When even veteran network TV programmer Garth Ancier cuts the cable cord, you take notice. He explains why he did, on TalkingTech.
“Let’s get ready to bundle!!!”
That’s how famed ring announcer Michael Buffer might weigh in on the ongoing—and sure to intensify–rumble in the tech and media space, particularly as it amounts to video streaming, and its likely impact on cord cutters.
“The Information” reported this week that Apple is considering an ambitious subscription offering that would encompass the company’s original TV shows—remember, none other than Oprah is now in the fold–along with Apple Music, magazine articles, and iCloud storage.
If and when such a service comes to be, it would position Apple to challenge Amazon Prime, and other top streaming video rivals, Netflix and Hulu.
Just days ago AT&T launched its first post Time Warner-merger video offering called WatchTV, which you can stream on an Android or iOS smartphone or tablet app, the Chrome and Safari web browsers and on Apple TV, Roku and Google Chromecast.
This so-called “skinny bundle” has more than 30 live streaming channels and more than 15,000 TV shows and movies on demand, and is free to consumers under two new AT&T unlimited plans, starting at $70 for a single line. For everyone else, WatchTV costs $15 monthly.
AT&T as the owner of DirecTV already offered the DirecTV Now service for cord-cutters who demand a larger and broader set of channels, at $35 a month on up.
Other competitive consumer bundles that already exist include Dish Network’s Sling TV, and Sony’s PlayStation Vue.
And you thought untangling cord-cutting options would be easy.
The millions of consumers who want to ditch pay -TV — or choose pay TV on the go – are getting a taste of what streaming choices may look like in the next few years.
The positive, of course, is that you’ll need indeed have numerous bundles to choose from. But that’s also a potential negative, since such a smorgasbord only invites confusion, especially as you try to hunt down which services offer the channels and programs you most want to watch, and determine what you’re willing to pay to watch them.
As in any high stakes fight there’ll be winners and losers. Falling on the canvas this week was Verizon, which announced it will be shutting down go90, an ad-supported mobile video service that never quite found its mark.
Verizon may still be reckoned with. Under its Oath division, it controls AOL and Yahoo, and has a strong streaming presence in live mobile sports, notably through the NFL.
Our national obsession with streaming brings another unfortunate downside, however: with so many ways to binge video on the go, distracted driving appears to be reaching epidemic levels, as in October 2017, when a truck driver killed a motorcycle driver and injured his sister, who was riding with him, in central Pennsylvania, apparently because he was watching an NFL game on his phone and texting while the wheel.
It’s why Georgia became the most recent state to enact a law to crack down on motorists who stream video.
In other tech news this week
—The state of California passed the nation’s toughest online privacy law, a possible model for the other 49 states. It takes effect in January 2020. The law gives consumers the right to know what personal information companies are collecting and why and with which businesses it’s being shared. Consumers can ask companies to delete their information and not to sell it. And the law restricts sharing or selling the data of children younger than 16.
— Police said they were able to identify the suspected killer in Maryland’s Capital Gazette shooting using facial identification technology, an increasingly popular tool for law enforcement that’s been embroiled in controversy as civil libertarians warn about the risks of misuse. The fear, as Marco della Cava and Elizabeth Weise point out, is potential misuse.
—Google is taking a tougher stance on workplace harassment following a nearly year-long campaign of bullying and intimidation set off by the firing of Google engineer James Damore. The new rules, which USA TODAY got to review, aim to curb online attacks and internal conflict, particularly over the highly charged issue of diversity at the company.
—African-Americans are likely to face longer wait times for a taxi in Los Angeles, and have a greater chance of being canceled on than whites, Asians and Hispanics, according to a new study released last week from UCLA. Blacks also faced longer wait times and more cancellations with Lyft and Uber, though far less so than with taxis,
—It’s finally over. Seven years after it began, Apple and Samsung settled a high stakes patent dispute in what was one of Silicon Valley’s most-watched legal fights, a battle that at one time even reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but only last month, a jury decided that Samsung must pay Apple $539 billion, in damages for copying patented design and utility features in the original iPhone.
—Apple released the public beta of iOS 12 last week, the software at the core of the next iPhone and iPad, and if you choose to eventually upgrade, the iPhone and/or iPad you already own. You can install the software at beta.apple.com, though as we point out, doing so at this stage carries risks. iOS 12 adds a variety of features to your Apple devices, ranging from Screen Time limits for you or your kids, to promised leaps in performance. And if you have Apple’s AirPods, you can exploit a Live Listen feature that can turn those wireless buds into a hearing aid of sorts.Google announced its Duplex technology
—Back in May, Google unveiled Duplex, technology built on artificial intelligence, that allows the Google Assistant to make human-sounding phone callsto make restaurant reservations and haircut appointments. We got to try Duplex this week at a Thai restaurant in New York City, and were impressed by our inability to trick the system.
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