YouTube TV Expands to 95 Markets Nationwide

Google-owned YouTube TV Jan. 23 disclosed it is expanding service to 95 markets nationwide. The market penetration now rivals online TV competitors such as Dish Networks’ Sling TV and AT&T’s DirecTV Now.

Launched nearly two years ago, YouTube TV costs $40 monthly offering more than 60 pay-TV channels, including ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, TNT, TBS, CNN, ESPN and FX, six concurrent streaming options and a cloud-based DVR.

“With this national expansion, we’re providing complete local affiliate coverage by providing local feeds from the four largest broadcasters in over 90% of the markets where YouTube TV is available,” Ben Moores, program manager, YouTube TV, wrote in a blog post.




Sling TV Offers Free Access to Roku Users

Sling TV Jan. 14 announced it is offering Roku users free access to the online TV platform. Select Roku users will be able to watch TV shows and subscribe to standalone channels, without subscribing to Sling’s platform or entering payment information.

New users will be able to access the Sling TV app, which includes free on-demand shows, movies and even karaoke. Dish Network-owned Sling, which created the online TV market in 2015, also rolled out a new binge-watching feature that enables seamless transitions to the next episode in an on-demand series.

“Our binge-watching feature will do all the work for you by playing the next episode automatically within 10 seconds, even if you don’t select ‘Watch Now,’” Jimshade Chaudhari, VP of product management,wrote in a blog post. “This feature will only appear if there is a subsequent episode existing in a series.”

Roku users can watch episodes of shows like “Shameless,” “The Big Interview with Dan Rather,” “Heartland,” and more at no cost and without signing up for an account.A new search interface is now available on Android TV, Amazon and Roku devices.

Users can also browse pay-per-view events for purchase, such as upcoming UFC events and over 5,000 movie titles with no base subscription to Sling necessary.

 User can also binge-watch shows on Showtime or NBA League Pass, available for purchase without a base subscription. Users can also purchase channels like Stingray Karaoke, Curiosity Stream, and Cinedigm’s Docurama, among à la carte options.

“Sling makes it easy to stream all of your favorite content in the same interface,” Chaudhari said.




Sling TV Offering Discovery Network Channels

Dish Network-owned Sling TV Nov. 28 announced it has expanded online TV service to include nine Discovery channels on its domestic and Spanish-language platforms.

Discovery Channel, Investigation Discovery (ID) and TLC are now available in the $25 “Sling Blue” service; Investigation Discovery (ID) and MotorTrend (formerly Velocity) are now available in the “Sling Orange” service ($40 when combined).

American Heroes Channel and Destination America are now available in “Heartland Extra” add-on; Science Channel is now available in “News Extra” add-on. Discovery en Español and Discovery Familia are now available in “Best of Spanish TV” base or add-on Extras.

“With the addition of some Discovery channels in our base service and others in our genre-based add-on Extras, we continue to deliver on our consumer promise of providing the most choice and flexibility in programming options,” Warren Schlichting, president of Sling TV, said in a statement.

Discovery Channel features shows like “Gold Rush” and “Alaska: The Last Frontier”. TLC showcases lives of reality TV characters, including “90 Day Fiancé” and “The Little Couple”.

Investigation Discovery (ID) features documentaries and series such as “Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda” and “People Magazine Investigates”.

MotorTrend showcases the people and the stories behind the cars. Sling Orange subscribers can now watch shows like “Wheeler Dealers”.

The following channels are available in Heartland Extra or News Extras (each $5 per month with a subscription to Sling Orange and/or Sling Blue):

American Heroes Channel showcases military battles, people and pivotal moments in time. The channel features series such as, “World War II: Witness to War.”

Destination America is the only network to celebrate the people, places, and stories of the United States with shows like “Ghost Brothers.”

Science Channel immerses viewers into possibilities of science, from string theory and futuristic cities to accidental discoveries and outrageous inventions. Subscribers of News Extras can view shows like “Mythical Beasts” on Science Channel.

The following channels are available in Best of Spanish TV standalone service ($10/month) or add-on ($5/month when combined with Sling Orange, Sling Blue or any other Spanish-language regional service):

Discovery en Español provides Spanish-language programming focusing on story telling across genres, including adventure, ingenuity, natural history, investigation and current affairs. Best of Spanish TV customers can now watch programs like “Mexicanicos,” “Clandestino” and “Alaska: Hombres Primitivos.”

Discovery Familia is a Spanish-language network dedicated to Hispanic women and the things that matter in their lives. During the day, the Discovery Kids block provides a safe environment for children with entertaining programming, and in the evening, the channel offers programming for women, focusing on topics such as home décor, food, health, beauty and family.

Discovery Familia features shows like “Vestido de Novia,” “Los Busby” and “Remodelación en Pareja.”

