PlayStation Vue Ups Pricing by $5

Sony’s PlayStation Vue online TV service is increasing its monthly fee $5, effectively immediately for new subscribers. Existing members will be delayed the price hike until August.

The service’s entry-level “Core” plan now costs $50 monthly, with additional programming tiers “Elite” and “Ultra” priced at $65 and $85, respectively.

Launched in 2015, Vue shadowed Dish Network’s Sling TV as the second standalone online TV service that afforded subscribers monthly access to pay-TV without long-term contracts.

Unique to Vue, subscribers can access the app outside of PlayStation hardware, including on Apple TV, iPad and iPhone.

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With access to more than 650 local broadcasters, in addition to national networks, and HBO, FX, HGTV, ESPN, and NFL Network, Vue also added beIN Sports and the pending NHL Network and ACC Network.

“With costs rising each year for content, we constantly evaluate each deal to ensure we continue to deliver the content you want while considering the overall value of each package,” PlayStation Vue wrote in blog post. “After reviewing this, we have made the decision to raise the price of all of our multi-channel plans.”

Discovery Joins FuboTV

Online TV service FuboTV continues to transition from its original soccer roots.

The service June 18 announced a new, multiyear carriage agreement with Discovery, bringing 13 networks to the live-TV streaming service in the coming weeks.

The deal extends the previous pact between the companies that began with the former Scripps Networks Interactive (acquired by Discovery) and included carriage of their five networks, including HGTV and Food Network.

“This agreement further exemplifies the viewer affinity for our beloved brands and talent, and fuboTV’s commitment to offering high-quality, world-class content to customers,” Eric Phillips, president of affiliate distribution at Discovery, said in a statement.

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Discovery Channel, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Animal Planet, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network and MotorTrend will be available on the streaming service’s base package, fubo Standard, joining HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel, which are already available on the service.

At the same time, an expanded suite of Discovery networks, including Science Channel, Destination America, Discovery Family, American Heroes Channel, and Discovery Life, will be added to fuboTV’s add-on package, fubo Extra ($5.99/month for 30+ channels) joining DIY Network and Cooking Channel.

Additionally, Discovery en Español and Discovery Familia will be available on fuboTV’s Spanish-language package, fubo Latino ($24.99/month for 20 channels), and the Latino Plus add-on package ($7.99/month for 15 channels).

In addition to bringing subscribers each network’s live linear feed, the agreement also includes a library of on-demand Discovery content, bringing fuboTV’s VOD library to over 60,000 movies and TV episodes per month.

“We are excited to be adding more Discovery brands alongside their lifestyle networks, which we already carry,” said Joel Armijo, CFO, fuboTV. “These brands, including HGTV and Food Network, are among our top performing entertainment networks, and this agreement allows us to extend our partnership for years to come. We expect to be similarly successful with our new Discovery networks.”

YouTube TV Offering Free Showtime This Summer

YouTube TV, the Google-owned social video behemoth’s online TV platform, reportedly is offering select subscribers free access to Showtime through Sept. 5.

The special offer for the CBS-owned premium channel — first reported by 9to5Google.com — was emailed to “longtime” friends of YouTube TV, which launched in 2017 for $35 monthly fee. In April, Google upped the fee to $49.99.

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YouTube TV currently charges subscribers a $11 monthly surcharge for Showtime and other premium channels, including HBO.

The platform reassured subs it would not automatically begin billing them for Showtime once the promotional period ended.

Report: OTT Video Options Reach Saturation Point

With a Netflix subscription in every “pot,” followed closely behind by Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, over-the-top video household penetration in the United States has reached overload status.

New data from Hub Entertainment Research found that the average domestic household now has 4.5 sources of video entertainment, including pay-TV — a statistic that increases to 5.2 sources among younger adults and homes with children.

About 70% of 1,631 survey respondents with broadband use at least one OTT video service such as Netflix, Hulu and Prime Video, while respondents who use more than one service increased 7%.

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Netflix penetration inched up 62% from 61% last year, while Hulu use increased 8% and Amazon upped 5%.

Hub also found that 24% of respondents “have too many TV services” and won’t subscribe to a new service, which is up from 14% last year. Another 36% would cancel an existing service before adding another one.

