TIME Media

Nickelodeon Is Trying to Hook Pre-Schoolers on Streaming TV

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R. Nelson—Getty Images/Flickr RM Little girl using tablet

New service will have classic kids shows but fewer current hits

Nickelodeon is the next big television brand to throw its hat in the streaming ring.

The Viacom-owned kids’ network on Wednesday announced a new online service called Noggin, which will stream old episodes of shows such as Blue’s Clues and Little Bear for $5.99 per month. The service, available for iOS devices March 5, will also feature older shows such as Allegra’s Window and Gullah Gullah Island, as well as music videos and educational content.

Missing from the service are more recent mega-hits like Dora The Explorer. Nick says the content available on Noggin will remain “separate and distinct” from what you can watch on TV.

For what’s being offered, the price tag may be a bit high. Sesame Street now has a streaming service that costs $3.99 per month, and much of the legacy Nickelodeon content is available to Amazon Prime subscribers–along with a boatload of other features–for $99 per year, or $8.25 per month. However, Nick said it may offer Noggin to cable subscribers free of charge in the future.

MONEY TV

Nickelodeon Thinks You’ll Pay $6 a Month for a Netflix for Preschoolers

Blue's Clues
Nick Jr. Blue's Clues

If you think your toddler needs more screen time—and if you somehow don't already have more than enough child-friendly streaming options—Nickelodeon has the product for you.

This week, Nickelodeon announced that it is launching a new app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, available at Apple’s App Store starting March 5. The app will be a subscription video service called Noggin—the same name of the cable TV channel that was a predecessor of Nick Jr.—and it will offer as much ad-free viewing of “Blue’s Clues,” “Little Bear,” and other preschooler fare as your little one’s eyeballs can handle, at a price of $5.99 per month.

As Variety noted, “Nickelodeon continues to grapple with ratings declines at its traditional TV network, owing to viewers seeking video content on new kinds of screens.” In a recent week, Nickelodeon’s ratings among kids were down 35% compared to the same period a year ago. So you can’t blame the Viacom-owned network for trying to do something to boost its audience and revenues.

But who is going to pay $5.99 a month this service? Starting at just $2 more monthly, you can be a subscriber to Netflix, which has plenty of content for children of all ages—it’s even been adding reboots of kids’ shows like “Care Bears,” “Magic School Bus,” and “Inspector Gadget”—as well as movies and shows for adults. The vast majority of consumers who are intrigued with streaming already subscribe to one or more service, such as Netflix, Amazon Instant Video (free for Prime members), or Hulu Plus, all of which have sections full of kids’ content. There’s also plenty of free kid-friendly streaming video out there (PBS Kids, for example). Finally, if you have a pay TV subscription that includes Nickelodeon, as most packages do, you can download the Nick Jr. app for free and watch unlimited, ad-free full episodes of “Dora the Explorer,” “Bubble Guppies,” and such.

It’s unclear, then, why all that many families would need to pay another $6 a month for yet more preschooler streaming content.

If there’s a parallel in the industry, it’s CBS All-Access, the subscription streaming option that also charges $5.99 per month—and that many observers assume will fail. At least the CBS product is targeting adults, most obviously folks who are big fans of the network’s shows, such as “The Good Wife” and various versions of “CSI” and “NCIS,” as well as older programs like “Brady Bunch” and “Star Trek.”

CBS All-Access has some hope of attracting grownup subscribers who are picky about what they watch and who like CBS’s programming. But how many preschoolers do you know are picky about what they watch? Most of the kids we know are more than happy to be allowed to watch something—anything—on the iPad while their parents enjoy their meal at the restaurant.

TIME Media

Google’s Music Service Just Got Way More Useful

Chris Yerga, engineering director of Goo
AFP—AFP/Getty Images Chris Yerga, engineering director of Google, introduces some features of Google play during Google's annual developer conference, Google I/O, at Moscone Center in San Francisco on June 27, 2012.

Google Play Music users will now be able to store up to 50,000 of their own songs for free

Google is expanding the size of its celestial jukebox.

The company announced Wednesday that users will now be able to store up to 50,000 of their own songs for free using Google Play Music, up from the previous limit of 20,000 songs. The songs, which can be uploaded directly from a user’s iTunes collection or other local music folders, can be played on iOS devices, Android devices and the web.

This service shouldn’t be confused with Google Play Music All Access, Google’s Spotify competitor that lets users stream more than 30 million songs from the cloud for $10 per month. However, the two services can work in tandem, so a user can mix songs from the All Access library with tracks they’ve uploaded directly from their own files.

TIME Trailer

Things Are Super Awkward in Latest House of Cards Teaser

Claire and Frank seem a wee bit tense

The heights of power can put a little strain on a marriage. At least that’s what the latest teaser for Netflix’s upcoming third season of House of Cards seems to suggest.

