Pluto TV Aggregates Digital Channels to Remix Traditional TV

Pluto TV chief executive Tom Ryan sees the company as a “remix” of traditional linear TV, a place where viewers don’t have to pick what they want to watch. The company just announced new content deals with NBC News, Reuters, Paramount, 120 Sports, CNET, Legendary Digital, and Corus Entertainment, but the majority of its content is YouTube or Vimeo videos that have been repackaged to resemble linear channels. New executive chair Ken Parks says the service plans to be an aggregator for digital subscription services. Continue reading Pluto TV Aggregates Digital Channels to Remix Traditional TV

New Ericsson, Cisco Alliance to Impact Internet of Things, 5G

Ericsson and Cisco Systems, leaders in mobile and Internet equipment respectively, are forming an alliance to beat back the competition, enjoy synergies in the mobile market and target the growing fields of Internet of Things and 5G. The alliance isn’t a merger, but in many ways acts like one: Ericsson and Cisco plan to integrate their existing equipment, combine some sales and consulting areas and perhaps develop new hardware and services. Competitors include Chinese company Huawei and Nokia, which just bought Alcatel-Lucent. Continue reading New Ericsson, Cisco Alliance to Impact Internet of Things, 5G

Vizio Smart TV Tracks Users’ Viewing, Shares with Advertisers

In an October IPO filing, Vizio described its ability to provide “highly specific viewing behavior data on a massive scale with great accuracy.” This refers to Vizio’s Smart TVs ability to track the user’s viewing habits and share that information with advertisers, who use it to connect with that user’s devices. Vizio dubs this “Smart Interactivity” and it is turned on by default for the more than 10 million Smart TVs the company has sold. Users who do not want to be tracked in this fashion must opt-out. Continue reading Vizio Smart TV Tracks Users’ Viewing, Shares with Advertisers

China’s LeTV Brings VR Headset, Smart TV, More to the U.S.

Though LeTV is little known in the U.S., that’s about to change. The Chinese online video and consumer electronics behemoth, which posted an estimated $1.6 billion in revenue last year, is about to introduce U.S. consumers to its Android-based smartphone, a bike with an integrated GPS device, smart TVs with voice control, a 4K video streaming box and a VR headset. The company plans to initially focus on the 3 million Chinese speakers in the U.S. but has also inked a two-picture deal with “Lion King” director Rob Minkoff. Continue reading China’s LeTV Brings VR Headset, Smart TV, More to the U.S.

Flare MeTV: Cox to Roll Out New Streaming Content Service

In an attempt to attract and maintain the youth demographic, Cox Communications plans to debut Flare MeTV, featuring a variety of streaming offerings, by the end of 2015. Similar to Comcast’s “Watchable,” which debuted in September, and Verizon’s go90, Flare MeTV will aggregate online video content and may in the future carry some licensed traditional TV content. Flare MeTV will be introduced as free without ads, but may eventually become ad-supported or subscription-based. The app will initially only be available on the iPad.   Continue reading Flare MeTV: Cox to Roll Out New Streaming Content Service

New York Times Debuts VR App, VR Film on Refugee Children

The New York Times debuted its second, and most ambitious VR film, “The Displaced,” along with its NYT VR app, which can be viewed with Google Cardboard. Produced in partnership with VR studio Vrse, the 11-minute documentary, which focuses on the daily lives of three refugee children across the world, was directed by Ben Solomon and Imraan Ismail and shown at a premiere that included a panel discussion that included participation of Vrse chief executive Chris Milk, who characterizes virtual reality as “the last medium.” Continue reading New York Times Debuts VR App, VR Film on Refugee Children

Activision to Open Film/TV Studio to Repurpose Game Library

Gaming company Activision Blizzard is creating an internal film/TV studio, headed by former Walt Disney Company executive Nick van Dyk, to produce content based on its 1,000-title library. The first production is animated TV series “Skylanders Academy,” based on the “Skylanders” game that’s earned $3+ billion since its 2011 launch. The first film is likely to be based on “Call of Duty.” This move comes on the heels of Activision’s stated intent to acquire King Digital Entertainment, creator of “Candy Crush,” for $5.9 billion. Continue reading Activision to Open Film/TV Studio to Repurpose Game Library

