In this week's collection of recent cord-cutting news items from around the web: Apple may acquire Netflix; Roku Entertainment Assistant to offer voice-controlled experience; what's coming to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime in January 2018; Microsoft advocates for rural broadband; AT&T, Verizon launching 5G networks; what cord cutters should expect in 2018; viewers overwhelmed by too much OTT content, and more.
A Roku press release announced that Roku is launching a home entertainment licensing program that "will enable OEM brands to build soundbars and smart speakers, surround sound and multi-room audio systems that use Roku Connect software to work together as a home entertainment network." Along with a new voice assistant , the Roku Entertainment Assistant, Roku users will be able "to use voice commands to enjoy entertainment on voice-supported Roku devices. For example, customers will be able to say, 'Hey Roku, play jazz in the living room' and a smart soundbar with Roku Connect will begin playing music – even if the TV is turned off." The free voice assistant is expected to be available for download to most Roku TV models and Roku players this Fall.
Microsoft is creating a rural broadband advocacy group. VentureBeat reports that "Microsoft... will be launching a coalition called Connect Americans Now (CAN) to advocate for the FCC to eliminate regulatory hurdles that the group says are standing in the way of more widespread rural broadband deployment."
AT&T will launch a fifth-generation (5G) mobile network service in a dozen cities in the United States by late 2018, says Reuters. "5G is expected to provide higher speeds, more capacity and lower response times than 4G LTE, as well as support uses such as autonomous cars." Verizon also plans to roll out its 5G service to several markets this year.
An unexpected consequence of the recent tax legislation is that Apple may acquire Netflix. According to Citi analysts, "There is a 40% chance Apple will acquire Netflix," Business Insider reports. "The cut in corporate taxes, along with a one-time allowance for companies to repatriate cash stored overseas without a major tax hit, will give Apple a much larger cash warchest to buy new companies." And Netflix could be a good acquisition target because "Apple has for years struggled to offer a compelling TV or movie offering. iTunes has been a huge hit for the company, but viewers have migrated increasingly to services like Netflix, Amazon or Hulu to watch their favourite shows."
Here is what cord cutters should expect in 2018 according to USA Today:
- "Rise of the skinny bundles. Those seeking to cut the cord or increase their streaming options could have even more broadband-delivered live TV choices in the months ahead.
- "Competition for content. Look for streaming services to try to lock down rights for coveted TV series and movies that will keep subscribers on board.
- "Partnerships and, perhaps, attrition. With so many services available and more on the way — including ESPN Plus in early 2018 — some smaller or niche offerings may need to team up to survive.
- "Changes coming for Hulu. If successful in its bid for Fox, Disney will add the 30% stake in Hulu owned by Fox to its current 30% stake."
18% of video plays end in failure according to video optimization company Conviva's 2017 "OTT Streaming Market Year in Review," which was reported by StreamingMedia. Slow start times and rebuffering delays reportedly cost publishers billions of hour of viewing time in 2017. "Out of the 47.1 billion attempted plays that Conviva oversaw in 2017, 17.7 percent didn't start. Breaking that down, 3.6 percent experienced video start failures and 14.1 percent exited before the video started. That means there were 8.3 billion unsuccessful attempts to watch a video."
StreamingMedia also reported that viewers think "there's just too much quality programming to watch." "Online video platform Ooyala has released its State of the Broadcast Industry report for 2018, and it sees viewers feeling overwhelmed by choices... the report says 49 percent of those surveyed believe they have too many TV options."
Variety tells us what's coming to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime in January 2018. "Netflix will start the new year off right with one of the world's favorite superheroes, bringing in five Batman films including Tim Burton's 'Batman' and Christopher Nolan's 'Batman Begins...' Hulu is offering up a healthy serving of new seasons of cooking shows like 'Beat Bobby Flay,' 'Cutthroat Kitchen,' 'Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives,' 'Cupcake Wars,' and 'Food Network Star...'" And among the titles coming to Amazon are "sci-fi anthology 'Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams' and Season 10 of 'Doctor Who.'"