Ending a Relationship

It had been a long time coming.

Cable TV had been a big part of our lives for decades, a constant entertainment companion, but being together so much during the pandemic took a toll on the relationship. Suddenly, those ever-expanding commercial breaks seemed endless after watching ad-free streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime. Even Hulu, which we watched with ads, served up a more palatable break — and conveniently offered a little countdown to tell us when it would be over.

We picked up YouTube TV for live programming, and that was it. The cable relationship was over. We cut the cord.

Apparently, we are not alone. A Roku survey found one in three U.S. households are cord cutters, and many have decided to make the change in recent months, citing the pandemic, the abundance of free AVOD services, and lack of live sports, among other factors.

Aside from the learning curve on how to work the remote to get to the channel or program I want, it’s been a smooth divorce. Kicking cable out also gave us more space. We gained some shelves by ditching the boxes.

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So far, I don’t miss the old companion. I haven’t found a program or channel that I previously had on cable that I can’t find or approximate on our new streaming combo. Sure, I don’t have the convenient clock on the box to see the time. It takes a little more effort to figure out what I want to watch among all the new choices, but, honestly, I don’t miss cable.

It was the growing relationship with our SVOD services, the new-and-improved version of live TV on YouTube TV and the cable bill’s increasing drain on our finances that drew us away.

When we announced the decision to end it, my daughters looked up from their phones and sarcastically said, “Oh, no! We watch so much cable.”

Goodbye old friend.

YouTube TV Hikes Membership Price

YouTube TV has raised its membership price to $64.99.

The new price takes effect June 30 for new members, with existing subscribers seeing the change reflected in their subsequent billing cycle on or after July 30, according to the official YouTube blog.

“We don’t take these decisions lightly, and realize how hard this is for our members,” read the blog. “That said, this new price reflects the rising cost of content and we also believe it reflects the complete value of YouTube TV, from our breadth of content to the features that are changing how we watch live TV. YouTube TV is the only streaming service that includes a DVR with unlimited storage space, plus 6 accounts per household each with its own unique recommendations, and 3 concurrent streams. It’s all included in the base cost of YouTube TV, with no contract and no hidden fees.”

The blog noted the addition of new features to the service and new content from such sources as PBS, Discovery Network, and ViacomCBS, including eight channels, BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, TV Land and VH1, launching June 30.

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“That means you can follow the biggest stories in news, politics and pop culture with ‘The Daily Show with Trevor Noah’; catch up with Catelynn, Cheyenne, Maci, Mackenzie and Amber on ‘Teen Mom OG’; join the search for America’s next drag superstar with ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’; go on an adventure with ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’; and follow the fictional lives of the Dutton family on the new season of ‘Yellowstone,’” the blog noted.

YouTube TV is among the virtual MVPD services aiming to re-create the offerings of traditional pay-TV.

Global Pay-TV to Add 35 Million Subs by 2025 — Driven by Online TV

Pay-TV consumption in the United States is declining, but globally, there’s still life in the distribution channel — thanks to online TV.

New data from London-based Digital TV Research suggests there will be 35 million new pay-TV subs through 2025, with the global base reaching 1.06 billion across more than 138 countries.

Driving growth is online TV, which includes platforms such as Sling TV, Hulu with Live TV, AT&T TV Now and YouTube TV in the United States. IPTV will add 84 million subs through 2025, topping 391 million. Online TV will grow its global market share in pay-TV from 30% in 2019 to 37% in 2025.

Satellite TV, which is projected to lose another 4 million subs through 2025, will generate 20% of pay-TV subs, down from 21% in 2019.
Cable will decline 7%, accounting for 40% of all pay-TV subs by 2025 — a near 50% drop from 74% market share in 2010. There will be 430 million cable TV subs (both analog and digital) by 2025, 101 million fewer than in 2010.

“Our forecasts are based on the assumption that professional sports will restart in August following relaxations in the COVID-19 lockdown,” analyst Simon Murray said in a statement. “If this does not happen, then pay-TV will experience considerable churn.”

Rebooted Court TV Now Available on YouTube TV

Court TV, the rebooted network devoted to live, gavel-to-gavel courtroom coverage, is now available on YouTube TV ($49.99).

