Streaming Wars For Live Sports, Entertainment, and Gambling

Major Ruling by US Supreme Court on Copyright Law with Looming Impact for AI

Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing for the majority in the 7-2 decision, found that the Lynn Goldsmith’s “original works, like those of other photographers, are entitled to copyright protection, even against famous artists” like Warhol. Potentially overlapping commercial exploitation of the works was a key consideration.

It would seem that AI would be treated like any other copying artist along such lines, but please note that Fair Use cases are often complex.

As for its potential effect on the hot-button issue of artificial intelligence and copyright, patent attorney Randy McCarthy says that, under this ruling, the legality of AI using copyrighted works to train their systems will turn on whether the “output is sufficiently transformed and the input cannot be easily identified from an examination of the output content.”

Note that the original content that led to this case was photos of Prince taken way back in 1981!

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Strategy By Major League Baseball Via T-Mobile In the US
Contrast to Apple TV+, Regional Sports Networks, and Other Deals with MLB

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Peak Streaming

Please note that this article was from early April, and it was posted before several adverse developments here in May for the media and entertainment industry, which included the writers’ strike and some more generally dreadful reports on earnings for 1Q2023.

Bolded text is my addition for emphasis.

If you like charts and tables, there are some great ones in this article as well.

At the same time, streamers are contending with slower subscriber growth and heightened churn amid an overcrowded market. The major U.S.-based SVOD platforms added less than 100 million subscribers last year, down from about 133 million in 2021, and consensus Wall Street forecasts project about 65 million net additions for 2023.

Uh-oh. Seizing upon the trend, DIRECTV rolled out this ad in May. This ad is very well done including especially for the targeted market - families who are fed up with having to manage several streaming subscriptions and those who have cut the cord who are exhibiting some remorse. That’s not me in the target market, but no doubt even as a proponent I notice much amiss and not improving with the user experience for streaming video as compared to a year ago. In reality, my average viewing experience is WORSE before I can finally watch what I want to watch.

I spoke with a friend last evening about his experience with DIRECTV, for which the equipment and various signal costs are substantial in and of themselves.

Our reality, from the lens of the market leader in ratings that is live sports beyond the king that is the NFL in the US, is breaking down as follows:

  1. More Live Sports On Broadcast with more ads and heavier emphasis on gambling content beyond even the advertising.

  2. Niche sports on streaming with the very same

For many households, streaming video at anywhere from free (i.e. YouTube with ads, Netflix, Disney Bundle, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, MLB TV, et cetera) are free to many subscribers to various services including for residential internet, to perhaps no more than $20 per month for two subscriptions, is still is a savings over the average cable or satellite subscription for television service.

But is the experience equal to that of cable or satellite despite better choices for content? Overwhelmingly the answer is no, and from personal experience I can share that the experience is deteriorating as well with more lags and ads.

The best of all worlds would seem to include a video bundle with the prime content on over-the-air broadcast, which of course is free anyway, replays of live content available on a streaming service for weeks not days, and of course all other content on a streaming service with good performance.

CBS and Disney seem to be pushing in this direction the best, but they are a long, long way and losing BILLIONS per year.

UH-OH.

The only silver lining I see in this climate for the average consumer is that the deals should be even better when you switch services, subject of course to the level of competition in your local market.

And as we have entertained in discussion already, if you are already getting your live sports via your cable or satellite company now along with reliable internet, now might not be a good time to cut that cord if you have not done so already. That window of prime opportunity has passed for many now, though of course there is still opportunity for others depending on what you desire on your plate for video and live sports.

One major change that will only continue is of course the demise of the regional sports networks and the end of that racket on the backs of too many cable customers, which will of course force fans to make changes in any affected local markets when the associated teams have not yet done a new broadcast deal as have the Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns, and Las Vegas Golden Knights.

“YOU’RE DOING TV WRONG!”

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https://www.si.com/college/2023/05/15/college-football-expansion-whats-next-power-5-conferences

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The (Cable) Bundle Back In Town, Redefined

Bolded text is my emphasis:

At this point in the streaming wars, bundling, rather than M&A, is back in the spotlight.

