Years and Years (of Pay TV Industry Predictions)

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by NashGuy, Jul 14, 2019.

  1. Jul 14, 2019 #1 of 283
    NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Here’s some (at least semi-plausible) future fiction on where the pay TV industry, including TiVo, may be heading in the coming years. Hope you find it entertaining. Please feel free to respond with your own thoughts and questions.

    Note: I will original post additional predictions for future years, all the way through 2024, in the coming days, so please scroll down for the rest of the story!

    OK, buckle up, here we go…

    3Q 2019: Verizon begins selling YouTube TV to their FiOS and Wireless customers

    Following through on an announcement made in April, Verizon begins selling the YouTube TV streaming cable TV service to their own FiOS broadband and Verizon Wireless cellular customers. The marketing and backing that Verizon gives the service encourages many of their FiOS broadband customers to switch from FiOS TV to YouTube TV, seeing significant savings on their monthly bill, along with better HD picture quality.

    Although they charge the standard $50/mo price for YouTube TV, Verizon offers unified billing plus enhanced technical support for YouTube TV for their customers, with the first month of service free.

    3Q 2019: Apple TV+ debuts

    In Sept., Apple launches their new Apple TV+ SVOD to great fanfare. They announce that the new service will focus on quality over quantity, featuring the best storytellers, directors, actors and cinematographers, with all series, films and docs produced in 4K with Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos sound, all 100% ad-free, with no paid product placement. All viewership data that Apple collects will be anonymized and never sold or shared with other companies. The service only features Apple’s own original content, with new titles premiering each month.

    Apple TV+ will be free for its first year to all owners of an Apple iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple TV device that supports the new Apple TV app. Those customers can link a free Apple TV+ subscription to their Apple accounts inside the TV app on those devices. After activation, they can also view the service in the Apple TV app on non-Apple devices too, such as Android phones, Rokus, Fire TVs, and smart TVs. These free accounts only allow one stream at a time.

    Others can subscribe to Apple TV+ at its regular monthly price of $7, or add it to an Apple Music account for an extra $4. These paid accounts are allowed two simultaneous Apple TV+ streams.

    3Q 2019: AT&T sells their four Regional Sports Networks to Sinclair

    AT&T eases its huge debt burden a bit by unloading their 4 RSNs to Sinclair for around $1 billion. This makes Sinclair, already the largest owner of local broadcast stations in the country, also the undisputed king of RSNs, having earlier in the year purchased 21 RSNs from Disney (formerly owned by Fox), plus major stakes in the NY Yankees RSN, YES Network, and a future Chicago Cubs RSN to be named Marquee Sports Network.

    3Q-4Q 2019: CBS scales up

    CBS remerges with Viacom to form a significantly larger media powerhouse. But with a combined market cap of only around $33 billion, still far smaller than Disney ($254 bn), AT&T/WarnerMedia ($250 bn) or Comcast/NBCU (over $193 bn), and around the same size as Sony Pictures, CBS is still a middleweight, not heavyweight, fighter. CBS follows up soon after with acquisitions of Lionsgate (owner of Starz, plus a film and TV studio) and AMC Networks, bringing their overall market cap up to about $40 billion.

    4Q 2019: AT&T TV launches nationwide

    AT&T TV is the company’s new flagship premium streaming cable TV service, taking the company’s marketing focus away from DirecTV satellite, Uverse TV, DirecTV Now, and AT&T Watch TV. After a soft launch in limited markets in August, the service becomes available nationwide in 4Q, over any internet connection, although AT&T particularly aims to bundle it with their own home broadband and wireless phone services. (AT&T home broadband customers’ data caps are waived if they add AT&T TV to their account.) The service is offered with AT&T’s own customized Android TV streaming box with full-featured remote (including channel up/down and 0-9 buttons!) to provide a traditional cable TV user experience, although it can also be accessed through the AT&T TV app on popular TV-connected devices (e.g. Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV) as well as mobile devices.

    AT&T TV blurs the distinction between operator-provided traditional cable TV services (e.g. Charter Spectrum TV) and skinny bundle OTT streaming cable TV services (e.g. YouTube TV) because it contains aspects of both while not being completely like either. All AT&T TV channel packages include virtually all of the networks owned by AT&T/WarnerMedia, including HBO, as part of the base price. It’s also the only OTT cable TV service to include nearly all the popular and niche cable channels, from every major network group including Viacom, A+E Networks and Discovery, making it a full substitute for traditional cable and satellite TV. The service includes nearly all of the major network-affiliated HD local stations across the nation’s top 150 markets and is the first OTT cable TV service to also include PBS and C-SPAN.

    4Q 2019: NBCU acquires Crown Media, owner of Hallmark networks

    Comcast/NBCU announces their wholesale acquisition of Crown Media (a subsidiary of Hallmark Cards, Inc.), owner of the Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, and Hallmark Drama cable networks, as well as the Hallmark Movies Now OTT SVOD, including all those services’ content properties. Terms of the deal with the privately held Hallmark Cards, Inc. are not publicly disclosed.
     
