Hulu Winds Down its Free Service, Partners on Yahoo TV Site

Hulu is shutting down the free, ad-supported version of its service. The company announced it is transitioning to a subscription-only model following investments in more movies and TV shows. Hulu’s two subscription tiers include an ad-free plan for $11.99 per month and a limited-commercial offering for $7.99 per month. Hulu is also expanding its distribution deal with Yahoo by partnering on Yahoo View, a new ad-supported streaming site that will carry the five most recent episodes of series from Hulu co-owners ABC, FOX and NBC, eight days after their original broadcast. Continue reading Hulu Winds Down its Free Service, Partners on Yahoo TV Site

Intel Invests in Machine Learning with Nervana Systems Deal

Betting big that future data centers will rely upon artificial intelligence, Intel is acquiring deep learning startup Nervana Systems. Details have yet to be revealed, but an inside source values the San Diego-based startup at $408 million. According to Intel VP Jason Waxman, the shift to artificial intelligence could surpass cloud computing, since machine learning would be necessary for a future in which billions of devices communicate with each other. Nervana “has been working to bring machine learning all the way into the silicon,” reports Recode, “rather than simply making software that can run on top of anyone’s cluster of graphics chips.” Continue reading Intel Invests in Machine Learning with Nervana Systems Deal

Walmart to Purchase Jet.com in Bid to Compete with Amazon

In its biggest bid yet to compete more directly with Amazon, Arkansas-based Walmart is acquiring e-commerce startup Jet.com for $3.3 billion ($3 billion in cash and $300 million in shares to be paid over time). Walmart has been busy expanding its online operation, and the Jet.com deal provides it with a shopping site that is adding 400,000 consumers monthly and has already reached a $1 billion gross merchandise run rate. Store-based businesses such as Costco, Target and Walmart have been looking for effective ways to contend with Amazon’s successful online model. Continue reading Walmart to Purchase Jet.com in Bid to Compete with Amazon

NBCU Signs Deal to Produce Original Programs for Snapchat

NBCUniversal has signed a multiyear deal with Snapchat to bring new programming based on its popular brand names to the app’s media hub. What the content will look like has not been specified, but will launch with “The Voice on Snapchat,” followed by weekly pop culture series from E! News, “The Rundown.” NBCU will rely on other popular franchises such as “Saturday Night Live” and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” for additional programming. NBCU will not simply provide repurposed clips like it does on YouTube and Facebook, but will produce original content. Continue reading NBCU Signs Deal to Produce Original Programs for Snapchat

Apple is the Latest Tech Giant to Launch Bug Bounty Program

Apple has announced its new “security bounty” initiative that will offer payments up to $200,000 to any hackers who inform the company about critical vulnerabilities to its products. In doing so, Apple joins major tech companies that have similar programs in place. Alphabet, Facebook and Microsoft “have paid out millions of dollars in bug bounties over the past few years,” reports The Wall Street Journal. Automobile companies such as Tesla and GM are also introducing bounty programs as vehicles are relying more on software to control their systems. Continue reading Apple is the Latest Tech Giant to Launch Bug Bounty Program

‘Pokémon Go’ Rakes in Over $200 Million After its First Month

App analytics platform Sensor Tower reports that Niantic’s location-based, augmented reality game “Pokémon Go” is continuing its rise in popularity, with more than $200 million in net revenue generated during its first month of availability. The meteoric rise “compares favorably to in-game revenue generated by other huge in-app purchase-driven games,” notes TechCrunch. “Pokémon Go” has nearly doubled “the first month revenue of ‘Clash Royale,’ the other big in-app star this year” and “made almost four times as much as ‘Candy Crush Soda Saga’ managed during its first 30 days of availability.” “Pokémon Go” experienced a significant spike when it launched in Japan. The game was just introduced to 15 additional Asian countries. Continue reading ‘Pokémon Go’ Rakes in Over $200 Million After its First Month

After Consecutive Quarters of Decline, Disc Sales On Upswing

Consumers spent 4 percent more on movies, other content on discs and digital during Q2 2016 compared to the same period last year. According to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, disc sales increased 3 percent to $1.2 billion, including a 35 percent jump in Blu-ray Disc sales. Digital HD jumped 8.7 percent to $466 million. “Total consumer spending on home entertainment purchases is estimated at $1.67 billion for the three-month period that ended June 30, a healthy increase of 4.5 percent from $1.59 billion in the same period last year,” reports Variety. Ultra HD Blu-ray, which launched in March, could be a contributing factor. Continue reading After Consecutive Quarters of Decline, Disc Sales On Upswing

New York Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Daily Fantasy Sports

New York passed a bill in June legalizing daily fantasy sports, enabling popular services such as DraftKings and FanDuel to operate in the state. Yesterday, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law. “Daily fantasy sports have proven to be popular in New York, but until now have operated with no supervision and no protections for players,” explained Cuomo. “This legislation strikes the right balance that allows this activity to continue with oversight from state regulators, new consumer protections, and more funding for education.” Continue reading New York Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Daily Fantasy Sports