“The TV landscape is approaching zero-sum status, with more consumers insisting they’d drop an existing service before adding a new one,” Peter Fondulas, principal at Hub and co-author of the study, said in a statement, as reported by Advanced-Television. “That puts added pressure on all TV services — including those on the way from Disney, Apple, and WarnerMedia — to offer the type of value that consumers feel they can’t live without.”

“Viewers are watching content from more sources than ever,” said Jon Giegengack, co-author of the study. “That raises the bar for new platforms entering the market — but it’s a growing opportunity for platforms that can aggregate content from multiple sources. For consumers, simplicity is becoming a more important factor to consider.”

Study: Online TV Is Second-Most-Popular TV Viewing Choice in U.K., Sweden and Germany

A new survey of TV viewers in the United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany found that online TV is now the second most popular viewing source behind pay-TV, with usage ranging from just under 40% in Germany to more than 50% in the U.K. and Sweden.

Nielsen company Gracenote and digital media analyst firm nScreenMedia conducted the survey, “TV Universe — U.K., Sweden, Germany: How People Watch Television Today,” in the first quarter of 2019, focusing on pay TV, free-to-air and online TV viewership in the three European countries that account for 31% of the European Union’s total population, according to Statista.

The online TV viewership growth in the three countries “is a remarkable rise as online TV is a relatively new offering,” according to the research firms. In fact, Netflix launched in the United Kingdom in just 2012. Whereas 12 years ago most homes relied on a single-source for TV, today nearly half of viewers in all three of the countries studied are multi-source television households, the researchers noted.

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“Consumer behavior relating to TV viewing is changing rapidly in Europe as it is around the world,” said Simon Adams, chief product officer, Gracenote, in a statement.

Pay TV is currently the most popular television source in the U.K. and Sweden with nearly two in three consumers in each market using it, the survey found, but in Germany the most popular source is free-to-air TV, which accounts for the vast majority of viewers at nearly eight in 10.

In all three European markets surveyed, consumers pointed to on-screen program guides and user interfaces as being critical tools for finding content to watch. Six in 10 viewers indicated visual imagery and TV artwork displayed in guides exert important influence on their viewing choices. Among the 18-to-24-year-old demographic, the number jumped up to around 90%. In addition, respondents indicated TV show and movie descriptions that shed light on content are also factors in their tune-in decision-making, with 70% of U.K. viewers, 65% of Swedes and 57% of Germans saying the program descriptions were at least somewhat important.

The study also found free-to-air TV is gaining traction on mobile with more free-to-air viewers using broadcaster apps to supplement viewing than pay TV viewers use their operator “TV Everywhere” apps. In fact, more than half of free-to-air users in each country use broadcaster apps.

The smart TV is the preferred device to watch video content on in all three countries, according to the study. A significant 70% of total viewing time is on the TV screen in the United Kingdom and Germany, while in Sweden, it is 60%. Samsung is the most popular TV brand in all three countries.

Other insights include:

  • 17% of the U.K. study group use all three TV sources available to them, higher than in Sweden and Germany;
  • While the on-screen guide is the dominant way Swedes and Brits find content to watch, newspaper TV guides and channel flipping are the main ways for Germans; and
  • 31% of Swedes consider online TV to be their primary TV source, the highest of the three countries studied.

 

“The new TV Universe study shows that online TV has become the second most popular source of TV entertainment in a remarkably short period of time,” said Colin Dixon, founder and chief analyst at nScreenMedia in a statement. “Also telling is the fact that, though most online viewing takes place on the television, consumers don’t have the discovery tools they need to efficiently find something to watch there. Features such as voice and cross-service search are thinly used in each country. There is also plenty of room for improvement with content recommendations as a quarter or less think they accurately reflect their interests.”

The consumer research study conducted from February to March 2019 surveyed 1,500 adult TV viewers in the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden. The data was weighted to represent the general population of each country. The full report is available for free download now at nScreenMedia.com.

Kagan: Pay-TV Households Declining to 70.5 Million by 2023

The migration of U.S. consumers away from traditional multichannel pay-TV has been ongoing for the past decade and the shift is expected to increase moderately in the next 12 months, with several noteworthy accelerants contributing to long-term subscriber losses, according to Kagan, a media research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence.