“This partnership with Sling TV is another positive step towards ensuring our brands are reaching our fans no matter where they are watching,” said Eric Phillips, president of affiliate distribution at Discovery.



Online TV Services Added 868,000 Subs in Q2

Online TV services such as Sling TV, DirecTV Now, Philo TV and PlayStation Vue added a combined 868,000 subscribers in the second quarter, bringing the total number of virtual MVPD subs to 6.73 million, up 119% year-over-year, according to new data from Strategy Analytics.

Despite this, overall pay TV subs (cable, satellite, telecom and online TV) fell to 93.78 million, breaking a string of two consecutive quarters of growth, according to the report that examines the subscriber bases of 27 public traded and private pay TV operators, accounting for 97% of all pay TV subscriptions.

“While the entire [online TV] segment is growing, AT&T’s DirecTV Now deserves special notice given how rapidly it has grown in a fairly short period of time,” Michael Goodman, director, television and media strategies, said in a statement. “If it continues on its current growth trajectory it will overtake Sling TV as the largest vMVPD in early 2019.”

In comparison, 2Q was not particularly kind to legacy pay TV providers as they lost nearly as many subscribers (973,000) as the prior two quarters combined (-1.16 million). In the quarter, total legacy pay TV subscriptions fell to 87.05 million, down 3.6% from the previous-year period.

“Historically, pay TV in the U.S. has consisted of cable, satellite, and IPTV; however, the introduction of over-the-top pay TV services, commonly referred to as vMVPDs, necessitates a change in our thinking,” said Goodman. “What we have commonly referred to as pay TV (cable, satellite, and IPTV) should now be referred to as Legacy Pay TV, while the definition of Pay TV should include vMVPDs.”

Pay-TV Q2 Sub Loss Lowest Since 2014

Pay-TV operators, including cable, satellite and telecom, lost about 800,000 video subscribers in the second quarter – down from 930,000 subs in the previous-year period, according to new data from the Leichtman Research Group.

The losses were offset by ongoing gains in online TV services such as Sling TV, DirecTV Now and Spectrum TV Plus, which totaled 385,000 subs.

Leichtman found that the largest pay-TV providers in the U.S. – representing about 95% of the market – lost about 415,000 net video subs in Q2.

Specifically, satellite operators Dish Network and DirecTV shed 480,000 subs – the largest in any previous quarter.

The top six cable companies lost about 275,000 video subs compared to a loss about 190,000 subs in Q2 2017.

Telecoms lost about 45,000 video subs, compared to a loss of 270,000 subs last year.

The top pay-TV providers now account for about 91.3 million subscribers – with the top six cable companies having 47.4 million video subs, satellite TV services 30.6 million subs, the top telecoms 9.1 million subs.

Online TV services Sling TV and DirecTV Now have 4.2 million combined subs.

“This marked the fewest net losses [among pay-TV operators] in the traditionally weak second quarter since 2014,” Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, said in a statement.

Leichtman said the rise in online TV is both a product of consumers opting for more economical services, as well as changes in providers’ strategies.

“This newer segment of the industry has helped to mitigate overall pay-TV losses, while also contributing to a share shift from traditional services,” he said.

YouTube TV Offers Free Week Service After World Cup Soccer Glitch

If you were a British soccer fan July 11 watching on YouTube TV the Three Lions play Croatia in the semi-finals at the Russia 2018 World Cup, the 2-1 overtime loss was only part of the problem.

YouTube TV subscribers suffered through an unexplained service outage during the pivotal match that could have seen England return to the World Cup final for the first time since 1966.

Now Google-owned YouTube is offering subs an apology and a free week of service for the interruption.

“We’re really sorry for the recent YouTube TV outage during the FIFA World Cup semifinal,” the service tweeted. “To help make this right, we’d like to give you a week of free service.”

Launched in early 2017 for $35 monthly fee and available in 83 markets, YouTube joined Sling TV, DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue, Hulu, Philo TV, Fubo TV and Spectrum TV Plus in the burgeoning online TV market that offers live and recorded streaming access to pay-TV without long-term contract.

England plays Belgium for third place July 14, in a match that can also be streamed on Fubo TV, the upstart service financially backed by 21st Century Fox, which is broadcasting the World Cup in the United States.


Online TV Service Philo Bows on Apple, Amazon Devices

Upstart online TV service Philo July 10 announced it is now available on Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV, giving subs access to 40 pay-TV channels for $16 per month.

The San Francisco-based service also announced that it has raised more than $40 million from existing investors with AMC Networks, Discovery and Viacom leading the company’s Series C round of funding.

Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV add to the list of platforms Philo is available on, including Roku devices, desktop and Web browsers, iPhones, and Android devices via Chrome (native app coming soon), as well as more than 35 participating TVE apps.

