Stream Fatigue? Streaming Subscriptions Drop So Far This Year – Just as Apple, Disney Prepare to Enter Market

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Forget about cord-cutting — the new trend in 2019 might be TV fans cutting back on their streaming service budgets.

New research from Ampere Analysis shows that Americans are subscribing to fewer streaming services in the first three months of this year — and also paying less overall. Between January and March, the average U.S. household subscribed to 2.6 services and paid about $30 per month altogether, marking a slight dip from last June, when the average household paid about $33 per month for 2.8 services.

The decline is admittedly modest so far but it’s a notable drop that comes just as Apple, WarnerMedia, NBCUniversal and, oh yeah, Disney are poised to enter an increasingly crowded streaming market within the next year. “Streaming fatigue” could be setting in as customers balk at the idea of dropping their cable and satellite plans only to juggle a half dozen different streaming subscriptions.

“Cord cutters, like me, are realizing that skinnier bundles still add up, price-wise, and how many [streaming] monthly fees can one viewer afford and navigate?” said Neil Landau, screenwriter and author of “TV Writing On Demand: Creating Great Content in the Digital Era.” “We now live in a world with over 500 scripted series, so in addition to getting noticed and breaking through the noise in this glutted TV landscape, the technologically challenged may not even be able to find a desired new show.”

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

Landau’s “too many choices” concern was echoed by Kevin Westcott, Deloitte’s vice chairman and head of U.S. Telecom and Media and Entertainment: “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.’”

To be clear, this doesn’t mean streaming is falling out of style or that cable and satellite are poised to make a comeback. Indeed, new survey data from Deloitte this week showed that streaming has officially passed traditional pay TV in popularity in the U.S., with 69 percent of survey respondents subscribing to at least one streaming service, compared to 65 percent of respondents that pay for cable or satellite.

However, the new trends indicate that streamers are reticent to sign up for new subscriptions. Cord-cutting was intended to drop monthly expenses while still giving viewers content they desire. And the addition of more big-name services on the market doesn’t guarantee that customers will open their wallets.

Look at the prices of the already established streaming players: Netflix’s premium plan runs $16 per month; Hulu’s “no commercials” plan is $12 per month; HBO Now is $15 per month. Amazon Prime Video comes with a $120 annual Prime membership fee. And Live TV options from YouTube and Hulu hover between $40 and $45 each month. On their own, these prices don’t break the bank, but they quickly add up in combination.

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“Soon we’ll all start looking at our credit card bills and start saying, ‘Why am I subscribing to all of these services? Something’s got to give,’” said Paul Hardart, former Warner Bros. and Turner executive and current head of the Entertainment, Media and Technology Program at New York University.

Making matters tougher for new streamers is Netflix’s overwhelming dominance in the market. The company has nearly 60 million U.S. customers and has built a devoted following behind trademark shows like “Narcos,” “Queer Eye” and “Stranger Things.”

The company’s first-mover advantage is real. New streamers will have a chance to carve out their share of the pie — Disney’s slew of top content, from “Star Wars” to its seemingly never-ending supply of Marvel movies, will bolster its Disney+ service, and Apple has more than $200 billion in cash to throw around if it chooses to bulk up its content offereings.

Still, it will be next to impossible for newcomers to bump Netflix from the select few services that Americans will pay for, Hardart said, leaving the rest of the field to battle for the remaining dollars customers are willing to shell out.

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

“There will be losers in this. Walmart basically abandoned their streaming service earlier this year,” Hardart noted, referring to the retail giant’s scrapped plans for an $8 per month service. “If a big player like Walmart is abandoning it, it’s a treacherous path.”

“We’ve almost reached a saturation point,” Ampere senior analyst Toby Holleran added of the streaming landscape. While he said the downturn in overall streaming subscriptions isn’t necessarily permanent — Holleran said the “sweet spot” for streaming subscriptions will likely land around three per household in the next year — customer loyalty will be difficult to secure. Instead, churn rates will increase, as a lack of contracts will allow viewers to nomadically bounce from service to service, binging a series or two before moving on to another service.

These key factors — price sensitivity, the ability to easily move from service to service and a finite amount of time for customers to watch all of the content that’s available — could hamper Apple, Disney and WarnerMedia’s fashionably late entrance to the streaming party.

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Amazon’s Dark Tower pilot has found its Man In Black and kid Gunslinger 

Read on: The A.V. Club.

Despite how much of a disaster the movie was (or maybe because of how much of a disaster it was?), Amazon is moving forward with its pilot based on Stephen King’s Dark Tower books. Walking Dead survivor Glenn Mazzara is developing the project, which ha…

Amazon Finds Its Man in Black, Gunslinger for ‘Dark Tower’ Adaptation

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Amazon has cast the first two roles for its upcoming “Dark Tower” adaptation, TheWrap has learned.

Jasper Pääkkönen and Sam Strike have been cast in the project as Roland Deschain, (a.k.a. The Gunslinger), with Pääkkönen portraying The Man in Black, also known as Marten Broadcloak and Randall Flagg. The project, which doesn’t yet have a formal pilot order, is based on Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” novel series and will be separate from the 2017 film that starred Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey.

Amazon declined to comment, but an individual with knowledge of the production told TheWrap those two are being cast.

Also Read: Amazon Reveals When Its ‘Lord of The Rings’ TV Series Takes Place

Amazon’s adaptation is said to be an origin story of how The Gunslinger first came into contact with The Man in Black, who eventually became his archnemesis throughout King’s books.