  2. Jul 14, 2019 #2 of 283
    NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    1Q 2020: AT&T TV distribution expands

    AT&T announces that telco/fiber operator CenturyLink will sell AT&T TV and HBO Max as their preferred video entertainment services to be optionally bundled with CenturyLink home internet service. Up until this point, CenturyLink had been reselling DirecTV satellite TV service after giving up on selling their own Prism TV IPTV service two years earlier in 2018. They immediately cease all marketing and sales of DirecTV.

    1Q 2020: Showtime+Starz co-branding

    CBS announces that all new original series debuting on both Showtime and Starz in 2020 will be co-branded as “Showtime+Starz Originals,” and will air and stream on both brands’ platforms. Additionally, while Showtime and Starz remained individually priced at $11 and $9, respectively, they begin to be advertised and sold together at a discounted price of $15. CBS encourages their traditional cable distribution partners to also offer a specially discounted Showtime+Starz bundle.

    1Q 2020: HBO Max launches

    HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s competitor to Netflix and their long-term bet on the future of video entertainment, launches. It’s a subscription streaming video on-demand (SVOD) service that offers content from all of WarnerMedia’s various brands, centered on HBO but also including TBS, TNT, CNN Originals, DC Universe, TruTV, Audience, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Looney Toons, Hanna-Barbera, and decades of films and series from Warner Bros. Pictures and Warner Bros. Television. New original series and films exclusive to this streaming service, dubbed Max Originals, are also included, focused on demographics and tastes outside of those traditionally targeted by the HBO brand. The standalone Cinemax service shuts down and ceases to exist as a brand, with current and former Cinemax original series incorporated into the HBO Max library, rebranded as Max Originals. The original Cinemax linear channel is rebranded as HBO Cinema, a 24/7 theatrical movie channel, joining HBO, HBO Family and HBO Latino as the only live linear channels inside the HBO Max app.

    HBO Max is the company’s cornerstone of their video entertainment strategy. The company directly sells no video packages on any platform without HBO Max. All cable channel packages in AT&T TV include HBO Max. As a standalone direct-to-consumer service, it’s priced at $16/mo, the same as Netflix’s premium plan, and like it, HBO Max includes 4K HDR and allows multiple simultaneous streams, while being completely ad-free.

    Some major cable operators announce that they will cease selling new subscriptions to the traditional HBO service (typically at $15 a la carte) and will instead begin selling HBO Max, with some pricing it at $17 and others at $16. All their existing HBO subscribers, however, would be given the option of staying on the traditional service at current pricing. Meanwhile, other cable operators declined to distribute HBO Max and said that they would continue selling only traditional HBO, with one cable operator immediately announcing a new lower $13/mo price point for it. Traditional HBO continues to be sold as a standalone direct-to-consumer service via HBO Now, as well as through streaming platforms such as Prime Video Channels, Apple TV Channels, and The Roku Channel.

    1Q 2020: Discovery launches their OTT SVOD

    Discovery Networks, in partnership with the BBC, launches their own OTT SVOD simply named Discovery. Positioned as the marquee destination for lifestyle and knowledge programming, the service offers current and library content from across nearly all the company’s underlying brands/channels, as well as nature docs produced by the BBC such as the acclaimed Planet Earth series. It features select content in 4K HDR and is priced at $5 with limited ads or $9 ad-free. Discovery is available through its own app on all major platforms as well as an add-on through Prime Video Channels, Apple TV Channels, the Roku Channel, and YouTube TV.

    1Q 2020: YouTube TV expands their line-up

    YouTube TV announces that, by popular demand, their service will include the new Magnolia channel created by Chip and Joanna Gaines, from Discovery Networks, along with A&E, History, Lifetime, The Hallmark Channel, and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, all five of which ranked among the 25 most-watched cable networks in the US in 2019. Furthermore, Google says that they are proud to support non-commercial TV with the addition of both PBS and C-SPAN channels to YouTube TV.

    Of course, the addition of new popular channels, as well as the start of a new calendar year, means that Google has to increase the price of YouTube TV again by $5, this time to $55/mo. But they soften the blow by announcing that select live and on-demand content from a number of channel providers will be available in 4K and 4K HDR for no additional charge, while every channel on the service is now offered with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (if available from the network).

    They also act to make the service an even fuller replacement for traditional cable and satellite TV by offering an optional “Sports Overtime Pack” containing most of the popular and niche sports channels that aren’t already offered in the regular main tier (e.g. NFL Network, NFL RedZone, NHL Network, Pac-12 Network, BeIN Sports, etc.).
     
