AT&T loses 897K more pay TV subscribers in Q1 2020, adding pressure to HBO Max launch

AT&T gave a first look into how the pay TV business is faring amid the coronavirus pandemic…and it’s not great. The company reported today as a part of its Q1 2020 earnings that its traditional pay TV services, including DIRECTV and its newer streaming option AT&T TV, saw a combined net loss of 897,000 subscribers in the quarter. Meanwhile, its over-the-top streaming service, AT&T TV Now, also lost 138,000 subscribers, following a number of price hikes.

The company’s newer pay TV service, AT&T TV, only just became available nationwide in March. But despite its “streaming” nature — it ships with an Android TV-powered box to deliver TV over the internet — consumers may have already caught on to the fact that it’s still just the worst of pay TV wrapped up in a new delivery mechanism.

The streaming service is expensive compared with today’s over-the-top and video-on-demand options. It’s also laden with fees for things like activation, early termination and additional set-top boxes. And its bundle with AT&T Internet offers each service for $39.99/month for the first 12 months, but ties subscribers into two-year contracts where prices climb in the second year.

AT&T’s Q1 TV subscriber numbers indicate how quickly the pay TV market is imploding. And perhaps it will decline even more rapidly now that people no longer want to risk coronavirus exposure by having service techs install equipment in their homes. While AT&T TV’s DIY installation may help in that area, it’s unclear if the new service will ever broadly appeal to consumers in the streaming era.

AT&T ended the quarter with 18.6 million pay TV subscribers, down from 19.5 million in Q4 when it lost 945,000 subscribers.

This all puts much more pressure on WarnerMedia to deliver with its May 27th launch of HBO Max. The new direct-to-consumer streaming service promises all of HBO, plus original content, and a library of movies, classic TV and film, fan favorites and more. But at only $14.99 per month, it won’t be able to replace the lost revenue from high-priced pay TV subscriptions — only offset it.

AT&T also today admitted how the coronavirus outbreak has forced it to rethink its theatrical model.

Just yesterday, WarnerMedia announced the new kids movie “Scoob!” would skip theaters and head straight into homes, where it will be offered at either a $19.99 rental or $24.99 digital purchase. It will later have its “exclusive streaming premiere” on HBO Max.

“We’re rethinking our theatrical model and looking for ways to accelerate efforts that are consistent with the rapid changes in consumer behavior from the pandemic,” said WarnerMedia CEO and AT&T COO John Stankey, as reported by The Wrap.

“When theaters are closed, it’s hard to generate revenue,” he said. “And I don’t expect that’s going to be a snapback. I think that’s going to be something we’re going to have to watch the formation of consumer confidence, not just about going to movies, just in general about being back out in public and understanding what’s occurring there,” Stankey noted.

Overall, AT&T missed on both revenue and earnings in Q1, largely citing impacts from the coronavirus outbreak, which reduced earnings by 5 cents per share ($433 million). Total revenue in the quarter was $42.8 billion, short of Wall Street estimates of $44.2 billion. Adjusted EPS was 84 cents per share, versus an expected 85 cents.

A $600 million decline in revenue was attributed to lost ad sales, specifically those that were expected from now-postponed live sports events like March Madness, as well as lower wireless equipment sales.

AT&T’s WarnerMedia division — which includes HBO and Turner broadcast networks in addition to Warner Bros. theatrical releases — was heavily impacted by the pandemic, as well, reporting $7.4 billion in revenue, down from $8.4 billion a year earlier.

“The COVID pandemic had a 5 cents per share impact on our first quarter. Without it, the quarter was about what we expected — strong wireless numbers that covered the HBO Max investment, and produced stable EBITDA and EBITDA margins,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO, in a statement. “We have a strong cash position, a strong balance sheet, and our core businesses are solid and continue to generate good free cash flow — even in today’s environment. In light of the pandemic’s economic impact, we’ve already adjusted our capital allocation plans and suspended all share retirements,” he added.

The company said it will continue investing in 5G and broadband, two of its only bright spots in the quarter, in addition to investments in HBO Max.

AT&T withdrew its financial guidance due to the “lack of visibility related to COVID-19 pandemic and recovery,” it said.

HBO makes some top shows, movies and documentaries free to stream on HBO NOW and HBO GO

Giving people even more of a reason to stay home and follow the social distancing measures designed to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S., HBO said it would be making 500 hours of programming free to stream over HBO NOW and HBO GO without a subscription, starting Friday, April 3.

