streaming

CBS to stream NFL games on mobile

Posted by | CBS, CBS All Access, cord cutting, Football, Media, Mobile, nfl, Sports, streaming | No Comments

CBS today announced an expanded agreement with the NFL which will allow it to stream NFL ON CBS games through its over-the-top service, CBS All Access, through 2022. The deal includes, for the first time, rights to stream the games on mobile devices. The changes will begin this season, and will additionally include the ability for TV Everywhere subscribers (those who have an existing pay TV subscription) to stream the games on mobile, too.

According to the network, the entire 2018 NFL ON CBS season, including Super Bowl LIII, will stream live on CBS All Access across all platforms. This includes not only mobile devices and the web, but also on media streaming devices like Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Android TV, Fire TV, and game consoles like Xbox One and Playstation, plus Samsung Smart TVs.

The games will also be available to those who chose to subscribe to CBS All Access through Amazon’s a la carte TV service, Amazon Channels.

CBS already had streaming rights to NFL games, starting in the 2016 season. But Verizon [disclosure: TC parent by way of Oath] held exclusive mobile streaming rights to games until their deal expired with the 2017 season. That change has broadened access to NFL games on mobile.

For example, Fox’s multi-year deal for Thursday Night Football also included mobile rights, Variety reported. Verizon is now streaming games through Yahoo, Go90 and other properties on mobile. And NBCU and ESPN have Sunday and Monday Night Football deals that involve mobile streaming, the site also noted.

For the NFL, it needs to broaden access to games on mobile devices to address issues with lower ratings that’s, in part, attributed to cord cutting.

And for CBS, access to the games on mobile could give its streaming service a boost in the wake of what may be slowing growth, and the mistake of putting too much pressure on the “Star Trek” prequel to deliver subscribers. “Star Trek: Discovery” has underwhelmed some fans, leaving it with a 4.7 out 10 user score on Metacritic, and a lot of negative reviews on IMDb.

In other words, CBS can’t count on those core Trek fans to subscribe to All Access just to watch the new show, as it may have hoped.

Bringing in NFL fans could help with sign-ups – as will being available on Amazon Channels, which accounts for some 55% of direct-to-consumer subscriptions, according to reports.

“We are excited to extend our partnership with CBS as it aligns perfectly with our goal of providing NFL fans with greater opportunities to watch NFL games across digital devices,” said Hans Schroeder, Chief Operating Officer of NFL Media and Business, in a statement about the CBS deal. “The 2018 season will mark a new era for NFL fans with unprecedented access to NFL games across digital platforms.”

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AT&T launches a low-cost live TV streaming service, WatchTV

Posted by | AT&T, live tv, Media, Mobile, streaming, streaming service, television, tv | No Comments

AT&T this morning announced the launch of a second TV streaming service, called WatchTV, days after its merger with Time Warner. The lower-cost alternative to AT&T’s DirecTV Now will offer anyone the ability to join WatchTV for only $15 per month, but the service will also be bundled into AT&T wireless plans. This $15 per month price point undercuts newcomer Philo, which in November had introduced the cheapest over-the-top TV service at just $16 per month.

The service will arrive for everyone next week, including both wireless subscribers and the general public.

With WatchTV, customers gain access to over 30 live TV channels from top cable networks including A&E, AMC, Animal Planet, CNN, Discovery, Food Network, Hallmark, HGTV, History, IFC, Lifetime, Sundance TV, TBS, TLC, TNT, VICELAND, and several others. (Full list below).

Shortly after launch, it will add BET, Comedy Central, MTV2, Nicktoons, Teen Nick, and VH1.

There are also over 15,000 TV shows and movies on demand, along with premium channels and music streaming options as add-ons.

While the new WatchTV service is open to anyone, AT&T is also bundling it into two new unlimited plans for no additional cost.

These plans are the AT&T Unlimited & More Premium plan and the AT&T Unlimited & More plan.

The Premium plan customers will have all the same features of the existing AT&T Unlimited Plus Enhanced Plan, including 15 GB of high-speed tethering, high-quality video and a $15 monthly credit towards DirecTV, U-verse TV, or, AT&T’s other streaming service, DirecTV Now. They can also choose to add one other option, like HBO, Showtime, Starz, Amazon Music Unlimited, Pandora Premium and VRV, for no additional fee. Add-ons can only be swapped out once per year.

