It’s officially October and it’s been a busy week for cord cutting and streaming news. We’ve got new hardware announcements from both Roku and Google. And the two companies are also bringing some new software features to users as well. Meanwhile, we now know when Amazon will host its Prime Day shopping event, and at least one analyst thinks Netflix could be due to raise prices soon.
Here are some of the top streaming stories from the past week.
Roku’s New Gear Includes an Updated Ultra, 2-in-1 Streambar
Roku kicked off this week’s news bright and early Monday morning with a few announcements. First up was the reveal of an updated Roku Ultra. That’s their top-end streaming box and this latest version adds in Dolby Vision HDR support, improved performance and more. Like the Ultra it replaces, this new 2020 model retails for $99.99 and it’s available to preorder, with shipping expected on October 15th.
The other big Roku hardware announcement was a new 2-in-1 StreamBar. The device is both a traditional, if compact, soundbar unit, combined with a Roku streaming device. The Streambar is also available for preorder, going for $129.99 on Roku’s site, and it’s expected to ship on October 15th.
Roku Shared New App and Software News Too
Roku also had some software news to share this week, including the latest version of its operating system: Roku OS. The company says version 9.4 should offer up new ways to access content and it should bring some performance improvements as well.
It should also enable Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support. Roku TV users will have direct access to The Roku Channel’s live TV guide from the home screen, and if you have the company’s audio gear, you’ll be able to fine tune volume levels for, say, rear surround speakers, to better customize your experience.
Speaking of the Roku Channel, the company is also rolling out a dedicated mobile app that’s designed to offer free and premium content. The new app is available on both iOS and Android devices and allows users of those platforms to access live and on-demand content. And if you sign up for premium subscriptions via a Roku device or on The Roku Channel website, you’ll be able to view that content as well.
Google’s New Chromecast Finally Breaks Cover
Elsewhere Google finally, finally made official what we’ve known and reported on for a long while now. Yep, the new Chromecast with Google TV is actually official and on sale now. It’s an HDMI streaming dongle that looks fairly similar to previous Chromecast entries, but it’s packing a special flavor of Android TV that’s going by the name of Google TV. And it also comes with a dedicated remote control. At $49.99, it’s priced extremely aggressively and it should be a strong seller as we head into the holiday shopping season.
YouTube TV is Dropping Fox Regional Sports Networks This Week
In streaming news, YouTube TV announced that it’s dropping Fox regional sports networks as of October. The service had stuck a deal with Sinclair earlier this year to carry those networks, but the contract was set to expire and as of October 1st, those regional sports networks are no longer on offer.
Pluto TV Adds New Channels and Some Old Favorites
Over at Pluto TV, the free streaming service is adding more channels to its lineup, including the return of a couple old favorites. Both the One Day at a Time and the 007 channels are back, so you can either follow along with the Emmy-winning sitcom, or check out James Bond’s various exploits. Beyond those two, Pluto TV is also options like a channel dedicated to Beverly Hills 90210, although you’ll also be able to catch episodes of Melrose Place as well.
Disney’s Mulan Coming to Vudu and FandangoNOW on Tuesday
You’ll soon have more options to catch the live-action version of Mulan. The film will be available on Vudu and Fandango Now starting on Tuesday, October 6th. It’ll still cost $29.99 to view, but soon, non-Disney+ members will have access as well
GroupWatch Feature Coming to US Disney+ Subscribers
Disney+ is expanding its take on the watch party feature. After testing its GroupWatch option abroad, the new feature is now available to the US. It’s available on desktop, mobile, streaming devices, and smart TVs. And up to seven people can join in on the shared viewing experience. The host will be given a link that they can then share with friends and family and then they can join in.
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Confirmed: Amazon Prime Day Set for October 13 – 14
In extreme shopping news, we now know when Amazon will host its annual online shopping event, otherwise known as Prime Day. The now-multi day event was pushed back a bit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Amazon has officially designated October 13th and 14th as this year’s Prime Day(s).
And be sure to follow along at Cord Cutters News, where we’ll be covering Prime Day and alerting you when key deals go live throughout the two days.
Sign Up for YouTube TV and get a New Chromecast with Google TV
For a limited time, Google is offering a new Chromecast with Google TV if you sign up for YouTube TV. So, your initial monthly payment of $64.99 would net you a month of YouTube TV and the new Chromecast (a $49.99 value).
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A Netflix Price Increase Soon? Maybe!
At least one analyst thinks we’re due for a Netflix price hike sometime soon. Jefferies analyst Brent Thill shared a note to clients where he estimates Netflix could take in somewhere between $500 million and $1 billion in extra revenue next year if it bumped up prices by a dollar or two across its plans.
And while such an increase might lead to a drop in international subscribers, Thill predicts most will stay signed on, especially as the pandemic amplifies our streaming habits. However, we haven’t heard of any official announcement from Netflix, so this remains a prediction for now.