In the 30-second trailer, Frank (Kevin Spacey) and Claire (Robin Wright) Underwood pose for an uncomfortable family photo—you know the kind, perhaps like those taken on Thanksgiving after a particularly unpleasant argument about politics… Hinting at discord at the top, Claire seems to “recoil” from his touch.

House of Cards season three premieres Feb. 27 on Netflix.

TIME streaming

These Are the Songs People Have Sex To, According to Spotify

Streaming music service Spotify has sifted through 2.5 million playlists made for that explicit purpose. Here's what it found

According to streaming music service Spotify, indie rockers The XX rule the bedroom. The band’s song “Intro,” the first on their debut album, is the most likely track to appear on user-made “sex” playlists on the service. The Guardian reports there are some 2.5 million such playlists on Spotify.

On average, men are more likely to have created sex playlists than women—56% to 44%. Top artists include Chet Faker, Zella Day and LP. The full collection of top songs are available here:

There are more than ten times as many playlists devoted to “love,” surely a sign of hope for humanity. There are about 28 million of those, according to Spotify. Miley Cyrus, Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake are among the most popular songs in that playlist category.

[The Guardian]

TIME Media

How to Watch The Walking Dead Without Cable

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes - The Walking Dead _ Season 5, Gallery - Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC
Frank Ockenfels 3—AMC Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead, Season 5.

Sling TV adds AMC to new live-TV streaming service

The biggest show in the history of cable television is no longer just on cable television.

AMC announced Monday that it’s joining the roster of channels available on Dish Network’s new television streaming service, Sling TV. That means, for the first time ever, the mega-popular zombie series The Walking Dead will be available to watch live for people who don’t have a traditional cable or satellite subscription. All the rest of AMC’s programming, including critical darling Mad Men and the new Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul, will also be available to stream.

The addition of AMC is a huge get for Sling TV, which launched Monday with a small bundle of channels offered to customers nationwide for $20 per month (AMC is not yet part of the lineup, but will be added “soon,” according to a press release). In addition to AMC, subscribers get ESPN, ESPN2, TBS, TNT Cartoon Network and several other channels. Customers can also buy topical add-on packs in categories such as sports and news for an additional $5 per month.

Sling TV is available for desktops, smartphones, Roku boxes and other streaming devices.

Sling TV is the latest in a growing number of online services that will let people live-stream television via the Internet without paying for cable. Sony is planning a TV service delivered online for its PlayStation platforms, while individual channels such as Viacom’s Nickelodeon and Time Warner’s HBO are also planning to offer their content online outside the traditional cable package.

The timing for the AMC add couldn’t be any better for Sling TV: The Walking Dead, which only grew more popular in 2014, returned with new episodes on Sunday.

TIME Web

How the Internet Reacted to Netflix’s Major Service Outage

The streaming service stopped working Tuesday for about an hour

The Internet collectively broke down on Tuesday afternoon when, for about an hour or so, Netflix stopped working for many users.

In a statement to EW, Netflix confirmed that the streaming service went dark around 3:40 p.m. PT for some users in North America and South America, “with a lesser effect on devices in Europe.”

“Service was restored to most Netflix members in under an hour. Our engineers are still investigating the cause,” the statement read.

While it may have been less than an hour, let’s not underplay the apparently lethal effect it had on users, some of whom reported that when Netflix is down “life is not worth living.”

This article originally appeared on EW.com

MONEY online shopping

Amazon Prime Membership Should Come With a Warning

Amazon Prime packages
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

And the warning is: After paying $99 for your subscription, you're going to spend a ton of money at Amazon.com.

Amazon rarely releases sales data to the media. Nonetheless, the idea that customers who subscribe to Amazon Prime wind up shopping and spending a lot more at Amazon is considered fact. After all, once customers are paying $99 for the service and know that express two-day shipping is available for free on nearly all purchases, it makes sense that they’ll stop shopping elsewhere and do most if not all of their online shopping at the site. It helps, of course, that Amazon has a reputation not only for selling a huge variety of merchandise, but for having low prices as well.

But what impact, exactly, does signing up an Amazon Prime membership have on the individual’s online purchasing habits? Again, it’s hard to say because Amazon is reticent to release data. What’s more, things are complicated because the people who find it most worthwhile to join Amazon Prime are those who shop often at Amazon in the first place. (When you’re a member, the more you spend, the more you “save,” at least in terms of shipping.) So it’s not simply a matter of figuring out how much Prime members versus non-Prime members spend at the site.

Still, it’s undeniable that Prime members spend a bunch more at Amazon than non-Prime members. In a recent story by a couple of my MONEY colleagues about Apple, Amazon, and Google in terms of investing opportunities, a ComScore report is mentioned revealing that “Prime members make twice as many purchases as nonmembers, and they spend 40% more per transaction.”

