DBSTalk Forum banner
1 - 20 of 39 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,256 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Of all the potential media tie-ups, this is not one I saw coming. Discovery is obviously ripe for M&A but I saw them combining with ViacomCBS, or maybe even NBCUniversal, as likelier. As for Warner, there have long been speculations about them potentially combining with NBCU, which would look like a better match-up to me, if the goal is to create a giant that can better face off with Disney.

A spin-off of WarnerMedia from AT&T seemed likely at some point down the road but I'm surprised it could be happening this quickly. Although with AT&T still having a big equity stake in the media company, I guess it still gives them a lot of the supposed synergy they wanted with the Warner acquisition, e.g. ability to sell/bundle content services to their cellular and broadband customer base.

Should the deal go through, I wonder if it will mean a combination of HBO Max and discovery+. They're very different services, so it's certainly possible that they remain separate. I almost hope they do, as I'm not crazy about the idea of all of Discovery's reality/lifestyle schlock strewn all across the HBO Max home screen.

Here's a fairly recent snapshot of the tech/media landscape for anyone pondering future consolidations. ViacomCBS, Fox, Lionsgate, MGM and AMC are tiny compared to everyone else.

Here's who owns everything in the media today
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,256 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
This looks to me like a lot of the failed airline mergers of the 80s and 90s. Two sick companies merging to form a new larger sick company.

AT&T owns CNN, the third player in a two team league; its various "general rerun" channels the main two of which are in deep in big $$ contracts with the NCAA, NBA, and NHL for what is, just about, the only non-rerun content on them; its HBO and Cinemax channels; DC comics; 50% of the CW network; and, after approval, still the majority of DirecTV. IMHO, the value of linear "general rerun" channels, is declining very fast, as the same sort of material is available free on OTA diginets and on free streamers like STIRR and Pluto, as well as being tossed in with the new original stuff in the major streaming services. Linear HBO is really just for people without internet nowadays.

Discovery owns 20 US channels, 17 of them in English, all of which are pretty much remixs and variations on each other. Much similar material is also available on OTA diginets, and, bluntly, a lot of self-appointed YouTubers produce similar material.
Well, both HBO Max and discovery+ are doing quite well in their first year. A lot of the appeal in Discovery's content, I think, lies in the personalities who do their shows, not simply the fact that they're shows about cooking or home improvement or whatever.

As for the linear channels, yeah, live sports and news are the main reasons to watch. But TBS and TNT are semi-sports channels. And CNN still ranked as the #7 most-viewed channel last year. The Discovery nets are popular too. Between Warner and Discovery, they own seven of last year's top-20-rated networks. So I don't see anything that looks like failure here.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,256 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
As a consumer, the biggest question I had about this deal is what it means for HBO Max and discovery+. I'm a big fan of HBO stuff while the type of content Discovery has is -- well, some of it's OK but it's definitely not appointment TV for me, outside of the BBC nature docs. (And some of their stuff, like TLC, is just "reality" crap.) Their content seems more suited to the linear format, which is perhaps one reason why they've created psuedo-channels inside the d+ app.

Anyhow, my question is whether they'll try to put all the Discovery content inside HBO Max or keep the two services separate and maybe offer a bundling discount if you get both. Sounds like they don't know yet.

As to streaming, both partners have recently entered the direct-to-consumer space in significant ways, with Discovery+ and HBO Max. The execs were non-committal as to whether they would combine the services or bundle them as separate products. Zaslav said all options would be explored. "We'll see over the next few years as we learn more about what consumers want and how they want it," he said.
Story here:
David Zaslav And John Stankey Outline Plans For Merging Discovery And WarnerMedia, Addressing Future Of Jason Kilar, CNN, Streaming - Deadline
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,256 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Another question I have is about bundles with outside companies (ie Verizon). I currently get the ESPN+/Hulu/Disney bundle free with Verizon; Discovery+ free with Verizon; and HBO Max free with my AT&T TV subscription. I'd hate to see any of those go away. I'm not sure I'd subscribe to any of them individually other than HBO max.
We may see Verizon stop bundling discovery+ in with their unlimited cellular plans since I would expect AT&T to begin doing so (as they're already doing with HBO Max). And given that AT&T and Verizon are major wireless rivals, they probably won't want to bundle in the same service.