While traditional multichannel video subscriptions has long been the top home entertainment choice for U.S. households, the loss of content exclusivity is expected to shift the consumer base towards over-the-top video services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, and fuel the growing ranks of online-only video households.

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At the same time, Kagan contends increased prices for broadband, coupled with a series of OTT price hikes are impacting subscriber growth in the virtual multichannel space – notably at DirecTV Now and Sling TV. However, the combined households relying on traditional and virtual multichannel services for video entertainment are still expected to account for the majority of occupied homes through 2023 with 64% of the market.

Indeed, Kagan projects total traditional multichannel subscriptions (including residential and commercial) will drop 16.4 million to 73.6 million. Traditional residential multichannel households (excluding commercial and overlap) will drop 15.6 million to 70.5 million.

Virtual multichannel households will increase 6.4 million to 13.5 million. Combined traditional and virtual multichannel will drop to 84 million residential subscribers. Online video-only (Sling TV, DirecTV Now, YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue, etc.) households will add 10.6 million subs to 25.2 million. Burgeoning over-the-air (OTA) digital antennae households will add 3.8 million households to 21 million.

Report: Streaming Video Consumption Up 72%

More people globally are streaming video for their entertainment. New data from Conviva found year-over-year viewership grew 72% and the rate of consumption growth increased by 49% in the first quarter (ended March 31) compared to the previous-year period.

The streaming TV analytics company monitors a trillion real-time transactions per day via 3 billion applications streaming on devices in 180 countries.

In United States, online TV services continue to grow in popularity. Services such as DirecTV Now, Hulu, PlayStation Vue, and Sling TV saw viewership grow 108% year-over-year as compared to 60% growth for other services, i.e. Netflix.

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Indeed, Hulu, which is co-owned by Disney and Comcast, ended 2018 with 25 million subscribers — about half of Netflix’s domestic tally.

The report found that 64% of mobile video streaming is on-demand content versus live video (36%). On PCs, on-demand content represented 57% of streaming vs. 43% live video. VOD consumption increased to 62% on connected TVs compared to 38% live video.

Failure rates of streaming TV ads continue to pose risks and opportunity. Up to 47% of ads are failing, a significant percentage when even a 1% failure rate carries a high cost and impact on engagement, according to Conviva.

Indeed, the report found that just a five-second ad delay resulted in 13.6% of viewers moving on to another video.

The battle for the TV screen is not over. Amazon Fire TV captured 18.6% share, up significantly from 11.4% share in Q1 2018, while Roku maintained its long-standing lead of 42.4% share.

Live sports streaming remains hot.

The College Football National Championship had the highest peak concurrent viewership, 37.6% higher than the Q1‘18 peak event. Super Bowl LIII and March Madness streaming viewership grew significantly, up 157% and 67%, respectively, from Q1 2018.

Other top streamed content in Q1 included the Golden Globes, Oscars, Michael Cohen’s Congressional hearings and release of the Mueller report.

Meanwhile, buffering issues improved 34% year-over-year, with 35% fewer video start failures and 17% increased picture quality.

“There’s no surprise that the streaming TV market is expanding significantly,” Bill Demas, CEO of Conviva, said in a statement. “Maintaining a high-quality viewer experience tightly across content and advertising is increasingly important as streaming providers look to increase viewer engagement and monetization. The battle for streaming market share is a fast-growing pie and services must deliver an experience comparable to linear TV to fulfill viewer expectations.”

YouTube TV Ups Subscription Price 25%

YouTube TV has raised its monthly subscription price 25% to $49.99 from $39.99. Subscribers billed through Apple Pay will see their plan increase to $54.99.

The Google-owned online TV service made the announcement April 10, which coincided with a content distribution agreement with Discovery. Subs now have access to eight new channels, including Discovery Channel, HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Animal Planet, Travel Channel, and MotorTrend.

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The additions bring to 70 channels available on YouTube TV, including local ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox affiliate coverage in 90% of the markets the online TV service is available.

