Purdue University Bans Netflix, Other Streaming Use in Classrooms

Purdue University has begun banning students from accessing streaming video services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube in classrooms.

The reason: Burgeoning streaming video and music service use during classes had slowed the school’s Wi-Fi speed to a crawl and was distracting students.

What began as an experiment in the fall expanded across the West Lafayette, Ind., campus March 18 as students returned from spring break.

“There’s a finite amount of bandwidth available,” Mark Sonstein, executive director of IT infrastructure at Purdue, told the Chicago Tribune. “If you have people who are streaming a movie, then they are consuming all of the available bandwidth.”

While many high schools and middle schools routinely collect cellphones from students before classes, Purdue reportedly is one of the first universities to erect a tech barrier.

“I heard about the bandwidth problem, but when the solution was implemented, I heard crickets,” said chemical engineering professor Steve Beaudoin.

Indeed, student reaction to the ban has been scant as most aren’t streaming episodes of “True Detective” or “Game of Thrones” during Chem 101, despite sitting in a lecture hall that seats 100.

Nineteen-year-old computer science sophomore Nick Pappas told the Tribune he doesn’t believe SVOD use in classrooms is as common as school officials contend. But he has seen some students engage – especially if they have wireless earbuds.

“People can get away with it so easily,” he said.

“If the bulk of the students participate, either because they agree with the purpose of the program, or because they aren’t inclined to take the steps necessary to circumvent it, then the purpose — freeing up bandwidth for academics — will be achieved,” Sonstein said.

 

 

Japanese Court Rules People Using Cell Phone to Watch TV Must Pay Subscription Fee

The Tokyo High Court has ruled that people using cellphones to watch TV must pay a subscription fee to NHK, the country’s public broadcasting network.

The court March 12 ruled that people using a cell phone to access TV broadcasts must pay a subscription even if they don’t own a TV in the home.

The ruling underscores a 2017 decision that mandated anyone having a TV in Japan had to pay a monthly fee to NHK. That monthly fee covered portable media devices as well.

But as over-the-top video flourishes and access grows across portable devices, increasing numbers of consumers are opting to go without a traditional TV and consume live video content via the One-Seg mobile TV app.

A lower court had ruled in favor of a consumer who argued he shouldn’t be required to pay a regulatory fee to watch TV on his cellphone.

Separately, NHK World — Japan is now available on the Roku streaming media platform in the United States. Subscription required.

 

 

Netflix Tops 11 Million Subs Down Under

Netflix has 11.2 million subscribers in Australia — making the country of 24.6 million people the service’s second-most popular region behind the United States.

The SVOD behemoth, which launched service in Australia and New Zealand in 2015, saw subscriptions increase more 25% through February year-over-year, according to new data from Roy Morgan  research.

SVOD continues to mushroom in popularity down under with nearly 14 million Aussies having access to some form online TV, up 11.8% from a year ago.

The leading Australian-owned SVOD is Stan, which is accessible by over 2.6 million subs — up 45.2% from a year ago. Stan is a subsidiary of the Nine Entertainment Company.

SVOD services YouTube Premium (formerly YouTube Red), Fetch and Amazon Prime Video also saw significant sub increases.

YouTube Premium has over 1.2 million users, up 31.9%, and Fetch has nearly 760,000 users, up by 9%. Meanwhile, Prime Video more than doubled its user base by 116.7% to over 570,000.

“Pay-TV/Subscription TV services are an increasingly competitive marketplace in Australia,” Michele Levine, CEO of Roy Morgan, said in a statement. “Going forward the battleground will be content and cost.”

 

Spotify Files Complaint Against Apple Music with European Commission

Spotify, the world’s largest music streaming service, has filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission alleging the tech giant unfairly restricts competition against the Apple Music service.

Spotify ended its most-recent fiscal period with 87 million paid subscribers compared to about 50 million for Apple Music.

In a March 13 blog post, Daniel Elk, founder and CEO of Spotify, said Apple has changed the rules and stifled innovation how it operates the proprietary App Store. Elk argues that as Apple is both the owner of the iOS platform and the App Store — a competitor to services like Spotify, which gives the company an unfair advantage.

Specifically, Spotify takes issue with the 30% tax it and other digital services must pay utilizing Apple’s payment system. If the service opts out of the payment platform, Spotify alleges Apple restricts how it can communicate with its subscribers outside the app, in addition to limiting tech and user-enhancements.