On the cheapest unlimited Verizon plan, you only get 6 months of D+ but on the upper plans, you get 12 months. I'm sure they'll honor those promises to anyone who signs up while that's currently advertised as a part of the plan. But at some point between now and mid-2022 (when the Warner/Discovery deal closes), I bet we see Verizon tweak their plans and replace discovery+ with something else for new subs. Maybe Apple TV+, which costs about the same. (They already bundle in Apple Music on some plans.) Or maybe the new Paramount+. Anyhow, no reason to expect any change with regard to Verizon's deal with the Disney bundle.

Who knows if AT&T TV (or DirecTV Stream, if that's what it will be renamed) will begin bundling in discovery+ with their channel packages. Perhaps as a first-year promo for new subs as they now do with HBO Max on the Choice package and above.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,256 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Going to end up costing me a few bucks a month it looks like, unless I just drop Discovery+ (my daughter watches it, I could lived without it) or unless, as you point out, AT&T Tv picks it up and adds it into that bundle. Shame, as I'm doing well with Verizon with all of the free bundles currently.
But aren't you limited to 12 months (or, depending on your plan, 6 months) of free discovery+ from Verizon? After that, Verizon will start billing you $7/mo unless you cancel. That's what their fine print says. Even for someone signing up today, there's every reason to believe that they'll get their full free subscription period. So I don't see how you're affected.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,256 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Are you sure :)? DirecTV *has* been remarkably cool in honoring legacy deals... except for the ones that they don't. Like owned boxes, vacation homes, RVs, used equipment, lifetime DVR, etc. I lost that last one I had on my trail blazing Sony SAT-T60 because I didn't have a receipt.
Their fine print probably does allow them loopholes but including free HBO Max in with various plans has been a really big feature they've touted. AT&T even has a dedicated webpage to advertise it.

HBO Max - Stream Movies, Original Shows & More - AT&T

I think it's pretty doubtful that New DirecTV would rescind that offer for customers who signed up under it if HBO Max is still in existence (which, of course, it will be for the next year). That would be a great way to piss off customers, many of whom are not under contract and could easily walk away. Consider how even when DTV/AT&T has changed channel package line-ups, those changes have applied to new customers coming in while existing subs got grandfathered under their existing line-up.

Remember AT&T's skinny streaming cable TV service called "Watch TV"? It hasn't been available for any new sign-ups since last June, but AT&T is still operating it just for wireless customers who got it as part of an Unlimited plan they signed up for prior to that point. And keep in mind that with AT&T TV, the offer is only one free year of HBO Max. So it's not even a permanent feature of the plan like with certain Wireless and Fiber plans. All this seems like pretty good reason to believe that New DTV will honor the "one free year of HBO Max" promo they're inheriting from AT&T.

Now, it's certainly possible that once New DTV takes day-to-day control, they tweak their pricing and promos and maybe they no longer offer a year of HBO Max to new sign-ups. It's also possible they strike a new deal with AT&T to include the upcoming $10/mo version of HBO Max in with every channel package, either for a year or even as a regular ongoing part of the package
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,256 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
At the end of the day, it will come down to whether their revenue is greater than their cost of earning that revenue. Essentially, can they keep their content interesting enough to retain subscribers. Subscribers to these products are notoriously price conscious. Interesting content can be expensive, and cutting back on new content is the quickest way reduce costs. Lack of interesting content leads to fewer subscribers and less revenue.

