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Verizon Customers Get a Year of Disney+ for Free

Phillip Dampier October 22, 2019 Competition, Consumer News, Disney+, Online Video, Verizon No Comments

Some Verizon customers can receive 12 free months of Disney+, starting Nov. 12.

All Verizon Wireless Unlimited customers, new FiOS Home Internet, and 5G Home Internet customers qualify for the offer.

Customers must enroll for the offer between Nov. 12, 2019 and June 1, 2020. One subscription per account. Must be 18 years of age or older and a legal U.S. resident. After the 12-month promotional period, customers will be charged the prevailing subscription rate of $6.99+tax/month until canceled. Charges will be billed to your Verizon account. For New Mexico residents, Disney+ ends automatically after 12 months. Verizon is not zero-rating Disney+ usage, so it will count towards your total data usage.

Customers can get more information here: http://verizon.com/disneyplus.

The deal with Disney+ is an exclusive among U.S. wireless carriers. The Wall Street Journal reports under the latest agreement, Disney and Verizon will share the cost of providing the content to the carrier’s subscribers, according to a person familiar with the arrangement.

“Giving Verizon customers an unprecedented offer and access to Disney+ on the platform of their choice is yet another example of our commitment to provide the best premium content available through key partnerships on behalf of our customers,” said Verizon Chairman and CEO Hans Vestberg. “Our work with Disney extends beyond Disney+ as we bring the power of 5G Ultra Wideband technology to the entertainment industry through exciting initiatives with Disney Innovation Studios and in the parks.”

Locast Adds Phoenix and Atlanta to Its Free Over The Air Streaming TV Service

Phillip Dampier October 21, 2019 Competition, Consumer News, Locast, Online Video No Comments

A small sample of Locast’s program guide for Phoenix viewers.

Internet customers in Phoenix and Atlanta can now watch local, over the air TV stations for free thanks to Locast, a not-for-profit streaming TV service that is fighting the escalating costs of online streaming of network and local television programs.

That brings a total of 15 cities to the Locast roster, and the service has also expanded the number of stations it streams in many of its existing markets to include additional digital sub-channels it neglected previously.

Locast geofences its service, requiring viewers to allow Locast to verify location data proving a viewer is within a Locast service area. That is an effort to comply with current copyright law, which allows Locast to operate as a local relay service. That has not stopped a coalition of TV networks from suing Locast, claiming it violates that copyright law and is only masquerading as a non-profit organization. The lawsuit cites Locast’s increasingly aggressive fundraising messages found on its app and as a pre-roll streaming message each time a viewer switches channels. Some viewers claim the only way to get rid of those messages is to enroll as a donor member and contribute several dollars a month to the service.

Locast says it uses contributions to bolster its legal defense fund and also acquire equipment and resources to launch the service in new cities. Locast officials claim they will eventually launch in all 210 TV markets if contributions are adequate to cover the costs.

Locast carries all major network affiliates, independent and PBS stations, and most ethnic language and general interest sub-channels. Some religious stations are also included, but most home shopping channels and those dedicated to airing paid commercial programming 24/7 are omitted. In Atlanta, Locast carries nearly three dozen local channels. In Phoenix, 40 stations are available.

Locast does not offer time-shifting DVR service or on-demand programming. It relies entirely on live streaming, but offers viewers an on-screen program guide.

Comcast Internet-Only Customers Can Now Get XFINITY Flex Streaming Box for Free

Comcast internet-only customers that used to pay $5 a month for an X1-powered streaming video box with an X1 voice remote will now get their first box for free.

The XFINITY Flex Streaming Box, capable of streaming 4K video from Comcast’s own streaming video platform and supported streaming apps from services like Amazon Prime Video, Epix, Hulu, HBO, and Netflix, is Comcast’s solution for cord-cutters that might be thinking about switching internet providers or could be lured back to an inexpensive video package if the price is right.

The platform should be familiar to former Comcast video customers that used to use Comcast’s X1 set-top box, and includes access to Comcast’s large TV Everywhere on-demand content library, which includes over 10,000 free, advertiser-supported movies and TV series.

In fact, the only services not available on the platform are Comcast’s live TV streaming competitors like AT&T TV Now, YouTube TV, and similar services.

The first box is now bundled with internet-only service, with each additional box priced at $5/month.

XFINITY Flex is now bundled with Comcast’s internet-only service, with the first box available for free. (0:37)

Comcast NBC to Launch “Peacock” Streaming Service Next April; Free to Comcast Cable TV Subscribers

Phillip Dampier September 17, 2019 Comcast/Xfinity, Competition, Consumer News, Online Video, Peacock No Comments

Comcast is planning to debut its new streaming TV platform under the NBC “Peacock” brand next April with a lineup of original shows starring well-known talent including Alec Baldwin, Demi Moore, Christian Slater, and Ed Helms.

