Streaming 2015: HBO Now, Go90, The NFL And The President (And GloZell)

Sometimes I get all puffed up about the excellence of online information and entertainment.  

No sooner does that happen than I run across something like Gizmodo’s recent stunner, “A Mirror Made of Fuzzy Pom-Poms Is A Creepy, Beautiful Thing.” I’m so happy that much of the world has decided dead-tree-media like newspapers are irrelevant.  While reading/viewing that pom-pom dispatch, for example, Gizmodo recommended something else I might like: “What Happens When You Mix Coca-Cola With Bleach?” Don’t tell me you haven’t wondered.

So yes. There’s a lot of room for improvement in the streaming world but 2015 did produce many developments that really were significant. The drift away from TV and the TV set seems so much quicker. But what is replacing traditional TV is TV conveyed in non-traditional ways. 



--HBO Now,  CBS All-Access:  In April, HBO Now debuted, giving cord-cutters/cord-nevers a chance to see HBO online without otherwise being a subscriber to HBO via cable (or using their parents’ info to authenticate). HBO Now was a landmark of sorts, kind of like when the big department stores in the 1960s recognized their customers were all moving to the suburbs and decided (finally) to follow.

Because HBO is HBO, the move had added significance.

At the same time, CBS All Access, a pay service that allowed online streamers to watch current season shows (and past, too) kept expanding from its 2014 limited launch. Without as much fanfare as some other announcements in 2015, CBS said it was developing a new “Star Trek” series for 2017 designed specifically not for TV but for its online service, where the episodes (beyond the premiere) will be shown, exclusively. (I think by 2017, that will not seem very radical at all.)

And also in 2015, Dish introduced its OTT skinny-cable alternative, SlingTV, with just a handful of networks, just like cable bashers said they wanted. But it’s unreliable enough that at least one seer predicts that at some point this year, Sling TV will be axed.

All of those moves, plus some others like the growing aggressiveness of Hulu as a content creator  indicated (as did stats) that the idea of cutting cable service and opting for streaming instead was not quite as contrary of an idea as it once was. (Also, it feels cool to announce your cord-cutting status, too. I hope to experience that within weeks.)

--The NFL on Yahoo: On October 25, in what was otherwise one of the most unimportant NFL games of the season, the miserable Jacksonville Jaguars defeated the not-as-miserable Buffalo Bills in a game played in London. But it was special.

Yahoo became the first-ever to  globally stream a live NFL game, (if you don’t count China as part of the world, because rights didn’t extend there). Yahoo reportedly paid $20 million for the privelege, and sold ads for $150,000 per, though reportedly settling for a lot less. 

About 15 million uniques tuned in--not bad for a game that, at best, was played at 9:30 in the morning in the U.S.  But CNN said in the average minute, there were 2.36 million viewers, far below the 10-20 million watching an NFL game on television.

Still, the game was an historic breakthrough, opening the wide world of streaming to the NFL, and creating a new bunch of competitors to the networks for a bundle of games the NFL will be peddling soon. Yahoo will be bidding again, no doubt: But so will other bigger fish, probably, including YouTube and maybe Apple or Amazon.  Most of the smart money believes the NFL won’t be on Yahoo the next time. People can be so mean.

--Go90: It was noteworthy enough that Verizon acquired AOL for $4.4 billion in 2015, but then, Verizon in October debuted Go90, an app that is mobile-first right down to its name (90 is for 90 degrees, which is how much viewers have to turn their smartphones to watch) and is a pastiche of short to very short videos purposely designed for video nibbling.

With programming deals with relevant providers (Awesomeness, Vice, Whistle Sports and more) Go90 is positioned for big growth in 2015, though Variety’s Todd Spangler brought up a good point: Mobile users already might have enough bubblle gum video favorites to be moved by Go90’s packaging of more of it.

--First President to be interviewed by someone wearing green lipstick: In January, President Obama sat down for live interviews with YouTubers Bethany Mota, Hank Green and the infamous GloZell Green--nearly an hour that, replayed today is a remarkable document of the year that was at that time still mostly to play out.

A favorite moment for me was GloZell’s lead in to a question about normalizing relations with Cuba. She referred to “the Castro” (twice) and told the president that based on what her Floridian Cuban friends told her, that guy “put the dick in dictatorship.” 

But then GloZell told the President that she cut the hoods off her husband’s  hoodies ('"for real") because she’s worried he’s going to be shot by “the po-po.” I recognized that as ridiculous as those videos about pom-pom mirrors and other junk are, there’s another world of online video that is frank, honest, unique and essentially walled off from the non-streaming world. 

More tomorrow. Thanks for reading, today and throughout 2015.

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