Poor Technical Execution: Paramount+ LIMITED TIME OFFER 50% Discount for CBS All Access Customers

This morning, we converted our monthly subscription to CBS All Access to annual. The price is right, however, the deal is a bit confusing on the actual sign-up process for existing subscribers.

Let’s break this LIMITED TIME OFFER down.

CBS All-Access customers who sign up for a full year of Paramount Plus right now will pay $29.99 ($2.50 a month) for the base version, and $49.99 ($4.16 monthly) for an iteration with no commercials.  ViacomCBS is promoting this as 50% off the current $59.99 and $99.99 one-year price for Paramount Plus service.  The conglomerate hasn’t announced Paramount Plus monthly pricing. But with the promo, CBS All Access customers are actually paying 58% less on a monthly basis for the $5.99 CBS All Access base tier, while getting a 59% break on the $9.99-a-month ad-free version

Paramount Plus Discounted by 58% for Current CBS All Access Customers | Next TV

Firstly, I dislike articles and blog posts that talk about deals that don’t actually link to or explain the process. Cinemablend is guilty of telling us about the deal, but how do we actually redeem it?

I went to Paramount+ and clicked on the banner. It took me to the CBS All Access account area where the deal is showing in the subtext, but not in the bolded amount, see picture below.

The limited commercials option shows $59.99/year, but the text says “the offer of 12 months of $30.00/year) ?!?!

What are we actually paying? $59.99/year or $30/year? The $99.99/year commercial free option doesn’t show any discount.

Went ahead and pulled the trigger for the yearly option and immediately received an email saying we’d be billed $59.99 in February 2022. So, guess we’re agreeing to pay $59.99 a year from now. Have to check to see what we actually were billed immediately. Was it $30 or $59.99?

Argh. It was $59.99. So, then did what nobody wants to do: call customer service. After 10 minutes or so waiting, a rep came on the line and sighed that there were “issues” with the offer working for everybody who tried to redeem it. Some were not allowed to include the discount code PARAMOUNTPLUS, which triggers the offer. And he couldn’t fix it without canceling our subscription. He did.

Then we were refunded like $3, not the $59.99. This was the pro-rated amount of what remained of the monthly subscription.

Ultimately, they never went through with the charge of $59.99 and our account was credited again. The answer from the customer service rep was to “sign up with a different email address” for a new account. I sure hope nobody else reading that wants to sign up for this deal goes through the process like this.

Paramount+/CBS All Access has to get this process figured out better. Really.

Another Plus Branded Streaming Service Joins The Crowd: Documentary+

A new streaming service is available on Roku that focuses on documentaries. Of course it’s going with a plus in the title. Documentary+ (docplus.com) is the name and it’s ad-supported, no monthly fee required.

A joint project between Tony Hsieh (the former Zappos CEO who recently passed away) and studio XTR, Documentary+ launched with a catalog of films by several high-profile directors and filmmakers, among them Werner Herzog, Terrence Malick, Kathryn Bigelow, and Spike Jonze, to name just a few. At launch, the service has a pretty broad selection of categories to choose from, including politics, sports, comedy, music, and true crime, among other genres, with a focus specifically on premium content. The service has more than 150 titles available at launch.

Documentary+ Is the Latest Service to Enter the Streaming Wars

I’m a documentary fan. It’s not a huge genre of interest, but it’s somewhere in the middle of genres I enjoy watching from time to time. While writing this post, I watched the Netflix miniseries on disgraced NFL player Aaron Hernandez.

Am in favor of niche streaming services, but the selection so far at this site, didn’t jump out at me with a bunch of must-see documentaries. There are more on Netflix and Amazon Prime that I’d recommend others to watch.

Still, a decent concept for a niche streaming service and you can’t beat the price, as long as the ads aren’t too intrusive.

Atari Trying To Be Jack of All Trades, Throws Shade At PlayStation and Xbox

Not sure I understand Atari’s marketing plans. They won’t be very successful trying to claim — talk, not action — they are a better alternative, gaming-wise, to Xbox and PlayStation. Those are established consoles with huge followings.

Atari needs those fans on their side.

And interesting that there is no mention of Nintendo. The Switch is killing it out there. Nintendo too often is forgotten when the gaming gauntlet is thrown down. They know how to make fun, entertaining games and have a large, passionate fanbase. Atari needs these fans too. Some of them, at least.

But back to what Atari is saying, you can read part of it at the jump below.

“That blend of console, PC, PC gaming device, and streaming device offers a lot of flexibility, and a lot of value… We are actually pretty excited to see how people utilize both PC Mode and Atari Mode. Every computer plays games and video. Not every computer is an Atari.”

