Streaming Wars For Live Sports, Entertainment, and Gambling

Interesting from this article:
“Shares of TKO, which also serves as the parent company of UFC, soared more than 20% in early market trading.”

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I received my renewal reminder for late February from Paramount+ today.

Sure enough, they are keeping the price the same for one-year prepaid at $59.99. It’s worth it for the sports and the quality of video. Now to see with whom Paramount could merge here in 2024 and if we’ll be grandfathered into something bigger before the end of 2024 or not.

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Peacock 4Q2023 Results

Please note these numbers are before the recent Taylor Swift bump for the playoff game, from which there are millions of cancellations of service, though these numbers do include the time period of one regular season game on exclusively Peacock in December.

Peacock, the streaming service of Comcast’s entertainment unit NBCUniversal, grew its fourth-quarter revenue by 57 percent to surpass $1 billion for a quarter for the first time, while narrowing its loss. The streamer ended 2023 with 31 million paying subscribers, the media, entertainment and technology giant disclosed Thursday.

That’s some solid subscriber growth and revenue growth in 2023 indeed. So what’s the problem, other than it’s a crappy app?

Well despite the revenue growth, Peacock is losing even more hundreds of millions and at this rate should be approaching again $1B of losses per QUARTER!
:thinking:

NBCU’s loss related to Peacock amounted to $825 million in the fourth quarter, compared with a year-ago loss of $978 million on revenue of $660 million.

How bad is Comcast’s Peacock hole?

The entertainment conglomerate previously had vowed to reach “peak losses” at around $2.8 billion for Peacock in 2023, down from $3 billion previously. On Thursday, it disclosed that the 2023 loss had amounted to $2.75 billion. Peacock’s revenue continued to grow in the latest period and for all of 2023.

Wow, here they are touting high success because instead of losing $3B in four-quarter period, it’s “only” $2.75B now!
:partying_face:

Oh well, I guess Comcast is sticking with Plan A. We’ll see what Peacock tries to pull once their Olympic fuss is over, which to most means ZERO because we’ll just watch another live feed or a replay at night for any given action, such as on YouTube’s highlights.

It’s an election year, so I don’t expect Peacock to try any NFL exclusive until after the election in early November.

More than one member of Congress will be on watch this time around with regards to abuse of the NFL of its antitrust exemption from 1961, which is for on-air games only not streaming.

Now compare Peacock’s massive losses to the competition, who are faring far better:

As legacy media cedes streaming subscriber scale to Netflix, streaming profits have been in focus for Wall Street. For comparison, in its most recent quarter, Warner Bros. Discovery posted a $111 million profit for its direct-to-consumer division that includes Max/Discovery+, while Paramount Global disclosed a $238 million streaming loss and Disney lost $387 million on its Disney+/ESPN+/Hulu combined business.

Note as detailed in the article, as a company Comcast is doing quite well, so they are essentially taking a very heavy loss-leading strategy via Peacock in the US, which is most baffling given the mounting losses in the hundreds of millions per QUARTER.

2024 - The streaming wars are now scuffles.

Numbers tell the story, even if they’re not precise. “About 130”—that’s how many fewer shows Netflix reportedly released last year versus 2022. “Several hundred”—the estimate of how many people Amazon is said to be laying off in the company’s Prime Video and MGM Studios divisions. The number of scripted shows that streaming services plan to release this year is estimated to be around 400, down from a peak of 599 in 2022.

The much-lauded streaming wars are scuffles now—and the winners are few.

And more of the same here as Microsoft just announced its latest layoffs on Friday to go with these already and others reported:

Streaming isn’t the only tech sector making cuts, of course. Amazon is also reportedly making deep cuts to its Twitch streaming service. Google laid off hundreds this week. Video game companies are continuing 2023’s layoff trend this year.

As for what I see already in 2024, I already have far more than I can watch and for cheap.

Free YouTube
The better of free content is still there, but it’s harder to find and not coming at you via changes in the algorithm as opposed to all the crap being pushed at you just like when you had regular cable TV, but now whether or not you have clearly expressed disinterest before. YouTube has decided to go with a clickbait strategy in that “algorithm.”

Live news from channels outside the US makes a big difference in coverage of world events, for you are not listening to 24/7 political campaigning under the guise of “news” like since especially 9/11.

