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Cordcutter News Brief - FCC set to repeal net neutrality, YouTube TV coming to Apple TV and Roku, The Most Wonderful Movies of Christmas, and more

November 24, 2017 - 15:12 -- RokuGuide

Cordcutter News BriefsIn this week's collection of recent cord-cutting news items from around the web: FCC expected to repeal net neutrality rules, YouTube TV coming to Apple TV and Roku devices, MoviePass wants to be the Netflix of cinema-going, Verizon may have new deal with NFL, stream The Most Wonderful Movies of Christmas, and more.

In a victory for telecom companies, the FCC chairman has proposed to repeal net neutrality rules. "The Federal Communications Commission released a plan on Tuesday to dismantle landmark regulations that ensure equal access to the internet," the New York Times reports, "clearing the way for internet service companies to charge users more to see certain content and to curb access to some websites." The FCC commissioners are expected to approve the proposal during a meeting on December 14.



HuffPost contributor Donald Cohen says that a result of the threats to net neutrality, "Communities Are Taking Matters Into their Own Hands—And Scaring The Hell Out Of Comcast." He explains how 19 Colorado towns recently "voted to allow the exploration of creating a local, public alternative to expensive private providers... Comcast and the like are quaking in their boots about a public option, and they should be. Cities like Chattanooga, Tennessee, which became the first U.S. city to offer gigabit internet speed after going public, are outperforming private providers and even forcing them to innovate to play catch up."

Hallmark Channel's Countdown to Christmas is in full swing, with holiday movies all day and all night. A new original movie premieres every Saturday and Sunday. Also, sister channel Hallmark Movies & Mysteries is featuring The Most Wonderful Movies of Christmas throughout the season. Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries are both included in Sling TV's Lifestyle Extra package.

Fire TV recently the ability for Alexa to play content from Netflix, reports AFTVnews, and now the PlayStation Vue app includes Alexa support as well. "The commands work using either the Fire TV Voice Remote or an external Alexa device, like the Amazon Echo or Echo Dot." AFTVnews reports that other apps expected to add Alexa voice support in the future include Hulu, Showtime, PlayStation Vue, CBS, NBC, Bravo, CNBC, and NBC News.

"YouTube TV's about-face on TV apps is the right move," says San Diego Tribune reporter Jennifer Van Grove. "YouTube side-stepped the TV app for streaming sticks and boxes, and went instead with an all-or-nothing mobile approach. That meant the YouTube TV smartphone app (available on iPhone and Android) was the one and only way to stream on TVs." However, a YouTube TV app was recently launched for Xbox and Android TV devices, and "[j]ust this week, the service debuted dedicated apps for newer Samsung and LG smart TV sets. In the coming months, YouTube TV will release a standalone app for both Apple TV and Roku devices, as well as Sony TVs."

"MoviePass is trying to become the Netflix of cinema-going", according to Variety. The service lets subscribers watch one movie every day for $9.95 per month, and advertises that it includes all major 2D movies and all major theaters, with no blackout dates. However, "[t]here is anxiety that customers will get accustomed to paying a discounted rate for tickets, which will depress prices, like bargain movie rental services such as Redbox and Netflix made Blockbuster and its hefty late fees obsolete." Despite a threat of legal action from AMC, "MoviePass announced it had raised $100 million to fund operations" and currently has over 600,000 subscribers.

Hollywood Reporter says that "Canada's Effort to Stem Cord-Cutting Has Been an Epic Fail." "Insiders say Canadian subscribers haven't warmed to "skinny" TV bundles because Canadian cable and telco giants... have been protecting their bottom line, rather than offering flexible, affordable alternatives to expensive, cable packages... [C]ritics say Canadian media players still do too little in the cord-cutting age to make their content available for streaming and downloading on multiple platforms and will continue to lose subscription revenues because of it."

A study from Hub Entertainment Research, reported by AdWeek, found that "watching TV online was more popular than watching on a set-top box" for the first time since tracking such viewership began in 2014... About 52 percent of viewers now say they watch their favorite shows online via services like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon, on a network's own site or app, or via other online services like iTunes. Forty-eight percent of viewers prefer to watch TV live, on DVR or through an on-demand platform."

"Verizon Communications Inc. is close to a new deal with the National Football League for digital streaming rights that would give the largest U.S. wireless carrier the ability to deliver game broadcasts to computers, tablets and phones," Bloomberg reports. The deal would reportedly allow Verizon to stream games to devices with screens larger than the current limit of 7 inches, but Verizon will lose their exclusive rights to stream games to mobile devices. "That means cable and satellite companies, and streaming providers like DirecTV Now and Sling TV, may be able to offer their customers streaming games on their phones through their own apps."

Next-Gen TV may "spell doom for over-the-air DVR", according to Jared Newman in his latest Cord-Cutter Confidential column on TechHive. "The new ATSC 3.0 broadcast TV standard includes digital rights management (DRM), theoretically crippling DVR products like Tablo and TiVo." But don't worry about your DVR becoming obsolete any time soon: "U.S. broadcasters... have to simulcast their channels using the current ATSC 1.0 standard until 2023 at the earliest. If you buy a Tablo or HDHomeRun tuner today... you can expect to use that hardware for at least five years without issue," Newman reports.

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