This will be the road to failure for all these services.
So your general view is that Americans are sort of done with TV and all the services -- cable TV, HBO Max, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, etc. -- will see losses in subscribers and revenue going forward? That seems... unlikely to me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,256 Posts
Discussion Starter · #26 ·
I just wish the services bundling the free tier with your mobile service would let you add-on the extra couple of dollars for the ad-free tier. We get the Hulu ad-version through our Sprint Unlimited plan (the $6 version of Hulu). However, there is no way for me to upgrade to the ad-free version without paying for the entire thing. If I had the option of going Ad-Free for $6, I might do it. however, I'm not going to spend $12 a month for it. I tried to watch the $6 version a few times, and couldn't get past all the ad's in each show. So at this point, the Hulu app on our devices goes farther and farther down the list of apps on our TV and the ones without Ad's keep moving closer and closer to the top.
Yeah, that stinks. But Sprint is kinda defunct now. Obviously T-Mobile isn't going to change those plans. At some point, I'm sure, they'll force you to transition over to an actual T-Mo plan or leave.

That said, it looks like when Sprint launched the free Hulu deal, Hulu had already begun selling their $12/mo ad-free plan. Would've been nice if Sprint had offered an optional $6 upgrade to the ad-free plan. My bet is that Hulu didn't want that since they actually make *more* money on the cheaper $6 plan due to the ad revenue. I know that the free Disney bundle that Verizon offers on some plans includes only the ad-supported version of Hulu and, AFAIK, there's no way to pay extra and upgrade that either.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,256 Posts
Discussion Starter · #27 ·
I guess I'm not particularly worried about Netflix with its 208 million global subscribers. Every other service is playing catch-up with less than 50% even at Disney+. Far more people signed up for Disney+ and Netflix in the first six months of the pandemic than anticipated so growth would return to normal levels as the pandemic winds down. What one has to watch is the average revenue per user which gives Netflix a real advantage for now. Of course one can't ignore Disney's Hulu which is not too far behind Netflix.
Disney+'s global ARPU is dragged down because it's sold so cheap in parts of Asia. Jason Kilar (now running HBO Max for at least awhile longer) did a good job as CEO of Hulu. It now has over 40 million US subs, just behind HBO/HBO Max.

In the meantime we have the Amazon MGM purchase rumors.
Hmm, first I've heard of that one. The big one I read about today is NBCU and ViacomCBS. NBCU and Warner had been in talks and while I think it would've been a better match-up than Warner and Discovery, I think AT&T was so scared of another anti-trust trial and they opted for the easier deal. So now NBCU is left looking for someone else to help them scale up to compete with Disney and Netflix.

Still available:
  • ViacomCBS
  • Sony Pictures (less interesting after just striking a long-term output deal with Netflix)
  • Fox (broadcast, news, sports nets)
  • Lionsgate (includes Starz)
  • AMC
  • MGM (includes Epix)
  • Crown Media (i.e. Hallmark nets, privately held)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,256 Posts
Discussion Starter · #31 ·
I don't expect FOX to merge with anyone. They are what they are for the foreseeable future imho.

You won't see NBC and CBS merge. Not happening.

Sony maybe but they'd Lilly be the buyer if someone else like lions gate and amc maybe. I could see Viacom going after those two as well. Maybe even NBC. But really I don't expect to much from NBC.

And I doubt crown will ever be sold.
ViacomCBS is in the most need to scale up and I had anticipated that they might form a "team of leftovers" by buying up Lionsgate, MGM and/or AMC. But looks like Amazon is close to buying MGM for $9 billion. Wonder if Epix will just get folded into Prime Video? The Epix Originals slate is rather underwhelming but Amazon may prefer to bolster Prime Video with Epix's film library, including recent Paramount and MGM films, rather than try to keep it alive is a little $6/mo cable and streaming service. Can't really see Epix surviving long-term.