Shows that audiences can stream include some of the best television shows ever made, like “The Sopranos” and “The Wire,” and other very good HBO shows like “Veep” and “Six Feet Under.”

Movie titles like “Pokémon Detective Pikachu”, “Crazy, Stupid, Love” and back catalog gems like (one of my favorite movies of all-time) “Empire of the Sun” join docuseries including “McMillion$” and “The Case Against Adnan Syed” as free-to-stream offerings as well.

Viewers who want to watch what is inarguably the best show ever made (it’s “The Wire”) can download the HBO NOW or HBO GO apps or visit HBONOW.com or HBOGO.com.

The network’s distribution partners will also make the shows available to stream for free in the coming days, the company said. This offer marks the first time that HBO has made this amount of programming available for free outside of the paywall on either of its apps, the company said.

The full list of HBO content available to stream without a subscription includes:

  • Ballers (5 Seasons)

  • Barry (2 Seasons)

  • Silicon Valley (6 Seasons)

  • Six Feet Under (5 Seasons)

  • The Sopranos (7 Seasons)

  • Succession (2 Seasons)

  • True Blood (7 Seasons

  • Veep (7 Seasons)

  • The Wire (5 Seasons)

10 Docuseries and Documentaries

  • The Apollo

  • The Case Against Adnan Syed

  • Elvis Presley: The Searcher

  • I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter

  • The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley

  • Jane Fonda in Five Acts

  • McMillion$

  • True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality

  • United Skates

  • We Are the Dream: The Kids of the MLK Oakland Oratorical Fest

20 Warner Bros. Theatricals

  • Arthur

  • Arthur 2: On the Rocks

  • Blinded By the Light

  • The Bridges of Madison County

  • Crazy, Stupid, Love

  • Empire of the Sun

  • Forget Paris

  • Happy Feet Two

  • Isn’t It Romantic?

  • The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

  • Midnight Special

  • My Dog Skip

  • Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase

  • Pan

  • Pokémon Detective Pikachu

  • Red Riding Hood

  • Smallfoot

  • Storks

  • Sucker Punch

  • Unknown

Watchworthy’s personalized TV recommendation app will help you find your next binge

Ranker, an online publisher that turns crowdsourced lists and fan-rankings into a data business, is now turning its attention to the world of streaming services. The company this week launched a new app, Watchworthy, that helps you find something new to watch across TV networks and over 200 streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, Apple TV+, and many more.

Ranker, as you may already know, is the website that always pops up in search results when you’re looking for some sort of “best of” round-up — whether that’s in entertainment, music, sports, culture, history or across other topics. On the site, online visitors can vote on their favorites in categories as broad as the “best hip-hop artists” or as niche as the “best coconut oil brands.”

Ranker’s TV lists are among its more popular categories and one that makes the most sense for turning into an app. And right now, everyone is looking for something new to watch as we’re stuck indoors due to the COVID-19 health crisis.

While there are already a number of apps promising to offer TV recommendations — like Reelgood, TV Time, Yidio, and JustWatch, for example —  Watchworthy’s advantage is Ranker’s data powering its recommendations. Its machine-learning platform applies first-party correlation data it has amassed over a decade from one billion votes on Ranker.com. As the company explains, this makes its data more “statistically relevant.”

For example, its data indicates that “Better Call Saul” fans tend to like other gritty, dark dramas like “House of Cards,” “Ray Donovan,” and “True Detective” but also more cerebral comedies like “Nathan for You” and “High Maintenance.”

To figure out what sort of TV programs interest you, Watchworthy at first launch jumps you into a rating experience to provide it with your data. In 60 seconds, you fly through a ratings feature that uses a Tinder-like interface where a right swipe is a “like” and a left swipe is a “dislike” (and up is “not sure”). After you thumbs up and down a selection of shows, you can begin to browse your recommendations.

In my test, this initial set of recommendations was already above average compared with some of the other apps I’ve tried. Your mileage may vary, of course, as it’s a highly personalized experience. Watchworthy may not have offered dozens of precise matches to my tastes at first, but it did remind me of several shows I had seen in passing and thought at some point I might like to try, as well as a few new discoveries.

 

Its suggestions are ranked by a “worthy” score that indicates the likelihood that the show is worthy of your time. You can also filter the list of recommendations by service, genre, runtime, and MPAA ratings.

