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.

 

Reelgood raises $6.75 million for its universal streaming guide

Streaming aggregator Reelgood capitalized on the overabundance of streaming services available today by offering consumers a universal dashboard where you can track what you’re watching and discover your next binge. It then translated the activity from its over 10 million users into data it licenses to major companies, including Roku, Microsoft, smart TV makers, NYPost and even hedge funds. Now the company has closed on $6.75 million in Series A funding to continue to grow its business.

The round was led by Runa Capital and includes participation from Reelgood’s seed round investor, August Capital. To date, Reelgood has raised $11 million.

The company’s app to some extent competes with those designed to help you keep track of the episodes you’ve watched across streaming services and TV, like TV Time, iTV, JustWatch and others. But Reelgood’s service stands out for its breadth of catalog — it tracks both movies and TV across some 336 streaming services, the website says. This includes free services like Tubi, Crackle and those from TV networks, plus authenticated “TV Everywhere” services for pay-TV subscribers, and subscription services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Amazon Prime and others. It also can help you compare prices on rental options.

And its robust search and filtering features can help you find titles that are new, coming or leaving services, or by any other filter — like genre, year, Rotten Tomatoes rating, IMDB score and more. The more you use and personalize the service, the better its suggestions for what to watch next then become.

Once you find something to watch, you just press play to launch the streaming service’s app or website.

The work involved in making a simple concept — a universal dashboard for streaming — is fairly complex, Reelgood says.

“Putting together these streaming service libraries involves ingesting massive and unstructured amounts of data from hundreds of different sources for real-time matching and combination using machine learning and human curators,” noted Reelgood’s head of Data, Pablo Lucio Paredes.

Reelgood also touts the quality of its data (averaging 98% across all 300+ services), which it then licenses to publishers, search engines, media players, TVs, voice assistants and other smart devices. Currently, the company has around 50 business customers who pay either for the raw data, the insights or both.

Roku, for example, uses Reelgood’s data for its own universal search feature. NYPost displays streaming availability data on their articles via a widget. Hedge funds look at the data to better understand consumer behavior in streaming services and the movement of content between catalogs.

This year, Reelgood hired Nielsen’s former SVP of global measurement, Mark Green, to lead its B2B data licensing business, called Reelgood Insights.

“I sought out and joined Reelgood because they are poised to capture the billions in revenue spent on viewership data as viewing continues to shift towards OTT,” said Green.

The additional funding will be used to expand the number of platforms where Reelgood is offered, including on a range of smart TVs through partnerships. The company has signed five smart TV deals with major brands that will begin to roll out in 2020, but LG is the only name Reelgood can currently disclose.

Reelgood is headquartered in San Francisco. It has 18 employees, both local and remote, and is hiring across a number of roles.

CBS All Access launches kids’ programming, soon to include Nickelodeon shows

CBS’s over-the-top streaming service, CBS All Access, is the latest to counter the threat from Disney+ by investing in children’s programming. Today, the company is launching a kids’ programming lineup including original shows and other library content. Plus, in one of the first major content integrations ahead of the ViacomCBS merger, the CBS streaming service will soon add a selection of Nickelodeon children’s TV shows to its catalog.

The first Nickelodeon titles will roll out in January, the company says.

In August, CBS had announced plans to launch children’s programming on its service by way of deals with WildBrain (formerly DHX Media) and Boat Rocker Studios. From WildBrain, CBS licensed the kids’ TV series “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” produced with Sony Pictures Animation. And from Boat Rocker, CBS licensed the new “Danger Mouse,” produced with BBC Children’s Productions.

The two shows are the first original children’s series on the service, which today is better known for its original programming aimed at adults, like “Star Trek: Discovery,” “The Good Fight,” “The Twilight Zone,” and soon “Star Trek: Picard.”

Today, the two originals are now live for subscribers alongside a library of kids’ content that includes “Bob the Builder,” “Inspector Gadget,” “Madeline,” “Heathcliff,” “The Adventures of Paddington Bear,” and the original “Danger Mouse.”

Over the next several weeks, CBS says it plans to grow its kids’ library to over 1,000 episodes as more TV series are added.

“Bringing children’s programming to CBS All Access is a significant step toward providing even more value for our subscribers and now for their children as well,” said Marc DeBevoise, President and COO, CBS Interactive, in a statement. “We’re bringing to market a fantastic roster of exclusive originals along with a library of marquee series for families, and we look forward to continuing to expand our children’s programming offering, especially with the future addition of incredible programming from Nickelodeon.”

The company did not specify which titles from Nickelodeon would come to CBS All Access, but it’s possible the lineup could include shows like “SpongeBob SquarePants” or “Dora the Explorer,” which went over to Amazon Prime Video after Viacom pulled them off Netflix back in 2013. Today, some of the early seasons of those shows and others are available as part of Amazon Prime’s free streaming perk, while later seasons can only be rented or purchased.

