Sling TV Offering Free Month of Epix, Showtime and Starz

After losing 110,000 subscribers in the previous 12 months, Dish Network’s Sling TV is launching “Premium Pass,” which gives new and existing subs 30 days free access to MGM-owned Epix, ViacomCBS’s Showtime and Lionsgate-owned Starz programming.

Launched in 2015, Sling Blue and Orange ($30 each) program tiers feature 50+ channels — including A&E, AMC, Bravo, CNN, E!, Fox News, FX, HGTV, HLN, MSNBC, and TLC, among others. The Premium Pass offer is now included across all Sling TV services: Sling Blue ($30/mo.), Sling Orange ($30/mo.) or Sling Blue + Sling Orange ($45/mo.).

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Premium programming includes “Monday Rom-Coms”: My Best Friend’s Wedding and Something’s Gotta Give (Showtime). “Wednesday Westerns”: The Kidand True Grit (Epix). “Friday Families”: Night at the Museum and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (Starz).

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Apple TV Channels Offering Free Month Access to Epix, Showtime and Others

Apple TV Channels, which like Amazon Channels, offers access to third-party over-the-top video platforms, is offering extended free access to content during the coronavirus pandemic.

Apple is extending to 30 days free trials to ViacomCBS’s Showtime OTT and MGM-owned Epix (through May 2 with no subscription required), AMC Networks’ Acorn TV and Lifetime Movie Channel, among others.

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The free access requires signing up for the third-party streaming service app, which then reverts to a paid subscription after the free trial period ends unless canceled by the user.

Other OTT video services offering free 30-day access on Apple TV Channels (followed by a paid subscription) include: Arrow Video Channel ($4.99 per month); History Channel Vault (4.99); Lifetime Movie Club ($3.99); Noggin (60-day trial followed by $7.99 monthly fee); PBS Living ($2.99); Showtime ($10.99); Acorn TV ($5.99); Smithsonian Channel+ ($4.99); and A&E ($4.99).

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Apple TV Channels is available through Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices, in addition to the iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV.

Season 10 of ‘Shameless’ on DVD May 12

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the 10th season of Showtime’s “Shameless” on DVD May 12 (order date April 7). The season will also be available through digital retailers Feb. 25 on standard-definition and high-definition.

Based on the long-running British series of the same name, the irreverent and humorous “Shameless” focuses on the misadventures of a large low-income family getting by on Chicago’s South Side. Season 10 finds the Gallaghers adjusting to life without Fiona (following Emmy Rossum’s departure from the series at the end of season nine). Patriarch Frank (William H. Macy) enconters an old friend, Debbie (Emma Kenney) rules over the household with an iron fist, and Lip (Jeremy Allen White) and Tami (Kate Miner) navigate the difficulties of taking care of their newborn. Cameron Monaghan also returns to the show as Ian, rekindling the “Gallavich” romance with longtime love Mickey (Noel Fisher).

The cast also includes Ethan Cutkosky, Shanola Hampton, Steve Howey and Christian Isaiah.

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The Shameless: The Complete Tenth Season DVD will include all 12 episodes and deleted scenes.

Even in its 10th season, “Shameless” ranks as one of the highest rated shows in all demos on Showtime, which has renewed the series for an 11th and final season to air later this year.

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CBS All Access, Showtime Top Combined 10 Million Subs

ViacomCBS’ standalone subscription streaming video services have more than 10 million combined subscribers — up from 8 million previously announced — but down from the 16 million subs suggested by acting CEO Joe Ianniello in the most-recent fiscal call.

Speaking Jan. 12 at the Television Critics Assn. winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif., Marc DeBevoise, chief digital officer and boss of CBS Interactive, said the services have been growing subs by 60% annually.

“We’re in a great position to hit our goals of 25 million subscribers by 2022,” DeBevoise said.

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The executive, along with Julie McNamara, head of All Access Originals, said the two services’ appeal to subscribers underscores their diversity of content, including catalog and original.

“I think that’s pretty unique,” DeBevoise said.

McNamara said competing against new services Apple TV+, Disney+ and pending platforms HBO Max and Peacock, revolves around the confidence executives have for proprietary platforms.