The app got a little better after spending a little more time to like and dislike more shows and to personalize it as to which streaming services I was using. This allowed me to integrate recommendations from more sources — like HBO, Apple TV+, Disney+, Showtime, and others.

However, I did get to the point where liking and disliking didn’t refine my recommendations further, so there is a limit to what Watchworthy can do. I also found the app to be a little lacking on the reality and nonfiction side of things. It tended to push recommendations of scripted shows, despite my having “liked” shows such as “The Great British Bake Off,” “Windy City Rehab,” and “Queer Eye,” among others.

As you find shows you like in the app’s recommendations, you can add them to the universal watchlist in the app for easy access.

 

You can also create an account to save your data. Watchworthy at launch supports Apple’s private sign-in option, as well as Google, Facebook, and email.

The homepage of the app also integrates Ranker’s existing TV lists. The website has over 50,000 of these, but the app isn’t an endless scroll. Instead, it updates the home page with relevant, timely content. For example, today’s lists include “Shows for Self Quarantine,” “Shows to Distract You,” “Funniest Shows on Netflix,” “Best Family Shows on Amazon Prime,” and other round-ups.

The new app serves not only as a discovery tool for TV viewers, cord-cutters, and binge-watchers, but also as fuel for Ranker’s data collection business. Ranker licenses its data and insights to third-parties, like marketers, advertisers, researchers, developers, and service providers. However, its data isn’t focused on demographics so much as it is on “psychographics” — meaning, your tastes. Ranker isn’t asking you for private information, only what you like.

In a way, Watchworthy serves as a demo app of what can be done with Ranker’s psychographic insights, in this case, for TV viewers. But the same sort of system could be built for other categories, like music, cooking, film, travel, and more.

The company says this year it will also make its Watchworthy app available to connected devices, like Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV. It also plans to add movie recommendations and shared watchlists.

Watchworthy is a free download on iOS with Android to come. On any mobile device, it works from watchworthy.app.

 

Amazon Prime Video is streaming kids movies and TV for free, no Prime membership required

Amazon is making a selection of family-friendly and kids programming available for free streaming on Prime Video, as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis which has people trapped at home. The content is available to all Amazon customers, and includes a mix of Amazon Original kids and family shows as well as select third-party family movies and TV series licensed from studio partners.

Amazon says it’s continuing to work with content partners to widen the selection over time.

At launch, the U.S. version of the free service includes the following Amazon Originals: “Click, Clack, Moo: Christmas at the Farm,” “Big Diaries,” “Costume Quest,” “Creative Galaxy,” “Danger and Eggs,” “Dangerous Book for Boys,” “Gortimer Gibbons Life on Normal Street,” “If you Give a Mouse a Cookie,” “Jessy and Nessy,” “Just Add Magic,” “Just Add Magic: Mystery City,” “Little Big Awesome,” “Lost in Oz,” “Niko and the Sword of Light,” “Pete the Cat,” “Sigmund and the Sea Monster,” “The Snowy Day,” “The Stinky and Dirty Snow,” “The Kicks,” “Tumble Leaf,” and “Wisenpoof.”

Among the licensed content in the U.S., you’ll find: “Arthur,” “Bali,” “Calliou,” “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” “Design Squad,” “Dinosaur Train,” “FETCH! With Ruff Ruffman,” “Kraft’s Creatures,” “Martha Speaks,” “Nature Cat,” “Odd Quad,” “Peep and the Big Wide World,” “Peg + Cat,” “Postcards from Buster,” “Reading Rainbow,” “Ready Jet Go!,” “Wild Kratts,” “WordGirl,” “WorldWorld,” “Zoboomafoo,” “Rugrats All Grown Up,” and “Knight Squad.”

Amazon confirmed to TechCrunch that Amazon Original kids and family TV series will be available for free worldwide, but licensed content will vary by country.

The majority of the content, at present, is aimed at the preschool crowd up to younger school-agers. The selection doesn’t include recently released movies or other popular G-rated or PG-rated box office hits that parents will also enjoy. But the offering will help parents who are struggling to work from home and using the TV as a babysitter of sorts to keep little ones occupied.

Typically, Amazon makes free TV and movies available only to Prime subscribers, as one of the many perks of Amazon’s Prime membership program. But in this case, consumers will only need to create a free Amazon.com account, if they don’t already have one, in order to watch the free programs.

