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.

 

Sling TV Subscriber Growth Slowing

Dish Network Aug.3 reported that its pioneering online TV service, Sling TV, ended the second quarter (ended June 30) with 2.344 million subscribers – marginally more than the 2.3 million subs reported at the end of Q1.

The satellite TV operator launched Sling TV in 2015 as the first standalone online TV service, and first platform offering access to premium TV channels outside of the traditional linear bundle, including ESPN.

The market now includes Sony PlayStation Vue, DirecTV Now, YouTube TV, Philo TV, Spectrum TV Plus, Hulu Live TV, Fubo TV and AT&T’s WatchTV.

Dish said it added 41,000 Sling TV subs in the Q2, down from about 91,000 sub additions in Q1. The company closed Q2 with 10.653 million Dish TV subs. When combined with Sling TV, Dish ended the period with 12.997 million total pay-TV subs compared to 13.332 million pay-TV subs in the previous-year period.

Indeed, Dish lost 335,000 net subscribers in the period compared to 196,000 subs in the last year’s period. Lone improvement: annual monthly churn rate dropped to 1.46% versus 1.83% for second quarter 2017.

 

YouTube TV Offers Free Week Service After World Cup Soccer Glitch

If you were a British soccer fan July 11 watching on YouTube TV the Three Lions play Croatia in the semi-finals at the Russia 2018 World Cup, the 2-1 overtime loss was only part of the problem.

YouTube TV subscribers suffered through an unexplained service outage during the pivotal match that could have seen England return to the World Cup final for the first time since 1966.

Now Google-owned YouTube is offering subs an apology and a free week of service for the interruption.

“We’re really sorry for the recent YouTube TV outage during the FIFA World Cup semifinal,” the service tweeted. “To help make this right, we’d like to give you a week of free service.”

Launched in early 2017 for $35 monthly fee and available in 83 markets, YouTube joined Sling TV, DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue, Hulu, Philo TV, Fubo TV and Spectrum TV Plus in the burgeoning online TV market that offers live and recorded streaming access to pay-TV without long-term contract.

England plays Belgium for third place July 14, in a match that can also be streamed on Fubo TV, the upstart service financially backed by 21st Century Fox, which is broadcasting the World Cup in the United States.

 

Starz Launches on YouTube TV

Lionsgate-owned Starz and YouTube today announced the launch of Starz and Starz Encore premium pay TV channels and services on YouTube TV.

The networks’ 14 Starz and Starz Encore channels are now available via YouTube TV for $9 per month along with access to the network’s full Starz and Starz Encore VOD catalogs featuring Hollywood movies, as well as both current and past seasons of Starz Original series, including the upcoming season five of “Power,” “Vida,” “Counterpart,” “Outlander” and “American Gods.”

“The addition of Starz on YouTube TV offers consumers another exciting new way to subscribe to our channels and access the breadth of top quality original programming and content with the freedom to watch it anywhere, anytime,” said Jeffrey Hirsch, chief operating officer at Starz, in a statement. “With breakthrough Starz original series, first-run hit movies including Rough Night and Spider-Man: Homecoming, as well as exclusive documentaries, Starz is a great value for consumers who subscribe to this platform.”

“We are excited to expand the YouTube TV offering with Starz just in time for the premiere of Season 5 of ‘Power,'” said Heather Moosnick, director of content partnerships, YouTube TV. “We know YouTube TV users will love exploring Starz’s incredible originals, movies and rich library in addition to our current ‘Best of TV’ base package, all in one seamless experience.”

YouTube TV offers cable-free live TV from more than 60 networks, including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, TNT, TBS, CNN, ESPN, AMC and FX, and local sports networks from NBC Sports, FOX Sports, and NESN in select markets. A YouTube TV membership is $40 a month.

Netflix, HBO Bookend New Consumer Streaming App Study

With 22 million people in the U.S. reportedly dropping pay-TV service for over-the-top video in 2017, a new study found OTT video users quite fickle when it comes to their subscription video-on-demand experience.

In a study of five apps — Netflix, HBO Now, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and YouTube TV — Netflix ranked the highest among 500 survey respondents, while HBO ranked the lowest, according to data from UserTesting Inc.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based research firm conducted the survey, March 1-15, asking respondents to rank the apps based on “ease-of-use,” “speed,” “credibility,” “aesthetics” and “delight.”

Not surprisingly, Netflix ranked the highest, scoring 89.5 (out of 100), followed by Hulu (86.8), Prime Video (85), YouTube TV (80.7) and HBO Now (71.8).

While most of the apps ranked close, HBO Now apparently disappointed respondents, who cited difficulty finding any recommended content, while also experiencing technical issues such as lagging, freezing and buffering.

Indeed, had it not been for a 97 score for aesthetics, HBO Now would have ranked even lower, according to the study. On the opposite end, Netflix provided the best customer experience.

Among all apps, only 29% of respondents said they watched recommended programming, with 50% of respondents saying they subscribe to at least two SVOD services to find programming.

