Twitter Debuts First Apple TV App to Support Live 360 Video

Twitter updated its Apple TV app this week, adding support for Periscope’s Global Map and the option of viewing live 360-degree videos. Apple TV owners can now “use the Siri remote to move around the video to view its content from different angles,” reports TechCrunch. Twitter’s TV applications are also available on Fire TV, Roku and Xbox One, with the intent of featuring Twitter’s live video shows, “including those from the WNBA, BuzzFeed, Viacom, Live Nation, and others.” In addition to Twitter’s new premium video, user-generated content is regularly streamed through tweets and the Periscope app. Continue reading Twitter Debuts First Apple TV App to Support Live 360 Video

Text-to-Speech System Quickly Mimics Hundreds of Accents

As another example of the significant advances we have been following in artificial intelligence and deep learning, Chinese search giant Baidu has introduced Deep Voice 2, the second iteration of its compelling text-to-speech system. The company introduced Deep Voice just three months ago, with the ability to produce speech “in near real time” that was “nearly indistinguishable from an actual human voice,” according to The Verge. While the first system was limited to learning one voice at a time, “and required many hours of audio or more from which to build a sample,” the updated version “can learn the nuances of a person’s voice with just half an hour of audio, and a single system can learn to imitate hundreds of different speakers.” Continue reading Text-to-Speech System Quickly Mimics Hundreds of Accents

Facebook Inks Deals With BuzzFeed, Vox for Video Content

Facebook has inked deals with millennial-focused news and entertainment publishers ATTN, BuzzFeed, Group Nine Media, Vox Media and others to produce original programming for its upcoming video service. The social network will pay up to $250,000 per episode for long-form scripted shows, which it will then own, and up to $35,000 for shorter videos, for which creators will receive 55 percent of ad revenue (both formats will carry advertising). The video initiative is expected to position the platform in competition with YouTube Red, Snapchat’s Discover, and even traditional TV networks. Continue reading Facebook Inks Deals With BuzzFeed, Vox for Video Content

Verizon May Use Yahoo-AOL to Test New OTT Video Service

Verizon’s $4.5 billion acquisition of Yahoo’s Internet business is likely to close in mid-June, at which point the combination of Yahoo and AOL (with its 1.3 billion users) could serve as the “platform … to test out an over-the-top service,” according to Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam. The OTT offering “would be in addition to the telco’s go90 ad-supported mobile video service,” reports Variety. “Verizon has reportedly been mulling an Internet-delivered skinny bundle offering, akin to AT&T’s DirecTV Now and Dish Network’s Sling TV.” Continue reading Verizon May Use Yahoo-AOL to Test New OTT Video Service

Apple, Nokia Sign Agreement to Settle Ongoing Patent Battle

Apple and Nokia have signed a multi-year patent license and new business cooperation agreement that settles all litigation related to the ongoing IP dispute between the two companies. As part of the deal, Nokia will provide Apple with network infrastructure products and services, while Apple has agreed to pay Nokia an upfront cash fee and resume selling Nokia’s digital health products, formerly under the Withings brand (which Apple had stopped selling last year). According to the press release, “Regular summits between top Nokia and Apple executives will ensure that the relationship works effectively and to the benefit of both parties and their customers.” Continue reading Apple, Nokia Sign Agreement to Settle Ongoing Patent Battle

SoftBank, Saudi Arabia Announce World’s Largest Tech Fund

Over the weekend, during President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Japan’s SoftBank Group and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced the launch of a new tech fund that has so far secured $93 billion of capital. The “SoftBank Vision Fund is targeting a total of $100 billion within six months,” reports The Wall Street Journal, and plans to “steer capital to cutting-edge technologies in U.S. startups and other global firms.” SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son already promised to invest $50 billion of the new fund in American startups. Continue reading SoftBank, Saudi Arabia Announce World’s Largest Tech Fund

Enterprise Security Provider CrowdStrike Raises $100 Million

Digital security provider CrowdStrike, which recently helped the Democratic National Committee respond to its hacking, has raised $100 million in new capital, bringing its total fundraising to $256 million and value close to $1 billion. The Irvine, California-based tech company, founded by two former McAfee execs in 2011, provides SaaS endpoint protection, threat intelligence and incident response through its cloud-based Falcon platform. CrowdStrike now has more than 650 employees worldwide. The company’s subscriptions have grown 476 percent in the last year as cybersecurity becomes a growing concern. Continue reading Enterprise Security Provider CrowdStrike Raises $100 Million

Pluto TV Now Offers Free On-Demand Movies and TV Shows

In addition to its more than 100 TV-like linear channels, Pluto TV is now offering thousands of free movies and TV shows on demand via its streaming platform. Pluto TV is expanding its “ad-supported service with VOD as it positions itself as a kind of Spotify for premium video,” reports Variety. “It’s worth noting that Ken Parks, Pluto’s executive chairman, was Spotify’s first U.S. employee and led the music streamer’s negotiations with record labels.” The startup, which launched in 2014 and currently touts more than six million monthly viewers, may introduce a hybrid free/subscription model in the future. Continue reading Pluto TV Now Offers Free On-Demand Movies and TV Shows

