Research Indicates Another Drop in Number of Pay-TV Subs

According to new research from Kagan, pay-TV providers in the U.S. lost about 1.9 million subscribers in 2016. Additionally, OTT providers such as Sling TV, DirecTV Now and Sony PlayStation Vue “gained about 900,000 subscribers last year, rising from approximately 600,000 at year-end 2015 to 1.5 million at the end of 2016,” reports Variety. “While the gains on the OTT front would appear to be good news for cable programmers, the problem is that many broadband-targeted TV packages are stripped-down ‘skinny bundles’ that omit many of the channels included in traditional basic cable lineup.” Kagan estimates 94.7 million residential pay-TV subscribers for the close of 2016, down 2 percent from 2015. Continue reading Research Indicates Another Drop in Number of Pay-TV Subs

Facebook Faces Tough Questions After a Killer Shares Video

An Ohio resident is accused of fatally shooting an elderly man in Cleveland yesterday after a 57-second video of the murder was shared via Facebook Live. Since its launch less than a year ago, Facebook Live “has provided an unedited look at police shootings, rape, torture, and enough suicides that Facebook will be integrating real-time suicide prevention tools into the platform,” reports Wired. However, this is “the first time a killer has streamed themselves committing a homicide,” raising “questions about the limits and responsibilities of a platform that has pledged to reflect humanity in its purest form.” Continue reading Facebook Faces Tough Questions After a Killer Shares Video

T-Mobile Is Biggest Spender in Government Spectrum Auction

The results of the government’s wireless airwaves auction are in, and T-Mobile ended up as the biggest spender at $8 billion, followed by Dish at $6.2 billion and Comcast at $1.7 billion. The FCC auction, which began last year, generated $19.8 billion in bids. While the companies have yet to announce their plans for the spectrum, Comcast recently indicated that it would offer cell service to its Internet subscribers. Conclusion of the auction also means that companies will be able to resume deal discussions by April 27, now that bidding collusion is no longer a concern. Continue reading T-Mobile Is Biggest Spender in Government Spectrum Auction

Roku Signs Licensing Deal with TiVo, Gains Access to Patents

Roku and TiVo have signed a multiyear IP agreement that will provide Roku with access to thousands of patents. According to Variety, the license “agreement covers the TiVo and Rovi patent portfolios as well as the over-the-top patents in the Intellectual Ventures portfolio under the TiVo-IV licensing partnership. TiVo in its current instantiation was formed out of Rovi’s $1.1 billion acquisition of the DVR maker last year.” There are currently about 6,000 issued and pending patents in the combined company’s portfolio covering tech “including interactive program guides, DVR functions and mobile device media processes.” Continue reading Roku Signs Licensing Deal with TiVo, Gains Access to Patents

Interactive Media Emmys Redefined, May 1st Entry Deadline

The Emmy Award categories for Interactive Media have been completely redesigned for the 69th Emmy Award season. The Interactive Media Peer Group of the Television Academy announced four Category Awards and one new Juried Award. The four categories are Outstanding Interactive Program, Outstanding Original Interactive Program, Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media Within a Scripted Program, and Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media Within an Unscripted Program. The reimagined Juried Award for Innovation in Interactive Programming will recognize pioneering interactive work in emerging uses of interactive media in television. Continue reading Interactive Media Emmys Redefined, May 1st Entry Deadline

Third-Party Sellers on Amazon Become Latest Hacking Target

Hackers are reportedly targeting third-party sellers on Amazon by using stolen email and password credentials (available for purchase from previous hacks via the “Dark Web”) in a scam to post fake product deals online and pocket cash. Thieves have changed the bank info of active sellers on Amazon to steal amounts up to tens of thousands from each and have hacked less active sellers to post merchandise that does not exist, offering products at steep discounts. While PayPal and eBay have been targeted by hackers in the past, cybersecurity experts indicate that Amazon is becoming a new target. Continue reading Third-Party Sellers on Amazon Become Latest Hacking Target

Skidmore Combines 360VR Experience with Acceptance Letter

Skidmore College, a liberal arts institution in Upstate New York, is sending its student candidates a new form of acceptance letter. Each package includes a cardboard VR viewer with a link to an immersive, 360-degree video that illustrates life at Skidmore. The 360VR makeover is an attempt to go beyond the traditional college tour or promo video. “This was a chance to answer one of the top questions accepted candidates ask, which is what is it like to be a Skidmore student when I’m not in class,” explained Luke Meyer, director of marketing and engagement. Continue reading Skidmore Combines 360VR Experience with Acceptance Letter

