Federal Ruling Updates Royalty Rates for Streaming Music

When a panel of federal judges increased the royalty rates that free Internet radio services pay, there were winners and losers. The rate for pure-play Internet services rose to 17 cents from 14 cents, disappointing SoundExchange, the non-profit licensing agency representing record companies, which had asked for 25 cents. The Copyright Royalty Board also evened the playing field between pure-play and broadcasters with Web streams such as iHeartRadio, with the latter owing less — 22 cents rather than 25 cents — for their paid subscriptions. Continue reading Federal Ruling Updates Royalty Rates for Streaming Music

BBC Turns to Parrot Analytics AI to Measure Show Demand

BBC Worldwide has recently employed artificial intelligence to analyze global demand for specific TV shows. In the most notable case, the BBC turned to New Zealand company Parrot Analytics’ AI and data science to learn that Germany, China, India and Singapore had high demand for its contemporary “Sherlock” series. After extensive testing, the BBC has again used Parrot’s data for several other shows, to find territories and platforms where demand exists. Parrot’s research includes multiple screens and markets. Continue reading BBC Turns to Parrot Analytics AI to Measure Show Demand

European Commission Enacts Data Protection Regulations

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm; the European Parliament and member states just approved stringent data protection regulations, considered there to be of equal importance to freedom of expression. The rules, slated to go into effect by early 2017, will give individuals more power over how their information is collected and managed, as well as make data protection regulations consistent across the EU. Officials have been meeting since summer 2015 to hammer out rules that all 28 members could agree to. Continue reading European Commission Enacts Data Protection Regulations

Open Source Speeds Developments in Artificial Intelligence

When Tesla released all of its patents to the public in 2014, it jumpstarted the electric car ecosystem while continuing to succeed. Facebook made its data-center architecture available to the masses, still making a tidy $12+ billion in revenue last year. Open source code is now fueling tremendous innovation and digital capabilities. Whereas companies in the past dominated by using licensed software to create monopolies, today’s companies relying on open source code differentiate themselves by the services they offer. Continue reading Open Source Speeds Developments in Artificial Intelligence

Virtual Reality Roller Coasters Are Coming to Theme Parks

In 2016, virtual reality will go on a roller coaster ride at several theme parks. Plans for nine VR roller coasters are already slated, with haunted mazes and thrill rides in the planning stages. At the Wonderland amusement park, outside Toronto, Canada, the Thunder Run roller coaster will begin to offer virtual reality headsets, for an added fee, to a limited number of riders. During the off-season, the park tested the VR experience, where riders fly on the back of a fire-breathing dragon over a medieval village. Continue reading Virtual Reality Roller Coasters Are Coming to Theme Parks

Netflix Adopts New Streaming Plan for Better Pix, Less Data

Netflix is changing how it streams video, the first such effort since the company launched in 2007. Beginning in 2011, Netflix has been working on a new streaming algorithm that will not only improve image quality but also save up to 20 percent of data. Netflix currently accounts for nearly 40 percent of all data consumed during peak Internet viewing hours. As Netflix focuses on entering more international territories, including nations with less developed Internet capabilities, streaming quality and data usage are critical. Continue reading Netflix Adopts New Streaming Plan for Better Pix, Less Data

FAA Releases New Drone Regulations in Time for Holidays

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) just announced its rules for drones, in advance of the holiday shopping season when consumers are expected to purchase 700,000 of them. The rules, which call for all owners to register their drones in a national database with their names, home and email addresses, is aimed at allaying safety fears and encourage responsible ownership. This is the first time that owners have been required to register what are also known as unmanned aircraft systems. Continue reading FAA Releases New Drone Regulations in Time for Holidays

Seattle’s United Vote Greenlights Uber and Lyft Driver Unions

The Seattle City Council voted 9-0 to approve a bill allowing Uber and Lyft drivers to unionize. The city’s mayor, Ed Murray, who supports the workers’ right to organize, won’t sign due to his concerns about the unknown costs of administering the collective bargaining process. Even without his signature, it will become law, the first victory for the App-Based Drivers Association (ABDA) of Seattle, the organization of on-demand contract workers who joined with the local Teamsters union to lobby for the legislation. Continue reading Seattle’s United Vote Greenlights Uber and Lyft Driver Unions