Majority of Consumers Have Access to Internet Video via TV

The latest eMarketer forecast suggests that adults in the U.S. will interact with media over 12 hours per day this year, due to increases in digital usage and media multitasking. However, while 56 percent of Americans now have the ability to view online video via their TV sets, most are still watching traditional TV the majority of the time. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), there has been a 20 percent jump since 2015 in the number of consumers who can access Internet video directly through their TV or a device like Chromecast, but 39 percent of the time people are watching broadcast TV compared to 24 percent of the time when they are streaming content. Continue reading Majority of Consumers Have Access to Internet Video via TV

Waymo and Lyft Partner to Develop Self-Driving Vehicle Tech

Google’s self-driving car unit Waymo has signed an agreement with ride-hailing startup Lyft to collaborate on autonomous vehicle tech including development and pilot projects. “The deal between Waymo and Lyft has competitive implications for Uber, the world’s biggest ride-hailing company, which has recently had to confront a spate of workplace and legal problems,” reports The New York Times. “Waymo is also competing fiercely with Uber in the creation of technology for autonomous cars and is embroiled in a lawsuit over what it says is Uber’s use of stolen Waymo trade secrets to develop such technology.” Continue reading Waymo and Lyft Partner to Develop Self-Driving Vehicle Tech

Twitter Signs Deal for Streaming NFL-Related Video Content

After losing the Thursday Night Football deal to Amazon this time around, Twitter announced it now has plans to stream year-round football programming. Through a new multi-year agreement, Twitter will stream official NFL video and related content all year, in addition to a live half-hour digital show to air five nights a week during the season. The new show, hosted by talent from the NFL Network, will feature news, highlights, projections, rankings and more. Live pre-game content will offer fans behind-the-scenes access including warm-ups and interviews via Periscope. Continue reading Twitter Signs Deal for Streaming NFL-Related Video Content

CBS Debuts its Combined Showtime and All Access Package

CBS has launched the anticipated bundle of its CBS All Access and Showtime streaming services. Available initially to current subscribers, sign-up for the skinny bundle is accessible via cbs.com or showtime.com. “CBS All Access today goes for $5.99 per month, or $9.99 per month if you want to ditch the ads,” reports TechCrunch. “Showtime’s over-the-top option is $10.99 per month. The new, combined pricing is $14.99 per month for both services, or $18.99 per month if you want the CBS All Access commercial-free plan.” CBS and Showtime are available for subscribers across Web, mobile apps, and TV platforms. Continue reading CBS Debuts its Combined Showtime and All Access Package

Milestone: Apple Is First Company to Top $800 Billion Value

Apple became the first U.S. company to cross the $800 billion barrier in market capitalization when it reached $802.72 billion yesterday (on Monday it reached $801.37 billion but dropped below $800 billion by the close). The company reached $600 billion in 2012 and $700 billion in 2015. “Google parent Alphabet Inc. is currently in second place at $658.60 billion, according to FactSet,” reports MarketWatch. “Microsoft Corp. is third, nearly $270 billion behind Apple at $533.02 billion.” Amazon.com is presently holding at $455.42 billion. Investors are optimistic about Apple’s plans to launch three new iPhones later this year to celebrate the product’s 10-year anniversary. Continue reading Milestone: Apple Is First Company to Top $800 Billion Value

Ad-Supported Streamer Tubi TV More Than Doubles Funding

Investors believe Tubi TV may be on the right track with its ad-supported streaming service that now offers more than 50,000 premium movies and TV shows for consumers willing to sit through four to five minutes of commercials for every half hour of content. The San Francisco-based service, which launched in 2014, has more than doubled its funding to $34 million with a new $20 million infusion from four VCs led by Jump Capital. According to Tubi TV founder and chief executive Farhad Massoudi, the service now has “many millions” of users. Continue reading Ad-Supported Streamer Tubi TV More Than Doubles Funding

Sinclair Broadcast Group to Acquire Tribune Media Company

Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group announced it will acquire the Tribune Media Company, which owns 42 television stations across 33 markets. Chicago-based Tribune also owns cable network WGN America, digital multicast network Antenna TV, and holds minority stakes in Food Network and CareerBuilder. Sinclair has agreed to pay $3.9 billion for Tribune ($43.50 per share), plus the assumption of $2.7 billion in debt. According to the Chicago Tribune, “The combined company will become a TV broadcasting behemoth, owning and operating 233 television stations in 108 markets, pending any required divestitures by the FCC.” Continue reading Sinclair Broadcast Group to Acquire Tribune Media Company

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