Streaming wars
January 16, 2020

Peacock is set to join the streaming wars, and at least one version of it will be available for the low, low price of free.

NBCUniversal detailed its upcoming streaming service Thursday, revealing that Peacock will launch with several pricing tiers, The Hollywood Reporter writes. The first option is Peacock Free, which won't cost anything but will include ads. Peacock Free will come with 7,500 hours of programming, NBCUniversal said, and ads will be limited to five minutes an hour.

Then there's Peacock Premium, which will have twice as much content as Peacock Free, including original programming; TV Line reports that while Free users will only get "select episodes" of Peacock originals, Premium users will get the full seasons. An ad-supported version of Peacock Premium will be free for Comcast and Cox subscribers, while for everyone else, it will cost $5 a month. Finally, there's also a version of Peacock Premium without ads that will be available for $10 a month, or $5 for Comcast and Cox subscribers.

Peacock is entering an increasingly competitive streaming space after Apple and Disney both launched services in November costing $4.99 a month and $6.99 a month, respectively. But NBCUniversal is looking to set Peacock apart with the ad-supported free option, as well access to live sports through Peacock Premium. Premium users will also be able to stream NBC's late night shows early.

Original content set to come to Peacock includes reboots of Saved by the Bell, Punky Brewster, and Battlestar Galactica, plus projects from Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler, and even a MacGruber series. It will also house Universal movies, and perhaps most crucially, it will become the exclusive streaming home of The Office after it leaves Netflix. Peacock will launch for Xfinity X1 and Flex users in April before being made available to everyone else on July 15. Brendan Morrow

November 23, 2019

So far at least, it looks like entertainment lovers are down to make room for both Netflix and Disney+ in their hearts and their budget.

The number of customers axing their Netflix subscriptions did not accelerate in the wake of the Disney streaming service's emergence onto the market, even though Disney+ outperformed expectations when reeling in initial subscribers, a person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg on the condition of anonymity. Netflix declined to comment since they generally keep their subscription "churn" under wraps, but external data from Google searches and market tracker Sensor Tower have backed up the info, Bloomberg reports.

Netflix has maintained there will be room for multiple competitors in the streaming market, especially as customers continue to drift away from cable. It's way too early to tell if the numbers will hold long term, but it's a good start for the company. Still, Bloomberg notes that Netflix investors have reason to be at least a little bit concerned after adding fewer customers than it forecast in the past two quarters, though it's unclear if that's correlated to the coming wave of streaming services. Read more at Bloomberg. Tim O'Donnell

September 17, 2019

Yet another new streaming service is entering the crowded marketplace next year, and let's just say it's got a ... unique name.

NBCUniversal just announced new details of its upcoming streaming service, including what it's called: Peacock. That, of course, is a reference to the NBC logo, although despite the name, those famous peacock feathers don't seem to actually be included in the logo for Peacock. The Peacock Network is also a nickname for NBC.

Peacock is set to feature more than 15,000 hours of programming, The New York Times reports, including reboots of Battlestar Galactica, Punky Brewster, and Saved by the Bell. Some of the new originals that aren't reboots include a comedy from Parks and Recreation creator Mike Schur starring Ed Helms. Despite what the name Peacock might suggest, the service will also feature content outside of the NBC network, including movies from Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Animation.

Perhaps just as importantly, though, Peacock will also be the exclusive streaming home of The Office, which is set to leave Netflix, where it has been among the streamer's most popular offerings. Every episode of shows like Parks and Recreation and Saturday Night Live will also stream on Peacock. But two notable NBC classics missing are Friends, which is instead headed to WarnerMedia's streaming service HBO Max, and Seinfeld, which is headed to Netflix.

This announcement comes a few weeks before Apple launches its new streaming service, Apple TV+, which will shortly be followed by Disney's service, Disney+. NBCUniversal didn't announce a price point for Peacock, but it'll enter this race for viewers' streaming dollars in April 2020. Brendan Morrow

September 10, 2019

Apple is finally ready to enter the streaming wars, and its new service will cost about half as much as we thought.

The company during a Tuesday event officially announced the launch date of its new streaming service, Apple TV+. It will be available on Nov. 1, not long before Disney's new service Disney+, which launches on Nov. 12. Apple TV+ will also cost $4.99, making it cheaper than Disney+, which will cost $6.99. It'll also be cheaper than the most popular $12.99 Netflix plan, and the ad-supported $5.99 Hulu plan.

It had previously been reported that Apple was looking at a $9.99 price point for Apple TV+, which seemed high considering the service will be launching with a slimmer library of content compared to its competitors. CEO Tim Cook on Tuesday touted upcoming originals like The Morning Show, a drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.

