Disney & CBS Look to Challange Netflix

Two major networks are looking to compete with Netflix and steal, at least part of their audience. First CBS announced it’s own streaming service with the launch of the new “Star Trek” TV series.

First You Have CBS

CBS is moving fast in the streaming channel arena, with plans to expand CBS All Access to Canada and other international markets by next year.

CBS is also working on the launch of a streaming sports channel patterned after its CBSN digital news service. The movement in the over the top (OTT) market comes as the CBS All Access and Showtime stand alone services are expected to exceed 4 million subscribers in total by the end of this year.

The sports channel is in the early stages of development and doesn’t yet have a name.

The decision by CBS to relaunch the “Star Trek” franchise on CBS All Access rather than on the CBS network or Showtime, or even to sell it to Netflix in the U.S., was a calculated decision to grow the streaming service.“Star Trek: Discovery” – the first new TV series in the “Trek” canon in 11 years, is set to premier on September 24. In an obvious effort to attract users to their new platform – through Star Trek – CBS will premier the first episode on their regular CBS network with the second episode (part 2 of a cliffhanger) airing immediately afterward – exclusively on CBS All Access. In other words if you want to keep watching the new Star Trek – sign up with CBS All Access.

As you can see by watching the quality of the “Star Trek: Discovery” trailer the mission of these networks to launch their own streaming service, with new & exciting content is no joke – and could, potentially be a boon for all of us.

Then You Have Disney

Disney has now officially announced that it’s making its own Netflix competitor, a streaming service that will air original Disney movies and TV shows. In addition Disney announced that it also plans to launch a second Netflix-like offering that will deliver sporting events.

It’s not surprising that Disney wants to directly compete with Netflix and other streaming services, given that more people opt to ditch traditional cable in favor of online entertainment.

The Disney TV streaming service will only launch in 2019, while the ESPN-based service would be available as soon as next year.

Disney also reported that it will terminate the licensing agreement for new titles beginning with the 2019 calendar year.

This means that post 2019 if you want to watch Disney movies and show you will need to subscribe to their exclusive channel.

What All of this Means

How we watch television is rapidly changing. Networks like ABC, CBS and NBC are trying to find ways to remain relevant in this ever changing landscape. Where commercial advertisements were once king now networks are looking to the audience to “subscribe” in order to watch the content they enjoy. At the same time, because of the success of pay-cable TV shows like “The Sopranos” and “Game of Thrones” audiences now expect much more from their television dramas. Commercial interruptions are a disaster to good TV – and the networks know this. We are well on the way to the extinction of relevant – free – over the air TV.

In fact so much has changed in the television landscape that Netflix is now almost seen as “old school” by networks like CBS and Disney. Ask yourself this question. Why should networks, with immense libraries of (old & loved) TV content and the resources to create new content sell to a “middle man” when they can create their own streaming services and reap 100% profits as opposed to sharing their earning with Netflix or Hulu.

The only question is can they do it – and be successful?

Smartphones Devouring Our TV Time

The recent announcement from CBS that there will finally be a new “Star Trek” TV series but unlike any major network television series before it – it will boldly launch and live exclusively on a streaming service, in this case CBS All Access.  At first I am sure many fans of the 50 year old franchise were probably left scratching their heads about this decision. However CBS is only reacting to something we all know is happening on the TV landscape. Network TV (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, PBS) as we have know is in the final throws of dominance and will more then likely fade away completely in the next decade or two.

You can see by the following from Nielson that CBS is on the right track with their most watched TV series of all time and what to do with it going forward.

Our Smartphones Are Eating Our TV Time

The use of Internet-ready devices like smartphones appears to have seriously cut into American’s traditional TV-watching time, new Nielsen data shows, potentially undercutting the notion that mobile devices merely serve as “second screens” while people are plopped in front of the set.

Data provided to The Associated Press shows that the number of 18-to-34-year-olds who used a smartphone, tablet or TV-connected device like a streaming box rose 26 percent in May compared to a year earlier, to an average of 8.5 million people per minute.

By contrast, the numbers of those in the same age group who watched TV, listened to radio or used a computer fell 8 percent over the same period to 16.6 million people per minute.

Nielsen’s inaugural “Comparable Metrics” report for the first time presents data on average use per minute, making it possible to directly compare the time people are spending on their various devices.

