Report: Most Netflix Subs Unlikely to Cancel Service Following Price Hike

Another day, another prognostication how Netflix’s price hikes will affect subscribers.

New data from Hub Entertainment Research finds most subs will not stop service as Netflix ups plan pricing from $1 to $2. The Portsmouth, N.H.-based research firm said any impact on subscribers would likely occur among those paying $15.99 monthly for the premium plan enabling access to Ultra HD content and up to four screens concurrently.

Indeed, 69% of survey respondents said they would keep their currently plan, while 16% said they would drop to a lower-priced plan. Just 9% said they would drop the service, while 6% said they would switch to a more expensive plan.

Netflix, which no longer discloses subscriber churn, added 29 million subscribers in 2018 to end the year with 137 million.

Among basic subs, 76% said they would keep the plan, with 12% considering upgrading to more-expensive plan. Just 8% of standard and 10% of premium plan subs said they would drop Netflix.

Hub said 24% of standard subs indicated a desire to downgrade to the $8.99 basic plan, while 27% of premium subs said they plan to downgrade.

While 70% of subscriber have heard about the price hike, about 50% said they were unhappy about it.

Survey respondents ranged from 8% who said they were “angry,” 38% who said they were “annoyed,” 39% who were “accepting,” and 15% who were “positive.”

“This research shows that Reed Hastings is right when he says that consumers choose based on value, not just price,” Jon Giegengack, principal at Hub, said in a statement. “Despite the increase, the great majority of customers say they’ll keep their subscription. However, the fact that half are unhappy shows that Netflix can’t raise prices indefinitely, and that higher fees make delivering on the promise of high-quality exclusive content more important than ever.”

Among standard (51%) and premium (44%) subs, they were more likely to be “annoyed” or “angry” about the price hike than basic (37%) subs.

“In some respects, the timing of the price hike announcement couldn’t have been better for Netflix, coming on the heels of its enormous viewership success with Bird Box, the buzz about Bandersnatch,and its strong subscriber growth in Q4,” said Peter Fondulas, co-author of the study. “But in an increasingly competitive SVOD marketplace, even a $1 to $2 price increase can lead subscribers to start considering alternatives.”

 

 

Yahoo Sports Bowing NBA-Themed Studio Streaming Show

The National Basketball Association, Turner Sports and Yahoo Sports are set to debut a live nightly studio show, “The Bounce,” available on Yahoo Sports and the Yahoo Sports app on iOS and Android beginning Jan. 21, with a special 5-8 p.m. ET launch.

The show will air five nights per week — Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday — from 8-11 p.m. ET through the end of the 2018-19 NBA regular season.

This mobile-specific show is part of a multiyear deal and claims to be the first of its kind, offering the league through analysis from a roster of hosts along with in-progress highlights, a live scoreboard, social media integrations, and behind-the-scenes footage.

“The Bounce” will be co-produced by Turner Sports and Yahoo Sports from the Turner Studios in Atlanta, featuring rotating analysts Gary Payton, Swin Cash and Jason Terry, as well as Turner commentators Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, Allie LaForce and Stephanie Ready as studio hosts.

Geoff Reiss, GM of Yahoo Sports, said the show expands upon Verizon’s partnership with the NBA.

“The Bounce … will give fans a new way to stay up-to-date on what’s happening with the NBA, while providing them with access to NBA League Pass [SVOD service] all in one place.”

NBA League Pass has been available on Yahoo since last season. Yahoo Sports is also the official fantasy game for NBA.com.

“The Bounce builds on Yahoo Sports’ comprehensive NBA programming that already includes editorial coverage, traditional highlights and the league’s official Fantasy Game,” said David Denenberg, SVP of global media distribution and business affairs, NBA.

In addition to the premiere of series, the NBA’s MLK Jr. Day programming will feature a slate of five nationally televised games across TNT and NBA TV.

“We’re looking forward to producing this innovative form of content for NBA fans as a supplement to the in-depth coverage available on NBA TV and across the NBA Digital portfolio,” said Scooter Vertino, SVP of production, programming and content, NBA Digital.

 

 

Netflix Posts Record Q4 Subscriber Growth

Netflix Jan. 17 reported it added 7.3 million net new paid subscribers internationally in the fourth quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2018) — which was above company projections of 6.1 million. In the United States, Netflix added 1.53 million paid subs, compared to projections of 1.5 million.

Netflix no longer combines new subs on trial basis with paid additions. As a result, Netflix said it had 2.07 million new trial subs in the U.S., in addition to 7.13 million internationally.

The service ended the period with 139 million paid subscribers, up 9 million paid members from the start of the quarter and 29 million from Jan. 1, 2018. Netflix added 22 million subs in 2017.

The SVOD pioneer grew quarterly revenue 35% to $16 billion, nearly doubling operating income to $1.6 billion.

Netflix said that through its first four weeks, original movie Bird Box, starring Sandra Bullock, was streamed by more than 80 million household worldwide.

The service said its original feature films continue to generate audiences in the home and in theaters. Five weeks after its debut, Roma from director Alfonso Cuaron is still playing in 900 screen worldwide — including some 70mm format projections.