Other notable findings include that just 11% of respondents stream video on their smartphone or portable media device. Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Kindle Firestick accounted for 45% of respondents preferred streaming media device, followed by the computer (37%).

“The rapid, widespread adoption of streaming entertainment has created a cultural shift in which 74% of participants in this study reported watching streaming media every day,” Janelle Estes, VP of strategic research services at UserTesting, said in a statement. “While data collection can help inform some features, there’s no substitute for capturing human insights to understand the evolving needs of consumers in the ‘what I want, when I want it’ era.”

 

 

Michelle Slavich Joins Warner

Michelle Slavich has been named EVP, global publicity and strategy, Warner Bros. Pictures.

In her new role, Slavich will oversee domestic and international publicity and work with her teams to develop global publicity strategies on all releases from Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema across media outlets and platforms worldwide. She’ll also work closely with the marketing group’s senior management team on PR campaign design and strategy for both individual film titles and key franchises. Slavich will report to Blair Rich, president, worldwide marketing, Warner Bros. Pictures Group and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

“Michelle is a well-respected publicity executive with an impressive track record of leadership, innovation and strategic vision,” said Rich in a statement. “As we tackle the constantly evolving landscape of film publicity, she’s a great choice to lead the team and further our already-excellent publicity teams in supporting our world-class films and filmmakers.”

Slavich joins Warner from Google, where she most recently served as head of entertainment communications for YouTube, overseeing the platform’s entertainment and music PR initiatives, as well as corporate and creator communications. She was with Google more than five years, and in the last two years, her team launched more than 50 publicity campaigns for the company’s YouTube Original series and movies. Slavich was also responsible for the PR launch campaigns for the company’s subscription services YouTube TV and YouTube Red.

Before that, Slavich served as VP of publicity at Universal Studios Home Entertainment (USHE), overseeing publicity, promotions and events for NBC Universal film and TV releases. In this role, Slavich supervised more than 200 publicity campaigns for Universal Pictures, Focus Features & NBC.

Prior to USHE, Slavich held positions at Rogers & Associates and PeopleSupport Inc., as well as in theatrical publicity at DreamWorks/Amblin Entertainment. She began her career as a publicity assistant at the Shoah Foundation, Steven Spielberg’s nonprofit organization dedicated to the recording of Holocaust survivor testimonies for educational use.

NAB: 70% of PlayStation Vue Streaming on Non-PS Devices

About of 70% of subscriber streaming on PlayStation Vue occurs through non-PlayStation devices, Dwayne Benefield, VP, head of PlayStation Vue, told attendees April 11 at the Streaming Summit at the NAB Show in Las Vegas. About 80% of streaming is for live TV.

Launched in 2015 by Sony, PS Vue joined Dish Network’s Sling TV attempting to redefine pay-television over the Internet with standalone service offering access to premium channels, including local, without long-term contracts.

The platforms have since been joined by DirecTV Now, Hulu With Live TV, Spectrum TV Plus, YouTube TV and Fubo TV looking to replicate traditional broadcast online with a-la-carte pricing.

Benefield said the average Vue subscriber streams five hours of content daily. While the PS Network has 70 million subscribers across 165 countries, Benefield did not disclose specific subscriber numbers for Vue.

The executive said online TV platforms are getting increased stacking rights to catalog episodes of TV shows as creators and distributors recognize the growing market appeal of online TV.

Benefield said there remains value in the traditional pay-TV bundle, but that online TV represents a growing, cost-effective alternative.

“As [the bundle] does fray, you’ll see us add more a la cartes,” he said in the keynote, as reported by Multichannel News. “I think [online TV] can succeed without broadcast.”

YouTube TV Ups MLB Deal to Include World Series Sponsorship

Google-owned YouTube TV will be presenting sponsor of the Major League Baseball’s World Series in 2018/19 as part of new partnership agreement. The Fall Classic is exclusively broadcast on Fox Sports.

YouTube TV, which launched last April offering myriad pay-TV channels for $35 monthly, is available in 49 markets nationwide. It offers live local feeds from ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC in most markets, plus cable network ESPN and local sports networks from NBC Sports in 13 markets, FoX Sports in 22 markets and NESN in Boston.

“We built a cable-free service that makes it easier than ever for fans to get access to their favorite live TV programming — including live sporting events like the World Series,” Kelly Merryman, managing director of content partnerships at YouTube, said in a statement. “When we were thinking about partnerships to showcase the power of YouTube TV, Major League Baseball and the World Series was the perfect fit. It’s a great next step in our long-term relationship with the league.”

MLB is no stranger to expanding distribution of America’s favorite pastime. Through MLB Advanced Media, the league operates MLB.tv – touted as the No. 1 sports SVOD service, and MLB.com At Bat app.

MLB Advanced Media last year sold 42% ownership of backend tech subsidiary BAMTech LLC to The Walt Disney Co. for $1.58 billion. Disney had previously acquired 33% ownership stake for $1 billion.Major League Baseball retains the remaining 15% minority stake.

Disney is using BAMTech to power proprietary standalone over-the-top video platforms, including pending ESPN Plus.