This week saw Netflix subscribers going up, Comcast subscribers going down, local TV streaming options expand and more news that cord-cutting’s momentum keeps on going. Check out our recap from the world of streaming.
Netflix Pricing, Revenue and Subscribers All Go Up
Last fall Netflix raised prices on its high definition and ultra high definition subscription plans. This week Netflix executives announced the results. The on-demand service added eight million more subscribers, 30% more than they originally forecasted. The success gives Netflix even more money to produce original content like Stranger Things and My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman. CEO Reed Hastings said that the results put the burden on Netflix to “turn that into even better content, that is the fundamental deal. Consumers are tolerant as long as something’s improving.” So cord-cutters should be happy that even more content is on its way. But will Netflix’s success make it easier to raise prices again?
Hulu Adds More Indie Content
The Sundance Film Festival has been going on all week, bringing together the right audience to hear Hulu’s latest indie strategy (Indiewire). The on-demand service signed a deal with IFC Films that gives it exclusive streaming rights for dozens of new-release indie films. “We are committed to curating a collection of critically-acclaimed and fan favorite films,” Hulu executive Lisa Holme explained. The news comes just a week after Reuters reported that Amazon was backing away from indie content.
Awards Season: Lose Some, Win Some
The Screen Actors Guild Awards wasn’t very nice to Netflix. Netflix earned nineteen nominations, but only one award went to its on-demand originals (Engadget). Claire Foy won the Best Actress Award for her portrayal of the young Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown. The Oscars may give Netflix a chance to add more wins. It received eight nominations (Vanity Fair). Mudbound alone received four nominations, including two for Mary J. Blige
Streaming by the Numbers
CNBC scored a coup this week when insiders revealed Hulu and YouTube’s subscriber numbers. YouTube TV launched in April and now has 300,000 subscribers. Hulu with Live TV, which launched in May, has 450,000 subscribers. That still pales in comparison to AT&T’s DirecTV Now which reached the million subscriber mark in its first year. As we discussed earlier in the week, the rise of these new services could challenge Sling TV’s leadership.
FuboTV Sprints for Glory
We reported several new developments at sports-centric streaming service fuboTV. It now ranks number one on Apple’s list of Top Paid sports apps for the Apple TV. Timed with that announcement, fuboTV rolled out improvements to the DVR features of its Apple TV app. More sophisticated search functions and a seven-day window in the programming guide make it easier to record games or shows you’d otherwise miss.
More People Can Stream Local TV
Streaming services are closing the gap with cable when it comes to streaming local TV stations. Reports emerged that Hulu with Live TV now reaches 50% of America’s TV-watching households (Cord Cutter News). Just this morning, we reported that fuboTV’s local NBC lineup reaches 51% of the US. It already reaches 76% of FOX markets and 62% of CBS markets. Hoops fans also got some reassuring news as CBS and PlayStation Vue renewed their streaming deal. Just ahead of March Madness, the deal means Sony’s streaming service will continue to carry CBS local stations.
Canadian Cord-Cutters Cheer
Long under-served cord-cutters in Canada received several surprises this week. HBO will let CraveTV stream every season of Game of Thrones. The on-demand service will get the first three season in mid-February with the remaining season arriving over the course of 2018. CraveTV is quickly gaining a premium library of on-demand TV. Canadian golf fans will get enhanced PGA Tour coverage on DAZN. Just in time for Tiger Woods’ latest comeback attempt, the deal lets DAZN subscribers stream early rounds of thirty events.
The Un-Streamer Deal Closes
The stage is set for T-Mobile’s disruption of the TV business after the “un-carrier” closed its purchase of regional streaming service Layer3 TV. “I can’t wait to take the fight to Big Cable and Satellite TV on behalf of consumers everywhere!” mild-mannered T-Mobile CEO John Legere declared. The company will build on Layer3 TV’s technology to launch a streaming TV service later this year. Available to anybody in the US, T-Mobile subscriber or otherwise. No doubt the company hopes its upcoming 5G wireless network will lead people to make the switch.
Google Doesn’t Want You to Watch YouTube
The developers at YouTube were hard at work preventing anybody from using its service. They reportedly blocked the browser-based work-around Amazon developed for Fire TV devices (The Verge). Getting the desktop version of YouTube through Amazon’s Silk browser or through Firefox suddenly stopped working. A work-around for YouTube TV on Roku stopped working just this morning (Cord Cutters News). For a brief period, Roku owners could use the YouTube TV app on their smartphone to “cast” live streams to the Roku’s YouTube app. Not any more. It’s pretty clear that people want to watch TV on televisions. Maybe YouTube should spend more time developing apps for these platforms.
Dead Dinosaurs Walking
Comcast put a positive spin on declining subscriber numbers. Comcast customers cut the cord for the third quarter in a row. At the same time, the company’s internet business added more customers. “Broadband is a centerpiece for us,” a company executive declared.