Atari slams PS5 and Xbox iterative upgrades and promises “something different” | T3

The Xbox and PlayStation have been streaming devices for years. That’s something Nintendo hasn’t even gotten into very well because Nintendo just wants to focus on what it is and does: gaming.

The Playstation and Xbox have both had apps for streaming channels for quite some time. It’s not something everybody uses on their systems. I don’t. Guess it’s supposed to be convenient to stop playing a game and just switching to Netflix, but why not just change the input on your TV and go full into Roku or Chromecast? It’s a nice added feature, but gamers don’t buy console systems to stream Netflix. And vice versa.

Atari is a decent gaming brand with a long history. They aren’t as relevant for current gaming as they were for classic and retrogaming, but hey, they are gods of the retro scene, with some legendary titles.

Not sure what Atari is up to, they are doing hotels, a new system that seems a bit pricey at $389 USD that’s some kind of hybrid low end PC, retrogaming machine and current console? They are also doing something with crypto currency.

A lot of irons in the fire.

Will say this, whatever they are up to, I’ll probably check into it. Just based on their name. Wonder how many gamers will do that? They can sell on that niche audience initially, but to keep this crowd satisfied they’re going to have to create some compelling new games. Is that in their plans? Are they partnering with others to do it for them? It kind of sounds like that’s the deal with the crypto play.

Whatever they are doing, I don’t think they can compete directly against the three big consoles. Sega tried that and ultimately gave up the expensive hardware game. Now they just make games. That’s probably what Atari should have kept doing.

Will you be checking out the new Atari VCS system? Staying in their hotel? Or are you taking a wait and see what others say approach?

Streamers Now Average $47 A Month, Says Study

When you love watching movies and TV, what else are you going to do? You need to subscribe to something that has them or watch the free streaming options.

A study is saying the average amount spent is $47/month.

There has been considerable growth in that high subscription area – the number of people in the survey subscribed to either just one, two or three services saw drop-offs of 3-4% each, while those with four, five or six services saw slight rises of 1-2%. The biggest jump was the number of people subscribing to at least seven services with that portion jumping from 8% in April to 13% by December.

SVOD Spend Now Averages $47 A Month – Dark Horizons

We’re currently paying $65+/month to subscribe to the following channels:

  1. Netflix ($18+/month)
  2. Amazon Prime Video ($130/year – around $11/month)
  3. HBO Max (six months, 20% off, paid – around $13/month after taxes)
  4. Hulu ($2/month – student discount)
  5. Disney+ ($80/year – around $7/month after taxes)
  6. CBS All Access ($6.50/month after taxes)
  7. Shudder (free 30-day trial, then around $6.50/month after taxes)

Don’t see us canceling any of these subscriptions in February or March, but maybe April if the Paramount+ launch lineup is underwhelming. Shudder is currently on a 11 week horror new movie promotion that I’m digging, so staying that through the end of Q1-2021. Hulu is on a student discount, so not going anywhere there and HBO Max doesn’t renew until June or July 2021. As for adding any? Maybe Apple TV+ if they have something new worth watching, but we’ll probably be in and then canceling out right away.

What are your current paid streaming subscriptions? Any plans to add or cancel any in the next month or two? Why? Why not?

The Partridge Family: Umbrella Man

Here’s a catchy song that I think about once in a great while. Long ago, I watched The Partridge Family. David Cassidy was talented.

From Season 1, Episode 20 “They Shoot Managers, Don’t They?” the entire song is performed. It’s a catchy, upbeat ballad with curious lyrics. Why would an Umbrella Man want to shower you with all his love?

When I was a young sprout in the 70s, we used to have a motorhome with an 8-track player inside. I distinctly remember my parents playing an 8-track of The Partridge Family and this song. It’s funny how music brings back memories. We used to go on family trips in that motorhome and the Umbrella Man was our guide.

This is yet another one of those TV series that isn’t available on any streaming channel as of this writing. The show originally aired on ABC, which makes me think maybe Disney+ has the licensing rights, but I didn’t dig around and figure that out.

What classic TV shows would you like to watch that aren’t available on streaming channels currently?

Wonder Woman 1984 Helps HBO Max Gain 3+ Million Subscribers To 41.5 Million

HBO Max is growing paid subscribers, but a long, long way to go to Netflix at 200+ millio

Not sure if we can credit Wonder Woman 1984, the 20% subscription discount or simultaneously releasing 17 movies between Christmas and the end of 2021 on HBO Max and in theaters.