  3. Jul 14, 2019 #3 of 283
    NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    2Q 2020: NBCU launches their OTT SVOD

    NBCUniversal launches their new OTT SVOD nationwide. They aim to have it included as part of cable operators’ basic cable bundles, alongside NBCU networks like NBC, USA, Hallmark Channel, Bravo, SyFy, and E!, although most major operators do not include it at launch. For those that do (obviously including Xfinity TV), the service is available with ads for no additional cost. Ads can be removed for $6. Those without access to the service as part of a cable bundle must pay $10 for it with ads or $16 without ads. Comcast intentionally prices the product early on so as not to compete with Hulu (of which it retains a 1/3 ownership stake for a few more years) for cord-cutters’ dollars, while positioning it as a free sweetener to their basic cable channels to encourage sampling and adoption.

    The NBCU SVOD won’t be the exclusive streaming home of The Office until the start of 2021. But still, it boasts at launch a handful of new original premium-quality series, plus a library of past series and movies aimed at all ages and tastes, including favorites like The Blacklist, Law & Order, Will & Grace, American Ninja Warrior, Heroes, Monk, Psych, Suits, Miami Vice, Magnum P.I., The A-Team, Murder She Wrote, Little House on the Prairie, and a wealth of Hallmark content. Next-day access to current series airing on NBC and other NBCU-owned networks is limited to subscribers with a cable channel package that includes those networks.

    2Q 2020: CBS All Access expands

    CBS All Access announces a dramatic expansion and redesigned app. (Does the service take on a new name too? My crystal ball is a bit cloudy on that question.) The service now includes on-demand content and live linear channels acquired from Viacom and AMC Networks, including Pluto TV (which continues to exist for now as its own separate totally free app), as well as CBS’s own Smithsonian Channel. CBS News and sports content are also prominently featured. The newly redesigned CBS app also incorporates live and on-demand content from Showtime and Starz for customers who subscribe to either service on the same account at a discounted price. At this time, CBS All Access ceases to be available as an add-on in other apps/platforms, such as Prime Video Channels, Apple TV Channels, or the Roku Channel. The cost of the service, despite all the additional content, increases only $2/mo, up to $8 with ads or $14 ad-free.

    CBS also announces that their Sundance Now OTT service (which former owner AMC had tried to sell as a $7/mo premium service) would be shut down, with its original series content shifted to Showtime or the regular Sundance TV channel.

    2Q 2020: DirecTV Now and AT&T Watch TV shut down

    On June 30, AT&T shuts down both of their OTT streaming cable TV services originally aimed at “cord-cutters”: DirecTV Now and the skinny $15/mo AT&T Watch TV. The latter had mostly served as a bonus packaged in with certain AT&T Wireless plans. HBO Max mainly fills that role now. Neither had received any advertising or other marketing attention from AT&T since the launch of AT&T TV in 4Q 2019.

    Although AT&T TV is marketed as a “premium” multichannel pay TV service, and not targeted at cord-cutters, per se, AT&T TV’s pricing, channel packages, feature set and OTT delivery system make DirecTV Now completely superfluous. Existing DirecTV Now subscribers on the Plus or Max package are notified that they will automatically be transferred over to the same package — at the same standard $50 or $70 price but with additional channels — on AT&T TV when DirecTV Now shuts down. Customers on DirecTV Now packages other than Plus or Max are incentivized to switch to AT&T TV with special discounts but are not automatically transitioned to the service. AT&T Watch TV subscribers are invited to check out HBO Max, priced at only $1/mo more, or the $30/mo Select package on AT&T TV, which includes almost exactly the same channel line-up as Watch TV, but also includes HBO Max too.

    2Q 2020: Verizon markets Google’s Stadia and YouTube Music, doubles down on YouTube TV

    Verizon announces that they are extending their marketing agreement with Google to include both their Stadia subscription streaming video game service and YouTube Music subscription streaming music service, which Verizon will sell to their FiOS, 5G Home, and Wireless customers, as they already do with Google’s YouTube TV. Verizon promises a high-quality, low-latency gaming experience on Stadia when played on their advanced fiber and 5G networks.

    Additionally, Verizon sweetens the deal for bundling YouTube TV with their FiOS or 5G Home broadband service by giving new subscribers a free 4K HDR Google Android TV dongle with a custom mid-sized backlit voice remote control. The remote appeals to traditional cable TV users with buttons for TV power, volume up/down, channel up/down, last channel, home (YouTube TV), apps, Google Assistant (voice), shortcut launch buttons for Netflix and YouTube, plus standard navigation and playback controls. The dongle (hardware similar to Sling TV’s AirTV Mini, released in 2019, but with a mini-USB port for optional ethernet adapter) runs nearly-standard Android TV 9.0, differing only in that it defaults to the YouTube TV app as its “home screen” while Google’s regular Android TV multi-app launcher home screen is accessible through an “Apps” button on the custom remote and a special Apps on-screen button in the YouTube TV app. It also comes with apps for YouTube, Stadia, YouTube Music, and Netflix pre-installed.

    Google works with Verizon to better integrate Google’s content distribution network into Verizon’s network to ensure optimal performance across Google’s range of apps and services.