Netflix said it service commands about 10% of all TV screen time in the U.S., and about half as much on mobile devices.

“There are thousands of competitors in this highly fragmented market vying to entertain consumers,” wrote CEO Reed Hastings and CFO Spencer Neumann in the investor letter. “Our growth is based on how good our experience is to subscribers … not on Disney+, Amazon Prime Video or others.”

Finally, Netflix ended the period with 2.7 million disc renters — down from 3.3 million during the previous-year period. The legacy segment generated $51.4 million operating profit on revenue of $85.1 million. That compared to operating profit of $62.6 million and revenue $105.1 million last year

Walmart Drops Streaming Video Plans, Will Focus on Vudu Unit

Walmart reportedly has shelved plans to launch a branded over-the-top video streaming service.

CNBC, citing sources familiar with the situation, said the world’s largest retailer dropped the idea after negotiations with former Epix CEO Mark Greenberg to spearhead an OTT video platform fell through.

Greenberg has also approached Costco regarding launching a branded OTT video service.

Specifically, Walmart balked at the prospect of spending billions on content in an industry it has no direct experience in. Instead, the retail behemoth will redouble efforts on Vudu.com, the transactional VOD unit it acquired in 2010.

Vudu, which sells and rents digital movies, also enables registered users to upload DVD and Blu-ray Disc titles for access to digital files stored in the cloud. The platform recently upgraded its ad-supported VOD offerings of catalog movies and TV shows.

“Vudu has developed a strong platform, and we aim to continue to bring our customers more content, on more devices, at the best possible price,” Walmart spokeswoman Tara Raddohl-House said in a statement.

 

Sinclair Launches AVOD Streaming Service

Sinclair Broadcast Group has launched a free, ad-supported streaming video service — dubbed Stirr – that includes access to national news, sports, entertainment and digital channels, a video-on-demand library and local channel featuring programming based on a user’s location.

The Santa Monica, Calif.-based service joins a burgeoning field of SVOD alternative services that include Sony Crackle, Shout! TV, IMDb Freedive, Tubi TV, The Roku Channel and Pluto TV, among others.

It is available on iOS and Android devices, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku and on the Web at: www.Stirr.com providing viewers with a variety of linear networks that cater to all interests, such as movies, news, sports, sci-fi and action, family-friendly programming, and comedy.

Stirr is offering 20 national networks at launch: Buzzr, Charge, Cheddar, Comet, Cinedigm’s CONtv and Dove Channel, Dust, FailArmy, Futurism, Gravitas, Mobcrush, MovieMix, NASA TV, Outdoor America, The Pet Collective, Soar, Stadium, TBD, The T and World Poker Tour.

Stirr has also developed original channels, including Stirr Movies, Stirr Sports, Stirr Life, and Stirr City. It plans to add new linear networks monthly growing to over 50 by the end of 2019.

“We are entering a new era of broadcast television and our number one priority at Sinclair is to help advance the industry and increase access to broadcast content in the midst of a digital age,” Sinclair CEO Christopher Ripley said in a statement. “With the launch of STIRR, we intend to offer audiences an easy, convenient and free way to watch live local and national channels, as well as access a deep selection of on-demand programming.”

In addition to national networks, the service will be anchored by a unique local channel called, “Stirr City,” offering a curated 24/7 program lineup based on where a viewer lives. The new channel lineup includes live local news, local and regional sports, entertainment and city-focused lifestyle programming provided by the local Sinclair TV station in that city.

“Despite the explosive growth of new national over-the-top (OTT) services, local TV station’s programming, especially local news, has remained some of the most popular and desired content to audiences and advertisers alike,” said Stirr GM Adam Ware. “By creating the Stirr City channel format, local TV stations can now extend their programming strength to OTT. Stirr will offer viewers both a new local channel and an extensive local on-demand library relevant to the place they call home.”

In addition to Ware, Sinclair tapped digital media veterans Ben Lister, director of content acquisitions, and Stacie Anthony, editor-in-chief, who are leading efforts in Santa Monica. The app was developed by Sinclair Digital based in Seattle.

 

GfK: Streaming Video is Not a Solo Sport

While more and more Americans are watching video content — TV shows, movies, and short video — on their smartphones, new data from GfK MRI shows that video remains a highly social medium.

The latest findings show that Americans watch TV or video in groups almost half (48%) of their total viewing time. In addition, 49% of all adults — and 60% in the 18-to-34 age group — report that they are “co-viewing” more often now than they did three years ago.

Over half (58%) of co-viewing time is spent watching with a “significant other,” while children account for 19%; adult family members, 16%; and friends, 9%.

Preferred genres for watching with others change depending on who else is in the room; while movies come in first or second in all four co-viewing situations, and comedy TV Shows consistently place in the top three, sports score highest when friends are the co-viewers.

The survey also found that more than half (55%) of solo viewers are men. Parents, on the other hand, are more likely to be co-viewers; three-quarters (77%) of parental co-viewers have children under the age of 11 in the home, while one-quarter (23%) have children ages 12 to 17.