An NBCU/ViacomCBS merger likely could not happen without the feds forcing either NBC or CBS (and their O&O local affiliates) to be sold off. It's not out of the question for them to merge and then keep all the Viacom channels and content, Paramount studios, and Showtime, then merge Paramount+ content (minus the CBS shows) into Peacock. (Maybe Showtime content would get merged into Peacock as well, or maybe everything would just stream under the arguably stronger Showtime brand as an HBO Max-like competitor.) Anyhow, in this unlikely hypothetical, CBS and its news division would have to be either sold to another buyer or spun off as a small solo operation. Perhaps WarnerDisco would buy CBS. (A major broadcast network is about the only thing they lack, and CBS's longstanding news operation, including 60 Minutes, might be a nice complement to CNN on cable.) At any rate, now that both Warner and Discovery are off the table, ViacomCBS is really the only significant player left for NBCU to tie up with. They've reportedly already approached them about selling Peacock and Paramount+ as a bundle deal.

Anyhow, here's a story about the pressures now faced by NBCU and ViacomCBS in the wake of the WarnerDisco deal:
https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/17/warnermedia-discovery-deal-pressures-viacomcbs-and-nbcuniversal.html

Sony seems like they want to remain an independent, mid-sized studio that creates and supplies content to multiple buyers. And their recent deal to supply their recent theatrical films to Netflix, starting with their 2022 slate, helps in that regard. (Their current deal is with Starz.) But Lionsgate and AMC, I dunno, it's just going to be increasingly hard for them. But not every service has to be huge to survive and be profitable, I guess. Maybe Starz and AMC+ can survive long-term as they are.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,256 Posts
Discussion Starter · #35 ·
And of course with this consolidation, it will probably mean less content and higher prices, as these companies start to weed out some of the more boutique offerings and things will be more mainstream.
There are a few big global direct-to-consumer video players that look pretty secure to me: Netflix, Amazon, Disney, and now WarnerDiscovery. Plus Google's YouTube, which is just a different sort of beast with its free user-uploaded content, essentially the world's video search engine. Beyond that, prospects are very questionable.

Apple is the richest company in the world, so they certainly have the cash (and the customer relationships) to grow Apple TV+ into a mid-sized service focused on quality middlebrow originals, if they choose to stick with it, believing it will ultimately be a net contributor to their bottom line. We'll see.

There will still be a place for small niche video services too, if they're priced right. As is already the case, some won't even have their own apps but they'll need to participate in aggregate platforms housed in larger apps, like Prime Video, Apple TV, Roku Channel. Perhaps even YouTube will eventually allow paid subscription channels inside their app.

Outside of those mentioned above, though, it seem to me that all the other services are caught in the middle and are in danger. Things like Peacock, Paramount+, Showtime, Starz, and AMC+. These services and their parents companies don't have the scale to become global competitors to Netflix, Amazon, Disney and WarnerDiscovery. I think NBCU and ViacomCBS, if they don't somehow merge, will end up pulling the plug on their Peacock and Paramount+ services in the next few years. (Rather than merge at the top, perhaps they just combine Peacock and Paramount+ into a joint-venture streaming, as Hulu originally launched.) I think they'll find that they're better off just licensing their content out to the four bigger services rather than trying to make a go of their own US-only direct-to-consumer services. Of course, that calls into question those two companies' long-term viability as consumer-facing brands; they would be solely reliant on their broadcast and cable TV channels in an era where linear channels are fading and streaming continues to rise.