Netflix via FREE Promotion
I am told the next time I watch, I will have to view ads, but hey I have it FREE with my mobile plan and as little as I watch compared to the number of shows of interest sitting on my list, I would not pay for Netflix either.

Paramount+
As noted in a previous post, the only reason to have it is for access to live sports, including the NFL games. They are keeping the price flat for annual renewals, which is a huge plus for keeping the service.

FREE Google Live TV
Incorporating also Pluto TV, the lineup of channels is even better along with even more live niche sports now.

FREE Regular TV
It’s unbelievable the amount of channels that are free and of niche interest akin to Google TV.

FREE TCL TV
There is a whole lineup of free channels here via the manufacturer of my TV that I have yet to tap. Vizio has a lineup of its own as well as probably other manufacturers.

FREE Pirate Sports Network
Wouldn’t it be nice just to have ALL the live sports available in ONE package from ONE source without having to pay for all the other stuff, which I already get for free and have more than I can watch via all of the above? I don’t trust cable companies or Verizon to figure this out in still trying to package those bundles for subscribers who are still leaving them en masse, but somebody will, including perhaps the leagues themselves.

Until then, my options via Pirate Sports Network continue to be higher in quality though it can be rougher at times to sail through the heavy water so as to capture yar signal. Arrrggh.

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With Skydance being a much smaller company than Paramount, Ellison purportedly plans to finance the deal with help from Skydance’s investors, including his father and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, as well as private equity firms RedBird Capital Partners and KKR.

Paramount is believed to have a valuation of close to US$10 billion and is a profitable business. However, it is said to be open to a sale amid declining cable revenues and the necessary costs associated with adapting to the streaming era of entertainment and competing with the likes of Netflix and Disney.

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Media Downsizing In 2024, Not Merely Consolidation of Media Including Streaming

Below is an excellent article that follows the developments in the general streaming industry not only looking for consolidation, but also for downsizing.

If one goes back only three years to early 2021, streaming was supposed to be the dominant future for screen viewing of any video lasting five minutes longer than a clip on TikTok. That mindset carried on until even one year ago when 2023 was supposed to be THE YEAR for streaming to break even or whatever.

By May of 2023 in this thread, not unique in my view by any means, I had figured that we had hit peak streaming in March 2023:

From the following article

The news that leaders of Paramount Global have had at least one informal discussion with WB Discovery has so far generated a collective shrug from Wall Street and groans from insiders at both shops. The prospect that Comcast might jump into the mix as it considers options for NBCU has added intrigue but not much excitement. Paramount Global, NBCU and WB Discovery in varying degrees are suffering from the same problem: The onetime bedrocks of their businesses — cable TV channels and box office receipts — are shrinking. In this scenario, it’s hard to find the long-term rationale for bringing together loss-generating streamers and aging cable channels, as would be the case for any combination among Paramount Global, WB Discovery and NBCU.

Let’s just state quite simply the current view from Wall Street by December 2023, as paraphrased,
“You all have a bunch of bad new businesses now losing billions of dollars in addition to existing businesses losing vast sums even before cord cutting started all the more in especially 2021. You no longer have the luxury of an entire new year to figure this out.”

But wait, THERE’S MORE!, including this analysis of what could be the makings of the first merger between media firms to including major streaming liabilities:

The bigger-versus-better conundrum helps explain why Paramount Global is also the focus of stealth discussions between David Ellison’s Skydance Media and Paramount Global parent company National Amusements Inc. (NAI). Skydance, a much smaller entity formed in 2010 by a well-heeled entrepreneur with big Hollywood ambitions, isn’t saddled with the same problem of figuring out what to do with legacy assets. But it’s highly unlikely that Skydance would pay a premium for everything under the Paramount umbrella, as is typically the case when a smaller entity buys a larger one. A source close to the situation emphasizes that discussions to date have been held at the NAI level and thus a layer removed from Paramount itself. However, NAI’s financial strain has been exacerbated by Paramount’s move in May 2023 to slash its quarterly dividend (from 24 cents a share to 5 cents) for the first time in more than 10 years as it faced headwinds from losses racked up by Paramount+, a weak advertising climate, general economic uncertainty and the start of what would prove to be a five-month strike by the Writers Guild of America. It was the perfect storm that has, by multiple accounts, forced Redstone to seriously consider parting with some or all of NAI’s controlling stake in Paramount.

