New tech to help cut the cord, Sling TV’s 2.2 million subscribers, free Amazon Channels, BritBox takes Canada. Check out these and other reports from the world of streaming TV in this week’s news roundup.
The Future of Cord-cutting
Everything’s pointing towards a cable-free future. Check out the new tech and new developments that will shape our video-watching for years to come.
Cut the final cord #1: gigabit satellite internet
First two Starlink demo satellites, called Tintin A & B, deployed and communicating to Earth stations pic.twitter.com/TfI53wHEtz
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 22, 2018
SpaceX launched two satellites, Tintin A and Tintin B, to test its plans for a satellite-based internet service. Starlink will consist of 4,500 satellites orbiting more than 1,000 kilometers above the Earth. The relatively low-orbiting constellation will deliver gigabit-per-second internet speeds without the sluggish connections of DirecTV or Dish Network.
Cut the final cord #2: 5G wireless internet
5G wireless is the second technology that could threaten cable by letting us cancel our cable internet subscriptions. AT&T will roll out 5G wireless networks this year in Dallas, Atlanta and Waco. Dish Network executives told Wall Street analysts that the company will spend $1 billion to deploy its 5G network (MultiChannel News).
Next Gen TV: 4K over-the-air
Good old-fashioned broadcast television will get an upgrade soon. ATSC 3.0, the next generation of over-the-air television, is just a year away. Local TV stations will broadcast TV signals in 4K ultra high definition, high dynamic range, and wide color gamut. For free. WRAL in Raleigh, North Carolina, demonstrated an over-the-air 4K broadcast of the Olympics.
Download to go
Streaming services have frustrations of their own. Media Play News reported on a survey about consumers’ streaming experiences. The respondents complained that buffering, slow load times and advertising often force them to give up on their streaming session. Two out of every five respondents said they would be more likely to subscribe to services who let you download videos. Of course the company that ran the survey, Penthera, makes download-to-go software. So consider the source.
This is why we cut the cord
We reported on actual market research from FutureSource Consulting. The firm estimates that more than 125 million Americans subscribe to a streaming video on demand service like Netflix. Hidden in the announcement were more signals that cable’s future is not too bright. More content creators are going direct to the cord-cutter instead of through traditional channels.
What’s New in Live TV
Cut the cord without giving up live TV. Streaming TV services offer the channels you want at a fraction of the price. Here’s what’s new in live:
Sling TV’s #1 – have another add-on
Dish Network made it official: Sling TV is America’s largest internet TV service with more than 2.2 million subscribers. Although often criticized for its plethora of add-ons, Sling TV’s popularity comes in part from that ability to customize the experience. A new option for basketball fans adds NBA League Pass to the Sling TV channel lineup for $5 per month.
Free channels on Amazon Prime
Reports emerged that Amazon Prime Video will add free options to its Channel program. Speaking at a Digiday-hosted event, the executive in charge of Amazon Channels said that the new feature will build on similar offerings in Europe.
Roku streaming in Canada and UK
Roku announced the addition of two channels to its devices: DAZN and UKTV Play. DAZN is a sports-centric live TV streaming service in Canada and other countries. UKTV Play is the free catch-up service for the UKTV channels Dave, Drama, Really and Yesterday.
What’s On Demand
Video on-demand doesn’t mean just Netflix. Dozens of other companies offer their own unique libraries of streaming content.
Free Mubi for film students
Arthouse streaming service Mubi is giving 60,000 film students free subscriptions. The aspiring filmmakers will get to watch and study classic films from Mubi’s rotating lineup. Learning from the masters is much easier on an app than in a screening room.
Streaming anti-Instagram video art
Kabinett is a new streaming service for video art from the founder of Mubi. Pitching itself as the anti-Snapchat, Kabinett will foster innovative and challenging art works without the art world’s elitism.
BritBox launches in Canada
British TV networks BBC and ITV rolled out BritBox in Canada. Boasting the “largest collection of British TV”, BritBox will be Canada’s exclusive home for Idris Elba’s Five by Five and Rowan Atkinson’s Maigret — plus a lot of Doctor Who.
Netflix heading to Original-only?
Cordcutters News reported that Netflix’s catalog of movies has shrunk by more than 2000 titles over the past eight years. The number of TV series, on the other hand, has tripled to nearly 1,600 shows.
It’s the Network, Man
Streaming services and cable companies are just the middle men. From mega-media companies like Disney to your friendly local indie filmmaker, it’s the content creators that count.
Streaming the gold
NBC announced that NBC Sports Digital streamed more than 1.3 billion minutes of live PyeongChang Olympics coverage… in just five days. That’s more than three times NBC’s streaming volume of the entire Sochi Olympics four years ago.
Insert cheesy pun here
Cheddar’s CEO hinted that more streaming services will soon carry the business-focused news network. Joe Steinberg held a Reddit AMA this week in which he revealed the shocking news that cheddar is not his favorite cheese.
Nothing but net
Turner announced its own NBA All Star streaming stats. Twice as many people as last year used the TNT and TBS apps to live stream the game. That despite the fact the apps require a TV provider. Streaming over Turner’s NBA social media channels saw smaller, but still impressive, growth fo 37% over last year.
A new bubble for the right
Fox News announced the creation of Fox Nation, a subscription streaming service for die-hard conservative news junkies. The new service will feature exclusive, original programming as well as archival content. Fox Nation will launch in late 2018.
Cable Companies Have News Too
We almost feel bad including these stories. Then we look at our old cable bills.
Skinny bundles cable-style
Spectrum’s skinny bundle service popped onto more radars last week. Spectrum Choice gives the cable company’s internet-only customers an inexpensive bundle of live TV channels along with the option to add ten more channels on an a-la-carte basis. Flixed’s own Sam Cook said that Spectrum “misses the mark” for its lack of choice compared to other services. TechHive criticized the lack of a DVR option.
At the same time that Spectrum went public with their skinny bundle service, CenturyLink shut down its service. A statement on the CenturyLink Stream website says current subscribers can keep watching until their current subscription period ends. To ease the sting, CenturyLink is comping the subscribers with free on-demand movie rentals through the end of March. MultiChannel News reported that CenturyLink may cut a deal with DirecTV Now or fuboTV.
Where are cable prices going?
The American Cable Association represents small and mid-sized cable companies. A survey of its members found that they expect rebroadcast fees to rise 88% by 2020. Local network affiliates charge cable companies these fees for the rights to retransmit the free over-the-air signals. The higher fees will raise cable bills by $15 per month.
Chris Casper is a former tech industry product manager who escaped from California for New Mexico. Now he writes about science and tech while searching for the perfect green chile sauce.