The audience for TV viewing alone fell by 10 percent, to 8.4 million people a minute in the 18-to-34-year-old category. That fall-off in the younger audience highly coveted by advertisers confirms a trend in other Nielsen data that found traditional TV viewing peaked in the 2009-2010 season.

“It’s pretty clear the increased use of mobile devices is having some effect on the system as a whole,” said Glenn Enoch, Nielsen’s senior vice president of audience insights. The new Nielsen data doesn’t break out time spent specifically on streaming TV, since that usage is likely spread across TV-connected devices, phones, tablets and PCs.

Since Nielsen inaugurated its tracking service in 1949, average daily TV viewing has marched steadily upward, from 4 hours and 35 minutes a day to a peak of 8 hours and 55 minutes in 2009-2010. That increase coincided with growing numbers of TV sets sold and the proliferation of programming on cable channels.

But viewership has been edging down ever since. From late September until mid-November this year, daily TV watching accounted for only 8 hours and 13 minutes, Nielsen said.

A Logical Choice

This information from Neilson as well as the overall downward trend of conventional TV viewership for services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime are indeed proof that it is most logical that the Star Trek franchise will live long and prosper only by embracing new technology which that goodness it appears to be doing.

Comcast Denied

Maybe there is hope for civilization after all. It is not everyday that Comcast is told, “no”. But that’s just what happened late last week.

Comcast is officially walking away from plans to acquire Time Warner Cable, after regulators signaled their displeasure with the deal.

“Today, we move on,” Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said in a statement. “Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn’t agree, we could walk away.”

The deal almost seemed like a foregone conclusion when Comcast announced its $45.2 billion Time Warner Cable acquisition plan last year. It is well known that the cable giant spends more money on lobbying in Washington than any other company and in fact dumped $17 million into its lobbying efforts in 2014 alone.

But ultimately, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission had much too many concerns about the acquisition, which would have given the combined companies as much as 57 percent of the broadband market and nearly 30 percent of the pay TV market, That is scary.

One concern that apparently emerged was the role that Comcast allegedly played in preventing a sale of Hulu, which is co-owned by Comcast, 21st Century Fox, and Disney. Comcast was supposed to stay out of any Hulu business dealings as a condition of acquiring NBCUniversal (which co-owned Hulu) in 2011. However it has been suggested that Comcast influenced the sale process by assuring Fox and Disney that it would help turn Hulu into a platform for the cable industry. This became a particular issue for the Justice Department as it considered potential merger conditions for Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

Why This Decision is the Correct Decision

Although Comcast and Time Warner don’t operate in the same market — and therefore aren’t direct competitors the combined company would have too much bargaining power in TV carriage agreements, content licensing and interconnection deals for Internet services. Comcast said the acquisition would have lead to better service for customers, but somehow not many people believed that.

Lily hammer Shows Us the Future of TV

It’s the middle of the Thanksgiving weekend and so the tech news is light. However catching up on the Netflix exclusive series, Lilyhammer I was thinking about the future of TV and how The E Street Band’s Steven Van Zandt is leading the way.

Although the Netflix series House of Cards is the series that generates most of the future-of-TV talk it is actually Lilyhammer that started it all. It preceded House of Cards as the first original series from Netflix to offer a full season all at once and be accessible 24/7 for streaming.

Lilyhammer premiered in January of 2012 while House of Cards first aired 13 months later in February 2013.

If you are unfamiliar with the series, the viewer goes on a journey with Tagliano, a New York mob boss, which begins when his beloved dog, Lily, is killed during an attempt on his life by a rival mobster.

In vengeance, Tagliano tells the FBI everything he knows about his rival in the hope of putting him in prison for life.

When asked by the feds where he would like to live in the witness protection program, he shocks them by choosing Lillehammer, Norway. He pronounces it Lilyhammer, which explains the title —which is also a nod to his deceased pet.

Lilyhammer3

Sound heavy? Don’t worry. Lilyhammer doesn’t play that way. In fact, the series sometimes goes too light and broad in its mix of comedy and drama. But that’s OK because it works as this really plays like The Sopranos on another strange parallel world.

