Get three months of the Paramount+/Showtime bundle for $18

The big streaming story this week is the confusing launch of Warner Bros.' Max service, but the artist formerly known as HBO is not the only game in town. Paramount+ has been steadily gaining subscribers, thanks in part to a unique bundle that also includes cable stalwart Showtime. This combination platter typically costs $12 per month, but a new promo halves that price for new subscribers.

In other words, you get a full Paramount+ Premium subscription with Showtime for just $6 per month, though this discount vanishes into thin air after three months. The company is hoping you’ll keep the bundle after that, as the combined might of the two streaming services offers a whole lot of content.

Paramount+ is home to all things Star Trek, including the second season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds that premieres on June 15th. It also airs next-day CBS content, live news, plenty of sports, and original dramas that aren’t set in space, like Sylvester Stallone’s Tulsa King and that weird Fatal Attraction reboot. The service also hosts a bunch of hit movies not based on comic books, like Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves and Top Gun: Maverick.

Showtime may not have the content stable of main rival HBO, but it does have plenty of standout shows like Yellowjackets, Twin Peaks: The Return, Billions and Dexter, in addition to recent theatrical hits like The Fabelmans and Everything Everywhere at Once. The deal is live right now and lasts until June 4th.

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Netflix starts charging for account sharing in the US

Netflix has been quick to act on its plans to charge for account sharing in the US. The streaming service is notifying American customers that they'll need to pay $8 per month for viewers outside of the household who want to share the account. As in other countries, you can add one extra member with the Standard plan, and two with the Premium tier. You can convert profiles into paying extra member accounts.

Netflix account sharing rolled out in Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain this February after a trial program in Latin America. You can still watch outside of your home, but you'll have to establish the household's boundaries either manually through a smart TV app (which looks for devices on the same WiFi network) or automatically (based on IP addresses, device IDs and activity). Netflix says it doesn't know your exact location, but it may ask you to verify a device if you're traveling or otherwise using a different connection.

Netflix has been direct about the reasoning behind its initiative. The media giant has pinned some of its recent financial troubles on users borrowing passwords to effectively get free service. Sharing Netflix accounts theoretically converts some of these people into paying customers, even if it also risks sending them into the arms of competitors like Amazon and Disney.

There have been criticisms of this approach. It could prove a hassle for college students that previously used the family account for in-dorm viewing. And while $8 per month isn't a high price for a streaming service, there are some viewers who may simply drop Netflix altogether. However, it's doubtful the company is going back. It said it was "pleased" with the results from the February launch, suggesting that paid sharing is here to stay.

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Comcast launches $20 live TV streaming service with 60 channels

Comcast is launching a live TV streaming service to rival Sling, FuboTV, YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV and all the rest. It’s called Now TV and it has something competitors lack, an extremely attractive price tag. Now TV includes 60 live channels and a Peacock subscription all for $20 each month.

There’s a slight catch. Now TV will only be available to Comcast Xfinity Internet customers and will operate as an add-on to any pre-existing service plan. A bare-bones Comcast cable plan costs $50 to $60 each month and doesn’t include Internet, so this is still a decent bargain.

The platform gives access to 40 premium cable channels, including standouts like AMC, Discovery, A&E, IFC, The History Channel, TLC, Lifetime and many more. It also comes with 20 hours of DVR storage and allows for three simultaneous streams. You also get 20 free ad-supported television (FAST) channels, like NBC News NOW, Sky News and a slew of genre-based channels. The service has some glaring omissions, however, as it doesn’t feature local broadcast TV or sports channels.

Of course, Now TV also includes a premium, though ad-supported, subscription to Peacock, so you can watch the deliriously bonkers Mrs. Davis, the hangout comedy Grand Crew and nearly 1,000 SNL episodes.

When the service launches in a few weeks, it’ll be accessible through the Xfinity Stream app and supported gadgets like Xfinity flex, Amazon Fire TV, iOS devices and Android devices. As for why Comcast would undercut competitors here on price, the cable arm of the company has been hit particularly hard by cord cutters, losing over 600,000 subscribers in just the first quarter of 2023.

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Warner Bros.’ Max streaming service launches with new $20 4K tier

HBO Max is completing its transformation into Warner Bros. Discovery's "Max" streaming service today, and it's launching with a new tier especially made for 4K ultra HD viewing. The Ultimate Ad-Free tier will set you back $20 a month or $200 if you're paying for a whole year, making it the service's most expensive subscription option yet. A subscription will give you access to over 1,000 4K movies and TV show episodes, which is nearly eight times more than previously available 4K content. It will also give you the ability to stream on up to four devices at the same time and to store up to 100 offline downloads.

