Hulu Continues to Offer Discounted College Student Pricing

With college back in session, Hulu is once again offering students access to its ad-supported subscription streaming video plan for $1.99 a month, down more than 70% from the normal $6.99 fee for streaming with limited ads.

The special pricing, which is valid only for students currently enrolled in graduate or advanced degree programs at Title IV accredited colleges or universities in the United States. For existing subscribers, only those billed directly by Hulu are eligible.

While Hulu’s price beats special college student pricing offers from Paramount+ ($3.75 compared to $4.99 for the standard fee), Apple TV+ and Apple Music ($5.99), and YouTube Premium ($6.99), few college student offers top Spotify’s music/video bundle.

The streaming music giant offers students access to Spotify Premium, Paramount’s Showtime Anytime and Hulu for $4.99 a month — two-thirds less than the standard monthly $14.99 bundle price.

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Amazon offers college students free six-month access to Prime Video, which includes access to Prime shipping and Amazon Photo. Amazon Music is not included. After the free period, the monthly fee is $7.49 — about 50% off the standard $14.99 monthly charge.

YouTube Joins Ad-Supported TV Show, Movie Market

YouTube is entering the ad-supported VOD market, offering catalog TV shows on par with Pluto TV, Tubi, The Roku Channel, Crackle, Shout! TV and Xumo, among others.

According to Nielsen, Google-owned YouTube reached more than 135 million people on connected TVs in the U.S. in December 2021. The platform is at the forefront of the consumer shift to connected television (CTV) viewership. Now U.S. viewers for the first time will be able to watch full seasons TV shows on YouTube for free with ads. This includes almost 4,000 episodes from programs such as “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Andromeda” and “Heartland,” among others.

YouTube also has more than 1,500 movies from Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate and FilmRise, among others. New titles in March include Gone in Sixty SecondsRunaway Bride and Legally Blonde, which are now available to stream for free with ads.

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To help facilitate AVOD consumption, YouTube is unveiling a new streamlined navigation, immersive banner art and new menus to help users find their favorite TV shows — with options to rent, purchase, or watch for free with ads. Many of these titles are also available in high definition 1080p with 5.1 surround sound audio on supported devices.

U.S. users can access these movies and shows and up to 100 new titles each week on Web browsers, mobile devices, and most connected TVs via the YouTube on TV app.

Almost 70% of survey respondents said they would choose AVOD over SVOD, according to new data from Hub Research Insights. Disney contends its pending AVOD service will help the Disney+ platform reach 260 million subscribers by 2024.

Dave Castell, GM of Inventory & Partnerships EMEA at The Trade Desk, a U.K.-based research group, says YouTube’s foray into AVOD is a wake-up call to the market.

“YouTube has heard loud and clear the demand from consumers for a premium library of binge-worthy shows, without a hefty price tag,” Castell wrote in a note. “Clearly, free content is increasingly resonating with consumers worldwide and it’s the right move for streaming giants such as YouTube to tap into this opportunity.”

The analyst found that media companies such as Discovery, which acquired WarnerMedia, and ITV, which co-owns BritBox, are eyeing AVOD with the launches of combined ad-supported and subscription-based services in the U.K.

“It’s only a matter of time before other major broadcasters and streamers kick into gear,” Castell wrote.

Shout! Bowing Doc ‘How Did We Get Here?’ on YouTube Star

Shout! Studios, in collaboration with Real Good Touring, will release How Did We Get Here?, a feature on YouTube star Sean McLoughlin (a.k.a. Jacksepticeye), on VOD and digital platforms in North America March 15.

Directed by Tucker Prescott, the film follows the story of Sean McLoughlin, who was just a kid in rural Ireland who became Jacksepticeye, one of the world’s top influencers. His visibility expands beyond YouTube and gaming and into pop culture at large. Embarking on his first world tour, McLoughlin contemplates his journey, his upbringing, and the nature of modern online celebrity and fandom as he meets the people across the world who changed his life and whose lives he’s changed with his videos and the community they’ve built. 

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An intimate reflection on life in the digital age, the film follows McLoughlin’s journey through the highest highs — chanting crowds, sold-out shows and marriage proposals — and lowest lows — grappling with loneliness in the harsh Irish winter.

