Category Archives: Streaming

CNN+ Streaming Service Will Shut Down At End of April

CNN+, the streaming service you probably never heard of, is going to shut down at the end of April 2022. I’m not certain what content it provided, but that doesn’t matter anymore.

CNN reported that CNN+, the streaming service that was hyped one of the most significant developments in the history of CNN, will shut down on April 30, just one month after it launched. The decision was made by new management after CNN’s former parent company, Warner Media, merged with Discovery to form Warner Bros. Discovery.

According to CNN, David Zaslav, the chief executive of Warner Bros. Discovery, has said that he wants to house all of the company’s brands under one streaming service. Some CNN+ programming may eventually live on through that service. Apparently, hundreds of CNN+ staffers were notified of the decision on a meeting on Thursday afternoon.

What happened? Variety reported: The decision puts an abrupt end to an ambitious and aggressive venture that people familiar with the matter say rankled David Zaslav, the new CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, from the start.

According to Variety, Zaslav was annoyedly the decision of Jason Kilar, the former CEO of WarnerMedia when it was owned by AT&T, to launch CNN+ just weeks before Discovery was set to take over operations. But he was unable to communicate with WarnerMedia management, owing to legal boundaries surrounding the merger process.

Variety also reported: Andrew Morse, the CNN executive vice president who oversees the newly-launched streaming-video outlet, as well as CNN’s digital and Spanish-language operations, was told of the decision ahead of time and is expected to depart after a period of transition. Alex MacCallum was named to oversee digital, and CNN+ employees will be paid for the next 90 days and be given opportunities to explore other positions around the company.

The New York Times reported that the abrupt demise of CNN+, as well as Netflix’s projection that it will lose two million more subscribers over the next three months, has raised questions about how many people are willing to pay for numerous streaming services, as well as how profitable these businesses can become in the next few years.

I think that is a very good point. People might happily pay for one streaming service, especially if that specific one includes a lot of content that they know they will enjoy. As an example, Disney + has a wide variety of content from various beloved franchises, as well as some of Disney’s movies. I don’t think most people want to pay for every streaming service that exists, even if it means missing out on some of what they could be watching.

Perhaps deciding to launch a streaming service, while CNN was about to become part of Warner Bros. Discovery, was not the best timing. Especially since there were a lot of tweets included the phrase: “I’ve never heard of CNN+” in them (along with a few variations of that same phrase), when the shutdown of CNN+ was announced.

Netflix Wants You To Pay To Share Netflix Outside of Your Household

It probably should not be a surprise to anyone that Netflix is aware that some people share their Netflix subscription with people who live outside of their household. In response, Netflix is in the process of cracking down on that practice.

Soon, Netflix users will be required to pay more to share their account with a person who doesn’t live in their household. That cost is on top of the person’s Netflix subscription.

Netflix provided the following information on their website, in a post titled: “Paying to Share Netflix Outside Your Household”. It was written by Chengyi Long.

We’ve always made it easy for people who live together to share their Netflix account, with features like separate profiles and multiple streams in our Standard and Premium plans. While these have been hugely popular, they have also created some confusion about when and how Netflix can be shared. As a result, accounts are being shared between households – impacting our ability to invest in great new TV and films to our members.

Netflix continued by clarifying: “So for the last year we’ve been working on ways to enable members who share outside their households to do so easily and securely, while also paying a bit more.”

This new “pay more” effort is going to be launched and tested out over the next few weeks for Netflix users in Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru.

One new “feature” is called Add Extra Member. “Members on our Standard and Premium plans will be able to add sub accounts for up to two people they don’t live with – each with their own profile, personalized recommendations, login, and password.” Netflix listed the prices for people in each of the countries they are starting with.

The other new “feature” is called Transfer a Profile to a New Account. “Members on our Basic, Standard, and Premium plans can enable people who share their account to transfer profile information either to a new account or an Extra Member sub account – keeping the viewing history, My List, and personalized recommendations.”