The regular plan (AT&T Unlimited & More) only offers SD video streams when on AT&T’s network, including when customers are viewing WatchTV. It also includes the $15 monthly credit towards other AT&T video services and up to 4G LTE unlimited data.

The Premium plan costs $80 for a single line after the AutoPay billing credit; or $190 for 4 lines. The regular plan is $70 with the AutoPay billing credit and paperless billing. It’s $5 more per line per month then the current Unlimited Choice Enhanced plan, but when you go up to 4 lines, it works out to the same price as before, $40 per line per month.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson had previously revealed the carrier’s plans for the new low-cost streaming TV service while in court defending the Time Warner merger against anti-trust claims. He used its launch as a point of rebuttal against comments about the ever-higher prices for AT&T’s DirecTV satellite service.

The Justice Department was concerned that following the merger, AT&T would raise prices on Time Warner’s HBO and Turner networks, like TNT, TBS and CNN, in order to prop up its own offerings. For now, it seems AT&T will just come up with a million different ways to generate revenue from its networks, by offering different bundles and packages to AT&T customers and other consumers.

The company also touted the merger, when announcing today’s news:

Our merger brings together the elements to fulfill our vision for the future of media and entertainment. We’ll bring a fresh approach to how media and entertainment works for you—including new offerings that integrate content and connectivity.

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Twitch now lets streamers use multiple Extensions at once

Posted by | Gaming, streaming, Twitch, Video, video gaming | No Comments

Last year, Twitch announced a suite of tools called Extensions, that allow streamers to customize their channel pages with interactive features, including polls, leaderboards, schedules and more. Today, Twitch is making Extensions even more useful by allowing streamers to run up to three of these overlays at the same time on their video, plus three more below the video player, for a total of six that can be active on their channel at any time.

This update, Twitch says, will allow streamers to better customize their channels in unique ways, while engaging and retaining their fans.

To enable multiple Extensions, streamers will visit their channel dashboard’s redesigned Extensions Manager, where Extensions can now be sorted by category, like Extensions for Games, Music, Streamer Tools, and others. There’s also a “Partner Picks” section here which is where top creators are sharing their favorites.

Alongside the launch, a number of developers have released new and updated Extensions that are designed to work with one another. However, Twitch does note that there will be some exceptions based on the area needed to display the Extension itself. That is, you can’t put overlays on top of one another.

In addition to the better customization options, there’s another reason why streamers may be interested in adding multiple Extensions: monetization.

In April, Twitch introduced a new revenue stream for creators and developers alike with the launch of Bits in Extensions. This allows developers to customize their Extensions with other interactive experiences they can charge for using Bits. That allows viewers to pay using Twitch’s virtual currency to unlock the features, and the streamer gets a portion of the revenue for hosting the Extension on their channel.

By combining multiple Extensions that use Bits on their channel pages, streams and developers will be able to generate additional revenue thanks to this expansion.

Twitch says there are over 250 Extensions live today, over 30 of which can be combined with others, and 35 that offer paid experiences via Bits. There are thousands of Extensions in development, as well.

All channels will be able to use the new customization options starting today.

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Microsoft partners with Lightstream Studio to bring customization tools to Mixer streamers

Posted by | game streaming, Gaming, Microsoft, mixer, streaming | No Comments

Microsoft’s Twitch competitor, Mixer, is giving streamers a new way to customize their channels. The company has entered into a partnership with Lightstream Studio to allow Mixer streamers to add images, overlays, transitions, and text to their streams, or to switch between scenes. The goal is to make it easier for creators to give their streams a more professional look-and-feel, without requiring they have a lot of technical expertise.

Instead, the partnership will allow streamers to route their feed into the web-based Lightstream Studio, which can be accessed via a supported browser on a PC, Mac or tablet. On smartphones, the URL mixer.golightstream.com will allow streamers to use their phone as a remote control for changing their scenes.

For instance, gamers can use the Studio to create status screens like “Starting Soon,” or “Be Right Back,” then quickly rotate through them, as needed.

Streamers can direct their streams to Lightstream Studio from their mobile devices, PC, or their Xbox native broadcast.