Ultimate Ad-Free's arrival, however, spells the end of 4K availability if you stick to regular ad-free subscription. According to the company's announcement, "existing HBO Max subscribers will still have access to their current plan features for a minimum of six months following launch." After that, you'll no longer be able to stream 4K content on the service. To note, Warner Bros. raised its subscription prices in January, so you now have to pay $16 a month for the ad-free tier and $10 for the ad-supported one. 

For the Ultimate Ad-Free tier, Dolby Atmos and Vision will also be available for select content and devices. The company plans to keep growing its 4K library every month going forward, but for now, those 1,000 ultra HD shows and movies you can stream with a subscription include Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon,The Last of Us, the Harry Potter movies, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Dark Knight trilogy and The Matrix films. Further, all Warner Bros. movies released this year and in the future will be added to the tier's 4K library when they arrive on Max.

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DoorDash faces lawsuit accusing it of charging iPhone users more for delivery

DoorDash has been charging iPhone users more than Android users for identical deliveries, according to a lawsuit seeking class action status. The court documents (PDF, via 9to5Mac) submitted for the case included screenshots showing how iPhone users are charged an extra fee for "expanded range." On the company's website, it said the fee "helps DoorDash preserve [customers'] access to the available merchants farthest from [them]." However, the lawsuit said the fee is tacked onto iPhone users' bills more often than Android users' "likely because studies reveal iPhone users earn more."

In addition, it accuses DoorDash of adding the extended range fee onto the total of DashPass subscribers as a way "to subsidize lost revenues from discounted fees." DashPass is the company's $10-a-month subscription service that delivers orders over $12 for free. A couple of screenshots in the court documents show the extended range fee only being added to the account with DashPass and not to the one without, even though they were identical orders made for the same address. 

"DoorDash uses this deceptive practice to trick consumers into believing Dashers receive the 'delivery-related' fees when, in reality, each and every 'delivery fee' is retained in total by DoorDash," the lawsuit states. Other screenshots also showed orders made from iPhones having bigger base delivery fees than orders submitted from Android devices. 

The lawsuit, filed by Ross Hecox and his minor children in the United States District Court of Maryland, is asking for monetary damages of no less than $1 billion "for all consumers who fell prey to DoorDash's illegal pricing scheme over the past four years."

A DoorDash spokesperson denied the allegations and told Insider in a statement:

"The claims put forward in the amended complaint are baseless and simply without merit. We ensure fees are disclosed throughout the customer experience, including on each restaurant storepage and before checkout. Building this trust is essential, and it's why the majority of delivery orders on our platform are placed by return customers. We will continue to strive to make our platform work even better for customers, and will vigorously fight these allegations."

This isn't the first time the delivery service's business practices have been called into question. In 2020, the company, along with GrubHub, Postmates and Uber Eats, were sued for exploiting their dominant position in restaurant deliveries to impose fees on users even during the pandemic. Chicago sued the company for advertising delivery services from restaurants that never consented to be added to its platform. The attorney general for the District of Columbia also filed a lawsuit against DoorDash, accusing it of using tips to cover part of drivers' base pay instead of adding it on top of what they're supposed to get. DoorDash agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle that lawsuit with Washington, DC. 

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AT&T opposes the Starlink and T-Mobile satellite-to-phone service plan

AT&T doesn't think that the satellite-to-phone service T-Mobile and SpaceX's Starlink are planning should be approved as it is, and it has informed the FCC of its opinion in a filing (PDF). As Bloomberg notes, the carrier has raised concerns that the companies' service, in its current proposed state, could interfere with existing wireless services. "[I]t is paramount that operations do not jeopardize or inhibit the delivery of terrestrial wireless services," AT&T wrote. 

In August last year, T-Mobile and SpaceX announced a collaboration that would allow the carrier's subscribers to connect to Starlink's second-gen satellites for coverage even if they're in the most remote locations. The companies are gearing up to begin testing this year, and the FCC started seeking comments (PDF) in April on their request to establish supplemental coverage from space (SCS). AT&T's filing is a response to that call. 

The carrier wrote that FCC's rules "do not permit SpaceX’s proposed use of T-Mobile’s terrestrial spectrum" and that the companies "fail to even request — much less justify — rule waivers that would be necessary to authorize their proposed SCS authorizations." It added: "More broadly, the Applicants' technical showings are woefully insufficient regarding the risk of harmful interference posed by their planned SCS deployments. SpaceX and T-Mobile’s applications fall far short of meeting the threshold for waiver and cannot be granted in their current state."

AT&T has plans for a satellite service of its own in partnership with communications specialist AST SpaceMobile. The companies successfully conducted the first two-way satellite audio call on AT&T's network in Texas to a Rakuten number in Japan on a Samsung Galaxy S22 smartphone in April. The carrier assured in its filing that consistent with its comments, "AT&T and AST intend to provide the demonstrations necessary to show that they will not cause interference to any authorized terrestrial system."