Variety reported that, in the three test markets, Netflix will start notifying members who share their account outside the household about the new options. Netflix will notify members who share their account outside their household to verify their account if a device outside of their home logs into the account. Netflix will then ask the user to verify the login from the device by sending a verification code.

To me, it sounds like Netflix is about to push people who are sharing their account with someone whom they don’t live with to make some tough choices. Some friends and family might be understanding, and transfer their profile to a new account (which they will pay for). Others might hold a grudge when their “freebie” Netflix subscription becomes inactive.

TikTok is Testing TikTok Live Studio

When people think about streaming sites, the first one that likely comes to mind is Twitch. YouTube has YouTube Gaming. Facebook has Facebook Live, and you can Go Live on Twitter. It does not surprise me that TikTok is testing TikTok Live Studio.

TechCrunch reported that TikTok has been testing a Windows program called TikTok Live Studio. To me, that sounds like Mac users won’t be able to access this feature.

Once downloaded to your desktop, the program allows users to log in with their TikTok account and stream directly to TikTok Live. Within the program, you can communicate with viewers through the chat feature, and you can stream content from your computer, your phone, or a gaming console. TikTok told TechCrunch that this program is currently available only in a handful of Western markets for a few thousand users.

Zach Bussey, who covers streamer stories, tweeted: “It’s super basic in its current state. Has both Landscape and Portrait Scenes. Sources include Game Capture, Mobile Capture, Video Capture, Program Capture, and some text/images. No browser sources, or alerts. Emojis are limited to the stock ones.”

In general, every site that offers streaming is doing in in the hopes that streamers will pick them (and bring their community). The main goal is to make something that will encourage people to spend more time streaming or watching other people stream. In my opinion, TikTok Live Studio is the platform’s way of trying to discover if people want to live stream on TikTok.

TechCrunch reported that TikTok’s promotional images appear to suggest that they want people to stream video games. However, according to TechCrunch, TikTok Live Studio lacks many of the features that streamers have can use on Twitch. That might deter streamers who are making some money on other streaming platforms to prioritize TikTok Live Streaming.

It is also worth knowing that TikTok told TechCrunch that TikTok Live Studio “isn’t guaranteed to roll out.” Now is not the time to ditch your current streaming platform in the hopes of making it big on TikTok Live Studio.

Quibi is Shutting Down

Quibi Holdings LLC., which launched about six months ago, is shutting down, The Wall Street Journal has reported. Quibi stands for “quick bites” and offered viewers 5 to 10 minute “chapters” of entertainment that were formatted to fit on a smartphone screen. The company was hoping to revolutionize how people consume entertainment.

Quibi was led by Founder & Chairman of the Board Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman. Together, they posted on Medium “An open letter to the employees, investors, and partners who believed in Quibi and made this business possible – “.

…Quibi was a big idea and there was no one who wanted to make a success of it more than we did. Our failure was not for lack of trying; we’ve considered and exhausted every option available to us…

…And yet, Quibi is not succeeding. Likely for one of two reasons: because the idea itself wasn’t strong enough to justify a standalone streaming service or because of our timing…

The Verge reported that Quibi launched in April of 2000, during a pandemic. It offered two plans, one with ads for $4.99 or ad free for $7.99.

After several countries created “lockdown” or “shelter-at-home” rules, people stopped commuting and started working from home. Students in many places started remote learning, instead of attending school in person. This was a problem for Quibi who appear to have aimed their “quick bites” of entertainment for commuters and parents waiting to pick up kids from school.

What’s next for Quibi? According to the Medium post, over the coming months, they will be working hard to find buyers who can leverage Quibi’s valuable assets to their full potential.

Walt Disney Company Makes Streaming its Primary Focus

Walt Disney Company has decided to do a strategic reorganization of its media and entertainment business. The company is going to focus on developing and producing original content for its streaming services, as well as legacy platforms.

