Home » Online Video » Recent Articles:

Comcast Launching New XFINITY Stream App to Access 200+ Channels, DVR In/Out of Home

Phillip Dampier February 14, 2017 Comcast/Xfinity, Consumer News, Online Video No Comments

Comcast today announced it is launching a new streaming television app for XFINITY TV customers allowing access to more than 200 live channels and DVR recordings on-the-go at no extra charge.

XFINITY Stream works with phones, tablets, and laptops in or out of the home, and will replace the XFINITY TV app when released for iOS and Android devices on Feb. 28.

The app will expand the ability of Comcast customers to watch their television lineup and DVR recordings anywhere there is a broadband connection. Many cable companies do not allow customers to watch DVR-recorded shows on portable devices and only have a small selection of cable channels available for viewing outside of the home.

“With the XFINITY Stream app, we are giving customers access to the best content in and out of the home with a growing list of advanced features and capabilities that make the mobile experience nearly identical to the cable experience they enjoy at home,” said Matt Strauss, executive vice president and general manager of Comcast Cable’s video and entertainment services.

Among the improvements claimed by Comcast:

  • availability of a Spanish language guide
  • X1-like experience
  • favorite channel filtering
  • 50 Music Choice music channels
  • Common Sense Media reviews and ratings
  • 40,000 on demand movies and TV shows
  • full access to your XFINITY DVR and its recordings
  • ability to download “thousands” of shows for offline viewing

Customers who have already installed the latest version of the XFINITY TV app on their devices need not do anything. The app will transition through an app update on Feb 28.

The Return of the Verizon Wireless Unlimited Data Plan Provokes Wall Street Anxiety

The days of wine and roses from wireless data profits may be at risk, according to some Wall Street analysts, after Verizon Wireless on Monday brought back an unlimited data plan it vowed was dead for good in 2011.

The “Cadillac” wireless network reintroduced unlimited data, phone, and texting this week at prices that vary according to the number of lines on your account:

  • $80 a month for one line
  • $70 a line for two lines
  • $54 a line for three lines
  • $45 a line for four lines

Verizon Wireless last enrolled customers in its old unlimited data plan in 2011, and a dwindling number of customers remain grandfathered on that plan, which began increasing in price last year and has since been restricted to no more than 200GB of “unlimited” usage in a month.

Verizon’s new unlimited data plan is a response to pressure from increasing competition, especially from T-Mobile and Sprint. All of Verizon’s national competitors have unlimited data plans with varying restrictions, and Verizon’s lack of one is likely to have cost it new customer signups last year. The company only managed to add 2.3 million postpaid customers in 2016, down from 4.5 million signed up in 2015.

CEO McAdam swore unlimited data was dead at Verizon

Causing the most irritation is T-Mobile, which near-constantly nips at Verizon’s heels with innovative and disruptive plans designed to challenge Verizon’s business model. BTIG Research analyst Walter Piecyk noted Verizon’s claims it does not need to respond to T-Mobile’s marketing harassment just don’t ring true any longer.

“Verizon has a long history of rebuffing T-Mobile’s competitive moves as non-economic or unlikely to have an impact on the industry for more than a quarter or two, only to later replicate the offer,” Piecyk said. “That was true for phone payment plans, ETF payments for switchers, overage etc. We can now add unlimited to that list. How long will it be until Verizon offers pricing that includes taxes? Despite those delayed competitive responses, T-Mobile has maintained industry leading growth while Verizon’s has declined.”

Piecyk believes Verizon Wireless rushed their unlimited data plan into the marketplace and its introduction seemed not well planned.

“We asked Verizon what has changed to explain such an abrupt reversal, but have yet to receive a response,” Piecyk said. “They had recently been running an advertisement promoting the 5GB rate plan that argued why customers do not need unlimited. The rate plan remains, but it is not clear if the advertisement will. The launch of unlimited seemed rushed, coming a week after the exposure they could have secured with a Super Bowl advertisement. The ad run last night during the Grammy’s did not appear to have taken much to produce.”