Regardless, HBO Max are growing paid subscribers and have eclipsed 41 million.

Combined, HBO and HBO Max had 41.5 million U.S. subscribers as of the end of 2020, compared with 38.0 million as of the end of September. “The release of Wonder Woman 1984 helped drive our domestic HBO Max and HBO subscribers to more than 41 million, a full two years faster than our initial forecast,” said AT&T CEO John Stankey.

HBO Max Reaches 37.7M, Including 17.2M “Activated,” Subscribers | Hollywood Reporter

I also read another article that Nielson screwed up by declaring Soul the Christmas day winner for streaming. HBO Max had like 25% more according to that other article to be top of the charts. A ton of people watched Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max on Christmas day.

Considering the top player, Netflix, has surpassed 200 million paid subscribers (see: Streamers and Theaters in 2021 – Netflix The First To Pass 200 million subscribers, Talks About Disney+ To Analysts), HBO Max has a long road ahead. Still, a growth of 3 million paid subscribers is a noteworthy accomplishment. They might be better compared against Disney+, Hulu, CBS All Access (soon to be Paramount+) and Peacock.

Please note the intentional emphasis on “paid” subscriber. When we talk about Peacock and Apple TV+, for example, they both have subscription numbers made up of both paid and free subscribers. When you muddy the subscriber numbers with both paid and free tiers, it can hide the fact that one brings direct revenue and the other are eyeballs for advertisers. Both are important, yes, but an argument could be made that paid subscriber revenue can be more easily and transparently taken to the bank.

Put another way, everybody else would like to be in Netflix’s shoes with 200+ million paid subscribers and not known as having a lot of free or discounted subscriptions. Even Amazon, which essentially gives a Prime Video subscription to anybody that subscribes to Prime for a year. How many of their 150+ million subscriptions are paid directly vs. included with Prime?

We don’t pay directly for it, we get it as included within the Prime annual subscription. If we had to pay extra for it, not sure we’d pay more than we do for Hulu or CBS All Access, certainly not what we pay for Netflix.

Lawsuit Hopes Dying Cable TV Fees Might Be Resurrected In the Form of Local Streaming Fees

Harley Quinn’s rage needed for idea that local government fees be passed along to streaming

Back in August of last year, we posted a story on: New Boston, Texas Small Town (and other cities) Suing Netflix, Hulu and Others Over Local Utility Fees.

Here with an update of sorts: the battle seems only to have expanded. If it wasn’t class action time six months ago, it is now.

But let’s keep it real. What is this about, really?

Local governments smelling money in the air from big tech companies. Since they are seeing decreased fees from Cable TV providers, it’s time to look at the new source of revenue: streaming!

With little precedent, it may take years to understand the implications of these cases. Companies will likely appeal any decision, and unless the Supreme Court takes up one of the cases, states will be covered under a patchwork of lower court rulings. But an increasing number of local governments see these fees as an opportunity to recover money from the services that are slowly replacing cable TV. “They need money now, and they’ve got this law on the books,” says Bergmayer. With the status of streaming services in flux, they’ve settled on an optimistic approach: “let’s go for it and see what happens.”

The fight to make Netflix and Hulu pay cable fees – The Verge

I’m not on the side of local government on this one. Neither should anybody else that wants to see their monthly streaming fees stay low and simple. Given, Netflix and HBO Max are getting up there, but most of them are $10/month or less.

This also reminds me why I’m not a big fan of Cable TV: it’s those onerous fees, the bulk packaging of way too many garbage channels that we never watched and the painful reminder that new customers were treated to better deals than existing customers — constantly.

It’s one thing to run a promotion for brand new members, but shouldn’t loyal customers who don’t cancel and return repeatedly be treated to a better lower price over time? This would improve retention and reward customer loyalty. Instead, companies act like new customers are more important. They’re not. They’re probably less important than those who pay month after month, year after year for the service and never cancel.

I digress. A big, loud “Boooooooooo!” to this whole local fees being passed along to streaming. Glad to see Netflix and Disney (a la Hulu) lawyers are in defense mode circling this one. Deep pockets fighting back …

FilmRise Grows Grows To Over 31 Million Subscribers in 2020

FilmRise is one of those free, ad-supported TV channels we haven’t paid much attention to, but apparently a lot of people have. Sure, they’re a free service, but 31.5 million subscribers is a huge number of subscribers for anything. Props to them!

New York-based film and television studio and streaming network FilmRise reports the company had a successful year in 2020, thanks to more people turning to in-home entertainment. The free, ad-supported streaming network grew its install base 30% last year now with more than 31.5 million users.