 

Disney, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures Halt Theatrical Releases in Russia Due to Ukraine Invasion

With the Russian army’s unprovoked military invasion into democratically controlled Ukraine intensifying, The Walt Disney Co., Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures reportedly plan to halt releasing new theatrical releases in Russia going forward. The decision impacts the pending Pixar Animation release Turning Red, which is set to bow on the Disney+ streaming platform in the U.S., but in theaters in regions like Russia that does not yet have the SVOD service.

The studios’ Feb. 28 action follows economic sanctions imposed by Western countries, companies and the European Union in response to the escalating global crisis after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into neighboring Ukraine.

“Given the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis, we are pausing the release of theatrical films in Russia,” Disney said in a media statement.

The company said that future business decisions would be based on the evolving situation. In the meantime, Disney said that given the scale of the emerging refugee crisis, it is working with non-government partners to provide aid and other humanitarian assistance to refugees.

Separately, Warner Bros. Pictures’ parent company WarnerMedia said it would halt releasing this weekend’s The Batman in Russian theaters.

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“In light of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, WarnerMedia is pausing the release of its feature film The Batman in Russia,” the company said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves. We hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to this tragedy.”

Sony Pictures joined the growing Hollywood bandwagon announcing that pending release Morbius would not be released in Russian theaters. The decision has impact considering that the studio’s previous release, Spider-Man: No Way Home, generated a reported $45 million at the Russian box office.

“Given the ongoing military action in Ukraine and the resulting uncertainty and humanitarian crisis unfolding in that region, we will be pausing our planned theatrical releases in Russia,” Sony said in a media statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been impacted and hope this crisis will be resolved quickly.”

Over the weekend, Google-owned YouTube and Facebook announced they would block Russian state media outlet RT and other pro-Russian channels from their platforms. Netflix said it would skip streaming 20 free-to-air channels despite Russian regulator Roskomnadzor mandating that any foreign service with more than 100,000 subscribers do so.

“Given the current situation, we have no plans to add these channels to our service,” Netflix said in a statement.

Fox Weather Streaming Service Adds Roku, Xumo, FuboTV, Amazon, YouTube Distribution

Fox Weather, the ad-supported streaming television (FAST) service launched last October, will now be available on YouTube TV, Amazon News, The Roku Channel, FuboTV and Comcast-owned Xumo.

Additionally, the full linear service will be accessible on Fox Television Stations’ Diginet channels in 17 markets and select simulcast hours on FTS duopoly stations across the country.

“We are excited to significantly expand our distribution footprint and deliver Fox Weather’s coverage to millions of viewers on many of television’s most popular streaming services and devices,” Sharri Berg, president of the platform, said in a statement.

Fox Weather made its debut on Amazon News on Fire TV and Fire Tablet yesterday and was added to the channel lineup of YouTube TV last week. The service is also now available on The Roku Channel and will launch later this month on Xumo and FuboTV.

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Additionally, the platform will now be accessible across FTS’s Diginet footprint in New York, Seattle, and San Francisco, with plans to expand to the station group’s remaining 14 markets. The streaming service will also simulcast one hour per weekday and two hours on weekends on FTS’s 11 duopoly stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Dallas, San Francisco, Houston, Seattle, Phoenix, Minneapolis and Orlando. Fox Television Stations owns and operates 29 full power broadcast television stations in the U.S. These include stations located in nine of the top ten largest designated market areas, or DMAs, as well as the duopolies in 11 DMAs. Of these stations, 18 are affiliated with the FOX Network.

After launching, Fox Weather claimed to become the most-downloaded free app on Google Play and the Apple App Store, delivering more than 1 million downloads in its first week. The streaming service has rolled out expanded distribution over the past three months on Fox Business Network, as well as on Tubi and Fox Nation, the politically driven subscription streaming video service. The Fox Weather app is also available for iPad.

First Episode of Apple TV+ Original Series ‘The Afterparty’ Available on YouTube

In celebration of the Jan. 28 global debut of the murder-mystery comedy “The Afterparty,” Apple TV+ has released the first episode on YouTube.

The first three episodes of “The Afterparty” are now streaming on Apple TV+, followed by one new episode weekly, every Friday through March 4. From Academy Award winners Chris Miller and Phil Lord, the eight-episode season stars Tiffany Haddish, Sam Richardson, Zoë Chao, Ben Schwartz, Ike Barinholtz, Ilana Glazer, Jamie Demetriou and Dave Franco. 
 
The cast and creators will appear for a live watch party of the series on Twitter Jan. 28 at 5 p.m. PST (#TheAfterparty). Participants include Miller, Lord and Haddish.

