Sling TV Offsets Q3 Dish Subscriber Losses

Sling TV is back.

Dish Network Nov. 7 said it added 214,000 Sling subscribers in the third quarter, ended Sept. 30. That compared to a gain of 26,000 Sling subs in the previous-year period. Sling ended the period with 2.69 million subs, up 13.5% from 2.37 million subs at the same time last year.

Launched in 2015 as the first standalone online TV service, Sling helped create a market that now includes YouTube TV, AT&T TV Now, Philo TV and Fubo TV, among others.

Meanwhile, the legacy Dish satellite TV service continued to shrink, losing 66,000 subs in the period, a significant improvement from 367,000 subs lost last year. Dish ended the period with 9.49 million Dish subs, down from 10.28 million subs at the same time last year.

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Net pay-TV subs increased approximately 148,000 subs in the third quarter, compared to a decline of approximately 341,000 subs in the third quarter of 2018. To mitigate pay-TV sub losses, Dish unveiled a Flex Pack skinny bundle consisting of more than 50 channels and the choice of one of 10 themed add-on channel packs, which include, among others, local broadcast networks and kids and general entertainment programming.

“While we plan to implement these and other new marketing efforts for our Dish TV services, there can be no assurance that we will ultimately be successful in increasing our gross new Dish TV subscriber activations,” the company disclosed in its regulatory filing.

Online TV Fortunes Shift as Sony Reportedly Looks to Sell PlayStation Vue

With Dish Network’s pioneering launch of Sling TV in 2015, online TV appeared to be traditional pay-TV’s antidote to subscription streaming video, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

But four years later and the online TV, or virtual MVPD market, has cooled. Online TV services added 430,000 combined subs in the second quarter — a 44% decline from 756,000 net subs additions in the previous-year quarter.

The market, which includes Philo, Hulu Live, YouTube TV, Spectrum TV, and Vidgo, among others, appears stuck in neutral as high-profile SVOD services from Disney, Apple, NBC Universal and WarnerMedia are poised to enter the market.

AT&T’s ambitious DirecTV Now service has thousands of subs after it did away with a $34.99 loss-leading price point. The platform is now called AT&T TV Now with about 1.5 million subs.

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Sling TV continues to lead the standalone online TV market with 2.47 million subs — up 128,000 subs from 2.34 million subs last year. But that growth has eluded Sony’s branded $49.99 PlayStation Vue service, which languishes as a fiscal underachiever with around 500,000 subs.

According to media reports, Sony has hired Bank of America Merrill Lynch to explore PS Vue sale options, with competitor Fubo TV reportedly interested. Nothing has been announced and sports-themed Fubo and Sony aren’t talking.

When Vue launched, it was the first online TV service offering cloud-based storage and on-demand features. But Sony last year began sounding warnings about Vue, saying the “market and future business model” for the platform remained rocky.

Indeed, when Vue dropped Sinclair Broadcast Group stations last year, Sinclair sent out a press release announcing that it had removed ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC affiliated stations from the platform due to “certain contractual provisions” — downplaying any material effect on its business due to Vue’s “very small subscriber base.”

“We remind Sony subscribers that there are other video distributor options available to receive our broadcast stations’ programming, including Sony’s direct competitor YouTube TV, which continues to carry stations that Sony has dropped,” Sinclair wrote in the release. “Fortunately, subscribers to PlayStation Vue can terminate their subscriptions with ease and without termination fees.”

Report: More Teens Watch YouTube Than Netflix

More teenagers in the United States are watching YouTube videos than Netflix content, according to a new survey from Wall Street investment firm Piper Jaffray.

The survey of 9,500 respondents found that 37% stream YouTube content compared to 35% who opt for Netflix.

In the previous Piper survey, 37% of respondents streamed Netflix compared to 32% for YouTube.

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“Netflix lost the leading position, but we believe YouTube’s more varied content library is a significant driver,” analysts Michael Olson and Yung Kim wrote in a note. “Specifically, we note that, while YouTube does offer movies and other scripted content for a fee, the YouTube library includes music videos, video game streaming, DIY guides, social media influencer videos.”

That YouTube has supplanted Netflix as a preferred video service among teens shouldn’t be surprising considering the Google-owned platform has long been the No. 1 video platform globally.

