streaming service

Plex Cloud will shut down November 30 due to technical challenges

Plex today announced it’s shutting down its troubled Plex Cloud service, via a forum post that hasn’t found its way over to the company’s official blog – likely a choice the company made in order to downplay the news, or avoid media scrutiny. Plex Cloud, launched in fall 2016, was meant to serve as a way for Plex customers to save their files to online storage services like OneDrive, Dropbox and Google Drive, instead of having to host their saved files locally on their own machines or network-attached storage devices. But now that will no longer be an option, as the service will stop functioning on November 30, 2018, Plex says. Plex Cloud had struggled from the beginning with technical issues. Almost immediately, its debut launch partner, Amazon, stopped working wit...

Playstation Vue expands its lineup with 200 more local channels

Sony’s Playstation Vue, the over-the-top TV streaming service that’s now up against a host of new competitors including Hulu and YouTube TV, is expanding its lineup to include more local stations. While the service had already offered some limited access to locals in select markets, this expansion brings 200 more stations across the U.S. to its service, including ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC stations. In total, there are now more than 450 local stations available, the company says. (A list of the additions is available here.) It also today added ESPN College Extra. The news is notable because of how far behind Playstation Vue has slid in terms of subscribers, since the launch of newcomers to the market. And many of these newcomers have been touting their access to locals as one of their benefits...

Spotify expands its $4.99 per month student bundle with Hulu to include Showtime

Spotify today is announcing a new way for students to access its Premium service, along with Hulu and Showtime, for a discounted price of $4.99 per month for all three. The new deal is an expansion of the existing Hulu and Spotify bundle for students, which launched around a year ago at the same price. Now those existing subscribers as well as new ones will be able to stream from all three services when they sign up. The new bundle consists of Spotify Premium for Students, Hulu with Limited Commercials, and Showtime . Students will need to be attending a Title IV accredited institution in the U.S. to qualify for the discounted pricing. When Spotify teamed up with Hulu back in September 2017, it was the first time it had ever partnered with a streaming video service on a bundle deal. The de...

CBS brings its ad-supported streaming service to Amazon Channels

CBS in the beginning of the year brought its streaming service for cord cutters, CBS All Access, to Amazon’s a la carte TV service, Prime Video Channels. At the time, however, only the higher-priced, $9.99 per month commercial-free subscription was offered to Prime members. At the time, CBS said its $5.99 per month ad-supported tier would arrive in the months ahead. It’s now making good on that promise with the launch of the Limited Commercials plan option on Amazon’s Channels. The expanded availability of the more affordable version of the streaming service could help to boost its numbers, given Amazon’s reported impact on delivering over-the-top subscribers through the Amazon Channels platform. A report from Digiday citing TV network sources even claimed that Amazon can account for anywh...

Netflix tests video promos in between episodes, much to viewers’ dislike

Netflix is testing video promos that play in between episodes of shows a viewer is streaming, the company confirmed to TechCrunch. The promos are full-screen videos, personalized to the user, featuring content Netflix would have otherwise suggested elsewhere in its user interface – like on a row of recommendations, for example. The promos also displace the preview information for the next episode being binged, like the title, description, and thumbnail that previously appeared on the right side of the screen. The test was first spotted by Cord Cutters News, following a Reddit thread filled with complaints. A number of Twitter users are angrily tweeting about the change, too. (See below examples.) We understand the introduction of promos in between the episodes is not a feature Netflix is r...

Streaming TV services now reach 5% of U.S. Wi-Fi households, up 58% since last year

The number of U.S. households watching streaming TV services – those that deliver cable TV-like programming over the internet – has grown a remarkable 58% over last year, according to new data from comScore. However, these services still account for a small portion of the overall market, as only 5 percent (4.9 million) of U.S. households with Wi-Fi streamed TV over one of these services in April 2018. In citing that number, comScore was specifically looking at what it called “pure-play” vMVPDs (virtual multichannel video programming distributors) – a variation on a fancy industry term that refers to live TV services like Sling TV. These services stream multiple channels over the internet without supplying infrastructure like coax cable to do so, and don’t offer other content like original ...