As hybrid cable/streaming services, Showtime and Starz both have decent-sized subscriber bases in the 25-28 million range but most of those are still on cable, making them somewhat vulnerable as Americans continue to cut the cord. But they could probably at least survive, if not thrive, as-is for several more years as US premium services that license their content to bigger players in foreign markets. Their prospects would improve if they were merged, a move that Showtime parent CBS perhaps had in mind when they tendered an unsolicited bid to purchase Starz a couple years ago.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,256 Posts
Discussion Starter · #37 · (Edited)
I think NBC/U (Peacock) will eventually be one of the majors.
Eh, I don't think NBCU's Peacock is hitting it out of the park so far and it's under pressure to prove itself in the next year or so, I'd say. It could potentially become more attractive in the future. Right now, Universal has an exclusive longstanding deal in place with HBO for the pay-1 window for their movies. That deal expires at the end of this year, but will NBCU forego another lucrative licensing deal (whether with HBO Max, Netflix, or whomever) in order to keep their post-'21 theatrical releases exclusive to Peacock? Meanwhile, you can still watch all NBC shows next-day on both Hulu and Peacock. It's unclear whether that will remain in place until 2022 or 2024. Anyhow, at some point in the future, current NBC shows will leave Hulu and become exclusive to Peacock. But in the meantime, you don't need Peacock for current NBC shows and Peacock isn't delivering any recent movies. Peacock has a few originals but it's mainly a lot of old shows and movies. The Office is really it's main attraction. If you're getting Peacock Premium free with your TV or broadband service from Comcast or Cox, then fine. But for $5/mo, it seems underwhelming in comparison with Hulu at $6/mo.

BTW, isn't Showtime owned by Viacom? I wonder how soon it winds up part of Paramount+ or perhaps they rebrand it again to Showtime+?
Yes, Showtime was part of CBS and now part of ViacomCBS. The tricky part of trying to integrate Showtime into something larger is the same problem Warner faced with moving from HBO (and its HBO Go and Now apps) to the larger HBO Max -- they'd need to renegotiate all the current cable and streaming distribution contracts in place for Showtime (as Warner did for HBO), so that any subscription to Showtime would include access to the bigger Paramount+ (or "Showtime+") streaming app, which would include all of Showtime (which frankly has a pretty small library) plus a lot more.

So in this scenario, the Paramount+ app would replace the existing Showtime and Showtime Anytime apps (just as the HBO Max app replaced the HBO Now and HBO Go apps). But given the realties of the competition in the streaming space, I don't think they could raise the price much, if any, if they really want to grow the subscriber base. Paramount+ Premium (ad-free) is $10/mo while Showtime (always ad-free) costs $11-12/mo, depending where you buy it. Even if you got both together in a combined app and it was all priced at $12/mo all ad-free, I question how competitive it would be against Netflix at $13, the Disney bundle (Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+, the latter two with ads) at $14, and HBO Max (ad-free) at $15. And of course a lot of folks are getting the huge Prime Video library thrown in with a Prime membership they keep anyway.

To really offer the amount and range of quality content that could make it a serious player that could scale up in the US and abroad vs. Netflix, Disney, etc., I think you'd need to see a service that combines the catalogs of Peacock Premium, Paramount+, Showtime, and maybe Starz and AMC+ as well. Imagine if ViacomCBS bought Lionsgate, with its studio, content library and Starz, then folded Starz into Showtime. Meanwhile, NBCU bought AMC Networks. Then ViacomCBS and NBCU launched a joint venture streaming service that would have the exclusive pay-1 TV window for films from Universal, Paramount and Lionsgate studios, plus a lot of their back catalog movies. It would be the exclusive streaming home of Showtime (which would include Starz content at that point) and also have its own line of exclusive streaming originals (i.e. the combination of what are now Peacock Originals and Paramount+ originals) and certain sports exclusives. And it would feature same or next-day access to current shows on NBC and CBS. Plus all the stuff now offered in AMC+ (which, like Peacock and Paramount+, would cease to exist as its own separate service). Plus have lots of back seasons of various shows from the Viacom and NBCU cable networks.

Which is a lot of content! Price that super-service at maybe $7/mo with ads and $13/mo ad-free and *maybe* it could fight its way to being a US and global streaming service that's competitive with the current big 4. (They would of course raise the prices later but need a low price now and the willingness to lose money on it for awhile.)