Amazon isn’t the first streamer to add free content to help families staying in quarantine and self-isolating during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Last week, Sling TV launched free streaming that included news and entertainment, as well as kids TV. Hulu added free live TV news to its on-demand service on Friday. Elsewhere, studios are breaking the theatrical window to deal with ticket sale losses as theaters close down. NBCU recently said it was bringing “The Hunt,” “The Invisible Man,” and “Emma,” to home viewers.

Disney, meanwhile, is making its own movies available early as well, including through its streaming service, Disney+, where both “Frozen II” and “Onward” are arriving ahead of schedule. (“Frozen II” is live now. “Onward” arrives on April 3).

Amazon says the new free programs will be available on the Prime Video app, which is a free download on  compatible smart TVs, mobile devices, Fire TV, Fire TV stick, Fire tablets, Apple TV, game consoles, Chromecast or via Prime Video on the web.

NBCU’s Peacock streaming service adds hundreds of hours of A&E shows

Peacock, NBCU’s upcoming streaming service is expanding its unscripted lineup thanks to a new deal with A&E Networks. The licensing pact will allow NBCU to stream hundreds of hours of A&E and History’s most popular shows, including “First 48,” “Storage Wars,” “Cold Case Files,” “Pawn Stars,” “American Pickers,” “Ancient Aliens,” “Curse of Oak Island,” and “Project Blue Book.”

The new A&E shows complement a growing lineup on Peacock which now includes TV classics, next-day access to episodes, hundreds of movies, original content, late night, live sports, kids shows, news, Spanish-language content, and other unscripted series.

The company’s plan is to draw in new subscribers by aggregating content from a diverse array of brands, including NBC, Bravo, E!, NBC News, MSNBC, CNBC, and others, combined with a film library that pulls in titles from Universal Pictures, Dreamworks Animation, and Focus Features. It has also greenlit several reboots that capitalize on viewers’ nostalgia, like “Saved by the Bell,” “Punky Brewster,” “Battlestar Galactica,” and others. And it plans to live stream summer Olympic programming (assuming the games aren’t canceled.)

But this new deal with A&E further points to NBCU’s plans to position Peacock as a cable TV alternative for cord-cutters. While none of the newly licensed programs on their own would likely encourage users to subscribe, they’re that sort of B-tier content that helps make a service feel more complete. They’re the sort of shows people watch when they can’t think of anything to watch — much like one of NBCU’s bigger wins, with its deal to bring “The Office” to Peacock from Netflix.

The new service launches April 15, initially to Comcast Xfinity X1 and Flex customers before debuting nationally on July 15. Peacock will be available both as a limited, free and ad-supported service as well as a subscription service where $5 per month delivers more content, including originals. Viewers can also choose to remove ads for another $5.

“We are excited to partner with Peacock,” said Steve MacDonald, President, Global Content Licensing and International, A+E Networks, in a statement about the deal. “We of course strongly believe in the power of the A+E Networks’ library of content, and that it will prove to strengthen Peacock’s offerings.”

For networks like A&E, deals with new streamers like this are inevitable. The pay-TV audience is declining faster than anticipated. As a result, media companies are left scrambling to quickly compile their properties into a Netflix alternative. NBCU’s Peacock isn’t the only one  in this race. AT&T’s WarnerMedia is preparing to launch HBO Max this year. Disney snapped up 21st Century Fox to fill out Disney+ and its (now majority-owned) Hulu streaming service libraries. Viacom and CBS merged and now beefing up CBS All Access (or whatever it may eventually be called) with content from brands like Nickelodeon, MTV, BET, Comedy Central, Smithsonian, and Paramount.

A&E’s programming won’t be live at launch, but will arrive later this year, NBCU says.

WarnerMedia’s new streaming service HBO Max is coming to YouTube TV, along with HBO & Cinemax

WarnerMedia and YouTube TV today announced a distribution deal that will bring HBO and Cinemax to the Google-owned live TV streaming service for the first time as well as, notably, WarnerMedia’s new service HBO Max, set to launch this spring.

That means that YouTube TV customers will have the option to add-on either HBO or Cinemax to their current subscription, as they can today on other streaming services like Hulu. Alternately, they’ll be able to opt for HBO Max’s expanded streaming service instead.

