Hulu Online TV Platform

ViacomCBS has its upcoming launch of Paramount+ streaming service, but the media giant hasn’t forgotten about its pay-TV business. The company Jan. 4 announced a new distribution agreement that adds more content from its portfolio of news, entertainment and sports networks to Disney-owned Hulu’s live TV subscription streaming service, Hulu + Live TV — the largest online television platform.

The multiyear deal includes continued carriage of CBS broadcast stations, CBS Sports Network, Pop TV, Smithsonian Channel, and The CW, as well as continued distribution of subscription streaming video service, Showtime. The deal will also introduce 14 additional ViacomCBS networks to Hulu + Live TV, including BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, VH1, CMT, Nick Jr., TV Land, BET Her, MTV2, NickToons, TeenNick and MTV Classic.

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“We are excited to have reached an expanded agreement with Hulu that underscores the value of our powerful portfolio of brands to next-generation TV platforms and viewers,” Ray Hopkins, president of U.S. Networks Distribution for ViacomCBS, said in a statement. “Hulu continues to be a great partner, and this agreement ensures that Hulu + Live TV subscribers are now able to enjoy the full breadth of our leading content across news, sports and entertainment for the first time.”

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

WGN America Inks First-Ever Carriage Agreement With Hulu

WGN America, the Chicago-based cable TV network owned by Nexstar Media Group, has reached its first-ever multiyear distribution agreement with Disney-owned Hulu + Live TV.

Under the deal, the network’s programming will be carried by the online platform beginning Jan. 19, 2021. The agreement also restores Nexstar’s ABC-affiliated television stations to Hulu + Live TV. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Hulu + Live TV ended its most-recent fiscal period with more than 4 million subscribers, tops among all online TV platforms, and fifth among all pay-TV networks nationwide.

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WGN America has approximately 75 million television households across the United States. WGN America is the home of “NewsNation,” the country’s only live nationwide newscast airing in prime-time nightly.

“We’re looking forward to making our entertainment content and “NewsNation” available to 4 million new subscribers throughout the country,” Sean Compton, president of the networks division of Nexstar, said in a statement.

Global Pay-TV to Add 35 Million Subs by 2025 — Driven by Online TV

Pay-TV consumption in the United States is declining, but globally, there’s still life in the distribution channel — thanks to online TV.

New data from London-based Digital TV Research suggests there will be 35 million new pay-TV subs through 2025, with the global base reaching 1.06 billion across more than 138 countries.

Driving growth is online TV, which includes platforms such as Sling TV, Hulu with Live TV, AT&T TV Now and YouTube TV in the United States. IPTV will add 84 million subs through 2025, topping 391 million. Online TV will grow its global market share in pay-TV from 30% in 2019 to 37% in 2025.

Satellite TV, which is projected to lose another 4 million subs through 2025, will generate 20% of pay-TV subs, down from 21% in 2019.
Cable will decline 7%, accounting for 40% of all pay-TV subs by 2025 — a near 50% drop from 74% market share in 2010. There will be 430 million cable TV subs (both analog and digital) by 2025, 101 million fewer than in 2010.

“Our forecasts are based on the assumption that professional sports will restart in August following relaxations in the COVID-19 lockdown,” analyst Simon Murray said in a statement. “If this does not happen, then pay-TV will experience considerable churn.”

Hulu Missing From Chicago Cubs Spring Training Lineup

The Chicago Cubs, like many Major League Baseball teams, begin their 28-game Spring Training season Feb. 22 in Mesa, Arizona. While inclement weather is delaying the start to many games on Saturday, Disney’s online TV platform, Hulu with Live TV, won’t be around to stream the action regardless of projected rain in the forecast.

The Cubs, together with Sinclair Broadcast Group, are bowing their jointly created Marquee Sports Network, which was supposed to stream on Hulu, priced at $54.99. Subs were to get access to 148 regular season games (not being broadcast nationally), in addition to Spring Training.

In a Feb. 21 statement, the Cubs said Marquee would be available to stream on AT&T TV Now (formerly DirecTV Now) and “Hulu+Live TV in the near future.” No reason was given for the delayed launch on Hulu, which recently disclosed 2.7 million subscribers — topping Dish Network’s Sling TV.

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“The provider determines the launch date for the service,” Cubs spokesman Julian Green told the Chicago Tribune.

Per ongoing secular changes in media distribution, the Cubs for the first time in their history will not broadcast games locally over-the-air TV after 71 years.

Marquee has also bowed a branded Sports Network App, enabling fans with pay-TV contracts access to live and on-demand mobile and desktop access.

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YouTube Readying Third-Party OTT Video Platform

Google-owned YouTube is reportedly looking to borrow a page from the Amazon Channels playbook with a new platform featuring third-party subscription streaming video services.

Amazon launched Channels in 2015 featuring direct access to services such as HBO Now, Dove Channel, Acorn TV, Shudder, UMC, Showtime OTT and Starz. Amazon handles the billing and backend support for a fee or percentage of subscription revenue. Apple is doing the same type of business platform with Apple TV and Apple News.

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The Information, citing sources familiar with the situation, said the YouTube platform would enable a “wide range of subscription-streaming services,” including YouTube TV, which costs $49.99 monthly.

