Category Archives: Television

Television Trends & Issues on Modern Media Mix

Tuition Costs Suck, But College Students can Save on a Spotify + Hulu Bundle

The cost of college can be expensive, but the cost of streaming unlimited music, movies and TV is now more affordable for U.S college students than you would think. Just recently Spotify joined forces with the TV streaming service, Hulu, in hopes to gain more subscribers on both platforms, and create a new partnership.

spotify huluOn September 7th, these two different entertainment platforms officially opened up their brand-new deal, $4.99 a month for access to both Spotify and Hulu, for U.S college students only. This bundle is the same price for regular Spotify, but now you get Hulu added on for free through this new offer. Both companies continue to have their own separate apps, so there will be no technology integration, where you would see Hulu suggestions within Spotify’s app. So, in a sense, yes they are bundled together, but each still operates completely separated from the other.

In the past, Spotify has tried to push their original videos into the spotlight and grab their listener’s attention. But if you watch one of their original short episodes, you would understand why nobody would sign up to Spotify strictly to watch any of these episodes. It has long since abandoned those plans for combining music and TV. With this new plan with Hulu, Spotify may not need to start from scratch on their TV channel idea. We could be seeing something big in the near future with these two platforms partnership that has already been created.

SpotifyThe landscape in the music streaming business can be very competitive. When you look at the number of subscribers for Spotify (60 million) and Apple Music (27 million), however, you can see that this entertainment bundle is only going to increase their numbers and widen the gap between their competition. Apple hasn’t announced anything about what they might potential do in reaction towards this new bundle.

Hulu’s plan in all of this is to hopefully gain a larger number of subscribers and make a habit of students continuing to use Hulu after they graduate college. By getting access to Hulu for free, students will get introduced to streaming TV and will hopefully enjoy the experience and want to keep Hulu. On the other hand, Spotify is trying to do a similar strategy. Students get half price to Spotify premium, but once they graduate it goes back to normal price. Spotify is hoping to draw in those students at a cheap price and access to Hulu and keep them once they graduate. Spotify is paying for all the advertising and digital promotion, while Hulu doesn’t have to pay anything. But Hulu is not getting any revenue by letting Spotify subscribers gain access to their streaming network.

With such a low cost, college students can get the perfect entertainment bundle with music and TV streaming ability. We will see if these two companies continue to share their networks and advance their market to more than just U.S college students. This entertainment bundle is nothing like we have seen before, and we will see if it works out for both Spotify and Hulu.

-Nick Langel

Don’t Be a Dick: American Vandal, a New Mocumentary

Scandal, conspiracy, lies and dicks. These are just a few of the themes from the new Netflix original, American Vandal.  This eight-episode mocumentary will have you biting your nails and sitting on the edge of your seat.  With a cliffhanger at the end of every 35-minute episode, there is no way that you won’t binge-watch American Vandal.

American VandalIt was an in-service day for teachers and the students all had the day off.  27 cars got tagged with 27 dicks in red spray paint.  Senior Dylan Maxwell is immediately pegged for doing it, being the class clown and known “dick drawer”, it just made sense to the school board and one specific teacher who has it out for him, Mrs. Shapiro.

Sophomores Peter Maldonado and Sam Ecklund think otherwise.

Peter and Sam are the two students that make a documentary, that may not prove Dylan innocent, but will reveal the truth as to what happened on that day.  With a supporting cast of students to interview, Peter and Sam seem to have their work cut out for them.  Through clever and somewhat crude means, the boys point to Dylan’s innocence, with silly things like the lack of ball hairs, and the different shape of the head than Dylan’s usual drawings.

The idea for American Vandal came to creators Tony Yacenda and Dan Perrault in 2016 after seeing the success of the Netflix original documentary How to Make a Murderer.  They set out to emulate such documentaries as How to Make a Murderer, Serial and The Jinx.  In many ways, American Vandal makes light-hearted fun of the way documentaries like these are set up.  An article from Vanity Fair does a great job discussing this.

When they went to Netflix with the idea, they had to assure the creative executives that their series would be “more than just a dick joke sketch”.   American Vandal premiered on Netflix on September 15, 2017.  Ever since its release, critics and audiences alike have been raving about American Vandal.  It has a critic review consensus of 96% and an audience rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.  It also received 8.3/10 on IMdb.

One of the greatest things about American Vandal is how relatable it is to actual high school students.  Through social media and obvious, but classic, stereotypes you really feel immersed in their world.  Yacenda was quoted in an article on The Verge saying:

“The common threads were that high school kids don’t use Facebook much. Certainly not with their own friends. They use a lot of Snapchat. Instagram is the main one. But I guess you learn that kids have their public Instagram, and then they’ll have a private Instragram for just their close friends, so they  can post memes or whatever.”

