September 21, 2018
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Streaming service CBS All Access rolls out support for offline viewing

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CBS All Access, the network’s over-the-top streaming service for cord cutters, will now let subscribers save shows for offline viewing. The feature, “Download & Play,” is only available to those on CBS’s Commercial Free plan, not those on the cheaper, ad-supported tier. It also supports a range of programming, including CBS All Access Originals, reality shows, primetime dramas, news magazines, and other classics from the CBS library.

At launch, the lineup of supported shows includes originals like Star Trek: Discovery, The Good Fight, One Dollar, Strange Angel, and No Activity, plus Big Brother, Survivor, Blue Bloods, Bull, Hawaii Five-0, MacGyver, NCIS: New Orleans, 60 Minutes, and 48 Hours. All classics will also be available for offline access, meaning you can download old Star Trek episodes, Cheers, Twin Peaks and many others.

Content from local stations, local news and sports will not be available for offline viewing.

There are a few caveats in using the download feature. The content is only available offline for 30 days after the download, or 48 hours from the time of playback. If it expires, you’ll then have to download it again.

Downloads are also only available in the U.S. for the time being, CBS says.

However, users are able to download up to 25 videos at once, and can watch videos on up to 5 different devices.

The feature is going live on both iOS and Android, on version 6.0 of the CBS All Access app and higher.

The company considers this a “premium” option, which is why it’s only making it available to Commercial Free subscribers, it says.

In reality, though, CBS may need more time to make ad attribution work on offline content – something that’s still fairly new.

Hulu, for example, only recently announced it would allow offline viewing, including the download of commercials for those on its ad-supported plan. It then became the first in the industry to support downloads with ads, it said during its Upfronts presentation in May.

CBS may choose to invest in similar technology in the future, but for now, it’s easier to just roll out offline support to those who pay more to skip the commercials.

Other major streamers have allowed for downloads for years, it’s worth noting. Netflix added support on mobile back in 2016, following Amazon Prime Video’s launch of offline support the year prior.

The addition of offline support for CBS All Access means you’ll be able to watch shows when you’re out of reach of a network or good signal – like when traveling, commuting, or on a plane, for example. (Maybe I’ll finally finish this new, not so great Star Trek). Or you can use the option to save money on your data plan.

But the feature will matter even more as CBS expands its originals catalog, which will include new shows like a reboot of The Twilight Zone from Get Out director, Jordan Peele; Scream writer and producer Kevin Williamson’s twisted fairytale series Tell Me a Story; and a new Star Trek series led by Patrick Stewart, among others.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Dish’s AirTV box now lets you watch and record live TV, access recordings through Sling TV

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Following reports that Amazon is preparing to launch a new device that would allow Fire TV owners to record live TV, Dish’s AirTV has just done the same. The company announced the launch of a “Local Channels DVR” feature for AirTV customers that lets users watch and record live TV both in and outside the home. The recorded content is made available within Dish’s Sling TV application, alongside subscribers other Cloud DVR recordings.

Dish first unveiled its AirTV Player, a 4K media streamer set-top box, at CES 2017, then later began doling out digital antennas to Sling TV subscribers with the AirTV Player as part of deal for pre-paying for the company’s streaming service.

This year, it expanded its hardware lineup to include a new device, just called the AirTV, which is a networked TV tuner that doesn’t connect directly to a TV, but rather streams local programming via Wi-Fi.

As with Plex – and, presumably, with Amazon’s forthcoming plans – being able to record and stream from live TV is one way companies are working around cable providers, or having to make content deals in order to expand their streaming line-ups. It gives cord cutters way to watch hard-to-access programming, like local news and sports, for example.

Dish’s new Local Channels DVR feature will require an external storage device in order to work, which is not included.

This means it’s similar to something like Tablo’s OTA DVR for cord cutters, which has customers attach their own USB hard drive. In AirTV’s case, the maximum supported drive size is 2 TB.

The DVR also supports dual-tuner functionality, so customers can record up to two shows at once, or watch one live while recording another.

TV show recordings can also be scheduled by the episode or by the series.

Once AirTV is set up, the recorded content is available through the Sling TV app across platforms, including iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV, and Roku.

It will be found in the same menu as the Cloud DVR content – where you find the movies and shows you record through Sling TV’s DVR. But these recordings will have an OTA icon next to them to help users differentiate the AirTV content from the rest.

Upon playback, the content can be paused, rewound, or fast-forwarded. In addition, if watching a recording in real-time, users can pause the live TV stream.

To gain access to the feature, AirTV users will have to update their device and restart their Sling TV app.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Hulu and Discovery announce partnership for live and on-demand programming

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Hulu and Discovery this morning announced a wide-ranging partnership that will see Discovery’s live and on-demand programming added to Hulu’s streaming service. The multi-year agreement will see nearly 4,000 episodes of Discovery’s shows added to Hulu’s on-demand library, as well as five additional Discovery TV networks – Discovery Channel, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Motor Trend, the rebranded Velocity network, and Animal Planet – to Hulu’s live TV service.