Verizon Wireless executives have argued for years customers don’t need unlimited data plans and Verizon would no longer offer one:

  • With unlimited, it’s the physics that breaks it. If you allow unlimited usage, you just run out of gas. — Lowell McAdam, Verizon CEO (September, 2013)
  • At this point, we are not going to entertain unlimited. Promotions come and go. We can’t react to everything in the marketplace.” — Fran Shammo, former Verizon CFO (January, 2016)
  • “I’ve been pretty public saying the unlimited model does not work in an LTE environment. Unlimited is a very short-term game in the LTE market. Eventually unlimited is going to go away because you have to generate cash to reinvest.” — Fran Shammo, former Verizon CFO (March, 2016)
  • Unlimited data plans were “not something we feel the need to do.” — Matthew Ellis, Verizon CFO (January, 2017)

Shammo: Unlimited doesn’t work on LTE networks.

The impact of not having an unlimited data plan appears to have convinced Verizon to change its mind, and that comes as no surprise to Roger Entner of Recon Analytics.

“In three to five years, unlimited plans will come back,” Entner predicted in 2011. He claimed back then wireless carriers were initially unsure how to predict data usage growth on their networks and placing limits on usage gave carriers more predictable upgrade schedules. But after several years of data, Entner said carriers can now better predict the amount of data an average subscriber will use in a month, giving them confidence to remove the caps.

Verizon Wireless’ unlimited plan includes several fine print limitations that provide additional network protection for Verizon and manage any surprise usage:

  • Unlimited use is only provided on Verizon’s 4G LTE network. Limits may apply to customers using older 3G networks, which are less efficient managing traffic;
  • Unlimited not available to Machine-to-Machine Services;
  • Customers with unlimited data plans may find their traffic deprioritized on congested cell sites after 22GB of data consumption during a billing cycle. This speed throttle can reduce network speeds to near-dial up in some circumstances, at least until site congestion eases;
  • Mobile hotspot tethering on this unlimited plan is limited to 10GB per month on Verizon’s 4G LTE network. Additional usage will be provided at 3G speeds. This is designed to discourage customers from using Verizon Wireless as a home broadband replacement;
  • Verizon’s ultimate 200GB monthly limit is also presumably still in place. If you exceed it on Verizon’s legacy unlimited data plan, you were told to shift to a tiered data plan or had your account closed.

Piecyk thinks Verizon’s unlimited data plan may have been rushed out.

Although consumers clamoring for an unlimited data plan from Verizon are happy, Wall Street is not. Analysts are generally opposed to Verizon’s return to unlimited, with many suggesting it is clear evidence the days of high profits and predictable revenue growth are over. That is especially bad news for AT&T and Verizon Wireless, where investors expect predictable and aggressive returns. Verizon has already warned investors it expects revenue and profits to be flat this year.

Jeffrey Kvaal with Instinet believes Verizon’s traditionally robust network coverage is no longer an advantage as competitors catch up and unlimited data is the final nail in the coffin for wireless revenue growth. That means only one thing to Kvaal, AT&T and Verizon must pursue growth outside of the wireless industry. Verizon, in particular, is facing investor expectations it will do something bold in 2017, such as making a large acquisition like a major cable operator.

Evercore ISI’s Vijay Jayant believes unlimited data is bad news for all carriers from the perspective of investors looking for revenue growth.  Jayant told investors in the short term, unlimited data may help Verizon’s revenue because the plans are expensive, but in the long run Verizon is sacrificing the revenue potential of monetizing growing data usage in return for a high-priced, flat rate option. That guarantees “customers won’t see their bills rise, even as their usage does,” Jayant said.

Some analysts point out Verizon’s unlimited data plan is expensive, limiting its potential attractiveness to customers considering jumping to another carrier. While Verizon charges between $80-180 (for one to four devices), AT&T charges between $100-180 for unlimited plan customers, who must also sign up with DirecTV to get an unlimited data plan. T-Mobile charges between $70-160 and Sprint charges between $60-160. The cheapest is T-Mobile, because its plans are all-taxes/fees inclusive. All four carriers have soft limits after which customers may be exposed to a speed throttle. AT&T can temporarily throttle users at 22GB, Sprint can throttle above 23GB and T-Mobile after 28GB.