And look at this number on merely the content costs that will NOT be recouped even before we get to the mounting losses in hundreds of millions per QUARTER!

Players across the spectrum, including Disney, Paramount, WB Discovery and NBCU, as well as Netflix and others, have been through a hard year of cuts as they realign streaming business plans to meet lowered expectations. According to an analysis from Morgan Stanley, the largest media conglomerates have written off some $8 billion in content costs over the past 18 months that will never be recouped. Call it the Peak TV hangover.

And I agree with conclusion in the final paragraph here, which in an election year can be said for many industries as much investment is simply waiting for a rapid decline in interest rates, which all the same could be forestalled in great part until after the election.

The traditional media biz is ripe for consolidation, argues Kevin Westcott, Deloitte’s U.S. tech, media and telecom leader. He predicts deal activity will pick up if interest rates keep going down and the broader macroeconomic clouds that darkened 2023 clear up.

“There’s a ton of money sitting on the sidelines looking for investments,” Westcott says. “I think everybody’s sitting on their dry powder and saying, ‘Let’s see where the economy is going.’”

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YouTube Is Making The Billions Others Are Losing In Streaming

In a blowout quarter, YouTube saw its advertising revenue soar to $9.2 billion in Q4 of 2023, up from just below $8 billion in the year prior and the quarter prior, and in line with what Wall Street was expecting.

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Universal Music Group (UMG) Removes All Content from TikTok In Legal Spat

So this news hit yesterday, and it represents a landmark moment for the music industry in this millennium. Apparently UMG represents about 32% of the popular artists worldwide.

At issue is also the use of AI on the TikTok platform so as to generate new content from copyrighted content.

Rick Beato, musician, guitarist, professor, songwriter, and producer has had a popular channel on YouTube for years, and he summarizes the dispute as well as shared something I did not know.

Apparently many of those with popular channels on YouTube are paid a pittance on Instagram and TikTok. All around, very few with social media channels make considerable money with respect to the vast amount of time involved.

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Well, no doubt many who did sign up for Peacock just to watch a playoff game are cancelling as expected, and let’s just say the temperature out there is HOT.

Look at this site where people are simply raging with their reviews:

Having difficulty in cancellation of service was an issue for quite some time.

Another subscription service Sirius XM satellite radio, for example, had to revise its procedures for cancellation in light of legal action by the state on behalf of a massive class of irate consumers in New York.

I found out all that about Sirius XM because I am a customer, and earlier this week I renewed once again at the lowest price after initially moving to cancellation. The process via a chat representative was easy. Any more in 2024, I don’t know why it’s not a requirement to have CHAT for customer service instead of the damn phone. It certainly took companies far too long to have routine customer service via chat.

More than $8 per month is too much for such a service that many customers only use when driving, which now grades worse than ever for its music content and frequency and quality of commercials. I keep Sirius XM simply for the live sports and a few of the sports talk shows more than the music now.

I’m think more than likely Peacock will improve their procedures too as will many services in the industry who don’t want to court ready legal action due to onerous difficulty by consumers for cancellation of service.

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As if right on cue from Wall Street, though via a different act, here we are in February 2024 already!

Essentially three of the big names in media have joined forces to form a venture for a single streaming app so as to leave Paramount / CBS and Comcast / Peacock as the odd ones out - for now.

Fox Corporation announced it is partnering with fellow media titans Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery for a new joint sports streaming platform.

The unnamed platform will streamline sports content that airs on the networks owned by the three companies, including ESPN, ESPN2, ABC, FOX, FS1, FS2, BTN, TNT, TBS, and truTV.

“We’re pumped to bring the FOX Sports portfolio to this new and exciting platform,” Fox Corporation Executive Chair and CEO Lachlan Murdoch said in a press release. “We believe the service will provide passionate fans outside of the traditional bundle an array of amazing sports content all in one place.”

If this works out, with much to do in the meantime, Fox will have played out streaming strategy the best by investing far lower amounts in Fox’s free streaming service, Tubi, instead of losing billions more as have all the other major media firms.

Fox, Disney, and Warner Brothers Discovery each will own one-third of the new venture.

There will be a standalone app for the new service. Subscribers to ESPN+, Hulu and Max also have access to the service.