Yacenda and Perrault do a great job of showing all types of high school students.  Alex Trimboli is the brown-nosing honor student who is referred to as “a little bitch”, Christa Carlyle is the student body president and is always doing crazy stunts for charity, Sara Pearson is the popular, hottest girl in school and Dylan and his friends are the burn out stoners.

American VandalSo what do you think?  Does this sound like a show that you’d be interested in?  Is the idea of minors at parties and hooking up something that should be on television?  If you have seen the show, try not to spoil it for others.  I hope you are convinced enough to watch this mystery of the spray-painted dicks.

-Mitch Diamond

A La Carte Comeback: Can Live Stream TV Take Over the OTT Audience?

Are you tired of being forced to pay for gratuitously bundled cable TV packages with hundreds of channels you aren’t going to use? I have some good news! You can now supplement your cable television experience through paid, monthly subscription services such as Netflix and Hulu!

TVAre you overwhelmed trying to keep track of all those services you’re currently subscribed to, and looking for a balanced, all-a-round package where you can pick and choose what kind of content you want? I have more good news! Cable TV is back in the form of live-streaming and has traded gratuitous channel bundles for much more economically, a-la-carte-based packaging system.

Just in my lifetime computers and the Internet have gone from rare commodities to necessities, and cell phones today would be considered supercomputers, going far beyond what was previously thought possible 20 years ago. I believe no other field compares to how incredibly visible the Digital Media field is when it comes to evolution. Technology is always improving, and companies are scrambling to keep up.

For the last decade, the cable industry has been threatened by cord cutting and that threat is still growing every year with over 22 million adults canceling their cable subscription by the end of 2017. Consumers were looking for alternatives to cable television and the ability to stream high definition video reliably was the answer.

Streaming services have developed a lot since their original conception. Most services operate by licensing the content they stream from companies such as ABC and Warner Brothers. As companies like Netflix expand internationally, licensing costs go up significantly. Since 2012, Netflix is paying more than double in licensing fees, but has dropped over 40% of their content. Much of their spending, like other services have shifted more towards original content.

TVThe picture above shows each services’ estimated budgets for original content in 2017. Each year  spending has been increasing significantly between every service with Netflix being the forerunner in spending.

While streaming services are constantly evolving, so is cable television. Over the last few years, services such as Sling and Playstation Vue have entered the playing field as the best alternative to cable television. While streaming services such as Netflix intend on completely replacing television I believe that Sling and Playstation Vue can take a different approach and focus on co-existing with streaming services while still offering content that services like Netflix will never be able to fulfill. This would be the smartest strategy since Netflix and Amazon cover the video-on-demand market.

Television companies don’t need to waste money licensing properties that a service like Netflix already carries – it would simply add unnecessary operation costs which would inevitably lead to rises in subscription costs – and value is something these services need to capitalize on the most.

TVThe demand for live television is never going to go away, and I believe that services such as Sling and Playstation Vue that offer a-la-carte style subscription packages are the perfect response to the ever-rising number of cord cutters. In fact, many of the cord cutters that I know that own homes have opted to subscribe to Sling specifically as a cost-saving method where they still get to fulfill their news and sports hunger without the costs of, say, getting their cable through Mediacom.

Do you think that live stream TV will become a casual consumer service such as Netflix where almost everyone will have it? How do you think live streaming TV affect subscription service numbers, if at all? Be sure to comment below!

-Kevin Thorn

NAB 2017: Next Gen TV is Coming!

While at the National Association of Broadcasters Show (NAB) we saw all types of technologies one could imagine. One of the largest booths there was the NextGen TV Hub booth. NextGen TV explained the future of TV; how streaming and broadcast TV would be become one. This was the answer our group had been looking for! Broadcast TV was not afraid of competing with streaming because of new legislation being brought forward by the FCC that will allow TV stations to broadcast using the ATSC 3.0 format, a newer version of the digital transmission format used today.

Next Gen TVThis was better explained at the session tittled “DTV: The Next Generation.” Here, we sat down and listened to companies who will be assisting with this new merger between streaming and broadcast television. They discussed the positive effects that are to come with the merger and what they hope to see with the new creation coming to the world of television. So with the blending between the two digital platforms, the future looks bright for TV and streaming as they become one. Watch our video on Next Gen TV from the NAB Show for more details!

NAB Pre-Report: TV Steps Into The Future with a New Standard

Another year, another NAB Show. As UNI Digital Media students prepare for this year’s National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show, there are a variety of trends and topics to see and experience. An interest of this year’s showgoers was how TV technology is changing to create better content, and one of the biggest things on display at the 2017 NAB Show for TV is the next generation of TV, dubbed ATSC 3.0.