Y’all wanted overlays on your native Xbox streams? Boom! Here it is!

Excited to roll this out today and to note you can point your stream from mobile, PC (PS4/Switch with cap card), or your Xbox native broadcast to Lightstream services for seamless overlays and scenes! https://t.co/Bq0a3yWczg

— Josh Stein (@steinekin) April 11, 2018

The support for native Xbox streams is what’s got streamers most excited, however.

Microsoft says the integration will not impact the other third-party services Mixer streamers today use for alerts, like StreamLabs, StreamJar or Tipeeestream, as they can link those accounts within their Lightstream settings.

Microsoft has been rolling out a number of new features for Mixer in recent months, in an effort to bring its service more on par with Amazon-owned Twitch, the leader in game streaming in terms of both concurrent streamers and viewers, as well as rival YouTube Gaming.

This year, for example, Mixer introduced game sales as another means of helping streamers generate revenue from their channels, and it announced support for direct tipping. Many of these features are about Mixer playing catch-up, though, rather than coming out with something new.

Adding overlaid content to a stream to make it look more polished and professional is something that Twitch today supports through its extensions platform. It currently has over 150 different extensions, including things like stream schedules, countdowns, reminders, polls, and more. And some portion of those extensions became available on mobile just last month.

Lightstream Studio is not quite the same, as it a partnership with a third-party rather than a built-in offering, but it will give streamers some similar options thanks to its support of third-party tools for adding stream alerts. 

Lightstream Studio is first being offered in beta to Partners and Pro users to test, before rolling out more broadly.

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Google Play Movies & TV becomes a one-stop shop for nearly everything that streams

Posted by | Apps, Google, Google Play, google play movies & tv, Media, Mobile, movies, streaming, streaming services, television, tv | No Comments

With the explosion of streaming services now available, it’s becoming more difficult to figure out not just what movie or TV show to watch next, but where you can actually watch it. Google today is rolling out its solution to this problem with a significant revamp of its Google Play Movies & TV app and an update to the Google Play Store itself that will show you which streaming services have the content available, in addition to whether it’s available for rent or purchase, as before.

The end result is something that’s similar to Apple’s own TV app, which combines users’ own library of movies and TV with the ability to seek out what’s trending and available in the world of online video.

In the updated Google Play Movies & TV app, you’ll now find three tabs in the new bottom navigation bar which will direct you to your Home, Library or your Watchlist. The watchlist is a feature the app recently gained as well, but now it has a much more prominent position.

As you browse through the app, you can click on titles to read more about them, as before, but now you’re also able to see where the item can be streamed.

At launch, Google is working with 28 streaming services whose content libraries are now integrated in Google Play Movies & TV. That’s fewer than Apple’s TV app supports, which is currently over 60.

But it will find content even if it’s an exclusive to the streaming provider, and not necessarily something Google has for rent or sale. That means you can find original programming – like Amazon’s “The Man in the High Castle” – and then start watching it on the streaming service that hosts it.

“We deeplink right into playback for that [third-party streaming] app,” explains Ben Serridge, the product manager for the Movies & TV app at Google. “So if I wanted to start watching ‘The Good Doctor’ pilot, I press the play button and it goes into the ABC app and start playback.”

Beyond the big names, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, the app also pulls in content from ABC, CBS, FOX NOW, NBC, HBO NOW, HBO Go, Showtime, Showtime Anytime, Max Go, Starz, Disney Now, HGTV, BET Now, Comedy Central, A&E, Cooking Channel, Crackle, DIY Network, Food Network, History, Lifetime, MTV, The CW, Travel Channel, Tubi TV and VH1.

Notably missing is Netflix, whose content is searchable in Apple’s TV app.

Serridge didn’t comment on why it’s missing, saying only that “we would very much like to have all the apps that distribute this kind of content on Play participating” –  effectively tossing the ball back to Netflix’s court.

Even without Netflix, the feature is useful if not comprehensive. It will show you the services hosting the content, whether it’s freely available to stream, if you need a subscription (as with HBO Now), the associated costs, or if you need to login with pay TV credentials to watch.