TPP Trade Agreement Sparks Response from Tech Community

With the publication of the Trans Pacific-Partnership (TPP) international trade treaty, numerous technology and privacy rights groups are speaking up over a range of issues. Non-profit consumer rights organization Public Citizen decries what it says is “serious implications for online privacy.” Others note that the TPP would prevent member countries from requiring that companies from other member states hand over the source code of their products. And some activists believe TPP could help further net neutrality. Continue reading TPP Trade Agreement Sparks Response from Tech Community

YouTube Democratizes VR, Stays a Step Ahead of Competition

YouTube is introducing 360-degree VR videos as well as a virtual movie theater for all YouTube videos. Anyone with a Google Cardboard headset and the Android app can begin viewing the ten or so VR videos that YouTube produced; the iOS app is coming soon. YouTube’s VR features come just before The New York Times ships 1.3 million Google Cardboard sets and its own VR documentary, “The Displaced.” YouTube’s assertive move into VR is widely seen as a way to stay a step ahead of the competition, Facebook in particular. Continue reading YouTube Democratizes VR, Stays a Step Ahead of Competition

Facebook Unveils Plan to Share Revenue with Video Creators

Facebook, which just achieved a milestone of more than a billion daily users, has announced plans to share revenue with Facebook video content owners and launch a news app. The moves are aimed at keeping users on the platform as long as possible, and its competitors have the same goal in mind: Apple has its newsreader Apple News, partnering with The New York Times; Twitter Moments links tweets in a traditional story format; and Snapchat Discover app showcases stories from publishers including CNN, Vice, People and National Geographic. Continue reading Facebook Unveils Plan to Share Revenue with Video Creators

Big Data Summit: “Data Is a Tidal Wave” Overwhelming Experts

On the first day of Variety’s Big Data Summit, the main takeaway was that data — from online, set-top boxes, smartphones and even retail sales — has become a tidal wave that threatens to overwhelm even data experts. The industry needs data scientists capable of searching through the mass of data to find nuggets of insight and actionable data, making them highly sought-after, or, as AOL Publisher Platforms global head Tim Mahlman said, “rock stars.” “You can get lost (in data) if you’re not smart about it,” he said. Continue reading Big Data Summit: “Data Is a Tidal Wave” Overwhelming Experts

Report Shows YouTube Views Rise as Social TV Gains Traction

The third edition of the Social TV Index Report, from digital services company Ring Digital, reveals that YouTube is quickly increasing as a platform where “consumers vote, post, share or comment about something on TV.” The Social TV Index Report states that 37 percent of adults aged 18 to 24 have engaged in social TV, and 29 percent of the overall U.S. Internet population, up 5 percent from last year. Among those social TV users, 14.5 percent posted TV-related comments to YouTube, more than twice last year’s 6.3 percent. Continue reading Report Shows YouTube Views Rise as Social TV Gains Traction

Networks Turn to Neuroscience, Biometrics to Study TV Viewing

Up until now, the methodology to find out what TV viewers like — based largely on written surveys and machines with dials to indicate their degree of enjoyment — has been fairly primitive and, most likely, not very reliable. Comcast’s NBCUniversal and Viacom are now both trying to dig deeper using biometrics, including eye movements, facial reactions, skin sensors, heart monitors, and EEGs to monitor brain waves. Viewing measurement company Nielsen even bought a neuroscience firm, Innerscope Resesarch, to add these skillsets to its lab. Continue reading Networks Turn to Neuroscience, Biometrics to Study TV Viewing

Netflix Chief Exec Tells Conference: “There’s Not Enough TV”

At The New York Times’ DealBook conference, Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings pointed to a broad, sustained growth of consumer spending on entertainment as proof that there is not enough television content currently available. Great content, he said, will find viewers. The bar for quality is rising, he noted further, and said Netflix is maintaining its high standards by working with other production companies. As an example, he pointed to “Narcos,” which was produced with French company Gaumont. Continue reading Netflix Chief Exec Tells Conference: “There’s Not Enough TV”

Intel Debuts Low Cost, Low Power Chips for Internet of Things

Intel has made a strong move to compete in the Internet of Things, by announcing Quark, a new line of low-power, less expensive microcontroller chips. The new Quark chips draw 27 milliwatts, one-thousandths of a watt, compared to Intel’s standard chips that draw approximately 15 watts, and will be priced at $2 to $3. The new chips do not adhere to the Intel’s x86 chip design, which the company has used since the 1980s. With microcontroller chips, Intel faces new competition from Freescale Semiconductor and Atmel. Continue reading Intel Debuts Low Cost, Low Power Chips for Internet of Things

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