Distribution and commercialization activities will be centralized into a single, global Media and Entertainment Distribution organization. That organization will be responsible for all monetization of content – both distribution and sales – and will oversee the company’s streaming services. The leaders of each part of this reorganization will report to Bob Chapek, Chief Executive Officer. Here is a partial quote from him that was in the news release:

“Our creative teams will concentrate on what they do best – making world-class, franchise-based content – while our newly centralized global distribution team will focus on delivering and monetizing that content in the most optimal way across all platforms, including Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ and the coming Star international streaming service.”

CNBC reported that shares of the company jumped more than 5% during after-hours trading following the announcement.

At the end of September, Disney decided to lay off 28,000 employees across its parks, experiences, and consumer products segment. According to CNBC, the company blamed this decision on prolonged closures and capacity limits at open parks.

HBO Max Won’t Work on Roku or Amazon

HBO Max, HBO’s new streaming service, has debuted. You can start your free seven-day trial right through the HBO Max website if you are a new HBO customer. Once the free trial ends, the service costs $14.99 a month.

Those who currently subscribe to HBO may already have access to HBO Max. You can check to see if your provider is among the ones listed on the HBO Max website. If so, your HBO NOW app should automatically update (if you have automatic updates turned on).

One thing to keep in mind is that those whose streaming service of choice is either Amazon or Roku are out of luck. Neither of them are supported by HBO Max.

Why not? According to CNET, HBO’s parent company, AT&T, has not yet reached an agreement with Roku or Amazon. Those who have the HBO Go or HBO Now app on their Roku or Fire TV will have a problem if their HBO subscription was upgraded to HBO Max. These customers won’t be able to watch HBO Max on there.

That said, there are a wide variety of supported devices that can get HBO Max:

  • Android phones and tablets (with Android OS 5+)
  • Android TV (OS 5+)
  • Apple TV (4th gen and later)
  • Chromebooks
  • Chromecast
  • iPhone, iPad and iPad touch (with iOS 12.2+)
  • PC and Mac computers
  • PlayStation 4
  • Samsung TV (2016+)
  • Xbox One

Good News for Roku Fans in UK

Roku’s had a busy news week (or two) and much of it will be of interest to UK Roku fans. It’s particularly serendipitous as we’re stuck inside avoiding the Coronavirus lurgy, so let’s get stuck in with the fun stuff.

First up, the free Roku Channel is now available to UK residents. It’s a free (ad supported) selection of movies and miniseries, with a couple of big(ish) Hollywood movies from a few years back. There’s a good Kids & Family selection with Teletubbies, In the Night Garden, Bob The Builder and Fireman Sam. Inevitably Ryan’s Adventures puts in an appearance too, along with a Minecraft selection. As I mentioned, it’s completely free so there’s nothing to lose in checking it out.

Next, StarzPlay has appeared in the channel list. It’s a subscription channel priced at £4.99 per month, but there is a free week to whet your appetite. Plenty of recognisable films here: The Hunger Games; Veronica Mars; Sex, Lies and Videotape; Terminal. In addition, a strong selection of series such as Heathers, Castle Rock and Leavenworth.

The House of Mouse drops in on Roku with Disney+. There’s not much more to say other than it’s pure, undiluted fun with the biggest names in cinema history – Disney, Star Wars (Lucas Film), Marvel and Pixar. Oh, and National Geographic’s in there too. I think I’m going to pony up for a subscription. (Sadly, Apple TV+ just doesn’t cut it, though the Roku app is beautiful.)

Finally, there’s an OS update coming soon, bouncing it up to 9.3. This brings a selection of enhancements, included improved performance, better voice search, integration with Amazon Alexa and Google Search, and there’s an updated Roku app.

I think the Roku is the best of the streaming sticks, particularly as it’s platform agnostic and not constantly trying to sell stuff. I’ve reviewed all the Rokus currently on the UK market so if you want to see what they’re like, have a look at these videos.

Roku Streaming Stick+

Roku Express and Premiere
(this is quite a long review!)