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People go nuts over this 50-inch 4K TV with built-in Fire TV – today it’s on sale for $349.99

Honestly, if you’re searching for a new 4K TV in the 50-inch range right now, there’s only one television you should even consider. It’s the Toshiba 50-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV with HDR – Fire TV Edition, and it offers an insane amount of bang for your buck. For just $399.99 you get a gorgeous display with Ultra HD resolution and HDR support, and you get Amazon’s awesome Fire TV interface built right in. But somehow it’s on sale for just $349.99 today, which makes it easily the best bargain you’ll find anywhere on a 4K TV!

Here are more highlights from the product page:

  • Toshiba 4K UHD Smart TV – Fire TV Edition delivers true-to-life 4K Ultra HD picture quality with over 8 million pixels for stunning clarity, deep contrast, and vivid colors.
  • With the Fire TV experience built-in, enjoy tens of thousands of channels, apps, and Alexa skills, including Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, HBO, SHOWTIME, STARZ, and more.
  • Fire TV Edition seamlessly integrates live over-the-air TV and streaming channels on a unified home screen (HD antenna required).
  • Easily control your TV with the included Voice Remote with Alexa—plus, launch apps, search for TV shows, play music, switch inputs, control smart home devices, and more, using just your voice.
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): TV without stand: 44.6” x 26.4” x 3.7”, TV with stand: 44.6” x 27.8” x 10.7”. Multiple device input/output options: 3 HDMI including 1 with ARC, USB, composite input, digital output (optical), antenna/cable output, audio output, Ethernet.

Sarah Jones, Joel Kinnaman & Michael Dorman to star in Apple’s sci-fi drama

Ron Moore’s unnamed, upcoming science-fiction series that he’s been tasked with doing for Apple seems to have begun filling out its main cast.

The Roku Channel is now available on the Web without a Roku device

The ad-supported channel introduced in 2017 is expanding beyond Roku’s hardware.

Disney will launch its streaming service without its biggest brands fully on board

Disney is serious about establishing itself in the streaming video space. Unfortunately, the long-anticipated streaming service it launches next year is going to have a bit of a slow start, given that many titles from some of Disney’s biggest brands — well, don’t bother looking for them on the service, not at first.

(Of course, Disney hopes you’ll sign up anyway.)

On the company’s earnings call with analysts Tuesday, Disney CEO Bob Iger made it clear the service will be missing key titles from brands like Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar when it launches late next year. Iger said Disney’s hope is that its 2019 release slate is so strong, though, with movies like Avengers 4 and Captain Marvel as well as original series, that people who sign up won’t notice or be too put off by the lack of earlier titles.

“I don’t want to say walk before we run because it’s not quite that,” Iger said. “There’s going to be a fair amount of running going on. We want to make sure we’re managing expectations … But it’s also one of the reasons why we’re creating a fair amount of original content for it as well, original Star Wars series, original Pixar series, original Marvel series and so on. And some original films as well because it’s clear that from a library perspective while there is certainly a lot of volume, the recent studio slate will not fully be available at any one-time because of the existing deals and it would take time for those rights ultimately to revert back to us.”

To get a sense of why Disney won’t have key pieces of its content lineup accessible via the streaming service at launch, remember that the company sold streaming rights to Disney movies to Netflix, an arrangement which got under way two years ago. Starz also has licensed Disney movies, and Turner Broadcasting is home to old Star Wars titles through 2024.

Disney is reportedly going to let its deal with Netflix expire at the end of this year. But other complications remain. Disney had been in talks with Turner about buying back the TV rights to the old Star Wars titles, but things have apparently hit a wall. A source told Bloomberg that Turner would expect to get “financial considerations and programming to replace the lost films.”

Star Wars, of course, ranks among the most lucrative franchises in Hollywood. “Disney,” Bloomberg notes, “sold certain rights to Turner in 2016, before it completed plans for the streaming service. The company has released four new Star Wars films since it acquired LucasFilm in 2012, and plans to release another in December 2019. Turner paid about $275 million for the six Star Wars movies released between 1977 and 2005, plus the newer titles.”

Disney hasn’t said yet how much it will charge for the new service, just that, per Iger, the price will reflect the size of the library. As Iger told analysts, “What we want to do is we want to make sure when we launch it is viewed as a quality product that we’re serving the fans, particularly of Marvel, Pixar, Disney and Star Wars well, and that the price that we’re charging reflects the value that we’re delivering. We’ve mentioned a number of times that we have the luxury of programming this product with programs from those brands or derived from those brands, which obviously creates a demand and gives us the ability to not necessarily be in the volume game, but to be in the quality game.

“And that’s not in any way suggesting that Netflix isn’t in the quality game. There’s a lot of quality there, but they’re also in the high volume game. And we don’t really need to do that.”

Even Apple is jumping on the cord-cutting train

Cord-cutting, as we’ve said endless times before, is happening faster than anyone could have anticipated. Every quarter brings another round of dismal news for cable and satellite TV providers, who are watching their cash cow vanish before their eyes, replaced by a cut-throat world of streaming TV subscriptions that barely make any money.

With the change comes an opportunity for outsiders to get a foothold in the wildly profitable entertainment market, and one of the biggest stealth players is Apple. The company has been rumored to have some kind of TV play in the works for nearly a decade — who can forget the fervent Apple HDTV rumors — but on Apple’s most recent Q3 earnings call, CEO Tim Cook hinted strongly that we’re going to see results sooner rather than later.

“As you know, we hired two highly respected television executives last year and they have been here now for several months,” Cook said in response to a question from Monness, Crespi, Hardt’s Brian White. The TV execs in question are likely Jay Hunt, a top British TV exec, and Carol Trussell, a former Gaumont Television exec who now serves as Apple’s Head of Production. The TV efforts are overseen by Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, two former Sony execs who moved to Apple last June.

“[They] have been working on a project that we’re not really ready to share all the details of it yet, but I couldn’t be more excited about what’s going on there and we’ve got great talent in the area that we’ve sourced from different places and feel really good about what we will eventually offer,” Cook continued. With Apple’s moves to acquire production talent and execs with deal-making experience in the industry, the consensus is that Apple is ramping up to offer its own streaming service, which might integrate a mix of original content, licensed video-on-demand, and perhaps live TV streaming services.

“In terms of the sort of the key catalysts and the changes, the cord cutting in our view is only going to accelerate and probably accelerate at a much faster rate than is widely thought. We’re seeing the things that we have on the periphery of this like Apple TV, units and revenue grew by very strong double digits, very, very strong double digits in Q3,” Cook said. He went on to describe how Apple has been seeing its Apple TV set-top box used by existing streaming services as an alternative to traditional cable boxes, which perhaps indicates where Apple wants to position itself in the market. If the company can make its hardware platform commonplace, it can become the common market for streaming services, backed by Apple’s own original content for video-on-demand services. That could keep Apple out of directly competing with cable companies (for now) while also enabling it to skim a small percentage of subscription revenue off the growing cord-cutting market.