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Amazon to give Music Unlimited subscribers up to six months of free Disney+

The promotion is available to both new and existing Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers

Amazon announced Monday that Amazon Music Unlimited customers in the U.S. and Canada can get up to six months of free Disney+. 

Existing subscribers to Amazon’s ad-free music streaming service can get three months of Disney’s streaming service, while new Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers can activate six months of Disney Plus. Current subscribers to Disney+ aren’t eligible for Amazon’s “Disney+ on Us” promotion.

“Amazon Music customers will now be able to watch films lik...

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    AT&T drops AT&T TV Now to simplify offerings

    The company is merging the service with AT&T TV

    AT&T has announced that it’s merging AT&T TV Now and AT&T TV in an effort to bring “more value and simplicity” to its streaming service offerings. 

    “AT&T TV Now has merged with AT&T TV to bring you the best live and on-demand experience,” the company said in an update on its website. 

    Although the telecom and media giant has stopped allowing new sign-ups for AT&T TV Now, existing users will be able to continue using the service without disruptions or price changes.  

    AT&T TV Now was designed to replace the company’s “DirecTV Now” satellite service, which launched in November 2016. The “skinny bundle” offering was initially priced at $35 per month and offered cord-cutters more than 100 channels. However, AT&T raised the price over time, and many early adopters stopped using the service. 

    Going forward, the telecom’s AT&T TV offering -- which is more similar to traditional cable than AT&T TV Now -- will be offered with a month-to-month payment option. Current contracts will remain in effect, but customers can move to the month-to-month plan once their current contract expires. 

    Prices for the non-contractual options start at $70 per month. That price gets customers an Entertainment package that includes ESPN, CNN, and FX, as well as local broadcast channels and 20 hours of cloud DVR. For $10 extra per month, the company will add additional DVR storage. 

    Consumers can also choose to sign up for a two-year contract. Doing so drops the price of the Entertainment package’s first-year price to $60 per month. In the second year, that price increases to $93 per month. 

    AT&T; has announced that it’s merging AT&T; TV Now and AT&T; TV in an effort to bring “more value and simplicity” to its streaming service offerings. “...
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    AMC secures $100 million investment, but it says it will need more to avoid bankruptcy

    The movie chain continues to fret over studios releasing movies simultaneously on streaming services and in theaters

    AMC Theatres has secured a $100 million investment to help keep the beleaguered movie chain afloat, but it says it still needs another $750 million of additional liquidity to fund the company’s cash requirements through the end of 2021.

    Mudrick Capital came to AMC’s rescue with the additional funding. The company is an investment firm specializing in distressed credit investing, focused on “find(ing) investments with attractive risk reward ratios.” It also holds second lien notes issued by AMC and, if need be, will convert $100 million of existing AMC debt into AMC common stock.

    If all else fails?

    Should AMC fail to get more help, it repeated that it may have to enter bankruptcy proceedings. While 400 of its nearly 600 U.S. theaters are still open, bankruptcy may force it to close the rest of those theaters’ doors.

    “Given the uncertainty regarding our ability to raise material amounts of additional liquidity and the uncertainty as to the time at which attendance levels might normalize, substantial doubt exists about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern for a reasonable period of time,” AMC said in a regulatory filing.

    Another COVID-19 casualty

    It’s no surprise, but AMC puts much of the blame squarely on the pandemic’s shoulders. 

    “A significant spike in coronavirus cases, together with delays of major movie releases or the direct or simultaneous release of movie titles to the home video or streaming markets in lieu of theatre exhibition, have led to theatre closures, prevented the opening of theatres in major markets and have had, and are expected to continue to have in the future, a material adverse impact on theatre attendance levels and our business,” AMC said.

    The company’s finger-pointing toward delays and simultaneous releases of movies was aimed directly at Warner Brothers, who recently decided to release its entire 2021 movie slate on its streaming service HBO Max and in theaters simultaneously. AMC has fretted about this possibility for months, and it said in the filing that other studios may follow. 

