While Netflix has been the default home for a wide variety of TV shows and movies over the years, we've seen its content partners increasingly pulling away, in favor of their own subscription platforms. Hot on the heels of of Disney announcing its own service, fellow media giant NBCUniversal is throwing its hat into the ring with a streaming platform aimed for launch in 2020.
In the announcement, NBCUniversal says its yet-unnamed service will be supported by ads in the style of Hulu (download for iOS or Android), and it will be a free add-on for the company's pay TV subscribers "in the U.S. and major international markets." The company estimates that this will cover about 52 million customers.
If you don't have Comcast cable TV (or Sky in the UK), then the company says it will offer its streaming service to you for a monthly fee. NBCU has not announced any pricing plans yet.
Right now, NBCUniversal also owns 30 percent of Hulu, alongside other heavy hitters like Walt Disney, Fox Entertainment Group and AT&T. Frequently regarded as Netflix's closest competitor, Hulu is the online streaming home for multiple popular NBCU properties like Will & Grace, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and 30 Rock.
It's not clear yet how or if the company's latest announcement will affect Hulu's content offerings. But if you're a Hulu customer with NBCUniversal shows in your queue, now might be a good time to prioritize them. The announcement says, "NBCUniversal will continue to license content to other studios and platforms, while retaining rights to certain titles for its new service." But you're better safe than sorry.
On the corporate side, this effort will be led by Bonnie Hammer, who has just been promoted to chairman of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment. She joined Universal Television in 1989 as a programming executive.
Sling TV offers some free content to Roku users
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In the announcement, Sling VP of Product Jimshade Chaudhari says, "Select Roku users will be able to watch free shows and subscribe to standalone channels, without starting a free trial. These new users will be able to access the Sling TV app, which includes free on-demand shows, movies and even karaoke, and we will continue rolling out the update to all Roku users in the future."
You won't get access to all of Sling TV's content, but Chaudhari also says that you won't need to provide an email address or credit card info, either. You can just open the app on your Roku and start watching.
While this new streaming option is currently exclusive to Roku devices, the company plans to expand the program to other platforms in the future.
Chaudhari adds that Sling on Rokus also got two other updates: a section that lists related content that other users frequently search for, and a Netflix-like binging function that queues the next episode of a show automatically.
Sling TV packages start at $25 a month, after a 7-day free trial, and some content varies by region.
- NBCUniversal has announced a Netflix-style streaming service of its own, slated for a 2020 launch and free to Comcast and Sky customers. Non-customers will be able to subscribe for a monthly fee.
- Meanwhile, Sling TV announced that it's giving limited free access to Roku users, and you will not need to provide an email address or credit card info.
- TiVo's Amazon Fire TV app could replace your next DVR device
- Ranking Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video Streaming Apps in 2019
- Hulu prepares more changes to improve navigation and discovery
- Best DVRs for 2019 (CNET)
- YouTube TV and Roku: Why your cable box and TiVo days are numbered (ZDNet)
- How machine learning could redefine how we watch television (TechRepublic)