Verizon and Google Partner for YouTube TV Access

Faced with no proprietary over-the-top video offerings, Verizon April 23 announced a partnership with Google to bring YouTube TV to Verizon subscribers across all platforms, including Fios TV and pending 5G.

YouTube TV is a standalone online TV service that just raised its monthly subscription price to $49.99 from $39.99.

“As we pave the path forward on 5G, we’ll continue to bring our customers options and access to premium content by teaming up with the best providers in the industry and leveraging our network as-a service strategy,” Erin McPherson, head of content strategy and acquisition at Verizon.

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The partnership affords both wireless mobility and Fios broadband subs to stream YouTube TV. Verizon will also offer YouTube TV promotions to customers across platforms.

“With this partnership, we’re making it simple and seamless for Verizon’s customers to sign up to enjoy YouTube TV on-the-go on their mobile phones or tablets or at home on their big screen devices,” said Heather Rivera, global head of product partnerships at YouTube.

YouTube TV offers cable-free live TV that can be watched on any screen (phone, tablet, TV, computer). It includes more than 70 networks such as ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, in addition to cable networks HGTV, Food Network, TNT, TBS, CNN, ESPN, FX and on-demand programming.

A YouTube TV membership includes six accounts per household, each with its own unique recommendations and personal DVR with no storage space limits.

Philo TV Ups Basic Subscription Price 25%

Online TV service Philo TV is ending its longstanding $16 monthly plan (with pay-TV 45 channels) for its $20 plan with 58 channels, beginning May 6 for all new subscribers.

Subscribers who join the service before May 6 and existing subs will not see immediate fee hikes to their basic plans but will instead be grandfathered into the new price point over time.

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CEO Andrew McCollum made the announcement in a post on the service’s website.

“Since we launched 18 months ago, most of the other companies in our space have raised their prices, in some cases multiple times,” McCollum said. “We didn’t want to do that. Still, when we looked at all of the costs of operating Philo — which increase over time — consolidating into a single $20 package was the best way for us to maintain the same offering we have today without raising prices for everyone or having to cut back in places we strive to excel, like customer support.”

The price hikes comes as Hulu with Live TV raised its prices, followed by Google-owned YouTube TV. DirecTV Now, Sling TV and PlayStation Vue have all raised basic subscription plan pricing in recent months.

Philo is also reportedly working on technology that would allow users to share links with friends and watch programming concurrently from different locations.

Doing so could elevate social media interactions between users – a driving point for user retention and marketing. While the app has been completed, McCollum said Philo is waiting to launch it.

“We want to balance creating more options with making sure people don’t feel like they’re being coerced into stuff they don’t care about,” McCollum told TechCrunch earlier this year.

 

YouTube TV Ups Subscription Price 25%

YouTube TV has raised its monthly subscription price 25% to $49.99 from $39.99. Subscribers billed through Apple Pay will see their plan increase to $54.99.

The Google-owned online TV service made the announcement April 10, which coincided with a content distribution agreement with Discovery. Subs now have access to eight new channels, including Discovery Channel, HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Animal Planet, Travel Channel, and MotorTrend.

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The additions bring to 70 channels available on YouTube TV, including local ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox affiliate coverage in 90% of the markets the online TV service is available.

“We’ll also be adding OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network later this year,” Christian Oestlien, VP of product management, YouTube TV, wrote in a blog post announcing the changes.“In addition, Epix is now available for an additional charge.”

The price hike, which represents a 43% increase for initial (2017) YouTube TV subs paying $34.99 monthly, comes as over-the-top video services such as Netflix, DirecTV Now, Hulu with Live TV and Fubo TV initiated price hikes.

 

NPD: Online TV Reaches 15% U.S. Household Penetration

Spurred by the influx of online TV services and connected TVs, direct-to-consumer channel adoption has grown three-fold over the last three years to reach 15% of U.S. households, according to new data from The NPD Group.

DTC video subs are defined as current subscribers to any à la carte TV channel that does not require a pay TV subscription from a cable or satellite TV provider. Excludes content aggregators such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.

While nearly 87% of DTC subscribers say they are likely to add channels in the next year – doing so to replace linear pay-TV is not among the leading reasons why.

