NEW YORK (AP) — The future of TV may well be a mishmash of streaming services that could rival the cost of a $100 cable bundle — but that are way more difficult to use.
Disney’s plan for two new streaming services (and possibly more) is just the latest sign that everyone is jumping into the streaming business. It intends to launch a kids-oriented movie and TV streaming service in 2019 that will pull Disney and Pixar films from Netflix, as well as an ESPN sidekick service (minus pro football and basketball) expected early next year. The company is even exploring the possibility of separate streaming services for its Star Wars and Marvel superhero films.
All of that will simply add to a cacophony of existing Netflix-style video services that let you watch what you want, when you want. More are probably on their way, as entertainment companies see profits in controlling not only the creation of their films and shows, but also their distribution.
The downside? Potentially bigger bills, and more work for people who just want to find something to watch. “Ultimately for consumers, it means that experience is dreadful,” says Paolo Pescatore, a vice president with research firm CCS Insight.
PROBLEM ONE: FINDING STUFF TO WATCH
New Yorker David Berkowitz still pays for cable, streams from Netflix and Amazon, and sometimes buys individual movies from Amazon; his three-year-old daughter already watches “Finding Dory” and “Finding Nemo” on two separate services. The prospect of a new Disney-only service isn’t reassuring. “Having a third thing in the mix seems like a lot to juggle,” he says.
To find stuff to watch, Berkowitz’s family uses a Roku box attached to their TV, which suggests streaming channels the family may like and lets them search for the shows and movies he wants to watch. There are also websites to guide streamers, like justwatch.com.
That’s fine if you know what you’re looking for. But the modern-day channel surfer has it much harder. “There’s going to be a proliferation of niche content,” says Colin Petrie-Norris, CEO of Xumo, a streaming-channel provider for smart TVs. “The way for it to be managed, findable for a user — that has not emerged yet.”
PROBLEM TWO: PAYING THE PRICE
People quit cable because they can’t justify a $100-and-always-climbing monthly payment, especially with so much good stuff on cheaper services. But the cost of multiple streaming services adds up, too.
A $30 TV antenna gets you local channels — CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, PBS, Univision — for free, though you have to watch whatever’s on at the moment unless you have a DVR. If you want to see the edgy shows everyone talks about, then Netflix is, for most, $10 a month; Amazon is $8.25 a month if you sign up for a year. Hulu starts at $8. HBO Now, $15.
Tickled by ads for a specific network show? “The Sinner,” an eerie-looking new Jessica Biel vehicle on USA, costs $20 on Amazon for the season. All that together is already more than $60 a month. It’s even worse if you’re a sports fan. MLB.TV is $113 for the year, and you won’t get hometeam games .
Berkowitz says he’s curious about the Disney service, especially since he expects to save money by cutting cable. “For us, if it’s $5 a month it’ll almost be like that impulse buy, go to a store and pick up a candy bar,” he says.
Disney hasn’t settled on prices yet, saying only it wants an affordable service that’s broadly appealing. Its DisneyLife streaming video app in the U.K. launched at 10 pounds a month in November 2015 and now costs half that — about $6.50.
Of course, Disney might still bundle Marvel movies and the Star Wars franchise into its service, which would help it appeal to a wider demographic. For kid’s programming, there’s already a lot out there. Much of it is free.
Darcy Hansen, a communications consultant and stay-at-home mom in the Dallas suburbs, has two kids under age 5 whose favorite show — “Sheriff Callie’s Wild West” — is a Disney series on Hulu. But a Disney app isn’t a must-have for her.
Her kids already watch “all sorts of things” on YouTube and on the free PBS Kids app, and they have Netflix too, Hansen says. “I don’t think Disney has a monopoly on children’s programming, in our house at least.”
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Packers have submitted videos to the NFL of hits by Eagles players that knocked out Green Bay’s Malachi Dupre and Damarious Randall on separate plays.
Coach Mike McCarthy said Friday he expected the league to evaluate the hits from Thursday’s preseason game from the perspective of player safety. When asked to clarify, McCarthy said, “If I turned them into the league, I don’t think they’re legal hits.”
Dupre, a rookie receiver, was carted off on a stretcher in the fourth quarter following a hit by rookie safety Tre Sullivan. Dupre was evaluated at a hospital and returned to Lambeau Field on Friday.
Randall was hurt after receiver Bryce Treggs hit the cornerback high while throwing a blind-side block. McCarthy said Dupre and Randall were in the concussion protocol.
“So you don’t want to see your players ever get injured, specifically if it’s not within the climate of what the league is looking for as far as the proper way to block and so forth,” McCarthy said.
Dupre’s injury looked especially scary. He was leaning forward on the run trying to gain yards after a catch when Sullivan lunged and hit Dupre high for the tackle.
McCarthy also said offensive lineman Don Barclay’s ankle injury was not as serious as initially feared, though he had no timeline for his return. The backup center can also play every other position up front.
The Packers are still working on how to outfit tight end Richard Rodgers with protection for a hand he injured in practice earlier this week. Rodgers did not play on Thursday.
