IBM and Salesforce to Link AI Technologies for Data Analytics

Chief execs Marc Benioff of Salesforce.com and Ginni Rometty of IBM announced a new partnership yesterday that will combine the two companies’ artificial intelligence technologies to create new data analytics offerings for helping others target products and services. Available in the second half of 2017, the offerings will introduce “integrated AI services that weave the broad human-like conversation and learning capabilities of IBM’s Watson with Salesforce’s more sales-oriented Einstein,” reports The Wall Street Journal. In an “effort to reinvent itself for the cloud-computing era,” IBM has been tailoring Watson “for a variety of industries including health care, financial services and automobiles.” Continue reading IBM and Salesforce to Link AI Technologies for Data Analytics

Katzenberg Envisions Next Wave of Entertainment for Mobile

Jeffrey Katzenberg, who left DreamWorks Animation last summer, is launching WndrCo, a new media and tech venture that has already raised nearly $600 million. During a Q&A in New York with Hearst Magazines president David Carey, Katzenberg said he is interested in the next wave of television, which he sees as a mobile experience. He cited the roughly $200,000 per minute that Netflix spends on content and the less than $100 a minute needed to produce most YouTube content, suggesting there’s an opportunity that falls between the two approaches. “He said a few companies have been successful at producing mobile-oriented original video for a few thousand dollars per minute — citing Vice Media, BuzzFeed and AwesomenessTV,” reports Variety. Continue reading Katzenberg Envisions Next Wave of Entertainment for Mobile

Facebook Drops Price of its Rift VR Headset to Spur Adoption

In an effort to jumpstart sales, Facebook-owned Oculus VR is slashing $100 off the price of its Rift virtual reality headset and its Touch motion controllers. The Rift headset will be lowered to $499, while the Touch drops to $99. Consumers will still need a computer with enough power to support the Rift. When the headset launched last spring, consumers were surprised by the $599 price tag. According to Jason Rubin, Oculus VR head of content, recent surveys indicate that cost has been the primary obstacle to sales. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg believes VR will take at least 10 years to become our next computing platform. Continue reading Facebook Drops Price of its Rift VR Headset to Spur Adoption

YouTube Plans to Launch Internet TV Service for $35 a Month

YouTube announced yesterday that it plans to launch a new subscription Internet TV service in the next few months. As the latest entry in the growing collection of skinny bundle offerings that target cord cutters and cord nevers, YouTube TV will offer more than 40 broadcast and cable television channels for $35 per month. Google’s YouTube is hoping the timing may be right for such a service; there are an estimated 10 million homes that currently subscribe to a broadband service, but not television. Continue reading YouTube Plans to Launch Internet TV Service for $35 a Month

HPA Tech Retreat Panel Examines the Spectacle of the Theater

At the HPA Tech Retreat in Indian Wells, Walt Disney Studios executive/HPA founder Leon Silverman opened the discussion with a look at PLF (premium large format) cinemas. “We have unprecedented levels of quality and immersiveness today,” he said. With the new technologies in resolution, color gamut, dynamic range and brightness, however, comes more work in post production houses. “For the people in the [post production] ecosystem, there’s now an exploding variety of color versions,” he said. The panel also addressed trends in theatrical distribution, exhibition, virtual reality and more. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat Panel Examines the Spectacle of the Theater

Verizon to Pay $350 Million Less for Yahoo Internet Businesses

Verizon and Yahoo announced yesterday plans to move forward with the sale of Yahoo’s core Internet businesses. In the wake of major data breaches at Yahoo, the purchase price has been lowered by $350 million for a new deal valued at $4.48 billion. The companies plan to split future costs related to the data breaches. “The revised agreement,” notes The New York Times, “paves the way for the deal to proceed to a shareholder vote as early as April, although securities regulators are still assessing how Yahoo disclosed information about the breaches to investors.” Verizon is looking to compete with Facebook and Google in digital advertising and, according to The Wall Street Journal, plans to fold Yahoo’s ad tech and websites “into AOL, which Verizon acquired in 2015.” Continue reading Verizon to Pay $350 Million Less for Yahoo Internet Businesses

YouTube to Phase Out its Unskippable 30-Second Ads by 2018

Google-owned YouTube announced on Friday that it plans to phase out its 30-second, unskippable pre-roll ads by 2018. Many users reportedly find the format obtrusive, so YouTube is killing the 30-second ads but keeping 20-second clips that cannot be skipped, and its six-second bumper ad format. YouTube will also continue to offer its TrueView skippable ads, which do not come with time limits and only cost advertisers when the viewer opts not to skip them. The move is in response to the growing popularity of mobile video. “More than 50 percent of YouTube’s video views now come from mobile devices,” reports Variety. Continue reading YouTube to Phase Out its Unskippable 30-Second Ads by 2018