This is especially helpful because some of the network TV apps offer a teaser of a show with a few free episodes, but not complete seasons. The Google Play Movies & TV app will help you track down the rest elsewhere, if need be.

The app will also now help you narrow down searches thanks to a robust filtering system that lets you click on tags by genre, mood, decade, and more. For example, you could click on “Family,” “Drama,” Award winning,” Highly rated,” Comedy,” and other filters.

In addition to helping you find content, stream it, or add it to your Watchlist, the app includes personalized recommendations. These will be partly based on items you’ve previously watched, but you can also explicitly signal your interest or distaste as well, by clicking on the thumbs up or thumbs down button. The thumbs down will remove the item from your suggestions entirely.

Outside the app itself, the Play Store is being updated to show you the same information about content availability.

Solutions like the new Google Play Movies & TV app and Apple’s TV app are handy in the cord cutting era where content is spread out across networks, services, and other over-the-top offerings. But even these apps aren’t enough. Not only is Netflix missing from Google’s app, so is its own YouTube original content – and that’s the same company!

Also not addressed by either Apple or Google’s app are which shows may be available to stream or record via live TV services like YouTube TV, Hulu Live TV, PlayStation Vue, DirecTV Now, and Sling TV. (Although, to be fair, that’s not only a different set of services, it’s also a much larger challenge given that broadcast network availability varies by market. A dedicated solution like Suppose.tv or Fomopop’s live TV finder may work better.)

Meanwhile, there are other tools for finding and tracking favorite shows, like Reelgood or TV Time (or a jailbroken Fire TV stick we should admit), but they don’t have the benefit of matching content from a rent-and-buy marketplace like Google Play, or being available across phone, tablet, and desktop web, like Google Play.

Google says the new features will roll out to Android phones and tablets in the U.S. over the next few days.

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Twitch launches always-on chat rooms for channels

Posted by | chat, chat room, Gaming, Media, Social, streaming, TC, Twitch | No Comments

 Game streaming site Twitch today is debuting an always-on chat room feature it’s simply calling “Rooms.” The addition was first announced at its developer event TwitchCon back in October, and was expected to launch before year-end. That timing shifted a bit, but the feature is going live today across both web and mobile for Twitch users worldwide. Rooms are custom chat… Read More

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Twitch’s latest features highlight channels’ top fans

Posted by | Fans, Gaming, Media, streaming, streaming services, Twitch, viewers | No Comments

 The majority of Twitch’s product announcements lately have been focused around new tools or expanded money-making opportunities for its video creators. Today, the company is instead launching new features for viewers – one related to Twitch’s 60-second video snippets called Clips and another to its virtual tipping mechanism, Cheering. Starting today, “Clip Champs”… Read More

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Twitch now has 27K+ Partners and 150K+ Affiliates making money from their videos

Posted by | Amazon, Gaming, live streaming, Media, streaming, Twitch | No Comments

 Twitch today announced new metrics related to the growth of its game streaming service, including, most notably, that the number video creator Partners who profit from their Twitch content has climbed to 27,000 over the course of 2017, and the number of Affiliate streamers reached 150,000. Until mid-2017, Twitch had only allowed a smaller subset of its creator community to make money from… Read More

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Microsoft’s Mixer follows Twitch with addition of direct tipping and game sales

Posted by | games, Gaming, Microsoft, mixer, streaming, Twitch | No Comments

 Mixer, Microsoft’s answer to Twitch, will soon allow its streamers to start selling games and other downloadable content via its service, and will introduce tipping, the company announced this week in its year-end wrap-up. The game sales will be made possible through the new Mixer Direct Purchase program, which is now in testing ahead of a broad, public launch, Microsoft says. Initially,… Read More

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YouTube Gaming grew its streamer base by 343% in 2017, Twitch by 197%

Posted by | Gaming, Media, microsoft mixer, Periscope, streaming, streamlabs, Twitch, youtube gaming | No Comments

 YouTube Gaming, Google’s rival to game-streaming site Twitch, is starting to pick up traction. According to a new report from Streamlabs, Twitch continues to dominate the live streaming space, but YouTube grew its monthly active streamer base by 343 percent over the course of 2017. Twitch, by comparison, grew 197 percent. Streamlabs has visibility into the live streaming market by way of… Read More

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