The big show of the Fall season in the US is the real-life drama of media companies fighting it out for viewers and content as new streaming services prepare to launch. In this week's latest episodes:
📺 Google's earnings report noted an increase in YouTube content acquisition costs as it invested in its YouTube TV subscription service, which allows cable-cutters to live-stream more than 70 TV channels for $50 a month. Google CEO Sundar Pichai said: “The user satisfaction on the product is high and so we are focused on continuing our expansion, building out a great service and building awareness for the service.”
🎮 In contrast, Sony announced yesterday it was closing on January 30 its PlayStation Vue service, which also streams TV channels for around $50 a month. Sony said: “Unfortunately, the highly competitive Pay TV industry, with expensive content and network deals, has been slower to change than we expected. Because of this, we have decided to remain focused on our core gaming business.”
📽️ Also on Tuesday, AT&T’s WarnerMedia held a Media Day on its new video streaming service, which will cost more than Disney’s and Apple’s upcoming products. HBO Max will launch in May, it said, and include shows and films such as Game of Thrones, Harry Potter and Friends for $15 a month.
🍏 Six months ahead of HBO Max, Apple TV+ launches on Friday. But its foray into original content may not be going as well as expected. Its flagship launch series, The Morning Show, starring Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell and Reese Witherspoon, is “brutally dull”, according to one reviewer, while other programming, such as a take on the poet Emily Dickinson, has received a lukewarm reception from the critics.
All this must resemble a confusing white-noise TV picture for consumers as the streaming players, who also include Hulu and NBCUniversal's Peacock, strive for the right mix and price for live TV and on-demand content to try to emulate the success of Netflix, Amazon and traditional cable and satellite. Content old and new is also being Balkanised in the drive for exclusive offerings. This melee of content on different platforms and subscriptions could make viewers nostalgic for their cable boxes and on-screen channel guides.
The Internet of (Five) Things
1. WhatsApp sues Israel's NSO over malware attack
A vulnerability in WhatsApp was used to target at least 100 journalists, human rights activists and political dissidents around the world. The hack, which the FT revealed in May, allowed customers of Israel-based NSO Group to inject a spyware programme called Pegasus through the app’s voice call function. WhatsApp is now suing NSO in the US. Our Big Read has more and check out today's Special Report on Cyber Security.
2. Vestager to get tougher on tech
Large internet companies could be held to higher standards of proof in competition cases as part of changes to rules being considered by Margrethe Vestager, the EU's antitrust chief. Europe has proposed nearly 200 new tech policies in the first half of 2019, nearly half of new regulations worldwide, according to a global survey.
3. Facebook drops Cambridge Analytica appeal
Facebook has dropped its year-long appeal against a £500,000 fine from the UK’s data watchdog over its failure to protect users’ information in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The social network reports third-quarter earnings after the market close (as does Apple). Here are four big questions that investors will be weighing on Facebook as the numbers land.
4. Second Home cash squeeze
Rohan Silva's co-working space Second Home has found itself in an awkward spot. The start-up set up by David Cameron's former adviser has been forced to seek new funding, just as investors cool on the sector in the wake of the WeWork debacle. Meanwhile, Bill Ackman, the billionaire hedge fund manager, said Japanese investment group SoftBank is at risk of having to write off all of its investment in WeWork. Mr Ackman, who claims no inside knowledge, was speaking at an investor conference in New York where he described the property group’s founder Adam Neumann as “an amazing salesman”.
5. How technology is revolutionising healthcare
From drones to databases, here are five innovations that could hold the key to universal health coverage. Read more in our Special Report: Universal Healthcare. (FT)
Forwarded from our Tech Scroll Asia newsletter
Apple is about to go full-bore on 5G phones as it attempts to catch up with competitors in Asia, according to a Tech Scroll Asia scoop. The US company is set to launch three 5G-enabled smartphones next year. Read more in this week's newsletter.
Tech tools — Huawei’s first 5G phone
While we're on the subject of 5G phones, the Nikkei Asian Review has done a tech teardown of Huawei's first model, the Mate 20X (5G). It's an interesting look at how the Chinese company is developing its own key components to reduce its dependence on US parts.
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