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“I think we’ve seen with other services, the kind of pro and con of how that works, and you’ve got to have the creative confidence and keep going out there with shows people want to see, and I do believe that most consumers out there will follow their hearts, to some extent, in terms of the content being really desirable for them,” she said.

Regardless, Ianniello calculated the 16 million sub count by combining traditional pay-TV subs accessing Showtime and All Access as well as standalone direct-to-consumer and online TV subs streaming programming through third-party platforms such as Sling TV and AT&T TV Now.

“We think [the overall sub count] is important because there is a lot of headwind in the traditional [pay-TV] business and our point is, when you factor all of that in, we are [actually] growing subs,” he said last October. “So, that’s why we thought that [16 million] statistic was meaningful … that consumers are seeking out our content on other platforms, which bodes well for our future.”

 

Roku Streaming Free Premium Content Through End of the Year

Roku Dec. 9 announced its second annual Stream-a-thon, from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, 2020, enabling users free access to a selection of premium content with no subscription needed on The Roku Channel.

Separately, Roku is expanding its Premium Subscriptions with a new HBO + Cinemax Value Pack, which is available for $20.99.

For the first time on The Roku Channel, season one of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” will be available to stream (beginning Dec. 26) without an HBO subscription. Additionally, this year viewers will be able to use Roku Search to discover Stream-a-thon content.

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“Stream-a-thon marks the conclusion of an eventful year for The Roku Channel, which included milestones such as the introduction of Premium Subscriptions, the expansion of our live and linear channel offering, the debut of Kids & Family, and the addition of value packs,” Rob Holmes, VP of programming and engagement, said in a statement.

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Since launching in 2017, The Roku Channel has become a top 5 channel on the Roku platform by active account reach. In 2019, The Roku Channel expanded its entertainment offering with 80,000+ free, ad-supported and premium movies and TV episodes, launched 40+ Premium Subscription services, reached 50+ live and linear streaming services, and introduced Kids & Family entertainment from nearly 30 partners.

“We are thrilled that HBO will be part of Roku’s Stream-a-thon this December,” said Sofia Chang, president of WarnerMedia Distribution. “There will be something for all Roku users to enjoy over the holidays from HBO without a need for an HBO subscription.”

Premium Subscription partners celebrating this year’s Stream-a-thon include Cinemax, CONtv, Dove Channel, Epix, FitFusion, The Great Courses Signature, HBO, Hallmark Movies Now, Pantaya, Smithsonian Channel Plus, Starz, Showtime, Stingray Karaoke, UP Faith & Family, and more.
Unlocked Complete First Seasons

First full seasons of the following premium shows include:

“Game of Thrones” (HBO)
“Warrior” (Cinemax)
“Power” (Starz) – complete first season available throughout the month of December
“Billions,” “The Affair,” and “Ray Donovan” (SHOWTIME)
“Ancient Mesopotamia: Life in the Cradle of Civilization,” “The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking,” “How Jesus Became God” (The Great Courses Signature)
“Bringing Up Bates,” “Design Twins,” “Expecting,” “Growing Up McGhee,” “Last Hope,” “Our Wedding Story,” “Unboxed with Nikki Chu” (UP Faith & Family)

Other programming includes:

“Barry,” “Chernobyl,” “Euphoria,” “Sesame Street,” and “Succession” (HBO)
“Kidding” (Showtime)
“Get Shorty,” “Pennyworth,” and “Punk” (Epix)
“Abbott and Costello The Christmas Show,” “Anytime Fireplace,” “Gumby’s Christmas Capers,” “MXC,” “Sonic Christmas Blast,” and “Super Mario Bros Super Show” (CONtv)
“A Christmas Kiss,” “A Golden Christmas 3,” “A Heartland Christmas,” “Naughty and Nice,” “Paper Angels,” “Tappy Toes,” “The Nutcracker Sweet,” and “The Perfect Gift” (Dove Channel)
“Jillian Michael: Beginner Shred – Workout 1,” “Cassey Ho: POP Pilates for Beginners,” “Dashama: Mermaid Pose,” “Elle Young: BodyBurn,” “Kenta Seki: Fusion 15 – Total Body,” “Tara Stiles – Strala CORE,” and “Zuzka Light: HIIT Cardio – Workout 1” (FitFusion)
“Ancient Civilizations of North America,” “Ancient Mesopotamia: Life in the Cradle of Civilization,” “The Apocryphal Jesus,” “The Black Death: The World’s Most Devastating Plague,” “The Celtic World,” “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Techniques for Retraining Your Brain,” “Fundamentals of Photography,” “How to Draw,” “Learning Spanish: How to Understand and Speak a New Language,” “Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You,” “Reading Biblical Literature: Genesis to Revelation,” “The Rise of Rome” (The Great Courses Signature)
“From the Ashes,” “Marrying Father Christmas,” “Royal New Year’s Eve,” and “When Hope Calls” (Hallmark Movies Now)
“Las Aparicio,” “Me late chocolate,” “Pastorela,” and “Yule Log” (Pantaya)
“Aerial Cities,” “America in Color,” “Million Dollar American Princesses,” and “Orangutan Jungle School” (Smithsonian Channel Plus)
“Blue Christmas – Elvis Presley,” “Feliz Navidad – Boney M,” “Last Christmas – Wham!,” “Jingle Bells,” and “The Twelve Days of Christmas – Kids” (Stingray Karaoke)
“Angels in the Snow,” “Christmas Angel,” “DNA Dinners,” “Marry Me for Christmas” (UP Faith & Family)
HBO + Cinemax Value Pack

 

Sling TV Expands Free Access to Roku, Amazon Devices

Could Dish Network’s Sling TV be transitioning into an ad-supported online television platform?

Launched in 2015 as the first standalone online Tv service offering access to ESPN and other pay-TV channels outside of the traditional bundled cable package, the $25 monthly platform is expanding its “free experience” to Roku and Amazon devices, including Fire TV.

After downloading the app, users can watch select Sling TV programming for free without entering their credit card information. Once in guest mode, users can browse and watch content from the “My TV” screen.

Users also have the option to create a Sling account and sign up for service, purchase pay-per-view movies (Android and Roku only) and subscribe to standalone channels like Showtime and Starz, among others.

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Sling ended the most recent fiscal period with more than 2.3 million subscribers — a sub count that hasn’t grown much in recent quarters.

With Apple and Disney bowing branded subscription streaming platforms next month, coupled with the rise in ad-supported VOD services such as Tubi and Pluto TV, pushing marketing outside the box is the new normal.

Free shows on Sling include “Live PD: Police Patrol,” “Hell’s Kitchen,” “3rd Rock from the Sun,” and movies The Illusionist or Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.

Users without a subscription can also access Showtime or Lionsgate-owned Starz for a separate fee. Users can also purchase access to channels, including Curiosity Stream, Up Faith & Family and Hallmark Movies Now, among others.

“As the only live streaming service that allows you to purchase à la carte channels without subscribing to a base service, Sling makes it easy to stream all of your favorite content in the same interface,” the service wrote in a blog post.

 

Roku Offering Free Premium Content on Ad-Supported Channel

The Roku Channel, the subscription streaming media device manufacturer’s ad-supported service offering users access to third-party catalog programming, Sept. 30 began showcasing select third-party premium content — for free.

In a blog post, Roku announced it is offering programming from CBS-owned Showtime, MGM-owned Epix, HISTORY, Cinedigm, and Acorn TV, among others, in an attempt to jumpstart subscriptions to third-party services.

Programming includes: “On Becoming a God in Central Florida” (SHOWTIME), “Godfather of Harlem” (EPIX), “America The Story of Us” (HISTORY Vault), “Heartland” (Dove Channel), and “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries” (Acorn TV), and more, with no subscription or even trial required.

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“Once you’ve sampled your new favorite show, follow one-click sign-up to begin a free trial or start a subscription,” Nicole Fencel, senior manager, programming product strategy at Roku, said in statement.

The Roku Channel is upping third-party premium over-the-top video services, as well as offering more than 80,000 ad-supported movies and TV episodes, more than 35 live and linear streaming services, including kids & family entertainment. 

 

CBS, Viacom Re-Merger Nearly Complete; CBS Eyeing Higher Price Point for International ‘All Access’ Rollout

As expected, the Viacom and CBS re-merger could reportedly be announced as early as next week, pending last-minute stock exchange issues.

Fox Business’ Charlie Gasparino Aug. 9 on Twitter said the deal reuniting CBS with parent Viacom after a 13-year split is in the hands of the companies’ respective boards.

Viacom and CBS are majority owned by family-owned National Amusements, which is operated by Shari Redstone on behalf of her ailing 96-year-old father, Sumner Redstone.

Shari Redstone has pushed for the merger, claiming media consolidation is a perquisite for navigating the rapidly changing media landscape and over-the-top video distribution. She also wants Viacom CEO Bob Bakish to lead the combined companies.

Redstone’s strategy was initially rebuffed by former CBS CEO Les Moonves, who wanted the top job. With Moonves out following #MeToo issues, consummation of the merger seemed a formality.

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Separately, CBS says it will have 25 million combined CBS All Access/Showtime OTT subscribers by 2022.

To get there the media giant is rolling out All Access internationally in attempt to borrow a page from Netflix’s subscriber growth playbook.

All Access, like Hulu, is available with limited ads for $5.99 monthly, or ad-free for $9.99 ($11.99 for Hulu).

Speaking on the Aug. 8 fiscal call, acting CEO Joe Ianniello said the company would target Latin America and Europe with the more expensive $9.99 price point.

“Two-thirds of the All Access subs are taking the limited commercial option,” he said. “So obviously, the vast majority of that is the $9.99 price point.”

Ianniello contends there is strong demand for premium content delivered via broadband in the international marketplace.

“I just look at the number of people in the consumption of Netflix,” he said. “I’m very encouraged that this is single-handedly the largest opportunity that we have in front of us.”

Ianniello said CBS targets international distribution of proprietary content on franchise-per-franchise basis. Characterizing the U.S. market as “limited” to 325 million people, the executive contends a global audience in the billions satisfies long-term fiscal goals.

“Our thought is if [international is] willing to pay us [$9.99], we’re going to look at that hard,” Ianniello said. “But if they’re not, we’re going to put it through our own [domestic] infrastructure.”

With Disney announcing it would bundle pending SVOD service Disney+ with ESPN+ and Hulu, Ianniello said CBS is content limiting its OTT bundling to All Access and Showtime.

“I can understand why others want to kind of do that together because people will subscribe for different reasons,” he said.

With All Access nearly five years old, Ianniello says the company understands its appeal and marketing with Showtime.

“It’s an opportunity we don’t force consumers to do it,” he said. “They can buy part; if they want to buy them together, we obviously discount that. We think again those are different offerings and complementary as well.”

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.

Sony, Viacom, CBS, Showtime, NBC Universal, AMC Network Join Growing Studio Sentiment Not to Work in Georgia Should Anti-Abortion Law Go Into Effect

Then the dam broke.

Sony Pictures, Viacom, CBS, Showtime, NBC Universal and AMC Networks, which has produced “The Walking Dead” in Georgia for more than 10 years, May 30 joined a bandwagon of Hollywood studios, producers and actors who have said they would cease doing business should the state’s new anti-abortion law go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

Gov. Brian Kemp signed the legislation on May 8 making it unlawful for a woman to have an abortion six weeks after pregnancy. Georgia currently bans abortions after 20 weeks.

The issue is unique to Georgia, which has become a prolific location for movie and TV show production, reportedly  accounting for 40 current content production outside of California and New York.

“If this highly restrictive legislation goes into effect, we will re-evaluate our activity in Georgia,” AMC said in a statement.

The network, which was one of the first to produce content in the Peach state with “Walking Dead,” said similar laws passed in other states have been challenged and so would the measure in Georgia.

“This is likely to be a long and complicated fight and we are watching it all very closely,” AMC said.

A spokesperson from Comcast-owned NBC Universal said the media company doesn’t expect the law to go into effect, but is ready to act if required.

“If any of these laws are upheld, it would strongly impact our decision-making on where we produce our content in the future,” said the spokesperson.

A Sony Pictures rep echoed the sentiment saying the Culver City, Calif.-based studio would continue to monitor the situation and “would consider our future production options” if warranted.