During a May 18 investor conference, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav was asked whether he would be interested in exploring a sports- and news-led “skinnier bundle” with content from the streamers.
Zaslav, who had earlier been bemoaning the irrationality of the streaming business, from the money being spent to the amount of content on different platforms for viewers to sort through, appeared to take a macro approach to the question.
“There should be a consolidation, and I think it’s more likely to have to happen in the packaging and marketing of products together,” he continued. And he cautioned, “If we don’t do it to ourselves, I think it’ll be done to us,” naming Amazon, Apple and Roku as potential bundlers.

For the life of me, I never understood why anybody in their right mind would subscribe to a service like YouTube TV or Hulu + Live TV, which are basically your cable TV channels on a stream. Furthermore, for years now some of your cable TV programs have already been on a recorded stream as aired to you, including many of those annoying informercials that have no business in your interest on being on any video service for which you are paying a monthly fee!

If there is going to be any new bundle, cable and all better figure out there is no filler programming allowed these days, or you are wasting everybody’s time with a bloated bundle again just like recent cable history.

And as indicated in the chart below, it looks like both the YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV options are very many subscribers as otherwise all the cheaper streaming options.

Of course other than over-the-air broadcast TV of course, much live programming is already free via services like Pluto TV, Tubi, and YouTube as well as via Paramount+ for many of their CBS and cable channels.

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Comcast Strikes First With A New Skinny Bundle: “WHERE ARE MY SPORTS!”

Timed with the prior article is Comcast’s first attempt at a skinny bundle for streaming customers, which as a former Comcast customer myself, I can tell you this idea is about two years late and ONLY because Comcast is being clobbered by especially T-Mobile in many markets.

Now TV will be available to Comcast’s Xfinity Internet customers within the next few weeks, priced at $20 per month. By comparison, Xfinity TV’s Popular TV package, with 125-plus channels (including local channels and sports networks) costs about $50-$60/month depending on market. Now TV does not require an additional set-top box and lets customers sign up or cancel at any time.

This news is the current market reality largely because Fat Comcast squandered its advantage to innovate (once again in its history mind you!) during the pandemic and by 4Q2021, T-Mobile was already taking vast market share away from cable with its new home broadband service and partnership with Android TV / Google TV.

Comcast, the largest pay-TV provider in the U.S., dropped 614,000 video customers in Q1 — the most of any single company — to stand at 15.53 million at the end of the period.

Now for a proposed $20 per month, though I would read the fine print to see if that is all-in or if they ad various silly fees plus of course that sales tax, what does a Comcast broadband customer get with this new bundle?

The Now TV lineup includes:

  • Now TV Live: More than 40 cable channels including A&E, Afro, AMC, Animal Planet, BBC America, BBC News, Comedy.TV, Cooking, Crime + Investigation, Discovery, Discovery Life, Food Network, FYI, Great American Family, Great American Living, Get TV, Game Show Network, Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Drama, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, HGTV, The History Channel, Investigation Discovery, IFC, Justice Central, Lifetime, Lifetime Movie Network, Magnolia Network, Military History, MotorTrend Network, OWN, Pursuit, Recipe.TV, Science Channel, Sony Movies, Sundance TV, TLC, Travel Channel, Vice, WEtv and Weather Channel. The service is accessible through the Xfinity Stream app and includes 20 hours of DVR storage and access on three concurrent streams.
  • Peacock Premium: Original series, movies next-day access to all new shows from NBC and Bravo, library content, live news and more than 5,000 hours of live sports. Peacock Premium, which includes ads, is regularly priced at $4.99/month.
  • FAST Channels: More than 20 free ad-supported streaming TV channels including NBC News NOW, Sky News and the following genre-based channels from Xumo Play: Action Movies, Black Cinema, Bollywood & Indian Cinema, Comedy Movies, Comedy TV, Crime TV, Documentaries, Drama & Action TV, Family Movies, Food TV, Movies, Game Shows, Her Movies, Horror & Thriller, Kids TV, Reality TV, Sci-Fi & Fantasy Movies, Travel & Lifestyle TV and Westerns.

So let’s review. What on this list has viewing potential as opposed to all that is already free to anybody with broadband internet and streaming?

  • Peacock Premium for free for live sports has potential if it actually works to a modern standard. I think we’ll know better later this year from the millions more who will watch the NFL on Peacock. Or not. After more than two years since introducing live sports to Peacock, the reviews by those who watch Premier League have been not good overall.