    AMC found some respite over the summer with Universal, which it struck a deal with to make movies available sooner outside of theaters. However, that’s the only handshake deal it has been able to make so far.

    AMC Theatres has secured a $100 million investment to help keep the beleaguered movie chain afloat, but it says it still needs another $750 million of addi...
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    Disney+ tacks on $1 to its monthly subscription price

    Subscribers will pay $8 a month for the service starting in the spring

    Disney+ is raising its monthly subscription price to $7.99 a month, a $1 increase. The new price will go into effect March 26, 2021. 

    With the price hike, subscribers will pay $79.99 per year. Disney is also raising the price of the Disney Bundle -- which has Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN Plus -- to $13.99 a month (also a $1 increase). 

    Since launching in November 2019, Disney+ has amassed a whopping 86.8 million subscribers. During a four-hour presentation for investors on Thursday, Disney said it’s putting a lot of money into new content and needs to raise prices for subscribers as a result. 

    As many as 20 new Marvel and Star Wars series and more than two dozen Disney and Pixar movies or series are headed straight to Disney+, according to the company. Disney+ will be the first to receive movies like “Pinocchio,” starring Tom Hanks and directed by Robert Zemeckis, and “Peter Pan and Wendy,” starring Jude Law (both of which are still in production).

    The price increase comes a little over a month after fellow streaming giant Netflix raised the prices of its standard and premium subscription plans. At the time, Netflix’s COO and chief product officer Greg Peters said Netflix will “occasionally go back and ask [customers] to pay a little bit more to keep that virtuous cycle of investment and value creation going.” 

    Disney+ is raising its monthly subscription price to $7.99 a month, a $1 increase. The new price will go into effect March 26, 2021. With the price hik...
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    Hulu hikes price for its +Live package by $10 a month

    Consumers can expect routine price increases for streaming services to continue

    Hulu is raising the roof on its rates for their Hulu + Live TV package by $10 per month -- an aggressive 18 percent increase over the current $54.99 price. It’s the third major price hike for a live TV streaming service in 2020, and it brings Hulu up to the same price point as YouTube TV and FuboTV, both of which started charging $65 per month during the summer.

    Hulu subscribers have reportedly been notified about the price increase and have until December 18 to fish or cut bait from the service. Hulu’s on-demand streaming service has 32.5 million subscribers for a total of 36.6 million Hulu subscribers. 

    Streaming services are Disney’s new cash cows

    The price jump comes just days after Disney CEO Bob Chapek praised Hulu’s live TV offering during the company’s quarterly earnings call, saying its subscription base was “growing rapidly.”

    Actually, Chapek has several reasons to be happy. Disney has 120 million paid subscribers between Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+. If the company can get half of Hulu’s current 36.6 million subscribers to pay the extra $10 per month, it becomes a bonafide cash cow, bringing another $180 million a month to the table. 

    “We’ve got a product that we’re really excited about and ... it really gives the utility that consumers might normally find from the cable or satellite subscriber and be able to get it over-the-top directly to their homes,” Chapek said on the call. 

    ConsumerAffairs’ Hulu reviewers seem to agree with Chapek, giving the service close to a 4-star rating and applauding the service for everything he says it offers.

    Is cord-cutting still worth it?

    While bundling streaming services seems like a smart idea, by the time you add up a few to get what you consider the perfect little personal network, it may not be. Things can add up quickly when a service increases its rates a dollar here or there. A good case in point is Netflix, which has bumped up its subscription price five times in the last 10 years.

    “Sad as it is, we shouldn’t be surprised,” mused cord-cutting watcher Jared Newman. “If there was any doubt left about how the pay TV industry would respond to cord cutting, this latest price hike makes the endgame clear: There will be no pivot toward flexible packages, lower prices, or the mythical a la carte cable TV service. The prevailing strategy is now a scorched earth one, with routine price increases imposed on a shrinking number of pay TV subscribers.”

    Hulu is raising the roof on its rates for their Hulu + Live TV package by $10 per month -- an aggressive 18 percent increase over the current $54.99 price....
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