Facebook Planning to Face FTC Fine in Excess of $3 Billion

In its first quarter earnings report yesterday, Facebook revealed that it is putting aside $3 billion (about 6 percent of its cash and marketable securities) in anticipation of an upcoming fine from the Federal Trade Commission regarding privacy violations. The penalty, which could become the highest of its kind against a tech company by U.S. regulators and the biggest privacy-related fine in the FTC’s history, is expected to run from $3 billion to $5 billion. The social media giant posted more than $15 billion in revenue, a 26 percent increase over the year-earlier period. Continue reading Facebook Planning to Face FTC Fine in Excess of $3 Billion

Verizon Partners With Google to Offer YouTube TV Service

Verizon announced a deal with Google yesterday that will bring YouTube TV to Verizon’s wireless, 5G Home and Fios broadband customers across the platforms of their choosing. “We were first in the world to bring commercial 5G to our customers and now another first on the content front as we offer our customers access to YouTube TV on whatever platform they choose,” said Erin McPherson, head of content strategy and acquisition for Verizon. YouTube TV offers 70 networks worth of live TV that is viewable on smartphones, tablets, computers and TVs. Continue reading Verizon Partners With Google to Offer YouTube TV Service

Fraunhofer Compression Tech Used to Stream VR Over 5G

German research organization Fraunhofer, known for its extensive work in applied sciences, including its contributions to compression tech used for today’s MP3 audio and MP4 video, is now working on 5G virtual reality streaming software. Last year, Fraunhofer revealed its high-speed VR microdisplay hardware. It is now demonstrating new video compression software based on the MPEG-OMAF standard, which allows for streaming of 360-degree video over 5G networks. The goal is to minimize the problems related to resolution, compression artifacts and latency commonly experienced when streaming VR content over 4G and Wi-Fi networks. Continue reading Fraunhofer Compression Tech Used to Stream VR Over 5G

Vimeo Acquires Magisto, Makes Move Toward Social Video

IAC-owned video platform Vimeo, which largely serves small businesses and individual creators, has acquired short-form video specialist Magisto for $200 million. The deal, Vimeo’s fifth in the field, is expected to help the platform grow its presence in social video, and will move Magisto’s employees based in Israel and California to Vimeo’s office in New York. “Magisto’s proprietary technology enables cutting edge mobile apps and AI-powered editing tools which, combined with Vimeo’s scale and unmatched creator community, will empower more people to tell compelling stories through video,” said Vimeo CEO Anjali Sud. Continue reading Vimeo Acquires Magisto, Makes Move Toward Social Video

Verizon Media Tackles Production Tech With Global Studios

Verizon Media (formerly Oath) now has production studios located in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris, Singapore, Sunnyvale and Taiwan. In addition, it built a 5G Los Angeles studio with plans to help pioneer new formats and production tech enabled by advanced 5G wireless connectivity. The worldwide facilities are being used by Verizon Media brands such as AOL, HuffPost, TechCrunch and Yahoo. The L.A. space — led by Verizon Media’s immersive media arm RYOT — is outfitted with full motion capture and volumetric capture stages. Continue reading Verizon Media Tackles Production Tech With Global Studios

Top 25 Game Companies Generated $107 Billion Last Year

The top 25 public game companies, which represent almost 80 percent of the $134.9 billion worldwide gaming market, generated $107.3 billion in revenue in 2018. According to researcher Newzoo’s Global Games Market Report, this marks the first time that the top 25 companies have surpassed $100 billion in a single year. China’s Tencent ($19.7 billion) took the No. 1 spot for the sixth consecutive year, followed by Sony ($14.2 billion), Microsoft ($9.8 billion), and Apple ($9.5 billion). Collectively, the top 10 companies experienced 19 percent growth last year. Continue reading Top 25 Game Companies Generated $107 Billion Last Year

Apple and Qualcomm Call Truce and Drop Patent Litigation

Apple and Qualcomm agreed to a new license agreement and announced they would dismiss all litigation worldwide between the two companies. The truce brings a close to an extended legal battle over royalties involving smartphone tech. Apple has agreed to pay Qualcomm an undisclosed amount and Qualcomm will supply modem chips to Apple as part of a new multiyear deal. Hours after the settlement between Apple and Qualcomm was announced, chip rival Intel revealed it would cancel its plans to manufacture modem chips for 5G smartphones. Continue reading Apple and Qualcomm Call Truce and Drop Patent Litigation

AT&T Selling Back Its Share of Hulu to Disney and Comcast

AT&T is selling back its 9.5 percent minority share in Hulu LLC, in a deal worth $1.43 billion. The $15 billion online-streaming venture is now entirely owned by The Walt Disney Company and NBCUniversal parent Comcast Corporation (it was formerly co-owned by Disney, 21st Century Fox, Comcast and AT&T). “We thank AT&T for their support and investment over the past two years and look forward to collaboration in the future,” said Hulu CEO Randy Freer. “WarnerMedia will remain a valued partner to Hulu for years to come as we offer customers the best of TV, live and on demand, all in one place.” Continue reading AT&T Selling Back Its Share of Hulu to Disney and Comcast