This will bring the total number of Discovery TV networks on Hulu with Live TV to now eight. They join existing channels, HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel which were available through a prior agreement with Scripps Networks, which Discovery acquired for $14.6 billion.

The new channels will begin to stream live in December, Hulu says.

Meanwhile, all Hulu subscribers will be able to watch on-demand programming like Deadliest Catch, MythBusters, Say Yes to the Dress, Naked and Afraid, Property Brothers, Gold Rush, Street Outlaws, Chopped, Chopped Jr., Fixer Upper, House Hunters and House Hunters International. 

Hulu and Discovery had been in talks about this deal for well over a year, reports Variety – even before Hulu with Live TV launched in May 2017.

“At Discovery, we are committed to bringing our portfolio of high-quality, safe family friendly brands and content to viewers across every screen, service and device around the world,” said Eric Phillips, President of Affiliate Distribution at Discovery, in a statement. “Our new agreement with Hulu affirms the strength of our brands and their value to viewers in a marketplace with an increasing array of options.”

Along with the overall Discovery partnership, Hulu has also reached a licensing agreement with OWN, part of the Discovery Networks family, which will bring four of the network’s top shows to Hulu. This includes all past episodes of Tyler Perry’s The Haves and the Have Nots, If Loving You is Wrong, The Paynes and Love Thy Neighbor, which are available to stream for the first time. Hulu was already streaming another OWN show, Queen Sugar from Ava DuVernay and Warner Horizon.

Despite the new additions, Hulu’s pricing remains the same. It’s still $40 per month for its cable-like Live TV service, which also includes the on-demand programming and Hulu Originals. Its on-demand only offering, meanwhile, starts at $8 per month, and goes up to $12 for the ad-free plan.

For Hulu, the deal will allow the service to better compete against a growing number of competitors for cord cutters’ dollars. In addition to the major on-demand offerings from Netflix and Amazon, Hulu’s live TV service is up against rivals like Dish’s Sling TV, Sony’s PlayStation Vue, Google’s YouTube TV, Philo, fuboTV, and AT&T’s DirecTV Now and WatchTV.

Hulu claims that the addition of Discovery has now put it over the top in terms of content. When the additions go live, Hulu with Live TV will stream more than 60 live TV channels along with Hulu’s entire streaming TV library, which it says is now the largest in the U.S.

However, Hulu’s live TV service continues to lack AMC Networks and Viacom channels, Variety also notes.

“As the only streaming service offering a complete television experience, Hulu continues to strike strategic, efficient deals with top brands that bring extraordinary value to all of our subscribers,” said Lisa Holme, Vice President of Content Acquisition, and Reagan Feeney, Vice President of Network Partnerships at Hulu, in a joint statement. “Discovery’s brand is synonymous with high-quality unscripted entertainment that TV fans love, which is why we are excited to bring their entire portfolio to our platform, across all of our subscription plans.”

The news of the Hulu deal follows remarks made by Discovery CEO David Zaslav at an industry event earlier this summer, where he said the company was considering a streaming service of its own, where all its networks would be available for a price of $5 to $8 per month.

Going live on Hulu doesn’t necessarily negate that plan – Discovery could always launch on Amazon’s a la carte service, Amazon Prime Video Channels, for example, or even go it alone. But it could reduce consumer demand for such a service, given that Hulu today reaches over 20 million U.S. subscribers.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Spotify expands its $4.99 per month student bundle with Hulu to include Showtime

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Spotify today is announcing a new way for students to access its Premium service, along with Hulu and Showtime, for a discounted price of $4.99 per month for all three. The new deal is an expansion of the existing Hulu and Spotify bundle for students, which launched around a year ago at the same price. Now those existing subscribers as well as new ones will be able to stream from all three services when they sign up.

The new bundle consists of Spotify Premium for Students, Hulu with Limited Commercials, and Showtime . Students will need to be attending a Title IV accredited institution in the U.S. to qualify for the discounted pricing.

When Spotify teamed up with Hulu back in September 2017, it was the first time it had ever partnered with a streaming video service on a bundle deal. The deal had arrived just as Spotify’s own efforts into original video were failing, and its head of video Tom Calderone was departing amid a shift in content strategy.

For both Spotify and Hulu, a bundle of music and video allows them to steel themselves against the looming threat from Apple, and its expected launch of its own streaming video service, which itself could be bundled with an Apple Music subscription. Because of Apple’s built-in advantage that comes with the iPhone, Apple Music has already outpaced Spotify in the U.S. – and clearly, the streaming services are concerned about its video plans.

According to Spotify, the reasoning behind a bundle has to do with the fact that college students are streaming entertainment more than any other age group. It wanted to reach them with better pricing, it says.

“We’ve been really pleased about the uptake of the original Hulu bundle, so are happy to be expanding the offering,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch.

