If CBS All Access Is the Future of Television, We’re Screwed

Star Trek: Discovery finally debuted last night to mixed but hopeful reviews. The first Trek TV show in a dozen years definitely has promise. What’s yet to be seen is whether that promise makes fans open their wallets.

CBS released the first two episodes of Discovery last night. While the first aired on traditional broadcast CBS, the second was tucked behind a paywall at CBS All Access, the network’s streaming site/app/service for all things CBS. That’s where the remaining 13 episodes of the series’ first season will live, which means that, barring any creative Googling, you’ll pay $6 or $10 monthly for the privilege of watching the newest version of Star Trek.

Trek often portrays a rosy picture of humanity’s future. But CBS’s decision to hide Discovery inside its silo app as a prestige lure for people to pony up is a potentially worrying picture of TV’s future, one in which we’re asked to pay for a slew of single-entity streaming services


Netflix was once monolithic in its domination of streaming. But in the past several years, many major copyright owners have gradually withdrawn content from the service, which has come to the fore with approaching departure of 30 Rock. Vanity Fair called it the “end of the wild west” of streaming.

There’s an even bigger exodus on the horizon though: Disney is set to take nearly all of its content off of Netflix and hide it within its own streaming service. This means no more Marvel movies, no more Star Wars, and no more films for keeping your kids busy, unless you pay $5 a month for the Disney app. ESPN, also owned by Disney (and part owned by Hearst, the parent company of Popular Mechanics), will also launch its own streaming service.

This may leave more choice when it comes to programming—after all, owning the copyright makes it pretty easy to leave it up there indefinitely. But it also leaves cord-cutters in a tricky position. If they want to keep current on TV and movies, they’re going to have to subscribe to lots and lots of services.


For the sake of comparison, a just-above-basic cable television plan from Time Warner/Spectrum costs more than $60 for cable alone, and it only goes up after that. No surprise, then, that the number of cord-cutters is on the rise as people try to shed that fat monthly bill.

What we’re seeing now, though, is that the big cable bundle is starting to be replaced by lots of little ones. Add to the fact that internet providers are slowly introducing data caps on broadband access, with Comcast being the biggest abuser of this, and streaming becomes potentially even more costly since all these services will nom away at your monthly allotted data cap. Add in 4K content and that cap starts to look smaller and smaller.

If you’re paying only for, say, Netflix and Hulu, then the monthly bills don’t seem so bad. But let’s say you want to watch Star Trek. Commercial-free CBS All Access (where you can also watch SO MUCH Big Bang Theory) will cost you $10. Hulu without ads is $12. The most basic, standard definition Netflix plan is $8 for streaming on one device at a time, while going all the way up to four devices + high definition will put you at $12 (there’s a meet-in-the-middle at $10.) Amazon Video comes with Amazon Prime, which costs $99 per year or $10.99 if you go with a month-to-month plan. Disney will be $5 whenever it launches, and ESPN will be around the same price for what sounds like a terrible service where you have to be a cable subscriber already to get any new games.

That’s $55 already, and you haven’t added optional HBO or Showtime streaming through Prime or Hulu or another service (you’re paying $15 and $9 for those, respectively). If you opt for all of these services, your streaming-only bill is hovering at $80. That’s not including the bevy of other Amazon Channels options, from fairly well-known entities like PBS, Starz, and Cinemax down to odd Bollywood channels, B-movie fiestas, and more. A half-dozen services all with their own rules, logins, rates, and headaches.


Now, one could argue that, at the very least, this is better than the old days of the cable bundle, where you might get to choose between a small, medium, and large bundle of channels, but not much more. That’s true. The current streaming environment allows you to pick and choose a bit more. If you only care about watching, say, Star Trek: Discovery, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Twin Peaks: The Return, then you could pay for CBS All Access and Hulu with the Showtime add-on, and cancel them when you’re done.

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Nielsen to Credit Video Views on Facebook, Hulu and YouTube

Broadening its visibility into the world of digital video and OTT distribution, Nielsen said it will begin crediting video content distributed on Facebook, Hulu and YouTube.

That added capability, delivered via Nielsen’s Digital Content Ratings, will enable TV and digital publisher clients to capture viewing of their content within their reported audience numbers, Nielsen said, noting that this “consistent and transparent view ensures a level playing field” because it provides access to the same information across both publishers and platforms.
While enabled publisher clients will be able to receive credit for video offered on Facebook and YouTube in Nielsen’s Digital Content Ratings, Hulu will be providing “select media partners” with credit for current series content that it distributes, Nielsen said.