Silicon Valley Titans Invest $1 Billion to Establish AI Nonprofit

Several Silicon Valley technologists and tech companies will invest at least $1 billion in OpenAI, a nonprofit research center in San Francisco with a long-term goal of creating open-source “artificial general intelligence,” a machine capable of performing any task that a human can. Among the investors are Elon Musk, Peter Thiel and Reid Hoffman. One chief focus of the group’s members is to ensure that the resultant technologies augment rather than replace humans, and are used for good. Continue reading Silicon Valley Titans Invest $1 Billion to Establish AI Nonprofit

AMC, Regal Debut Mobile Apps to Pre-Order Popcorn, Drinks

Movie theaters make their primary living at the concession stands, so it’s no surprise that the next trend at the local multiplex is aimed at making it easier to buy popcorn. AMC Theatres (about 350 theaters) and Regal Entertainment (570 theaters), the largest multiplex chains in North America, just debuted a way for customers to preorder and prepay for food and drinks via a smartphone app. The goal is to reduce what the chains call the “popcorn pinch point,” and reduce or eliminate the line at the concession stand. Continue reading AMC, Regal Debut Mobile Apps to Pre-Order Popcorn, Drinks

DraftKings and Fan Duel Get Temporary Reprieve in New York

On Friday, a New York judge granted the state attorney general’s injunction to bar daily fantasy sports companies FanDuel and DraftKings from operating in the state. Then, hours later, an appeals court judge allowed the companies to continue to operate until at least January 4, when the legality of the games will be further considered. The appeal was granted based on the argument of the DraftKings lawyers who said that even a temporary shutdown would irreparably harm the company. Continue reading DraftKings and Fan Duel Get Temporary Reprieve in New York

Cord Cutting Gaining Steam as Digital Video Services Grow

Television companies have been telling their investors that the slow decline of pay-TV subscribers will continue at a gentle pace. But new studies show that cord cutting has accelerated, most likely driven by an increased number of digital video services. By 2019, almost 23 percent of U.S. households are expected to have cut the cord. Among the newest services is a Yahoo app that helps viewers find TV shows from a variety of digital services and launch the titles in the smartphone’s video apps. Continue reading Cord Cutting Gaining Steam as Digital Video Services Grow

Movie Trailers Proliferate, Building Fervor, Fan Engagement

The number of trailers for franchise blockbusters has skyrocketed, flooding YouTube, Facebook and other platforms. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” counts 17 trailers, teasers and ads thus far. Today’s trailer looks much more like entertainment than an ad, linking to past franchise chapters, teasing out the identity of shadowy or hooded characters, and generally amping up anticipation and heated fan engagement before the film even opens. The nested teasers and trailers dole out details without giving away plot. Continue reading Movie Trailers Proliferate, Building Fervor, Fan Engagement

Walmart Debuts Mobile Payment System, Wide Rollout in 2016

Walmart is debuting Walmart Pay, a mobile payment system integrated into its existing smartphone app, which has 22 million active users. The new system will roll out to the company’s 4,600 stores in early 2016. With Walmart Pay, the company is competing with Apple Pay and Google’s Android Pay, neither of which have gained widespread traction. Based on QR code technology and near-field communication (NFC) technology, Walmart Pay’s success — or lack thereof — rests on the consumer experience. Continue reading Walmart Debuts Mobile Payment System, Wide Rollout in 2016

BuzzFeed Introduces Yet Another Top Facebook Video Page

BuzzFeed, already a top Facebook video contributor with four different brands, launched another one in October: Top Knot, which focuses on beauty and fashion. The Top Knot Facebook page already has nearly 1 million fans and has logged almost 200 million views in two months, with a handful of clips generating up to 7 million views each. BuzzFeed and NBCU, which invested $200 million in the company, are looking into ways to collaborate, in addition to an announced plan to jointly cover the 2016 Summer Olympics. Continue reading BuzzFeed Introduces Yet Another Top Facebook Video Page

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