Fact Check: Google Takes on Fake News with Search Feature

Facebook is not the only tech giant looking to address the growing problem of fake news. Alphabet-owned Google, the world’s biggest search engine, is introducing a feature that offers users a new layer of fact checking in their search results. The move follows criticism that Google and other Internet companies are assisting with the spread of misinformation. After limited testing, Google rolled out the feature to its News pages and search catalog Friday. “Fact Check” tags will appear in News search results, but they will not be powered by Google. Instead, the feature will rely on fact-checking firms such as PolitiFact and Snopes, as well as reputable publishers including The New York Times and The Washington Post. Continue reading Fact Check: Google Takes on Fake News with Search Feature

Workplace: Facebook Tests Free Version of Slack Competitor

Facebook’s Workplace is a social networking tool designed for the enterprise, enabling an efficient chat and collaboration platform for employees. It is similar to the Facebook used by friends and family members, but instead is meant to foster interaction between co-workers. Now, Facebook is introducing a free version intended for smaller businesses that are not as interested in the administrative and analytical features offered to subscribers. (It is still being tested, so the release is limited.) The new version will be named “Workplace Standard,” and the paid version will go by “Workplace Premium.” Continue reading Workplace: Facebook Tests Free Version of Slack Competitor

Roku Hires Lobbyists, Prepping for Changes to Net Neutrality

Roku seems to be gearing up for a battle regarding net neutrality, as the FCC is expected to repeal or change regulations that require ISPs to treat all Internet traffic equally. Such changes could make it more challenging and potentially more expensive for Roku and others to provide services at top download speeds. In a first for the company, Roku has hired two DC lobbyists to focus on net neutrality issues. The President Obama-era net neutrality rules treat telecoms similarly to utilities. Those who support the regulations believe they are necessary to prevent service providers from throttling speeds or charging media companies more for content delivery. Continue reading Roku Hires Lobbyists, Prepping for Changes to Net Neutrality

NFL and Amazon Sign Deal to Stream Thursday Night Games

The National Football League has signed a one-year agreement to stream 10 Thursday night games via Amazon in a deal insiders say is valued in the $50 million range (about five times the value of last season’s deal with Twitter). The games streamed for free on Twitter, but the Amazon deal will stream only to Prime members. Globally, more than 60 million consumers pay the annual $99 fee for Amazon Prime with perks including two-day shipping and access to movies, TV shows and music. The NFL deal is not exclusive; Thursday night games are split between CBS and NBC for television broadcasts, and are also made available on the NFL Network. Continue reading NFL and Amazon Sign Deal to Stream Thursday Night Games

Amazon Rolls Out Social Influencer Program to Market Goods

Amazon hopes that YouTube celebs and Instagram stars can help market brands and recommend products found on the popular e-commerce site. The company has quietly launched a beta test of its Amazon Influencer Program, which allows social media influencers to apply to participate in the initiative and earn commissions on products sold. The new program is designed to work with influencers who have significant followings and regularly post content related to shoppable content across “all tiers and categories,” according to Amazon. Continue reading Amazon Rolls Out Social Influencer Program to Market Goods

Apple Pursues Premium Bundle to Sell HBO, Showtime, Starz

In its latest pay TV proposal, Apple wants to offer a premium bundle that combines HBO, Showtime and Starz, three channels it already sells individually (sources say Apple does not yet have a deal with any of the networks for a package deal). The bundle would be different than a traditional subscription level offered by a conventional pay TV operator, since Apple could offer its proposed premium bundle as a “standalone product, delivered via its iOS devices and its Apple TV set-top box,” reports Recode. “Sony, AT&T and Dish all sell Web TV packages, and Google and Hulu have announced plans to sell their own.” Continue reading Apple Pursues Premium Bundle to Sell HBO, Showtime, Starz

Live Streaming 360 Video via Facebook Is Now Possible for All

Facebook has opened up live streaming 360-degree video for anyone with the professional equipment necessary to capture content — and users of devices such as the latest Samsung Gear 360, Insta360 Nano ($200, for iPhone) or Insta360 Air ($130, for Android). According to TechCrunch, “Facebook’s live-streaming video tech” now provides “1080p, 30fps playback and a maximum streaming time of four hours.” The Live 360 broadcasts “aren’t yet embeddable on other sites” and “can’t be viewed via Apple TV or Chromecast” yet. And while some cameras already support live broadcasting via YouTube and Periscope, “Facebook’s in-app integration is a useful way to reach more people with minimal effort and promotion.” Continue reading Live Streaming 360 Video via Facebook Is Now Possible for All

Usernames No Longer Included in Twitter 140-Character Limit

Twitter is following up on last year’s promise to offer its users more room in their tweet replies. Now, when a user responds to another’s tweet, that individual’s username will not be counted as part of the 140-character limit in the response. “The move is part of a broader effort at Twitter to go ‘beyond 140’ characters and give people more room to tweet without dramatically altering the company’s signature 140-character limit,” notes Recode. “For a while in late 2015 and early 2016, the company considered expanding the character limit to 10,000 characters. But that plan fell through.” Continue reading Usernames No Longer Included in Twitter 140-Character Limit

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