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.

 

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.”