But time is of the essence. Consumer habits are gelling and it's really hard to play catch-up. Households will only tend to keep a few subscriptions at a time and most won't bother juggling them (or will tire of doing so). Yesterday's deal to form WarnerDiscovery means the window is closing faster for the remaining players to either consolidate and go big, or fold and go home (i.e. stick with traditional TV and license their content to third-party services for streaming).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,256 Posts
Discussion Starter · #39 ·
Reading the agreement would be helpful. The WarnerMedia Discovery merger is a stock deal. The stockholders in the new combined company will be comprised of the stockholders of AT&T and Discovery. AT&T stockholders will get 71% ownership of the merged company and then said company will operate separately from AT&T. AT&T gets a boat load of money ($43 billion) and transfer of WarnerMedia debt to the new company.

Or as the press release put it: "combine WarnerMedia's premium entertainment, sports and news assets with Discovery's leading nonfiction and international entertainment and sports businesses to create a premier, standalone global entertainment company."
Hmm, are you saying that current AT&T stockholders will be issued shares in the new WarnerDiscovery stock? I hadn't seen that explicitly stated in any of the news stories. My read was that the AT&T corporation would itself own 71% of the new company's equity (which would be reflected in the value of AT&T's stock price) with the other 29% of equity owned by current Discovery stockholders, i.e. they would trade their current Discovery shares for WarnerDiscovery shares.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,256 Posts
Discussion Starter · #44 ·
I keep seeing people say this and it is just not true for all NBC shows being on Peacock the next day. One example is The Blacklist that doesn't make it to Peacock for a week. And last time I checked Dateline it was the same thing.
OK, fine, there are a couple of exceptions to the rule. But in general, Peacock Premium has next-day access both new and returning NBC series, much the same as Hulu. (The Blacklist appears to be a special case, maybe because of its deal with Netflix. Peacock only shows five recent episodes at a time, but always lagging a week, while Hulu doesn't have the show at all unless you have their live TV add-on.) And FWIW, last Friday's episode of Dateline shows up in Peacock Premium for me right now. Although I have no idea if it appeared next-day (i.e. last Sat.).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,256 Posts
Discussion Starter · #46 ·
But that's kinda my point. At some point "the big players" whoever that works out to be, will own most if not all of this and then pricing will be at their discretion. And if it costs $40 a month or more for "all that content" so be it. We either pay or we don't. Remember we were, not that long ago in this boat.
At some point (if the government is doing its job), it won't allow any further media consolidation. But if 95% of streaming video ends up in the hands of six major competitors, I'm not sure that's a huge anti-trust problem. I mean, consumers would still have options and that would be enough competition to keep prices in check and spur product improvement. (Now that said, I do expect all these service to increase their prices somewhat over time. But if you've got five other big competitors, you can't just double your price without losing a lot of business to the competition.) Now, if things got *really* concentrated -- say if you only had three major media competitors (as is now the case in US wireless service) -- I'd find that significantly more worrisome.

The cable companies can charge whatever they wanted for content, because A) where were we going to go? B) because they can.
Well, that was a different situation. In the early era of cable TV, distribution of the service was handled exclusively by companies that built and owned their own wired distribution networks (i.e. coaxial cable) but didn't own the actual channels they offered (which were pretty much the same regardless of the cableco). And rarely did a competitor spend the money to wire up an area where another cableco had already done it. So cable TV was originally pretty much a bunch of small companies with local monopolies (which is why they typically had to be granted permission to serve an area by a local government authority, which would monitor the cableco's rates and practices).

But then satellite TV came along and suddenly there was *some amount* of competition for cable TV service. And these days, any form of video entertainment, whether "cable TV" or direct-to-consumer on-demand (e.g. Netflix, HBO Max), can ride "over-the-top" of any internet connection, regardless of who owns the network infrastructure (AT&T, Comcast, Charter, Verizon, SpaceX, a rural fiber co-op, etc.).