NPD conducted a survey Feb. 6-11, 2019 of 1,000 domestic consumers, aged 18+ from diverse regions and demographical backgrounds.

In fact, cord-cutting, or pay-TV subs looking to replace cable, ranks just 16th out of 20 reasonscited, according to the Direct-to-Consumer Video Online Study.

A majority of DTC subs (66%) do so in addition to the traditional cable or satellite TV bundle. Low cost to entry is driving adoption and that is the top reason cited for subscribing to à la carte TV channels, with the ability to subscribe only to the channels desired.

“It is imperative for players in this space to understand where consumers prefer to sign up,” analyst John Buffone said in a statement. “Consumers can now subscribe to only the channels they want and get the benefit of a single billing vendor and user interface.”

NPD said online TV market growth will come from both current subs adding channels and new subs. Looking at the combined group of current and prospective subs with a positive likelihood to sign up in the next 12-months, the most likely destination for subscribing to online TV is Amazon Prime Channels (31%), followed by the TV channel’s app (26%).

“[Online TV] aggregators such as Amazon, Roku, Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV, DirecTV Now, YouTube TV and PlayStation Vue, stand to gain a lot by garnering subscription revenue for managing [their] channel transactions,” Buffone said.

 

Hulu Online TV Service Tops 2 Million Subs

Hulu with Live TV, the subscription streaming video service’s separate online TV platform, has reportedly topped two million subscribers.

Launched in May 2017, Hulu’s online TV service ranks second in subscribers behind Dish Network’s pioneering Sling TV with 2.4 million (at the end of 2018), AT&T’s DirecTV Now (1.6 million) and YouTube TV (1 million). Sony’s PlayStation Vue reportedly has more 500,000 subs.

Hulu, which is co-owned by Disney, Fox, Comcast and WarnerMedia, continues to grow subscribers while DirecTV Now’s highly-publicized $39.99 service lost 267,000 subs in the most-recent fiscal period. AT&T attributed the decline to raising the monthly fee $5 to $44.99, among other factors.

Sling TV ushered in the online TV market in 2015 as a response to cord cutting and burgeoning SVOD services such as Netflix. It was the first service to offer standalone access to ESPN and other pay-TV channels traditionally tethered to big bundle subscriptions.

Disney, which is in the final stages of gaining regulatory approval of its $71.3 billion acquisition of 20th Century Fox, would become majority stake holder in Hulu and its 25 million subs.

The media giant reportedly is considering acquiring WarnerMedia’s 10% stake as the latter finalizes launching its own over-the-top video service in the fourth quarter along with Disney’s branded Disney+ SVOD service.

 

 

TiVo: Netflix ‘Essential’ to 52.7% of Consumers

With more than 58 million domestic subscribers, Netflix is considered “essential” among consumers to their entertainment consumption, according to new data from TiVo.

The SVOD pioneer (52.7%) topped YouTube videos (45.9%) and cable TV (39.5%) as the primary source for home entertainment, according to a survey of 4,458 adult respondents in the United States and Canada conducted in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Just over 40% of respondents selected cable TV as supplemental to their home entertainment needs, suggesting consumers are divided in their loyalties to pay-TV, according to TiVo. This split doesn’t exist for Netflix, which is considered supplemental by only 30% of respondents.

The report found the average household among survey respondents used 2.75 media services in 2018 — up 26% since 2017.

“Live TV is still favored, but content providers such as Netflix and YouTube are gaining ground,” wrote TiVo.

The DVR pioneer, which has conducted its “TiVo Trends” media analysis since 2012, found that combining Netflix with Amazon Prime Video and pay-TV was a favored (10.6%) bundle among consumers. Other bundle options included Facebook, YouTube and pay-TV (7.5%) and YouTube, Netflix and pay-TV (7.5%).

Indeed, Comcast now offers direct access to Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime Video for Xfinity X1 subscribers. TiVo said 63.6% of respondents watch one hour or more of live TV per day, which tops OTT video (52.2%), recorded programming (51%) and live sports (45.6%).

“Clearly, consumers are still turning on their TVs and watching live content every day,” wrote TiVo.

The report found 69.3% of respondents use over-the-top video services while 30.7% do not. Among OTT video users, Netflix (50.4%) and Prime Video (21.8%) lead the pack among streaming video platforms.

