Viacom, AT&T Pass Carriage Deadline With Talks To Avoid Blackout Continuing

Read on: Deadline.

Viacom and AT&T remain in carriage negotiations but have failed to reach an agreement before the expiration of their current carriage deal at midnight on the East Coast. The signals of 23 Viacom networks have not gone dark yet across DirecTV and U-…

Streaming Officially Bigger Than Cable and Satellite TV in US, Research Shows

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Traditional TV is slowly headed the way of the dinosaur and Betamax, with more Americans subscribing to a streaming service than paying for satellite TV or cable for the first time ever, according to a new survey from Deloitte.

The numbers are close —  69 percent of respondents are paying for at least one streaming service, compared to 65 percent paying for cable or satellite — but traditional TV is trending in the wrong direction, with the 13th annual Digital Media Trends Survey showing 27 percent of respondents have dropped their pay TV packages in the last year. That stat has been reflected in the struggles of the usual TV juggernauts, with DirecTV reporting it lost 400,000 subscribers during the fourth quarter of 2018 alone.

Netflix, on the other hand, has continued to flourish, with the world’s dominant streaming service adding nearly 30 million customers last year. It now has about 60 million subscribers just in the U.S.

Also Read: AT&T’s DirecTV Now to Restructure Pricing Model, Will Raise Price $10 Per Month

One reason viewers are continuing to drop cable and satellite: they hate advertisements. 75 percent of Deloitte’s respondents said there are too many ads when they watch traditional TV.

Still, the report shows streaming versus traditional TV isn’t necessarily an “either/or proposition,” at least right now for many viewers, with 43 percent of respondents paying for at least one streaming service and one pay-TV package.

Also Read: How Xumo Became an Acquisition Target: Active Users Jump 60 Percent With Push Into Free Movies

Binge watching, which Deloitte defines as watching four hours or more of content in a single sitting, continues to play a major role in streaming’s rise, with 37 percent of millennials saying they binge at least once per week. Another 40 percent of U.S. millennials said they stream at least one movie per day.

Perhaps ironically, one red flag for streaming, according to the report, could be an increasingly crowded market. The more streaming services there are — and with more on the way from Apple and WarnerMedia — the more frustrating it will get for viewers to follow and pay for.

“With more than 300 over the top video options in the U.S., coupled with multiple subscriptions and payments to track and justify, consumers may be entering a time of ‘subscription fatigue,’” said Kevin Westcott, vice chairman and U.S. Telecom and Media and Entertainment leader at Deloitte.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Apple’s Streaming Service on Track to Have 100 Million Subscribers in 3-5 Years, Analyst Says

Pluto TV CEO on Impact of $340 Million Viacom Deal – and a Possible Premium Streaming Plan

Michael Jackson Songs Still Streaming on Spotify, Apple Music – Unlike Post-Accusation Ban on R Kelly

Viacom Storms DirecTV With ‘Daily Show’ Warning Of Looming Blackout

Read on: Deadline.

It’s no laughing matter to Viacom that AT&T could be dropping its channels from DirecTV and U-verse in just a couple of day but Comedy Central’s The Daily Show became the battlefield in the latest pay-TV carriage war tonight.
As host Trevor Noah li…

Hulu Hits 2 Million Live TV Customers, Passes DirecTV Now as 2nd-Biggest Live Streamer After Sling

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Hulu’s live TV streaming service is on the verge of passing 2 million customers, pushing the company into second place in terms of overall live streaming customers, a person with knowledge of the company’s subscriber count said on Friday.

Dish-owned Sling TV, with 2.42 million subscribers at the end of 2018, still retains a lead on Hulu as the biggest live streamer.

Hulu’s rise shows that it is gaining traction at the same time that more established cable providers are losing ground in the battle for a mass audience. DirecTV Now, the company’s $40 per month streaming option, lost 267,000 customers during the fourth quarter of last year, parent company AT&T recently said. The losses pushed DirecTV Now’s subscriber count down to 1.6 million, after beginning the year with nearly 1.9 million subs.

Also Read: If ‘Daredevil’ and ‘Jessica Jones’ Get Revived, Here’s Why It Would Likely Be on Hulu and Not Disney+

Meanwhile, Sling TV has started offering a 40 percent discount on its plans, which now run between $15 and $25, for the first three months, in order to maintain its lead.

Hulu’s live TV experience offers cable staples like CNN, ESPN and FX, among dozens of other channels, as well as access to its original series like “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

More original series, including two shows based on  “Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin’s “Wild Cards” books, are in the pipeline. Hulu is also the home to several classic TV shows like “Seinfeld” and “30 Rock” that aren’t found on Netflix.

