In this week's collection of recent cord-cutting news items from around the web: Pluto TV to stream 700 hours of BBC Studios content including classic 'Doctor Who,' YouTube TV raising price and adding channels, Netflix ends AirPlay support on iOS, Sling TV expands à la carte offerings, Roku no longer a neutral platform after Roku OS 9.1 update, Disney provides details on its upcoming Netflix competitor, and more!
"Pluto TV will stream — for free — more than 200 classic “Doctor Who” episodes and other BBC Studios programming under a new content-licensing pact covering the U.S." according to an exclusive Variety report. "All told, the Pluto TV deal with BBC Studios covers nearly 1,000 episodes, totaling more than 700 hours of content, from shows including the original 'Doctor Who,' 'Antiques Roadshow,' 'Being Erica,' 'Bedlam,' 'Primeval' and 'Robin Hood.' Under the nonexclusive agreement, BBC Studios content is slated to launch on Pluto TV in May 2019, available only to users in the U.S." Variety also notes that "Pluto TV plans to launch dedicated channels for the classic 'Doctor Who' episodes and 'Antiques Roadshow."
"To keep bringing you the best service possible," YouTube said in a blog post, "we're updating our (YouTube TV) membership price to $49.99/month." Users billed through Apple will pay $54.99/month. Along with the new price are eight new channels: Discovery Channel, HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Animal Planet, Travel Channel, and MotorTrend. YouTube TV will also be adding OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network later this year. The new pricing takes effect immediately for new subscribers, while existing subscribers will see the new prices in their first billing cycle after May 13.
- "61% of Americans own a Smart TV and 52% use OTT services.
- "OTT usage is 65% for viewers age 18-34.
- "The average OTT customer owns three devices they can use to watch OTT content and subscribe to three different OTT services.
- "People spend more time watching OTT content than they do driving a car or talking to friends and family."
"The poll also contains grim news for the future of cable, satellite and broadcast," says Forbes, "especially as the Millennial generation supplants aging Boomers as the primary consumer target." These findings include "Millennials spend more than twice as much time watching OTT content than live TV" and "Fewer than 40% of Millennial OTT users plan to keep their cable package."
"Netflix has confirmed that it no longer supports AirPlay," according to ArsTechnica, "citing 'technical limitations' with Apple's video-slinging feature." However, ArsTechical argues that the end of AirPlay support isn't technical limitations. "Rather, Netflix has either chosen not to support it because the company can't control the user experience the way it wants to or because of bigger issues of competition and collaboration between the two companies."
Sling TV announced the addition of Hallmark Movies Now, The Country Network, STARZ and Cinemoi to their à la carte portfolio, which allows "all returning customers and select new customers using Roku devices" to purchase these channels with or without a base service. Sling TV provided the following information about these newly-available à la carte channels:
- Hallmark Movies Now ($6 per month) – Featuring hundreds of hours of commercial-free content, Hallmark Movies Now offers a distinct lineup of family-friendly programming that cannot be found on Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries or Hallmark Drama. Watch Hallmark original movies like “The Wedding March” and hit series like “Cedar Cove” by subscribing to Hallmark Movies Now.
- The Country Network ($3 per month) – Delivering country music videos, lifestyle, live performances and original content, The Country Network offers a variety of programming for every country fan. The Country Network features programs like “Live from the Couch” and “Guitars and Swim-up Bars.”
- STARZ ($9 per month) – Previously only available to customers who subscribed to a Sling TV base service, STARZ is now available as a standalone offering, with or without a base service. STARZ features popular original series like “Power” and “Outlander.”
- Cinemoi ($3 per month) – Offering a variety of independent content, Cinemoi includes vintage and modern movies, live entertainment and documentaries. The channel features films like “Faces in the Crowd” and shows like “The Jonathan Ross Show.” Cinemoi is also available to Sling Orange and/or Sling Blue customers who subscribe to Hollywood Extra.
"In the past, Roku seemed to be more of a neutral platform compared with streaming media player rivals like Amazon Fire TV or Apple TV," says TechCrunch. "The company gave everyone else's content equal footing through its add-on channels and in Roku search, as it had nothing of its own to promote." However, the rollout of Roku OS 9.1 will bias the user experience toward Roku's own content and products. According to TechCrunch, "The update adds a feature that automatically plays back The Roku Channel's movies and TV shows at times; another that better showcases the channel's free content in genre-focused searches; and one that introduces a new navigation menu with offers for other Roku products." Information on these and other changes in Roku OS 9.1 can be found in this Roku blog post.
A recent Disney announcement said that "The Walt Disney Company's highly anticipated Investor Day provided an extensive overview of Disney's comprehensive direct-to-consumer strategy, and included presentations on Hulu, Hotstar, ESPN+ and the upcoming Disney+ service, which will launch in the U.S. market on November 12, 2019, at $6.99 a month." Gizmodo summarized information that was revealed about the Disney+ service during the "marathon presentation." "Disney+ will essentially be the home of all of the company's various franchises," says Gizmodo, "like Pixar, Star Wars, and Marvel, as well as National Geographic — which the company now owns following its recent acquisition of 21st Century Fox — all of which will have their own landing pages on the platform." Also, "Disney+ appears to have taken a few cues from Netflix. Much like its competitor, the platform will use an algorithm to serve up content related to user-specific watch histories, with columns that include Disney+ Originals, Recommended for You, and Continue Watching. Also like Netflix, Disney+ will allow users to add series and movies to a personalized watch list."
Gizmodo reports that Disney+ has streaming partnerships in place with Roku and PlayStation 4, "but a wider release on smart TVs and game consoles is in the works."
And while we're on the topic of the new Disney+ service, Variety reports that "Disney+ will be the exclusive SVOD home of the long-running animated sitcom, with all episodes from the show’s 30 seasons available on the service at launch in November... The news comes shortly after the completion of the acquisition of 21st Century Fox by Disney. Among the assets Disney acquired in the deal was 20th Century Fox Television, which produces the series."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.