Roku Refreshes Product Line to Compete With Apple, Amazon

Following its recent Nasdaq debut, Roku is updating its product line with new specs and pricing in addition to a number of software enhancements. Roku’s entire line — from its streaming stick to home entertainment hub — is being upgraded. The $30 Roku Express gets a new processor, while the $50 Roku Streaming Stick now features a remote with voice control. The $40 Roku Express+ is the next step up from the Roku Express, offering analog component connections for those with older TVs. And the high-end 4K Roku Ultra will remain $100 for the holiday season (it recently had a $30 reduction), and gets a refresh for its remote and a wider selection of streaming options.  Continue reading Roku Refreshes Product Line to Compete With Apple, Amazon

Comcast Rolls Out ‘Skinny Bundle’ for Its Internet Customers

Comcast is introducing an $18-per-month “skinny bundle,” a new service the pay-TV provider has been testing and is now ready to roll out across different regions over the next few weeks. Xfinity Instant TV, which is available for Comcast’s 25.3 million broadband customers, is designed for cord cutters (and cord nevers), and will compete with OTT services such as Hulu Live TV, Sling TV and YouTube TV. Comcast’s service can be streamed at home or anywhere with a broadband connection. The company is specifically marketing to its customers that pay for Internet but not TV, hoping they will one day switch to a larger bundle. Continue reading Comcast Rolls Out ‘Skinny Bundle’ for Its Internet Customers

Service Providers Ask Supreme Court to Review Net Neutrality

AT&T, trade group USTelecom and broadband service provider CenturyLink filed separate appeals yesterday requesting that the FCC’s net neutrality rule barring ISPs from slowing or blocking content be overturned. The rule, supported by tech companies such as Google and Facebook, was enacted during the Obama era when the FCC was under Democratic control. “Now under Republican leadership, the FCC is already considering a plan to replace and weaken the rules,” reports Bloomberg. “FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wants to remove strong legal authority that critics say over-regulates telephone and cable providers and that defenders say is needed to enforce fair treatment of web traffic.” Continue reading Service Providers Ask Supreme Court to Review Net Neutrality

Roku Goes Public Today, Sets its IPO Price at $14 per Share

Video streaming device maker Roku begins trading today on Nasdaq, setting its IPO price at $14 per share, which would give it a $1.3 billion stock market value. The 15-year-old company is competing with the likes of Amazon, Apple and Google that all offer streaming video boxes featuring popular apps such as Netflix and Hulu. Roku’s devices provide access to Amazon, Netflix, YouTube and dozens of online channels, but competition is a major consideration with today’s tech investors. Snap Inc., for example, the year’s biggest tech IPO, has watched its shares plummet in value as Facebook’s Instagram rolled out Snapchat-like functionality. Continue reading Roku Goes Public Today, Sets its IPO Price at $14 per Share

Vimeo to Acquire Livestream Platform and Launch Vimeo Live

IAC-owned Vimeo is purchasing the Livestream platform and rolling out its own live-streaming service called Vimeo Live. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Earlier this year, Vimeo abandoned its plans to release a SVOD business. Rather than compete in the SVOD space with Amazon, Hulu and Netflix, “Vimeo’s core business is focused around selling tools and services to professional and semi-professional video creators,” reports TechCrunch. Integrating Livestream tech into Vimeo Live “will allow video creators to capture, edit, stream and archive their live events … in addition to hosting, distributing, and generating revenue from their videos.”  Continue reading Vimeo to Acquire Livestream Platform and Launch Vimeo Live

Netflix Aims to Bring More In-Flight Entertainment to Travelers

Netflix plans to extend bandwidth-efficient, mobile tech to airlines in an effort to offer passengers low-cost or free Wi-Fi entertainment. The company claims the mobile-encoding tech would allow travelers to “watch Netflix in high quality while airline carriers save up to 75 percent in bandwidth costs,” reports Variety. Netflix already has various deals involving in-flight Wi-Fi with Virgin America, Aeromexico, Qantas and Virgin Australia. On select flights with next-gen Wi-Fi, “such as those equipped with Ka-band and Gogo’s 2Ku Internet access, passengers are able to access Netflix from their carry-on devices and watch the streaming service at no extra charge.” Continue reading Netflix Aims to Bring More In-Flight Entertainment to Travelers

Fox Revamps its TV Everywhere Offerings With Updated Site

In the wake of its newly redesigned Fox Now app, Fox has updated its Fox.com website to include content from networks such as Fox, FX and National Geographic. “The new website and app include live streaming, giving viewers the option to dive right into watching the live show or start from the beginning,” explains The Hollywood Reporter. “There is also a library of 500 hours’ worth of programming, including new and returning shows that will be available online as soon as they begin airing on television.” The Fox Now app is available for Android, Apple TV, iOS, Roku and others. Continue reading Fox Revamps its TV Everywhere Offerings With Updated Site

Pay TV Losses Could Jump to 5 Million Households per Year

We’ve seen a wide range of recent forecasts regarding cord cutting and the impact on traditional pay TV. According to a new survey from RBC Capital Markets, only 55 percent of respondents said they would continue their pay-TV subscriptions. While 2016 saw a loss of 2 million subscribers, a future increase exceeding 5 million per year “does not seem impossible,” wrote RBC analyst Steven Cahall. “The RBC survey found that 21 percent of current cable, satellite or telco TV customers were considering switching to a lower-cost virtual pay-TV service,” reports Variety, “like Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV or DirecTV Now.” Continue reading Pay TV Losses Could Jump to 5 Million Households per Year

Paid Subs for Streaming Music Services Top 30 Million in U.S.