“Spongebob,” “Dora,” and other classic Nickelodeon kids’ shows are not included in Nickelodeon’s new agreement with Netflix, which is focused on new, original content using both well-known characters and all-new IP. According to The NYT, that deal was valued at $200 million.

It would make sense for CBS All Access to eventually absorb Viacom’s kids’ streaming service Noggin, which is where you can today find “Dora,” along with other shows like “PAW Patrol,” “Peppa Pig, “Team Umizoomi,” “Wallykazam,” “Bubble Guppies,” “Rusty Rivets,” “Blue’s Clues,” “Blaze,” “Shimmer & Shine,” “Max & Ruby,” “Wonder Pets,” “Nia Hao, Kai-Lan,” and several others. This would round out CBS All Access as a more family-friendly streaming service with a wide catalog, which would help it to better compete with Netflix, Hulu and of course, Disney+.

As a combined entity, it doesn’t make sense for ViacomCBS to ask its customer base to subscribe to both services or choose between them. And Noggin, in particular, doesn’t make sense given the higher churn rate for a service which only appeals to families with younger kids — who age out of the service after a few years. It would be better to put these shows in front of the larger CBS All Access audience, helping it to tout a larger catalog in marketing materials and attract a wider group of cord-cutting consumers.

NBA TV goes over-the-top to offer live games and original programming to cord cutters

Cord-cutting basketball fans now have a new option for their non-stop hoops coverage. NBA TV is officially launching a direct-to-consumer subscription service today, making it the first linear TV sports league network to go over the top. The service, which will be available both on the web at NBA.com and through the NBA app, will include more than 100 exclusive, out-of-market live games, original programming and on-demand video for $6.99 per month.

You can also pay the annual price of $59.99 for a small discount.

The launch won’t impact customers with pay-TV subscriptions, as they’ll still be able to watch NBA TV by authenticating with their TV provider.

NBA Digital, which is managed jointly by the NBA and Turner Sports, recently announced a new franchise called “Center Court” where it will experiment with viewing enhancements, including new camera angles, live on-screen group chats with celeb influencers, in-depth analytics and statistical graphics, and more.

These games (a list is here) will also be featured on NBA TV through the main Center Court broadcast as well as on the web and mobile, where fans can find the enhanced “frontcourt” and “backcourt” streams. The “frontcourt” streams will incorporate the alternative audio options with rotating groups of NBA influencers, while the “backcourt” streams will feature the Second Spectrum technology, including the statistical overlays.

Center Court coverage will be available through the 2019-2020 season.

In addition to the enhanced games, NBA TV promises more than 100 nationally televised out-of-market games, plus other live games from the WNBA, NBA G League and NBA Summer League. The service also has original programming that includes studio shows and reporting, magazine-style shows like “Beyond the Point,” talent franchises like “Shaqtin’ a Fool,” a pre-game show, “The Warm Up” and nightly shows like “NBA Crunchtime” and “NBA Game Time.”

New shows that focus on social conversations, legends and current players include “The List,” “#Handles,” “Say What,” “High Tops” and “Basketball Stories.” And the service includes 24/7 access to classic games, the NBA Finals from 2000-2019 and other archival content.

NBA TV subscribers also will be able to buy an NBA League Pass, the premium subscription to all NBA games, from the same NBA app and website where they can buy or add on NBA TV, starting today.

Once subscribed, NBA TV can be watched via the web, mobile or through connected TV devices and game consoles.

“Innovation has always been at the core of our NBA Digital partnership and the launch of this direct to consumer product, paired with new content initiatives, will provide NBA fans even greater opportunities to engage with NBA TV and our collective portfolio of brands,” said Tina Shah, executive vice president and general manager, Turner Sports, in a statement. “As sports consumption continues to evolve, we will continue to develop new opportunities for fans to access and engage with premium NBA content.”

Access to live sports is one of the areas that stop fans from fully cutting the cord with traditional pay TV. But a variety of resources have cropped up over the years to make that transition easier, including those dedicated to particular sports — like the MLB’s over-the-top offering MLB.TV — or live-streamed games across social media and elsewhere, as with the NFL’s games on Amazon Prime Video. There are also entire services, like fuboTV that grew out of sports’ fans needs for a more comprehensive live sports offering.

But even with new ways to watch, blackout restrictions often keep fans tied to pay TV, perhaps using a friend’s account to log in and authenticate…or even turning to VPNs. NBA TV won’t solve this problem, either, but it can help fans view more games and NBA content.

TiVo’s ad-supported streaming service, TiVo Plus, launches today

TiVo’s answer to The Roku Channel, TiVo Plus, is launching today. The company had already unveiled its plans for ad-supported streaming earlier this month with the debut of two new models of its DVR, the TiVo Edge. Like The Roku Channel, TUBI, Vudu’s Movies on Us, and others, TiVo Plus is available to stream for free. But unlike others in this space, TiVo Plus is available exclusively to TiVo devices owners.

