AT&T TV Launch Set for Feb. 27

AT&T’s rebooted online TV platform, AT&T TV, is reportedly set to launch on Feb. 27. The service is a rebranding of DirecTV Now, the online TV service that launched to much fanfare at $34.95 monthly before hemorrhaging subscribers following a price hike.

The new service will be priced at $59.99 and requires a two-year contract. The service features 4K functionality and includes 500 hours of DVR space.

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Whether AT&T TV will succeed where DirecTV Now failed remains to be seen. DirecTV Now lost nearly 20% of its subscribers in the six months after it raised prices. DirecTV Now subs dropped from 1.8 million to 1.3 million in the past year.

AT&T posted an overall 946,000-subscriber loss, which included DirecTV satellite and U-verse wireline TV services. Things got worse in 2019 with the telecom announcing it lost more than 3.4 million linear TV subs, including 945,000 subs in the fourth quarter, ended Dec . 31.

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French Online TV Service Molotov Tops Netflix With 10 Million Subs

Upstart French online TV service Molotov says it has more than 10 million subscribers since launching three years ago. The platform has quietly passed Netflix (6 million subs) and was recently selected to join the French Tech 120 index for promising start-up companies headed by the French government.

Founded by JeanDavid Blanc and Pierre Lescure, who separately started AlloCiné and Canal+, Molotov in 2019 saw a 63% increase in time spent on the platform and an 82% increase in subscriptions. Noteworthy numbers considering France has been slow to accept OTT video distribution.

Molotov begins 2020 as the over-the-top video leader in France with nearly 30,000 titles updated daily from more than 170 publishers and channels, Molotov is constantly expanding its content offer.

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The service recently inked license agreements with ViacomCBS and WarnerMedia’s Turner property, Adult Swim, information (Altice / NextRadioTV, RT France), sport ( Sport in France), and integrated ethnic channels from Africa and the Maghreb (Northwest Africa).

Molotov operates a “Gamer Zone” dedicated to video game enthusiasts, with the platform expanding in the coming weeks with the integration of local, regional and foreign channels, documentaries and related content.

Molotov also enables third-party content holders to monetize programming through software tools such as “SmartPaywall” (for publishers offering paid content) and “SmartAdServing” (intended for publishers serving advertising ).

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In a statement, the platform said “Molotov’s selection illustrates the relevance of its service and the expectations that surround it, its dimension beneficial to French society and its development prospects.”

 

Sling TV Granted Technology & Engineering Emmy Award

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Jan. 15 awarded Sling TV a Technology & Engineering Emmy Award for its work developing and launching the nation’s first live over-the-top television service.

A pioneer in adaptive bit rate streaming, Dish Network launched Sling TV on Feb. 9, 2015 as the first streaming service to deliver live television over-the-top. Sling, which ended the most-recent fiscal period with 2.66 million subscribers, offers a wide range of free programming in addition to a full lineup of live news, sports and entertainment channels, including Fox News, CNN, ESPN and HGTV, as well as Cloud DVR capabilities.

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The market now includes AT&T TV Now, Philo TV, YouTube TV, fuboTV, Spectrum TV Plus, Hulu with Live TV and Vidgo.

Sling TV’s premium service is available for a monthly subscription on a variety of smart televisions, tablets, game consoles, computers, smartphones, virtual reality headsets and streaming devices.

In addition to offering live television, Sling offers users access to a suite of free content, à la carte channels and services, transactional live events and movies on-demand, without requiring a base subscription.

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“Our journey over the past five years has been about the customer, offering exceptional value with unprecedented flexibility. In short, making TV better for everyone,” Warren Schlichting, EVP and group president, Sling TV, said in a statement. “[Dish] has a history of fostering innovation and disrupting the industry, and Sling’s leadership in live streaming TV is another example of our culture.”

Sling TV will receive the Technology & Engineering Emmy Award in the category of “Pioneering Development of Large Scale, Cloud Served, Broadcast Quality, Linear Channel Transmission” at the 71st annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards on April 19 at the National Association of Broadcasters annual conference in Las Vegas.

 

Vidgo Bows Online TV Service

Vidgo Jan.14 announced the launch of a new $39.99 online TV service featuring sports, news and entertainment content, including more than 100 premium channels such as ABC, Comedy Central, ESPN, Fox, and the NFL Network as well as a Latino package for Spanish-speaking viewers.

The OTT service is employing Harmonic’s VOS360 live-stream platform, which the company claims simplifies the scaling of third-party content over the Internet.