“The expansion onto Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV is a natural extension for us and allows many new people to discover and enjoy Philo, as well as expanding the viewing options for our existing subscribers,” CEO Andrew McCollum said in a statement.

With this new round of funding, McCollum said the service would invest in product features/enhancements and expand marketing efforts. The company is also developing additional innovations, including a socially-driven TV experience.

Currently, Philo subs can watch on up to three different devices at the same time; an unlimited 30-day DVR, an on-demand library, pause any live channel, start programs from the beginning, and watch programs that have aired in the past three days; and a streamlined interface, intelligent search, and the ability to send shows to connected friends.



NAB: 70% of PlayStation Vue Streaming on Non-PS Devices

About of 70% of subscriber streaming on PlayStation Vue occurs through non-PlayStation devices, Dwayne Benefield, VP, head of PlayStation Vue, told attendees April 11 at the Streaming Summit at the NAB Show in Las Vegas. About 80% of streaming is for live TV.

Launched in 2015 by Sony, PS Vue joined Dish Network’s Sling TV attempting to redefine pay-television over the Internet with standalone service offering access to premium channels, including local, without long-term contracts.

The platforms have since been joined by DirecTV Now, Hulu With Live TV, Spectrum TV Plus, YouTube TV and Fubo TV looking to replicate traditional broadcast online with a-la-carte pricing.

Benefield said the average Vue subscriber streams five hours of content daily. While the PS Network has 70 million subscribers across 165 countries, Benefield did not disclose specific subscriber numbers for Vue.

The executive said online TV platforms are getting increased stacking rights to catalog episodes of TV shows as creators and distributors recognize the growing market appeal of online TV.

Benefield said there remains value in the traditional pay-TV bundle, but that online TV represents a growing, cost-effective alternative.

“As [the bundle] does fray, you’ll see us add more a la cartes,” he said in the keynote, as reported by Multichannel News. “I think [online TV] can succeed without broadcast.”

IHS: Pay-TV Subs Topped One Billion in 2017 For the First Time

OTT video may be all the rage, but pay-TV continues to hold its own globally.

Digital pay TV subscriptions globally, including cable, satellite, telecom and online TV, exceeded one billion for the first time in 2017, according to new data from IHS Markit.

The milestone comes despite burgeoning growth of over-the-top (OTT) subscription video services, like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. SVOD services added three subs for every new pay-TV sub.

Western Europe added eight OTT subscriptions for every pay-TV addition, while in Central and Eastern Europe the number of OTT and pay-TV additions were equal. Overall pay-TV growth was fueled by the Asia-Pacific region and China – the latter driven by online TV.

“Traditional pay TV operators have shown resilience in the face of increased competition, through continued investment in set-top functionality, exclusive content and on-demand services,” Fateha Begum, associate director of TV media, said in a statement.

While OTT penetration remains low in the Middle East and Africa, the region will grow rapidly in the coming years, as both international and local players leverage their original content and partner with local pay-TV operators and telecoms, said Irina Kornilova, principal analyst of home entertainment.

“We expect to see OTT subs growing globally over the next five years, as Amazon and Netflix continue to invest in local and localized content, and as [online TV] operators start to appear and grow outside the U.S.,” she said.

Meanwhile, pay-TV subs in North America continued to decline, losing 3 million homes in 2017, while OTT subs increased by nearly 30 million.

“Pay-TV services in North America continue to be affected by cord cutting, primarily due to higher average prices for pay-TV subs, compared to other global regions,” Begum said.

Parks: 60% of TV Viewing in Broadband Homes is On-Demand

Nearly 60% of TV viewing in broadband homes is on-demand, non-linear content. Just over 25% of viewing by consumers ages 18 to 34 is live, including pay-TV, broadcast and live-streaming, according to new data from Parks Associates.

Among viewers who watch live broadcasts, 17% use an online video service such as CBS All Access, Univision Now or PlutoTV. That percentage jumps to 30% among viewers age 35 and older.

“Live TV is far from dead, but on-demand sources are claiming an increasingly large portion of viewing,” senior analyst Brett Sappington said in a statement.

The analyst contends that despite the onslaught of online TV and over-the-top video, viewers often remain loyal to habits they grew up with – including watching live linear TV.

The highest average consumption of linear TV content is among married respondents at 7.8 hours per week. The highest average consumption of non-linear TV content is among unmarried respondents living with a partner at 13.1 hours weekly.

“Interestingly, consumers who have never had pay-TV (i.e. cord nevers) still spend about one-third of their TV viewing time watching live content, primarily from over-the-air TV channels,” Sappington said. “They also spend almost half as much time watching video on a TV overall as do average broadband households.”