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Streaming is getting complicated

Streaming TV may never again be as simple, or as affordable, as it is now.

Disney and WarnerMedia are each launching their own streaming services in 2019 in a challenge to Netflix’s dominance. Netflix viewers will no longer be able to watch hit movies such as “Black Panther” or “Moana,” which will soon reside on Disney’s subscription service. WarnerMedia, a unit of AT&T, will also soon have its own service to showcase its library of blockbuster films and HBO series.

Families will have to decide between paying more each month or losing access to some of their favorite dramas, comedies, musicals and action flicks.

“There’s definitely a lot of change coming,” said Paul Verna at eMarketer, a digital research company. “People will have more choices of what to stream, but at the same time the market is already fragmented and intimidating and it is only going to get more so.”

Media companies are seeking to capitalize on the popularity and profitability of streaming. But by fragmenting the market, they’re also narrowing the once wide selection that fueled the rise of internet-based video. About 55 percent of U.S. households now subscribe to paid streaming video services, up from just 10 percent in 2009, according to research firm Deloitte.

Just as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime tempted people to “cut the cord” by canceling traditional cable TV packages, the newer services are looking to dismember those more-inclusive options.

Disney Plus is set to launch late next year with new Marvel and Star Wars programming, along with its library of animated and live-action movies and shows. It hasn’t announced pricing yet, but Disney CEO Bob Iger said in an August call with analysts that it will likely be less than Netflix, which runs $8 to $14 a month, since its library will be smaller.

AT&T plans a three-tier offering from WarnerMedia, with a slate of new and library content centered around the existing HBO streaming app. No word on pricing yet.

Individual channels, such as Fox, ESPN, CBS and Showtime, are also getting into the act. Research group TDG predicts that every major TV network will launch a direct-to-consumer streaming service in the next five years.

Netflix and others have invested heavily in original movies and TV shows to keep their customers loyal. Netflix, for instance, said Wednesday that 45 million subscriber accounts worldwide watched the Sandra Bullock thriller “Bird Box” during its first seven days on the service, the biggest first-week success of any movie made for the company’s nearly 12-year-old streaming service.

But Netflix, Hulu and others might soon have to do without programs and movies licensed from their soon-to-be rivals. In December, Netflix paid a reported $100 million to continue licensing “Friends” from WarnerMedia.

Why are media companies looking to get in? Data and dollars. Sure, they get money when they sell their programs to other services like Netflix. But starting their own service allows networks and studios access to valuable data about who is binging on their shows.

For services with ad-based options, that data translates into more dollars from advertisers. And services that rely only on subscription revenues, media companies can use the data to better tailor their offerings for individual tastes, helping to draw in more subscribers.

“I think all media companies are coming to grips with the reality that you better establish a relationship directly with your audiences,” said AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson at an analyst conference.

The business model that some networks and content companies are using, distributing their TV shows and movies only by licensing them to streaming platforms, is getting “disrupted aggressively” as more companies launch their own services, said Stephenson, whose company acquired WarnerMedia in June.

Forrester analyst Jim Nail compares this moment to the “Cambrian explosion,” a historic era when plant and animal species rapidly multiplied after Ice Age glaciers receded.

“Big brands like Disney have to evaluate: Are we only going to access this market by licensing our content to Netflix, Hulu and others?” he said. “Or, can we go direct to the consumer with our own service?”

But a multiplicity of streaming services could easily overwhelm or confuse consumers. To get a full slate of programming, TV watchers may soon have to subscribe to several services instead of just one or two.

Among those options will be services like Netflix and Hulu that offer a wide range of video from a variety of sources; cable-like “skinny bundles” such as FuboTV, Sling and YouTube TV that offer a variety of live channels; and channel- or network-specific services like Disney Plus.

The cost of multiple streaming services could quickly approach the average cost of a cable bill — not counting the cost of internet service. That’s around $107 per month, according to Leichtman Research Group.

“It’s unlikely any of the services individually can charge more than $10 per month,” Forrester’s Nail said. “The great unknown is how many individual streaming services people are willing to sign up for.”


AP
Hamilton's star reprising role in Puerto Rico to raise funds

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Lin-Manuel Miranda is reprising his lead role in the hit musical “Hamilton” on Friday night to start a two-week run in Puerto Rico expected to raise thousands of dollars for artists and cultural groups struggling in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Dozens of fans chatted excitedly outside the show’s venue in San Juan as they waited in line to pick up tickets that ranged from $10 to $5,000.

Among them was Yolanda Hernandez, a nurse from the northwest coastal town of Aguadilla who drove nearly two hours to the island’s capital for the show.