Other included YouTube TV (11.9%), Hulu (9.5%), HBO Now (7.5%), Hulu with Live TV (6.9%), DirecTV Now (6.3%), CBS All Access (5.2%), PlayStation Vue (4.4%), Showtime OTT (4.1%), Starz (3.6%) and Sling TV (3.2%).

 

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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.

 

 

 

Pluto TV Bows Service in Germany, Austria

Pluto TV, the Los Angeles-based ad-supported online TV platform, has begun streaming operations in Germany and Austria. The launch follows a similar move in the United Kingdom in October through a collaboration with satellite TV operator Sky.

Sky, which was recently acquired by Comcast, is an investor in Pluto TV, along with ProSiebenSat.1 in Germany.

“The current timing of the launch of Pluto TV in Europe, especially in the German-speaking market, is ideal to harness the great potential for the distribution of linear video offerings via the Internet,”Olivier Jollet, managing director Europe, said in a statement.

Based in the company’s Berlin office, Jollet said the online TV platform’s marketing approach is to underscore the platform’s simplicity at a time when he says typical households subscribe to upwards of three or more – often redundant – over-the-top video services.

“[Consumers] are increasingly losing interest in this,” he said.

Pluto TV launched in 2016 as an app on Sony PlayStation about a year after Dish Network’s groundbreaking rollout of Sling TV – the first standalone online TV service offering pay-TV channels without a long-term contract.

The online TV market now includes PlayStation Vue, AT&T’s DirecTV Now, YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV and Charter’s Spectrum TV Plus, among others.

Last month, Pluto inked a licensing deal with Discovery for channels such as Discovery Channel, HGTV and Food Network, Animal Planet, ID, Discovery Life, Science Channel, and TLC, among others.

 

 

 

Hulu Hires Heather Moosnick as SVP of Content Partnerships

Hulu Oct. 30 announced the hiring of former YouTube TV executive Heather Moosnick as SVP, content partnerships.

Moosnick assumes the vacant content partnerships position following the departure of Chief Content Officer Joel Stillerman last summer. She begins Nov. 12  reporting to CEO Randy Freer.

Craig Erwich, SVP, content, remains head of original content, alos reporting to Freer.

“Heather is a highly strategic, creative and relationship-oriented executive who has spent her entire career driving change and innovation,” Freer said in a statement. “As Hulu looks to transition television from a gatekeeper-driven experience to one that’s led by the consumer, Heather’s leadership and fearless approach to evolving antiquated business rules make her a perfect fit for our team.”

At Google/YouTube, Moosnick spearheaded global business development for the launch of online TV service YouTube TV, including affiliate and network agreements. Previously, she worked with record label relationships for the launches of YouTube Music and YouTube Premium.

Parks: OTT Video Adoption Growing Among Pay-TV Cord Cutters

With Comcast and Verizon this week reporting ongoing declines in traditional pay-TV subscribers, new data from Parks Associates shows that consumer perception of a poor value proposition in pay-TV remains the top trigger for changing, downgrading, or cancelling services.

Among households that have made pay-TV changes in past 12 months, one-third of cord cutters (33%) and 10% of switchers or cord shavers plan to use paid OTT services as a substitute or alternative for pay-TV.

In addition to subscription streaming VOD services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, online TV services include Sling TV, Playstation Vue, DirecTV Now, Pluto TV, Fubo TV, YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV and Spectrum TV Plus, among others.

“The primary driver for pay-TV cancellation and downgrades continues to revolve around pricing and perceived value,” Brett Sappington, senior director, research, said in a statement. “While some consumers consciously plan to use OTT video services to address the absence of pay-TV content, most consider each offering on its own merits.”

Sappington said the “deeper issue” is in the influence OTT video is having on what consumers consider to be a good value. When video services with good quality are available for under $15, it forces operators to justify an $80 pay-TV bill.

Indeed, consumer Katie O’Shea from Travelers Rest, SC, said she plans to switch to $35 DirecTV Now as soon as she can get out of her $200 DirecTV contract – the latter including broadband service.

“I have 400 channels, most of which I don’t watch or even know what they are,” said O’Shea.