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“Our new streaming service gives subscribers a simple, convenient way to watch live TV anytime, on any device, ensuring that sports fans never miss important matches, fights and games on some of the most popular channels available,” CEO Shane Cannon said in a statement.

Cannon said Harmonic’s streaming software offers a range of media processing functionalities in a cloud-native environment, including live and file transcoding, packaging and origin, dynamic real-time CDN selection, targeted advertising, VOD, SVOD, time-shift viewing and network DVR.

He said the single cloud-based platform increased Vidgo’s efficiencies and accelerated its time to market.

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“New entrants to the OTT environment don’t necessarily have massive budgets, and they need to launch services fast,” said Eric Armstrong, VP of sales for North America Media at Harmonic.

Armstrong said Vidgo can more cost-effectively scale its new OTT service on the fly and stream content ranging from on-demand to premium live sports events to millions of subscribers at a lower cost … and “differentiating itself in this highly competitive arena.”

Sling TV Turning 5 Years Old

It was five years ago at CES that Dish Network announced it would soon launch an upstart $20 monthly online TV service called Sling TV. Today, the service, which launched in February 2015, costs $25 to $30 and touts an industry-leading subscriber base of 2.69 million.

A combo package costs $40, with add-on programming available at $5 to $10 extra per month.

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Sling TV was the first service to offer standalone ad-supported access to ESPN, which at that time was one of the pillars of the traditional pay-TV bundle. Dish had acquired the groundbreaking online rights following a protracted carriage dispute with Disney.

The move heralded the launches of Sony’s PlayStation Vue, HBO Now, Spectrum TV Plus, DirecTV Now (AT&T TV Now), Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV, Philo TV,  and fuboTV, among others.

Consumer Reports recently touted Sling TV among the best standalone streaming services for cord cutters. Sling also launched apps for LG and Samsung TVs, as well as Xbox game systems. “With Dish’s Sling TV, you don’t get individual shows; you get channels,” wrote the publication.

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TechRadar called Sling TV a “cure-all” for the cord-cutting generation, “something that we knew we needed but no company stepped up to make.”

The website lauded Sling TV for its affordability and monthly access.

“Best of all, you won’t have to give up some of the perks cable provided in the last few years like the ability to pause live TV or watch something that aired up to 72 hours ago,” wrote the site.

 

Shuttering PlayStation Vue Directing Subs to YouTube TV

Shuttering online TV service PlayStation Vue is directing its 500,000 subscribers to Google’s YouTube TV. The online service, which launched in 2015, had been entertaining bidders for its subs with Google the apparent winner. Since launching in 2017, YouTube TV has more than 1 million subs paying $40 monthly for service.

In an email to Vue subscribers, Sony said all active members would be able to use the service, including DVR functionality and video-on-demand until Jan. 30, 2020. Sony also suggested subs consider YouTube TV, which included a link and free trial period.

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Sony also included a link explaining why it decided in October to walk away from online TV. Citing “the highly competitive Pay TV industry, with expensive content and network deals,” Sony said consumer migration from pay-TV to digital distribution has been “slower to change than we expected.”

“Because of this, we have decided to remain focused on our core video gaming business,” Sony wrote in a blog.

The company said PlayStation users could continue to access movie and TV content through the PlayStation Store on PS4 and via its Movies Anywhere partnerships.

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“With 100 million PlayStation 4s in the market today, our community continues to grow and thrive,” the company wrote. “We will continue to deliver the best entertainment experiences across the network, along with other key gaming services, including PlayStation Now and PlayStation Plus.”

Vidgo Expands Online TV Service

Upstart online TV service Vidgo has expanded service to include Disney Media Networks. First launched in late September, Vidgo now offers 60 channels for $39.99 per month across sports, news, and entertainment genres.

“Our new distribution agreement with Vidgo delivers consumer optionality by offering our full suite of networks as part of an economy package,” said Sean Breen, SVP of Disney Media Distribution. “Vidgo has smartly devised a robust channel line-up at a competitive price point compared to the limited economy package choices that are currently in the marketplace.”

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Vidgo joins an online TV market that has stagnated after a promising start. Pioneer Sling TV still leads the field with about 2.6 million subscribers. High-profile competitors DirecTV Now and PlayStation Vue have either rebranded or shuttered.

Vidgo enables subscribers to stream on three simultaneous devices at home or on the go. Select live local channels from ABC, Fox, and My Network TV.
ESPN, Disney, Freeform, FX, National Geographic, Fox, Discovery, A&E, and ViacomCBS. Fox Sports, NFL Network, PAC-12 Network, Stadium, and beIN Sports. Fox News, Fox Business, Cheddar, participating ABC and Fox local station news. Upcoming 38 upcoming college football bowl games and college basketball games.

