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NBCUniversal Offers Its National News Networks and Local Newscasts To All Video Subscribers for Free

Phillip Dampier March 25, 2020 Consumer News, Online Video No Comments

As a result of the current coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, NBCUniversal is now offering free access to MSNBC, NBC News Now, and CNBC on cable lineups and to authenticated video subscribers of various cable, satellite, and telco TV services. Customers need not have current subscriptions to any or all of these services to get access. If streaming online, enter the account credentials of your current provider when prompted.

NBC and Telemundo-owned TV stations are also now live streaming local newscasts and coronavirus-related press conferences on each station’s website and related app(s). No subscriptions are required to view this content.

ISPs: Suspend Data Caps as Telecommuting and Tele-Learning Chew Through Allowances

Stop the Cap! is calling on all internet service providers to suspend data caps to do their part to help manage the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.

“As a growing number of businesses are asking employees to work from home and students begin video streaming their classes online, no family should have to face the unnecessary and added expense of an even bigger internet bill because they exceeded a provider’s arbitrary data allowance,” said Phillip M. Dampier, Stop the Cap! president. “We are calling on all providers to suspend data caps, speed throttles, and overlimit fees immediately.”

Education Week reports that over 500 schools with more than 360,000 students are temporarily stopping in-person classes because of the virus. Most are adopting video conferencing software that will stream classes to students at home. Stop the Cap! has learned that many of these video streaming applications can consume a lot of data, chewing through customer data allowances, especially in homes with more than one student.

“Some schools are generously supplying students with hotspots, tablets, and even Chromebooks to help facilitate in-home learning,” Damper noted. “But greedy cable and phone companies with completely unjustified data caps are getting ready to cash in on this crisis by charging unwitting customers overlimit fees that usually start at $10, and quickly can add up to over $100 a month in some cases. At a time when many are being asked to work, learn, and stay at home, it is time for Comcast, Cox, AT&T, Cable ONE/Sparklight, and other providers to do their part and get rid of their data caps and overlimit fees.”

New AT&T TV Streaming Service is Loaded With Costly Tricks and Traps

Phillip Dampier March 2, 2020 AT&T, AT&T TV, Competition, Consumer News, Online Video 1 Comment

AT&T has created a streaming television bundle that cable and satellite subscribers can appreciate. Replicating the kind of promotions familiar to DirecTV subscribers, AT&T debuted its new streaming TV service nationwide this morning with three promotionally priced packages that start at a relatively low price and end with a very high one.

AT&T TV is intended to fill the gap between bare bones, slimmed-down packages offered by services like Sling TV and the bloated television packages offered by traditional cable and satellite providers. The new service is part of AT&T’s plan to gradually wind down DirecTV satellite service and U-verse TV, delivering video content over the internet instead of by cable or satellite. AT&T has already ceased marketing its U-verse TV service and intends to do the same with DirecTV, which had been heavily advertised for years. The best new customer promotions will likely be targeted towards its new streaming service as well.

AT&T TV’s set-top box and remote control.

Unlike AT&T’s cord-cutting package — AT&T TV Now, AT&T TV features hundreds of channels, a 500-hour DVR that will store recordings up to 90 days, and over 40,000 on-demand shows. AT&T TV carries just about every cable channel imaginable, along with a healthy amount of regional and national sports, most local stations, scores of international channels in several languages, and premium movie channels galore. AT&T TV does not have the bandwidth and capacity constraints U-verse and DirecTV have, so the service can offer as many channels as customers can afford.

To watch, you need an internet connection with at least 8 Mbps for “optimal viewing.” If you want to bundle AT&T’s gigabit fiber service with AT&T TV, the company offers an extra $10/mo off for the first 12 months of your 24 month contract.

One of AT&T’s biggest selling points for its new TV service is its bundled set-top box, powered by Google’s Android TV. That gives subscribers access to apps in the Google Play Store, which means integrating Netflix, Hulu, and just about any other music or video streaming app is easy. Customers also can benefit from AT&T’s voice remote, which uses Google Assistant.

A careful review of the terms and conditions quickly reveals that this new service is not intentioned for cord-cutters. For starters, AT&T TV channel lineups are larger than other cord-cutting services, and are priced accordingly. The cheapest package on offer — Entertainment (~73 channels), is priced at $93 a month after the new customer promotion expires. AT&T TV also includes a two-year term contract satellite users are well familiar with. If you cancel early, you are subject to an early cancellation penalty of $15 for each month remaining on your contract. A sports programming fee of up to $8.49/mo is charged separately for some customers. A $19.95 setup fee also applies, along with equipment fees of $10/mo for each additional set-top box (the first one is included). Customers can also buy the box outright for $120.

