In this week's collection of recent cord-cutting news items from around the web: AT&T TV looks a lot like traditional pay TV, NFL and Pluto TV launch streaming channel, Hulu becoming a force in pay-TV, Sling TV launches "What’s Hot" sports ribbon, Disney’s new streaming service unavailable on Amazon Fire TV devices, costs of livestreaming add wrinkle to PBS stations' arrival on YouTube TV, wireless carrier throttling of online video found to be pervasive, and more!
AT&T has launched their new streaming TV service, AT&T TV, in 10 markets. But Variety says that "the way it's priced and packaged looks very similar to cable and satellite TV services — in other words, AT&T TV isn't targeted at the cord-cutter crowd. It's basically designed as a way for the telco to migrate customers from its DirecTV satellite and U-verse services, to deliver a premium, full-price (i.e. healthy margin) TV bundle more cost-effectively by providing for subscriber self-installation."
If you are thinking of subscribing to AT&T TV, FastCompany warns you to read the fine print first because it "reveals plenty of traditional TV trickery." For example, the introductory price requires a two-year contract, but the price jumps from $90/month in the first year to $133/month in the second. The list price for a bundle with regional sports doesn't include a regional sports fee in the listed price. And opting for three months of free premium services like HBO will result in auto-renewal if you forget to cancel.
"Hulu launched its live TV service just over two years ago, but it's already grown into one of the bigger pay-TV services in the United States," according to The Motley Fool. Unlike AT&T, Comcast, Charter, and Dish Network, "Hulu is actually growing its subscriber base. Hulu ended the second quarter with about 2.4 million Hulu + Live TV subscribers... That puts its subscriber base about even with Dish's Sling TV."
"PBS is exploring ways to help stations defray the potentially high costs of transmitting their live broadcast signals via YouTube TV, the first over-the-top livestreaming provider to partner with public television," says public media news website Current. Livestreaming of local PBS stations on YouTube TV is planned to start in November. "Stations in the biggest television markets, where YouTube TV is already equipped to stream local broadcasts, won't pay anything to provide their live feeds. But others — it's yet not clear which ones or how many — may need to pay either $250 or $1,500 each month."
Sling TV has added a new 'What’s Hot' ribbon on the 'Sports' screen of the Sling app on Android and Amazon devices. "'What’s Hot' makes it easier than ever to get to what you want to watch quickly by putting the hottest sporting events in one place. The new ribbon brings you the most popular games and sports talk shows that others are currently watching, so you'll always be up to date on the most important sports events and can watch without having to search or leave the 'Sports' screen." 'What’s Hot' is now available on Android mobile, Android TV and Amazon Fire TV devices. Although nothing has been said about additional devices, this feature will presumably be added to Roku in the near future.
"Apple is reportedly spending $6 billion on its initial lineup of TV shows, documentary series, and other originals that will land on its streaming service, Apple TV Plus," reports The Verge. "It's an understatement to say that Apple has an upper hand in the streaming wars when it comes to available cash flow to invest in its platform. But Apple TV Plus is still a hard sell content-wise. None of its shows are proven hits, and there doesn't appear to be any licensed programming to bring people in automatically. Taking a blind chance on shows starring Hollywood A-listers is still a tough sell for a service that will reportedly cost $10 a month."
"The NFL and Pluto TV have reached a deal to launch the NFL Channel, a curated library offering, on the ad-supported streaming service," reports Deadline. "Because Pluto is available free for consumers, much of the programming on its 150-plus networks approximates but does not duplicate what pay-TV subscribers get via the traditional bundle. That means the NFL Channel will not mirror the NFL Network... Instead, according to the official launch release, the new initiative will be dedicated to 'celebrating the NFL's iconic and classic moments spanning over a decade of past seasons.'"
According to Fortune, "The Walt Disney Company said Monday that its Disney Plus subscription video streaming service will premiere Nov. 12 through devices including Apple (AppleTV, iOS), Google (Chromecast, Android TV), and Roku. But the list is most notable because of what it omits—Amazon’s FireTV. And Fire is the most popular streaming device line worldwide, recently claiming 34 million active users versus 29 million for second place Roku, according to TDG Research.
However, "The omission of FireTV from the Disney Plus launch lineup may be temporary and relatively inconsequential. 'This is likelier a last minute carriage fees negotiation and not some deliberate freeze out by Amazon or Disney,' says Stephan Paternot, CEO of film financing platform Slated." On the other hand, "Amazon may have concluded that giving Disney real estate on the Fire would hurt its own video offerings through Prime. Alternately, Disney may have decided it could somehow harm Amazon by withholding its content from Fire."
"U.S. wireless carriers have long said they may slow video traffic on their networks to avoid congestion and bottlenecks. But new research shows the throttling happens pretty much everywhere all the time," Bloomberg reports. "Researchers from Northeastern University and University of Massachusetts Amherst conducted more than 650,000 tests in the U.S. and found that from early 2018 to early 2019, AT&T Inc. throttled Netflix Inc. 70% of the time and Google's YouTube service 74% of the time. But AT&T didn't slow down Amazon.com Inc.'s Prime Video at all. T-Mobile US Inc. throttled Amazon Prime Video in about 51% of the tests, but didn’t throttle Skype and barely touched Vimeo."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.