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TV Streaming options

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stessier
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TV Streaming options

Post by stessier » Tue Aug 13, 2019 3:02 pm

Maybe we can consolidate all the threads in one place.

Disney / Hulu / ESPN
Netflix
Amazon
Comcast / NBC / Universal
AT&T/ DirecTV / HBO

and new to the list - ViacomCBS.
CBS and Viacom have agreed to merge, ending years of on-and-off talks.

The new company will be called ViacomCBS, and Viacom’s CEO, Bob Bakish, will be the CEO of the combined company. Joe Ianiello, who was serving as CEO since last year, will be the chairman of CBS and will be in charge of CBS assets after the merger.

Existing CBS shareholders will own about 61% of the combined company, with Viacom shareholders owning the remaining 39%. Each Viacom shareholder will receive .59625 shares of CBS shares.

The combination reunites the two media companies controlled by Sumner Redstone’s National Amusements. Viacom spun off CBS in 2006. Redstone’s daughter, Shari, is the vice chairman of the board at both CBS and Viacom and has long desired putting the companies back together to gain scale in a media environment where competitors including Disney, Comcast and AT&T have bulked up through a series of megadeals.
On the one hand, I think this is ultimately bad for consumers as the prices will be higher. On the other hand, it would be nice to only have a handful of services to rotate through to binge stuff rather than a score.
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Re: TV Streaming options

Post by rittchard » Tue Aug 13, 2019 6:09 pm

Is this just about the streaming services in general or about content too? I think you are missing some:

Apple TV+
HBO Max (in the ATT family)
DC Universe
Youtube TV
Sling
Playstation Vue

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Re: TV Streaming options

Post by LawBeefaroni » Wed Aug 14, 2019 12:13 am

stessier wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 3:02 pm
Maybe we can consolidate all the threads in one place.

Disney / Hulu / ESPN
Netflix
Amazon
Comcast / NBC / Universal
AT&T/ DirecTV / HBO

and new to the list - ViacomCBS.
CBS and Viacom have agreed to merge, ending years of on-and-off talks.

The new company will be called ViacomCBS, and Viacom’s CEO, Bob Bakish, will be the CEO of the combined company. Joe Ianiello, who was serving as CEO since last year, will be the chairman of CBS and will be in charge of CBS assets after the merger.

Existing CBS shareholders will own about 61% of the combined company, with Viacom shareholders owning the remaining 39%. Each Viacom shareholder will receive .59625 shares of CBS shares.

The combination reunites the two media companies controlled by Sumner Redstone’s National Amusements. Viacom spun off CBS in 2006. Redstone’s daughter, Shari, is the vice chairman of the board at both CBS and Viacom and has long desired putting the companies back together to gain scale in a media environment where competitors including Disney, Comcast and AT&T have bulked up through a series of megadeals.
On the one hand, I think this is ultimately bad for consumers as the prices will be higher. On the other hand, it would be nice to only have a handful of services to rotate through to binge stuff rather than a score.
So "a la carte" isn't what it's cracked up to be?
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Re: TV Streaming options

Post by Max Peck » Wed Aug 14, 2019 7:40 am

If you like British television, there is also BritBox. I stumbled across it when I went looking for a place to stream classic Doctor Who.

For Canadians, there's also Crave. It carries pretty much everything that Bell has the rights for (HBO, Showtime, Starz, Comedy Central, films, TV shows, etc).
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Re: TV Streaming options

Post by stessier » Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:33 am

LawBeefaroni wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 12:13 am
So "a la carte" isn't what it's cracked up to be?
I wouldn't say that. It is still cheaper than cable if you are willing to switch between services rather than just try and subscribe to them all. And my use of each service is much higher than any channel when I had cable.

One thing that I wish the government would do is look harder at these mergers. The companies are flat out lying to get the government to agree to allow them. There should be either repercussions or long term stipulations placed on them.
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Re: TV Streaming options

Post by ImLawBoy » Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:14 am

stessier wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:33 am
One thing that I wish the government would do is look harder at these mergers. The companies are flat out lying to get the government to agree to allow them. There should be either repercussions or long term stipulations placed on them.
What are these lies? Also, there are long term stipulations put on them (for example, Disney had to spin off the regional Fox Sports Networks to gain approval to acquire 21st Century Fox).
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Re: TV Streaming options

