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Cordcutter News Brief - T-Mobile to launch streaming TV service, how Disney-Fox deal will impact Hulu, DirecTV Now hits million-subscriber mark, and more

December 15, 2017 - 18:13 -- RokuGuide

Cordcutter News BriefsIn this week's collection of recent cord-cutting news items from around the web: T-Mobile plans streaming TV service, the Disney-Fox deal's impact on Hulu, DirecTV Now surpasses 1 million subscribers, Hallmark Drama added to Sling TV, AT&T testing Internet delivery over powerlines, Amazon to resume selling Google products, and more.

T-Mobile announced this week that it will launch it's own streaming TV service in 2018, joining the likes of DirecTV Now, Sling TV, and Playstation Vue in the rush to sign up cord cutters and "cord-nevers." T-Mobile "will build TV for people who love TV but are tired of the multi-year service contracts, confusing sky-high bills, exploding bundles, clunky technologies, outdated UIs, closed systems and lousy customer service of today's traditional TV providers." No word on what the service will offer or how much it will cost.



In a FierceWireless editorial, Mike Dano discusses why "TV is now clearly the wireless industry's new battleground." He explains that "[t]he wireless industry may well be slowing after a few years of heated growth largely driven by LTE networks and smartphones. And thanks to the internet, the TV industry is undergoing some dramatic upheavals as customers of all ages eschew traditional TV hookups in favor of ones that are cheaper, simpler and more mobile... and it's those two factors that will likely reshape both the TV industry and the wireless industry in the years to come.

"AT&T has picked Georgia to test a new technology to distribute super-fast internet signals via power lines," reports The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Working "in an undisclosed rural Georgia location," AT&T and Georgia Power are testing the service where "[t]echnicians can essentially clamp the technology onto existing power infrastructure in a matter of minutes."

Multichannel.com reports that Dish has soft-launched a new AirTV box, a "device for cord-cutters [that] lets users stream local TV in and out of the home, [and] works with Sling TV." The device "is currently available in limited release." Not familiar with AirTV? Dave Zatz explains on Zatz Not Funny! that "AirTV is essentially an over-the-air Slingbox that repurposes existing M1 streaming hardware by adding an OTA tuner and, most interestingly, replaces a Slingbox client app with the Sling TV experience."

"Amazon to start selling Apple TV and Google Chromecast," says Cnet. This move appears to be a bit of a truce in an escalating battle in which Google blocked YouTube from Amazon's Echo Show and Fire TV devices, leading Amazon to retaliate by ending sales of Google's Nest smart thermostats and other products.

Perhaps Amazon extended the olive branch because, as Motley Fool author Rick Munarriz wrote for Nasdaq.com, "The Only Clear Winner in the Google Amazon War is Roku." He says, "Roku's on fire these days. The set-top internet streaming device is still selling briskly, and a fifth of all smart TVs are now powered by Roku's operating system. More importantly, its installed user base is growing, and folks are leaning on Roku more with every passing quarter... Now we're seeing fisticuffs fly as Amazon and Alphabet play Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, and no matter whose head pops here, Roku's going to be the one that comes out on top."

It was hard to miss the news that Disney plans to buy 21st Century Fox assets for $52.4 billion, but you may not have heard that the deal includes Fox's stake in Hulu; Disney will now have majority control over streaming-video company. According to Variety, "[i]ndustry observers have speculated that Disney could consolidate all its streaming businesses into Hulu — and turn it into a super-charged service to really challenge Netflix... Under Disney's current thinking, Hulu will serve as a complement to the Disney-branded SVOD service set for 2019 — including first-run movies, after Disney’s current licensing pact with Netflix in the U.S. expires — and the ESPN over-the-top service slated for spring 2018 launch."

TheVerge reported that this month "DirecTV Now has surpassed the 1 million subscriber mark. The over-the-top service, which picked up 200,000 subscribers in its first month earlier this year, has continued its growth and is on pace to catch the industry leader Sling TV, which has 1.7 million subscribers according to Bloomberg.

Bloomberg tells us why our favorite holiday movies are not available on streaming services. "Of the 25 greatest holiday movies as ranked by American Movie Classics, only five are available for streaming on Amazon.com, Hulu or Netflix this season... It turns out, Hollywood’s best holiday films are simultaneously too old and too good for streaming business models." Older shows and movies, while popular, don't drive people to sign up. Meanwhile, "Hollywood’s best holiday fare isn’t cheap or simple to obtain. Broadcasters use Christmas the way sports leagues use championship games — a chance to create a sense of urgency in a crowd accustomed to watching whatever they like whenever they want." According to Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos, "Even if a company commits to purchasing a holiday film, obtaining the rights requires negotiating with multiple distributors around the world, which may have conflicting schedules. The economics around the whole process are 'pretty lousy'".

Sling TV has added Hallmark Drama to the $5/month Lifestyle Extra add-on for Sling Orange and Sling Blue subscribers. Sling TV's announcement says that Hallmark Drama is "[p]erfect for Hallmark fans who want to fill their holidays with dramatic stories 24/7... and features programming from Crown Media's vast library of original content, including movies like 'Second Chances,' starring Alison Sweeney and Greg Vaughan, 'Honeymoon for One' featuring Nicollette Sheridan and Greg Wise, and 'Meet My Mom,' with Lori Loughlin and Johnny Messner, as well as scripted series like 'Cedar Cove,' starring Andie MacDowell and Dylan Neal. Plus, binge on classic acquired series, including 'Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman,' 'Touched by an Angel' and 'Little House on the Prairie.'"

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