The music business is experiencing significant growth, thanks in large part to the increasing popularity of streaming services. According to RIAA’s midyear report, leading services such as Spotify and Apple Music currently have 30.4 million paid subscribers in the U.S. (up from 20.2 million the previous year). Streaming services are now responsible for 62 percent of total industry revenue, followed by 19 percent for digital downloads, 16 percent for physical sales, and 3 percent for synch rights. Continue reading Paid Subs for Streaming Music Services Top 30 Million in U.S.

Google to Acquire Part of HTC Mobile Division for $1.1 Billion

Google will spend $1.1 billion to purchase part of HTC’s smartphone operations. The Internet giant plans to use HTC’s engineering and design teams to help ramp up its nascent hardware efforts to complement its expanding portfolio of software products and grow its revenue beyond Android and search ads. The deal, which is expected to bring about 2,000 HTC employees to Google, also includes a non-exclusive licensing agreement for HTC intellectual property. While HTC has shown growth potential in VR with its Vive headset, its mobile business has been struggling. Continue reading Google to Acquire Part of HTC Mobile Division for $1.1 Billion

‘Startup with Google’ Site Bundles Resources in Central Hub

Google launched a new site this week that offers startups a single location for accessing Google’s services and tools such as AdWords, Analytics, Android Studio, Firebase, Google Cloud and G Suite. “Startup with Google” also highlights Google’s Campus co-working spaces for entrepreneurs and its Google Developers Launchpad programs for providing mentorship and equity-free support. In addition to promoting Google’s own accelerators and events, the new site links to community programs and tech hubs run by third parties. Continue reading ‘Startup with Google’ Site Bundles Resources in Central Hub

Facebook Messenger Day Now Attracts 70 Million Daily Users

Messenger Day, Facebook’s version of Snapchat Stories that launched six months ago, may not be experiencing the same growth as similar offerings from Instagram or WhatApp, but it now touts 70 million daily users. Messenger Day enables users to share photos and video slideshows. While its latest daily usage is significant, it only took Instagram Stories two months to reach 100 million users, and two weeks less for WhatsApp Status to attract 175 million (both have since surpassed the 250 million daily user mark). Continue reading Facebook Messenger Day Now Attracts 70 Million Daily Users

Hulu Has a Big Emmy Night Thanks to ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

Hulu had a breakthrough Emmy year, taking home five awards last night in addition to the three Creative Arts Emmys it won last week. “The Handmaid’s Tale” was awarded the Outstanding Drama Series Emmy, marking the first time any streaming offering has won for the category. In addition to best drama, “The Handmaid’s Tale” earned several additional wins: Elisabeth Moss took home Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, Ann Dowd was awarded for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama, Reed Morano earned the Outstanding Directing award, Bruce Miller won the Best Writing Emmy, and Alexis Bledel was recognized as Outstanding Guest Actress. Continue reading Hulu Has a Big Emmy Night Thanks to ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

VR Industry Forum Draft Guidelines Push for Open Ecosystem

Over the weekend, the Virtual Reality Industry Forum (VRIF) released its draft VR and 360 video production and distribution guidelines at IBC 2017 in Amsterdam. The draft document begins with an intro section suggesting best practices for VR/360 production, including experiences with three degrees of freedom (3DOF). It then makes specific recommendations for the technical aspects of visual and audio VR/360 content production, media and presentation profiles, and content security. VRIF aims to release the full guidelines, with an emphasis on an open ecosystem, at CES 2018 in January. Continue reading VR Industry Forum Draft Guidelines Push for Open Ecosystem

YouTube Video Is Increasingly Popular as Viewers Go Mobile

Video consumption is continuing its transition from the living room to mobile devices. Android users in the U.S. watched nearly 1 billion hours worth of YouTube video content in July — the most time ever spent over a month in a single streaming video app. According to App Annie, the Android version of YouTube’s app accounted for about 80 percent of the 12 billion hours Americans spent between July 2016 and July 2017 using the top 10 Android apps for streaming video. Total time spent by consumers using video streaming apps jumped 45 percent from the previous year. Following YouTube is Netflix, Twitch, Hulu and Amazon Video. Continue reading YouTube Video Is Increasingly Popular as Viewers Go Mobile

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