FilmRise Reports 31.5 Million Users in 2020 | Cord Cutters News

So, just installed the app on Google TV. Strangely, we were out of storage space! Apparently, there’s only 4GB and the streaming apps we had already installed filled that up. The storage can easily be expanded adding a USB drive with a mini-USB cable, so will have to add that to our to-do list.

Anyway, launched FilmRise and found a disaster film to queue up called Icetastrophe. A mountain down is the center of a meteor that shoots out icicles and subzero wind freezing people immediately into cubes of ice. Effects, story and acting are laughable, but for a late night movie, it kind of made me chuckle. A little further checking reveals this is one of those Syfy movies and was also originally billed as a Christmas movie, with the title Christmas Icetastrophe. Sorry, guilty pleasure trash lol.

A very quick perusal didn’t yield many A-list movies and TV shows on FilmRise. But hey, they have that fun game show Celebrity Bowling!

Apparently, there is enough B and C grade content on there to interest movie lovers. Anybody reading regular use FilmRise? What do you like watching on there?

Streamers and Theaters in 2021 – Netflix The First To Pass 200 million subscribers, Talks About Disney+ To Analysts

Netflix will continue to buy new movies for exclusive streaming release, a good strategy?

Unsurprisingly, Netflix continues to do well amidst the pandemic. They were the first streamer to start spending en masse on original content and that foresight is paying back huge dividends.

Stay with this longer post. A lot to digest and think about in 2021 and am very curious what you think might happen.

Most of us are cocooned, waiting for the virus to subside. Some, hopefully continuing to increase, are working, but there isn’t much else to do outsides in the movie sector anyway. Plenty to do for those who unplug and use nature for solace.

I read one article that predicted rather stupidly 6-7 years for the bulk of the population to be vaccinated. Years? No. I don’t think it will be 6-7 months either, so the smart money is that 2021 is largely going to replay 2020. Theaters aren’t doomed, so don’t drink from that fountain of despair, but they aren’t going to be anything close to 2019 numbers. Probably a small to medium improvement over 2020 is about the best they can hope for.

We just want to be able to see more than the 44+ new movies in theaters we watched in 2020. So far, with January almost gone, we’ve watched a goose egg in theaters. That’s not a promising start. No idea when theaters in our area will be reopened again and the closest theater remains almost 250 miles away. We’re not driving that far — at least regularly — to watch new movies in theaters. When the weather improves in spring and summer, maybe we’ll do that a few times. Again, it all depends on what’s going on with the virus. Our regular movie theater coverage will continue as soon as theaters reopen — whenever that will be …

Next month we’re going to Vegas again. We’d like to do that once or twice a year, and there are movies open there, so we will be sure to catch at least one movie in our short sojourn there. We were last there in March 2020, when the pandemic seemed to hit its stride.

Enough of theaters, as there isn’t much positive to discuss there. Let’s get back to Netflix and what’s happening across streaming in 2021.

They are promising investors that they will be cash positive going forward, which for any business is sound. Assuming that’s true, we’re going to have to drop the narrative that they are a business running in the red. If you hold onto the lead in eyeballs and interest long enough, like they have — and congrats to them, because they are doing it — you will make money.

In 2020, we watched more Netflix than any other streamer, but close behind was Amazon Prime Video, which oddly isn’t mentioned. Netflix is clearly more worried about Disney+.

Despite mounting competition, Netflix added 8.5 million subscribers in the period and 37 million in 2020, well ahead of forecasts. That brings it to 203.7 million, well ahead of the 86.8 million for Disney+, but nevertheless executives were a bit more forthcoming than usual about seeing mouse ears in the rear-view mirror.

Netflix Brass Reacts To Disney’s Streaming Strides: “Super-Impressive” But Not Quite ‘Bridgerton’ Buzz – Deadline

Is Disney a sleeping giant with all that juicy IP? Most of their IP is still in the underutilized phase. Subscribers aren’t getting any new Mandalorian in 2021. We are getting that Boba Fett series at the end of 2021. December isn’t exactly soon.

On the Marvel front, there’s the Wandvision series that just kicked off. Movies? There should be a few of the MCU movies that make it to the service in 2021, maybe. Black Widow is probably the most notable, but there’s a few more.

So, with Star Wars and Marvel not exactly killing it with content on Disney+, what’s the play? They can only hang around on legacy content so long. With parents and grandparents like us with little ones to show animated movies, Disney remains king, but Netflix is surely trying to nibble on this bucket full of apples.