So while, yes, we should be wary of TOO much concentration of power in any given industry (in this case, media), I don't see what's happening now as being analogous to the history of cable TV distribution. I mean, yes, if you just *have to have* Marvel Comics-based shows, then yes, your only choice may eventually be Disney+ for that. But that's not really a monopoly. HBO Max will gladly present you with a bunch of DC Comics content as an alternative.

I think there's going to come a point where Netflix is going to struggle to get new subs with all of this competition out there, ones with more cash or more longstanding industry standing (which would help them with finance). I expect Netflix to get bought up by a company that wants to make a big splash or their own isn't working (Comcast?)
I dunno, is anyone big enough to buy Netflix now? They're a $215 billion company. Disney is bigger ($306 bn) but the government would never allow them to merge. I'm very skeptical that Comcast ($249 bn) would be allowed to do so, given their power in both media (their NBCU unit) as well as the fact that they're the nation's largest broadband provider. Netflix appears completely uninterested in merging with or acquiring another smaller media company like ViacomCBS. Hastings has built his own empire apart from old Hollywood and I think he wants to remain an independent operator. But I would agree with you that Netflix's gonzo growth days are over. They're facing some real competition now.

The only companies I can see who may be big enough to buy Netflix are the big tech titans: Apple ($2.1 trillion), Amazon ($1.6 tn), Google ($1.5 tn), and Microsoft ($1.3 tn). Because of their already substantial media operations, I think Amazon and probably Google would be barred from the deal. So that leaves Apple and Microsoft. Apple has always been the one talked up as a potential Netflix buyer but so far they seem more interested in organically building their own smaller thing with Apple TV+. As for Microsoft, I dunno, seems like an odd tie-up but I guess anything's possible.

I think it'll take about 5 years or so for it to sort itself out and I expect the landscape to be quite different by then. Seriously, how many subs can people do without it getting too costly and confusing? I'd say that most people aren't going to do what folks here often do, float from one to another for a month or two at a time watch all the content and then move on to the next. Most people will subscribe to a few services and just watch those.
Yep, I agree with you. As for how many streaming services folks will have (i.e. how much they're willing to pay), keep in mind that at cable TV's peak in the US (early part of last decade), about 90% of US households had it, paying an average of about $100 per month on TV. (See here and here and here.) I don't really know if the average amount spent on TV will change, we'll probably just see a smoother distribution of household spending, with some having only 1 SVOD, others having 3, others having 6, and then a declining number of households also having some kind of cable TV package. Households with more income/more people/differing tastes will tend to keep more services. But yeah, over time, most will figure out which services they like and tend to stick with them. For instance, I'm an HBO Max guy but really have no use for Disney+.

As for it being too confusing to keep multiple subscriptions, that problem can be solved by the services participating in streaming devices' aggregated content UIs (e.g. the new Google TV system), which allow them to search across services, see recommendations across services, and maintain a universal watchlist to help them keep track of what they want to watch without having to remember which app plays a particular show or movie.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,256 Posts
Discussion Starter · #51 ·
That's my biggest complaint with streaming. I don't want to manage / deal with a dozen providers.

Is that Google TV thing 100% hiding the separate apps from you? From the little I can find on it, it just aggregates search / watchlists, no? You still have to go into the separate apps to watch and do stuff, correct?

That's a step closer... but not good enough if you still have to deal with separate apps. If Google can completely hide that concept from the viewer, that would be a game changer. But I can't imagine Disney, HBO, etc. being like "Yeah, sure Google, you can strip off all our branding and put our content in your generic Google app". Not gonna happen.

Sounds more like a Roku competitor.
Google TV is absolutely a competitor to Roku and you're right that these powerful apps will never allow their content to be completely divorced from their own apps/UIs. That's why Netflix so far won't fully participate in either Google TV or the Apple TV app (which has a similar approach and, so far anyway, still works better than Google TV). But all the other major on-demand apps do participate.

