Discovery Joins FuboTV

Online TV service FuboTV continues to transition from its original soccer roots.

The service June 18 announced a new, multi-year carriage agreement with Discovery, bringing 13 networks to the live TV streaming service in the coming weeks.

The deal extends the previous pact between the companies that began with the former Scripps Networks Interactive (acquired by Discovery) and included carriage of their five networks, including HGTV and Food Network.

 

“This agreement further exemplifies the viewer affinity for our beloved brands and talent, and fuboTV’s commitment to offering high-quality, world-class content to customers,” Eric Phillips, president of affiliate distribution at Discovery, said in a statement.

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Discovery Channel, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Animal Planet, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network and MotorTrend will be available on the streaming service’s base package, fubo Standard, joining HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel, which are already available on the service.

At the same time, an expanded suite of Discovery networks, including Science Channel, Destination America, Discovery Family, American Heroes Channel, and Discovery Life, will be added to fuboTV’s add-on package, fubo Extra ($5.99/month for 30+ channels) joining DIY Network and Cooking Channel.

Additionally, Discovery en Español and Discovery Familia will be available on fuboTV’s Spanish-language package, fubo Latino ($24.99/month for 20 channels), and the Latino Plus add-on package ($7.99/month for 15 channels).

In addition to bringing subscribers each network’s live linear feed, the agreement also includes a library of on-demand Discovery content, bringing fuboTV’s VOD library to over 60,000 movies and TV episodes per month.

“We are excited to be adding more Discovery brands alongside their lifestyle networks, which we already carry,” said Joel Armijo, CFO, fuboTV. “These brands, including HGTV and Food Network, are among our top performing entertainment networks, and this agreement allows us to extend our partnership for years to come. We expect to be similarly successful with our new Discovery networks.”

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.

Vidgo TV Seeks to Bow Pre-Paid Service in the U.S.

Taking a page from pre-paid phone cards, Vidgo TV plans to launch online TV service in the United States targeting users with little or no credit.

Speaking May 15 at the Pay TV Show in Denver, CEO Shane Cannon told attendees the online TV service would appeal to so-called “under banked” consumers with poor credit.

The platform — similar to online TV services such Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, DirecTV Now, YouTube TV, Fubo TV and Spectrum TV Plus — would be available via apps for smartphones and tablets, as well as Roku, Google TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV. Users could also cast the channel from their Internet browser to the big screen using Wi-Fi.

The company based in Atlanta launched a $24.95 monthly Latino version of Vidgo TV last winter featuring Univision, TV Azteca and beIN Sports programming, among 30 channels. As expected, Cannon told attendees 70% of Latino users stream sports.

In an interview last year Cannon said build-up of Vidgo TV has taken years to develop and ready for market. It is currently in beta launch.

“It takes that long to integrate into these platforms” Cannon told FierceVideo. “We’ve spent two-and-a-half years building this distribution model.”

PlayStation Vue Adds Local Fox, ABC TV Stations

Sony’s online TV service PlayStation Vue has added 16 local television stations to its channel portfolio, including Fox and ABC affiliates.

With most online TV services such as Sling TV, Fubo TV, DirecTV Now, YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV and Spectrum TV Plus offering the same pay-TV channels 00 including premium channels HBO and Showtime, Starz and Cinemax – increasing points of differentiation involve featuring local TV stations.

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New ABC stations on Vue include: WATM ABC 23 in Altoona & State College, Pa.; KYUR Anchorage, Juneau, Fairbanks, Alaska; WTEN News 10 in Capital District, NY; WAOW ABC 9 in Central Wisconsin; WCTI ABC 12 in Coastal North Carolina; WOAY in Eastern West Virginia; KAEF ABC 23 in Eureka, Calif.; KTXS 12 in Midwest Texas; KBMY 17 in Minot-Bismarck Area; KRCR ABC 7 in Northern California; WBND ABC 57 in South Bend, Elkhart, Ind.; WTXL ABC 27 in Tallahassee, Fla. And KTKA in Topeka, Kan.

Fox stations include: WZAW in Central Wisconsin; WVFX Fox 10 in Clarksburg, WVa., and KIIT Fox 11 in North Platte, Neb.

YouTube Expands MLB Partnership with Live-Game Streaming

YouTube April 30 disclosed it has expanded its relationship with Major League Baseball that includes the right to live-stream 13 games for free during the second-half of 2019 season in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

The deal mirrors last year’s deals between MLB, Amazon and Twitter that brought the national pastime to social media and beyond the league’s MLB.tv subscription streaming service.

Google-owned YouTube’s first-ever streaming deal with MLB follows previous deals that included Google Assistant serving as the presenting sponsor of the 2018 American and National League Championship Series.

That promotion marked Google’s first-ever presenting partnership around a U.S. professional sports league’s postseason event for its voice-activated technology.

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Previously, online TV subscription service YouTube TV served as the presenting sponsor of the 2017 and 2018 World Series.

YouTube TV also partnered with MLB on a season-long sponsorship — “First Pitch” – that showcased the YouTube TV brand during the first pitches of games on MLB Network and MLB.tv, and on MLB.com and MLB social channels.

In 2017, MLB’s engagement and content strategy on YouTube generated over 1 billion views.

“From live programming morphing into a YouTube TV spot, to prominent in-stadium placements, our innovative partnership [with MLB] allowed us to build awareness for YouTube TV,” Angela Courtin, global head of YouTube TV & originals marketing, said in a statement last year.

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.