“In some cases, we aren’t even allowed to send emails to our customers who use Apple,” Elk wrote.

The executive said apps should be able to compete fairly on their merits and not based on who owns the App Store. He said consumers should have a choice of payment systems and not be forced to use systems with discriminatory tariffs.

Elk said the App Store should not be allowed to control the communications between services and users, including allegedly placing unfair restrictions on marketing and promotions that benefit consumers.

“After trying unsuccessfully to resolve the issues directly with Apple, we’re now requesting that the EC take action to ensure fair competition,” he wrote.

 

 

 

NBC Launching Ad-Supported News Streaming Service in May

NBC Universal in May is set to launch a free ad-supported streaming news service dubbed “NBC News Now.”

The service — announced last weekend at SXSW — will launch featuring eight hours of daily news (expanding to 24 hours), including content from E! News. It will be available across most streaming devices.

NBC is pursuing an AVOD strategy used by CBS (via CBSN) and ABC (“ABC News Live” via Roku Channel) to bolster slacking consumer demand for traditional broadcast TV news.

The network currently streams an abbreviated news format service on Snapchat, dubbed “Stay Tuned.”

NBC News Now would include original reporting as well as third-party sourced news, according to a March 10 blog post.

“We will be doing original work that will be specific for the streaming service, we will be drawing from the reporting that takes place across all the other NBC News properties,” Noah Oppenheim, president of NBC News, told a SXSW panel, according to Broadcasting & Cable, which first reported the story. “We will actually be reaching into other corners of NBC Universal, sports, you name it, for some of that content.”

Noah Oppenheim (r) at SXSW

 

Cinedigm Launching Comedy Streaming Video Service

Cinedigm March 12 announced a partnership with Comedy Dynamics to launch and distribute their over-the-top video branded Comedy Dynamics Network.

Cinedigm Digital Networks will provide digital distribution of the channel, including third-party platforms, a-la-carte licensing, and a live linear channel.

The Los Angeles-based home entertainment distributor said its networks platform affords Comedy Dynamics the ability to launch both as an ad-supported VOD and SVOD service across mobile devices, connected TVs, and set-top boxes.

The linear channel is slated to roll-out in the spring showcasing Comedy Dynamics’ library of performers, including Jim Gaffigan, Kevin Hart, Ali Wong, Tiffany Haddish, Bill Hicks, D.L. Hughley and Sam Kinison, among others.

“This is an exciting time for comedy, as people are accessing it and demanding it like never before,” Erick Opeka, president of Cinedigm Digital Networks, said in a statement. “The stand-up medium is the perfect complement to the digital realm, providing incredible opportunities for both short-form and long-form content that viewers can enjoy whether they’re at home or on the go.”

Indeed, while Netflix is spending lavishly on stand-up specials featuring Hart (bowing April 2), Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock, Hasan Minhaj and Amy Schumer, among others, standalone comedy remains a tough sell.

NBC Universal in 2016 shuttered standalone $3.99 monthly comedy streaming service Seeso, while the Lionsgate/Hart OTT collaboration – Laugh Out Loud – tries to get its footing since bowing in 2017.

Regardless, Comedy Dynamics CEO Brian Volk-Weiss contends there exists a global streaming audience for comedy.

“We want to be everywhere the audience is,” he said.

 

France’s Canal+ Launches New SVOD Service; Encourages Password Sharing

Seeking to combat Netflix’s rising popularity in France, pay-TV giant Canal+ March 12 launched a new subscription streaming video service, c+Séries, featuring local and international TV content, including original programming.

In a twist, Canal+ is marketing the €6.99 ($7.90) monthly service without movies through a campaign that encourages users to share their password with up to four people — the latter based on the €14 ($15.90) plan.

The service is accessed through the existing “myCanal” app, which is available on Apple iOS and Android platforms.

Frank Cadoret, deputy CEO of the C+ Group, said the service targets younger demos by offering episodic dramas and multiple distribution options.

“We are totally in tune with the new aspirations of the public,” Cadoret said in a statement.

Indeed, with Netflix recently surpassing 5 million subs in France, Canal+ is trying to appeal to a consumer that is moving away from traditional linear TV distribution and toward over-the-top video.

