Stream-Ripping: Fastest Growing Form of Music Piracy in UK

According to new research by the Intellectual Property Office and PRS for Music, “stream-ripping” technology is the fastest-growing approach to music piracy in the United Kingdom. The research indicates a 141.3 percent increase in this type of illegal activity between 2014 and 2016. Stream-ripping apps and websites allow consumers to convert streaming content such as Spotify songs and YouTube videos into digital files that can be stored on mobile devices and computers. In September of 2016, such sites were accessed 498,681 times in the U.K., while BitTorrent was only used 23,567 times. Continue reading Stream-Ripping: Fastest Growing Form of Music Piracy in UK

Amazon Prime Members May Soon Top Pay TV Subscribers

According to new estimates from Morningstar, the number of Amazon Prime members may soon exceed the number of cable and satellite TV subscribers in the United States. Morningstar points to 79 million Prime members, up from 66 million at the end of 2016 (based on analysis of Amazon’s cash-flow statement). S&P Global projects 90 million U.S. households will pay for cable or satellite television this year. Recode reports, “According to these estimates, more U.S. households may have an Amazon Prime subscription than a pay TV subscription as soon as next year.” Continue reading Amazon Prime Members May Soon Top Pay TV Subscribers

Nielsen Reports Major Jump in On-Demand Audio Streaming

According to Nielsen, on-demand audio streams — including music, podcasts and spoken word recordings — reached a new milestone for the U.S. market when the figure reached 7.5 billion during the week ending March 9. In its latest mid-year report, the measurement firm indicates that 184 billion on-demand audio streams this year mark a significant 62.4 percent increase over the same period last year. In addition, there has been more than 284 billion on-demand audio and video streams combined this year, a 36.4 percent jump over the same period in 2016. Continue reading Nielsen Reports Major Jump in On-Demand Audio Streaming

VR World NYC Offers an Open Buffet of 50+ VR Experiences

Kent Bye covers location-based VR operations, pricing structures, crowd management and throughput, and reaching the mass audience in this 30-minute Voices of VR podcast interview with the founders of VR World NYC. The new midtown Manhattan portal, which opened June 24th, features over 50 VR experiences spread over three floors in a 20,000 square foot space near the Empire State Building. Visitors pay $39 in the afternoon and $49 in the evening for unlimited stay and play. Continue reading VR World NYC Offers an Open Buffet of 50+ VR Experiences

QVC to Purchase HSN in All-Stock Deal Valued at $2.1 Billion

Cable TV rivals QVC and the Home Shopping Network announced they plan to merge through an all-stock transaction valued around $2.1 billion. QVC chief exec Mike George will run the combined company and 17 cable channels. As impulse buying and video watching increasingly go mobile, the TV-based retailers have been facing increased competition from Amazon. “QVC’s sales in the U.S. have declined in each of the last three quarters,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “Revenue at HSN has declined for six straight quarters, and the company has been searching for a new CEO.” Continue reading QVC to Purchase HSN in All-Stock Deal Valued at $2.1 Billion

Netflix Fans Watch More Monthly, Hulu Leads in Daily Viewing

In April, we reported that Netflix held the top spot among streaming services in U.S. household penetration. Last month, Leichtman Research released figures suggesting that Netflix had doubled its subscription base over five years and, for the first time, surpassed cable TV in number of total subscribers. Now, comScore data indicates that cord cutters are spending more time watching content via Netflix per month than they are on Amazon Video, Hulu and YouTube combined. Interestingly, the data also shows that Hulu users watch more content on a daily basis. Continue reading Netflix Fans Watch More Monthly, Hulu Leads in Daily Viewing

Hulu Is Latest SVOD Service to Back AOMedia Video Codec

Hulu has joined the Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia) to help promote the AV1 AOMedia Video codec. The alliance’s video compression standard “strives to deliver improved compression efficiency over the current cutting-edge video compression standards HEVC/H.265 and VP9, in addition to providing the industry with an open source, royalty-free, interoperable video format,” wrote Hulu CTO Tian Lim. “Hulu joins other streaming media industry leaders in pursuit of a common goal — to accelerate development and facilitate friction-free adoption of new media technologies that benefit the streaming media industry and our viewers.” Continue reading Hulu Is Latest SVOD Service to Back AOMedia Video Codec