Most of the named free streaming TV channels are already available on YouTube for free, and who knows what is of value with all those old movies and shows on Xumo that is not available elsewhere and either no longer of interest or too much to watch anyway much like with all that is free on Pluto TV or on Tubi.

Otherwise, I see overwhelmingly all those cable channels and CRAP hardly anybody misses who has cut the cord and much of which, or superior options, are available already for free without the need for this new “bundle.” Philo is another TV service that has offered a similar slate, but with more channels and no live sports, for $25 per month already. So this new skinny bundle is supposed to be much better?

But “WHERE ARE MY SPORTS!” is the ultimate question.

The jury remains out, for we shall see what the competition does or does not do after Comcast actually rolls out this skinny cable TV bundle.

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This is a few months old - but the information is still valid.

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I agree with the author’s implication of today’s new math in entertainment media:

Live sports on ANY broadcast channel >>>>> live sports on any cable or streaming option.

Such a notion would have been laughable circa 2007 when ESPN was king in the US, but here we are now and nobody is laughing at the local broadcast stations as also most of those Regional Sports Networks are crying rivers with no tears for them from most of us.

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Note that some of these numbers have gone down from 2021 to 2022 already, and add the economic climate, the subscription price wars, the advertising downturn, and now the writers’ strike

Indeed, the last several months have seen a wave of TV cancellations and “un-renewals” — that is, revoking shows’ new season orders — with some being canceled or forced to find new homes mid-production as their distributors cut costs.

And the pullback is already becoming visible: While the number of new titles released on SVOD platforms nearly doubled in 2021, per data from Diesel Labs, that number rose by only about 4% in 2022. Most of the major services also released fewer original TV seasons in Q1 ’23, both year-over-year and quarter-on-quarter, according to a MoffettNathanson analysis.

And wait a second X Streaming Platform, you now want to charge me MORE for my subscription?

I can guess already what about 90% of customers will say with most of them dropping out when there is “not much new on there, so why are we paying more?”

Meanwhile, look for those free trial deals, especially around August, when BIG MEDIA should be shaking in their boots far more at how the third quarter is looking after a likely tough second quarter.

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What a great find!

And this folks looks like the final dagger in the heart of the Pac-12. It should have been taken behind the barn a few weeks ago as we wonder how many more days until some schools just leave, or perhaps now it would be cheaper to just watch the whole conference explode into oblivion?

Bolded text is my emphasis.

Washing[ton] State University has paused all non-essential business purchases and travels as well as placed a temporary hiring freeze on its athletic department. This is partly due to internal accounting errors causing the department to spend too much and lose money overall this year.

“As has already been widely reported, each Pac-12 university will see a significant decrease in revenue distribution. The decrease is a result of overpayments from one of the conference media partners that must be resolved,” said Washington State University President Kirk Schulz.

Comcast decided it will not be paying additional licensing fees to Pac-12 until the end of the summer of next year. Each school in the Pac-12 will lose out on $4 million during this time frame.

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I am with you - especially in regard to the part about WSU not spending any extra money anywhere. I have been through that with companies I have worked for and when they start doing that you know it is going to get really ugly really fast.

I also agree with you that the Pac12 is toast - they are all but done. When they implode I think the Big10 is going to get UW and Oregon for bargain basement pricing. I have read where Oregon and UW are not going to get a full share of the TV money.

WSU, OSU Stanford and Cal are probably heading to the Mountain West Conference. Which would make the Mountain West a 16 Team conference that covers everything from Colorado to Hawaii.

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The strange thing to me is the unintended consequences of streaming. Streaming killed off cable TV via cord cutting and that cord cutting didn’t have anything to do with sports on cable TV but with the “unwashed masses” abandoning cable TV en masse it has the side effect of killing off the golden goose. Televised sports which was basically somewhat legalized extortion where the cable companies charged everyone for sports programing whether they wanted it or not.

Which gets us to where we are today - with a glut of televised sports and only so many suitors to broadcast said libraries of content. And we have the CW and ion tv /scripps also entering the fray for live sports broadcasting.