Latest Cryptocurrency Cybertheft Could Shake Faith in Bitcoin

Hong Kong exchange Bitfinex was hacked and funds were stolen, marking a setback for digital currency Bitcoin. Bitfinex director of community and product development Zane Tackett posted on Reddit that 119,756 Bitcoins had been stolen. “Before the hacking was made public, that number of Bitcoins would have been worth about $72 million,” explains The New York Times. “Now that the currency has slumped, the figure is closer to $65 million.” During its investigation, Bitfinex has stopped all trading, deposits and withdrawals. The security breach is the latest in a series of events that could impact the viability of virtual currency. Continue reading Latest Cryptocurrency Cybertheft Could Shake Faith in Bitcoin

Time Warner Invests in Hulu with Plans to Join Pay TV Service

Time Warner announced it is investing $583 million for a 10 percent stake in Hulu, joining forces with existing owners Disney, 21st Century Fox and Comcast’s NBCUniversal. However, Time Warner does not plan to offer its television programming via the current version of Hulu’s video service, which features repeats of recently aired shows. Instead, the media giant will license its content for the new pay TV service that Hulu plans to launch in 2017. That means channels such as Cartoon Network, CNN, TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies would be available to viewers through the planned live TV service. Continue reading Time Warner Invests in Hulu with Plans to Join Pay TV Service

Dish and Comcast to Offer NBC’s 4K Rio Olympics Coverage

According to Multichannel News: “Dish Network and Comcast will be joining AT&T in offering access to NBCUniversal’s delayed 4K coverage of the Summer Olympics in Rio.” Comcast will provide content from Rio on demand via its Xfinity in UHD app for Samsung and LG smart TVs, while Dish will offer content on linear channel 146 and on VOD via the Hopper 3 DVR and 4K Joey box. Dish will also include a sports hub on channel 148 for access to NBCU’s coverage and integrate the NBC Olympics app on its Hopper and Joey devices. Dish’s Sling TV will also carry select coverage on its Sling Blue service. Continue reading Dish and Comcast to Offer NBC’s 4K Rio Olympics Coverage

Verizon to Ramp Up Telematics with Purchase of Fleetmatics

Following its $4.8 billion acquisition of Yahoo, Verizon announced it is purchasing Dublin-based telematics company Fleetmatics for $2.4 billion in cash. Fleetmatics will become part of the subsidiary Verizon Telematics, which primarily handles fleet management, mobile enterprise solutions and Internet of Things initiatives. Verizon’s AOL and Yahoo purchases will help build its media and advertising businesses, while the Fleetmatics acquisition points to the company’s enterprise mobility ambitions. The deal is expected to close by Q4 2016. Continue reading Verizon to Ramp Up Telematics with Purchase of Fleetmatics

Journalists to Use Samsung Gear 360 Cameras for VR News

As part of a global initiative to introduce the potential of 360-degree news reporting, Samsung is providing 50 Reuters photojournalists in 25 countries with its Gear 360 cameras. According to Digital Trends, “The cameras and new content will fuel Focus 360 — Reuters’ new virtual reality and 360-degree video and photography worldwide news portal, which launches online and on Android August 2 and on iOS August 5.” Samsung Galaxy phone owners “will also be able to watch Focus 360 content on the Samsung Gear VR headset.” Continue reading Journalists to Use Samsung Gear 360 Cameras for VR News

Jump in Bluetooth Headphone Sales, Beat Wired for First Time

The NPD Group reports that Bluetooth headphones represented 54 percent of sales for the first half of 2016, marking the first time that Bluetooth headphones have surpassed sales of wired headphones in the U.S. “Bluetooth headphones saw a 42 percent year-over-year increase in dollar sales for the six-month period, while the overall headphones category saw a 7 percent increase,” notes Twice. The average sales price dropped 5 percent from the same period last year. The top brands for the period included Beats, LG, Bose, Jaybird and Skullcandy. Continue reading Jump in Bluetooth Headphone Sales, Beat Wired for First Time

Amazon Posts Record Profit and Significant Growth for AWS

Amazon announced its fifth consecutive quarterly profit yesterday, and its third consecutive record-setting profit. Revenue increased 31 percent; sales rose to $30.4 billion from $23.19 billion. The company’s cloud computing division, Amazon Web Services, accounted for an impressive 56 percent of Amazon’s operating income, and it grew 58 percent in the last quarter. “The results show Amazon moving toward investors’ long-held hope of consistent profitability after a lengthy period of heavy investments and quarterly losses,” notes The Wall Street Journal. “Overall, Amazon posted a second-quarter $857 million profit, or $1.78 a share, compared with $92 million, or 19 cents a share, a year earlier.” Continue reading Amazon Posts Record Profit and Significant Growth for AWS

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