Already three years ago, Google said 80% of users from 18 years old streamed YouTube, with mobile use topping broadcast and cable use combined.

“By 2025, half of viewers under the age of 32 will not subscribe to a pay-TV service,” Google wrote.

Notably, Amazon disclosed disclosed YouTube TV is now the 6th most popular Fire TV app followed by PlayStation Vue, Sling TV and AT&T TV Now.

And the No. 1 app? YouTube.

Interestingly, Piper Jaffray didn’t compare YouTube TV with Netflix. Google’s move into online TV has generated about 1 million paid subscribers, about half of Hulu with Live TV’s 2 million subs, according to Bloomberg.

Netflix ended the most-recent fiscal period with more than 60 million domestic subscribers and 151 million globally.

 

YouTube TV Now Available on Amazon Fire TV Devices

Google-owned YouTube TV Sept. 30 announced it is now available on Amazon Fire TV streaming media devices.

The $49.99 (monthly) online TV service’s app is embedded in the Fire TV Stick (2nd Gen), Fire TV Stick 4K, all-new Fire TV Cube, all Toshiba, Insignia, Element, and Westinghouse Fire TV Edition smart TVs and previous generation Fire TV devices including Fire TV Cube (1st Gen), Fire TV (2nd Gen), Fire TV (3rd Gen — Pendant Design). The YouTube TV app is not compatible with Fire TV Stick (1st Gen) and Fire TV (1st Gen).

“The YouTube TV app brings 70+ channels of live sports, breaking news, must-see shows and movies from major broadcast and popular cable networks to the big screen,” Michael Polin, Fire TV product marketing, wrote in a blog post.

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AMC’s Acorn TV and UMC Launch on YouTube TV

Subscription streaming services Acorn TV and UMC are available on YouTube TV, AMC Networks announced.

Acorn TV is North America’s largest streaming service for British and international television, and UMC is the largest streaming service for black TV and film, according to AMC. The services join sister services Shudder, Sundance NOW and AMC Premiere as part of YouTube TV’s lineup of premium streaming service add-on options.

Acorn TV’s add-on channel is now available via YouTube TV for $6 a month, and UMC’s add-on channel is $5 a month.

Programming now available on Acorn TV’s YouTube TV channel includes:

  • “Manhunt,” a 2019 series starring Martin Clunes as a former police detective who tenaciously pursues a serial killer;
  • “Line of Duty,” a cop thriller that takes a probing look into modern police corruption with new guest leads every season;
  • “Agatha Raisin,” an Acorn TV Original series starring Ashley Jensen in adaptations of MC Beaton’s best-selling novels as an amateur sleuth who becomes entangled in mischief, mayhem and murder;
  • “Doc Martin,” a U.K. series starring Clunes as a tactless, self-centered, and uptight doctor in the town of Portwenn, where he clashes with the village’s quirky inhabitants;
  • “Keeping Faith,” an Acorn TV Original thriller starring Eve Myles as Faith, a lawyer with a happy marriage until her husband suddenly disappears; and
  • dramas including “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries” and “Midsomer Murders,” as well as Acorn TV Original series “Queens of Mystery” and “Mystery Road.”

 

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Programming now available on UMC’s YouTube TV channel includes:

  • “A House Divided,” a new original drama series starring Demetria McKinney, Lawrence Hilton Jacobs, Paula Jai Parker and Brad James;
  • “Beyond the Pole,” the channel’s first original reality series that follows six of Atlanta’s exotic dancers on their journeys out of the strip club world with the help of Stormy Wellington, a former dancer turned multi-millionaire;
  • “Craig Ross Jr.’s Monogamy,” which will return for its second season later this fall;
  • OWN’s “Black Love” and WEtv’s “Growing Up Hip Hop”;
  • classic sitcoms, such as UPN’s “All of Us”; and
  • classic films such as Set It Off, starring Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Vivica Fox and Kimberly Elise, and B.A.P.S., starring Halle Berry and Natalie Desselle.

Over the past year, Acorn TV and UMC have expanded their availability across various platform partners, most recently joining Apple TV Channels and The Roku Channel. Others will be added later this year, according to AMC.

Discovery Joins FuboTV

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

The service June 18 announced a new, multiyear 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.