The new agreement will also allow YouTube TV to continue to carry the WarnerMedia networks TBS, TNT, truTV, CNN, HLN, Turner Classic Movies, Adult Swim and Cartoon Network, which have been available to YouTube TV since 2018.

“As consumers’ media consumption habits continually evolve and the landscape becomes more and more dynamic, our goal remains constant, and that is to make the portfolio of WarnerMedia networks available as widely as possible,” said Rich Warren, president of WarnerMedia Distribution, in a statement. “YouTube has been a valued partner for a number of years, and we’re pleased to not only extend our existing agreement, but also make HBO and Cinemax – and soon HBO Max – available to YouTube TV customers for the first time.”

HBO Max is WarnerMedia’s previously announced direct-to-consumer streaming service, which includes the HBO library as well as films from Warner Bros., third-party licensed programs and 31 Max Originals. Combined with HBO series, HBO Max will stream 69 originals in its first year.

Among these is a “Gossip Girl” sequel, a Mindy Kaling comedy called “College Girls,” an adaptation of the popular novel “Circe,” a superhero series “DC Superhero High,” a “Dune” series, a “Grease” reboot, a reboot of “The Boondocks,” “The Green Lantern,” an Issa Rae comedy, a Ridley Scott sci-fi series, a new documentary on Anthony Bourdain, a documentary about Amy Schumera Melissa McCarthy comedy filma documentary with Monica Lewinsky and other scripted and unscripted shows. It also has a new deal with J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot and an overall deal with Lisa Ling. 

The company says the service will debut in May with 10,000 hours of film and TV, but will continue to grow over time. It is set to cost $14.99 per month.

With the additions of HBO, YouTube TV viewers can gain access to shows like “Watchmen,” “Big Little Lies,” “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” “Succession,” “Westworld,” “The Outsider,” “Barry,” “Insecure,” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” as well as classics like “Game of Thrones,” “The Sopranos,” “The Wire” and “Sex and the City.” Upcoming HBO releases will include “High Maintenance,” “My Brilliant Friend,” “The Plot Against America,” “The Undoing” and “I Know This Much Is True.”

Meanwhile, Cinemax brings its own slate of originals, including “Strike Back,” “Trackers” and “Gangs of London,” as well as movies like “Boy Erased,” “First Man” and “Bad Times at the El Royale.”

While HBO and Cinemax are offered to cord-cutters as over-the-top subscriptions in a number of places, WarnerMedia’s distribution plans for HBO Max are only now starting to be revealed. It makes sense that WarnerMedia would look to grow its distribution partnerships in the wake of the increased streaming competition arriving this year, including NBCU’s Peacock and an expanded CBS All Access, announced today by ViacomCBS.

Apple’s TV App and Apple TV+ arrive on 2019 LG TVs

The Apple TV app, including access to the new streaming service Apple TV+, has now arrived on LG smart TVs. This week, LG announced the launch of the Apple TV app on compatible 2019 LG smart TVs in the U.S. and in over 80 other countries worldwide. The app will also arrive on 2018 smart TVs later this year, and it’s available on 2020 TVs at launch.

Users are able to access the new app from the LG Home Launcher, and can then stream Apple TV+ shows, subscribe to Apple TV channels, access their iTunes video library, and buy or rent over 100,000 movies and TV shows from iTunes.

In addition, LG touts that Apple’s wide range of titles available in Dolby Vision — like most Apple TV+ content — will be supported on LG’s latest TVs. Apple’s AirPlay 2, which allows users to mirror content from their iPhone, iPad or Mac on their TV, is also available. So is Apple’s HomeKit, allowing the TV to be controlled with Apple’s Home app or by using Siri.

The Apple TV app, AirPlay 2, and HomeKit will now work on all of LG’s 2019 OLED TVs, NanoCell TVs (series SM9X and SM8X). Later this month, the app will arrive on select UHD TVs (series UM7X and UM6X). And later this year, support will be extended to LG’s 2018 TVs via an over-the-air firmware upgrade. However, anyone buying a 2020 LG TV will have the Apple TV app available at launch, the company says.

With the launch of Apple TV+ in November, Apple had no choice but to support a wider ecosystem in order to accommodate the variety of ways people today watch TV. Today, the TV app works on all Apple devices and the web, plus streaming media players like Fire TV and Roku. However, only Samsung was the first to have the TV app available across a wide number of smart TVs. According to Apple’s website, other TV manufacturers including Sony and VIZIO, only offer AirPlay 2 support for now.