Also Read: Hulu Boss Says ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Being Pushed to June Has Nothing to Do With ‘Game of Thrones’

Hulu recently hiked its live streaming price from $40 to $45 at the end of February. YouTube’s own live service, it’s probably worth mentioning, has also hit 1 million subscribers, according to Bloomberg.

Disney, after it completes its buyout of much of Fox’s assets, will double its stake in Hulu from 30 to 60 percent, and there were reports this week that the company is in talks to acquire WarnerMedia’s 10 percent stake in the service as well.

Disney CEO Bob Iger has said he views Hulu as part of a three-pronged streaming play for Disney, along with ESPN+ and Disney+, its upcoming streaming service.

Hulu crossing the 2 million live-TV audience threshold was first reported by Bloomberg.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Barbara Fiorentino Joins Hulu as Head of Talent and Casting

Hulu Is Open to ‘Daredevil’ or ‘Luke Cage’: Originals Boss Cites ‘Good Creative Relationship’ With Marvel

Hulu Boss Says ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Being Pushed to June Has Nothing to Do With ‘Game of Thrones’

How to Stream the 2019 Oscars Ceremony Live Online

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Another year, another Hollywood awards season in the books. The only thing left is the Academy Awards, the Super Bowl of the film industry, which will finally take place on Sunday, Feb. 24 on ABC.
As we wrap up the most unpredictable awards season ever…

Cord-Cutting Sped Up in 2018: Biggest Pay-TV Ops Shed 3.2 Million Subscribers Last Year

Read on: Variety.

Cord-cutting inflicted a heavier toll on big cable and satellite TV providers last year — and analysts expect the pain to continue into 2019. The five biggest U.S. pay-television providers saw their traditional subscriber rolls shrink 4.2% in 201…

Viacom Brass Talk Pluto TV Acquisition, Looming DirecTV Renewal, Nickelodeon Turnaround

Read on: Deadline.

Viacom leadership painted a picture of recovery during the company’s fiscal first-quarter earnings call, parrying analyst questions about looming carriage talks with DirecTV, turnaround efforts at Nickelodeon and a big bet on ad-supported streami…

7 Things We Learned in Tech World This Week, From Apple’s Blunder to Elon Musk’s Pivot to Boring

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Tech stalwarts came into the week expecting the big news to come from quarterly earnings reports.

But that didn’t factor in a major bug hitting FaceTime or Facebook’s latest faux pas reigniting its feud with Apple, its Silicon Valley neighbor.

It was hard to keep up, so let’s review six lessons we learned this week, from Apple to Facebook to Elon Musk.

1. Apple Isn’t Infallible 

Apple has spent much of the last year publicly championing itself as the tech giant that truly cares about protecting its customers. This came as Facebook and Google, to a lesser extent, battled multiple data privacy scandals over the course of 2018. At one point last spring, Apple chief Tim Cook couldn’t help himself from needling Facebook over its Cambridge Analytica scandal, saying he “wouldn’t be in this situation” if he were Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Also Read: iPhone Q1 Sales Drop 15 Percent, Apple’s Stock Still Jumps 5 Percent on Record Services Revenue

And yet, Apple had it’s own privacy headache this week. A major FaceTime bug allowed iPhone users to listen to the audio on someone else’s phone — even if the recipient didn’t answer their phone. The glitch occurred when FaceTime users swiped up on their screen as they were dialing and added their own number to the call.

The makeshift three-way call allowed the caller to listen to the other person’s iPhone and, compounding matters, if the recipient hit the volume or power button to ignore the call, it instead started broadcasting video of their phone to the person calling them.

The issue impacted anyone that had updated their iPhone since October and forced Apple to disable Group FaceTime until a new iOS update is available next week. The bug put the privacy spotlight on Apple, if only for a moment, before Facebook had yet another misstep on Wednesday.

Also Read: Apple Sets First-Look Deal With Imagine’s Documentary Arm

2. Apple’s Growing Feud With Facebook… and Google

The social network’s latest controversy — running a clandestine “Research app” that paid some users as young as 13 a $20 monthly fee to let the company collect a wide range of data, including web search history and social media messages — only exacerbated Facebook’s strained relationship with Apple.

The app clearly violated App Store rules, and Apple hit back by revoking Facebook’s enterprise certificates — a move that blocked Facebook from running several internal iOS apps. That ended up causing companywide “chaos,” according to Business Insider, on the same day Facebook was set to report Q4 earnings.

Apple didn’t stop at Facebook, either. It also blocked Google’s internal iOS apps from working on Thursday as well for a separate rules violations. Apple eventually restored enterprise access for both of its Silicon Valley neighbors later on Thursday, but the message was clear: Apple has the muscle to paralyze its tech frenemies.

