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Consumers trying to abandon their traditional cable and satellite TV subscription have a growing number of options. Before, cord cutters only had a choice of Netflix, Amazon Video, and a few select others - but now content providers are launching online video options, while other disruptive services are launching.
"Programmers see the writing on the wall," said Jim Nail, principal analyst for Forrester Research. "They know that bundles are going away. But they're going to hold out for as long as they can."
Some traditional content providers are learning to adapt, as DISH has its Sling TV - a subscription cable and video on-demand service - and the company hopes it will be disruptive. Meanwhile, Apple is getting involved with "skinny" bundles of select channels, which can be expanded while adding other channels per month.
Apple is currently talking with content producers to launch a streaming TV service in the fall, according to a report published in the Wall Street Journal. If everything goes according to plan, consumers can expect the new streaming offering in September.
After the service launches, around 25 channels will be included, with ABC, CBS and Fox reportedly signing on - and the service can be used by all iOS devices, such as iPhones, Apple TV set-top boxes, and iPads. The new Internet streaming platform will cost about $30 per month.
"I think when Apple TV launches it will get lots of attention," said Jeff Kagan, industry analyst. "Some will love it and others will not. I think Apple TV will start small, [and] then grow quickly. Sort of on the same track as the original iPhone seven years ago. If we look out another five or ten years I Think Apple could have a powerful position in the television marketplace if for no other reason than they already have a gazillion customers always wanting the next, big thing."
Viacom plans to launch a standalone online streaming subscription for its Nickelodeon channel, aimed at children's programming. The media company wants to adapt to changing times before it is potentially left behind as viewer habits continually head to streaming content. Nickelodeon content is currently available on Amazon, while Viacom also released new apps and original series for Internet and mobile users.
"We want to satisfy the demand that is coming from the viewers out there," said Philippe Dauman, CEO of Viacom, in a statement published by the New York Times. "They have an insatiable appetite for great content. They want to view that content on every device that they own."
Cord cutting is becoming increasingly appealing to viewers tired of paying large amounts for cable and satellite subscriptions - and there are a number of standalone streaming services. CBS has a monthly subscription offering, while HBO is expected to release a standalone streaming service later this year.
If you wanted to watch a legal copy of "The Interview" but didn't want to pay to rent or purchase it, you can now watch it on Netflix. The data breach suffered by Sony Pictures, courtesy of the Guardians of the Peace, means the recently-released film has been made available to Netflix less than one month following its box office debut.
Sony Pictures wanted to just break even on the film - and that goal has been accomplished - so now it's time to open it up to as many viewers as possible.
Netflix has big ambitions for its original content efforts, wanting to launch 20 scripted series per year. Of course, not all of the shows will be marketed towards American viewers, as the company looks to expand its reach outside of the United States.
"I think we can launch - successfully, high quality - around 20 original scripted shows a year, which means every 2 ½ to three weeks you're launching a new season or a new show on Netflix meant to be for really diverse tastes all around the world," said Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer at Netflix, during a recent conference.
Netflix has found great success by launching original programming - an effort that other streaming services and businesses want to emulate.
NBC will stream a live feed of the Super Bowl for free as part of its Super Stream Sunday promotion, including pre- and post-game programs, the halftime show, and a midseason launch of "The Blacklist." Super Bowl Sunday on February 1 features the New England Patriots facing off against the Seattle Seahawks.
In total, US viewers will be able to watch 11 continuous hours of online video for free, and no cable or satellite subscription is necessary. As many viewers begin to transition from traditional TV programs towards online video, this is an ideal promotional effort by NBC.
"It's just a great means to promote TV Everywhere and our products," said Rick Cordella, SVP and GM of digital media at NBC Sports Group, in a statement to Reuters. "With the Super Bowl, we will have maximum eyeballs on it."
Overstock.com plans to launch an online streaming service sometime within the first half of 2015, and will include 30,000 titles, according to CEO Patrick Byrne. Expect Overstock to also begin creating its own original TV episodes and films, taking aim at Amazon and Netflix.
It's unknown what titles will be available at launch, but consumers can expect to be able to rent and purchase TV episodes and digital films.
"We will be a competitor to Amazon," said Byrne, in a statement published by The Hollywood Reporter. "We think our loyalty program is better than Amazon's. We give you five to 25 percent back on what you spend. So we pay people back for their digital downloads."
Despite a high-quality screener version of "American Sniper" hitting the Internet days before the film's box office release, the movie still grossed $90.2 million from Friday to Sunday - the most successful opening weekend between December and February.
It's hard to estimate what role piracy could have had on the box office, as some viewers likely skipped the theater when they found the online version. However, it is possible people impressed after watching the film used word-of-mouth to help tell friends and family how good the movie is.
The film features Bradley Cooper portraying Chris Kyle, a former Navy SEAL and most prolific sniper in US military history, and Sienna Miller serving as Kyle's wife. Kyle survived four tours of service in Iraq, and was murdered on a Texas gun range by a fellow veteran. The Clint Eastwood-directed film has generated a high amount of controversy, though has the support of Kyle's wife and military members.
Amazon has earned early success from its unique TV productions, and plans to transition towards movies. After a movie is released in theaters, Amazon wants to make sure the title is available via Prime video service within two months.
The company plans to create "close" to twelve movies per year, and production will begin later in 2015. The idea of a film being available online within eight weeks, as opposed to 39 to 52 weeks, gives viewers a chance to watch movies much sooner.
"Audiences already recognize that Amazon has raised the bar with productions in the episodic realm, tackling bold material in unique ways and collaborating with top talent, both established and emerging," said Ted Hope, Head of Production for Amazon Original Movies, in a statement. "Amazon Original Movies will be synonymous with films that amaze, excite, and move our fans, wherever customers watch. I am incredibly thrilled to be part of this."
Police authorities in Myanmar are seizing pirated copies of "The Interview," per an official request by the North Korean embassy.
"We seized them because they were unapproved and pirated," according to a police officer speaking to Reuters.
Rangoon chief minister Mying Swe spoke with North Korean Ambassador Kim Sok Choi, and they both deny official orders to seize pirated copies of the film. Shortly after the meeting, the film disappeared from DVD stalls in Yangyon, with stall owners claiming the film was now banned.