‘Star Trek: Picard’ breaks streaming records on CBS All Access

CBS’ streaming service, CBS All Access, credits a trio of high-profile events — including the premiere of its new Star Trek series, “Star Trek: Picard,” as well as the 62nd annual Grammy Awards, not to mention a busy month of football — with helping it to achieve a new record for subscriber sign-ups in a given month. The company says January 2020 surpassed the service’s previous record in February 2019 for subscriber sign-ups. In addition, last week was the second-best sign-up week ever, closely behind the week of the 2019 Super Bowl.

Much of the record-setting had to do with the launch of the highly anticipated show, “Star Trek: Picard,” which brings back fan-favorite Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard, now a retired Starfleet Admiral whose quiet life on his family’s vineyard is about to be disrupted. The show, set 18 years after the events of the final “Star Trek: The Next Generation” movie, “Star Trek: Nemesis,” not only capitalizes on Stewart’s draw, it also brings back previous “Star Trek” actors including Brent Spiner (Data), Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine), Marina Sirtis (Troi), and Jonathan Frakes (Riker).

But unlike other reboots, which hope nostalgia alone will bring the viewers, “Picard’s” creators have actually given thought to the story the show is trying to tell, resulting in a 95% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes.

CBS says the premiere of “Picard” also marked a new record for total streams and drove the highest volume of subscribers to stream a CBS All Access original series to date.

“Picard” was up by more than 115% in terms of total streams, when compared to CBS All Access’s first record, which was by its other “Star Trek” show, the less well-received “Star Trek: Discovery.” It was also up by 180+% over “Discovery’s” prior record for subscribers streaming a CBS All Access original.

Meanwhile, CBS said last night’s Grammys were the most-streamed to date and a new record for sign-ups on a Grammys Sunday, surpassing 2019 by more than 80% in new sign-ups and more than 30% in unique viewers on the service.

However, what CBS won’t talk about is the total number of subscribers for CBS All Access alone, nor does it break out how many have upgraded to the ad-free tier.

Instead, the company only shares that CBS All Access and Showtime’s over-the-top service, combined, have more than 10 million total subscribers.

In any event, that figure puts it far behind streaming rivals like Netflix and Hulu, with 61 million U.S. subscribers and 29 million subscribers, respectively. Even newcomers like Disney+ and Apple TV+ have boomed. Disney+ is estimated to have somewhere between 23.2 million and 25 million subscribers. One estimate believes Apple TV+ could be even bigger, but the analyst firm’s methodology is questionable. (After all, Apple TV+ may be available to users with a new Apple device for free for a year, but that doesn’t mean users are watching the service, nor will pay for it later on.)

In short, what these figures mean is CBS needs more than football, seasonal events and a new “Star Trek” series in order to grow. Even if “Star Trek: Picard” becomes a hit, fans who come for “Star Trek” alone are likely to sign up only when the show is airing, then unsubscribe in the off-season. Some may even wait to watch the series until they can binge it all — possibly even during a free trial period.

But as the newly combined ViacomCBS, the company now has options. ViacomCBS’ top execs have indicated they could bring Nickelodeon, BET, MTV and Comedy Central shows to CBS All Access as a result of the Viacom-CBS merger. The company believes it can hit 25 million CBS All Access subscribers by 2022.

“We’ve seen tremendous continued growth in the service, and the new records we’ve experienced due to ‘Star Trek: Picard,’ the Grammy’s and a fantastic season of football are a phenomenal way to kick off what will be a fantastic year for CBS All Access,” said Marc DeBevoise, chief digital officer, ViacomCBS, and president and CEO, CBS Interactive. “CBS All Access continues to build upon its great mix of programming — from original series, to sports and special events — and we’ve strategically programmed 2020 to bring subscribers an ‘always on’ calendar of must-watch series and events,” he added.

Apple TV+ scores Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Meryl Streep, announces release dates for new shows

Apple has scored more big names for its newly launched streaming service, Apple TV+, including “Veep” and “Seinfeld” star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, as well as Meryl Streep, the latter who’s attached to an animated short film about Earth Day, set to premiere on April 17. In addition, Apple has now announced several new series for Apple TV+, plus renewals and premiere dates for others.

The upcoming Earth Day film, titled “Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth,” will also star the voice talents of “Room” actor Jacob Tremblay as a seven-year-old child who learns about the planet, and Chris O’Dowd and Ruth Negga as his parents. Streep will provide the voice-over narration.