Yahoo Warns Users: Hackers Forged Cookies to Access Data

Yahoo has issued another warning that users’ personal data may have been compromised. In addition to the malicious activity reported in December that involved more than 1 billion user accounts in 2013-2014, following the September report regarding a separate theft of 500 million records, the Internet company is now notifying users that additional accounts were compromised between 2015 and 2016. “The stolen data included email addresses, birth dates and answers to security questions,” reports CNBC. The hacks involved “the use of ‘forged cookies’ — strings of data which are used across the Web and can sometimes allow people to access online accounts without re-entering their passwords.” Continue reading Yahoo Warns Users: Hackers Forged Cookies to Access Data

FCC Wireless Spectrum Auction Bidding Closes at $19.6 Billion

The FCC’s wireless spectrum auction has concluded, generating $19.6 billion in total bids, less than many analysts’ expectations but still “an amazing success,” according to former FCC chair Julius Genachowski, who said the auction will lead to additional investment and innovation. AT&T, Comcast, Dish Network, T-Mobile and Verizon were among the 62 bidders who made upfront payments last year. More than $10 billion of the money raised will go to broadcasters that opted to relinquish spectrum rights, more than $6 billion to the federal deficit, and up to $1.75 billion to broadcaster costs for changing channels. Continue reading FCC Wireless Spectrum Auction Bidding Closes at $19.6 Billion

New FCC Chairman Calls for Expansion of High-Speed Internet

FCC chair Ajit Pai recommends Congress include expanded broadband Internet service in upcoming infrastructure legislation. “The one consistent message I hear is that there is a thirst for better, faster, cheaper Internet access… I think members of Congress get that as well,” he said. Pai’s broadband deployment agenda “is aimed at encouraging telecommunications firms to make high-speed Internet service more widely available in hard-to-serve areas,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “President Donald Trump has indicated he wants an infrastructure initiative worth as much as $1 trillion to improve the nation’s roads, bridges and other physical assets, which would require legislation and, potentially, a way to pay for it.” Continue reading New FCC Chairman Calls for Expansion of High-Speed Internet

Cisco Study: Live Video via Mobile to Experience Major Growth

According to Cisco’s latest Mobile Visual Networking Index forecast, live video streaming via mobile devices is expected to grow by 39 times over the next five years (good news for Facebook, Twitter and others currently investing in live video). The study indicates that global live video streaming on mobile represented 52 petabytes of data last year, a figure projected to reach 2.02 exabytes by 2021. Interestingly, that will still only represent about 5 percent of all mobile traffic. “Cisco also predicted that mobile data traffic will grow to represent 20 percent of all Internet traffic in 2021, up from just 8 percent in 2016,” reports Variety. “By 2021, there will be 12 billion mobile devices in use, compared to 8 billion last year.” Continue reading Cisco Study: Live Video via Mobile to Experience Major Growth

Snap to Spend $1B on Amazon Cloud Services Over 5 Years

Yesterday we reported that Venice-based Snap Inc. — owner of the Snapchat app — had signed a 5-year deal for Google Cloud services valued at $2 billion. A revised version of its S-1 IPO filing, made public this morning, indicates that Snap is also planning to spend up to $1 billion on cloud support from Amazon Web Services. The deal was originally signed in 2016 and amended this week. According to Snap, it provides “redundant infrastructure support of our business operations,” and may lead the company toward investing in its “own infrastructure to better serve our customers.” Continue reading Snap to Spend $1B on Amazon Cloud Services Over 5 Years

HBO Now Service Has More Than 2 Million Subscribers in U.S.

During a conference call yesterday with analysts detailing HBO’s strong 2016 earnings, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes announced that the cable network’s standalone streaming service HBO Now, which launched in April 2015, has officially surpassed the 2 million domestic subscriber mark. “Wall Street has been keenly attuned to the pace of subscriber growth for HBO Now as a bellwether of how major media giants will evolve their businesses in the digital era,” reports Variety. The service is vital to Time Warner since “HBO is in the midst of carriage renewal deals with major MVPDs, including the two largest cable operators, Comcast and Charter Communications.” Time Warner is also looking to merge with AT&T, parent of DirecTV. Continue reading HBO Now Service Has More Than 2 Million Subscribers in U.S.

Historic Super Bowl Marks Firsts and Generates Social Activity

This year’s Super Bowl made a major splash on a number of fronts. It marked the NFL’s first overtime game in Super Bowl history, a fifth ring for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, a historic fourth quarter comeback, the first time a squadron of drones were featured during the halftime show, some impressive overall ratings, and a collection of ads that focused on social issues such as gender equality, ethnic diversity and immigration. The game delivered Fox an average viewership of 111.3 million, making it one of the top-five most-watched Super Bowls. Nielsen notes the broadcast generated a 45.3 household rating, while 70 percent of U.S. households turned in. Continue reading Historic Super Bowl Marks Firsts and Generates Social Activity

ETC Seeks Project Director for Production in the Cloud Initiative

The Entertainment Technology Center @ The University of Southern California (ETC) is seeking a project director to oversee its existing Production in the Cloud initiative, as well as develop and lead new initiatives in the media & entertainment space. The project director will work with studio executives and key technology and services providers to advance production methodology for creative content and delivery. The position is a 50 percent project consultancy. The full job description is available on ETCentric. Interested candidates should contact Edie Meadows at ETC. Continue reading ETC Seeks Project Director for Production in the Cloud Initiative

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