Fox News Notches Fifth Straight Ratings Win

Fox News Notches Fifth Straight Ratings Win

Fox News once again flexed its ratings muscles in winning its fifth straight primetime and total day weekly ratings race, according to Nielsen.

Riding its 2016 Presidential campaign coverage, Fox News averaged 2.1 million viewers to slide by USA Network’s 1.9 million viewers to secure the top spot. AMC, bolstered by the return of it monster series hit The Walking Dead, finished third with 1.8 million viewers, followed by HGTV’s 1.6 million viewers and TBS’ 1.5 million watchers.

ESPN (1.4 million), CNN, Discovery Channel and Disney Channel (tied with 1.3 million), and TNT and History (tied with 1.2 million) rounded out the top 10 most watched networks for the week.

Fox News topped Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, Adult Swim and HGTV on a 24-hour basis, according to Nielsen. Adult Swim was the top choice among adults 18-49 on a total day basis, while AMC topped all cable networks in primetime within the demo.

Most Watched Cable Shows During The Week of Feb. 15-Feb. 21

Date Show Network Total Viewers

2/21 The Walking Dead AMC 13.4 million

2/21 Talking Dead AMC 5.6 million

2/19 Gold Rush Discovery 3.8 million

2/15 WWE Monday Night Raw USA 3.6 million

2/15 WWE Monday Night Raw USA 3.5 million

2/20 AEHQ: South Carolina Primary Fox News 3.5 million

2/20 AEHQ: South Carolina Primary Fox News 3.5 million

2/16 Fixer Upper HGTV 3.3 million

2/16 ACS: People V. O.J. Simpson FX 3.3 million

2/15 WWE Monday Night Raw USA 3.2 million

Source: Nielsen

Willow TV Scores New Deal with Dish

Willow TV Scores New Deal with Dish

Dish Network and Sling TV, the OTT-TV service targeted to cord-cutters, said they have cut a new, expanded deal with Willow TV International that will include live HD coverage of international cricket matches from different corners of the globe, including India, Pakistan, Australia, South Africa and the West Indies.

Willow is being offered across South Asian packages on both Sling TV and Dish, they said.

They added the new agreement is the first to factor in major International Cricket Council (ICC) events, including ICC World Twenty20 2016, which begins March 8, and will be offered at no additional charge on the Willow cricket channel. Previously, many of those events have only been available via pay-per-view.

“We are proud to have supported the launch of the Willow cricket channel in 2010, and by extending this longstanding relationship, we are not only bringing our customers the best in live cricket for years to come, we’re delivering on our commitment to make Sling TV and DISH ‘your home for cricket,’” said Chris Kuelling, senior vice president of programming for Sling TV and Dish, in a statement. “With this agreement we are now able to bring U.S. viewers the most comprehensive cricket offering in the market, all in high definition.”

“In just over five years since we launched Willow on DISH, we have expanded our coverage of live international cricket to unprecedented levels,” added Vijay Srinivasan, CEO of Willow TV International. “We are extremely pleased to further strengthen our partnership with Sling TV and DISH, and to announce the availability of the ICC World Twenty20 2016 and other ICC events on the Willow cricket channel for Sling TV and DISH viewers.”

Other Willow MVPD partners include DirecTV, Comcast, Bright House Networks, Cablevision Systems, Charter Communications, Verizon FiOS, and Time Warner Cable, among others.

Willow also offers a streaming service for $14.99 per month on several platforms, including iOS and Android mobile devices, Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, the PlayStation 3, and select smart TVs from Panasonic, Samsung and LG.

NeuLion, MLS Renew Streaming Deal

NeuLion, MLS Renew Streaming Deal

NeuLion and Major League Soccer will keep their streaming partnership going for a seventh year after striking a renewal for the 2016 season that will factor in some enhancements to MLS LIVE, the league’s OTT, multi-screen subscription service.

MLS doesn’t break out specific sub numbers for MLS LIVE, but said the over-the-top subscription offering grew its base by more than 60% for the 2015 season.

That offering sees a renewal rate of more than 85% each year, Chris Schlosser, SVP and GM of MLS Digital said, noting that the sales cycle for 2016 is underway and the “numbers are looking very positive.”