Meanwhile, Louis-Dreyfus hasn’t announced specific details of her projects. Apple says she has inked an overall deal with Apple TV+ as both an executive producer and star — her first overall deal with a streaming service. Under the multi-year agreement, Louis-Dreyfus will create multiple new projects exclusively for Apple TV+.

Joked the actress: “I am thrilled about this new partnership with my friends at Apple. Also, many thanks and kudos to my representatives for structuring the deal in such a way that I am paid in AirPods,” she said.

Apple has previously signed other overall deals with names like Alfonso Cuaron, Kerry Ehrin, Jon M. Chu, Justin Lin, Jason Katims, Lee Eisenberg, as well as studios A24 and Imagine Documentaries, and Oprah.

In addition to the big-name talent grabs, Apple also on Friday announced a new documentary series, “Dear…,” from Emmy and Peabody winner R.J. Cutler. Due out this spring, the series will profile internationally known leaders, including Oprah Winfrey, Gloria Steinem, Spike Lee, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Yara Shahidi, Stevie Wonder, Aly Raisman, Misty Copeland, Big Bird (uh, what?) and others.

This is not Apple TV+’s first documentary. It’s currently airing the Peace Award winner “The Elephant Queen,” about a tribe of African elephants. And while not a documentary, per se, the service is also now featuring real life-inspired tales of immigrants in the U.S. in the Apple TV+ anthology series, “Little America” which have a documentary-like vibe. Other documentary series and films in the works include “Visible: Out on Television” “Home,” “Beastie Boys Story” and “Dads.”

Newly announced “Visible…,” exec-produced by Ryan White, Jessica Hargrave, Wanda Sykes and Wilson Cruz, focuses on the LGBTQ movement and its impact on television. Premiering on Valentine’s Day (February 14), the series will also feature narration from Janet Mock, Margaret Cho, Asia Kate Dillon, Neil Patrick Harris and Lena Waithe.

Another new show is “Central Park,” an animated musical comedy from Loren Bouchard (“Bob’s Burgers”), executive producer Josh Gad (“Frozen”) and executive producer Nora Smith (“Bob’s Burgers”), which will arrive this summer. The show features a family that lives in Central Park, the Tillermans, and includes a voice cast with the talents of Josh Gad, Leslie Odom Jr., Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Tituss Burgess, Daveed Diggs and Stanley Tucci. The animation style has the distinct look of “Bob’s Burgers,” as well.

Apple’s first original series from the U.K., “Trying,” will premiere on May 1st globally. This series stars Rafe Spall and Esther Smith, hails from BBC Studios and was written by Andy Wolton. As the name hints, the story is about a couple — Jason and Nikki — who are trying to have a baby. But Apple describes the show’s larger theme as one about “growing up, settling down and finding someone to love.”

A new thriller, “Defending Jacob,” based on the 2012 NYT bestseller of the same name, will premiere April 24.

The limited series stars Chris Evans, Michelle Dockery, Jaeden Martell, Cherry Jones, Pablo Schreiber, Betty Gabriel and Sakina Jaffrey, and tells of a shocking crime that rocks a small Massachusetts town. The story follows an assistant district attorney who is torn between duty to uphold justice and his love for his son. Academy Award-winner J.K. Simmons guest stars.

Apple also announced its live-action comedy that follows a team of video game developers, “Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet,” has been renewed for a second season ahead of its global premiere date of February 7.

The show was co-created by Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day and Megan Ganz, and also stars McElhenney as the fictional company’s creative director, Ian Grimm.

Other shows awarded a second season include “Little America,” “Dickinson,” “See,” “Servant,” “For All Mankind,” “The Morning Show” and the soon-to-premiere “Home Before Dark.”

Despite not sharing any sort of viewership data — even with the shows’ stars — the renewals speak to Apple’s confidence in its original programming.

“Home Before Dark” is a dramatic mystery series featuring young investigative journalist Hilde Lysiak, and is exec-produced by Jon M. Chu. Based on the real-life kid reporter of the same name, the series takes Hilde’s story into fictional territory by telling a tale of a young girl who moves from Brooklyn to a small lakeside town where she ends up unearthing a cold case that everyone in town, including her dad, has tried to bury. The real Lysiak, however, runs an online news operation, Orange Street News, which made headlines when the then 11-year-old girl scooped local news outlets by being the first to expose a murder in her hometown of Selinsgrove, Pa.