Post by stessier » Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:48 am

ImLawBoy wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:14 am
stessier wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:33 am
One thing that I wish the government would do is look harder at these mergers. The companies are flat out lying to get the government to agree to allow them. There should be either repercussions or long term stipulations placed on them.
What are these lies? Also, there are long term stipulations put on them (for example, Disney had to spin off the regional Fox Sports Networks to gain approval to acquire 21st Century Fox).
Just looking at AT&T, CEO Randall Stephenson said this in front of the Senate committee before the merger:
"Nor is there any reason to believe we could use Time Warner programming or AT&T networks to hurt related markets. Simply put, it would be irrational business behavior to do so. Time Warner's programming is more valuable when distributed to as many eyes as possible. Moreover, in order to have great programming, it is imperative that we attract great creative talent to develop it. The best way to attract that talent is through widespread distribution of Time Warner content."
Since then, they got their merger approved with zero conditions. They have now announced their own streaming service and started by pulling Friends to make it exclusive to their network. If you think that will be the only thing they make exclusive, you're kidding yourself.

Additionally, one of their key selling points of the merger was the synergies created would allow consumers lower prices. You may be shocked to learn this is not the case. Here's one TechDirt article on it.
From an AT&T brief (pdf) filed at the tail end of arguments during company's recent merger skirmish with the DOJ:

"The evidence overwhelmingly showed that this merger is likely to enhance competition substantially, because it will enable the merged company to reduce prices, offer innovative video products, and compete more effectively against the increasingly powerful, vertically integrated 'FAANG' [Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google] companies."

...
First, AT&T raised the price of some of its "unlimited" data plans, then axed a deal that provided HBO for free to some wireless customers. Then the company set to work raising a misleading, nonsensical and unnecessary "administrative fee" from $0.76 to $1.99, effectively providing AT&T with roughly $800 million in additional revenue every year. Such garbage fees are routinely used to help broadband providers falsely advertise a lower rate.

Not to be outdone, AT&T is also now informing the company's DirecTV Now streaming video customers that they can look forward to a new $5 price hike starting in August. The hike is necessary, AT&T claims, in order to bring "the cost of this service in line with the market":

"In the 18 months since our launch, we have continued to evolve our DIRECTV NOW products to serve this new customer set and compare favorably with our competitors. To continue delivering the best possible streaming experience for both new and existing customers, we’re bringing the cost of this service in line with the market—which starts at a $40 price point."
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Re: TV Streaming options

Post by LordMortis » Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:08 am

stessier wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 3:02 pm
On the one hand, I think this is ultimately bad for consumers as the prices will be higher. On the other hand, it would be nice to only have a handful of services to rotate through to binge stuff rather than a score.
That's the mentality I need to learn and until I do the cord remains tied around me neck. Let it all go just like the entire next wave has and them pay for what I want until I'm not getting value, quit, and come back later when the value is there again.

Inertia is powerful thing though. I'm literally paying $120 a month for 1up/2down Internet after work and on the weekends and Adult Swim rather than $60 a month or so for 20up/50down or 20/20 with parity (which I don't need) or more and then pay another $10 - $20 for whatever service I feel like at the time. I bought on OTA antenna over Christmas with soso results and here I am 8 months later and I still haven't cut the cord.

Prices will only be higher if you want everything and more all the time.
ILB wrote:(for example, Disney had to spin off the regional Fox Sports Networks to gain approval to acquire 21st Century Fox).
Regional teams are leaving FSN aren't they? I know locally, Illitch Holdings is creating their own network to coincide with the contract hubbub and the Tigers and Wings will be flying from FSD and local reports said this sort move is ubiquitous in sports right now.

First thing I could find

https://www.crainsdetroit.com/sports/re ... ts-network

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Re: TV Streaming options

Post by ImLawBoy » Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:30 am

I'm not going to sit here and relitigate the merger involving my employer, but I'll point out that was hardly a promise not to ever have anything exclusive. Read in the broader context of the overall merger, it still makes sense for AT&T/Warner Media to continue to widely distribute programming, which means continuing to license Warner Media networks (TBS, CNN, Cartoon Network, etc.) on various distribution channels as well as to strategically license individual properties as the market dictates. Did you really think HBO was suddenly going to distribute it's programs everywhere? That's reading into the statement a promise that wasn't there.

And there were no merger conditions in this case because none were required. It was a vertical merger. Even so, the DOJ tried hard to block it and/or impose conditions like the spin-off of CNN, but the judge (who is widely respected) shot down their arguments forcefully. But just because there were no merger conditions on this one doesn't mean there aren't merger conditions on other deals, such as the one I specifically mentioned regarding Disney and the Fox Regional Sports Network (which made sense because that wasn't a strictly vertical merger and Disney already owns ESPN).