“OTT is a very important area for us,” Schlosser said. “We deliver a very targeted millennial audience.”

Heading into the new season, which kicks off March 6, will cost $79.99 per year or $16.99 per month. MLS LIVE streams out seven local games per week (MLS also offers three national broadcasts per week via ESPN, Univision and Fox that are blacked out on MLS LIVE). About half of the MLS clubs do allow in-market streaming (here’s how the blackout policies for the 2016 season stack up on a club-by-club basis in the U.S. and Canada). All blacked out games do become available to MLS LIVE subs 48 hours after the match.

Additionally, MLS LIVE features an archive of games from the past six seasons, instant replays during live games, and access to condensed, 15-minute versions of games following live matches. The Web-based version of MLS LIVE also supports a multi-game feature.

This year, the OTT service will tack on some enhancements, including closer integration with via a single sign-on and a cleaner, redesigned interface for the Web and mobile apps.

Last season, about 40% of MLS LIVE subs watched on PCs, and the same percentage watched on smartphones and tablets (Android and iOS), while the remaining 20% watched on TV-connected platforms such as Roku players, Apple TV boxes, and via the Chromecast streaming adapter.

NeuLion’s role is to manage and package the live feeds into different formats and deliver them in a range of bit rates and resolutions for the variety of devices supported by MLS LIVE.

To enable the service to scale and optimize streaming performance, NeuLion uses multiple content delivery network partners (Akamai, Limelight Networks and Level 3 Communications) and has the ability to switch those paths based on how they are handling the load, explained Chris Wagner, NeuLion’s executive vice president, marketplace strategy.

Xumo Hires Content Chief

Xumo Hires Content Chief

Stefan Van Engen, an exec late of Bedrocket Media Ventures and OWN, has been named senior vice present of content programing and acquisitions at Xumo, a startup that has built an OTT video service initially focused on smart TV platforms.

In that role, he’ll develop execute Xumo’s content and acquisition strategy, including current ad-supported offerings and coming paid services that are distributed on the company’s platform.

Xumo has built an OTT service (subscription required) that streams ad-supported “channels” on range of connected TV platforms from content partners such as Time Inc., Conde Nast Entertainment, Bloomberg, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, BuzzFeed, PopSugar, Mitu Network, Machinima, TYT Network and The Onion.

Xumo’s ad-based OTT service has been integrated with TVs from LG, Panasonic and Vizio TVs, and has inching toward debuts on TVs from Funai Electric, which makes and distributes TVs under the Sanyo, Philips and Magnavox brands in North America. It also has plans to release apps for mobile and desktops later this year.

Before joining Xumo, Van Engen was SVP of programming and production at Bedrocket, a digital start up, and was co-executive producer of The Gayle King Show at OWN. Has also served as a production and development executive at Rainbow Media and CSTV, now CBS Sports Network.

“Offering outstanding programming to our viewers is of utmost importance at Xumo as we strive to set the industry standard in consumer experience,” Colin Petrie-Norris, CEO of Xumo, said in a statement. “With Stefan’s extensive and valuable expertise in this area, we are better positioned to curate meaningful, original, and engaging content. We are excited to have Stefan on board as we continue to challenge the status quo in terms of the quality and variety of premium OTT content available on the market today.”

Frontier Sets Video Service Expansion

Frontier Sets Video Service Expansion

Frontier Communications used its fourth quarter earnings call Tuesday to outline its video strategy, announcing that it plans to launch video service to more than 40 markets, representing about 3 million homes, over the next three to four years.

That offering, delivered via IP, will lean fairly hard on Frontier’s fiber-to-the-node platform, though it will also be using FTTP networks it has obtained, and will soon obtain, from Verizon Communications.

“Once complete, video service will be available to about 50% of the 8.5 million households in Frontier’s existing footprint, not counting the pending Verizon acquisition,” Daniel McCarthy, Frontier’s president and CEO, said on the call.

With the expected Verizon properties in California, Texas and Florida factored in, Frontier will be in position to provide video service to more than 7 million homes.

“We anticipate additional opportunities as we upgrade select copper markets in the acquired states,” McCarthy said.