While Roku basically just presents a grid of apps, Google TV presents a row of apps plus lots of other rows of recommended content from within those apps. You're not going to see *all* the content from the underlying apps in the Google TV home screen. That would be a crazy amount of content to scroll through and not very useful to the user. So if you want to deep-dive browse what a given service offers, you'll still need to open their app and browse there. But if you want to search for a specific title, Google TV will allow you to search across many services. (Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV all do this too.) You can click on a title in the Google TV search results, the same way that you can click on a recommended title on the Google TV home screen, and you'll see Google TV's info page for that specific movie or series, showing you the different "ways to watch," i.e. apps it's available in. From there, you can click to play it in whichever app you want and the title will begin playing inside that app. You don't have to look for it again in the app, it takes you right to it and starts the playback.

You can also save titles that Google TV surfaces (via its recommendations or its search results) to a universal watchlist. So you don't need to maintain separate watchlists inside each app if you don't want to. (Except Netflix, which won't allow their original content to be included in the Google TV system.) Click on a title in the watchlist and it's info page opens and from there, you click to play it. (The underlying app should keep track of which episode you're ready for next.) For some reason, though, they don't put the watchlist near the top of the main For You tab, so you have to navigate around to get to it. A nice touch is that you can also add titles to your watchlist from within Google search results in a browser if you're signed into the same Google account as you're using on Google TV. You can even see your Google TV watchlist by searching for "my watchlist" in Google.

Google lets you tell it which apps you subscribe to, so its recommendations are mostly (but not completely) pulled from those services. It also lets you rate recommendations with a thumbs up/down and it does seem to learn your tastes pretty well so that it becomes better at surfacing stuff you'd want to watch.

For myself, and I'd think most people, an aggregated content UI like Google TV or the Apple TV app is a useful tool but it doesn't completely replace browsing within individual apps. IMO, both have their place.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,256 Posts
Discussion Starter · #53 ·
I think the idea they need to go after is that the apps are just channels. They might be getting closer to that, but there still needs to be a way you can subscribe to a bunch of them for one set fee.
Industry analysts seem to think that bundling of services will be part of the next phase in the evolution of cable-to-streaming. So your broadband provider, or wireless provider, or the company running the app store on your device, may offer certain combinations of subscriptions for a reduced price. We're already seeing broadband and wireless providers offering one or more service free with their service, at least for a limited time. Like Peacock Premium free with Comcast service, Netflix free with T-Mobile, a year of the Disney bundle free with Verizon, etc.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,256 Posts
Discussion Starter · #54 ·
I still think that carriers shouldn't be allowed to own content. Similarly, I don't think content companies should be allowed to own TV stations.
I agree about carriers owning content. And while the DOJ allowed it, it seems like the market has spoken pretty clearly that "vertical integration" isn't a good idea. Both AT&T and Verizon are now spinning off the media businesses they acquired. That does leave Comcast, though, with NBCU. That's actually worked OK for them but most equity analysts believe more value would be created by separating the two businesses and I expect eventually that will happen. If Comcast wants to see NBCU merge with or acquire another media company to achieve greater scale, they'd be more likely to gain DOJ approval if the deal involved spinning NBCU off, as AT&T just did for the Warner/Discovery deal.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,256 Posts
Discussion Starter · #60 ·
I don't think the Blacklist thing is because of Netflix who don't have any episodes of the current season. I think it is an NBC thing because you can watch it next day on the regular NBC app with commercials you can't FF through.
That makes the situation even weirder. Networks almost always have "stacking rights" to stream at least the most recent five eps of their shows wherever they want. Which is how virtually all ABC, Fox and NBC shows have at least their most five recent eps available next-day on Hulu, as well as on their own network apps. Who knows whether this is a situation where there's some weird wrinkle in the contract between NBCU and Sony (the show's distributor) or if it's just NBCU trying to protect NBC viewership at Peacock's expense. The show ranked 50th in the ratings last season, behind several other NBC series. So it's not like it's their prize property. Who knows...
 
1 - 20 of 39 Posts
Top