Finally, you can feel free to read the judge's decision in the AT&T/Warner merger case for the competitive and financial analysis. Overall pricing is complicated, dealing with introductory rates upon entry into a market, creation/modification of technology, etc. Prices are going to continue to change - both up and down - and they may not be related to merger efficiencies. Bottom line, the government could not prove prices would go up or competition would be harmed as a result of the merger. That doesn't mean that prices won't go up, whether related to the merger or for unrelated reasons. But you can't block a merger or impose conditions based on something you can't prove, and after-the-fact angry TechDirt articles that don't look at the whole picture aren't enough to go back in time and change things, either. (And let's face it, AT&T could start distributing for free and magically solve world hunger tomorrow and TechDirt would still find a reason to bash AT&T.)

I'll probably sit back now and let everyone bash evil AT&T (our logo still bears a striking resemblance to the Death Star, after all), because it won't be good for my blood pressure or job security to continue this discussion. Just remember that cherry-picked quotes lacking context often don't tell the whole story.
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Re: TV Streaming options

Post by ImLawBoy » Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:33 am

LordMortis wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:08 am
ILB wrote:(for example, Disney had to spin off the regional Fox Sports Networks to gain approval to acquire 21st Century Fox).
Regional teams are leaving FSN aren't they? I know locally, Illitch Holdings is creating their own network to coincide with the contract hubbub and the Tigers and Wings will be flying from FSD and local reports said this sort move is ubiquitous in sports right now.

First thing I could find

https://www.crainsdetroit.com/sports/re ... ts-network
That may be, but it's not really germaine to the issue. Disney is in the process of selling its RSNs to Sinclair as a merger condition. Whether that ends up being a dud for Sinclair with teams trying to form their own networks is a separate issue.
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Re: TV Streaming options

Post by LordMortis » Wed Aug 14, 2019 12:02 pm

ImLawBoy wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:33 am
That may be, but it's not really germaine to the issue. Disney is in the process of selling its RSNs to Sinclair as a merger condition. Whether that ends up being a dud for Sinclair with teams trying to form their own networks is a separate issue.
It might be separate but it's the exact thing plebe in the streets thinks about when it comes to large mergers and acquisitions. What is being disrupted? It doesn't matter if apples and oranges are being dealt with separately because their vastly different fruits.

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Re: TV Streaming options

Post by LawBeefaroni » Wed Aug 14, 2019 12:43 pm

LordMortis wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:08 am
stessier wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 3:02 pm
On the one hand, I think this is ultimately bad for consumers as the prices will be higher. On the other hand, it would be nice to only have a handful of services to rotate through to binge stuff rather than a score.
That's the mentality I need to learn and until I do the cord remains tied around me neck. Let it all go just like the entire next wave has and them pay for what I want until I'm not getting value, quit, and come back later when the value is there again.

Inertia is powerful thing though. I'm literally paying $120 a month for 1up/2down Internet after work and on the weekends and Adult Swim rather than $60 a month or so for 20up/50down or 20/20 with parity (which I don't need) or more and then pay another $10 - $20 for whatever service I feel like at the time. I bought on OTA antenna over Christmas with soso results and here I am 8 months later and I still haven't cut the cord.

Prices will only be higher if you want everything and more all the time.

I just went from 3/.250 DSL to 760/24 internet-only cable. I'm actually paying less than 50% of what I was before and even after he "introductory" first year will still be below 50%.

Prime and Netflix only right now with about 40 channels OTA. But between that and years worth of stockpiled Steam/Xbox games I never played because the downloads/patches would take too long, I have enough entertainment to get me to retirement.


Will be getting Dis+ on day one though.
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Re: TV Streaming options

Post by gilraen » Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:01 pm

Everyone saw how Netflix redefined the streaming media market and decided they wanted a piece of the pie. Well - surprise, surprise...

It's possible that mergers down the line, while increasing prices, would actually reverse some of this trend because it may restore a more consumer-friendly model that Netflix originally introduced.

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Re: TV Streaming options

Post by rittchard » Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:08 pm

ImLawBoy wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:30 am
I'll probably sit back now and let everyone bash evil AT&T (our logo still bears a striking resemblance to the Death Star, after all), because it won't be good for my blood pressure or job security to continue this discussion. Just remember that cherry-picked quotes lacking context often don't tell the whole story.
Must....resist....urge.... to bash AT&T lol!

I'll just say this, I wish they would have stuck to doing what they are/were good at, although I guess at this point it seems like what they are good at is buying other companies and then f-ing them up. But mainly I mean why stick your nose into the entertainment industry when you are supposed to be a tech company? I mean seriously they have like 5 different streaming services and really no one knows the difference, even the people working on some of them lol. Of course when I said that to other people they told me AT&T long ago stopped being a tech company. Don't mind me, I'm still just bitter about what they did to Directv.