Speaking of Facebook, though…

Also Read: Facebook Pledges $300 Million to Support Local News Outlets

3. Users Don’t Care About Facebook’s Data Privacy Concerns 

Facebook’s series of privacy scandals in the last year seemed to have had no real impact on its bottom line. The company reported this week it gained 30 million daily active users — including several million in the U.S. and Europe, its most lucrative markets. The gains pushed Facebook past 1.5 billion DAUs; altogether it has 2.32 billion monthly users. This was a big win for Facebook, after posting stagnate user growth in North America, and even losing millions of users in Europe, for most of 2018.

Facebook also brought in nearly $17 billion in Q4 revenue, easily lapping the company’s previous quarterly high by more than $3 billion. Anyway you slice it, it looks like Facebook’s data concerns were ultimately met with indifference from the majority of its users. When asked on its Q4 earnings call if bad press had impacted growth at all, Facebook CFO David Wehner quickly replied, “I’d probably just let the numbers speak for themselves.”

By tech earnings call standards, it was the equivalent of Yasiel Puig celebrating a massive home run.

Facebook shares have jumped more than 10 percent since Wednesday, and at about $166 per share, the company is close to where it was last March, when it admitted 87 million users were impacted by the Cambridge Analytica data leak.

Also Read: Instagram Stories Just Passed 500 Million Daily Users

4. Instagram Is Trouncing Snapchat at Its Own Game

On the same call, Zuckerberg couldn’t help but share the good news about Instagram Stories, the popular app’s feature allowing users to thread together pictures and videos with a 24-hour shelf life. Instagram Stories now has 500 million daily users — a revelation that came just days before Snap Inc., Snapchat’s parent company, is set to report its own earnings and give an update on user growth.

Since Snapchat lost 2 million users in the third quarter of 2018, falling to 186 million DAUs, it’s highly unlikely it’ll come anywhere close to matching its chief rival.

And if that isn’t enough to give Snap CEO Evan Spiegel an ulcer, Instagram has done it by blatantly copying Stories, one of Snapchat’s trademark features. Stay tuned on Monday to see if Snap is able to shake out of its own funk.

Also Read: AT&T Posts Record DirecTV Now Losses, Misses Q4 Revenue Estimates Despite WarnerMedia’s Strength

5. DirecTV’s Streaming Problem Is Only Getting Worse

DirecTV Now, DirecTV’s live streaming service that starts at $40 a month, was supposed to be the satellite company’s best defense against pesky, cord-cutting millennials and Gen Z’ers. Instead, it’s in just as much trouble as DirecTV’s legacy satellite TV business.

DirecTV Now lost 267,000 subscribers during the fourth quarter, shedding 14 percent of its total customers in the process, AT&T revealed earlier this week.

The companies core business didn’t fare any better, losing another 403,000 customers after losing more than 350,000 during Q3. “AT&T had guided to subscriber losses in Q4,” MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett wrote to clients afterwards. “But nobody expected this.”

Also Read: Tesla Cuts 3,000 Jobs, Elon Musk Says ‘Our Products Are Still Too Expensive for Most People’

6. The New, Subdued Elon Musk 

Silicon Valley’s favorite son/enfant terrible typically makes Tesla earnings calls must-listen events. He routinely shoots from the hip and isn’t afraid to blast an analyst for asking a “boring bonehead” question, as he did last May.

But this week, a more genteel Musk joined Tesla’s Q4 call. The biggest takeaway? Musk called the Model X, Tesla’s middle child SUV, the “Faberge egg of cars.” Not as exciting as butting heads with prodding Wall Street analysts.

Musk’s reserved approach could simply be a byproduct of him getting into hot water with the SEC last year. (It could also be the result of him being sued for calling a Thai rescue diver a pedophile.)

7. A Tech-wide “Pivot to Boring”

Whatever the reason, Musk seemed to represent an overall “pivot to boring” when it came to this round of earnings reports from the tech sector. Or maybe it’s just a pivot to less transparency.

Apple for the first time stopped sharing how many iPhones it sold, while Zuckerberg said Facebook would soon stop reporting Facebook’s overall user growth, opting instead to only share the growth of its “family of apps.”

And Amazon posted a record $72 billion in quarterly revenue, yet failed to reveal much of anything that went into its success beyond healthy holiday sales. The e-commerce giant continued to keep pesky details like its overall Prime membership under wraps.
Related stories from TheWrap:

Facebook Removes 783 Iranian Accounts for ‘Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior’

Facebook’s Stock Surges 7 Percent on Huge Q4 Sales, Massive User Growth

Facebook Drops App That Paid Teens $20 for Full Access to Their Phones