More AP NFL: pro32.ap.org and twitter.com/AP—NFL
AMSTERDAM (AP) — Experts say the risk of getting sick from eating an egg tainted with insecticide is low. But that hasn’t stopped stores in Germany and the Netherlands from stripping them from supermarket shelves, or prevented other European food safety agencies from issuing warnings.
The story about the illegal use of the insecticide Fipronil in spray to rid hens of ticks, fleas and lice has gained traction across Europe. Fears about the safety of an everyday food staple along with some less-than-optimal public information have combined to cast a shadow of suspicion over the humble egg.
Amsterdam shopper Karla Spreekmeester said Friday that she only buys eggs from stores selling organic food products.
“I take it seriously,” she said of the Dutch warning. “I’m not scared that I’ll collapse if I eat the wrong egg, but if you can prevent something …”
Fipronil is commonly used by veterinarians to treat fleas and ticks in pets, but is banned by the European Union for treating animals like chickens that are part of the human food chain.
The EU said contaminated eggs have been found at producers in Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands. It’s believed the Fipronil got into the food chain when it was illegally added to a product used to spray poultry.
The impact for egg producers has been staggering.
Since July 20, Dutch farmers have destroyed millions of unsellable eggs and culled about 1 million hens, said Hennie de Haan of the Dutch union of poultry farmers.
But nobody has been reported to have fallen ill as a result of eating the tainted eggs.
“People are very susceptible to negative information,” said Jan-Willem van Prooijen, a social psychologist at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. “People are very attuned to perceive and respond emotionally to negative information such as potential health hazards or other threatening stimuli.”
In recent days, Dutch authorities blocked sales from about 180 infected farms treated by a company suspected of illicitly using Fipronil.
Almost all lab tests show that only very low levels of Fipronil — seven to 10 times lower than the maximum permitted — have been detected in eggs from the treated chickens, although one test in Belgium was above the European limit. Poisoning by small doses has few effects and requires little treatment. Heavy and prolonged exposure can damage the kidneys and liver or cause seizures.
Dutch authorities warned that eggs from only one farm should not be eaten and said children should not eat eggs from dozens of other farms.
That sent consumers to their refrigerators to check the small codes printed in red ink on the shells of eggs to see if they are from one of the affected farms. Stores have pulled eggs from contaminated farms off their shelves.
The European Union said Friday that tainted eggs have been found so far in 15 EU countries, plus Switzerland and Hong Kong.
In Germany, some supermarkets stopped selling all Dutch eggs regardless of whether they came from infected farms. British authorities issued a warning about a small number of ready-made salads, sandwiches and spreads containing contaminated eggs.
The precautions came despite food safety experts being nearly unanimous in their opinion that the health risk from eating Fipronil-tainted eggs is very low.
“Even when taken deliberately at 10,000 times the maximum amount likely to be consumed from contaminated eggs, the individuals survived with no long-term harm,” Alan Boobis, professor of biochemical pharmacology, Imperial College London, said in a statement.
“Based on the extent of contamination found and the number of such eggs that have reached the U.K. market, there is no reason for consumers to be concerned,” he added.
So why are consumers concerned?
“Bad is stronger than good,” said Van Prooijen, citing a time-honored maxim among psychologists. “And that means human beings pay more attention to negative things than positive things, because negative things can harm you.”
Some farmers say the Netherlands’ food safety watchdog last week fanned such fears.
The acting inspector-general of the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, Freek van Zoeren, said on a Dutch TV news show that, “if somebody says ‘I can live without eggs until Sunday,’ I’d advise that.”
Dutch Health Minister Edith Schippers acknowledged on another show Thursday night that the statement was ill-judged.
Van Zoeren “made comments that, indeed, did not increase the clarity,” Schippers said.
Anja Visscher, whose 110,000 white hens lay about 100,000 eggs each day, quickly took to Facebook and the internet to reassure customers after Van Zoeren’s comment.
“There are companies whose eggs are OK, so eat an egg,” was the message she and other farmers spread. “You want the market to remain OK.”
On Thursday, authorities arrested two men in the Netherlands who were directors of the company involved in spraying poultry barns, saying they endangered public health. Their identities have not been released while a criminal investigation continues.
Farmers have said they were unaware the spray contained Fipronil and see themselves as unwitting victims. In the Netherlands, they also blame the food safety watchdog for not acting fast enough after receiving an anonymous tip about possible Fipronil use in November 2016.
Some industry groups say the scandal should be a wake-up call.
“Citizens want something cleaner, better, and we have been working on that,” said Philippe Duvivier, president of FUGEA, a Belgian farmers’ group working for sustainable agriculture. “We have to call the whole sector into question now. Perhaps it’s time to go to a whole other kind of agriculture.”
Associated Press writer Lorne Cook in Brussels and videographer Aleksandar Furtula in Barneveld, the Netherlands, contributed.
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — The stardust has settled from the just-ended Television Critics Association’s annual summer meeting, revealing a lot, if not everything, about the 2017-18 TV season. With a posh hotel as staging center, a two-week parade of actors, producers and executives dished in Q&A sessions about their projects and TV in general.