As you would probably expect Van Zandt also supervises all of the music on Lilyhammer, which is why you see fabulous guest appearances and performances by the likes of rock legend Gary “U.S.” Bonds, whose 1961 version of “Quarter to Three” was an E Street Band staple on tours in the 1970s. I haven’t seen it yet by the Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen apparently makes an appearance in Season 3.

Part of the TV future is the synchronicity presented here between ideology and the technology and it’s marketing that drives Netflix. Netflix is thinking globally with a series Lilyhammer which is seen in 50 countries.

Lilyhammer is set in Norway and is produced by a Norwegian cast and crew. But it stars an American actor playing an American-born and bred character whose values often clash with those of Norway.

No matter what country you are in, there are so many different languages spoken among the characters that you can’t view the series without subtitles and you must pay attention. Multitasking while watching this series simply won’t work.

HBO Joins Fire TV

Earlier this month I picked up Amazon’s FireTV in hope that it would be the only streaming box I would need, replacing both my AppleTV and ChomeTV.

Although I was impressed with much of FireTV I was surprised and disappointed that HBO GO was not included.

Fast foreard to today when we learned that Amazon Prime Instant Video members will soon have access to HBO content. The two companies have apparently signed a multi-year licensing agreement.

The first wave of HBO shows and mini-series will be available starting on May 21, and content will continually be introduced in the coming years. The licensing deal includes access to “The Sopranos,” “The Wire,” “Six Feet Under,” “Big Love,” “Deadwood,” “Family Tree,” “Enlightened,” “Eastbound & Down,” “True Blood,” and “Treme”. In addition previous series will be available as addition HBO shows roll out as the multi-year agreement progresses.

And in addition, and this is key to me, HBO GO will be available on Amazon’s Fire TV by end of the year. This is really good news to me because I need to clear some space in my entertainment center!

Photo wall Your TV

I have not spoken much about gadgets here recently but there is one that I was actually given this past Christmas as a gift and that was Google’s Chromecast. One of the tasks I was excited to try out was streaming pictures from my Android phone to the TV so I could share them with family and friends easily and in their 60″ HD glory. Imagine how upset I was to find that this feature was not “out of the box”, meaning it dot not really work as I had thought it would.

Thus far, Google’s Chromecast has pretty much been about streaming video from your mobile phone to your TV, with a handful of third-party apps integrating with the service. And Chrome users on desktop can mirror more content from their screen too. Now, with a new standalone app in tow but now it look’s like Google is finally adding the feature of streaming photos from your phone to your TV.

According to its description in the App Store, Photowall for Chromecast does exactly as it says in its name, though oddly it is referred to as a so-called ‘Chrome Experiment’.

I tested this out on  and found that when connecting the Chromecast to the app, you’re asked to sign-in using your Google+ credentials so it can “make sure you’re not a robot”. But then, after giving you the option of which browser to use to sign in, it just takes you to a blank page with a password field in it (see screenshot on the right below). Thus, it’s likely the iOS app has just been pushed live early – though we have reached out to Google for clarification on this front.

Photowall for Chromecast lets anybody “take a picture and send it to a Photowall to instantly see it on the big screen” – photos can be added via the Web too. It then creates a YouTube video of this collaboration, which can be shared with everyone.

I look forward to using this with my Android phone shortly. So if you are looking for ways to stream your photos to your TV check this out.

Happy Birthday Text Messaging

Happy Birthday text messaging! Although text messaging could be traced all the way back to 1920 when RCA introduced the first “telex” service the text messaging we have all relied on for years was born on December 3, 1992. It was on this day that Neil Papworth used a personal computer to send the text message “Merry Christmas” via a Vodaphone network to a cellular phone.

Fast forward to 1995 when paging services starting appearing everywhere. It was during the mid and late 1990’s that text messaging really exploded. Just watch a movie or TV shows from this time period and you will often see the characters with pagers on their hip. These text messages were usually limited to 160 characters. Often after reading the text message the recipient had to then go find a phone. Just think about that!

As cellular phones became available and affordable in the late 1990’s “pagers” started disappearing as text messaging become a service of the cellular phone itself. The popularity of smartphones in the mid 2000’s ended the reign of pagers altogether.

Even with all the technical changes and enhancements since 1992 “text messaging” itself has continued to grow in it’s use and with many of us is actually used more then actually using mobile phones for their primary purpose, “talking”.

Services such as “Twitter” are an out growth of that very first text message way back on December 3, 1992.