MPAA Report Details Shifts in Home Entertainment Market

According to the MPAA’s annual Theatrical Home Entertainment Market Environment (THEME) Report, data from DEG and IHS Markit points to a significant reduction in the sales of video discs, including DVD, Blu-ray Disc, and Ultra HD Blu-ray. Global sales of video disc formats dropped from $25.2 billion in 2014 to $13.1 billion in 2018. However, global consumer spending on home entertainment increased 16 percent over 2017, thanks in part to the growing adoption of online subscription services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. The combined theatrical and home entertainment market increased 25 percent from five years ago. Continue reading MPAA Report Details Shifts in Home Entertainment Market

Disney Reveals Details For Its Upcoming Streaming Service

Disney CEO Bob Iger announced yesterday that the company’s planned subscription video service is slated to launch November 12th of this year at $6.99 per month (undercutting competitors such as Netflix). The service, which will feature movies and TV series from Disney, Fox, Pixar, National Geographic, Marvel and the “Star Wars” franchise, is planned to roll out in Europe and Asia in 2020. Disney is anticipating 60 million to 90 million subscribers by 2024. To start, Disney+ will offer 10 original movies, 25 original series, all 30 seasons of “The Simpsons,” many of the “Star Wars” films, and family content from the Fox library. Continue reading Disney Reveals Details For Its Upcoming Streaming Service

Industry Panel on Latest AI Trends in Media & Entertainment

Overcoming the uncanny valley of emotion is the major challenge of AI when creating a virtual human, according to Armando Kirwin, co-founder of Artie. He spoke at the NAB panel titled “AI in Media and Entertainment: Driving the Future, New Content Formats – Immersive.” HP’s Joanna Popper moderated the panel that also included Digital Domain’s John Canning, Lillian Diaz-Przybyl from Butcher Bird Studios, and Baobab Studios’ Kane Lee. The panel discussion ranged from synthetic characters and evolving views on acceptable versus realistic behavior, to what happens when your smart speaker becomes a virtual character. Continue reading Industry Panel on Latest AI Trends in Media & Entertainment

YouTube Taps Ben Relles to Lead Programming Innovation

Google’s YouTube is planning new original programming with a focus on live specials and interactive content. Ben Relles, former head of unscripted for YouTube Originals, will assume his new role as head of innovation to lead the initiative. Reporting to Susanne Daniels, global head of original content, Relles will be responsible for the development of new scripted and unscripted original programming intended to foster interaction and engagement with viewers. Interactive content has been getting more attention since the success of Netflix’s “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.” Continue reading YouTube Taps Ben Relles to Lead Programming Innovation

Apple Music Now Has More Subscribers Than Spotify in U.S.

Apple Music now has more paid subscriptions in the U.S. than popular music streamer Spotify, as the global competition ramps up between the two rivals. According to those familiar with the matter, Apple Music surpassed 28 million U.S. subscribers by February, compared to Spotify’s 26 million subscribers (the figures only include paid subscriptions, not trial users). When including nonpaying music fans of its ad-supported offering, Spotify still holds the lead in the number of overall users in the U.S. To slow Apple’s progress, Spotify recently introduced new promotions, such as a discounted subscription bundle with Hulu. Continue reading Apple Music Now Has More Subscribers Than Spotify in U.S.

Snapchat Now Competing in the Multiplayer Gaming Arena

Snap Inc. announced yesterday that its popular Snapchat app now features multiplayer games, starting with “Bitmoji Party” and five other titles. The move is an effort to compete in a new social space dominated by “Fortnite” in which real-time, multiplayer games also serve as online communities. Snap plans to work with game developers such as Zynga and ZeptoLab. The combination of gaming and social networking is on the rise. According to Epic Games, its “Fortnite” had 250 million players as of March, while Netflix recently suggested that it competes with “Fortnite” more than HBO. Continue reading Snapchat Now Competing in the Multiplayer Gaming Arena

Amazon Taking Alexa Digital Assistant Mobile With Earbuds

Amazon is reportedly planning to release wireless earbuds with built-in Alexa support as early as this year, according to those with knowledge of the project. The new wearable will be similar to Apple’s popular AirPods, and fit inside the user’s ear without clips, but Amazon team members at the company’s Lab126 hardware division are working on improving the audio quality. Users will be able to interact with the earbuds via voice and summon the digital assistant by saying “Alexa.” Pricing has not been revealed, but AirPods run $159 to $199, and Amazon has consistently charged less than competitors for its hardware. Continue reading Amazon Taking Alexa Digital Assistant Mobile With Earbuds

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