    Now that Verizon has dedicated hardware to offer their YouTube TV customers, and now that YouTube TV offers a full-scale line-up of cable channels with superior picture and sound formats, Verizon sees it as a viable replacement for their own FiOS TV service for over 75% of their customer base. (Viacom channels are the only real missing element in YouTube TV, and those can be had through CBS All Access if desired.) From this point forward, Verizon no longer actively markets FiOS TV, although they continue to sell and install it via website- and phone-based sign-ups.
     
  4. Jul 15, 2019 #4 of 283
    foghorn2

    foghorn2 Well-Known Member

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    2019-202x.. I continue to use my LifeTime Tivo via Antenna and the Minis not payin a dime for all that streamed crap shows of the new Millennia , along with the fire sticks with Kodi to view the awesome content I already own. This will continue on till I die saving tens of thousands of dollars not having to watch modern crap.
     
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  5. Jul 15, 2019 #5 of 283
    mschnebly

    mschnebly Active Member

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    Don't forget driving your 65 Rambler listening to AM radio. :)
     
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  6. Jul 15, 2019 #6 of 283
    dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

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    Get real! No one ever liked a '65 Rambler! Now a '57 Chevy? That's something else.
     
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  7. Jul 15, 2019 #7 of 283
    dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

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    @NashGuy : You should write a book ..... oh, you already did, here.

    Frankly your predictions are too detailed for me to even care about --- but that's just me. The prediction I would care about is: The traditional cable TV model continues to lose market share and eventually disappears along with its monopolistic, crappy billing and service experience. (And Tuning Adapters!).
     
  8. Jul 15, 2019 #8 of 283
    unclehonkey

    unclehonkey Well-Known Member

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    hey whats wrong with AM radio? There is some good stuff on there...
     
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  9. Jul 15, 2019 #9 of 283
    Bigg

    Bigg Cord Cutter

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    NashGuy, I think you're spot on with pretty much all of that, although those launches are depressingly boring, and are going to fracture the market and probably drive up piracy. I think customers will have subscription fatigue and either pirate stuff, rotate subscriptions, or just watch whatever is on Netflix/Amazon.
     
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  10. Jul 15, 2019 #10 of 283
    Bigg

    Bigg Cord Cutter

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    Also, I know you're looking at the content side of it, but I think Verizon 5G is going to be pretty interesting. 5G is going to end up being sort of useless for mobile in most cases, but it could be interesting in a lot of markets for home internet. Verizon has a TON of fiber, and they are going to have to continue building out small sites for their mobile network due to their spectrum position anyway, so why not put 5G antennas on them? mmWave 5G will show up in all sorts of weird places in little blobs here and there where they had to put a small cell to offload mobile traffic from the macro network on LTE or sub-6 5G.

    AT&T could do some 5G outside of core downtowns if they see a synergy with their content business, either through AT&T TV or DirecTV. However, they could also decide to go FTTH, even outside of their ILEC footprint, as they have found that fiber has very low churn, and has good bundling synergy with TV content, whether delivered over satellite, managed IPTV, or in the future, unmanaged IPTV. They don't have the same need as Verizon to deploy small cells for mobile due to their spectrum position, so they may well just target busy downtown areas only for small cell deployment.
     
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  11. Jul 15, 2019 #11 of 283
    NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    3Q 2020: T-Mobile expands fixed wireless home broadband, teams with Disney for TV

    As promised, T-Mobile gets serious about taking market share from cable and other broadband operators with fixed wireless home broadband service running over their 5G and 4G LTE networks. They mainly focus on underserved areas with less competition but consistently price their broadband plans at levels that slightly undercut the local competition for standalone broadband service at decent speeds with a generous (or no) data cap.

    And while the company continues to sell their full-scale traditional cable TV competitor service T-Vision (a rebranded Layer3 TV), complete with a non-optional physical DVR box but with no T-Vision app for mobile streaming access, T-Mobile quietly gives up on their previously promised goal of disrupting pay TV with their own revolutionary new OTT service. Given that the company owns no content or TV networks, and would have to negotiate carriage contracts starting from a subscriber base of zero, on top of the fact that the cable channel bundle seems to be slowly disintegrating and dying, they realize it is a fool’s errand. So instead, they decided to team up with an existing OTT streaming cable TV service to distribute to their own customer base. But which one? YouTube TV was out of the question since it had already been claimed by arch-rival Verizon. AT&T TV was out of the question for obvious reasons. X1 TV (see next prediction) wasn’t a great option because of its association with “big cable” Comcast, with which they were directly competing throughout the nation now on both the broadband and mobile service fronts.

    So that left Disney and their Hulu service. T-Mobile quietly drops their “Netflix on Us” deal and instead offers a free basic Hulu (with ads) subscription to all T-Mobile customers, both mobile and home broadband. Those customers with both services also get Disney+ for free. Subscribers can upgrade their free Hulu account to Hulu with Live TV for an extra $35/mo, or basic ad-free Hulu for an extra $7/mo. Disney+ and ESPN+ are available to add to Hulu at Disney’s typical discounted bundling rates. Data usage for all Disney streaming services are zero-rated against T-Mobile’s mobile and home broadband plans.

