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Netflix Launches Two New Interactive Digital Shows for Kids

Netflix is embarking on an experiment in interactive online storytelling with children’s programs “Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale” (available now) and “Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile” (debuting July 14). With thousands of possible story paths, the shows allow viewers to choose his or own adventure. Whereas books and videogames have offered this kind of storytelling for years, it’s been difficult — and, from the point of view of the studio or TV network, not financially viable — to do so for video. Read more

CNN to Transform Great Big Story Into a Streaming Channel

Time Warner’s CNN plans to spend $40 million over two years to turn its in-house social video startup Great Big Story into a 24-hour streaming channel. The cable news pioneer “launched Great Big Story in 2015 to make short videos about offbeat places and people,” explains Bloomberg. “The goal was to distribute videos on social media to reach millennials who don’t watch CNN on television.” By next summer, Great Big Story will transform to a 24-hour schedule, “including live programming or feature-length films,” streaming via web TV services such as Sling TV or DirecTV Now. According to CNN exec Andrew Morse, the online feed could one day become its own subscription service or TV network. Read more

NBC Sports Targets Younger Viewers With eSports Tourney

Comcast’s NBC Sports announced its plans to televise an eSports tournament this summer, as broadcasters continue to experiment with competitive videogaming to increase viewership. “The cable network hopes a tournament built around a popular quirky game called ‘Rocket League’ will attract hard-to-reach viewers — particularly younger males — who increasingly are ditching cable subscriptions for live-streaming services such as Netflix,” reports The Wall Street Journal. According to Newzoo, the number of viewers for eSports will double this year over 2012 and reach 286 million by 2020. Read more

Facebook Introduces Video Series, Targeting TV Ad Market

Facebook is in production on new video series, with an eye on the $70 billion TV advertising market. First up from the social media company are reality competition series “Last State Standing” and a second season of comedy “Loosely Exactly Nicole,” which first appeared on MTV. Facebook hopes that if it adds original programming to the site, it will encourage cable networks and ad-supported, youth-oriented online services to upload their own premium video content. Facebook executives have compared its efforts to priming the pump. Read more

Finnish Startup Varjo to Debut VR Headset With Better Vision

Finnish startup Varjo aims to improve the resolution of images seen through VR and AR headsets. Ordinarily, the viewer with a VR headset sees the most detail looking straight ahead, in a rectangle comprising about 5 percent of his field of view. Varjo’s founders want to change that, especially for designers, architects and other professionals who work with 3D models. Resolution with VR and AR headsets from Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Microsoft HoloLens has improved, but nowhere near the level we see in real life. Read more

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