Category Archives: Streaming

Walmart+ Members Will Receive The Paramount+ Essential Plan

Walmart announced it is adding a new streaming benefit for Walmart+ subscribers. The Paramount+ Essential subscription is an added bonus at no extra cost.

Walmart+ members will be able to stream premium entertainment as a benefit for the first time as part of their membership starting in September. The Paramount+ Essential Plan will give Walmart+ members access to Paramount+’s breadth of hugely popular content from acclaimed original dramas such as “1883” and “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,” to the most popular preschool franchise, “PAW Patrol,” to recent blockbuster films such as “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” to live sports.

According to Walmart, the Walmart+ subscription will remain at $98 a year or $12.95 a month and include the Paramount + Essential Plan subscription with an added $59 value.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Walmart has been exploring a subscription video-streaming deal to draw more people to Walmart+ as it seeks to challenge Inc., which has grown its own Prime membership program to about 200 million global members.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the companies agreed to a 12-month exclusivity agreement and a two-year deal that would give Walmart+ members access to Paramount’s ad-supported streaming service, according to people familiar with the deal. The perk will be available starting in September, Walmart said.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that the deal between Walmart and Paramount is the latest tie-up in the fast-changing streaming industry, where a growing group of companies are looking to bundle content to draw viewers or customers. YouTube is planning to launch an online store for streaming video services, and has renewed talks with entertainment companies about participating in the platform. YouTube, which is owned by Alphabet Inc., would join Apple Inc., Roku Inc., and Amazon, which all have hubs to sell streaming video services.

The Hollywood Reporter provided additional information. The Walmart+ membership program gives subscribers unlimited free deliveries of groceries and other household items, mobile scanning options in stores and gas discounts. The partnership with Paramount+ will provide Walmart+ members access to the entire Paramount+ streaming service under the ad-supported tier, which does not include live coverage from users’ local CBS stations.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, existing Paramount+ subscribers will not be given access to Walmart+ in return.

Personally, it bothers me when large companies hoard digital media and stick it behind a subscription “pay wall”. Doing so makes it much harder for consumers to access to the media they want to watch. This situation either forces people to pay for subscriptions that they cannot easily afford, or to miss out.

Paramount+ Arrives in UK on Roku

Months after launching in USA (and the subsequent Star Trek Discovery PR disaster), Paramount+ finally arrived in UK today. Priced at £6.99 per month, the crown jewels are undoubtedly the Star Trek catalogue, but with ComedyCentral, ShowTime and MTV, there’s over 8000 hours of premium content including classics like Cheers! and Frasier. The new Halo live action series debuts on the service bringing another dimension to Microsoft’s long-running game series. It really is a golden era for television.

If you want to watch Paramount+, there are apps available from the app stores for Apple and Android devices as you’d expect. For the big screen, it’s bundled with Sky’s Cinema subscription but if you’re not a subscriber, a media streamer like a Roku is likely your best bet for now. The Paramount+ channel can be loaded from the Roku store and it’s then just a case of logging in with your credentials. I’m assuming Paramount+ will come to smart TVs and consoles soon but it’s not yet showing up on my LG TV or Playstation.

If you don’t have a Roku and want one, I’d recommend the Express 4K model which offers HDR and 4K output (if supported by the programming). It’s easy to use and is way less confusing that the Fire TV. Crucially, the Roku comes with a remote control so there’s no need to find your mobile phone to get going. Priced at GB£39.99, there are sometimes discounts for special events like Father’s Day so keep an eye out for those.

If you want to know more about the Roku Express 4K, check out my fairly comprehensive review below.


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.