Read more: Why You Should Never Buy Stuff When You’re Sad

This week, a new survey was released by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (hat tip: Huffington Post) with some precise dollar figures regarding the topic. According to a survey of consumers who made purchases at Amazon from October to December 2014, Prime members say they spend an average of about $1,500 at the site annually, versus $625 for non-members.

Owning an Amazon Kindle is also correlated with increased Amazon.com spending. Kindle owners (who may or may not also be Prime members) spend $1,450 per year at Amazon, compared to $725 per year for customers who don’t own Kindles, according to the survey. “Similar to Amazon Prime members, Amazon Kindle owners are better customers,” Mike Levin, partner and co-founder of CIRP, said in a press release about the new report. “They also shop more frequently, and also buy more expensive items on average.”

All in all, the spending data spells out plainly why Amazon pushes sales of Prime and Kindles so hard. In particular, the world’s largest retailer has been relentless in upping the Prime value pitch by adding streaming services, producing original movies, and such. Just last weekend, for instance, Amazon dropped the price of Prime to $72 and allowed everyone to stream its Golden Globe Award-winning online show “Transparent” as a way to show off one of the perks of being a Prime member.

Read more: Amazon Is Making It Easier to Publish Your Own Kindle Textbooks

It’s no mystery that Prime membership, Kindle ownership, or both are essentially gateways that welcome online shoppers into the Amazon consumershere and result in sharply increased spending at the site.

On the other hand, there’s good reason to believe that people who aren’t Prime members are more likely to shop around and make purchases at Amazon only when it’s clearly the most convenient or cheapest option. They don’t automatically defer to making purchases at Amazon, like Prime members appear to do. And based on some recent studies indicating that Amazon doesn’t have the cheapest prices across the board, it seems wise to browse a range of retailers rather than immediately head to Amazon for a one-click purchase of your latest need.

Read next: Amazon Outbid Netflix For Its Most Successful Show

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

MONEY deals

Free ‘Transparent’ Streaming, Cheap Amazon Prime on Saturday

Jeffrey Tambor in Transparent
Beth Dubber—© Amazon/Courtesy Everett Colle Jeffrey Tambor in Transparent

Amazon already has tens of millions of subscribers to Amazon Prime. But Amazon wants more, and it's using a Transparent-Golden Globes-themed promotion on Saturday to win them over.

A report surfaced last autumn estimating that as many as 50 million people were members of Amazon Prime, the $99-per-year subscription service that includes two-day shipping on most purchases and unlimited streaming of video and music content. Mind you, that was before the 2014 holiday shopping season, during which Amazon reported some 10 million new members had signed up for Prime.

Previous studies have indicated that Amazon actually loses money on Prime due to all the shipping costs incurred by frequent shoppers. Yet Prime is undeniably a powerful revenue driver for the world’s largest retailer, because of the tendency of subscribers to make nearly all of their online purchases at Amazon once they’ve paid for a membership. Hence Amazon’s relentless push to boost Prime subscriptions at any and every opportunity.

And hence the latest Amazon promotion, which on Saturday grants everyone with an Internet connection free streaming of Transparent, the ground-breaking Golden Globe-winning comedy normally only available to Prime subscribers. Besides celebrating the success of Transparent and lead actor Jeffrey Tambor at the Golden Globes, the idea of airing the show for all to see is surely also a pitch to snag more Prime members. The implicit sales pitch being: Just look at the kinds of things you’d get to watch regularly if you were a Prime member!

What’s more, Amazon is giving Prime extra appeal by knocking the usual $99 price of a subscription down to $72 on Saturday, January 24. Why 72? Again, it has to do with the Golden Globes—the most recent awards were the 72nd in history.

TIME China

Agent Carter, Empire Gone From Chinese Streaming Sites

Kelsey McNeal/ABC Atwell as Peggy Carter in Agent Carter.

A crackdown on foreign media appears to have taken its toll

More U.S. television shows were removed from Chinese streaming services in what appears to be the latest consequences of the state censor’s crackdown on foreign series.

Shows like Agent Carter, Empire, and Shameless disappeared from multiple streaming portals this week, the L.A. Times reports.

Amid a campaign by the government of President Xi Jinping to sanitize the Internet in China, the country’s state censor, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, said last year that foreign shows — which have soared in popularity in China — would require government approval for the entire series before episodes aired online. Foreign series, the regulator also said, could only account for one third of programming on the online streaming sites, according to the Times.

Since then, shows like The Big Bang Theory have been pulled from streaming sites, typically without explanation.

Despite the rancor on social media after the latest purge, it remained unclear why the specific shows were removed, according to the Times.

[LA Times]

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