This week saw the return of NFL Network and NFL RedZone to Sling TV, pricing and launch details for Sony’s PlayStation 5, and new premium subscription options available through The Roku Channel. Elsewhere during this busy week of streaming and cord cutting news, Apple unveiled a new subscription plan that bundles several of its services, including Apple TV+, and AT&T confirmed it’s working on a lower-cost, ad-supported tier for HBOMax.
Sling TV Brings Back NFL Network and NFL RedZone
The 2020 NFL season is officially in full swing and we highlighted some of the coverage we’ve put together both on our YouTube channel and here on our site. And during the first weekend of the season, Sling TV announced a big update to its lineup: namely the return of NFL Network and NFL RedZone to the live TV streaming service.
If you’ve been following this story over the past few months, you might remember Sling removed the NFL channels from its service back in June after it failed to reach an agreement with NFL Media. When that cut happened, Sling said it would continue to work on a new agreement. And sure enough, a new deal was announced during the first full weekend of games.
AT&T Confirms HBO Max Lower Priced Ad-Supported Tier
In HBOMax news, we’ve reported in recent weeks about AT&T possibly working on an ad-supported tier for its new streaming service. This week, AT&T’s John Stankey confirmed the rumors, telling Bloomberg that a lower-cost, ad-supported option is indeed being planned for a launch sometime in spring 2021.
The earlier reports we saw mention that subscribers on that lower tier would see a maximum of four minutes of ads per hour for episodic content like TV shows. Meanwhile, movie watchers would see a max of two minutes of ads per hour.
But there’s still plenty to discover about this new option like, say, how much it’ll cost. Stankey confirmed the ad-supported option will indeed be cheaper than the current $14.99 monthly price tag, but we haven’t heard exact pricing just yet. He also mentioned that some HBO content will remain ad-free and will only be available on the more expensive plan. That’s similar to the approach NBCUniversal is taking with the paid and free tiers of its Peacock streaming service.
Roku Launched a New Lineup of Premium Subscriptions
Over in the land of Roku, the streaming platform added a few more premium subscription options that you can access via the company’s Roku Channel. In all, we’ve got five more premium options to choose from, and each of these services come with some sort of free trial.
Some, like Sundance Now and True Royalty give you a free week, while IFC Films Unlimited and Fox Nation offer up 30 days for free. If you want to learn more about these new premium memberships, you can click on the link below.
Sony PlayStation 5 Launches on Nov. 12 for $499.99, Digital Edition Priced at $399.99
In hardware news, if you’re looking for a capable streaming device that, I guess, plays some video games too, we’ve learned a whole bunch about preorder and launch plans for both the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series S and X consoles.
Last week, Microsoft announced pricing and launch plans for its two next-gen consoles. And Sony followed suit with an online event of its own this week. So there will be two versions of the PlayStation 5, but unlike the Xbox line (where the lower-cost option is also less powerful), the only meaningful difference between the two PS5s is the 4K Blu-ray disc drive.
The one with the drive will cost $499 and the drive-free Digital Edition will run for $399. In North America, the consoles will launch on November 12th. And Sony tweeted after is Sept. 16th online event that preorders at various retailers would begin the following day, on Sept. 17th.
However, lots of retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, Target, and GameStop started accepting preorders that same day, leading to a lot of confusion, and in some cases, overwhelmed websites.
Next-Gen Xbox Preorders Start at 11AM ET/8AM PT Sept. 22, PS5 Preorders Underway
On the Xbox front, Microsoft also shared more precise timing about its own preorder plans. It had initially announced preorders would start on September 22nd, but this week, it pinpointed 8AM PT, 11AM ET on September 22nd for preorders to go live at a wide range or retailers, including Microsoft Store, Amazon, Best Buy, GameStop, Walmart, Target, and more. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see how that process goes, but having exact timing is nice at least.
This is the Trailer: Get Your First Look at The Mandalorian’s Season 2
This week also saw the release of an official trailer for season two of The Mandalorian, Disney+’s breakout star wars show. We get some decent glimpses of the show’s sophomore season and it’ll be interesting to see how the show will attempt to build upon its initial success. The first episode of season two will drop on Friday, October 30th and, like the first season and like traditional TV shows in general, new episodes will arrive on a weekly basis on subsequent Fridays.
In the mean time, feel free to pick apart this new two-minute trailer for any details and morsels of storylines. And you won’t have too much longer to wait, the October 30th season premiere is just 6 weeks away.
Apple Officially Announces Apple One Bundles
During its online product showcase, Apple unveiled updates to its Apple Watch and iPad lines. But perhaps the most interesting part for streaming service fans is a new bundled option for the company’s various services and plans. We’ve been reporting on rumors of these bundles and Apple made it official with its announcement of Apple One, which includes up to six of the company’s subscription services in one plan.
Of course, you can’t have a subscription plan these days without having various tiers to choose from and that’s the case here as well. At the lowest-cost level, Apple has the Individual plan, which includes its Apple TV+ streaming service, along with Apple Music, Apple Arcade and 50GB of iCloud Storage. Other options include the Family plan and the top-end Premier plan.
Apple says you can save up to $25 per month compared to buying all these services individually. Apple One will be available in the fall and it’ll be interesting to see how these bundles affect Apple TV+ user counts. Those currently on the fence about adding the streaming service might be much more inclined if it’s bundled with other services they’re also interested in, which could have a big effect on the service’s subscriber base. Time will tell.
ViacomCBS Will Rebrand CBS All Access as Paramount+ in 2021
This week also saw ViacomCBS officially announce Paramount+, an upcoming rebrand of the company’s existing CBS All Access streaming service. The revamped service will include content from the company’s extensive library, including brands like MTV, BET, and Comedy Central — and, of course, movies from Paramount Pictures.
As a side note, this week’s topical deep dive focuses on another ViacomCBS streaming service: Pluto TV. If you want to know more about that free streaming option, and how this new Paramount+ service might affect Pluto TV, feel free to click this link.
fuboTV Tweaks Cloud DVR, Family Share Options
It was a busy week for fuboTV as well. The live TV streaming service updated some of its features, removing the 500-hour Cloud DVR option and replacing it with a smaller 250-hour add-on that runs for $9.99 per month. It also added a 1,000-hour choice at $16.99 per month. Now, for the plans that used to include the 500-hour DVR as standard, like the Family Plans, those now get what’s known as Cloud DVR 250.
Meanwhile, the company also added a new Family Share tier it’s calling Family Share Max. So now, the service offers a standard two simultaneous screens, a $5.99-per-month 3-screen Family Share add-on and now the 5-screen Family Share Max plan at $9.99 per month.
fuboTV Launches New Elite Bundle
On top of all that, fuboTV also started offering what it’s calling the Elite plan. That’s the new name for the company’s top-tier plan and it retails for $79.99 per month. For that monthly price, you get 157 channels, the top-end Cloud DVR with 1,000 hours of storage, plus the Family Share Max add-on for up to five screens at once.