Offering low-cost to free entertainment is what Americans need

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WarnerMedia is facing a pricing conundrum as it enters an already crowded streaming entertainment space.

The company is expected to launch its highly-awaited video service for between $16 and $17 a month, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. The offering is expected to include HBO and Cinemax, as well as other franchise content including D.C. and Harry Potter TV shows and movies. It is slated for beta release later this year and should be fully operational by March 2020, the WSJ wrote.

The company is also reportedly mulling an ad-supported plan which would lower the cost of the service. …

The company is competing against new services, movies and series — but its biggest challenge is fighting for customer time.

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Amazon Prime Video

As more streaming services like Disney+ and WarnerMedia launch for viewers, Amazon Studios is finding it has to do more to stay top-of-mind for customers.

“At the end of the day we’re competing for customer’s time, and so it’s up to us to make sure that our customers realize we’ve got shows that are relevant, interesting, and high quality,” Amazon Studios head of marketing Mike Benson told Cheddar. “Whether we’re competing with another streaming service or a broadcast network, we’re competing for people’s time.”

This year, there will be more than 500 original scripted series going into production, Benson pointed out. …

Google’s parent company is working to stop hateful web chatter in time for the EU elections.

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Jeff Chiu/AP/Shutterstock

With the world so connected, people are communicating more than ever. Being able to hide behind a username gives anonymity, which also lets individuals write things they probably wouldn’t say in person.

Google parent company Alphabet wants to help stop online toxicity and make the Internet a more welcoming place. Its Jigsaw division works on monitoring online conversations and giving people the tools to control their experience. On Wednesday, it is releasing French-language capabilities to monitor online conversations. The update will come just in time for the 2019 European Union parliamentary elections.

“Today’s world is extremely polarized,” Jigsaw’s head of partnerships and business development Patricia Georgiou told Cheddar. “We really believe if people can have non toxic conversations and share different perspectives, maybe they can understand the point of view of the other person and help potentially depolarize the landscape and society.” …

The company is betting big on updated user controls, partnerships and free ad-supported content.

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Amazon Fire TV now has 34 million monthly active users who watch streaming content using its devices.

It’s a rapid rise for Amazon’s streaming media devices. One of its top rivals, Roku , reported it had 29.1 million active accounts during its latest earnings report in March. Both Roku and Amazon measure users and accounts in similar ways, meaning that several people in one household use one account.

With Fire TV rumored to be adding more free ad-supported content, the company is encroaching on Roku’s dominance in the ad-supported streaming space. It’s also partnering with Amazon Prime Video competitors like YouTube and Disney+ to bring their content to TVs using its devices, while bolstering its user interface with Alexa voice controls and other updates. …

The company will use its first-party shopper information to show relevant ads to video viewers.

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Walmart made its billions as a shopping giant. Now it wants brands to think of it as an advertising powerhouse.

Walmart’s Vudu held its first NewFront in New York on Wednesday. The NewFronts are annual presentations digital media companies hold for marketers previewing upcoming content and advertising opportunities.

What makes advertising with Vudu especially interesting is it is letting marketers leverage information on Walmart shoppers. Starting July 1, Vudu will launch Vudu Audience Extension. This will allow marketers to target potential customers using Walmart’s own first party sales data. The company estimates it will be able to reach more than 50 percent of U.S. households based on its information. …

Neuro-Insight believes its neuroscience analysis can predict what will make you want to buy something, before you realize it yourself.

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Figuring out whether people will commit crimes in the future may be science fiction, but one company says it can tell what makes a person want to buy something even if they don’t realize it themselves by reading their brains.

“$500 billion is spent (by companies on market research), most of them relying on brands asking consumers if they would buy the product,” said Neuro-Insight U.S. CEO Pranav Yadav. “Our company tries to access the subconscious human motivators of decision making and help companies understand consumer minds.”

Much of advertising relies on focus groups and other types of market research. Neuro-Insight believes it can get further insight by using brain scans. And while it can’t forewarn about misconduct like science-fiction movie “Minority Report,” Yadav believes its models are the closest to predictive marketing and the best among a growing field of neuromarketing companies. …

Streaming companies like Netflix should be afraid of the big, bad mouse.

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“The Simpsons” Disney+ Trailer

Disney’s marquee streaming service, set to launch later this year, could quickly become the entertainment industry leader, derailing rivals like Netflix by offering customers some of the most beloved characters and recognizable titles for a lower price.

The new service, Disney+, will launch in the United States on Nov. 12 for as low as $6.99 a month, or $69.99 for the year — less than Netflix’s basic, non-HD $8.99 plan.

By adding Disney+ to its existing streaming services, which include ESPN+ and majority-owned Hulu, Disney aims to dominate the shift to online platforms by ensuring consumers will have access to its content wherever they are, and for generations to come. …

The TV company discussed Hollywood’s need to include different perspectives at its AMC Networks Summit.

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Sandra Oh at the 2019 Golden Globe Awards.

In an effort to convince advertisers to spend more money on its prestige programming, AMC Networks is highlighting the need for diversity and inclusion on television to stand out in today’s crowded media landscape.

At the company’s second annual AMC Networks Summit — a series of panels featuring stars and creators from AMC, BBC America, IFC and SundanceTV — the TV company skipped sizzle reels for discussions with its stars and creators about the issues minorities face when being cast in lead roles, the need for new voices from different perspectives, and where the boundaries in comedy should lie. …

Amazon wants the amount of money that ad buyers would give large cable networks, but not all buyers are convinced.

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Amazon exec Peter Larsen introduces the first Amazon Fire TV in 2014. (Photo: Diane Bondareff/Invision/AP)

Amazon is planning a vast expansion of its free streaming service on its Fire TV devices and has asked marketers to commit millions of dollars to support new channels and expanded content offerings, multiple people who held discussions with the company told Cheddar.

The company has talked to executives at media companies and advertising agencies about its plans to include more ad-supported streaming channels to compete with Roku and Pluto TV, which offer free access to TV shows and movies with commercials.

Advertisers are reluctant to pledge millions of dollars before they know what content Amazon would make available on the new channels, sources said. Some buyers said Amazon is asking for as much as a large cable network for advertising commitments. Since contracts for shows and movies to appear on the new services Amazon is planning are still being negotiated, there’s little guaranteed programming to advertise against. …

The company officially announced new subscription plans for TV, news, magazines and gaming — but details were scant.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook

After months of rumors, Apple announced a big expansion of its services business on Monday. But it stopped short of announcing critical details that could turn curious fans into actual subscribers.

The company announced several products, including a news and magazine service, a gaming subscription plan, and its highly-awaited video streaming service. It also unveiled an Apple Pay credit card in partnership with Goldman Sachs and Mastercard.

Here’s what we’re still waiting to learn:

1. How much will Apple TV+ cost?

Apple’s magazine and news subscription service, Apple News+, will cost $9.99 a month. That much we know. …


Michelle Castillo

Michelle Castillo is a senior reporter at Cheddar, covering advertising and media during the digital age.

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