In addition to more than 150 series, c+Séries streams content from CBS-owned Showtime and Fox’s FX, including “Billions,” “SMILF,” “Pose” and “What We Do in The Shadows,” the platform offers StudioCanal original series “The Lawyer” and “Moscow Noir.” Catalog series “The Americans,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “24,” “Dexter”and “X-Files” also are available.

 

 

Apple Expected to Bow Video Streaming Platform March 25

Apple is expected to announce its much-anticipated Apple TV video streaming platform at a special “Apple Event” March 25 at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, Calif.

The tech giant March 11 sent out “It’s Show Time” media invites without elaborating further details about the contents of the presentation. Media reports suggest that while Apple may announce the streaming service, it may not be functional until later this year.

Apple, which is reportedly spending $2 billion on original content for the rebooted Apple TV app, has been slow to jump on the over-the-top video bandwagon ever since co-founder Steve Jobs infamously characterized online video a hobby.

Now with entertainment management hired, and content deals involving Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Bill Murray, Sofia Coppola, Brie Larson (Captain Marvel) and Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok) among others, in production, Apple TV reportedly will also offer third-party OTT video subscriptions – notably HBO, CBS All Access, Showtime and Starz — similarly to Amazon Channels.

Separately, Apple and Roku reportedly are finalizing details on an agreement that will enable Roku users to stream content, including video and photos, to and from an iPhone, iPad or Mac to a connected TV through the AirPlay 2 integration on the Roku device.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starz Bows Pay-TV, Streaming Service in Canada

As expected, Starz has officially launched service across the northern border in Canada. The Lionsgate-owned media company is now available via two Bell Media pay-TV linear channels as well as a $5.99 monthly add-on to Bell’s standalone over-the-top video platform Crave.ca.

The Canadian presence follows launch of Starz Play Arabia in 2015, which is currently available in 17 countries in the Middle East.

Starz presence in Canada aims to counter Netflix, which bowed service in the country in 2010 and now reportedly has more than six million subscribers.

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To do that, Starz is offering original programming, select library titles, and classic films from all eras, including new millennial comedy series, “Now Apocalypse,” from filmmaker Gregg Araki (Kaboom, winner of the first-ever Queer Palm Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2010).

Streaming March 10 before its television premiere on Starz that evening, the new, coming-of-age, half-hour comedy series was an official selection of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, and stars Canadian actor Avan Jogia, as well as Tyler Posey, Kelli Berglund, Beau Mirchoff, and Roxane Mesquida.

Other original content includes spy-thriller, “The Rook,” premiering this summer; past seasons of “Power, Party Down, and “TheGirlfriend Experience”; critical darlings “Vida” and “Sweetbitter”; in addition to hundreds of movies.

Catalog series include:

  • AMERICA TO ME, Season 1 (March 10)
  • BLACK SAILS, Season 1-4
  • BOSS, Season 1-2
  • COUNTERPART, Season 1-2
  • DAN VS., Season 1-3
  • DAVINCI’S DEMONS, Season 1-3
  • THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE, Season 1
  • GRAVITY
  • MAGIC CITY, Season 1-2 (April)
  • NOW APOCALPYSE (March 10)
  • PARTY DOWN, Season 1-2
  • POWER, Season 1-4 (Season 5 coming soon)
  • SURVIVOR’S REMORSE, Season 1-4
  • SWEETBITTER, Season 1 (new season 2019)
  • VIDA, Season 1 (new season 2019)
  • WARRIORS OF LIBERTY CITY (coming soon)
  • THE WHITE QUEEN
  • THE WHITE PRINCESS
  • WRONG MAN

Disney Hires Warner Bros. Digital Vet Craig Hunegs

Disney reportedly has hired Craig Hunegs as president of newly formed Disney Television Studios, which will include 20th Century Fox assets once the merger is consummated.

Hunegs, who most recently headed Warner Bros. Digital Networks as the unit’s founding senior executive, was responsible for the studio’s over-the-top video initiatives. He also oversaw Warner Bros. Television Group’s business and strategy operations.

Hunegs, a frequent mention in Media Play News’ annual “Digital Drivers” feature, helped incorporate classic Warner movies in the now-shuttered FilmStruck movie streaming service.

The executive was also instrumental in the August 2018 launch of DC Universe, Warner’s SVOD service featuring DC Comics content.

“Developing new ways for consumers to access some of our most popular and iconic brands and franchises … on the devices they choose, is one of our studio’s top priorities,” Hunegs said last year.