He said the video plan was made to be “extremely capital-efficient” because it will ride on the investments Frontier has been making in its broadband plant in recent years, and because it will use new compression technology that will allow it to deliver an HD signal in about 2.5 Mbps of capacity.

That means “a household with four HDTVs active at once will only require 10 megabits of capacity into the home, leaving the remainder available for data usage,” the exec said, estimating that it will require less than $150 million spread over several years to enable 1.3 million homes to receive video over its existing broadband infrastructure.

“We think a good video product would be about a 15-meg video product,” he said, noting that what it’s doing today in Connecticut requires about 80 Mbps of capacity to deliver four HD streams.

McCarthy said Frontier is in the final phases of preparing to close its pending acquisitions of Verizon wireline operations in parts of California, Texas and Florida, noting that it’s scheduled to wrap up those deals on April 1.

Frontier, he said, believes the new video offering “opens the door to attracting new customers to our broadband service while introducing new tools to improve retaining existing customers.”

Frontier started the process when it launched a video service trial in Durham, N.C., in the fourth quarter of 2015 that has since reached the commercial stage.

McCarthy said Frontier is in the process of booting up video services in an additional two markets.

Frontier ended 2015 with 3.12 million residential customers, down 0.7% on a year-over-year basis. Frontier added 28,500 net broadband subs in the period, for a total of 2.46 million, and lost 5,800 video subs, including a reduction of 5,400 satellite video subs, giving it a total in that category of 553,700.

On the financial front, Frontier posted Q4 revenues of $1.41 billion, and a net loss of $103 million, or 9 cents per share.

Bright House, TWC Drop in Netflix ISP Rankings

Bright House, TWC Drop in Netflix ISP Rankings

Netflix’s ISP Speed Index for January 2016 saw some jockeying as Bright House Networks and Time Warner Cable dropped several spots, while several other major U.S. ISPs saw gains, including Comcast, Mediacom Communications, Suddenlink Communications, and AT&T U-verse.

Verizon FiOS, with an average Netflix streaming speed during primetime hours of 3.88 Mbps, remained tops among major U.S. ISPs measured by Netflix, followed by Cox Communications (3.85 Mbps), Cablevision Systems (3.82 Mbps.), and Comcast (3.72 Mbps).

Bright House Networks (3.53 Mbps) dropped five spots, to number nine among major U.S. ISPs, while TWC (3.39 Mbps) dropped two spots, to number 10. Notably, TWC has a paid interconnection deal with Netflix, and Bright House Networks is benefiting from that agreement. However, Charter Communications, which is in the process of buying TWC and Bright House, has pledged to extend its “settlement-free” interconnection policy to those acquired systems, a decision that has received praise from Netflix.

Update: Netflix confirmed that there is no change in its relationship with TWC.

The bottom three among top U.S. ISPs were Windstream (2.50 Mbps), Verizon-DSL (2.10 Mbps), and CenturyLink (1.70 Mbps).

With smaller ISPs factored in, Grande Communications (3.98 Mbps) kept the top spot, followed by Midcontinent and WideOpenWest (3.95 Mbps each), EPB (3.92 Mbps), Verizon FiOS, and Google Fiber (3.88 Mbps).

On a global basis, Luxembourg led with an average of 4.12 Mbps) , followed by Norway (4.07 Mbps), Belgium (4.02 Mbps) , Denmark (3.97 Mbps), and Sweden (3.89 Mbps). Canada (3.55 Mbps) was ranked 12th, while the U.S. (3.5 Mpbs) was ranked 14th.

At last month’s CES gadgetfest in Las Vegas, Netflix announced it had expanded service to 130 additional countries.

Netflix to Offer First German Series

Netflix to Offer First German Series

Netflix will offer its first German production when Dark, a family saga with a supernatural twist, debuts on the SVOD service in 2017.

The 10-episode drama details the disappearance of two children and exposes the double lives and fractured relationships among four families.

Netflix is spreading its reach across the globe. Last month, it launched in more than 130 new countries. The subscription service debuted in Germany in the fall of 2014.

Dark is directed by Baran bo Odar, whose latest film is Who am I–No System Is Safe. Jantje Friese is writing the project.

“Dark is an incredible German story that will appeal to a global audience,” said Erik Barmack, VP, international originals at Netflix.