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https://www.si.com/college/byu/football/five-dominoes-that-could-initiate-the-next-conference-realignment-moves

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There’s a lot of homina homina homina and more of the same here - may things collapse quickly as we know is inevitable for that Pac-12

Now for the ACC as referenced in that article, I am not seeing it. They have been thrown a lifeline for cheap by ESPN, though of course ESPN itself is being overhauled and it’s questionable what’s going to happen to that brand because as we know, more streaming with less broadcasting is not the answer to more success in entertainment media as the cord for the legacy cable channels has been cut for good by most.

I know I sure would not want to pay for the same old channels as before even if I were to go back to the cord or dish. Just like ESPN since at least 2006, those channels and most cable shows have been crap for at least a decade.

Consider the contrast in the opinion on the ACC in that article to the following feedback, and contrast the future of that conference to that dying Pac-12.

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Free TV and More Gambling On Football!

CBS, Fox, and NBC certainly have figured out how undervalued were ESPN’s rights for Big Ten games, and it’s noteworthy that Fox owns 61% of the Big Ten Network that few care about outside of the Midwest - until perhaps now with the two schools from Southern California at hand!

Note here all the double-header and triple-header Saturdays for mostly Power 5 college football just on CBS, with NBC shifting Saturday nights to the Big Ten starting in September so as to make all weekend must-see football on broadcast at night for those who are also NCAA fans unlike me.

And the picture for broadcast is far bigger via the expanded college football playoff, which ESPN most definitely will show on ABC anyway.

https://www.si.com/college/2023/04/26/college-football-playoff-talks-tv-rights-expansion-2024-2025

“Given ESPN is the existing CFP media partner, it is likely that, at this point, they are the only entity that can negotiate for the added games in 2024 and 2025 as well as secure some sort of extension for additional years,” says Bob Thompson, the former president of Fox Sports.

The two additional years of expansion are valued at an extra $450 million, according to the contract. But an expanded playoff in an open market could fetch as much as three times the price of its overall current value. The idea that the CFP would not take its lucrative 11-game, 12-team playoff to a bidding market would be somewhat preposterous and generate pushback from many inside the CFP room. Several conference officials, most notably from the Pac-12 and Big Ten, have publicly expressed their desire for an expanded playoff to have multiple broadcasting partners, like the NFL has with its regular season and playoffs.

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Quality of Content On Streaming Now Headed Down The Toilet Not On, But Ahead, of Schedule

Writers’ Strike Taking Aim At Netflix and Comcast

“Netflix’s content pipeline has been blocked, with dozens of projects that were in development or ordered to series as of May 1st unable to move forward until WGA negotiations conclude,” Stiehm wrote to Netflix shareholders. “A delay in the writing, production, and release of new content may impact Netflix’s ability to attract and retain subscribers and viewers just as the company asks customers to watch advertising and pay more for its content.”

It’s a good thing that I don’t pay for Netflix and quite likely never will through at least November 2024. Maybe they have enough left to tide me through the winter?

“The strike’s impact on Comcast’s broadcast lineup has a knock-on effect for its streaming business which relies on a steady flow of new broadcast episodes to populate its platform the day after episodes air on TV,” she added in her letter to Comcast shareholders. “In fact, Peacock gets roughly twice as many new scripted, WGA-covered episodes from in-season NBC content as it does from Peacock’s originals slate.”

Peacock is an absolutely lousy platform that will only worsen and is salvaged by perhaps the NFL, Big Ten Football, and Premier League (HA! - I assure you that the feeds on Pirate Sports Network are at least equal and often better when it’s the Sky feed).

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NBC Sports Philadelphia Regional Sports Networks: Even The Survivors Suck

Well, I used to get these channels via Comcast until November 2021, when I cut the cord after a successful experiment that I had run with T-Mobile Home Internet.

Unless you were into live local Philadelphia sports EXCEPT the NFL’s Eagles, wow what trash they were and for which you were paying over $20 per month on top of your bill for that “regional sports fee.” It was not a choice if you were a cable TV customer.

How bad are even the surviving regional sports networks?

Note in this article from last August how Comcast sold off its regional sports network in Washington, where I also used to live long ago and those channels were also trash.

The Sixers’ season is over. The Phillies are not looking as good as last season. The Flyers …
:roll_eyes:

I suppose since this is Comcast’s original hometown before they bought NBC Universal, they will simply subsidize this crap, but how soon will many more pull that plug?

In my suburban neighbourhood alone, I think almost all of the remaining cable customers have been with Verizon FioS fibre service.

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