The data — based on 24,000 in-person, in-home interviews — underscores that co-viewing streaming video is not a platform-driven behavior.

MRI found that, when asked which types of TV services they use most often when co-viewing, respondents were equally likely to say they co-view via traditional TV services (48% — cable, satellite, fiber optic service) and streaming services (52% — Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.). Not surprisingly, younger adults (ages 18-34) are more likely than average to choose streaming as their medium of co-viewing (72%, 137)

“The social nature of TV viewing continues to drive people to this enjoyable shared experience,” Amy Hunt, VP of TVideo media sales at MRI, said in a statement. “A lot has been said recently about the introduction of dynamically inserted ads for shows; but this seems to be predicated on the idea of only one target watching. The increase of co-viewing suggests that more ad options will need to be available, to appeal to the widest possible audience range.”

 

Neulion Rebranded to Endeavor Streaming, Snatches WWE from Disney’s BamTech Media

Backend tech support for streaming video is becoming big business.

Endeavor Talent Agency, whose subsidiaries include William Morris Endeavor, IMG, and Ultimate Fighting Championship, announced the formation of Endeavor Streaming, encompassing the company’s video streaming products and services.

The over-the-top video venture is driven by Neulion, which Endeavor acquired in 2018 for $250 million.

NeuLion, which provides backend support for live-sports streaming, is being absorbed within the new group alongside Endeavor’s internally developed video platform technology, and now operates under the Endeavor Streaming moniker.

Endeavor Streaming provides backend tech support for the NFL, NBA, UFC, and Euroleague. Notably, the platform just signed professional wrestling brand WWE away from Disney’s BamTech Media.

BamTech, which Disney acquired for about $3 billion, provides streaming tech support for ESPN+, HBO Now, PlayStation Vue, The Blaze and WatchESPN, among other services. It will also power Disney’s upcoming branded SVOD service.

With more than 1.6 million subscribers, WWE Network is one of the largest sports-entertainment OTT platforms in the world. Endeavor also supports U.K.-based BT and its new service, BT Sport Box Office; and OSN, the Middle East and North Africa’s entertainment network.

Endeavor Streaming will be co-led by chief technology officer Nick Wilson and president of business operations Will Staeger. Staeger previously served as SVP within IMG’s original content division following time at ESPN, WWE, and Dick Clark Productions.

“We’ve integrated Endeavor’s scalable platform with NeuLion’s industry leading technology and feature set to provide clients with the best tools and services in video streaming, removing technology as a barrier in reaching their consumers,” Wilson and Staeger said in a co-statement.

Endeavor Streaming will continue servicing major media providers, including Univision, Sportsnet, Sky Sports, MSG, National Geographic, and Big Ten Network. The group will also continue supporting Endeavor properties like PBR (Ride Pass) and UFC (UFC.tv and Fight Pass).

The platform recently streamed “UFC 229: Khabib vs. McGregor,” and received the “OTT TV Service of the Year” award at the Content Innovation Awards ahead of MIPCOM for its work on the NBA League Pass International product.

Meanwhile, the group has launched several new consumer products, including “Serie A Pass” and “Strive,” the latter of which features action from both Serie A and La Liga, Italy and Spain’s professional soccer leagues, respectively.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Saudi Group Hires Ex-Hulu Executive to Jumpstart SVOD Service

The MBC Group, which claims to be largest media company in the Middle East, has hired Johannes Larcher, former SVP of international operations at Hulu, to upgrade its Shahid streaming video service.

MBC, like most major companies in Saudi Arabia, is majority-owned by the government, headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The appointment comes about a week after Netflix reportedly agreed to remove an episode of original series,“Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj,” featuring the American stand-up comic and political commentator from Davis, Calif.

The episode was critical of Bin Salman and his alleged ties in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi – allegations the Saudi royal family deny.

Regardless, an MBC representative told CNBC that Larcher’s hiring is part of a five-year company strategy to inject original and local Arab-language content into Shahid.

“We believe that the long-established relationship of MBC with Arab consumers will enable us to produce even more culturally relevant content that could travel beyond the region,” said the rep.

 

 

 

 

Roku Says Streaming Video Hours Increased 68% in Q4

Roku Jan. 7 disclosed preliminary fourth-quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2018) data for two key operating metrics, active accounts and streaming hours, underscoring continued momentum for the platform as consumers shift toward streaming video and away from traditional linear TV.

Specifically, active accounts topped 27 million, up roughly 40% year-over-year. Streaming hours were an estimated 7.3 billion hours, up about 68% year-over-year, bringing full-year 2018 streaming hours to about 24 billion, up about 61% from 2017.

“Strong active account growth and accelerating streaming hours point to consumers’ growing enthusiasm for streaming, making Roku America’s largest and fastest growing TV streaming distribution platform,” CEO Anthony Wood said in a statement. “In 2018, we maintained our leadership in streaming players, licensed smart TVs and TV streaming hours. Roku continues to bring viewers more choice, great value, a compelling user experience – and lots of TV fun.”

Roku will report final operating metrics as well as fourth quarter and full-year 2018 financial results in February. The company will provide a 2019 outlook at that time.