Global Markets React to UK’s Decision to Exit European Union

British voters cast their ballots yesterday regarding the United Kingdom’s Brexit referendum, and surprising to many, the country has opted to exit the European Union. Shortly after the results were announced, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced he would resign his position later this year, while leaders in Northern Ireland and Scotland have indicated they will seek independence referendums in order to reenter the EU. The immediate response has been a dramatic ripple effect in markets worldwide with expectations for future uncertainty and potential crises. The tech industry, which often benefits from the EU’s liberal trade and economic policies, will likely be impacted. Continue reading Global Markets React to UK’s Decision to Exit European Union

BitTorrent Launches Ad-Supported Music and Video Platform

BitTorrent has launched its open, ad-supported music and video platform that allows consumers to access media content via apps for Android, iOS and Apple TV. BitTorrent Now is the latest effort to shed the piracy stigma of the popular peer-to-peer technology for more legitimate uses. Up until now, BitTorrent offered free and paywall versions for artists to get their content to people. With the new ad-supported service, artists have an alternative for generating revenue while users can stream their content through an Android app launched yesterday, and iOS and Apple TV apps to follow. Continue reading BitTorrent Launches Ad-Supported Music and Video Platform

Netflix Updates Video Encoding, Aims to Use Less Bandwidth

According to a Sandvine study, Netflix has re-encoded some of its video library in order to make the streaming service more efficient and reduce its bandwidth demands. Netflix accounted for 37.1 percent of Internet traffic on fixed broadband networks during primetime hours six months ago in North America. Sandvine notes that Netflix represented 35.2 percent of downstream traffic under the same criteria during March of this year. “Last December, Netflix detailed changes in its video-encoding schemes, which the company said could reduce bit rates by up to 20 percent while delivering equivalent quality,” reports Variety. Meanwhile, “Amazon Video now represents 4.3 percent of peak-period traffic, up from 2 percent a year ago.” Continue reading Netflix Updates Video Encoding, Aims to Use Less Bandwidth

Viacom Debuts BET Streaming Service for International Market

Viacom rolled out a standalone online service this week dubbed BET Play, targeting an adult audience (last year, Viacom launched Nickelodeon-related app Noggin for kids). The video-on-demand application will feature BET’s award programs, such as this week’s 2016 BET Awards, in addition to TV series, musical performances, documentaries, comedy specials and news. BET Play will launch for iOS, Android and Apple AirPlay-enabled TVs without the need for a broader pay TV subscription. It will be available in 100 countries outside the U.S. for the equivalent of $3.99 per month. Continue reading Viacom Debuts BET Streaming Service for International Market

With FCC Approval, U.S. Could Be First to Open 5G Networks

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler will distribute a proposal tomorrow to launch 5G wireless proceedings, and if the plan is passed, the FCC will then identify and open up high-band spectrum capable of sending data at ultra high speeds. The FCC is not defining 5G, and a 5G standard has yet to be established. “Wheeler basically wants to leave it up to the market, as the commission did for 4G before it,” The Verge reports. “The commission will open up a bunch of new wireless spectrum — which is what companies like AT&T and Verizon use to beam data from their towers to your cellphones — and then leave phone companies and other competitors to do what they’d like with it.” Continue reading With FCC Approval, U.S. Could Be First to Open 5G Networks

CryWorks: Disney, Pixar, ILM Vets Launch New VR Company

VFX and CGI veterans Euan Macdonald, Hans Uhlig and Kymber Lim have secured funding led by Michael Bay’s 451 Media Group, 500 Mobile Collective, and WI Harper Group to launch an immersive entertainment company called CryWorks, with plans to produce virtual and augmented reality experiences. “Although there are a few high-quality VR content pieces to date, most of them have little incentive for the viewer to keep tuning back in,” said Macdonald. “We see an opportunity to build the first VR broadcast network, partnering with other production companies and creating addictive, episodic experiences.” Continue reading CryWorks: Disney, Pixar, ILM Vets Launch New VR Company

Patents, Investments Point to Significant Future for VR and AR

Sony dominates U.S. patent filings related to virtual reality, followed by IBM, Samsung, Microsoft and Canon. Magic Leap and Reveo are the leading startups when it comes to published patents related to VR. Microsoft, Sony and Qualcomm have the most published patents related to augmented reality, although they do not necessarily lead in the number of AR inventions. Osterout Group and Magic Leap are the clear leaders in published AR patents. All the companies on these lists have far fewer inventions than patents because multiple patents may be included in a single invention. Continue reading Patents, Investments Point to Significant Future for VR and AR

