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The week in OTT: Spotify upgrades students plan; Facebook Watch goes global

The week in over-the-top provides a recap of recent news related to streaming initiatives in the U.S. from various networks and platforms.

* CBS Corp. streamed the premiere episode of the new series "God Friended Me" across a number of platforms, including the CBS app, CBS All Access and CBS.com. Other platforms are Facebook Inc.'s Facebook Premieres, Twitter Inc.'s microblogging service, Instagram's IGTV and multiple EST platforms such as Apple Inc.'s iTunes, Vudu, Google LLC and Sony Corp., according to a news release. The episode premiered on these platforms on Aug. 31 ahead of its broadcast premiere on Sept. 30 on the CBS (US) network.

* Netflix Inc. will stream new Mandarin series "The Rise of Phoenixes" in more than a dozen languages around the world starting Sept. 14. "The Rise of Phoenixes" is a 70-episode series loosely based on "Huang Quan," a novel by Tianxia Guiyuan, according to an Aug. 30 news release.

* In more Netflix news, the streaming giant will stream a stand-up comedy special featuring Ken Jeong in 2019. In the stand-up special, tentatively titled "Ken Jeong: First Date," Jeong will reflect on how he went from being a doctor to a comedy superstar, and other topics, according to an Aug. 29 news release.

* Spotify Technology SA upgraded its Spotify Premium for Students plan with the addition of Showtime (US). The existing $4.99 a month plan offers unlimited and on-demand access to all of Spotify's music and podcasts, along with a subscription to Hulu LLC's streaming library, according to an Aug. 29 official blog post.

* Facebook made its Watch video service available worldwide, a year after it went live in the U.S., Agence France-Presse reported Aug. 29. Users can follow series or access a Watchlist to discover new productions and suggested content based on what their friends are watching.

* Sony's PlayStation Vue bolstered its content offering with the addition of ESPN College Extra, Multichannel News reported Aug. 29. ESPN College Extra is a package of eight channels that offers football, basketball and baseball games from colleges and conferences throughout the season.

* Viacom Inc. launched an over-the-top channel, called NickSplat Channel, on the VRV platform, Broadcasting & Cable reported Aug. 28. VRV is part of the Ellation unit of Otter Media Holdings LLC, which was recently acquired by AT&T Inc. NickSplat is a multiscreen service featuring 30 series from Nickelodeon (US)'s library. Users can subscribe to the VRV bundle for $9.99 a month, or get NickSplat on an a la carte basis.

* Hulu placed a two-season order for "Solar Opposites," an animated comedy series about aliens in Middle America, Deadline.com reported Aug. 28. The two seasons will feature 16 episodes.

* Netflix struck an exclusive overall deal with author Harlan Coben. Under the multiyear agreement, the streaming giant will team up with Coben to develop 14 existing titles and future projects into English language and foreign language series, as well as films, according to an Aug. 27 news release.

* Netflix also signed an overall deal with animation creator Alex Hirsch. Hirsch will exclusively develop new series and features for Netflix under the multiyear deal, the company said Aug. 27.

* In more Netflix news, the company picked up a new scripted crime anthology series, called "Historia de un Crimen." The series tackles notorious controversial crimes that have rocked countries for decades, generated social turmoil and triggered charges of corruption and a search for justice, the company said Aug. 27.

* Netflix will release the "Sextuplets" movie, starring Marlon Wayans in all six leading roles, globally in 2019. The movie is about a man embarking on a personal journey to meet his birth mother before the arrival of his first child, the company said Aug. 27.

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