Peacock will most closely resemble the advertiser-supported Hulu platform, with 21 million Comcast cable television customers getting access for free. Comcast is reportedly also negotiating with other cable, satellite, and telco TV providers about bundling free basic Peacock subscriptions for their cable TV customers as well. Those who never subscribed to cable TV or cut the cord will be offered the option of a lower cost, commercial-filled subscription or a more expensive ad-free option, presumably at prices similar to what Hulu charges ($5.99-11.99).

Peacock’s subscription model is designed to protect Comcast’s cable TV revenue. For existing Comcast cable TV customers, giving ad-supported subscriptions away for free may add to the value proposition of keeping a cable TV subscription. By charging subscription fees to everyone else, Comcast is not ‘giving away the store for free.’ If it did, it could upset other pay television companies that are facing ever-rising retransmission consent fees and programming costs for Comcast/NBC-owned TV stations and cable networks including CNBC, MSNBC, and the USA Network.

Comcast is confident its long experience offering streaming TV Everywhere services including live streaming and on demand programming will mean it will not face the kinds of scaling mistakes other streaming services have had. Bonnie Hammer, the NBCUniversal executive appointed to run Peacock, believes the service’s deep content catalog, starting with 15,000 hours of NBC and Universal Studios TV shows and movies complimented with other acquired and original productions will give viewers plenty to watch.

“I’m not sure anybody else out there can do what we can do,” Hammer told the Wall Street Journal. “We expect to have great content and a great product [that] is really easy to use.”

In addition to scripted content, Peacock will also feature live and recorded news and sports programming from NBC.

Among the shows featured on the Peacock platform:

Original Drama Series

ANGELYNE (limited series)
Limited series based on The Hollywood Reporter feature that explored the identity of L.A.’s mysterious billboard bombshell.

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
Battlestar Galactica reboot.

BRAVE NEW WORLD
Based on Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel, Brave New World. The series envisions life in a utopian society that bans monogamy, privacy, money, and never discusses history.

DR. DEATH
Inspired by a podcast by the same name. Dr. Death follows the true story of Dr. Christopher Duntsch (played by Jamie Dornan), a rising star in the Dallas medical community who also emerges as a deadly sociopath. Duntsch’s successful neurosurgery practice gradually deteriorates into a horror show of permanently disabled or dead patients. Two fellow doctors, played by Alec Baldwin and Christian Slater, fight an entrenched medical bureaucracy designed to protect money-making doctors to get his practice shut down.

ONE OF US IS LYING (pilot)
Based on the novel One of Us Is Lying, the crime series follows the unfolding of events after five people spend an afternoon in detention, but only four leave alive.

UNTITLED REAL HOUSEWIVES SPINOFF (no details provided)

Original Comedy Series

A.P. BIO (Season 3)
Picks up where the original NBC TV series left off. When disgraced Harvard philosophy professor Jack Griffin (Glenn Howerton) loses out on his dream job to his rival Miles Leonard (Tom Bennett), he is forced to return to the small town Toledo, Ohio and work as an advanced placement biology teacher at the fictional Whitlock High School. Jack makes it clear to his class that he will not be teaching any biology. Realising he has a room full of honor-roll students at his disposal, Jack decides to use them for his own benefit: getting revenge on Miles. Eager to prove that he is still king of the castle, Principal Durbin (Patton Oswalt) struggles to keep Griffin under control.

PUNKY BREWSTER (pilot)
This continues of the iconic 80s sitcom about a bright young girl raised by a foster dad features Punky as a now single mother of three trying to get her life back on track when she meets a young girl who reminds her a lot of her younger self.

RUTHERFORD FALLS
A small town in upstate New York is turned upside down when local legend and town namesake, Nathan Rutherford (Ed Helms) fights the moving of a historical statue.

SAVED BY THE BELL (reboot)
When California governor Zack Morris gets into hot water for closing too many low-income high schools, he proposes they send the affected students to the highest performing schools in the state – including Bayside High. The influx of new students gives the over-privileged Bayside kids a reality check.

STRAIGHT TALK
Straight Talk examines what happens when two opposing ideologies are forced into an odd coupling. The main characters will be challenged by one another, making the moral lines at which they once stood harder to define.

Original Unscripted Shows 

THE AMBER RUFFIN SHOW
A weekly show featuring Amber’s “signature smart-and-silly take on the week.” The show will de-emphasize talking with guests and spend more time on comedy routines.

WHO WROTE THAT
A docuseries designed to showcase Saturday Night Live’s comedy writers.