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“This is the next step in social TV,” said Kiswe CEO Mike Schabel, with whom the mobile carrier has a distribution with Vidgo.

Vidgo is accessible on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Android TV, along with iOS and Android mobile devices.

Parks: CBS Makes Gain Among Top OTT Video Services

Parks Associates Dec. 5 said SVOD platform CBS All Access moved from eighth place to fifth in its annual Top 10 list of over-the-top video services.

This list is based on estimated number of subscribers through October 2019 and was compiled prior to the launch of Disney+ and Apple TV+, and includes paid subscriptions.

Major League Baseball’s MLB.TV dropped from sixth to eight place, despite having gained subscribers since 2018. Sling TV remained consistent with more than 2.5 million subscribers and No. 1 rating among online TV services, which includes Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, and AT&T Now (previously DirecTV Now).

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Top 10 US Subscription OTT Video Services
1 Netflix
2 Amazon Prime Video
3 Hulu (SVOD)
4 HBO Now
5 CBS All Access
6 STARZ
7 Showtime
8 MLB.TV
9 ESPN+
10 Sling TV

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“Competition in live streaming services is intensifying as several big brand names are competing for a small but growing slice of the OTT subscription base,” Brett Sappington, senior research director and principal analyst, said in a statement. “Consumers continue to sign up for multiple OTT video services. If this trend holds, many services can continue to grow as the market grows. However, a slowdown will suggest that consumers are finally drawing the line on the amount they will spend each month.”

Until then, Disney+ continues to generate headlines, acquiring 10 million subscribers upon initial launch, which would rank it fourth on the list, ahead of HBO Now.

“Their entry, along with Apple TV+ and other direct-to-consumer services upcoming in 2020, has been a major disruptor to the OTT space and will require all players from top to bottom to ensure they are delivering unique value to their subscribers in order to retain their base,” Sappington said.

Parks contends 71% of U.S. broadband households have at least one OTT entertainment product, such as a smart TV or streaming media player.
Nearly three-quarters of domestic broadband households now subscribe to an online video service. About 49% of recent OTT subs signed up through the service’s website; 33% through the service’s app; and 11% through a cable or satellite TV provider.

Amazon Prime Video Expands Live Sports Programming with BT TV Distribution Deal

Amazon Prime Video, unlike Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV+ and Disney+, continues to embrace live sports programming. Prime streams NFL Thursday Night Football, in addition to select Major League Baseball games.

Now in the United Kingdom, Prime Video has struck a distribution deal with online BT TV service in time for Premier League soccer.

New and renewing BT TV subscribers will get free six-month access to Prime Video, which includes Amazon’s first live streaming of England’s top professional soccer league.

Prime Video, beginning Dec. 3, will live-stream 20 Premier League matches, in addition to the UEFA Champions League and Emirates FA Cup football.

Original Prime Video programming includes: “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” “The Boys,” “The Grand Tour,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Carnival Row” and “Good Omens”.

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“With six months Amazon Prime Video on us offering access to even more Premier League matches, all in one place with integrated search and one simple bill — there’s never been a better time to be on BT TV,” Pete Oliver, managing director of marketing, BT Consumer, said in a statement. “Prime Video also offers great TV and film, so there really is something for everyone this festive season.”

Sling TV Offsets Q3 Dish Subscriber Losses

Sling TV is back.

Dish Network Nov. 7 said it added 214,000 Sling subscribers in the third quarter, ended Sept. 30. That compared to a gain of 26,000 Sling subs in the previous-year period. Sling ended the period with 2.69 million subs, up 13.5% from 2.37 million subs at the same time last year.

Launched in 2015 as the first standalone online TV service, Sling helped create a market that now includes YouTube TV, AT&T TV Now, Philo TV and Fubo TV, among others.

Meanwhile, the legacy Dish satellite TV service continued to shrink, losing 66,000 subs in the period, a significant improvement from 367,000 subs lost last year. Dish ended the period with 9.49 million Dish subs, down from 10.28 million subs at the same time last year.

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Net pay-TV subs increased approximately 148,000 subs in the third quarter, compared to a decline of approximately 341,000 subs in the third quarter of 2018. To mitigate pay-TV sub losses, Dish unveiled a Flex Pack skinny bundle consisting of more than 50 channels and the choice of one of 10 themed add-on channel packs, which include, among others, local broadcast networks and kids and general entertainment programming.

“While we plan to implement these and other new marketing efforts for our Dish TV services, there can be no assurance that we will ultimately be successful in increasing our gross new Dish TV subscriber activations,” the company disclosed in its regulatory filing.