TV

This new generation of technology creates a lot of new possibilities when it comes to the broadcasting of TV. With higher quality screens becoming more popular, broadcasts will now be able to handle 4K Ultra HD when the ATSC 3.0 standard goes into effect. High Dynamic Range (HDR) footage will also be able to be fully utilized thanks to this new standard.

This new ATSC 3.0 standard will be highlighted at the 2017 NAB Show this year in the NextGen TV Hub. This hub will showcase all of the benefits of the new ATSC 3.0 standard and will also be showing off a local broadcast from KLSV-LD utilizing this new technology. LG has gotten in on the ground floor of this technology and will be airing the ATSC 3.0 broadcast on TV’s that support the new standard. The technology will soon be included in all new TV’s, in preparation for 4K and HDR screens becoming mainstream. This new technology will also be utilized during the broadcast of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games from South Korea.

Other TV markets have been testing this new broadcast technology in places like North Carolina, Washington DC, Portland and Madison, Wisconsin. The FCC is allowing stations to begin using this new standard on voluntary basis, as well as issuing experimental licenses for those who wish to test out ATSC 3.0.

This new standard isn’t limited to the broadcast and TV industries, however. There is a strong possibility that the mobile, automotive and home technology industries will also take advantage of this new standard, as content is being viewed on more than just TV’s today. ATSC 3.0 and its automotive uses will be highlighted at this year’s show, as well as other industries, at the ATSC 3.0 Pavilion.

-Mitch Diamond, Chris Dummer, Taylor Peterson

Hacking the President: Marketing Mr. Robot Season 2

When it comes to marketing, the internet as we know it today has brought along countless possibilities. There are tons of different avenues to promote your new piece of content or new invention, outside of the traditional “Madison Avenue” route of the past. TV and movies are limited only by the creativity of the teams assigned to market a specific piece of media. With USA’s Mr. Robot, the marketers had to think of ways to get viewers new and old to tune in to its premiere in July of 2016. The shows technical subject matter allowed for a clear theme to push the marketing in a good direction. Here are the top assets used in the marketing and promotions leading up to Mr. Robot Season 2.

mr. robot

The first thing to consider is the show’s background. Mr Robot is a drama thriller and premiered on USA Network in June of 2015 The show is centered around the main character, Elliot Alderson and his involvement with E Corp. Elliot, who is played by Rami Malek, is a cybersecurity engineer at E Corp, but is also a hacker when he is away from work. He suffers from social anxiety and depression. The show’s marketing for season 2 was centered around technology, which makes sense given the shows subject matter. The marketing was also trying to bring Fsociety, the hacker group from the show, to life outside of Mr. Robot.

The first marketing event that happened leading up to season 2 was the claim that USA Network was hacked and the first episode of season two was leaked online. It was released on Snapchat, Twitter and even YouTube. It was later even seen on USA Networks on website, revealing that it may have been an inside job. Fsociety claimed to be the source of the leak, claiming “You deserve something new, something unexpected, something you’ve never seen before.” The episode was taken down soon after the it was “leaked” on several platforms.

mr. robotThe next big marketing ploy helped bring Fsociety to life even more. The group began doing its own live streams in July 2016, before the season premiere. They were done in thirteen different countries and teased bits and pieces of the first episode as part of the stream.

The last big tactic used by the marketing team behind Mr. Robot was the inclusion of President Obama in the show. The President is seen holding a press conference, in which he discusses Fsociety. The video was created with the help of visual effects, as well as the use of an Obama impersonator.

The marketing campaign was a success, with over 110,000 tweets surrounding the premiere. 35,000 of them were seen before the premiere, associated with excitement and anticipation of the upcoming season. The rest came after the premiere, with a total of 30% showing the excitement and anticipation for the next episodes

Chris Dummer

The SEC and CBS: The Crimson Tide Brings in More Than Just National Championships

It’s a crisp Saturday morning in October. The air in Tuscaloosa, Alabama is filled with thick, alluring barbecue smoke. It is game day, and the number one ranked Alabama Crimson Tide are poised for yet another victory. This is a typical Saturday not only in Tuscaloosa, but for the Southeastern Conference (SEC) as a whole. People take SEC football seriously down there, and it shows in more ways than one. Consistent victory is an expectation of SEC teams, sure. But take a look behind the curtains, and we’ll see a different level of dominance.

SEC games are in high demand for sports fans, so who’s the lucky sonofabitch distributor that gets to provide it? CBS has had a tight wrap on SEC content for two decades, and they very much intend to keep it that way.

sec cbsSince 1996, CBS has been the main television partner for the SEC. While other networks have rights to distribute SEC content, CBS gets a “first dibs” of sorts. For example, CBS airs all weekly in-conference games and out of conference games where the SEC team is the home team. If the particular game in question does not meet either of these two stipulations, the ESPN Family of Networks has the broadcast rights.

