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The Week in OTT: Netflix's interactive storytelling; new DIRECTV NOW packages


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The Week in OTT: Netflix's interactive storytelling; new DIRECTV NOW packages

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.

Top News

* Netflix Inc. will be "doubling down" on interactive storytelling over the next couple of years following the success of "Black Mirror" spinoff "Bandersnatch," Todd Yellin, the company's vice president of product, said while speaking at an event in Mumbai. Yellin called the company's first foray into interactive storytelling "a huge hit around the world" and "something we want to bet more on."

* AT&T Inc. is debuting two new video packages that include premium access to HBO (US). In addition to HBO, the new packages, called DIRECTV NOW PLUS and MAX, will offer live TV channels and an on-demand library of movies and TV shows. With the MAX package, customers will get more live sports channels, video-on-demand choices, and HBO and Cinemax included, the company said March 12.

In other platform news

* Content distributor Cinedigm Corp. struck a deal to acquire over-the-top platform Future Today Inc. for $45 million in cash and $15 million in Cinedigm common stock. The deal will bring together Future Today's 5.2 million monthly active users with Cinedigm's 2.4 million, creating a combined OTT footprint of more than 7.6 million monthly active users, Cinedigm said. Future Today owns and operates more than 700 content channels and manages more than 200,000 film, TV and digital assets in a range of categories.

* PBS (US) launched its "PBS Living" streaming service on Inc.'s Prime Video Channels on March 14, The Hollywood Reporter reported March 12, citing a company statement. The $2.99-a-month subscription video-on-demand offering will feature classic PBS series including "The French Chef," "This Old House" and "Antiques Roadshow," in addition to recent programming.

* Vivendi SA's Dailymotion video platform has signed a video player technology and content distribution deal with the NBA G League, the National Basketball Association's official minor league. Under the multiyear partnership, Dailymotion's advanced technology will be used as the NBA G League's primary video player to host and stream video-on-demand content on all of its owned and operated properties, according to a March 12 news release. The NBA G League will also distribute content from more than 1,300 games over the course of two seasons on Dailymotion.

* Cinedigm struck a deal with Comedy Dynamics, an independent comedy production and distribution company, to launch and distribute its comedy channel Comedy Dynamics Network. Cinedigm Digital Network will offer full digital distribution of the channel, including third-party platforms, à la carte licensing options and a live-linear channel in the first phase of launch, according to a March 12 news release. The live-linear channel will launch in the spring.

* Spotify Technology SA and Hulu LLC have teamed up again for a discounted premium bundle. Costing $9.99 per month, the plan will let subscribers access Hulu for free, according to a post on the company's website. The ad-supported Hulu tier costs $5.99 a month. The offer is valid until June 10 or while supplies last.

* Netflix said March 11 that it struck partnerships with Japanese production studios Anima Inc., Sublimation Inc. and David Production to co-develop original anime series. Among them are "Altered Carbon: Resleeved" produced by Anima, based on an original live-action science fiction Netflix series. From Sublimation, Netflix has ordered "Dragon's Dogma," an anime series based on a Capcom Co. Ltd. video game. Netflix will also team up with David Production to create "SPRIGGAN," inspired by a manga series.

* Apple Inc. is expected to unveil a new streaming TV service and a bundled subscription Apple News offering at a March 25 event, CNBC reported. The service, expected to launch globally, will include subscription TV offerings from CBS Corp., Viacom Inc. and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.'s Starz, an earlier report said. Apple is also in talks to add AT&T-owned WarnerMedia's HBO to the service.