The company, however, declined to share the number of students who had taken advantage of the bundle discount so far. Spotify had also expanded this same bundle to all customers in April, at $12.99 per month for both, instead of $7.99 per month for Hulu and $9.99 per month for Spotify, when sold separately.

Spotify has added subscribers since those launches, but it’s unclear how many were from bundles. Today, it has 83 million paying subscribers out of 180 million monthly users. That’s up from the 60 million paying subscribers it had when the student bundle was first announced, when it was then twice as big as Apple Music.

With the addition of Showtime, students will be able to watch series like “Shameless,” “Who Is America?,” “The Chi,” “Billions,” “Ray Donovan,” “Smilf,” “The Affair,” Homeland,” “Twin Peaks,” the upcoming Jim Carrey comedy “Kidding,” and upcoming “Escape at Dannemora,” among others, plus movies, documentaries, sports and comedy specials.

Showtime currently costs $10.99 per month over-the-top, when purchased directly from the network itself, though it’s possible to find it for less elsewhere. For example, Amazon Channels sells the subscription a la carte for $8.99 per month, at present.

To get all three services for $4.99 per month is an almost ridiculous price at this point, and one that’s intended to serve as a way to addict students at a time when their media consumption is heavy, so they’ll become avid users.

Once students have created their playlists, downloaded their songs, followed their favorite bands, networks, and shows, they will benefit from the personalization these services offer. After a few years’ time, it will be difficult for the students to abandon the services when the price increases after graduation – or, at least, that’s the thinking on the streamers’ part.

Spotify won’t discuss the partnership particulars, but it’s obviously subsidizing the services here.

To sign up for the triple-play bundle, students can go to spotify.com/us/student. During the first three months, Spotify will only be $0.99, bringing the cost down even further.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Streaming service VRV adds NickSplat, a channel featuring classic 90’s Nickelodeon TV

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VRV, a fandom-focused digital streaming service, has signed a deal with Viacom and Nickelodeon to launch a new streaming channel dedicated to Nick’s classic 90’s shows and more. The new channel, called NickSplat (yes really), will stream via VRV as an over-the-top service, and will offer fans access to nearly 30 classic series, the companies say.

Its lineup includes series like “AAAHH!!! Real Monsters,” “CatDog,” “Doug,” “Rocko’s Modern Life,” “All That,” “Are You Afraid of the Dark?,” “Clarissa Explains It All,” “Kenan & Kel,” “Legends of the Hidden Temple,” “The Angry Beavers” “The Wild Thornberrys,” and many others.

VRV says additional shows will be added at a later date.

The channel will also be available both as a $5.99 per month a la carte subscription and it will be included in the VRV premium bundle, which is $9.99 per month. In a sense, the a la carte option is the equivalent of it being its own streaming service, but one without its own standalone platform, as with Viacom’s Noggin, aimed at the preschool set.

VRV’s premium bundle offers a variety of channels beyond NickSplat, including also Ellation’s anime streaming service Crunchyroll, Funimation, Rooster Teeth, Shudder and others, as well as exclusive series like “HarmonQuest,” “Killjoys,” “Thundercats,” and “Gary and His Demons.”

“VRV, with a sophisticated user base that loves the best in animation, is the perfect platform to launch our NickSplat channel,” said Sam Cooper, Viacom Executive Vice President of Distribution and Business Development Partnerships, in a statement about the launch.

“Viacom’s content – including our deep library of genre-defining television – is highly in demand, and our audiences are always looking for new and innovative ways to enjoy our programming. We’re committed to finding the best partners to bring our individual brands direct to the consumer, and this relationship with VRV is an exciting step forward in our strategy,” Cooper added.

VRV arrived in 2016 as something of a competitor to Amazon’s Prime Video Channels, which also provides access to niche digital streaming content in a single destination. However, VRV offers members over 20,000 hours of free content, with the option to upgrade to the Premium tier for more, as well as its exclusives. Amazon’s Channels, on the other hand, is only an a la carte service where members pick and choose which channels they want. There aren’t any channel bundles available at this time.

In addition, unlike Amazon Channels, VRV isn’t targeting a mainstream user base, but has been more focused on serving various fandoms – anime fans, gamers, comics fans, sci-fi and fantasy fans, and others.

With NickSplat, it’s now going after a slightly different demographic – kids who grew up watching Nickelodeon on linear TV and are nostalgic for those old shows. Maybe they even want to stream them for their own kids these days.

For Viacom, a partnership with VRV gives it a chance to monetize its older library content in a different way than throwing it out on a bigger platform, like Netflix (where, frankly, it would be seen by more viewers). However, VRV is not the only place some of these old shows can be found – there are also Nick classic series on other services, like Hulu and Amazon – the latter where they can be purchased by episode or season. In other words, if you’re sorta obsessed with one or two old Nick shows, you may want to just go find them elsewhere. NickSplat only makes sense if you want a big back catalog of classic Nickelodeon.

VRV is available online and as an app on Xbox One, PS4, Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, Android TV, Chromecast, Android and iOS.

News Source = techcrunch.com

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