Hulu + Live TV Adds Nine ViacomCBS Networks

Hulu + Live TV is adding nine ViacomCBS networks to its channel lineup, including Comedy Central, BET, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr, VH1, CMT, MTV, TV Land and the Paramount Network.

Subscribers will also have on-demand access to TV series titles such as “Freaks & Geeks,” “Moesha” and “Sister Sister.”

Monthly subscription pricing for Hulu + Live TV will remain at $64.99 per month.

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Five ViacomCBS networks — BETher, MTV2, NickToons, TeenNick and MTV Classic — will join Hulu’s entertainment add-on.

Hulu + Live TV offers more than 65 live TV channels, plus the core Hulu on-demand service (normally $5.99 per month as a standalone offering).

FuboTV Inks Deal With Marquee Sports Network for Cubs Game Coverage

FuboTV and Marquee Sports Network have entered into a carriage agreement that will bring Chicago Cubs game coverage to the live TV streaming platform in the coming weeks.

Through FuboTV, subscribers throughout the Marquee Sports Network territory will have access to all Marquee programming, including all non-nationally televised regular season Chicago Cubs games, pregame and postgame shows, exclusive content and original programming. The regional sports network (RSN) will be available in FuboTV’s basic English language channel package in the Chicago area and surrounding regions, including Indianapolis, South Bend and Des Moines.

Fans can stream FuboTV on Android and iOS smartphone and tablets, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Android Smart TVs, Apple TV and Apple’s TV app, Chromecast, Hisense Smart TVs, Roku, Samsung Smart TVs, Xbox One’s family of devices and the web.

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In addition to the Marquee Sports Network, FuboTV includes more than 50,000 live sporting events annually — many streaming in 4K. The agreement also increases FuboTV’s local coverage in Chicago, where it already carries ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Telemundo and Univision affiliates alongside national sports networks ESPN, FS1, CBS Sports Network, Big Ten Network, MLB Network, NBA TV, NFL Network and NHL Network, among others.

“We are thrilled to have FuboTV offering Marquee Sports Network to Cubs fans. FuboTV has prioritized live sports and we look forward to them carrying Cubs baseball all season long,” said Marquee Sports Network GM Mike McCarthy in a statement.

“As we kick off the hotly anticipated 2021 baseball season, fuboTV is thrilled to bring consumers Marquee Sports Network’s extensive coverage of the Chicago Cubs,” FuboTV’s SVP of content strategy and acquisition, Ben Grad said in a statement. “The addition of Marquee Sports Network to our leading sports, news and entertainment portfolio makes FuboTV a great streaming choice for Cubs fans, as well as other Chicagoans looking to cut the cord.”

“We’re excited to add Marquee Sports Network and their coverage of the Chicago Cubs to FuboTV,” FuboTV co-founder and CEO David Gandler said in a statement. “Our Fubo Gaming subsidiary is headquartered in Chicago, and the midwest market, particularly Indiana and Iowa where we recently closed market access agreements, will be a key cluster for our gaming strategy in the future.”

NFL Wildcard Weekend Broke Broadcast/Streaming Molds

The NFL’s just-concluded busy wildcard playoff weekend saw 12 teams reduced to eight advancing to the divisional round, beginning Jan. 16. Notably, for the first time playoff games were live-streamed (ESPN+, Peacock) and broadcast on a children’s network (Nickelodeon), in addition to the usual TV networks.

During the New Orleans Saints’ win over the Chicago Bears, Nickelodeon viewers got see trademark green slime sprayed virtually into the end zone and across the screen after Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas scored a touchdown. The game drew Nickelodeon’s largest audience in four years with 2 million viewers.

While the simulcast with CBS Sports underscored ViacomCBS’s desire to involve its brands (Nickelodeon) across new markets, for the NFL, the game represented an opportunity to reach a new demo early.

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“Our entire model is based on reach,” Hans Schroeder, EVP and COO of NFL Media, said in an interview Sunday night. “The positive responses have been overwhelming [for the Nickelodeon game], but what we did with CBS was a continuation of what we did across Sunday.”

On Disney-owned ESPN+, streamers saw analytics on steroids with an individual play’s likelihood of succeeding put on display. Indeed, an interception thrown by Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson only had only a 28% chance of being caught by the receiver initially.

Amazon Prime Video and sister company Twitch were the first streaming platforms to offer live NFL coverage through “Thursday Night Football,” featuring the sport’s first female broadcast team.

“When you have as broad appeal as we’re fortunate to have, we want to make sure we’re putting out a broad set of experiences on as many screens as we can, and increase the way our fans engage and enjoy the games,” Schroeder said.

Indeed, ESPN will feature tonight NCAA College Football National Championship Game between The Ohio State Buckeyes and University of Alabama Crimson Tide across 14 separate broadcasts, including streaming.

NBCUniversal’s Peacock Live Streaming Browns-Steelers NFL Wild Card Game

NBCUniversal’s upstart SVOD service Peacock is making good on its pledge to offer major live sports. In a first, the streamer Jan. 6 announced it would offer subscribers access to NBC Sports’ coverage of the NFL Wild Card playoff game between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET. NBC Sports is broadcasting the game on NBC and Telemundo.