Steven Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories” has also now been given a premiere date of March 6. The rebooted anthology series is run by Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (“Lost”), and features episode directors Chris Long (“The Americans,” “The Mentalist”), Mark Mylod (“Succession,” “Game of Thrones”), Michael Dinner (“Unbelievable,” “Sneaky Pete”), Susanna Fogel (“Utopia,” “Play By Play”) and Sylvain White (“Stomp the Yard,” “The Rookie”).

Also previously announced, Apple set a premiere date for the new documentary series “Home,” which will air on April 17. The series offers viewers a look inside some of the world’s most innovative homes around the world.

Though only two months old, Apple TV+ has already landed its first Hollywood industry award, as “The Morning Show” star Jennifer Aniston snagged a SAG Award for best female actor in a drama. Co-star Billy Crudup also won a Critics’ Choice Award for best-supporting actor.

“The Morning Show,” meanwhile, had been nominated for three Golden Globes, but didn’t win. However, the Globes largely snubbed streamers this year, with Netflix earning only two wins, despite 34 nominations.

Berlin-based streaming guide JustWatch acquires New York rival GoWatchIt

Berlin-headquartered streaming guide JustWatch has grown to over 10 million users across 38 countries in under 5 years. Now, it’s expanding its U.S. presence with the acquisition of New York-based rival, GoWatchIt, from Plexus Entertainment. Deal terms were not revealed but were a mixture of cash and stock for the smaller operation, which had just 8 people on board.

JustWatch says its interest was mostly in the commercial team based in New York. As a result of the acquisition, GoWatchIt founder and CEO David Larkin will remain in New York and will become JustWatch’s SVP Marketing and Strategy.

GoWatchIt is one of now several services that offer a comprehensive guide to movies and TV aimed at helping people find things to watch across an increasingly fragmented streaming landscape, which now includes new services like Apple TV+ and Disney+, and soon, NBCU’s Peacock and WarnerMedia’s HBO Max. As a result of all the new entries, it has become more difficult for consumers to know what’s available, where it streams, and how much it costs. Plus, consumers also want help in finding new shows and movies across services that are personalized to their own interests.

This is where services like GoWatchIt and JustWatch came in.

GoWatchIt was founded in 2011 at a guide to streaming content, as well as digital content and even movies playing in theaters. The service additionally offered an API to partner sites who wanted to inform their visitors and readers where content was available. These partners included The New York Times, National Cine Media, and Common Sense Media, among others.

According to JustWatch, the acquisition of GoWatchIt made sense as the U.S. had already grown to become JustWatch’s largest market, in terms of user numbers. However, the acquisition wasn’t about gaining market share, the company tells TechCrunch. It was more about the B2B partners and clients and the commercial team, particularly founder David Larkin whose new job will have him marketing JustWatch B2B products like the partner API, competitive VOD market intelligence, and JustWatch’s entertainment advertising products in the U.S.

“We are very happy with the acquisition of GoWatchIt and to welcome David Larkin at JustWatch,” noted JustWatch founder and CEO David Croyé, in a statement. “We have already known each other for several years and I’m excited to work with David to increase our footprint in the US. His network in the streaming industry will help us find many more partners for our B2B data and API offerings,” he said.

GoWatchIt was backed by Scout Ventures and other private funding.

Its total team was just 8 people, but only two are joining JustWatch as the technical staff wasn’t needed. JustWatch today has a team of over 50 in Berlin who will continue to run its product development and technology.

In addition, the GoWatchIt website will be closed in the near future, with traffic redirected to JustWatch.com instead. Partner sites using the GoWatchIt API will be transitioned to the JustWatch API, as well.

“I’m excited to join JustWatch from New York and help to accelerate the growth with my industry experience and network,” said Larkin. “Over the last years, JustWatch has grown very fast to become the biggest streaming guide worldwide. The streaming wars are heating up and the biggest growth will come from outside the US. JustWatch is the only truly international player to help users find out what to watch and where to watch it.”

JustWatch competes with a range of services in this market, including also Reelgood which just raised $6.75 million for its own streaming guide, TV Time which has raised $65 million (according to Crunchbase), and many other apps and services all aiming to be consumers’ go-to platform.

JustWatch is nearing the launch of new TV apps for Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Android TV, which will be available in the days ahead.