Since re-launching, Court TV has covered the nation’s highest profile trials, including: Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) cases of national significance and impact; the rape trial of Harvey Weinstein, which included an unprecedented new “instant replay” feature recreating testimony from the camera-less courtroom immediately for broadcast; Texas v. Amber Guyger, in which the brother of the deceased hugged former Dallas police officer Guyger following her conviction (seen live nationwide exclusively on Court TV); trial of high school cheerleader Brooke Skylar Richardson facing life in prison for allegedly killing and burying her newborn daughter in Ohio; and Florida v. Mark Sievers in which a husband was accused of hiring friends to murder his doctor wife.

Court TV’s on-air anchors include Vinnie Politan, Julie Grant, Ted Rowlands and correspondents Chanley Painter and Julia Jenae. Ashleigh Banfield recently joined Court TV as a special contributor.

Court TV is also available on cable, over-the-air and over-the-top video. It can be live streamed on CourtTV.com as well as the Court TV app for Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Android and Apple devices. It is part of Katz Networks, a division of The E.W. Scripps Company.

More ViacomCBS Content Heading to YouTube TV

ViacomCBS and Google May 7 announced a multiyear distribution agreement to deliver more content from ViacomCBS’s portfolio of news, entertainment and sports networks for YouTube TV subscribers.

In addition to featuring continued carriage of CBS broadcast stations, CBS Sports Network, Pop TV, Smithsonian Channel, and The CW, the expanded agreement introduces 14 ViacomCBS channels to the live TV and on-demand subscription service.

BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, TV Land and VH1 will launch this summer for YouTube TV’s more than 2 million subscribers. BET Her, MTV2, Nick Jr., NickToons, TeenNick and MTV Classic will also launch on YouTube TV at a later date.

The deal also includes a continued commitment to distribute ViacomCBS’s premium subscription services, including Showtime, on YouTube TV, as well as an extended partnership on the broader YouTube platforms.

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“We are thrilled to have reached an expanded agreement with YouTube TV that recognizes the full power of our newly combined portfolio as ViacomCBS,” Ray Hopkins, president of U.S. networks distribution at ViacomCBS, said in a statement. “Google has been an excellent partner, and we look forward to bringing even more of our entertainment networks to YouTube TV subscribers for the first time.”

“We’re excited to launch ViacomCBS’s portfolio on YouTube TV this summer,” Lori Conkling, global head of partnerships at YouTube TV, said in a statement. “Our expanded partnership delivers on our promise to offer a premium portfolio of content to our YouTube TV subscribers, as well as across the YouTube platforms.”

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YouTube TV is a subscription streaming service that lets you watch live and on-demand TV from 70-plus networks. It offers live and local sports, news, shows, movies, and more, and can be watched on any screen (phone, tablet, TV, computer). Membership comes with free unlimited cloud DVR storage space to record favorites, personalized watch recommendations, and a family plan with six accounts per household.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

WarnerMedia Inks Distribution Deal With YouTube TV

WarnerMedia Entertainment and YouTube TV Feb. 20 announced a comprehensive distribution relationship that will deliver the media company’s entertainment, sports and news network portfolio to YouTube TV’s more than 2 million online TV subscribers.

The pact expands upon the existing 2018 carriage agreement between the two companies for WarnerMedia networks TBS, TNT, truTV, CNN, HLN, Turner Classic Movies, Adult Swim and Cartoon Network to add access to the HBO and Cinemax services to the YouTube TV for the first time.

As part of a new deal, YouTube TV has also committed to distributing WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, the company’s upcoming direct-to-consumer offering debuting in May with 10,000 hours of curated content. HBO Max will offer programming for everyone in the home, bundling the entire HBO service, a slate of new original series, key third-party licensed programs and movies, and catalog fare from WarnerMedia’s library.

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“As consumers’ media consumption habits continually evolve and the landscape becomes more and more dynamic, our goal remains constant, and that is to make the portfolio of WarnerMedia networks available as widely as possible,” Rich Warren, president of WarnerMedia Distribution, said in a statement.

Both linear and on-demand HBO and Cinemax content will debut on YouTube TV this spring for the first time. Included will be HBO’s extensive array of programming, which features titles such as “Watchmen,” “Big Little Lies” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” current and returning hit dramas “Succession,” “Westworld” and “The Outsider,” comedies “Barry, “Insecure” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and classics like “Game of Thrones,” “The Sopranos,” “The Wire” and “Sex and the City.”