This will be the first time NFL live game coverage will stream on Peacock.

In addition, former ESPN host Michael Smith and regional NBC Sports host Michael Holley, co-anchors of the Peacock show, “Brother From Another,” will lead Peacock’s first-ever post-game show on Sunday night immediately following NBC’s post-game show coverage. Smith and Holley will provide Browns-Steelers game analysis and perspectives to recap the full weekend slate of six NFL Wild Card playoff games. Coverage will begin streaming following the conclusion of Browns-Steelers at approximately 11:30 p.m. ET.

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To date, only Amazon Prime Video has dabbled with live-streaming professional sports, including “NFL Thursday Night Football” and select Premier League soccer matches. Netflix has heretofore refused to consider the live sports market, citing reluctance to get into cost-prohibitive license rights bidding.

 

Gracenote Launches Statistics and Related Content Feature for Live Sports

Nielsen’s Gracenote is launching a new live sports solution designed to help smart-TV and auto manufacturers display game statistics and other related content in real-time.

Leveraging Gracenote Global Sports Data, CE manufacturers and automakers can integrate real-time team statistics, recent game results and live updates into TV and video home screens and auto infotainment systems.

By accessing Gracenote Sports Data through plug and play widgets, a smart-TV maker can present previews of upcoming games featuring a viewer’s favorite teams followed by dynamic updates during game play. Notifications can be created to offer ways to navigate directly to the game broadcast or stream on a consumer’s preferred service at home. Or a connected car manufacturer can deliver game scores and league standings to infotainment screens in real-time.

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“Live sports are an increasingly important differentiator for entertainment platforms seeking to increase user engagement,” Simon Adams, Gracenote chief product officer, said in a statement. “For years, Gracenote has powered sports viewing experiences for the largest TV providers in the world. With Gracenote Global Sports Widgets, CE companies and automakers can easily launch new sports experiences which maximize audience engagement and drive consumption while minimizing development costs and engineering resources.”

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At launch, the Gracenote Sports Widgets will cover major North American sports leagues including the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL; international football leagues such as the English Premier League; Germany’s Bundesliga; Ligue 1 in France; Serie A in Italy; Spain’s La Liga; Brasileirão Assaí in Brazil; Mexico’s Liga BBVA MX; as well as Korean baseball league KBO. Languages offered include English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Dutch. Additional coverage of global sports leagues will be made available throughout the year.

Gracenote is the content services arm of Nielsen Media.

T-Mobile Launches TVision Live Streaming Service

T-Mobile is targeting cord-cutters with TVision, a new live streaming service starting at $10 a month and launching Nov. 1.

“With TVision, you can cut the cord, cut the cost and cut the crap,” said Dow Draper, T-Mobile EVP of emerging products, who announced the move in a webcast.

TVision Live includes live news, sports, 100 hours of cloud DVR and more than 10,000 programs on-demand starting at $40 a month. It includes ABC, Fox, NBC, Turner, ESPN and more.

TVision Live TV+ includes all of the above, plus 10-plus more channels, including the NFL Network, ESPNU, SEC Network and The Golf Channel, at $50 a month.

TVision Live Zone, for sports fans at $60 a month, includes all of the above, plus 10 additional channels, including NFL Red Zone.

TVision Vibe, at $10 a month, includes live and on-demand programming from AMC, BET, Discovery, Food Network, Hallmark, HGTV, MTV, TLC and more (30-plus channels).

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TVision Channels features a-la-carte streaming services with one bill, one login and one place to manage it in the T-Mobile app or online, starting with Starz, Showtime and Epix.

For full channel lineups, visit T-Mobile.com/TVision.

Starting Nov. 1, customers who sign up for TVision Live TV+ or Live Zone packages by Dec. 31 will get Apple TV+ for free for a year, plus the option to add Apple TV 4K for $99.

TVision streaming services and the TVision Hub will be available nationwide for T-Mobile postpaid customers. Later in November, TVision services will be available to legacy Sprint customers and next year to prepaid customers.

The streaming services are available via Android and Apple mobile devices via the T-Mobile TVision app; on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV or Google TV using the TVision app; and the TVision Hub — an HDMI streaming device and remote for $50.

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1.7 Million People Live-Streamed F1 Eifel Grand Prix on YouTube

A record 1.7 million people live-streamed for free on YouTube Germany’s Formula 1 Eifel Grand Prix auto race on Oct. 11. across Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. It marked the first time a F1 race had been streamed live on Google-owned YouTube.

F1, which is owned by Liberty Media, attributed the streaming increase in part to viewer interest in British driver Lewis Hamilton equaling Michael Schumacher’s record 91 F1 wins. About 31% of streamers were under the age of 25, while 68% were under 35. More than 33 % streamed on mobile phones, and 30% streamed on smart TVs.

“It’s clear to see that younger fans are more engaged with live streaming than ever before,” Adam Crothers, head of digital media rights at Formula 1, said in a statement.