Charter and CenturyLink to Debut Streaming Skinny Bundles

Charter Communications and CenturyLink are the latest operators to introduce streaming skinny-bundle options for consumers looking for alternatives to conventional pay TV. The new services join a crowded field as an increasing number of companies face the challenges involved with attracting cord cutters and new customers. Charter will test its $20 per month Spectrum Stream that offers local broadcast and cable channels, VOD titles and optional premium channels. Meanwhile, CenturyLink Stream has introduced bundles that range from $15 per month to the Ultimate 45+ channel package for $45 per month. Continue reading Charter and CenturyLink to Debut Streaming Skinny Bundles

Facebook Announces its ‘Find Wi-Fi’ Feature Is Going Global

Facebook wants to help mobile consumers locate accessible Wi-Fi networks by expanding its “Find Wi-Fi” option, initially launched last year on iOS in select countries. Facebook announced that the feature would be made available worldwide on both iOS and Android devices to help users find public Wi-Fi networks, useful when traveling or in areas where cellular data is scarce. This could help Facebook’s “2 billion monthly users stay connected to the network and spend more time in its app — something that directly impacts Facebook’s bottom line,” notes TechCrunch, and “the tool also serves as another way to discover local businesses” as a possible alternative to Google Maps. The feature can be found under the “More” tab in the Facebook app. Continue reading Facebook Announces its ‘Find Wi-Fi’ Feature Is Going Global

‘Pokémon Go’ Is Still Popular: Passes $1.2 Billion in Revenue

According to the latest figures from Apptopia, mobile AR game sensation “Pokémon Go” has reached 752 million downloads and has earned more than $1.2 billion in revenue. The freemium game supports in-app purchases; total revenues for last year topped $950 million. The game “had about 60 million monthly players in June, with 20 percent of them opening the game at least once a day,” reports VentureBeat. “While that’s down from the app’s peak last August, which was at 100 million monthly users, it’s still a huge number.” Apptopia breaks down the game’s players: 57.4 percent are male, 38 percent are millennials (ages 19-34), and 32.5 percent are 18 or younger. Continue reading ‘Pokémon Go’ Is Still Popular: Passes $1.2 Billion in Revenue

Sycamore Partners to Acquire Retailer Staples for $6.9 Billion

Private equity firm Sycamore Partners has agreed to purchase office supply retail chain Staples for $6.9 billion. Staples is another retailer that has been impacted by the growing success of Amazon and other online shopping services. Amazon, for example, has become a major competitor for corporate customers, while Staples’ overall sales have declined 6.1 percent over the past five years, according to ABC News. In 2015, Staples attempted to merge with Office Depot in an effort to stay competitive online, but last year the deal was blocked by a federal judge in response to a lawsuit initiated by the Federal Trade Commission. Continue reading Sycamore Partners to Acquire Retailer Staples for $6.9 Billion

AMC Announces the Launch of its Ad-Free Streaming Service

AMC is introducing AMC Premiere, its new $5 per month streaming service that offers commercial-free versions of current programs, movies, trailers, bonus scenes, and the ability to stream shows at the same time they air on television. However, the cable network is not targeting cord cutters yet. “For now at least, you have to be a pay TV subscriber to use AMC Premiere — and specifically, a Comcast Xfinity TV customer,” reports TechCrunch. “That’s because launch of the new service is currently tied to a deal with Comcast, whose Xfinity TV customers will be able to stream the service via their set-top boxes as well as the Xfinity Stream website and mobile app.” Continue reading AMC Announces the Launch of its Ad-Free Streaming Service

Media Companies Are Creating Video Content for Echo Show

Amazon launched its $230 Echo Show smart speaker this week. The device features voice control powered by digital assistant Alexa and a 7-inch touchscreen with the ability to display photos and video. Another key feature is the speaker’s Flash Briefing that provides a customizable playlist of news updates upon request. Since videos are made available to users through Flash Briefings, media companies — including Bloomberg, CNN, Fox News, NBC and Reuters — are already producing video content specifically for the Echo Show and updating their Alexa Skills. Continue reading Media Companies Are Creating Video Content for Echo Show

Facebook Reaches New Milestone of 2 Billion Monthly Users

Social media giant Facebook announced it now has 2 billion monthly active users. The new milestone comes five years after reaching 1 billion users, and 13 years after Mark Zuckerberg first launched the platform. According to TechCrunch, Facebook leads social apps based on number of logged-in users, “above YouTube’s 1.5 billion, WeChat’s 889 million, Twitter’s 328 million and Snapchat’s estimated 255 million.” Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger each have 1.2 billion users, while its Instagram photo-sharing app recently exceeded 700 million. Continue reading Facebook Reaches New Milestone of 2 Billion Monthly Users

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