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Get three months of Hulu for only $6 starting today

Hulu’s offering a steep discount in honor of the completely made-up holiday National Streaming Day. Until May 27th, new and returning subscribers can nab three months of the streamer’s ad-supported plan for $6, breaking down to $2 per month. These plans typically cost $8 each month, or $24 for three months, so this is nothing to sneeze at.

Normally these types of deals are just used to lure in new customers and are unavailable to returning subscribers, but this one breaks the mold so long as you canceled over a month ago. Of course, you have to be okay with watching a few ads every now and again, but this is a full subscription with access to the streamer’s entire library of content, including forthcoming seasons of The Bear and the recently-revived Futurama.

The ad-supported tier, however, doesn’t allow you to download content for offline viewing, so keep that in mind when planning a long summer trip. Also, just like a streaming Cinderella, that $2 carriage reverts to an $8 pumpkin after three months, so mark your calendar and cancel to avoid getting charged.

Hulu is generally considered to be one of the best streaming sites around, with tons of original programming like The Handmaid’s Tale and access to broadcast TV standouts like Abbott Elementary.

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Virgin Galactic’s final VSS Unity flight test is slated for May 25th

Virgin Galactic's lengthy road to space tourism is nearing an end. The firm now expects its final VSS Unity test flight to launch as soon as May 25th at 10AM Eastern, with specialist training starting on May 22nd. The mission will check the technical functionality and the "astronaut experience" one more time before commercial service begins.

The company hasn't narrowed down the official start to paid service. It has delayed the rollout multiple times, most recently due to challenges upgrading the VMS Eve "mothership" that carries Unity to 50,000 feet. Virgin launched its first fully crewed spaceflight in July 2021, with founder Richard Branson aboard.

A successful test may be crucial for Virgin. The company is still bleeding money, and lost just over $500 million in 2022. When tickets cost $450,000 each and require a $150,000 deposit, commercial service could help Virgin stem those losses and fund its long-term ambitions, which include next-gen Delta vehicles due to enter service in 2026.

There's also external pressure. Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin is already carrying civilians into space, and SpaceX is slowly moving closer to its dreams of lunar tourist trips. While these flights will also be out of reach for many people, Virgin still doesn't want to be seen lagging behind rivals competing for wealthy passengers.

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Five Nights At Freddy’s movie teaser shows off murderous animatronics

Get ready to deal with things that go clank in the night on the big screen. A Five Nights at Freddy's movie is on the way later this year, and Universal Pictures has revealed the first teaser for the long-gestating adaptation. The clip doesn't seem to hold too many surprises for those who are familiar with the jump scare-laden FNaF games, but it captures the aesthetic well enough.

It focuses on a character played by Josh Hutcherson as he starts a new gig as a night-time security guard at a family entertainment center. However, the animatronics at Freddy Fazbear's pose a terrifying threat to anyone still in the building after the doors close. The animatronics look spot on, which isn't exactly a shock given that Jim Henson's Creature Shop brought them to life.

Five Nights at Freddy's will arrive in theaters and on Peacock on October 27th. If you can't wait that long and simply need to watch a movie in which possessed animatronics go on a killing spree, check out Willy's Wonderland. It has both a similar concept and Nicolas Cage, and it's enjoyable enough.

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Amazon’s redesigned Echo Buds are only $50

Amazon has two generations of Alexa-friendly Echo Buds under its belt, and today it's introducing a third. The new model has been completely redesigned from the first two with an AirPods-like stickbud aesthetic many companies have adopted over the years. There are other changes too, but perhaps the most interesting one is what Amazon has done with the price. While the first two versions ranged from $100-$130, the third-gen Echo Buds are just $50.

The company describes the new design as "lightweight and compact" but also "semi-in-ear." However, it didn't go into much more detail about the updated look in the press release. This likely means a fit akin to the "regular" AirPods: the earbuds stay put in your ears but don't have a tip to create a tight seal. As you might expect, Amazon is touting the new Echo Buds as a chance to take Alexa with you everywhere with quick hands-free access via voice cues. Inside, 12mm drivers offer "rich sound and balanced bass," according to the company. For calls there are two microphones and a voice detection accelerometer that work together to pick out your voice. 

In terms of battery life, Amazon says you can expect up to five hours of listening time on the buds with three full charges in the case (20 hours total). The company also gives you the ability to customize the onboard tap controls and offers multi-point pairing alongside a VIP Filter. That latter feature has been available on Echo Buds and Echo Frames, allowing you to limit notifications to certain contacts or apps. 

The new Echo Buds are available for pre-order now from Amazon for "release day delivery" on June 7th. They're currently available at an introductory price of $40, but they will normally be $50 .

Echo Buds (3rd gen)

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