Crothers said the partnership with YouTube affords viewers unable or unwilling to pay for F1 televised access with a means to engage with the sport. Indeed, F1 drivers for the first time appeared on Google Cameos — the app that enables public figures to record video responses to frequently asked questions in Google searches.

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“It’s incredible to see how far Formula 1 has come on the platform in the past few years and continues to position us as one of the strongest sports brands on YouTube,” Crothers said.

The YouTube F1 channel has has generated 40 million viewers in the past 90 days, with 800 million views this year. The channel is one of the largest on YouTube, with a larger user base than any other sports brand, according to data from Shareablee (Jan 1 to Oct. 12, 2020).

Sling TV Feature Integrates Over-the-Air Broadcast Channels Into Guide on LG Smart TVs

Sling TV announced a feature that integrates free, local over-the-air (OTA) broadcast channels into the Sling TV guide on 2020 LG Smart televisions with webOS 5.0, without the need to switch inputs or applications.

The channel tuning feature, available on all 2020 LG OLED and LG NanoCell TVs, allows consumers to access their local broadcast networks, including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and PBS, directly within the Sling TV app when connected to an OTA antenna.

“The best value in TV today is Sling TV plus free live locals,” Jon Lin, VP of product at Sling TV, said in a statement. “We’re making it easier than ever to watch free local channels directly within the Sling TV app, making 2020 LG Smart televisions an amazing value for those who appreciate a quality viewing experience, live local programming and OTT content from Sling TV.”

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To begin watching local broadcast networks in the Sling TV experience, owners of compatible LG Smart TVs connect an OTA antenna directly to their television and begin the one-time channel scanning process. To scan for channels, consumers access the TV’s settings tab, select “All Settings,” “Channels,” “Channel Tuning” and finally “Auto Tuning.”

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Once Sling TV receives the tuner’s signal, all available local channels will appear within the interface like any other channel. Consumers can further customize their Sling TV experience by filtering for local channels within the guide or adding local channels to “My Channels.”

For more information on the integration with LG Smart TVs, visit Sling.com/LG or the Sling TV Help Center for a step-by-step setup guide.

The average American household today can receive 44 local OTA channels at no cost, resulting in hundreds of dollars in annual savings, according to Sling TV. Cord cutters interested in learning which live locals are available in their area can now use the Sling TV local channel finder tool. To search, type in a street name and zip code and click “View My Locals” to see a comprehensive list of channel results for any desired location in the United States.

Redbox Free Live TV Adds New Channels

Redbox has added more than 10 channels to its lineup on Redbox’s Free Live TV.

The added channels include America’s Test Kitchen, Complex, The Design Network, Real Nosey, Funny or Die, beIN Sports, Outside TV, Chive TV, Voyager Documentaries, Hungry and Just for Laughs Gags.

Also, Free Live TV is now available through the Redbox app on Android TVs.

The service now has more than 50 channels delivering a wide-range of movies, television programming and short-form content, including three Redbox Branded channels curated for the tastes of Redbox customers — Redbox Rush, Redbox Comedy, and Redbox Movies.

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Redbox Free Live TV can be enjoyed via Redbox.com, Roku, iOS and Android devices, as well as Apple TV, Android TV, Vizio Smart TVs, LG TVs and Chromecast. The service doesn’t require a login. Consumers can click “Free Live TV,” choose a channel and start watching.

“Our linear TV service is growing fast, with total hours watched and time spent per user reaching new records in July.” Chris Yates, GM of Redbox On Demand, said in a statement. “We’re excited to continue growing our business both with new content, increased distribution and new features to help our customers find and watch great content, however they want to watch it.”

Ending a Relationship

It had been a long time coming.

Cable TV had been a big part of our lives for decades, a constant entertainment companion, but being together so much during the pandemic took a toll on the relationship. Suddenly, those ever-expanding commercial breaks seemed endless after watching ad-free streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime. Even Hulu, which we watched with ads, served up a more palatable break — and conveniently offered a little countdown to tell us when it would be over.

We picked up YouTube TV for live programming, and that was it. The cable relationship was over. We cut the cord.

Apparently, we are not alone. A Roku survey found one in three U.S. households are cord cutters, and many have decided to make the change in recent months, citing the pandemic, the abundance of free AVOD services, and lack of live sports, among other factors.

Aside from the learning curve on how to work the remote to get to the channel or program I want, it’s been a smooth divorce. Kicking cable out also gave us more space. We gained some shelves by ditching the boxes.

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So far, I don’t miss the old companion. I haven’t found a program or channel that I previously had on cable that I can’t find or approximate on our new streaming combo. Sure, I don’t have the convenient clock on the box to see the time. It takes a little more effort to figure out what I want to watch among all the new choices, but, honestly, I don’t miss cable.

It was the growing relationship with our SVOD services, the new-and-improved version of live TV on YouTube TV and the cable bill’s increasing drain on our finances that drew us away.

When we announced the decision to end it, my daughters looked up from their phones and sarcastically said, “Oh, no! We watch so much cable.”

Goodbye old friend.