That expansion follows Nielsen’s announcement last month that “eligible TV viewing” from YouTube TV and Hulu’s new live TV service would be included in its Digital in TV Ratings.

“The inclusion of video content distributed on Facebook, Hulu and YouTube in Nielsen Digital Content Ratings is a major accomplishment and part of our ongoing commitment to providing the industry with independent, comprehensive measurement of the evolving consumer landscape,” Megan Clarken, president of product leadership at Nielsen, said in a statement. “Through capturing this audience, Nielsen is providing publishers, agencies and advertisers with a better picture of today’s media consumption, with comparable metrics.”

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Hulu boosts content, cuts out the middleman!

Hulu on-demand just got a massive boost to its library from Fox, and Live can now distribute HBO and Cinemax. Do Hulu’s broadcast owners need pay TV to distribute their content anymore?

The launch of Hulu Live in May of this year brought another strong competitor to the virtual MVPD market pioneered by Sling TV. The slick integration between the on-demand content from Hulu with live TV and DVR’d shows caught the markets attention immediately. It also offers solid consumer value with 59 channels for $39.99 a month. However, until now consumers could not access premium channels through the service.

Last week, Hulu announced that subscribers to Live and on-demand packages can subscribe to HBO for $14.99 a month and Cinemax for $9.99. Customers will get access to HBO’s and Cinemax’s East and West Coast live feeds through service. The many other live channels will become available in the coming weeks, including channels like HBO 2, HBO Latino, and MovieMAX HD.

Of course, this nothing new. Sling TV, DirecTV Now, and PlayStation Vue also allow customers to subscribe to HBO and Cinemax. However, Hulu Live offers a nice bonus. Customers will be able to access HBO’s own branded service, HBO Now, through their Hulu account.

Fox boosts Hulu on-demand library

Hulu announced a deal with one of its investors, Fox, that brings a huge library of TV content to the on-demand service. 20th Century Fox Television is licensing 3,000 episodes of 26 shows to Hulu. Recent shows like Bones, How I Met Your Mother, and Glee join classics like Hill Street Blues and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Hulu will also be the only site with all 11 seasons of M*A*S*H and all episodes of NYPD Blue.

Last week Hulu completed another deal with 20th Century Fox Television. It added all episodes of animated series Bob’s Burgers, American Dad, Futurama, and The Cleveland Show.

Market progress on all fronts

Hulu on-demand continues to grow strongly with the overall market for SVOD services. According to TiVo/Digitalsmiths data, 6.2% of US consumers were using Hulu in Q1 2015. By Q1 2017, 7.8% of consumers reported using the service. The company has also retained its position as the third most popular SVOD service. Amazon is the second most popular with 18% of consumers saying they use it in Q1 2017, and Netflix is number 1 with 36%.

There is one area where Hulu is number one: Hulu viewers watch more video on the service than any other. According to comScore, Hulu viewers watch 2.9 hours a day versus 2.2 hours for Netflix, and 2 hours for Amazon. comScore also says the virtual MVPD side of the house, Hulu Live, is driving a lot of viewing. Hulu Live delivers 9% of total time spent watching all the vMVPDs, despite being only a few months old.

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OTT viewers watch more Netflix than Amazon, YouTube and Hulu combined

Netflix continues to loom large over the OTT video market and new numbers show that’s translating to an overwhelming command over total U.S. OTT viewing hours.

According to ComScore, Netflix accounts for 40% of all U.S. OTT viewing hours. That’s good enough to account for more than Amazon’s (7%), YouTube’s (18%) and Hulu’s (14%) shares combined.

While Netflix leads the pack in terms of penetration in Wi-Fi households at around 40%, Hulu is leading the charge in terms of average viewing hours per month per household at close to 30.

Hulu is also leading the top four video services in terms of engagement with viewers. Typical Hulu households average 2.9 hours of viewing per day, while Netflix averages 2.2, Amazon averages 2, and YouTube, somewhat surprisingly, averages 2.1.

ComScore said the increase in YouTube’s engagement times can likely be attributed to the service’s transition over time toward including more long-form content.

While other SVODs are outpacing Netflix in engagement times among viewers, Netflix is still likely out front in terms of the popularity of its original series.

Demand for Netflix originals is on average 8 times higher than that for Amazon’s originals, according to a study by Parrot Analytics released earlier this year.

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