The Wall Street Journal discusses Verizon’s unlimited data plan and its caveats. (4:55)

The Great Linear TV Slimdown: Viacom to Focus on Just Six of Its Cable Networks

Phillip Dampier February 8, 2017 Consumer News, Online Video 2 Comments

Viacom, Inc., the nemesis of any cable operator trying to keep programming costs down, has finally bowed to the reality there is a ceiling on the number of networks Americans are willing to pay for and will narrow its focus on just six of its top cable networks.

The programmer operates more than two dozen cable networks, many forcibly bundled onto cable systems with the networks most cable operators want to carry as a result of contract renewal negotiations. As a result, many cable lineups are loaded with spinoff networks created by Viacom around their BET, Nickelodeon, and MTV brands.

In recent years, some smaller cable operators have parted company with Viacom for good, dropping networks like Comedy Central, Spike, and Nickelodeon because programming costs got too high. Cable One, Suddenlink, and most recently streaming service PlayStation Vue have dropped Viacom networks, and Altice is threatening to do the same for its Cablevision subscribers if renewal rates get out of hand. Viacom also created consternation for satellite TV providers with regular skirmishes that have led to blackouts.

New Viacom chief executive Bob Bakish now plans to cut tension with pay television operators by narrowing Viacom’s focus to just six core networks: Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., MTV, Comedy Central, BET and Spike. The Wall Street Journal reports the plan won Viacom board approval and will be publicly announced later this week.

Viacom won’t sign off the rest of its networks immediately, but will begin to shift popular programming away from weaker networks like CMT and TV Land.

“We must do everything we can to keep [our brands] strong and distinct as audiences fragment and content options proliferate,” Mr. Bakish told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting on Monday.

Viacom’s ratings are down among core audiences across all of their networks except Nickelodeon’s Nick at Night evening block and Nick Jr.

The rearrangement may not result in a lot of savings for cable operators or consumers, however, because Viacom reportedly intends to raise carriage fees for its core networks that most people want to watch. It does seems unlikely most of the non-core networks will stay on linear TV for very long under the new business plan. Most could be distributed through streaming video services or on-demand.

Viacom also intends to review its digital distribution deals with streaming providers like Hulu, and observers believe those deals are likely to see new restrictions designed to win approval from Viacom’s cable partners and help build ratings.

Among the channels no longer part of the core lineup that could eventually sign-off for good:

  • CMT and CMT Music
  • Logo TV
  • MTV2, MTV Classic, MTV Live, MTVU, MTV Tres
  • TV Land
  • VH1
  • Nick2, Nick at Nite, NickMusic, Nicktoons, TeenNick
  • BET Gospel, BET Hip-Hop, BET International, BET Jams, BET Soul
  • Centric

T-Mobile Slams Its Own Deal With DirecTV Now, Throws In Free Year of Hulu

Former AT&T customers who dumped their former carrier for T-Mobile in return for a free year of DirecTV Now are getting a sweeter deal with a free year of Hulu with Limited Commercials as well.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere had avoided criticism of the streaming television service from AT&T-owned DirecTV until customers began complaining it has never worked as advertised, making the T-Mobile’s promotion a “meh” experience.

Legere has been a frequent critic of AT&T in social media, so it isn’t too surprising Legere started taking shots at AT&T’s streaming effort as well this morning.

On Twitter, Legere slammed DirecTV Now and called AT&T executives “delusional” over claims the service exceeded their expectations.

“To make things right for those new T-Mobile customers, the Un-carrier is giving everyone who participated in this deal a free year of Hulu — an awesome streaming service that actually works — on top of their free year of DirecTV Now,” said the company in a statement.

Customers need not surrender their existing DirecTV Now service. Hulu’s limited commercials plan comes along for the ride for one year. T-Mobile will send affected customers a promotional code they can use to sign up over the next several weeks.

No word on if customers can also upgrade to the $11.99 no-commercial plan and receive a partial credit.