    3Q 2020: Xfinity cable TV goes OTT nationwide

    Due to competitive pressure from rival AT&T TV, Comcast decides to take their Xfinity cable TV service nationwide as an OTT streaming product. Their official company line for years had been that they were not interested in selling cable TV service outside of their physical network footprint. But that tune had begun to change when Comcast acquired Sky, which had already been selling skinny OTT cable TV bundles in Europe. And now that Comcast was selling their own OTT NBCU SVOD in the US, and one that was mainly intended to act as a complement to the cable bundle rather than a competitor to it, it only made sense that Comcast would now begin selling their cable TV service nationwide over the open internet. They had had the technology platform in place to make the move for years, and in fact had already been streaming live, VOD and cloud DVR content OTT to their Xfinity Stream app on mobile devices for their traditional cable customers. So all that was really needed to roll out their cable TV service as a fully OTT product was adjustments to some cable network carriage contracts, plus marketing and customer service arrangements.

    The new service, named X1 TV, is available inside its own app of the same name, featuring 4K HDR, video on demand, and various amounts of cloud DVR storage. At the low end, the cheapest package includes just the local NBC and Telemundo channels plus all the cable networks owned by NBCU (NBCSN, MSNBC, USA, SyFy, etc.) as well as all the on-demand content from the new NBCU SVOD. The next package up includes all the content from the cheapest tier, plus local channels from ABC, CBS, Fox, PBS, and (in some areas) The CW, along with nearly all of the basic cable channels owned by Disney, CBS and Fox, as well as Sinclair’s regional sports networks. A few add-on packs are available for those customers who want additional channels, including anything from WarnerMedia or Discovery. Those same live channel bundles are also available as add-ons inside of the NBCU SVOD app (just as Hulu has a Live TV add-on). While the X1 TV app uses a more traditional cable-box-like UI (very similar to the Xfinity Stream app), the NBCU SVOD app uses a more next-gen streaming UI akin to Hulu and Netflix.

    Comcast makes both apps available for all the major streaming platforms but positions their own X1 streaming box with voice remote as the ideal consumption device for their services. They market a small 4K HDR-capable X1 box as the “X1 4K HDR” and announce it for sale via their own website and physical stores as well as the websites and physical stores of Walmart, Target and BestBuy nationwide. Aside from a home screen customized for Comcast’s own apps, the X1 box supports a range of popular third-party video and music apps too.

    Comcast’s own Xfinity broadband customers can choose from the new set of X1 TV packages as well as their standard set of packages that aren’t distributed OTT (Basic, Extra, Preferred). Either way, any Xfinity TV service delivered over their own broadband network is considered IPTV by Comcast and does not count against their broadband usage caps.

    3Q 2020: Amazon announces extensive pact with Sony

    Amazon announces that it will immediately take ownership of the PS Vue live streaming cable TV service from Sony, rebranding it as Prime Video Live Channels. Sony had never been able to get PS Vue to a minimal level of profitability and the handwriting was on the wall that they would have to shutter or sell the small service. Amazon said that they would continue to operate the existing PS Vue app for the remainder of the year, at which point it would shut down with an option to transfer over to Prime Video Live Channels, which would immediately begin operation inside the Prime Video app (and integrated into the native Fire TV UI), offering the same channel packages at slightly lower prices. In order to subscribe to Prime Video Live Channels, one must have an active Prime or Prime Video subscription or an active PlayStation Plus subscription (in which case the Prime Video Live Channels sign-up must be done in the Prime Video app on a PS4 or subsequent Sony game console).

    As a second part of their overall deal, Amazon announces that after the current Sony Pictures output deal with Starz (now a part of CBS) expires, Prime Video would become the new home for recent theatrical movies from Sony, including their popular Spider-Man films. Amazon will also co-operate with Sony for nationwide distribution of select Amazon Originals films to movie theaters, with those films to debut on the Prime Video service 60 days later. Furthermore, a number of popular TV series from the past 80 years owned and distributed by Sony Pictures Television, from Bewitched to Masters of Sex to The Goldbergs, would be made available as streaming exclusives on Prime Video as well.

    As a third part of the deal, Sony announces that they will exclusively use Amazon’s Fire TV OS as the smart TV app platform for all future model Sony TVs. Sony had been using Google’s Android TV OS, to mixed reviews. Amazon commits to producing first-class apps for the Sony PS4 and future PlayStation consoles.

    As a fourth part of the deal, Amazon announces that they will offer a low-cost streaming game service to Prime members exclusively for play on recent model Fire TV devices. The service, named PlayStation Prime, will be similar to Sony’s existing PlayStation Now service but will not include PS4 games, only games that debuted on the PS3 and PS2, plus indie games and new games made exclusively for the service, aimed at all ages and skill levels. PlayStation Prime will require use of Sony’s Dualshock 4 wireless controllers, which Amazon will sell at a discounted price to PlayStation Prime subscribers.

    Given the extensive nature of the pact, some wondered why Amazon didn’t simply buy Sony outright. But many analysts observed that, given the increasing election year calls to “break up big tech,” Amazon CEO Bezos saw an arms-length deal as a much safer path to trod.

    3Q 2020: HBO Max adds live cable bundles

    HBO Max begins offering add-on bundles of live cable TV channels, the same ones sold under the AT&T TV brand. While the AT&T TV app offers a more traditional cable box-like UI with a grid guide, etc., the HBO Max app has a more next-gen streaming UI akin to Hulu and Netflix.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019
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  12. Jul 15, 2019 #12 of 283
    NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    4Q 2020: ATSC 3.0 debuts

    Local stations in nearly 40 local markets across the US begin full-power commercial broadcasts in ATSC 3.0. About 3/4 of those stations belong to Sinclair, the largest backer (and patent owner) of the new broadcast standard. Sinclair promises many more of their stations will begin ATSC 3.0 broadcasting in 2021 although other station groups sound less enthusiastic. Among the four major broadcast networks, only Fox announces that it will offer some of its fall 2020 primetime and major sports broadcasts in 1080p HDR format to its affiliates broadcasting in ATSC 3.0.

    There are a few external ATSC 3.0 tuners available for purchase at retail but not a single TV with a built-in 3.0 tuner. Major TV brands say that some of their 2021 models will include 3.0 tuners, though.

    Meanwhile, Hulu begins to stream select shows on-demand from ABC, Freeform, and FX in 4K HDR (joining their own Hulu Originals plus select movies). Select shows from Fox are also streamed on Hulu in 4K HDR. Likewise, CBS streams some of its new fall season shows on-demand in 4K HDR via CBS All Access.

    4Q 2020: Cox cable begins marketing "AT&T TV plus Unlimited Broadband"

    Cox cable quietly launches a new option for their standalone broadband customers: AT&T TV that comes with a waiver of Cox's normal 1 TB broadband data cap. The plans cost $10 more per month than standalone prices for AT&T TV's three base channel bundles (so $40, $60 and $80 per month, on top of Cox's standalone broadband prices, rather than $30, $50 and $70) but it's a good deal for some, considering that Cox normally charges $50 per month to waive the data cap. While Cox customers get unified billing from Cox for both broadband and AT&T TV, they're on their own to provide whatever streaming devices they wish to use with the service. AT&T TV's own custom Android TV streaming box and remote can be purchased from AT&T stores and online and come with a $30 promo code that can be credited toward the service via Cox or any other distributor.

    4Q 2020: CBS All Access adds live cable bundles and other add-ons

    CBS announces that their flagship All Access streaming app now offers add-on subscriptions of both a live cable channel bundle, including local affiliates of all the major networks, as well as smaller on-demand content bundles (e.g. Discovery, Epix, Acorn TV, PBS Living, etc.).

    4Q 2020: Next-gen Apple TV debuts, Nintendo joins Apple Arcade

    Apple releases a new Apple TV box featuring HDMI 2.1 and a new chipset with decoding support for the new AV1 codec, plus high-end video upscaling/processing/decompression/cleaning, motion processing, and dynamic HDR handling, features typically only seen, if at all, inside the most premium TVs from Sony, LG, and Samsung. Apple even includes a simple calibration app to guide users through the process of tweaking their TV's/receiver's video and audio settings to their optimal levels for use with the box, for those who do not wish to get an expensive professional calibration done. Apple is clearly positioning their new Apple TV as the highest quality video consumption device on the market, aiming squarely at home theater enthusiasts, as well as consumers already enmeshed in the Apple ecosystem. It remains priced at $179, the same as the previous 5th gen model it replaces, while the 4th gen Apple TV HD sees a price cut to just $79.

    Apple also announces that the new Apple TV box will come with a free six-month subscription to their Apple TV+ video service, which recently won its first Emmy Award in Sept. 2020. The less expensive Apple TV HD will offer only a three-month free subscription to Apple TV+. Both devices come with a free one-month trial of Apple Arcade.

    At the same event, Apple announces that their one-year-old Apple Arcade subscription video game service will expand to include a selection of classic Nintendo games originally released on the WiiU, Wii, 3DS, DS, GameCube, Nintendo 64, Super NES and NES game systems, with graphics updated to 4K or HD. Industry observers applaud this as a savvy move for both companies, giving Apple Arcade a shot in the arm to broaden its appeal while giving Nintendo a lucrative new licensing stream for their older content. Nintendo does not see their participation in Apple Arcade as a direct threat to their successful current-gen Nintendo Switch console or its related online platform. Instead, they hope that some casual gamers exposed to Nintendo games on Apple Arcade may choose to “upgrade” to Nintendo Switch for the latest and greatest Nintendo experience.

    4Q 2020: Frontier begins distributing AT&T TV

    Frontier announces that they will begin selling AT&T TV as an option for all Frontier customers on internet service with a minimum download speed of 12 Mbps. They note that their own Vantage TV and FiOS TV services will continue to be sold and be fully operational. They simply want to make it convenient for their customers to select the best TV option for their needs. Also, standalone HBO will no longer be an option on any Frontier Vantage TV or FiOS TV account. Instead, HBO will be replaced by the much larger HBO Max service at a slight price increase. HBO linear channels and on-demand content, as parts of the HBO Max service, will continue to exist on Frontier’s set-top boxes and DVRs for their Vantage TV and FiOS TV services.

    4Q 2020: HBO Max introduces lower-priced plan with ads

    HBO Max announces that their standard plan will remain ad-free at $16, but they will also offer a new $10 plan with targeted limited ads. It will include all of the same content, including in 4K HDR. While HBO-branded originals, as well as most children’s programming and theatrical films, will remain ad-free, all other content (e.g. Max Originals; series from WarnerMedia basic cable channels such as TBS, TNT, and CNN; and past TV series from the Warner Bros. library) will contain ads. The new $10 plan only allows two simultaneous streams.

    4Q 2020: HBO Now shuts down

    WarnerMedia assured the public when they introduced HBO Max in early 2020 that the traditional HBO service would continue to be available through many cable providers, as well as directly from Warner through their own HBO Now service. But given that HBO Now remained priced at $15 while HBO Max was available as a standalone service direct from Warner for just $1 more, but with a lot more content (and marketing power behind it), the subscriber base for HBO Now plummeted, as Warner desired, with the vast majority migrating over to HBO Max.

    So on Dec.1, HBO Now notified its subscribers that the service would shut down at year-end, with all existing accounts automatically converting over to HBO Max at the same $15/mo price for the first month, before increasing to the standard $16 price thereafter. Those who wish to stay on the service need not do anything; the HBO Now app on all their devices should automatically update to the HBO Max app on Jan. 1, with their current logins carrying over.

    A month earlier, on Nov. 1, HBO’s digital distribution platform partners, such as Prime Video Channels, Apple TV Channels, The Roku Channel and Hulu, had notified their customers that HBO would cease to be available through them as of Dec. 31. Customers were instead directed to the HBO Max app for continued access to HBO programming.
     
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  13. Jul 15, 2019 #13 of 283
    NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Ha! I'm just getting started!
     
  14. Jul 15, 2019 #14 of 283
    NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    They will be some rotating of subscriptions (there already is, I do it somewhat) but the bigger long-term trend we'll see is more and more households dumping the cable channel bundle and replacing it with 3 to 6 simultaneous SVODs. And, as my predictions will illustrate, I think we're going to see a blurring between SVODs and live channel services, too.
     
  15. Jul 15, 2019 #15 of 283
    Bigg

    Bigg Cord Cutter

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    Hulu's model is to basically give their service away in order to get eyeballs on their ads, I think T-Mobile could end up doing Netflix AND Hulu if T-Sprint goes through, or even if it doesn't.

    T-Mobile and Comcast isn't as awkward as it sounds, as I'd bet T-Mobile is a big Comcast customer for Metro-E backhaul since they aren't a legacy B-side (ILEC) carrier like T and VZ, and thus has little of their own fiber to rely on.

    I think what you're predicting for Cox will happen for many smaller MSOs as well as they exit the TV business. It's just not profitable to be a smaller MSO, and I think at the end of the day, it's going to be AT&T, Comcast, Charter, Altice, DISH, and the smaller vMVPDs left in the game, and most other current MVPDs will be out of TV entirely, and will be bundling one of those services.

    However, I think you're wrong on AT&T. Cox is very tight with Comcast, and I think they will roll out Comcast's TV service and bundle it with their broadband, as they already use Comcast's technology platform.

    I think Amazon is going to run away with the bundling of OTT services, as they have the whole platform, and the UX is pretty good. They could use some navigation tweaks, but otherwise, they've got it down, and they can just keep adding new content.

    I don't think Frontier will keep Vantage and FiOS TV around very long. They are way too small of an MSO to negotiate good rates, and also to support three different TV platforms plus bundled DISH and OTA. I have to wonder if Frontier will even be around at that point, however, or if their assets will be sold off in a fire sale after bankruptcy. I've had quite a few experiences with them recently, and they are a completely dysfunctional company. They are basically refusing to do any sort of expansion or upgrades, and the morale is rock-bottom. I suspect that they are going to go bankrupt, shed/restructure debt, and either get bought by a private equity firm, somehow bought/merged into Consolidated, or bought up by AT&T if they see the light on how successful their fiber is.

    I don't think AT&T would pull HBO Max out of Amazon Channels, as Amazon gives they a lot of exposure, and they are used to going through other companies with cable, where they got less control over the UX and a smaller chunk of the pie.

    I'm not sure that many households will. Some will, but I think you're going to see a relatively weak demand for a lot of these services. People are used to Netflix and paying one fee and just going there, and I think that behavior is going to be a tough nut to crack for the others. I think there will be a small group of TV superfans with many subscriptions, but most people will only have a couple, if that. There is a lot of subscription fatigue as everyone wants a recurring revenue stream.