Integration of existing subscribers of these three services should be interesting.

As of two weeks ago, I learned that I have free access to Hulu via T-Mobile phone and internet service, but I have not bothered to sign up yet because there’s nothing on regular Hulu without the live sports that I want to watch. So we shall see what comes next when this new app is launched.

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Disney Makes Its Bold Moves Already, February 2024

We are already a long way away from Disney’s woes in the summer of 2023 when it was courting “strategic partners” for ESPN.

Well via the previous post, Disney did find two valuable distribution partners for ESPN+.

But more importantly, I think Disney has figured out they don’t need a partner for ESPN, or for their entire streaming operation, any more. Here’s why.

Credit must go to Disney for making some bold moves and sweeping changes after losing billions in streaming, including over a million subscribers to Disney+ in 4Q2023.

https://www.reuters.com/business/media-telecom/disney-tops-earnings-forecast-hikes-dividend-by-50-2024-02-07/

Disney reaffirmed guidance that its streaming business would reach profitability by September. It reduced streaming operating losses to $138 million in the quarter, a dramatic improvement over a year ago, when it lost nearly $1 billion. The average monthly revenue per Disney+ user, outside of India, rose 14 cents.

The Disney+ streaming service shed 1.3 million subscribers, nearly double the loss of 700,000 that analysts forecast, after an October price increase.

The new and broader strategy for streaming includes not only the joint venture with Fox and WBD as announced late 6 February, but also the following that perhaps will become a new crown jewel for Disney:

Iger also offered details about the long-anticipated streaming launch of the flagship ESPN sports network, which would be bundled with Disney+ and Hulu, and integrate features such as ESPN Bet, fantasy sports and e-commerce. He said it is likely to launch in August 2025.

Essentially, Disney is taking under its own roof what was formerly most valuable in its cable TV and satellite presence until after the onset of the pandemic in 2020 into about 1Q2021, after which time cord cutting accelerated.

Disney is essentially splitting away all of ESPN and live sports on its media properties, PLUS adding ESPN Bet, to essentially replace the content framework that prevailed and profited the most before cord cutting at the cable and satellite companies AND to integrate a new gambling operation into it!

In doing so, Disney controls far more of the distribution than ever AND keeps much more of the profits of subscriptions without so much reliance on merely cable and satellite companies, PLUS now they run a casino they own that will be integrated far better into to the same ESPN brand.

Previously to such a move, the streaming framework thought to be able to make profits was via merely Disney’s non-sports properties with everything else left the same on cable plus disappointing ESPN+, but look where we have been with losses of billions to date.

This is what happens when you have too many former cable executives in a room who are making plans for new technology for distribution of content. They can’t let go of the one who brought them to the dance. Never mind - consumers revolted en masse and in the majority by the summer of 2022.

Disney is betting massively that live sports and gambling via ESPN delivered directly will be the game changer, and with massive programming changes on ESPN including simply to showcase LIVE SPORTS, instead of trying to be an be-all end-all American culture brand, plus integration with gambling, I am optimistic.

Even so the proposed launch is not until August 2025, which seems like an unduly long time as opposed to say, 1 May 2025.
:face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Disney has no time to waste to act more after all these bold plans, for the time is literally hundreds of millions per quarter of losses in streaming even as other Disney businesses are doing well.

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The ONLY reasons this is happening is due to the following:

  1. Amazon Prime delivers a far better NFL production than do ANY other NFL media AND

  2. Peacock’s production and stream is NOT up to modern standards because PEACOCK SUCKS! EAT IT TOO COMCAST AND MIKE TIRICO YOU CORPORATE PUPPET!

Now after seeing the model for a playoff game tested, indeed the NFL knows better how to cash in with a better offering that is in use on Thursday nights during the regular season.

The game is the same game that streamed on NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service last month, garnering 23 million viewers. A source says that Amazon earned the right to secure the game thanks to a performance trigger in its deal with the league.

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Interesting the CW and their new programing with an emphasis on sports. Granted they don’t get the top notch ACC games but they do get games and today they had LIV golf on followed by an ACC double header. Then they are also picking up the lower tier NASCAR races - and if they keep picking up value broadcast properties they should be okay.

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Super Bowl Halftime Show Selection and Production

Here’s a music industry expert Rick Beato, and then some, with some feedback on how the show is produced and why any given performer has been selected over the years.