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Upcoming HBO releases this spring include returning favorites “High Maintenance” and “My Brilliant Friend” and upcoming limited series, “The Plot Against America,” “The Undoing” and “I Know This Much Is True.”

Cinemax will offer its slate of original series including “Strike Back,” which recently began its seventh season, along with “Trackers” and “Gangs of London”. Theatrical hits debuting on the network this spring include Boy Erased, First Man and Bad Times at the El Royale. 

“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with WarnerMedia to deliver their family of networks that are popular among our members, as well as introduce HBO, Cinemax and HBO Max to our growing line-up of premium content,” said Lori Conkling, global head of partnerships at YouTube TV.

YouTube Readying Third-Party OTT Video Platform

Google-owned YouTube is reportedly looking to borrow a page from the Amazon Channels playbook with a new platform featuring third-party subscription streaming video services.

Amazon launched Channels in 2015 featuring direct access to services such as HBO Now, Dove Channel, Acorn TV, Shudder, UMC, Showtime OTT and Starz. Amazon handles the billing and backend support for a fee or percentage of subscription revenue. Apple is doing the same type of business platform with Apple TV and Apple News.

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The Information, citing sources familiar with the situation, said the YouTube platform would enable a “wide range of subscription-streaming services,” including YouTube TV, which costs $49.99 monthly.

Google in 2015 launched ad-free video streaming subscription service YouTube Red, later bowing YouTube TV for $35 monthly. The platform recently topped two million monthly subscribers — just behind market leaders Sling TV and Hulu with Live TV.

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YouTube TV Tops 2 Million Subscribers

High-profile marketing around the World Series and Super Bowl is apparently paying off for Google’s proprietary online TV service, YouTube TV.

Google announced that the online TV service now has more than 2 million subscribers since launching in 2016. The tally puts the platform just behind Dish Network’s pioneering Sling TV with 2.68 million subs and Hulu with Live TV, reportedly at 2.7 million subs.

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YouTube (excluding $1.2 billion in ad-revenue from YouTube TV) generated more than $15 billion in advertising revenue in 2019 — up from $11 billion in 2018.

The tallies pale in comparison to overall revenue for Google parent Alphabet Inc.

“In 2019 we again delivered strong revenue growth, with revenue of $162 billion, up 18% year over year and up 20% on a constant currency basis,” CFO Ruth Porat said in a statement.

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NAB Show to Bow ‘Streaming Experience’ Content Showcase

The NAB Show is introducing The Streaming Experience, a new content showcase curated by streaming and online video expert Dan Rayburn that will feature more than 50 OTT platforms and streaming devices.

The showcase, which will give NAB Show attendees a first-hand look at the latest streaming video services, according to organizers, will be located in the Central Lobby of the Las Vegas Convention Center and is open to all registered attendees during exhibit hours starting April 19.

The NAB Show takes place in Las Vegas April 18-22.

A living-room setting will allow attendees the opportunity to test OTT services side-by-side to compare content, video quality, ad formats, playback features and delivery methods. The Streaming Experience will feature hardware from Amazon, Apple, Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, LG, TCL and Samsung. Streaming services on display will include Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video, CBS All Access, Disney+, Hulu, NBC Sports, Netflix and YouTube TV, among others. New services from HBO Max, Peacock and Quibi may also be showcased, dependent on their launch dates, according to organizers.

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“Streaming is a major focus of the 2020 NAB Show, and the new Streaming Experience is the largest showcase of its kind in the industry,” said NAB EVP of conventions and business operations Chris Brown in a statement. “We are excited for attendees to join their industry peers in this living room environment and experience nearly every live and on-demand streaming service on the market today.”

Additional details of the Streaming Experience, including renderings of the new space, can be found here.

 

YouTube TV Extends Free Trial Period

Google-owned online television service YouTube TV is extending its free trial period to 14 days through Jan. 15. The service with more than 1 million subscribers had offered new members a free seven-day trial period.

Launched in 2016, YouTube TV costs $49.99 monthly featuring 70 channels, including most major sports networks. The channel has been a presenting sponsor of the MLB World Series.

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YouTube TV is less expensive than Hulu with Live TV and fuboTV ($54.99) and AT&T Now ($64.99), but costs more than Sling TV ($30) and Philo TV ($20).

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