“We’ll also be adding OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network later this year,” Christian Oestlien, VP of product management, YouTube TV, wrote in a blog post announcing the changes.“In addition, Epix is now available for an additional charge.”

The price hike, which represents a 43% increase for initial (2017) YouTube TV subs paying $34.99 monthly, comes as over-the-top video services such as Netflix, DirecTV Now, Hulu with Live TV and Fubo TV initiated price hikes.

 

T-Mobile Launching Online TV Platform

T-Mobile April 10 bowed “TVision Home,” a rebranded version of Layer3 TV launching April 14 in Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. metro areas, as well as Longmont, Co., with other markets coming later this year.

The platform bows at $90/month (including a $9.99/month discount for T-Mobile customers … but available to everyone for a limited time), which includes 150+ channels, local broadcast, regional sports and more. Plus $10/month per connected TV, including DVR for a limited time.

Premium TV packages – like HBO, Showtime and others – or transactional VOD and digital movie/TV show purchases are extra.

T-Mobile is joining a crowded online TV market created in 2015 by Dish Network’s Sling TV. Other players include DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue, YouTube TV, Charter Spectrum Plus, Fubo TV, Hulu with Live TV, Philo and AT&T Watch TV.

T-Mobile, which inked a content deal with Viacom last week, said Netflix and other streaming apps will be available on the platform.

To generate buzz, the telecom is offering to pay off early contract termination fees for Dish and DirecTV customers, up to $500 via prepaid card, when they switch to TVision Home.

“Today’s news brings us one step closer to taking on big cable,” CEO John Legere said in a statement.

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TVision Home claims “the most” 4K channels as part of more than 275 available channels, 35,000 on-demand movies, TV shows in addition to on-screen social content, personalized home screen, 1 terabyte DVR storage, smart speaker voice control with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

Apps at launch include Pandora, iHeartRadio, XUMO, CuriosityStream, Toon Goggles, HSN, Netflix, YouTube, YouTube Kids. T-Mobile will soon release a companion app for iOS and Android, allowing users to stream content to a smartphone anywhere in the house.

TVision Home is part of T-Mobile’s forward 5G strategy that starts with the Sprint merger – pending regulatory approval.

Claiming that almost half of the country’s households, and more than 76% of rural households have no high-speed service (100 Mbps average), T-Mobile claims that if the merger is approved, the combined company will have the scale and capacity to create a supercharged 5G network capable of reaching over half the country’s households with high-speed broadband by 2024.

“TVision Home is about so much more than home TV… it’s TV built for the 5G era,” said COO Mike Sievert. “With New T-Mobile, we’ll bring real choice, competition, better service, lower prices and faster speeds…right into your living room.

Apple TV+ Streaming Service to Target 17 Million Users Down Under

Apple’s new streaming TV service, Apple TV+, could capture significant market share in Australia based on the tech companies current market penetrations, according to new data from research firm Roy Morgan.

The data suggests more than 17 million (83.4% of Australians over the age of 14) currently access streaming video services or own Apple-branded devices capable of accessing streaming video.

That market segment (14.7 million people) includes those who already use streaming video services such as Netflix (11 million), Stan, YouTube Premium, Amazon Prime Video and ABC iView, as well nearly 12 million Australians who own an iPhone, iPad, Mac running the iOS operating systems and use Apple services and apps capable of accessing the new Apple TV+ streaming TV service.

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“Apple TV+ will be able to draw upon Apple’s immense war chest of over $240 billion (over $340 billion AUD) to create content which Apple announced as ‘cash on hand’ at the end of 2018,” Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan, said in a statement.

Millennials represent the largest Apple TV+ market at over 4.6 million people. This is followed by more than 4 million Gen Z and just under 4 million Gen X consumers who use streaming services.

Nearly 60% of Australians who currently access a streaming video service or use an Apple device watch the news in an average week, far ahead of any other TV genre.

Reality TV is watched by 39% of Apple users, while just under a third of Apple users watch current affairs shows (32%), sports (31%), game shows (30%) or dramas (30%).

Just over a quarter of Apple users watch home/lifestyle/travel shows (28%), comedies (27%) or documentaries (27%) and just under a fifth watch talk shows (19%).