Dish Bows New Amazon Alexa Voice Features on Hopper

Dish June 12 introduced new Amazon Alexa voice capabilities that give customers the ability to set recordings, launch apps and navigate menus on Hopper family set-top boxes.

This update enhances the Hands-Free TV experience by building on Dish’s existing Alexa voice functions, including the ability to play, pause, fast-forward, rewind and search content.

“We are working to create the best Hands-Free TV options for our customers, and these new voice capabilities are an important step in that direction,” said Niraj Desai, Dish VP of product management, in a statement. “Dish customers already love the convenience that our Alexa compatibility brings to their home, so we’re continuously identifying popular voice commands to enhance that experience.”

In April 2017, DISH became the first pay-TV provider to offer direct compatibility with Amazon Alexa, according to the company. In October 2017, the company unveiled whole-home Hands-Free TV by extending Alexa support to all Joey clients, according to Dish.

Dish customers can ask Alexa to navigate, play, pause, fast-forward, rewind and search content based on channel, title, actor or genre. With the newest update, customers can also use Alexa to set recordings, launch apps such as Game Finder, Netflix, Pandora and YouTube, and access the Home, Guide, DVR, On Demand, Settings and Help menus.

All Dish customers with an internet-connected Hopper DVR (all generations), Hopper Duo, Joey (all models) or Wally can ask Alexa to control their TV content after pairing with an Amazon Echo, Echo Show, Echo Dot, Fire TV Cube or another Alexa-enabled device. Each Dish set-top box must be paired with its own Alexa device.

For more information, visit www.dish.com/AmazonAlexaIntegration.

FilmRise Signs Deal With ITV Studios for Streaming Rights to Gordon Ramsay Shows

Independent film and TV distribution company FilmRise has signed an exclusive deal with ITV Studios Global Entertainment for the ad-supported video rights to two TV programs headlined by television personality and chef Gordon Ramsay: the reality series “Hell’s Kitchen” (seasons 1-15) and “Kitchen Nightmares.”

The two shows June 1 became exclusively available for free across the FilmRise streaming network, including its Roku, Xbox, Apple, Amazon Fire TV and Android platforms.

“We’re thrilled to be able to bring such iconic reality series, such as ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ and ‘Kitchen Nightmares,’ to even more audiences,” said FilmRise CEO Danny Fisher. “With our partnership with U.K. powerhouse ITV Studios Global Entertainment, FilmRise is dedicated to providing exceptional programming across a range of platforms to best serve our viewers.”

Others series streaming through FilmRise’s network include the Emmy Award-winning sitcom “3rd Rock from the Sun” from Carsey-Werner and “Unsolved Mysteries” with Robert Stack.

HBO’s ‘Silicon Valley: Season 5’ Available for Digital Download June 11

Silicon Valley: Season 5, will be available for digital download June 11 from HBO Home Entertainment.

The latest release in the Emmy Award-winning series includes eight, 30-minute episodes and explores new dynamics for the core cast. Pied Piper on an upswing as the platform’s new peer-to-peer internet platform is garnering buzz and looking poised to make a splash. However, leadership challenges, new faces in a new office, and the looming rivalry with Hooli CEO Gavin Belson threaten to shake Richard Hendricks’ confidence.

In addition to Emmy-nominee Thomas Middleditch as Richard Hendricks (Joshy,Godzilla King of Monsters), the cast includes Zach Woods as Jared (“The Office,” The Post), Kumail Nanjiani as Dinesh (The Big Sick), Martin Starr as Gilfoyle (“Freaks and Geeks,” “Party Down”), Josh Brener as ‘Big Head’(“Maron,” “Highly Gifted”), Amanda Crew as Monica Hall (Table 19, American Murderer), Matt Ross as Gavin Belson (“Big Love,” “American Horror Story”), Jimmy O. Yang as Jian Yang (upcoming Crazy Rich Asians) and Suzanne Cryer as Laurie Bream (The Fosters).

