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Streaming wars
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

March 4, 2019

Netflix is defending its love of cinema amid a fierce debate over whether they should be kicked out of the Oscars.

The official Netflix Film Twitter account on Sunday weighed into a firestorm that began with reports that director Steven Spielberg is looking to introduce a new Oscars rule disqualifying films that don't play exclusively in theaters for four weeks. Under Netflix's current strategy, this would make their movies ineligible at the Academy Awards. Roma only played in theaters for three weeks before hitting streaming, and this was seen as a major concession because Netflix usually debuts its movies online on the same day they open theatrically.

"We love cinema," the Netflix account said while adding that they also love providing broader access to films and "letting everyone, everywhere enjoy releases at the same time."

Spielberg's argument is that steps should be taken to preserve the traditional theatrical moviegoing experience and prevent it from dying amid the rise of streaming platforms, while others feel that Netflix allows movies that might not otherwise make it to theaters to be seen by a wide audience.

The proposed rule change is expected to be introduced at an upcoming meeting of the Academy's Board of Governors, but it's unclear whether it will pass. One Academy executive branch member told The Hollywood Reporter that "this won't go down as easily" as previous rule changes, predicting a "huge fight." With several of this year's upcoming Netflix movies looking like 2020 Oscars contenders, don't expect this debate to slow down anytime soon. Brendan Morrow

February 11, 2019

Netflix's Marvel shows are being canceled left and right, but four new ones are in the works at rival streamer Hulu.

Hulu has announced a new deal with Marvel for four animated shows: MODOK, Hit-Monkey, Tigra & Dazzler and Howard the Duck, per The Hollywood Reporter. Similar to the deal Marvel previously struck with Netflix, these four shows will unite in a crossover event called The Offenders. Comedian Patton Oswalt is set to produce MODOK, while Chelsea Handler will produce Tigra & Dazzler and Kevin Smith will produce Howard the Duck. Variety reports the shows will be for adults.

These shows are coming from Marvel Television, the Disney-owned division of Marvel Entertainment that previously produced Netflix's Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. All three of those shows have been canceled, while Jessica Jones and The Punisher likely aren't long for this world, either. This is largely because Disney, which owns Marvel, is set to launch its own streaming service and will be focusing on Marvel originals exclusive to that platform, no longer interested in giving its content to Netflix, which will soon be its direct competitor.

The new Hulu deal makes sense, though, seeing as Disney will own a 60 percent stake in Hulu once its purchase of Fox goes through. Disney CEO Bob Iger has said Hulu will at that point become home to Disney content geared toward adults, such as these new Marvel shows, per The Verge. Everything else that's family-friendly and generally fits the Disney brand, including the new live-action shows set in the Marvel film universe, will live on Disney+, which launches later this year. Brendan Morrow

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