The area Disney could make some moves with is better integration with Hulu, which seems more like an overall competitor from a content perspective. Instead, Hulu is remaining a largely domestic offering, instead focusing on Star for international streaming of more adult-focused content (see: Disney Putting International Muscle Behind Star India instead of Hulu Global Launch?)

But what about Amazon? Why aren’t Netflix saying anything about Amazon? Maybe, the silence is more telling. Amazon at any time seems poised to flex its financial muscle and go full on production studio mode. There’s the whole Lord of the Rings prequel series and a string of originals under development. Will their LOTRO have Game of Thrones juice? Jeff Bezos sure hopes so. Never count out the richest person in the world.

Let’s not forget just how much book content Amazon has at its disposal. Something like 90% of book publishing goes through Amazon’s sales turnstiles. Ready Player Two is in talks for a sequel, will that be another theatrical release or something Amazon or another streamer scoops up in a bidding war for straight to streaming release? With Steven Spielberg behind the first film, it stands to reason the sequel will garner significant interest, especially if he decides to be part of it again (yeah, even if it’s only and probably likely just producing on the project).

Non-concerns seem to be HBO Max, Paramount+, Peacock and Apple TV. I think WarnerMedia’s 17 movies released simultaneously in whatever theaters are open and on HBO Max is by far the best promotion for streaming in 2021 — and that includes Netflix. Will it result in a ton of new subscribers? Maybe. HBO Max is going to need some killer TV series to keep subscribers around, not just movies and whomever is going to rise up to a formidable alternative to Netflix is going to need to understand and embrace retention. That’s an area that Netflix does better at than anybody else in the field, perhaps save Amazon, which keeps people subscribed because it’s included with Amazon Prime.

Walmart has been trying to nip on those heels, so that battle might heat up in 2021. Hard to get too much behind Walmart though, because they tend to dip in and out of stuff historically (ahem, Vudu, see: Walmart Plus launches September 15, maybe they should have kept Vudu). Still, they have a significant retail sector. If you go out shopping somewhere — you know, the real world, offline — for something, there’s most likely a Walmart nearby.

The also rans include CBS All Access, soon to become Paramount+ on March 4, 2021. They’ve officially announced that launch date and we continue to be puzzled why they don’t do more with their legacy content. They still have a paltry amount of movies considering how many they could have. Come on, release the Kraken movie content! They have some great TV shows, but they could do much more. Am curious to see how much they launch with and if it will look more like HBO Max — like it should.

Peacock should probably be last because they seem to have the fewest amount of original content under production. Saved By The Bell, the reboot, is watched first on that service by 3 out of 10 new subscribers. They greenlit that for a season 2. They need much, much more than that reboot to be considered serious competition for the other streamers.

Apple TV+ – It feels like every time we write about them it’s hey, they did this cool and then this long silence waiting for something else to splash. They need to be like a meteor storm in the ocean of streaming content, pelting it all over the place with fresh, original content. I really thought it would be them gobbling up Quibi’s library of content instead of our next and final mainstream streaming player ….

Roku. We need to mention them since they seem to be trying to be more than just a streaming aggregator. A smart move considering Chromecast with Google TV and Amazon Fire are hot competitors in that space. Personally, I just can’t get all that excited about watching movie or TV shows with ads. I know, I know, classic TV had commercials and it’s a space of interest to many people, we aren’t among them. We spend very little of our streaming time watching free, ad-supported channels. What about you?

I mean, if you’re spending on paid streaming channels, why wouldn’t you watch most/all of what you can on those first? It seems like these FREE channels are more for those who are spending very little on streaming channels, maybe only subscribing to Netflix and just using the free channels for everything else? There’s nothing wrong with that strategy and it’s probably a lot more budget conscious.

We don’t spend much on entertainment, especially with theaters currently closed, so a small portion of money we would have spent in theaters is being spent on streaming subscriptions. I don’t think this is going to change that much in 2021.

Where are your movie and TV watching dollars going to go in 2021? Tell us about it in the comments.

Streaming in Seattle: Over 1/3rd of Seattle Market Household Have Neither Cable or Satellite

Just north of us, Seattle is leaving cable TV and satellite in big numbers. In fact, a study quoted by The Seattle Times finds over 1/3rd have cut the cord. My guess is when the Seahawks play is among the only times that people watch live TV.

TV-streaming services have taken a big bite out of network television viewership, and a sizable number of households rely solely on streaming. According to Nielsen, more than one out of three households (37%) in the Seattle market have neither cable nor satellite television.

Netflix and other streaming services boomed in Seattle amid COVID-19 lockdowns | The Seattle Times