“He’s a Boricua and we want to see that Boricua!” she exclaimed, using the popular nickname for a Puerto Rican. “We’re waiting to hear that beautiful voice. I’ve never been to a musical.”

Hernandez, like several other Puerto Ricans who waited for the doors to open, snapped up her ticket thanks to a lottery launched by “Hamilton” organizers who are selling 275 tickets for every performance at $10 each.

It is the first time that Miranda has performed the role of U.S. founding father Alexander Hamilton since his last appearance in the Broadway version in July 2016.

Among those expected to attend the show are several federal lawmakers visiting the U.S. territory for the weekend to learn more about reconstruction efforts following Hurricane Maria, which caused more than $100 billion in damage when it hit on Sept. 20, 2017.

Even people who didn’t have tickets showed up at the venue.

“This is a very important moment for Puerto Rico right now,” said Vivian Rodriguez, a student who lives in Puerto Rico but is from New York. She noted that Friday is Hamilton’s birthday, and she said Puerto Rico has suffered from what she described as its “colonial” status.

“Hamilton” was initially going to be staged at the University of Puerto Rico from Jan. 8-27, but producers announced in December that it was moving to the Centro de Bellas Artes following the threat of protests by university employees upset over enrollment changes at the island’s largest public university.

The change forced some people on the U.S. mainland to forego their Hamilton tickets because they were unable or could not afford to change their airline tickets to accommodate the show’s new dates. Others were upset when they did not hear back from the agency responsible for reassigning new dates for previously purchased tickets.

“It has been such a nightmare for me,” said Myla Ruiz, who lives in the northern coastal town of Toa Baja and had gotten tickets for the original opening night.

Her husband is now unable to go because he will be on a work trip, and then she struggled to get a response from the agency selling the tickets. She is now reluctantly attending the show’s last night.

“I’m originally from New York, so I’m a huge fan of Broadway,” she said. “This to me is huge. There’s nothing like Broadway here. When they said this was coming, it’s all I’ve been talking about.”

The show also drew the attention of Jimmy Fallon, whose “Tonight Show” will air its Jan. 15 episode from Puerto Rico with Miranda and the new touring cast.

Miranda, composer and creator of “Hamilton,” won a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize for the musical.


JAKE HILL, for The Journal Times 

Park sophomore guard Alexis Betker (20) blocks a shot from Case sophomore guard Abreanna Jones during a Southeast Conference game Tuesday night in Case's fieldhouse. Case won 69-39.


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Today in History

Today in History:

On Jan. 12, 1959, Berry Gordy Jr. founded Motown Records (originally Tamla Records) in Detroit.

On this date:

In 1828, the United States and Mexico signed a Treaty of Limits defining the boundary between the two countries to be the same as the one established by an 1819 treaty between the U.S. and Spain.

In 1915, the U.S. House of Representatives rejected, 204-174, a proposed constitutional amendment to give women nationwide the right to vote.

In 1945, during World War II, Soviet forces began a major, successful offensive against the Germans in Eastern Europe. Aircraft from U.S. Task Force 38 sank about 40 Japanese ships off Indochina.

In 1948, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Sipuel v. Board of Regents of University of Oklahoma, unanimously ruled that state law schools could not discriminate against applicants on the basis of race.

In 1966, the TV series “Batman,” starring Adam West and Burt Ward as the Dynamic Duo, premiered on ABC, airing twice a week on consecutive nights.

In 1971, the groundbreaking situation comedy “All in the Family” premiered on CBS television.

In 1998, Linda Tripp provided Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s office with taped conversations between herself and former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

In 2000, in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Illinois v. Wardlow, gave police broad authority to stop and question people who run at the sight of an officer.

Ten years ago: Senate Democrats announced they would accept former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris as President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate successor.

Thought for Today: “Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody reads.” — George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright (1856-1950).


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Birthdays

Actress Kirstie Alley is 68. Radio personality Howard Stern is 65. News correspondent Christiane Amanpour is 61. Actor Oliver Platt is 59. Singer-director Rob Zombie is 54. Model Vendela is 52. Singer Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against The Machine is 49. Rapper Raekwon of Wu Tang Clan is 49. Singer Melanie Chisholm (Sporty Spice) of the Spice Girls is 45. Actress Issa Rae (“Insecure”) is 34. Actress Naya Rivera (“Glee”) is 32. Singer Zayn (One Direction) is 26. Singer Ella Henderson is 23.


GREGORY SHAVER, For The Journal Times 

Waterford's Hunter Rudzinski, right, tries to control Union Grove's Cael Kahle in the 113-pound match of a Southern Lakes Conference dual meet on Thursday at Union Grove High School. Rudzinski beat Kahle 8-5 as the Wolverines won the meet 43-21.