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The series centers on a murder mystery at a high school reunion, with each episode exploring a different character’s account of the fateful evening in question, all through the lens of popular film genres and visuals to match the storyteller’s perspective. 

Susanne Daniels Departing as YouTube Exits Original Content Business

Susanne Daniels, the veteran global head of original content at Google-owned YouTube, is reportedly exiting the streamer in March after six years in the position. In a media statement, Daniels said she looked forward “new adventures ahead.”

Separately, YouTube announced it is exiting the original content business, continuing to fund original programming for Black Voices and children going forward, according to Robert Kyncl, chief business officer at YouTube.

“We will honor our commitment for already contracted shows in progress and creators who are involved with those shows should expect to hear from us directly in the coming days,” Kyncl said in a statement.

Susanne Daniels

Daniels is best known for shepherding the launch of the “Karate Kid” franchise continuation “Cobra Kai” on YouTube in 2018. Netflix acquired the rights in 2020, later greenlighting a third and fourth season. It is now one of the streamer’s most-popular series in terms of hours streamed, with a combined 190+million hours viewed through Jan. 9.

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“YouTube’s the biggest and best video platform in the world and what an exciting and tremendous experience I’ve had working to create meaningful programming for global users of all ages and backgrounds,” Daniels said. “I’m so proud that our content could contribute to the ongoing growth and success of this remarkable platform.”

Roku, Google End Dispute, Ink New Carriage Agreement

Roku and Google have ended a reportedly contentious negotiation and signed a new multiyear carriage deal for distribution of the latter’s YouTube and YouTube TV properties on the Roku platform. The existing contract was set to expire Dec. 9.

Roku, with 56.4 million active accounts through Sept. 30, remains a vital conduit linking third-party streaming video services with consumers on their television. In exchange, Roku either collects percentage of the subscription fees and/or access to user data.

It is the latter that apparently irked Google, resulting in a yearlong war of words between the search behemoth and SVOD co-pioneer (with Netflix). While YouTube remains the largest social video platform in the world, YouTube TV relies on consumer awareness to grow its reported 3 million to 4 million subscriber base.

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“Roku and Google have agreed to a multiyear extension for both YouTube and YouTube TV. This agreement represents a positive development for our shared customers, making both YouTube and YouTube TV available for all streamers on the Roku platform,” a Roku spokesperson said in a statement.

Roku’s carriage terms have met resistance from other media companies, which resulted in both HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock SVOD service launching without Roku support. The lack of visibility on the platform hurt both services’ subscriber growth out of the gate, leading WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal to quietly iron out their differences and sign distribution deals.

Vudu Offering Gift Cards, Preorder Deal on ‘Venom: Let There Be Carnage’

Vudu has a deal for customers who preorder Venom: Let There Be Carnage, arriving Nov. 23 for digital purchase at $19.99.

Those who preorder the movie on the service by Nov. 22 get a $3 Vudu promo code to use toward additional movies. Details are here. 

Vudu is also offering a line of “Venom”-themed gift cards to gift the movie to friends and family.

The Marvel Comics-based superhero film, available in SD, HDX and 4K Ultra HD on Vudu, stars Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris and Woody Harrelson. In the film, Eddie Brock (Hardy) interviews serial killer Cletus Kasady (Harrelson), who becomes the host of the symbiote Carnage.

Vudu’s YouTube channel features an exclusive clip of Hardy’s Eddie Brock and his alien symbiote Venom talking about their unique friendship on the beach.

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Spectrum Adds HBO Max, YouTube to Guide

Spectrum has launched HBO Max and YouTube within the Spectrum Guide on eligible devices across its service area, providing customers access to the streaming services directly from the Spectrum TV platform.

HBO Max and YouTube are now automatically available to customers with eligible devices and Spectrum Internet. Customers can tune directly to channel 2003 for YouTube or 2004 for HBO Max, use the guide’s search function, or look for the logos in the Apps menu within Spectrum Guide.

“As the video landscape continues to change, we are evolving our products and making it easier for our customers to watch what they want by providing access to streaming apps from convenient launch points within the Spectrum TV experience,” Elena Ritchie, group VP of video experience, said in a statement. “We look forward to growing this library and expect to launch more streaming video apps in the coming months.”

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HBO Max gives Spectrum customers more than 13,000 hours of content, featuring the brands HBO, Warner Bros., DC, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Turner Classic Movies and more. In order to access HBO Max content, customers can subscribe through Spectrum, another provider or directly through HBO Max.