Despite having the rights to broadcast great football, CBS is not without its competition from the environment. We are living in a period of great change, and while the NFL is feeling the negative effects of this change, Southeastern Conference games are enjoying a steady increase in viewership. But why?

It all comes down to Saturday.

All college football is played on Saturdays. The reasoning for this is that since no NFL games are on Saturdays but rather Thursdays, Sundays and Mondays, the two will not have to compete for what is mostly a shared audience. Saturdays are also the most optimal days for the student athletes to participate in both their academics and sport effectively.

This formula has worked well in the past, but a new social climate is beginning to steal viewership away from football, NFL primetime games especially.

Take for instance any of the seven games of the 2016 World Series. ALL seven games outperformed the last month of NFL primetime games. In fact, game seven was the most watched baseball game of the last decade and a half, garnering a massive 25.2 rating.

NFL primetime games also had to compete with two of the three presidential debates, which of course did not pan out well for them.

So why through all of this environmental turmoil can the SEC on CBS stay afloat? I may be biased, but I firmly believe the Alabama Crimson Tide has a strong pull that cannot be ignored.

sec crimson tideIn fact, if we were to take the top ten most watched SEC on CBS games, seven of them featured Alabama, whether they won or lost.

sec games

While CBS has “first dibs” status on all in-conference SEC games, their contract stipulates that they can only broadcast five games of one particular team per season. Guess which team they maxed out on for both the 2014 and 2015 seasons? CBS even paid ESPN a premium to allow them to broadcast a sixth Alabama game in 2015, being the much hyped in state rivalry game, the Iron Bowl.

While the numbers speak for themselves, I highly recommend you turn on your television and watch Alabama play football. They have the ability to inspire much more than national championships.

-Cal Gruening

Streaming TV: Is Amazon Prime the Jester?

Netflix is the King of streaming TV. Hulu is the Prince. Is Amazon Prime the Jester? Is Amazon relevant in this online streaming war? Amazon has made huge strides in online shopping. However, online video streaming is a different story for Amazon.

amazon primeLet’s begin with Amazon Prime vs Netflix. Prime costs a dollar less per month than Netflix which is nice, but is it really? According to money expert Matt Granite from USA Today, he says that Netflix has more selection and a better interface than Amazon. However, Amazon Prime gives you free two-day shipping and unlimited photo storage.

Next is Hulu. According to Business Insider, Hulu costs $7.99 per month (with ads) while Prime is about $8.25 per month. So Hulu is cheaper (at the expense of watching ads), but what does that mean for Amazon Instant Video? Well, Amazon does not have ads, but Hulu can get you the latest television episodes.

If you want to know how many subscribers each video streaming service has, here are some statistics. Netflix has more than 86 million subscribers worldwide (CNN Money), Amazon Prime has around 60 million subscribers (CNBC), and Hulu has around 12 million (CNN Money).

Amazon Prime Man In The High Castle

According to Caroline Nolan from The Street, “Without Amazon Prime membership, you will be paying $12 on average for two-day shipping on each purchase.” (Nolan, 1). If I bought two items from Amazon every month with two-day shipping without Prime, that would equal around $288 every year. However, this is shopping and spending all that extra money might be a problem!

I think a huge obstacle with Amazon Prime is their name. When people think of Amazon Prime, they think online shopping and not online video streaming. What Amazon needs is a clever name, and I might be able to help.

What Amazon should have called their online video streaming service is Amazon River. That is clever compared to Amazon Prime or Amazon Instant Video. It helps Amazon by making them more diversified. So Jeff Bezos, if you’re reading this, call me.

Anyway, when it comes to online video streaming, Netflix is the King (or Queen), Amazon is the Prince (or Princess), and Hulu seems to be lowly Jester. Amazon is relevant in the streaming wars, but I think they need to work on their identity. So, Amazon is relevant, but at the same time they almost aren’t, due to an undefined identity.

So, which is the best? Well, it depends. If you want television shows and you want it cheap, you can choose Hulu. If you want television and movies together, you can choose Netflix. If you are an online shopper and are not much of a television watcher but still want online video streaming, you can choose Amazon Prime.

What also matters is what shows and movies you want to watch. Amazon has Transparent and The Man in the High Castle, Netflix has Stranger Things and Luke Cage, and Hulu has The Awesomes and The Mindy Project.

I have also received word that Hulu has struck a deal with Disney and Fox to have live sports. This is exciting to see and unexpected to see. We’ll see what happens to Hulu in the future. This of course is a conversation for a different time.

Personally, I love Amazon Prime. I have had it for about a couple years now and I am quite satisfied with the two-day shipping and television shows. That is of course when I have time to watch them. The Man in the High Castle is pretty good.

What do you think about the streaming wars? Do you have Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime, or all three? Comment below and tell me what you think.

Kyle Konigsmark