Plex launches a free, ad-supported streaming service in over 200 countries, Apple returns to concert streaming and other top news

Few key things that happened around the Ad Tech & Media Tech world this week.

Plex launches a free, ad-supported streaming service in over 200 countries

Plex today is launching its own ad-supported streaming service, a rival to The Roku Channel, Tubi, Crackle, Vudu’s Movies on Us and others that offer a way to stream movies and TV for free without a subscription. The service will feature several thousand movies and shows from studios like MGM, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, Lionsgate and Legendary — deals which were previously announced leading up to today’s launch. Though there are plenty of similar offerings on the market, what makes Plex’s new streaming service unique is its broad availability. Unlike many competitors, Plex has structured its deals in order to stream content outside the U.S. Plex told TechCrunch the majority of its content will stream in some 220 countries worldwide. This immediately makes it the largest ad-supported video service, in terms of reach — if you’re not counting platforms for user-generated video, like YouTube. Like other free streaming services, Plex’s free content won’t require a subscription or any other commitments, but will instead be fully supported by ads. Today, the service will feature both pre-roll ads and traditional ad breaks, but Plex promises an ad load that’s 50%-60% less than what you’d otherwise find on broadcast television. Currently, Plex is leveraging ad network partnerships to sell these ads, but says it may move into direct sales in 2020. The service itself lives right within Plex’s media organization software. This app has evolved over the years to become more than just a DIY media player for home media. Today, Plex organizes your own media collections alongside podcasts, web shows, streaming news and music courtesy of a TIDAL partnership. The free, ad-supported content will now appear on the Plex sidebar under a new “Movies & TV” heading.

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Apple returns to concert streaming with Billie Eilish performance, reportedly inks $25M deal for artist's documentary

Eilish and brother Finneas took the stage at 6:30 p.m. Pacific, following a brief but plaudit-filled introduction from Apple Music DJ Zane Lowe. Emerging from behind the branches of one of the many trees that, along with a lone searchlight, adorned the Es Devlin-designed set — one teaser invited listeners to “head into the forest with Billie Eilish” — Lowe welcomed Eilish, Finneas and gathered fans to Apple Park. He made clear that the concert was as much for Apple Music and its community as it was for the award winners, noting Apple’s commitment to artists and the wider industry. Properly introduced, Eilish and Finneas ran through a back-to-back acoustic set that included the pair’s early hits and nearly every track off the Apple Music Awards album of the year “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” Eilish took time between songs to interact with the crowd assembled from lucky fans invited to Apple’s campus specifically for the event. “I’ve never done this kind of thing before, it’s kind of crazy,” Eilish said. The performance will be available for on-demand streaming through Apple Music. For Apple, tonight’s show marks a return to concert streaming, albeit on a much smaller scale than prior events. The company held its annual iTunes Festival, later rebranded as the Apple Music Festival, in London from 2007 to 2017. A week-long extravaganza featuring big-name acts from around the world, the show was discontinued in its tenth year as Apple transitioned to streaming one-off gigs and special events for Apple Music subscribers.

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Over the Top Services (OTT) Market Size Reach US$ 98.5 Bn by 2026

The global OTT services market is expected to reach the market value of around US$ 98.5 Bn by 2026 and is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of around 16.8% in terms of revenue during the forecast period 2019 to 2026. Smart devices delivered a substantial proportion of OTT services. Countries such as the United States and Canada, with better connectivity, are therefore able to have a large number of OTT applications. In fact, broadband connectivity has increased worldwide. It allows for the availability of OTT services on the other Internet enabled devices such as Smart TVs, STBs as well as gaming consoles. In comparison to other traditional modes, the advantage of OTT services is that they are cheaper. Increasing disruptive digital technologies, high-speed internet, mobile numbers and numerous applications will attract customers to OTT and cost efficiency would fuel over – the-top services demand during the forecast period while also hampering the industry through public regulations. Besides, rising broadband penetration, as well as the presence of large segments of the population on high per capita income, has increase OTT demand in emerged economies. The frequency and reliability of broadband networks is significantly improved which also boost the OTT services market growth. The main challenge facing OTT services market is content-entertaining content is a prerequisite for driving subscription and increasing consumer affinity. There are also challenges in the form of discovery and delivery of content. Even if a website hosts content, if they are unable to discover such deals, keeping users will be nearly impossible. Providers should also ensure the content is correctly directed at end-users. The provision of a high quality service without delay in the delivery of content is equally important. Another important factor that promotes market growth is the improvement of internet infrastructure. Thanks to the progress made in smart mobile devices, over time, the OTT content has become very popular. Thus, the OTT market is estimated to record worldwide strong growth in near future. Increased regulations on the operating license could, however, impede market growth in the coming years.

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Comcast and NBCUniversal to Unveil Peacock Streaming Strategy at Investor Meeting

Comcast and NBCUniversal are promising a deeper dive on Peacock, their entry into the streaming-video wars, at a presentation set for next month. The company announced it will host an investor meeting on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, starting at 4 p.m. ET to discuss NBCU’s plans for the forthcoming Peacock streaming service, “including the overarching strategy for the platform.” The event will be held at NBCU’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza, with a live webcast to be available on the Comcast investor-relations site. Peacock is scheduled to launch in April 2020, partly for free — pay-TV subscribers who have cable TV service from parent company Comcast will have access for no additional charge. The service will also be available for a fee to non-cable subscribers, NBCU execs have said. “We’re not doing the same strategy that Netflix and people chasing Netflix have adopted,” NBCU CEO Steve Burke said on Comcast’s third-quarter 2019 earnings call. “We’re working within the existing ecosystem where there is a lot of [advertising-supported VOD].” In October, NBCU reshuffled the leadership of Peacock: It moved veteran TV exec Bonnie Hammer, who had been overseeing the company’s direct-to-consumer efforts, to chairman of NBCUniversal Content Studios (combining Universal Television and Universal Content Prods.). Now heading up Peacock as chairman is Matt Strauss, a longtime Comcast exec who most recently was EVP of the cable operator’s Xfinity services group. Original dramas NBCU has announced for Peacock include a “Battlestar Galactica” reboot from Sam Esmail; “Dr. Death,” based on the podcast from Wondery of the same name, starring Alec Baldwin, Jamie Dornan and Christian Slater; “Brave New World” with Demi Moore; and “Armas de Mujer” from the team behind Telemundo’s “La Reina del Sur.” The service’s original comedies are set to include a revival of “Saved by the Bell” with original series cast members Mario Lopez and Elizabeth Berkle, along with shows from partners including Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Lorne Michaels, Mike Schur, Ed Helms, Jada Pinkett Smith, Rashida Jones and Tracey Wigfield.

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NETFLIX has axed its free 30-day trials for new customers In the UK

Customers who’ve already started free trials will be able to finish them but no more UK customers will be offered free trials in the future, according to MoneySavingExpert.com who first spotted the change. A spokesperson told MSE: “We’re looking at different marketing promotions in the UK to attract new members and give them a great Netflix experience.” Netflix put up prices for UK customers in May – adding up to £2 extra per month for the streaming service. Prices start at £5.99 for its most basic package, which is no HD and just one screen at a time. It now charges £8.99 a month for the standard package, allowing customers to view two screens at a time. While its premium package – which enables viewers to watch up to four screens simultaneously – is £11.99 a month. It was the first price rise since 2017.

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