Altice Closes Cablevision Deal to Become Major U.S. Operator

The $17.7 billion acquisition of New York-based Cablevision Systems Corp. by European cable company Altice NV is now complete. The new company, Altice USA, will become the fourth largest broadband provider in the country with 4.6 million customers across 20 states. Cablevision will join with Suddenlink, acquired by Altice last year. “Altice has vowed to invest more in improving the infrastructure of the Cablevision and Suddenlink networks with a focus on boosting broadband speeds, improving Wi-Fi service and updating the programming guide and interface to more user-friendly designs,” reports Variety. Continue reading Altice Closes Cablevision Deal to Become Major U.S. Operator

Mashable Buys YouTube Channel for Filmmakers, Movie Fans

In another sign that New York-based Mashable is heading toward video, the digital media company has acquired YouTube channel CineFix from Lloyd Braun’s media and tech company, Whalerock Industries. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The channel, which is geared toward filmmakers and movie fans, has produced more than 1,200 videos and attracted over 1.6 million YouTube subscribers. The site is “a natural fit with Mashable’s focus on entertainment, technology, and influential geek culture,” said Mashable chief content officer Gregory Gittrich. Continue reading Mashable Buys YouTube Channel for Filmmakers, Movie Fans

Twitter Eyes Machine Learning with Acquisition of Magic Pony

Twitter announced it is acquiring London-based artificial intelligence startup Magic Pony Technology to help provide a professional polish to tweeted live videos. The social giant reportedly paid about $150 million to purchase Magic Pony. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said he was buying the company “so Twitter can continue to be the best place to see what’s happening and why it matters, first.” Twitter has been emphasizing video in recent months, and machine learning is “increasingly at the core of everything we build,” said Dorsey. In addition to using machine learning, “Magic Pony’s technology uses artificial intelligence for visual effects,” notes Bloomberg. “It can be used to clean up pixelated images or create new images” and “to improve video streaming.” Continue reading Twitter Eyes Machine Learning with Acquisition of Magic Pony

Flix Premiere: New Online Movie Platform Streams Indie Films

Flix Premiere — “the world’s first online Cineplex” featuring international and indie films — has launched in the U.S., two months after its debut in the U.K. Available online and via iOS and Android apps, the streaming service offers exclusive “curated theatrical releases” for $4.99 per title (or five tickets for $19.99). The website describes the service as “the single point of discovery for the 95 percent of films that ‘never’ find their audience.” Flix Premiere plans to introduce 8-9 new films every 10-14 days that will be exclusive to the platform for 12 months. Continue reading Flix Premiere: New Online Movie Platform Streams Indie Films

Fantasy Sports May Return to New York if Governor Signs Bill

The New York legislature passed a bill over the weekend that would legalize and regulate fantasy sports in the state. Last fall, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said daily fantasy sports are a violation of state gambling laws; courts then ruled to shut down DraftKings and FanDuel. The new decision could impact the industry’s ongoing efforts “to pass bills in statehouses that would validate its contention the practice isn’t gambling and shouldn’t be subject to state gambling bans or other restrictions,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “The industry has won passage of bills in Indiana, Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri and Colorado, but it has lost battles in several other states.” Continue reading Fantasy Sports May Return to New York if Governor Signs Bill

Snapchat Readies Launch of Online Tech Magazine Real Life

Snapchat is funding a new online magazine called Real Life that will launch next week with plans to publish content that addresses tech issues. “Real Life will publish essays, arguments, and narratives about living with technology,” writes Nathan Jurgenson, who will serve as editor-in-chief. “It won’t be a news site with gadget reviews or industry gossip. It will be about how we live today and how our lives are mediated by devices. We plan to publish one piece of writing every weekday, though we may eventually expand to other mediums and formats as well.” Jurgenson notes that the editorial staff’s background is “largely not tech-oriented, reflecting the editorial philosophy that technology is best discussed as lived.” Continue reading Snapchat Readies Launch of Online Tech Magazine Real Life

Appeals Court Rules for Vimeo in Copyright Infringement Case

In a blow to record companies — and a win for Internet service providers, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York yesterday ruled that Vimeo cannot be held liable for copyright infringement if the video-sharing site unknowingly hosts older music that was uploaded by users. In addition, the court ruled that it is not enough to prove Vimeo ignored infringement if company employees had watched videos containing copyrighted sound recordings. The case, which centered on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), was being watched closely by Silicon Valley. Continue reading Appeals Court Rules for Vimeo in Copyright Infringement Case

Streaming-Only Recordings Now Eligible for Grammy Awards

The Recording Academy has announced new amendments to the Grammy Awards process. Among the changes, previously ineligible streaming-only releases will now be considered for recognition. Albums and singles previously had to be available for purchase, but the latest rule changes allow for streaming releases to be nominated. According to the press release, “Works must be released via general distribution, defined as the nationwide release of a recording via brick and mortar, third-party online retailers,and/or applicable digital streaming services.” Continue reading Streaming-Only Recordings Now Eligible for Grammy Awards

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