AT&T protects its other video services from revenue cannibalization by disallowing new customer discounts for existing DirecTV and U-verse TV customers. For everyone else, here is what you can expect to pay:

  • Entertainment: $49.99/mo for months 1-12, $93/mo for months 13-24.
  • Choice: $54.99/mo for months 1-12, $110/mo for months 13-24.
  • XTRA: $64.99/mo for months 1-12, $124/mo for months 13-24.
  • Ultimate: $69.99/mo for months 1-12, $135/mo for months 13-24.
  • Optimo Más: $54.99/mo for months 1-12, $86.99 for months 13-24.

Some other points:

  • AT&T TV allows up to three concurrent streams.
  • Regional Sports Fee of up to $8.49/mo. applies to Choice and higher packages.
  • Additional set-top boxes are $10/mo or can be purchased for $120.
  • A $50 AT&T Visa® Reward Card is available if you order AT&T TV online. Expires: 3/31/2020. For new residential customers only. Residents of select multi-dwelling units not eligible.
  • Save an additional $10/mo. for 12 months on TV when you bundle with internet or wireless.
  • $19.95 activation fee.
  • Early termination fee of $15/mo for each month remaining on agreement.
  • Equipment non-return fee may apply if you fail to return equipment when ending service.

Cable On-Demand Advertising Business Slowing Down; Cord-Cutting, Ad Intolerance Takes Toll

Phillip Dampier February 26, 2020 Online Video No Comments

Canoe Ventures

The impact of video cord-cutting and a growing intolerance for heavy advertising loads seem to be taking a toll on the cable industry’s lucrative advertising business.

Canoe Ventures, owned by Comcast, Charter Spectrum, and Cox, reports the number of ads being viewed by video-on-demand users rose just 4% in 2019, just a fraction of the growth the company reported over the past three years.

Many ad-supported cable networks make parts of their programming libraries available for on-demand viewing by video subscribers. Cable companies sell advertising that fills the original commercial breaks, sometimes resulting in a viewing experience comparable to live viewing — ads and all. But customers are increasingly turning away from cable video-on-demand, either because they are canceling their video packages or are becoming more intolerant of heavy ad loads.

Canoe Ventures claims its slowed growth comes from selling out ad inventory on the cable video-on-demand platform. But during the first six months of 2019, 13.1 billion ads were collectively viewed by customers, which is nearly identical to the 13 billion ads viewed during the same months in 2018. Assuming Canoe Ventures has nearly sold out all available space on its ad insertion platform, that should result in consumers seeing more ads. But with ad viewing almost flat, that likely means less video-on-demand content is being watched.

 

WOW! Lays Foundation to Ditch Selling Cable TV; Starts Offering Streaming Alternatives

Cable system overbuilder WideOpenWest, better known to customers as WOW!, has begun offering its customers subscriptions to streaming video competitors fuboTV, Philo, Sling, and YouTube TV, in what could be a gradual move away from selling its own video packages.

WOW!, like every cable operator, is losing cable television customers to cord-cutting. As of the end of 2019, the company had just 381,000 video subscribers remaining, down another 6,300 in the last three months. Because of its small size, WOW! does not qualify for the steep volume discounts offered to cable television and satellite TV companies that have tens of millions of video customers. As a result, it either has to continue to raise prices or watch its cable television packages become unprofitable. WOW! has apparently decided it is smarter to partner with nationwide video streaming providers, if only to keep its broadband and television customers from switching to a competitor.

“WOW! has always put a high value on offering choices to consumers,” said WOW! CEO Teresa Elder. “This is one more way we’re empowering customers to determine when, where and how they consume information and entertainment. Our robust broadband network is the natural choice for high-speed data customers […] who want to access streaming services on their terms.”

WOW! specializes in providing service in communities already served by another cable operator. Many of its systems are in the Midwest, where it competes with Charter Spectrum, Cox, or Comcast.

WOW! will offer customers one free Amazon Fire TV Stick and a $25 rebate that can be used to buy other set-top boxes that will support streaming TV alternatives.

If successful, it may not be too long before WOW! stops selling cable television altogether, to focus on its broadband business.

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