‘Counterpart: The Complete First Season’ Due on Disc July 31 From Lionsgate

J.K. Simmons stars in Counterpart: The Complete First Season, arriving on Blu-ray Disc (plus digital) and DVD July 31 from Lionsgate.

In the first season of “Counterpart,” Howard Silk (Simmons) is a lowly cog in the bureaucratic machinery of a Berlin-based United Nations spy agency. When Howard discovers that his organization safeguards the secret of a crossing into a parallel dimension, he is thrust into a shadow world of intrigue, danger, and double cross — where the only man he can trust is his near-identical counterpart from this parallel world.

Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, Counterpart: The Complete First Season also stars Olivia Williams, Harry Lloyd and Sara Serraiocco.

Blu-ray ($39.99) and DVD ($34.98) extras include two featurettes, which explore the making of the show as well as offer interviews with the cast and crew: “Season Outlook” and “Inside the World of ‘Counterpart.’”

The Blu-ray also features Dolby TrueHD.

‘Ash vs Evil Dead: Season 3’ Due on Digital May 25, Disc Aug. 21 from Lionsgate

Bruce Campbell Ash vs Evil Dead: Season 3, the final season, arrives on digital May 25 and on Blu-ray (plus digital) and DVD Aug. 21 from Lionsgate.

The Starz series follows up the classic horror film The Evil Dead with Bruce Cambell reprising his role as Ashalongside Lucy Lawless, Ray Santiago, Dana DeLorenzo and Arielle Carver-O’Neill. In season three, Ash, having gone from urban legend to hometown, discovers that he has a daughter.

The Ash vs Evil Dead: Season 3 Blu-ray ($39.97) and DVD ($34.98) include audio commentary with executive producer Rob Tapert on every episode.

Research: Customers More Satisfied With Video Streaming Than With TV Subscription Services

Customer satisfaction with video streaming services far eclipses that of subscription TV service, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) 2018 Telecommunications Report.

Video streaming services debuted in this year’s telecom report with an ACSI score of 75, well above subscription TV’s score of 62, which declined 3.1% from last year.

“Video streaming services significantly outperformed subscription TV,” said David VanAmburg, managing director at the ACSI, in a statement. “Streaming services don’t have the hidden fees and six-month rates that subscription TV does, not to mention they’re cheaper and simpler. But because consumers don’t have many options when choosing a subscription TV provider, those businesses don’t see a lot of risk in customer dissatisfaction, and we’re unlikely to see dramatic changes any time soon.”

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) measures and analyzes customer satisfaction with more than 380 companies in 46 industries and 10 economic sectors. Reported on a scale of 0 to 100, ACSI scores are based on data from interviews with roughly 250,000 customers annually. The ACSI Telecommunications Report 2018 includes data on subscription TV services, video streaming, video-on-demand, internet service providers, fixed-line and wireless telephone services, and cell phone manufacturers. It’s based on 45,292 customer surveys collected between April 19, 2017 and March 17, 2018. The full report is available for download here.

With an ACSI score of 75, video streaming services were the highest-performing telecom industry measured in the 2018 study. Netflix, Sony PlayStation Vue, and Twitch all led the pack, tying at a score of 78. Apple iTunes and the Microsoft Store took second place at 77, with YouTube Red in third at 76.

Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Hulu, and Vudu all registered at the industry average of 75, followed by the network channel subscriptions: CBS All Access at 74, and HBO Now and Starz at 72.

Bringing up the rear were Sling TV (71), DIRECTV NOW (70), Showtime Anytime (70), and Sony Crackle (68).

Still, even Sony Crackle in last place rated higher than nearly all subscription TV services.

Video streaming services received high marks for ease of understanding the bill (80), website satisfaction (80), and call centers (75), but customers downgraded them on availability of the current season’s TV shows (71) and availability of new movie titles (69).

Customer satisfaction with subscription TV fell to 62, an 11-year low for the industry.

AT&T’s U-verse TV topped the list with a 70, one of only two scores that stayed the same instead of dropping. Verizon Fios fell 4% year over year to a 68 for second place, while DISH Network held steady at 67 for third.

In the middle of the pack, DIRECTV and Optimum both fell 6% to 64 and 62, respectively. Cox Communications shed 2% to 60, while Spectrum and Suddenlink both plunged 8% to 58.

Comcast Xfinity decreased 27% to 57, Frontier Communications dropped 7% to 56, and Mediacom placed last with a 55, down 2%.

The top-rated part of the subscription TV experience was HD picture quality, which holds steady at a score of 80. Picture quality was close behind, down 1% to 78.

While courtesy and helpfulness of store and service center staff had a relatively good score of 77, and speed of store and service center transactions received a 76, call center satisfaction continued to be the weak spot of the industry, slipping 3% to 63.

“If you look at retail, airlines, and many other industries, companies like to reward customer loyalty, offering perks or discounts for doing business with them,” said VanAmburg in a statement. “Telecom is the exact opposite. In many ways, loyalty is punished because subscription TV is focused on customer acquisition and offering the best deal to lure customers away from competitors. In the long run, that doesn’t leave customers very satisfied.”

Among video-on-demand services, AT&T’s U-verse TV took the top spot with a 74, followed by DISH Network at 73, and Verizon Fios at 72. At 70, AT&T’s DirecTV came in far below its U-verse offering, but ahead of the industry average.

Optimum led all cable companies in video-on-demand at the industry average of 68, while Cox Communications and Xfinity tied at 67, and Spectrum came in last at 64.

Video-on-demand viewers were pleased with the number of TV shows (75), current seasons (74) and variety by category (74) available. However, the availability of a past season’s shows was lacking (69) as were free on-demand content (69) and new movie titles (68). Call centers received the lowest marks (67), but call center service performed better for on-demand customers than for internet and subscription TV.

While video streaming services received much better customer satisfaction scores than subscription TV, obviously viewers still need internet access to get it. Unfortunately, internet service providers (ISPs), along with subscription TV, had the lowest customer satisfaction of all industries tracked by the ACSI.

ISPs were down 3.1% to 62, and while customers clearly weren’t satisfied with their service, more than half of Americans had only one choice for high-speed broadband. Every major ISP deteriorated this year except Xfinity, which remains unchanged.

Verizon Fios stayed in first place at 70 after a 1% dip. AT&T Internet also fell 1% for a second-place score of 68, followed by Optimum, which dropped 6% to 64.

Suddenlink and Spectrum both plummeted 8% to 61 and 60, respectively, followed by Xfinity, unchanged at 60. Mediacom placed last with a 53 after a 9% fall from last year.

Call center satisfaction, already low, fell another 3% to 59. Customers were also less satisfied with overall data transfer speed, which sank 3% to 67, and the variety of internet plans available, which fell 3% to 64. The one bright spot was courtesy and helpfulness of store and service center staff and speed of store and service center transactions, at 76 and 74, respectively, though both were down from last year.

Lionsgate Inks Deal with ‘Overboard’ Star’s Production Company

Lionsgate’s television group has signed a deal with 3Pas Studios, a production company helmed by Latino star Eugenio Derbez and producing partner Benjamin Odell.

Derbez stars in Overboard from Lionsgate Films and MGM.

Under the agreement, 3Pas will produce English- and Spanish-language series for the TV group, as well as Lionsgate streaming platforms such as the recently-launched OTT service PANTAYA.

The partnership expands Lionsgate’s longstanding relationship with 3Pas, which already includes a first-look feature film deal with the company’s Pantelion Films label.  In addition to Overboard, Derbez has starred in and produced Pantelion’s Instructions Not Included, the highest-grossing Spanish-language film ever released in the United States, and last year’s hit How to Be a Latin Lover.

“We’re thrilled to expand our relationship with the incomparable comedic genius Eugenio Derbez and his 3Pas Studios into the television business,” said Lionsgate EVP and head of worldwide scripted television Chris Selak in a statement. “This multifaceted partnership is another example of working collaboratively across our divisions to identify premier brand name talent like Eugenio and Ben. We can’t wait to see the exciting new projects they’ll bring to our television slate.”

“We’re delighted to launch this new phase of our relationship with Lionsgate, a major Hollywood studio that embraces the creative vision of its artists and is committed to super-serve underserved audiences, including the growing acculturated Latinx market,” said Derbez and Odell in a statement. “It’s great working with Paul and his team at Pantelion, and we look forward to expanding that collaboration in order to supply Lionsgate’s television business and streaming services with exciting, premium quality content for a diverse spectrum of audiences.”

In addition to Instructions Not Included and How to Be a Latin Lover, Derbez is known for the Mexican comedy “La Familia Peluche,” which is being adapted into an animated feature by 3Pas. He also starred in such movies as Under the Same MoonJack and Jill and Miracles from Heaven and will appear in Disney’s upcoming The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Odell has produced or executive produced more than 20 feature films, including many for Pantelion as former head of production. Prior to that, he was an award-winning TV writer and screenwriter in Latin America.

‘Shark Week’ Celebrates 30th With Blu-ray Combo Pack Walmart Exclusive for Summer

Lionsgate will release the Shark Week: 30th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray Combo Pack (plus digital and DVD) July 3 exclusively at Walmart until Sept. 4, when it will be available at other retailers.

“Shark Week” celebrates 30 years with fan-selected favorites ranging from shark science to harrowing survival stories.

The Blu-ray Combo Pack ($24.99) includes more than six hours of episodes, as well as an exclusive code that allows fans to access 25 additional episodes.

Research: Sports Main Reason 27% of Pay-TV Subscribers Say They Subscribe

Sports programming is the primary reason 27% of U.S. pay-TV households say they subscribe to their pay-TV service, according to new research from Parks Associates.

“While broadcast and pay TV remain key sources for live sports, OTT streaming options have become an important part of the live sports landscape,” said Brett Sappinton, senior director of research, Parks Associates, in a statement. “Increasingly, leagues and networks are offering direct-to-consumer options. These services offer access to content that would otherwise not be broadcast and subscription options to those not subscribing to pay TV. In the past several weeks, both CBS and ESPN have launched their own streaming services for sports content. These services will both compete with and complement major services such as WWE Network and MLB.TV. Over time, pay-TV providers will likely partner with these types of services in order to round out their existing channel packages.”

Parks Associates has also found 52% of U.S. broadband households have a subscription to both pay-TV and one or more OTT video services; 10% of U.S. broadband households have switched, downgraded, or cancelled their pay-TV service in the past 12 months; and U.S. broadband households spend $23 on average for video entertainment per month.

Original ‘Roseanne’ Series Available to Stream on FilmRise’s Ad-Supported Network

FilmRise has just released the complete original series of “Roseanne” on its ad-supported streaming network.

The series, starring Roseanne Barr, John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf, is available to stream for free across FilmRise apps, including on the Roku and Xbox platforms. The company will soon launch “Roseanne” on FilmRise apps across additional platforms, connected TVs, and mobile devices.

ABC recently re-booted the Emmy award-winning sitcom featuring many of the original cast members to strong ratings.

During the original run that aired from 1988 to 1997, “Roseanne” reached No. 1 in the Nielsen ratings, at one point becoming the most watched television show in the United States. The show remained in the top 4 rated shows for six of its nin seasons. Its finale attracted 16 million viewers.

“We are thrilled to offer fans of this unique series an opportunity to watch all of the original ‘Roseanne’ seasons for free on FilmRise ad-supported platforms,” said Danny Fisher, CEO of FilmRise, in a statement. “The original ‘Roseanne’ broke social barriers and connected with millions of viewers, and we are excited to bring this iconic show to the FilmRise streaming network.”

FilmRise licensed the show from Carsey-Werner Television Distribution.