Strike most recently starred in the Syfy series “Nightflyers” and will be in HBO’s upcoming miniseries “Chernobyl.” Pääkkönen, meanwhile, just starred opposite John David Washington and Topher Grace in Spike Lee’s Oscar-winning film “BlacKkKlansman.”

“Dark Tower” is Amazon’s latest big-tent series. The retail giant is also developing a “Lord of the Rings” TV series from JD Payne and Patrick McKay and a global event spy drama from Joe and Anthony Russo.

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‘The Dark Tower’ Casts Sam Strike As Gunslinger Roland Deschain, Plus Jasper Pääkkönen As Amazon Nears Pilot Order

Read on: Deadline.

Amazon’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower book series has found its Gunslinger. Sam Strike (Nightflyers) has been cast as the lead, Roland Deschain, in the project, which I hear is nearing a formal pilot order at the streaming pl…

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.

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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.

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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.

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National Enquirer Paid Brother of Jeff Bezos’ Mistress Lauren Sanchez $200,000 for His Text Messages (Report)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Jeff Bezos’ romantic texts messages to girlfriend Lauren Sanchez were leaked to the National Enquirer by her brother for $200,000, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

In an unusual deal, Michael Sanchez handed over the messages in return for the that which he received in full, upfront last year, according to WSJ. His contract with the Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc. (AMI), also gave him the right to shop the information elsewhere if the company didn’t run with the story after one month, the WSJ reported.

Reps for AMI declined to comment. Reps for Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In a statement to TheWrap, Michael Sanchez called the WSJ reporting “disappointing” and refused to “dignify” the allegations.

As with the WSJ, Sanchez did not explicitly deny sending incriminating content relating to the Amazon boss to the Enquirer.

Also Read: Meet Gavin de Becker, the Security Expert in Charge of Jeff Bezos’ Investigation

“WSJ’s report on old rumors from ‘anonymous’ sources is disappointing. I didn’t dignify the rumors last month and I’m not going to dignify them now,” he said in a statement on Tuesday that mostly sidestepped the substance of the Journal’s reporting.

“Two key facts remain the same: 1) Everything I’ve done since the day I met Bezos protected his extramarital affair from Gavin de Becker, and 2)I never had access to the penis selfies which are the heart of criminal allegations against Dylan Howard, a desperate man I sincerely believe attempted to brazenly blackmail Jeff Bezos,” he said.

The deal with Michael Sanchez also caused a row with American Media’s chief legal counsel for media Cameron Stracher, who was terminated from the company after AMI boss David Pecker told him he was displeased by the upfront payment, the WSJ reported.

In February, Bezos exploded the story into the public light with an extraordinary post on Medium, admitting that he had sent lewd photos, while also accusing American Media of trying to blackmail and extort him into making false claims about Pecker’s company.

“In the AMI letters I’m making public, you will see the precise details of their extortionate proposal: They will publish the personal photos unless Gavin de Becker and I make the specific false public statement to the press that we ‘have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces,’” Bezos wrote. “Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten,”

In the same post, he proceeded to publish a series of emails from National Enquirer editor-in-chief Dylan Howard.

In the weeks before the WSJ story, rumors had swirled as to how AMI had obtained the photos including the possibility that Saudi Arabia or even President Trump (a close Pecker ally) might have been involved.

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Here’s what’s coming to Amazon Prime in April 

Read on: The A.V. Club.

Avengers: Endgame is hitting theaters at the end of next month, but if that superhero story seems a little too morose for you, Amazon will have a much more lighthearted superhero story to offer in April. Starting at the beginning of the month, Prime su…

New York City Mayor Says ‘Unusual Factors’ Surrounding Jeff Bezos Derailed Amazon-NYC Deal

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio strongly suggested on Friday that Amazon boss Jeff Bezos pulled out of his plans to build a second corporate headquarters in the Big Apple because of fallout stemming from his relationship with news anchor Lauren Sanchez.

“I think we could all say that unusual things were happening within the Amazon family at that moment in time — and that was said politely,” de Blasio said on “Morning Joe” Friday. “There were clearly some unusual factors happening. We know who the ultimate decision maker is. I only am saying it was an unusual environment.”

On set, several regular guests immediately pounced, demanding to know if the mayor was specifically referring to the Bezos affair with Sanchez. “You think his affair had something to do with that?” Donny Deutsch asked.

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“You floated something out that we have to pin you down on,” co-host Willie Geist added moments later. “You believe Jeff Bezos affair is somehow …”

“I didn’t say that. I said an unusual environment,” de Blasio continued.  “A lot of cross-pressures, a lot of things going on.”

“Like what?” Geist demanded.

The mayor declined to elaborate on those “cross-pressures” and instead punted to the show saying it was their responsibility to uncover the truth. Geist kept pressing over what de Blasio meant — to some laugher on set — but the mayor demurred.

Reps for de Blasio’s office and Amazon did not immediately respond to request for comment from TheWrap.

Also Read: Amazon Cancels Plans for New York City Campus

While the Amazon deal was announced with great, fanfare in November 2018, the company abruptly pulled the plug on the plan after rising opposition from liberal and Democratic Socialist lawmakers in the city.

Though the Amazon deal had faced broad support across all demographics of New Yorkers, critics attacked the billions of dollars in tax abatements the company was offered as an incentive. Others worried about rising costs of living and gentrification issues which also would have accompanied the retailer’s planned move to Long Island City.

Though de Blasio called the Amazon pullout “unquestionably” a big loss for New York City, it was celebrated by a new rising star in his party — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

“Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world,” she tweeted after the company announced the pullout in February.

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