He also covers what continues to change in the music industry, including with especially Generation Z.

If you would rather not have a look at things behind the curtain for the sake of the Super Bowl halftime show or similar public performances, this video is not for you.

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From the article, and thank you for sharing:

The company has been bleeding money, particularly within its streaming business. Although losses have narrowed, Paramount still reported a direct-to-consumer (DTC) loss of $238 million in the third quarter.

Oh I think I am going to be fine with a renewal at the same price for an annual subscription, but that might be the last one before they hike rates.

Paramount has been dithering to merge the service with another beyond merely Showtime (access only for a premium though, and who cares?!), which was already under the Paramount umbrella, in 2023.

Right now, the UEFA Champions League via the CBS studio in London is even better. Paramount has done well with these rights since the spring of 2020, and those rights are in place through June 2030.

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The timing of the following deal for the College Football Playoff is telling with regards to the timeline of ESPN’s final year under the new 12-team format, which falls in December 2025 and January 2026.

Disney’s plans at such time are to have two different streaming services that allow access to ESPN channels, with one of those outlined above as direct to consumer with the initial projection for launch in August 2025 just in time for the new college football season.

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The Too Long Did Not Read version is that Peacock did not make the cut because PEACOCK SUCKS!

It amazes me how so many other media beat around the bush on this front, but let’s face it, the sports media in the US are largely still an oligopoly with even the sports blogs bought up by big media years ago or like Outkick, in 2021 by Fox, as well as Pat McAfee in 2023 by Disney / ESPN.

There’s a certain streamer on the market that features the NFL, Premier League, Big Ten Conference, PGA Tour, WWE, Notre Dame football, two legs of horse racing’s Triple Crown, and several other top sports properties. And the platform, as well as sister broadcast network NBC, was not invited to be part of the dramatic sports streaming joint venture unveiled last week involving ESPN, Warner Bros. Discovery, and Fox, leaving big questions on both sides.

Comcast, the NBCUniversal parent whose Peacock service offers one of the broadest sets of sports programming of any streamer, has steadfastly refused to comment on the new effort involving several of its top rivals. But the company’s role, or lack thereof, in this streaming rebundling is noteworthy on multiple levels. Not only does Peacock have some of the industry’s top sports content, but it is also aligned with the country’s largest cable carrier—with that status now further threatened by the new bundle’s overt attempt to reach cord-cutters and cord-nevers.

This Front Office author Eric Fisher is a hack for Comcast, or otherwise he’d mention the serious performance issues well know all along to customers.

There is no grand mystery here as Fisher implies, and this development by Disney to target also all cable subscribers is anything but new in the industry as he also implies, for T-Mobile has done just that since successfully 2021 with its subscribers, including most especially from Comcast.

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Ha ha look at this one month after that corporate dolt and company man Mike Tirico recorded that “Peacock Greatness” scripted speech at halftime only for Comcast and NBC to be put in their real place by the NFL a week ago, with the playoff streaming game going to Amazon in January 2025.

You bet Comcast is talking to Paramount now.

And if they do a deal, Peacock will be history after this year much as was NBCSN in 2021, for they both SUCKED because that’s what Comcast does more than any other other of the major media firms.

As if only the NFL knows this!

We shall see, for these are only early talks as both services continue to lose hundreds of millions per quarter.

Hopefully I am grandfathered into something better for 2025 via Paramount or the venture if something is done by these two firms.

The two companies already are JV partners for European streaming service SkyShowtime. Established in 2021, it’s designed as a streaming service for both Comcast and Paramount Global that targets European markets that weren’t already being served by Peacock or Paramount+.

Peacock had 31 million subscribers at the end of 2023, adding about 3 million in the fourth quarter. As of September 2023, Paramount+ reached more than 63 million global subscribers, gaining a net 2.7 million in the third quarter. (Paramount Global is slated to report fourth-quarter 2023 earnings Feb. 28 after the market closes.)

Separately, earlier this week Paramount Global announced a round of companywide layoffs that will result in about 800 staffers being let go.

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Wal-Mart Enters The Smart TV Business With Its Existing Advertising Business

Oh I think they see themselves as getting a small piece of Amazon’s vast action, so look at this US $2.3B purchase!

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