Google in 2015 launched ad-free video streaming subscription service YouTube Red, later bowing YouTube TV for $35 monthly. The platform recently topped two million monthly subscribers — just behind market leaders Sling TV and Hulu with Live TV.

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YouTube TV Tops 2 Million Subscribers

High-profile marketing around the World Series and Super Bowl is apparently paying off for Google’s proprietary online TV service, YouTube TV.

Google announced that the online TV service now has more than 2 million subscribers since launching in 2016. The tally puts the platform just behind Dish Network’s pioneering Sling TV with 2.68 million subs and Hulu with Live TV, reportedly at 2.7 million subs.

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YouTube (excluding $1.2 billion in ad-revenue from YouTube TV) generated more than $15 billion in advertising revenue in 2019 — up from $11 billion in 2018.

The tallies pale in comparison to overall revenue for Google parent Alphabet Inc.

“In 2019 we again delivered strong revenue growth, with revenue of $162 billion, up 18% year over year and up 20% on a constant currency basis,” CFO Ruth Porat said in a statement.

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YouTube TV Extends Free Trial Period

Google-owned online television service YouTube TV is extending its free trial period to 14 days through Jan. 15. The service with more than 1 million subscribers had offered new members a free seven-day trial period.

Launched in 2016, YouTube TV costs $49.99 monthly featuring 70 channels, including most major sports networks. The channel has been a presenting sponsor of the MLB World Series.

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YouTube TV is less expensive than Hulu with Live TV and fuboTV ($54.99) and AT&T Now ($64.99), but costs more than Sling TV ($30) and Philo TV ($20).

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Hulu Live TV Price Jumping by $10 a Month

The price for the Hulu Live TV service will increase by $10 a month, Hulu announced.

The skinny bundle will jump from $44.99 a month to $54.99 starting Dec. 18.

“The new price better reflects the substantial value of Hulu + Live TV and allows us to continue offering all of the popular live news, sports and entertainment programming included in the plan,” read a Hulu statement.

The service features more than 60-plus live TV sports, news and entertainment channels, including ESPN, Fox Sports, CNN, FX, TNT, Bravo and all major broadcast networks.

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“Price changes are never easy to stomach, and we know that many people don’t watch live television year-round, so we’ve made it easy for Hulu subscribers to switch back and forth between our plans to best suit their needs,” read the Hulu statement. “If you love college football, choose Hulu + Live TV during the season, then switch to one of Hulu’s less expensive on-demand plans when it’s over. If you enjoy most of your TV on demand but really want to watch live election news, just switch to Hulu + Live TV for a few months.”

Report: More Teens Watch YouTube Than Netflix

More teenagers in the United States are watching YouTube videos than Netflix content, according to a new survey from Wall Street investment firm Piper Jaffray.

The survey of 9,500 respondents found that 37% stream YouTube content compared to 35% who opt for Netflix.

In the previous Piper survey, 37% of respondents streamed Netflix compared to 32% for YouTube.

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“Netflix lost the leading position, but we believe YouTube’s more varied content library is a significant driver,” analysts Michael Olson and Yung Kim wrote in a note. “Specifically, we note that, while YouTube does offer movies and other scripted content for a fee, the YouTube library includes music videos, video game streaming, DIY guides, social media influencer videos.”

That YouTube has supplanted Netflix as a preferred video service among teens shouldn’t be surprising considering the Google-owned platform has long been the No. 1 video platform globally.

Already three years ago, Google said 80% of users from 18 years old streamed YouTube, with mobile use topping broadcast and cable use combined.

“By 2025, half of viewers under the age of 32 will not subscribe to a pay-TV service,” Google wrote.

Notably, Amazon disclosed disclosed YouTube TV is now the 6th most popular Fire TV app followed by PlayStation Vue, Sling TV and AT&T TV Now.

And the No. 1 app? YouTube.

Interestingly, Piper Jaffray didn’t compare YouTube TV with Netflix. Google’s move into online TV has generated about 1 million paid subscribers, about half of Hulu with Live TV’s 2 million subs, according to Bloomberg.

Netflix ended the most-recent fiscal period with more than 60 million domestic subscribers and 151 million globally.

 

Sony Downsizing PlayStation Vue?

Sony Interactive Entertainment reportedly is scaling back its involvement with local television affiliates for its branded PlayStation Vue online TV service.

Cord Cutter News, citing emails sent to affiliates from Sony, said the 4-year-old platform is looking to “deprioritize” Vue in marketing efforts across third-party websites.

Launched in 2015, the same year as Dish Network’s pioneering SlingTV, Vue has struggled to generate significant subscriber scale. The platform reportedly has about 800,000 subs — which pales in comparison to Sling’s 2.3 million.

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In fact, Vue also trails DirecTV Now, which AT&T is rebranding as “AT&T Now,” YouTube TV and Hulu with Live TV.

Vue in July upped the monthly fee of its basic plan by $5 for existing subscribers to $50 monthly, with additional programming tiers “Elite” and “Ultra” priced at $65 and $85, respectively.

A rep from Sony Interactive Entertainment wasn’t immediately available for comment.