The service is enabled by a TiVo partnership with XUMO, Jukin Media and other publishers.

It includes a variety of content from sources like TMZ, America’s Funniest Home Videos, FilmRise, Outside TV+, PowerNation, FailArmy, Hell’s Kitchen | Kitchen Nightmares, Food52, Ameba, BatteryPOP, Baeble Music, Kid Genius, Journy, NatureVision, People are Awesome, Puddle Jumper, The Asylum, The Pet Collective, The Preview Channel, Unsolved Mysteries, Adventure Sports Network, AllTime, Complex, and others.

TiVo also has deals with Gannett, Loop Media, Revry, Newsy, Tastemade, Latido Music and Mobcrush to expand TiVo Plus even further.

The company says there will be “thousands” of movies and TV shows available in an app-free environment.

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Despite the obvious comparisons to The Roku Channel, the TiVo Plus interface isn’t as well-designed. Where Roku puts the focus on the content that’s available for free streaming, TiVo Plus highlights the publishers. The content is organized in generic and broad groupings, like “Movies and TV,” “Sports,” “Kids and Family,” “Entertainment, Comedy Pop Culture,” and others, instead of being more editorially curated or personalized to the viewer.

Though TiVo Plus is a free service, being a TiVo owner is not. For example, the new TiVo Edge DVR for cable customers is $400, followed by a $14.99 per month service fee, which can be paid either as an annual fee ($149.99) or all at once with a lifetime plan ($549.99).

The same DVR for cord-cutters is $350 and the service fee is $6.99 per month, or $69.99 per year and $249.99 for a lifetime fee.

The DVRs include support for Dolby Atmos, Dolby Vision HDR, 2TB of storage, TiVo’s OnePass, SkipMode (automatic commercial skip),

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This was the first time that TiVo lowered its subscriptions for the DVR for antenna users, in an effort to respond to market pressures. Most streaming media devices — like Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, etc. — don’t require subscriptions, as the companies don’t license TV guide data for their users nor do they operate with cable TV-like business model involving ongoing service fees. That’s allowed customers, and particularly cord-cutters, to get comfortable with one-time purchase fees and has weakened TiVo’s position.

With a dwindling customer base, TiVo has turned to advertising — not only with its new ad-supported streaming service on its devices, but also with skippable pre-roll ads on DVR recordings, as recently reported and confirmed by TiVo. 

TiVo Plus is rolling out starting today and continuing over the next few weeks to customers with Series 6 devices with Experience 4 (TE4). It will be available on the Home screen, when it goes live.

Disney+ tweets all the movies and shows coming to its streaming service

In an impressive bit of pre-launch marketing, Disney today announced by way of a massive Twitter thread basically every movie and TV show coming to its upcoming streaming service Disney+. The thread, which was posted in chronological order starting with “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” in 1937, reveals not just Disney’s best-known titles but also its long tail of cult classics, flops, oddities and other lesser-known films.

To date, Disney has advertised the extensive catalog coming to Disney+, which launches on November 12, by highlighting the top titles from Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, NatGeo and more.

It has also touted its dozens of upcoming original productions like “The Mandalorian,” a “Lady and the Tramp” remake, a “Rogue One” prequel, “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” and many others.

But today’s Twitter thread is a reminder that Disney’s back catalog goes deep.

For every Disney animation classic, there’s a crappy direct-to-video sequel, like “Belle’s Magical World,” for example. There are the cheesy ’80s TV shows. And while Pixar may have spun “Toy Story” into one of its best-known franchises, it also produced the broadly panned “Cars 2.”

Then there are the titles you may have forgotten — or never knew existed in the first place — from “Meet the Deedles” to “Zenon Girl of the 21st Century” to “Fuzzbucket” to “The Computer Who Wore Tennis Shoesto that movie about the country bears.

For anyone who grew up on Disney, the list is a nostalgic look back at not just the studio’s hits, but also the titles that quickly faded from your memory, or those that even make you cringe.

While most streaming services today round out their catalog lineup with less popular content in order to claim a larger number of total titles available, they don’t tend to promote their B movies and crappy TV shows in any of their marketing or advertising, for obvious reasons.

Disney’s approach, by comparison, is refreshingly transparent.

While you may never have watched “The Biscuit Eater” or “Justin Morgan Had a Horse” or “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad,” and may never care to, Disney+ is at least letting you know what sort of filler content comes with your $6.99 per month subscription.

As you scroll your way down through one of the biggest tweetstorms ever, you’ll likely come across a few niche titles that appeal to you, despite not being the stuff of headlines. And because each title gets its own tweet, you can let everyone know exactly how excited you are for “The Cat from Outer Space,” or anything else that strikes you.

Today’s massive tweetstrom wasn’t the only way that Disney overloaded one of its social channels to demonstrate the size of its back catalog. It also put together an over 3-hour YouTube video that previews everything coming to Disney+.

Disney+ is available for pre-order ahead of its November 12 launch.