In this week's collection of recent cord-cutting news items from around the web: NBC News Now to launch in early May, DirecTV Now raising prices and bundling in HBO, Apple courts HBO and Showtime for new streaming service, deep pockets needed to fight Netflix, Comcast won't chase unprofitable pay TV subscriptions, 10 things learned while becoming a cord-cutter, U.S. Spotify subscribers can get ad-supported Hulu for no extra charge, and more!
"NBC News plans to launch a streaming service called NBC News Now in early May," according to Broadcasting & Cable. "Speaking at the South by Southwest conference in Austin Sunday, NBC News president Noah Oppenheim said the free, ad supported streaming service will launch with eight hours of programming, including live updates at the top of every hours... 'We will be doing original work that will be specific for the streaming service, we will be drawing from the reporting that takes place across all the other NBC News properties,' he said. 'We will actually be reaching into other corners of NBCUniversal, E! News, sports, you name it, for some of that content.'"
"DirecTV Now is gearing up for a price hike that will see customers pay an additional $10 per month," reports TheVerge, "but receive an HBO subscription in return... DirecTV Now Plus, will offer more than 40 channels, including HBO, for $50 per month. The second package, DirecTV Now Max, boasts more than 50 channels (also including HBO) for $70 per month. Both price tiers are $10 more per month than what current DirecTV Now subscribers pay."
"I cringe whenever I read the word 'cord-cutter,'" writes Forbes contributor Jonathan Berr, "because it makes people think they are breaking free from the shackles of their hated cable company when nothing could be further from the truth." Berr cites research from Leichtman Research Group showing that "the top six cable companies (Comcast, Charter, Cox, Altice, Medicom and Cable ONE) lost 910,000 video customers last year and added about 2.4 million net broadband customers." According to Bruce Leichtman, the president and principal analyst at Leichtman Research, "cable's share of the broadband market is at its highest level since 2003. Given the lack of competition for high-speed Internet customers in most of the U.S., it's not a situation that's going to change anytime soon, which is bad news for consumers, who already pay among the highest prices in the world for broadband."
"Apple Inc., after teasing investors for months about its ambitions to become a services company, is getting ready to showcase plans for new video and news products," says a Bloomberg article. "But before the curtain goes up, Apple needs to complete deals. The company is racing to secure movies and TV shows to offer alongside its own original videos and is offering concessions to get deals done... Pay-TV programmers such as HBO, Showtime and Starz have to decide whether Apple is an existential threat, as some now view Netflix, a potential partner or something in between."
"Media giants are realizing what Netflix Inc. already knows: Streaming is expensive," says Bloomberg. "The costs are adding up as Walt Disney Co., WarnerMedia and Discovery Inc. build their own online video services to make up for shrinking cable and DVD businesses. Those investments, coupled with efforts to pull back content from Netflix and other online services, mean revenue and profit will be under pressure for years." The article cites the example of Disney, which "lost just under $100 million on streaming in the first quarter and expects to lose an additional $200 million on its online video efforts in the second quarter, mostly to develop ESPN+, its subscription sports channel."
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the head of the Comcasts cable stated that Comcast's pay TV business remains profitable, and the industry giant won't chase unprofitable subscribers given the competitive marketplace. Dave Watson, president and CEO of Comcast Cable "highlighted that video is an 'intensely competitive' business, partly because of the 'large amount of OTT folks' that have jumped into the field over the last few years. That is why Comcast is 'simply not going to chase unprofitable video relationships,' the executive said."
Writing about his cord cutting experience, TechHive Staff Writer Michael Simon says "I’m only in the first few days of my new cord-free world, but I can already tell the road ahead will be equal parts bright and bumpy. While I expected some separation anxiety after years of cable TV bills, I naively didn't realize just how different it would be without Comcast or Cox or FiOS supplying the channels." Among the things he's learned so far: Choosing a streaming TV service is really hard; Your bill really will go down; Prices, channels will change without warning; Channels can take longer to find; and Quality varies greatly between platforms.
Variety reports that Spotify Premium users in the U.S. will get access to Hulu's streaming VOD plan with ads for no extra cost under a promotion running for the next three months. "The catch is that Spotify customers must move to claim their free Hulu account before June 10. In addition, the number of Spotify accounts eligible for the offer is capped (the companies aren't disclosing the number). Once they opt in to the offer, Spotify Premium subscribers will get access to ad-supported Hulu indefinitely at the $9.99-per-month bundle price, with no expiration date."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.