Apple also announced that those who purchase a new iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV device will get a year of Apple TV+ for free. In this way, The Hollywood Reporter's Natalie Jarvey notes that Apple's "TV service essentially becomes an added bonus to keep people in the Apple device ecosystem."

The fight to take on Netflix will heat up significantly with the back-to-back launch of these two new streaming giants this November. Brendan Morrow

September 3, 2019

You might soon be able to talk about your favorite Netflix shows spoiler-free. But don't get your hopes too high.

The streaming service is reportedly scrapping the binge model for two of its shows, The Great British Baking Show and an upcoming reality show featuring T.I., Cardi B, and Chance the Rapper titled Rhythm and Flow. The former has already shifted to a weekly release model and while multiple episodes of the latter will still drop at one time, the entire season will be spread out over three weeks.

Netflix is clear this is just an experiment; no other shows are transitioning away from the normal model right now and the company seems to have chosen reality shows specifically to keep surprises under wraps for a longer period of time. But it does seem that Disney's plans to release episodes weekly for several series set to air on its forthcoming streaming service, Disney+, has caught Netflix's attention. Perhaps, then, fans and critics will eventually watch shows like Stranger Things and Mindhunter on a week-to-week basis, but there's no actual indication that will happen.

Still, some analysts think the move makes sense — and not just to increase fan enthusiasm. It could also be a way to save some money. Tim O'Donnell

August 6, 2019

As the streaming wars continue to escalate, Disney plans to launch a bundle of three subscription services for the same monthly fee as one standard Netflix plan.

Disney on Tuesday announced it will bundle Disney+, ESPN+, and the version of Hulu with ads together for $12.99 a month beginning this November when Disney+ launches, Deadline reports.

That figure is especially notable as it's the exact same prince as the cost of Netflix's most popular plan, which the company classifies as the "standard" option. Netflix also offers a "basic" plan, which offers standard definition and streaming on one screen at a time, for $8.99 a month, and a "premium" plan, which offers Ultra HD streaming and four screens at a time, for $15.99 a month.

Disney had previously announced that its new streaming service, Disney+, will cost $6.99 a month. ESPN+ on its own is $4.99 a month, and the version of Hulu with ads is $5.99 a month, so customers who sign up for this bundle would be saving $5 a month compared to what it costs to sign up for all three services. The standard plan was previously $10.99 before a price increase.

On Disney's Tuesday earnings call, CEO Bob Iger spoke further about the company's plans for Disney+ to offer family-friendly content while Hulu, which Disney took full control of earlier this year, will offer more "general entertainment," CNBC reports. Disney's third-quarter revenue on Tuesday fell short of analysts' expectations, reports The Wrap, which Iger said reflects "our efforts to effectively integrate" assets from its 21st Century Fox acquisition.

Disney+, which will feature original programming set in the worlds of Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, will launch on Nov. 12. Brendan Morrow

March 25, 2019

Apple is officially entering the streaming wars.

Apple on Monday announced its brand new streaming service, Apple TV+, during an event in Cupertino. After showing off a montage of clips from upcoming original shows, the company described Apple TV+ as "not just another streaming service" but rather "the destination where the world's greatest storytellers will bring their best ideas to life."

Several of those storytellers were in attendance on Monday to speak briefly about their shows. The line-up consisted of Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carell, Jason Momoa, Alfre Woodard, Kumail Nanjiani, J.J. Abrams, Sara Bareilles, and even Big Bird.

The event ended with Oprah Winfrey, who said she's excited to work with Apple because the fact that they're "in a billion pockets" represents a "major opportunity to make a genuine impact." She's working on two documentaries for Apple, one about sexual harassment and one about mental health, and says Apple will also stream book club conversations. "I want to literally convene a meeting of the minds connecting us through books," she said.

Apple ended its event without revealing how much the service will cost, which had remained one of the biggest unanswered questions heading in. But it was announced that the service will be ad-free and available in more than 100 countries, with content being downloadable and new programming coming each month. It's set to launch sometime this fall — meaning it will likely debut around the same time as Disney's streaming service, Disney+. Brendan Morrow

March 6, 2019

Apple has just lined up another Oscar winner for its streaming service.

Brie Larson, who won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2016 and is about to make her superhero debut in Captain Marvel, will star in and produce a new TV series for Apple's streaming service, per The Hollywood Reporter. The show will be a CIA drama based on the true story of undercover operative Amaryllis Fox, as chronicled in her upcoming book Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA.

This is just the latest major name to join forces with Apple — Academy Award winners Damien Chazelle, Steven Spielberg, Octavia Spencer, and Reese Witherspoon also have projects in the works. Some of the other major gets for various pieces of Apple programming include Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell, J.J. Abrams, and M. Night Shyamalan.

Details around Apple's streaming service still haven't been officially unveiled, but the Reporter notes they're expected to be announced at an event later this month. Brendan Morrow

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