Original Made-for-Peacock TV Movie

PSYCH 2: LASSIE COME HOME
Based on the USA Network show Psych, Santa Barbara Police Chief Carlton Lassiter is ambushed on the job and left for dead. In a vintage Psych-style Hitchcockian nod, he begins to see impossible happenings around his recovery clinic. Shawn and Gus return to Lassie’s side in Santa Barbara and are forced to navigate the personal, the professional, and possibly the supernatural. Separated from their new lives in San Francisco, our heroes find themselves unwelcome in their old stomping grounds as they secretly untangle a twisted case without the benefit of the police, their loved ones, or the quality sourdough bakeries of the Bay Area. What they uncover will change the course of their relationships forever.

Legacy Shows in the Peacock Catalog

Bates Motel
Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Cheers
Chrisley Knows Best
Covert Affairs
Downton Abbey
Everybody Loves Raymond
Frasier
Friday Night Lights
House
Keeping Up with the Kardashians
The King of Queens
Married … with Children
Monk
Parks and Recreation (exclusive, available Oct. 2020)
Parenthood
The Office (exclusive, available Jan. 2021)
Psych
The Real Housewives
Royal Pains
Saturday Night Live
Superstore
30 Rock
Top Chef
Will & Grace
100 Dias Para Volver (Spanish-language)
Betty in NY (Spanish-language)
El Barón (Spanish-language)
Preso No. 1 (Spanish-language)

Peacock’s Legacy Movies Catalog

American Pie
Back to the Future
A Beautiful Mind
Bourne franchise
The Breakfast Club
Bridesmaids
Brokeback Mountain
Casino
Dallas Buyers Club
Despicable Me franchise
Do the Right Thing
Erin Brockovich
E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
Fast & Furious
Field of Dreams
Jaws
Knocked Up
Mamma Mia!
Meet the Fockers
Meet the Parents
Shrek

AT&T Customers Brace for Big Disney Blackout — ABC Stations, ESPN, Disney Channel All At Risk

Phillip Dampier September 10, 2019 AT&T, Competition, Consumer News, DirecTV Now, Online Video 2 Comments

The Walt Disney Co., is warning AT&T U-verse, TV Now, and DirecTV customers that a blackout of Disney-owned ABC stations, ESPN, Freeform, and the Disney Channel is imminent because AT&T has not yet agreed on renewal terms.

If an agreement is not signed before the end of the month, AT&T video customers across the country are looking at a third major programming blackout this year.

“The Disney owned networks and stations have agreements in place with all of the major video providers in DirecTV and AT&T video territories, including Comcast, Verizon FiOS, Cox, Optimum, Frontier and others, and we have a strong track record of successfully reaching multi-year agreements with these and other TV providers,” the company said in a statement. “Unfortunately, so far AT&T has refused to reach a fair, market-based agreement with us, despite the fact that the terms we are seeking are in line with recent marketplace deals we have reached with other distributors.”

The last contract renewal DirecTV signed with Disney was in late 2014. It is likely AT&T’s acquisition of DirecTV allowed the company to combine its U-verse and streaming agreements with the much larger contract with the satellite TV company, with AT&T’s combined carriage agreement likely to expire on Sept. 30, 2019.

AT&T has spent much of 2019 playing hardball with programmers, willing to let their contracts expire and blackout affected stations and networks. Earlier this year, customers lost access to local TV stations owned by CBS, Nexstar, and a handful of local stations under contract with Sinclair Broadcasting. Customers also lost access to the Altitude Sports and Entertainment Network, a regional sports channel, at the end of August. In some cases, it took several weeks to reach a negotiated settlement with local station owners.

It seems likely Walt Disney will find a similar level of intransigence with AT&T’s negotiating team. AT&T is already preparing its customers for a potential protracted fight and blackout.

“We’re disappointed to see The Walt Disney Co. put their viewers into the middle of negotiations. We are on the side of consumer choice and value and want to keep Disney channels and owned-and-operated local ABC stations in eight cities in our customers’ lineups,” AT&T said in a statement. “We hope to avoid any interruption to the services some of our customers care about. Our goal is always to deliver the content our customers want at a value that also makes sense to them. We’ll continue to fight for that here and appreciate their patience while we work this matter out.”

Any blackout would impact Disney-owned and operated ABC affiliates, including:

  • WABC-TV 7 New York
  • KABC-TV 7 Los Angeles
  • WTVD-TV 11 Raleigh-Durham, N.C.
  • KGO-TV 7 San Francisco
  • KTRK-TV 13 Houston
  • KFSN-TV 30 Fresno, Calif.
  • WLS-TV 7 Chicago
  • WPVI-TV 6 Philadelphia

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