    Based on the re-capture rate of cord cutters, I think the vMVPD market is going to be relatively small as well. Cable channels are just going to have to scale down their offerings. This change is going to have massive ripple effects throughout the professional and college sports world as contracts become less valuable. That being said, I think this phenomenon will bode really well for sports bars and for the stadiums themselves, as people figure they're saving $70-$100/mo on TV, so they'll go out now and then and spend some of it on the bar or the venue itself instead.
     
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  16. Jul 15, 2019 #16 of 283
    NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Hold tight, I've already written further predictions for all those companies. Will post more soon.

    Yeah, good point about Frontier. They have a bit of FTTH and I guess some of the FTTN areas could be further monetized by AT&T or someone, but a lot of their network, who would want, really? Old-school pure copper DSL is dead. Only way any telco is gonna reach any of those homes in a profitable way going forward will be via some kind of wireless distribution

    Does Netflix distribute through Amazon Channels? How about Hulu? No, neither of them? Do you think Disney+ will? I doubt it. How about Apple TV+? No, that one either?

    You've been trained to think of HBO as a flexible add-on, an a la carte cable channel. But that's not what it's becoming. What Hulu/Disney+ is to Disney, and what Netflix is to, well, Netflix, that's what HBO Max will be to WarnerMedia. I don't think it's going to be distributed through anyone else's UI. They're going to want to control the UI/UX and gain the user data.

    HBO -- not the fuller HBO Max -- will continue to be distributed through third-party platforms for awhile (as my predictions point out). But I'll be surprised if you'll be able to get HBO Max via Amazon Prime Channels, Apple TV Channels, etc. Could be wrong, of course. We'll see...

    A basic mistake a lot of people make when trying to figure out what's going to happen is to assume everyone else spends money they way they do. Unless there's a bad recession (which is possible), I don't see the average American spending WAY less on video entertainment. People LOVE TV and movies. Are there 20-somethings with three roommates who are fine with just Netflix? Sure. Will the average middle-age homeowner with a spouse and kids be happy giving up their $100/mo cable TV service in exchange for just Netflix plus maybe one SVOD. Nah. If they leave the cable channel bundle, it'll be for a combo of a few different SVODs. Or maybe they'll do a skinner channel bundle plus a couple SVODs. It's going to be messy as the new order emerges...
     
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  17. Jul 16, 2019 #17 of 283
    wizwor

    wizwor Active Member

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    $100 cable is not an option for a lot of people -- including me -- except as a promotional offer. My sister pays $300/mo for her Comcast bundle. I don't see Amazon doing Live Channels. Right now, Recast integrates Vue, Philo, and Pluto plus Prime Channels. Offering one would likely discourage others. I think Amazon will entice other OTT services into integrating. Recast + Sling TV would be a very attractive option for me.
     
  18. Jul 16, 2019 #18 of 283
    NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I think a lot of households can't or won't pay $100/mo for TV. And yet that's about the average price that cable TV subscribers spend. And a majority of US households still have cable TV. So lots of people *will* pay that much, even if they grumble about it.

    I do think that the average monthly spend for pay TV will decrease somewhat as more and more Americans move away from full cable channel bundles and instead put together their own custom combinations of live and on-demand sources from among a menu of choices. Sports fans will pay the most, which makes sense. For a long time, non-sports viewers were sharing the cost of televised sports but those costs kept increasing and, frankly, is the #1 reason why cord-cutting began, IMO. Pro (and to a lesser extent, college) sports just kept inflating the cost not only of sports channels like ESPN but also the retransmission fees to include local affiliates of ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox in cable bundles.

    As for Amazon getting into selling bundles of live cable channels, well, they've already started doing it in Canada this year. I think they may be getting their feet wet in a small pond there before making a big splash doing it here in the US. Amazon has to know that the future of American TV won't simply be Prime Video plus a few second-string on-demand add-ons. If they want to *really* insert themselves into the mix, they're going to have to offer live locals and sports channels.

    As for Recast + Sling TV, maybe it'll happen, IF I'm wrong about Amazon getting into the live channels game (which would make them a direct competitor to Sling TV). Have you considered going with an AirTV black box? (Maybe hold off on the current one because the AirTV 2 is due to release any day now.) It'll stream live and DVR OTA TV into the Sling TV app throughout your home. And you could use the new AirTV Mini 4K stick on your main TV. It runs Android TV, which just got a widely available Prime Video app, so you could watch your Amazon content on it too.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2019
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  19. Jul 16, 2019 #19 of 283
    tenthplanet

    tenthplanet Well-Known Member

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    You need a real AMC.:D upload_2019-7-16_13-2-48.jpeg
     
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  20. Jul 16, 2019 #20 of 283
    unclehonkey

    unclehonkey Well-Known Member

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    nothing wrong with a Gremlin ;)
     

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