This week on TechHive: Every wireless carrier streaming deal

Cord being cut in front of the Roku home screen

If you haven’t claimed any free or discounted streaming video services from your wireless carrier, you’re probably leaving money on the table.

Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T all offer streaming deals with certain wireless data plans, letting you get services like Netflix, Disney+, and HBO Max for free or cheap. While some of these offers are just extended free trials, others are entirely free or deeply discounted with no strings attached.

Making sense of all these streaming offers isn’t easy, though, so I’ve attempted to wrangle all the details into one place. Read the full column on TechHive.

Weekly rewind

Netflix’s search for more money: Coming off its largest quarterly subscriber loss ever, Netflix has offered a couple of updates on its quest to extract more revenue from customers.

First, the company has clarified how it’ll crack down on password sharing: If someone spends more than two weeks watching Netflix on a TV device from outside the subscriber’s home location (based on IP address), Netflix will block that TV unless the account holder pays an additional fee. The restriction won’t apply while watching on laptops, phones, or tablets.

Netflix is currently testing this scheme in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, and plans to roll it out more broadly next year. I expect it will bring a swift backlash not only from password sharers, but from people with legitimate reasons for accessing the service in multiple places.

Second, Netflix plans to launch its cheaper ad-supported tier in early 2023, but without its full library. That’s because it doesn’t have all the necessary agreements with rights holders to stream their content with ads. It’s unclear which content will be missing, or what the cheaper tier will cost, but the rights issues show just how quickly Netflix has been scrambling to get the ad-supported service together.

A big ESPN+ price hike: Starting August 23, the price of ESPN+ will jump to $10 per month or $100 per year, up from $7 per month or $70 per year currently. However, the price of the Disney bundle, which includes Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu (with ads), remains unchanged at $14 per month for now.

ESPN+ launched in 2018 for $5 per month, and has been gradually raising prices as it brings in more live sports coverage. As Sports Business Journal notes, additions over past 18 months include all out-of-market NHL games, PGA Tour Live, LaLiga soccer, and expanded rights to both Wimbledon and the Australian Open. We’ve also seen ESPN dabble in simulcasting major sporting events across its cable channel and ESPN+, including the Stanley Cup finals and a handful of late-season Monday Night Football matchups.

So while the price hike isn’t surprising, the aggressive Disney bundle pricing is. Still, I wonder if the latter’s price structure will change once Disney+’s ad-supported tier launches later this year.

Prime Video app overhaul: Amazon is giving the Prime Video app a long-overdue upgrade on streaming devices. A few of the key features:

  • Browsing by genre is much easier, with shortcuts on the home screen and the “Find” menu.
  • A new “Live” section includes a grid-based channel guide, both for Amazon’s free channels and add-on services such as Paramount+ and AMC+.
  • Show descriptions more clearly indicate if something is included with Prime, is free with ads, or requires an additional purchase.
Live TV guide in the new Prime Video app

As I wrote over at Fast Company, the update is part of a bigger shift for streaming services, which are becoming like miniature cable bundles unto themselves with a mix of premium shows, ad-supported video, live channels, and sports. Amazon is rethinking its app to reflect this new reality, and it won’t be the last to do so.

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Save more money

Looking for a new code for another free month of Paramount+? Give SHORE or LOTTERY a try. Both codes must be entered on the Paramount+ website, and are valid only for new or returning subscribers. My TechHive article has more instructions if you need them.

Also, Amazon is currently selling the Apple TV 4K for $130, which is $50 off the list price. While that’s no match for the price we saw on Prime Day ($109), it’s still a great deal on an excellent high-end streaming box.

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Previously: Why YouTube TV is winning

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