I will say this, though, they have/had the best benefits of any company I've worked for, particularly the vacation/sick leave policy. And I think in 25 years or so I might even get some pension from them so I should just shut up and root for them too lol.

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Re: TV Streaming options

Post by LordMortis » Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:40 pm

gilraen wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:01 pm
Everyone saw how Netflix redefined the streaming media market and decided they wanted a piece of the pie. Well - surprise, surprise...

It's possible that mergers down the line, while increasing prices, would actually reverse some of this trend because it may restore a more consumer-friendly model that Netflix originally introduced.
I don't have the energy much less desire to pirate stuff but the point they are making is salient. The thing that drives those who feel entitled enough to pirate media is the same thing that drives me to not consume at all. Effort and expense. Right or wrong, that's what drives black markets.

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Re: TV Streaming options

Post by Jeff V » Wed Aug 14, 2019 4:21 pm

Too many damn middlemen. There is not a single option beyond piracy where a consumer can only pay for what they consume. It's like having to buy the entire produce section of the supermarket when you're only going to have a couple of apples and some asparagus.

There needs to be a single aggregate of all streaming media -- TV, movies, music, porn. Micropayments would go to content providers. The middlemen could still exist, offering competitive prices on the bits offered so a recent movie might be listed for $4 on Amazon, $3 on Netflix and $12.75 on Google. Quality (4K vs. HD for example) could reflect on price, as is QoS - consumers might be willing to pay more for things being streamed on a service with less interruptions. Content creators could offer their bits directly as well and reap all of the revenue should they care to invest in infrastructure.

The losers in this scenario would be entities that profit from being the part of bundles nobody really wants. They should learn from Darwin and not be like the dodo.

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Re: TV Streaming options

Post by rittchard » Wed Aug 14, 2019 5:18 pm

Jeff V wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 4:21 pm
There needs to be a single aggregate of all streaming media -- TV, movies, music, porn. Micropayments would go to content providers. The middlemen could still exist, offering competitive prices on the bits offered so a recent movie might be listed for $4 on Amazon, $3 on Netflix and $12.75 on Google. Quality (4K vs. HD for example) could reflect on price, as is QoS - consumers might be willing to pay more for things being streamed on a service with less interruptions. Content creators could offer their bits directly as well and reap all of the revenue should they care to invest in infrastructure.
It sounds good in principle (pay for what you consume) and I think that's more or less what Apple wanted to do, and perhaps is still trying to do. But in practice it gets complicated and difficult really quickly. For instance, how would you handle live TV in this scenario? Sports? News? Do I have to pay for each individual baseball or basketball game I watch, or newscast? Ditto for music, am I paying for individual listens for each particular song? Right now I have access to an entire service's library for a single fee, I don't think it's going to get much better than that. Then TV shows, is it a per season or per episode fee? Either way someone who consumes a lot stands to be overrun quickly. 50 cents an episode doesn't sound half bad - until I tell you I just binge watched 150 episodes of Angel in a few weeks - I would have to pay $75 for that?

I'm not saying I like the way things are currently offered, or having to pay for things I don't care about, but I just don't see any easy solution/resolution. A lot of people have screamed for "a la carte", but we are starting to see what that might look like already, and it isn't any prettier, and in fact could ultimately be worse. People like me who consume a lot of niche content on top of regular content, and also don't want to miss out on the latest/best content, are already paying up the nose, and stand to be paying even more for each new service that comes along.

I like the idea of a single aggregate for everything (kind of like how music works), but that's not the same thing as only pay for what you consume, isn't it actually the opposite?

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Re: TV Streaming options

Post by Jeff V » Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:35 pm

There are only so many hours a month you could watch TV. Pricing should be such that streaming 24x7x31 is no more than what you'd pay for a full blown cable package, so normal consumption would likely result in lower bills. Now, features like commercial free could be extra. Live sports could be priced like any other show - there wouldn't be a commercial-free option, so I wouldn't think it should be overly expensive (unless local teams wish to manipulate viewership such as the blackout rules that Zombie Bill Wirtz would surely impose after rising from the grave to claim his old job). Ultimately, the market will decide pricing, in the case of sports there would be double-dipping as there would be high commercial revenue as well as streaming revenue (more so than there is today).

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Re: TV Streaming options

Post by Z-Corn » Wed Aug 14, 2019 9:55 pm

Jeff V wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:35 pm
rules that Zombie Bill Wirtz would surely impose after rising from the grave to claim his old job).
I feel so bad y'all couldn't get Bell's beer because of him.

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