Should we be excited about what’s in store for the next chapter of the current golden age of TV, as brought to us by cable, streaming platforms and, on rare occasion, broadcast networks (read: “This Is Us”)? The players and concepts tell the tale, absent the final word from the most influential critics of all, the viewers.
— In ABC’s “The Mayor,” Brandon Micheal Hall plays a young rapper whose run for mayor is intended solely to garner publicity for his music, but then he’s elected. Hall won the role after a series of auditions and a screen test, proving he could hold his own with TV veterans Yvette Nicole Brown (“Community”), who plays his mother, and Lea Michele (“Glee,” ”Scream Queens”) as his campaign manager.
— Alice Englert is working for her real-life mom, Oscar-winning filmmaker Jane Campion (“The Piano”), and opposite powerhouse actors Elisabeth Moss and Nicole Kidman in “Top of the Lake: China Girl,” SundanceTV’s follow-up to “Top of the Lake.” Kidman warmly vouched for Englert, whom she’s known from birth, saying she handles her role “beautifully” and noting the ingrained ease and affection they share.
— Iain Armitage, who stars as the title character in CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” prequel “Young Sheldon,” is eat-him-with-a-spoon cute and so poised that it’s easy to see why producers are banking on the 9-year-old. Asked about his favorite shows, he politely said he doesn’t watch much TV and spends most of his time reading, playing — not video games — and being around people. He’s already got a role in a buzzy movie, “The Glass Castle.”
— Will and Grace and Larry David are returning to TV after absences of various lengths. “Will & Grace” stars Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally, who reunited last year for a video supporting their presidential candidate of choice (hint: she lost), decided to keep the fun going and advance the 1998-2006 sitcom’s groundbreaking treatment of sexuality. NBC has already ordered a second season.
David, whose last “Curb Your Enthusiasm” aired new episodes in 2011 on HBO, explained why he’s back as “TV Larry” in matching “real Larry” blunt fashion: “I was missing it (the show), and I was missing these idiots,” he said, indicating his co-stars including Jeff Garlin and Susie Essman. The charm is intact!
— Freddie Highmore, 25, is undeniably fresh-faced. But he’s a veteran actor, from last decade’s “Finding Neverland” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” to his recent TV work on “Bates Motel” as Norman “Psycho” Bates in his formative years. With “The Good Doctor,” Highmore has the chance to plumb new depths of his talent as a surgeon with autism and savant syndrome, which prove both a gift and a challenge.
— Streaming platforms Amazon and Netflix go their own way with publicity as well as content. They skipped the TV critics’ meeting that networks and cable outlets rely on as a promotional opportunity. Granted, the idea of a making a splash with new fall programming is outside streaming’s business model, but that approach also is diminishing with traditional outlets as they seek audiences year-round. Bottom line: Network and cable executives were willing to field questions about their businesses and shows; streaming services weren’t.
— Speaking of broadcast, which includes ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox, it appears largely intent on avoiding the creative vibrancy and daring of cable and streaming as exemplified by the likes of FX’s “Atlanta,” Netflix’s “Master of None” and Amazon’s “Transparent.” Instead, networks are mostly bringing forth a multiplex-style crop of comic book-based series, rote procedurals and reboots of “Roseanne,” ”Dynasty” and, yes, “Will & Grace.” Will audiences and sponsors keep buying it?
— People of color and especially women continue to find it hard to break into the top ranks of CBS stardom, and this fall isn’t making much of a dent with shows including “SEAL Team” starring David Boreanaz and sitcom “9JKL” with Mark Feuerstein. Network executives said they tried, with six shows in development starring women that didn’t turn out as expected. They chalked it up to the “cycle of business.” Recycling is more like it — how about a fresh approach from the ground up, including writers and directors?
Lynn Elber is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. She can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — A JetBlue Airways plane made an emergency landing in Buffalo after passengers smelled fumes and three crew members became ill on a cross-country flight.
Airport police tweeted Thursday that the crew members were taken to the hospital with dizziness, and a backup plane was called in. The flight was scheduled from Boston to San Diego.
JetBlue spokesman Doug McGraw said Friday that the incident was still under investigation and he didn’t have further details.
McGraw said aircraft odors are “relatively rare” and the airline has installed carbon air filters to minimize such incidents.
A passenger told Boston’s WFXT-TV fumes could be smelled in the cabin and that he and others reported headaches. The passenger’s videos show firefighters boarding the plane and also treating a flight attendant in the airport terminal.
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A tiger cub who was rejected by her mother at the Philadelphia Zoo can be seen bonding with her adoptive mother and brothers in Oklahoma via live-streaming video.
The Oklahoma City Zoo launched the “Tiger Cub Cam ” Thursday, showing Zoya with her new mother Lola and brothers Eko, Ramah and Gusti playing, feeding and sleeping indoors. The cubs are expected to move outdoors in mid-September.
Lola gave birth July 8 and Zoya was born July 9.
Zoya is an Amur, also known as a Siberian tiger, while Lola and her cubs are Sumatran tigers. Zoya was sent to Oklahoma City because the two tiger subspecies are similar.
Amur and Sumatran tigers are endangered, with fewer than 500 of each believed to be living in the wild.