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The week in OTT: Verizon, NFL ink streaming deal; Sling TV adds CuriosityStream


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The week in OTT: Verizon, NFL ink streaming deal; Sling TV adds CuriosityStream

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.

* Verizon Communications Inc. struck a multiyear streaming deal with the National Football League. Verizon's portfolio of digital and mobile media properties, including Yahoo Sports, will stream in-market and national games and the Super Bowl nationwide regardless of mobile network, the company said Dec. 11.

* DISH Network Corp.'s Sling TV is offering CuriosityStream as a premium add-on "channel" for $6 per month, Multichannel News reported Dec. 7. CuriosityStream launched in 2015 with a focus on providing access to nonfiction documentaries in four broad categories: science, technology, history and nature.

* Fuse Media and DISH struck a continued carriage deal for music-centered network FM (US), Multichannel News reported Dec. 7. FM is available on channel 180 on DISH programming packages, including America's Top 120, America's Top 200, America's Top 250 and America's Everything Pack.

* Google Inc.'s YouTube is planning to launch a paid music service in March 2018 with music from all major record labels, Bloomberg News reported Dec. 7. YouTube is said to have already agreed to a deal with Warner Music Group Corp., and is currently in talks with the Sony Corp.'s Sony Music Entertainment Inc., Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group and Merlin Network. YouTube is also likely to begin negotiations with Vevo LLC in early 2018.

* Inc. launched Prime Video app on Apple Inc.'s Apple TV 4K and previous generations of Apple TV in more than 100 countries. Prime Video allowed users to watch Thursday Night Football live on Apple TV 4K and Apple TV, the company said Dec. 6. Users will also gain access to Amazon original movies and Prime originals in addition to other programming.

* Netflix Inc. and Shawn Levy's 21 Laps Television struck a multiyear exclusive deal for television series, the company said Dec. 6. Netflix and 21 Laps have previously teamed up on the "Stranger Things" series.

* Netflix is in talks to secure international streaming rights to the movie "Annihilation," reported Dec. 6. An agreement would allow Netflix to stream the movie overseas 17 days after its theatrical release by Viacom Inc.'s Paramount in the U.S. on Feb. 23, 2018.

In other platform news

* Google yanked YouTube from some Amazon devices over "lack of reciprocity" from the online retailer, The Wall Street Journal reported Dec. 5, citing a Google spokeswoman. The Alphabet Inc. unit said it disabled YouTube access on the Echo Show and plans to block YouTube on Fire TV on Jan. 1, 2018, because does not sell competing products like the Google Home smart speaker or the Chromecast streaming device. Also, Google said Amazon's Prime Video content cannot be accessed on Chromecast.

* DIRECTV NOW has surpassed the 1 million subscriber mark, AT&T Inc. said Dec. 5. Launched Nov. 30, 2016, the over-the-top streaming service picked up 200,000 subscribers in its first month. DIRECTV NOW offers more than 120 channels with four pricing plans that start at $35 per month.

* Facebook Inc. is looking to spend a "few billion dollars" on rights to stream sports, Recode reported Dec. 4, citing Sports Business Journal's John Ourand. The social-networking giant is currently interviewing candidates who could use these funds and broker rights deal for the company.

* Netflix entered into a distribution deal with Baidu Inc.-controlled iQiyi for some of the latter's drama series. The U.S. streaming giant secured the rights to iQiyi drama "Tientsin Mystic" for several international territories and to crime series "Burning Ice" for Southeast Asia. Both will be available in selected markets during the first quarter of 2018. Netflix also obtained rights to film trilogy "Chosen," a co-production between iQiyi and Sony Pictures Entertainment, Screen reported Dec. 4.

* Netflix will stream an eight-episode French comedy series in 2018. The series follows a group of friends who rally around their perpetually single girlfriend Elsa, who cannot seem to figure out why she is so unlucky in love, the streaming giant said Dec. 4.

* Netflix will resume production on the sixth and final season of "House of Cards" in early 2018, Variety reported Dec. 4, citing the company's Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. Production of the series was suspended after star Kevin Spacey was removed following sexual harassment allegations. At an event in New York, Sarandos said the company has reached an agreement to conclude the series, which will feature eight episodes. The final season will not star Spacey. Also, Sarandos said the streaming giant is working to debut four or five animated movies per year, and has 60 kids' series in production along with 30 anime originals from Japan. Netflix is also targeting 30 international scripted series around the world in 2018.

* Sports-first streaming TV service fuboTV further expanded its FOX (US) coverage by adding the national FOX feed in eight markets. The latest markets to receive the national FOX feed are Baltimore; Buffalo, N.Y.; Columbus, Ohio; Green Bay, Wis.; Nashville, Tenn.; Oklahoma City; Pittsburgh and San Antonio.