Pandora Premium comes to Google Assistant-powered devices

Pandora Premium is coming to Google Home, Mini, and Max devices, and other smart speakers and screens with Google Assistant built-in, the company announced this morning. The integration means listeners who pay for Pandora’s on-demand music service will be able to search and play any song, album, or playlist, just by asking Google, and can even search by lyrics, play their personalized “mood” playlists, and take other actions using their voice. For example, Google Assistant users will be able to thumbs up and thumbs down tracks on Pandora, skip tracks, create new stations, or play a song again, using voice commands. The service can also be set as the default on Google Home, so you don’t have to specify to play the songs via Pandora when issuing commands. Support for Pandora Premium on Googl...

Pandora Premium comes to Google Assistant-powered devices

Pandora Premium is coming to Google Home, Mini, and Max devices, and other smart speakers and screens with Google Assistant built-in, the company announced this morning. The integration means listeners who pay for Pandora’s on-demand music service will be able to search and play any song, album, or playlist, just by asking Google, and can even search by lyrics, play their personalized “mood” playlists, and take other actions using their voice. For example, Google Assistant users will be able to thumbs up and thumbs down tracks on Pandora, skip tracks, create new stations, or play a song again, using voice commands. The service can also be set as the default on Google Home, so you don’t have to specify to play the songs via Pandora when issuing commands. Support for Pandora Premium on Googl...

Disney may offer a discounted bundle of Hulu, ESPN+ and its new streaming service

Disney may offer its customers the option to purchase a discounted bundle of its three streaming apps — Hulu, Disney’s upcoming streaming service and ESPN+ — according to comments made by Disney CEO Bob Iger during the company’s’ earnings call this week. He said Disney would rather keep the three properties separate, rather than trying to combine them into a more robust “aggregation play,” so as to better address cord cutters’ desire to pick-and-choose the services they want. The company will own 60 percent of Hulu when its $71.3 billion deal to acquire 21st Century Fox closes. It already owns ESPN, which now offers a streaming service called ESPN+, and is launching its own Disney-branded streaming service in 2019 that will feature Pixar, Marvel, Disney, Lucasfilm (Star Wars) and, eventual...

Roku’s free, ad-supported streaming channel is now live on the web

Roku is today bringing its free, streaming entertainment destination, The Roku Channel, to non-Roku devices for the first time, with a launch on both the web and on select Samsung smart TVs, ahead of a wider cross-platform rollout. The channel, which offers free, ad-supported movies and TV shows, will be available across PCs, mobile phones, and tablets, the company says. In addition, Roku is updating the navigation on its own devices, including Roku players and Roku TVs, to include a new feature called “Featured Free,” which will directly point users to free content from The Roku Channel, as well as other apps, like ABC, The CW, CW Seed, Fox, Freeform, Pluto TV, Sony Crackle, Tubi, and more. The Roku Channel first launched last September, as a way for Roku to differentiate its connected me...

Vizio launches its own streaming service powered by Pluto TV

Think there are too many streaming services? How about one more? Today, Vizio says it’s launching its own streaming service called WatchFree that will be available on nearly all its Vizio SmartCast TVs via a separate input. The service itself will be powered by streaming TV provider Pluto TV, and will include access to over 100 live and linear channels featuring news, entertainment, sports, movies, and more. Pluto TV is a differentiated player in the busy streaming video market. Instead of trying to get cord cutters to pay for a skinny bundle of channels, its over-the-top service delivers content from a number of networks and other sources for free. The service primarily generates revenue through advertising. For example, the company has content deals with dozens of partners like Warner Br...

TV Time debuts an analytics platform for the streaming era

TV Time, the consumer app that helps bingers keep track of where they are with favorite shows and socialize with fellow viewers, is today expanding its business with the launch of an analytics platform called TVLytics. The new service will allow creators and distributors to tap into real-time data from across more than 60,000 TV shows. It will also offer other anonymized data collected from viewers, including things like on which platforms viewers watched, their favorite characters, bingeing behavior, viewers’ locations, anticipation from fans for new episodes, social engagement and more. The data is pulled from the app’s community of around a million daily users from more than 200 countries who check in with the app some 45 million times per month. To date, TV Time has tracked more than 1...