One Down, 70+ to Go: Esquire Network Signs Off Cable TV for Good This Spring

Phillip Dampier January 18, 2017 Consumer News, Online Video 1 Comment

NBCUniversal has discovered fewer viewers than ever care about live, linear television. Fewer still cared about Esquire Network, the studio’s male-targeted cable network you probably never watched.

The cable channel will go dark on your cable lineup for good this spring, according to Advertising Age, and move to the internet on Esquire.com.

Esquire Network launched as a partnership between NBCUniversal and Hearst Magazines, and took over the channel space formerly occupied by the Style network in September 2013. Esquire was supposed to reach young rich guys, among the most difficult audiences to reach. Esquire had an extremely low chance of succeeding, if only because young men in their 20s and early 30s are among the least likely to subscribe to cable television. Men in this age group are also notoriously intolerant of live commercial-laden television, and would be unlikely to treat Esquire’s original shows as worthy of appointment viewing.

Can America live without cable carriage of shows like “Knife Fight?” Apparently so.

Although Esquire Network turned in much better ratings than its predecessor Style, which couldn’t draw flies to a horse barn, NBCUniversal decided to pull the plug anyway after the network averaged only 141,000 primetime viewers nationwide, many outside of the age range advertisers wanted to reach. In 2016, every cable subscriber with Esquire Network paid a portion of their cable bill to keep the network on the lineup, even though it scored less than one-tenth of a single ratings point among adults 18-49 years old. Viewers had as much chance landing on the network by sitting on their remote controls by accident as intentionally selecting the channel. Other channels sharing space in Esquire’s ratings basement include never-heard-of Pop, Reelz, and Destination America.

For the tens of viewers that cannot miss Esquire’s original shows, including  “Edgehill,” an investigative series about a 1998 unsolved murder of a Yale undergrad, no worries — it and other shows including “Borderland USA,” “Knife Fight,” “Brew Dogs,” and “Best Bars in America” will be ready and waiting for on-demand viewing on its website, where it may actually attract a larger audience.

The cable TV lineup comes at an ever-increasing cost for subscribers, and low-rated cable networks that force their way on the dial in bundles with more popular cable networks are partly responsible for the cord-cutting trend. Many customers are finding they can live fine without hundreds of cable channels they pay for and never watch, and as cancellations continue to grow, some studios admit it may be time to slim down the cable package and move low-rated cable channels to on-demand, online viewing instead.

Search This Site:

Contributions:

Recent Comments:

  • Cindy: How has class action lawsuits never been filed against them? I dumped them 2 weeks ago, it's so nice to actually have internet again! Frontier would s...
  • Arlene Hughes: the plans are the amts for new signed up customers, the loyal customers get nothing and they pay for all the perks for the new customers. i for one i...
  • David Bystrack: What about all the problems in Ct ??? They still can't get my bill fixed and billed me $476.00 for there mistake.They just took the money from my cred...
  • Disagree with McCarthy: I was an employee of a real Telco corporation and my state was sold to Frontier. There is no training for employees. We have to teach ourselves and ...
  • Smith6612: Compared to Time Warner Cable, some people may actually be saving $10 here if they use the Rental Gateway. In my market, TWC would charge $10 for the ...
  • phychic99: Surely you jest on the Secure Connection Fee :) If not I just spit out my coffee......
  • Lee: I have Frontier and my lines going back to the dslam are all underground. I doubt they would go back to hanging new lines on the electric poles, and t...
  • Somewhat Perplexed: "Frontier CEO Blames Employees" I didn't see anything supporting that, anywhere in the article. Implying that's the case because bonuses were cut i...
  • Elbert Davis: Armstrong Cable pulls a similar scam,calling their router rental fee "Zoomshare." At least Charter allows you to use your own modem. Armstrong only ...
  • Newer Employee: Frontier is a joke but I'm getting $20 an hour to sit on Reddit while turning off people's internet. The training is almost non-existent and we aren'...
  • Upset employee: Wow it hurts to see that you blame the employees for the downfall we are the ones sitting there and having to explain and fix the customers service. D...
  • Josh: I'm on "Performance Plus" in Illinois...25Mb/s. Will be interesting to see if it goes up......

Your Account: