In this week's collection of recent cord-cutting news items from around the web: Amazon launches free video streaming service, Netflix announces biggest streaming price increase ever, the changing math of cord cutting, why over-the-air TV is booming, Walmart abandons plans for video streaming service, Costco may be considering a service for 'average Americans,' CBS Sports HQ to stream 30 hours of content prior to Super Bowl, and more!
"Amazon has extended its tentacles into the ad-supported VOD space," reports Variety. "The Amazon-owned movie database site has launched IMDb Freedive, a free streaming video channel available in the U.S." You can watch Freedive videos on computers and on all Amazon Fire TV devices, but IMDb Freedive is also coming to mobile devices on the IMDb iOS and Android apps.
According to CNBC, "Netflix's cheapest basic plan will cost $9, up from $8; its most popular HD standard plan will cost $13, up from $11; and its 4K premium plan will cost $16, up from $14." Fortune reports that "[t]he prices reflect the biggest single price hike since Netflix's streaming service launched. It's also the first price increase on the company's basic plan. New customers are subject to them now and existing subscribers will see their prices go up over the next few months." The price increase will allow Netflix to "continue investing in great entertainment and improving the overall Netflix experience for the benefit of our members," a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement.
"[A]nalysts say consumers should expect future price hikes from both Netflix and most other streaming services," according to Consumer Reports. "Prices are rising because streaming companies face high costs to acquire content, according to Dan Rayburn, principal analyst at the research firm Frost & Sullivan. 'Every streaming service is facing increased content acquisition and/or development costs,' Rayburn says... The result, according to Rayburn, is that consumers shouldn't be surprised to find some day soon that a streaming service with a decent channel lineup costs about the same as a regular pay-TV package."
On the heels of the Netflix price increase announcement, NBC News warns that "[t]he future is looking more like the past... A growing number of consumers who subscribe to the noisy jumble of streaming platforms may find themselves saddled with a bill that hovers above $100 a month — nearly as pricey as the $120 monthly average for standard cable/internet packages." That analysis, however, includes the price of Internet service (which most consumers will pay for even if they have traditional cable TV service) and assumes that users sign up for multiple streaming services. And don't forget that the parent company of NBC News is a subsidiary of Comcast.
One of the biggest expenses for live TV streaming services like Sling TV and DirecTV NOW is the cost of the networks carried on those services. The allure of a "skinny bundle" is lower pricing due to a smaller number of channels. Dan Rayburn (quoted above) provided per-channel pricing from one of the major live OTT services on his StreamingMediaBlog website. The cost per subscriber, per month, ranges from $0.14 for World Fishing Network to a whopping $6.00 for ESPN, which doesn't include any ESPN sister networks like ESPN 2 or ESPN Classic.
The above articles about pricing help explain why more people are watching free OTA TV, and Fortune reports that using an antenna is "an increasingly appealing choice for former cable customers who have 'cut the cord' but still want to catch up with their local news and network stations... The new data from market research firm Nielsen shows that over-the-air viewing increased to 14% of all homes last year from 9% in 2010. At the same time, the percentage of households subscribing to cable or satellite TV peaked at 88% in 2010 and has since sunk to 79%, according to surveys by the Leichtman Research Group."
According to CNBC, "At a time when NBC, Disney, AT&T, Viacom, Apple and others are considering subscription services for cord cutters, Walmart is abandoning its plans, according to people familiar with the matter... Instead, Walmart will focus on bolstering Vudu, the video service it acquired in 2010." Walmart had been in talks with Mark Greenberg, the former CEO of premium movie service Epix, about developing the service. "Greenberg," the CNBC article states, "has held talks with several other retailers, including Costco, about building out a service geared toward average Americans... Costco didn't immediately respond to a request for comment."
SVG News reports that "CBS Sports HQ, the 24/7 streaming sports news network available for free across digital platforms, will deliver more than 30 hours of live, original programming from Atlanta. Along with several live daily shows from Radio Row beginning Jan. 28, CBS Sports HQ will deliver additional on-site reports throughout each day, and on game day will stream 10 hours of original pregame coverage, plus postgame analysis and highlights."RokuGuide.com may receive a referral fee for any purchases or subscriptions made through links on this page. See our full FTC Disclosure Statement for more information.