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Pandora Hopes to Convert Users with Free On-Demand Music

Pandora Media is launching free on-demand music with 15-second ads, in an effort to boost declining revenue and users. In doing so, it inches closer to rival Spotify’s model. According to one source, the user will be able to queue up 15 minutes, 30 minutes or an hour of specific songs for every ad watched; the company is still testing models that mix music and ads. By offering free songs in exchange for ads, Pandora hopes to entice listeners to sign up for its $9.99 per month Premium on-demand tier, which was introduced in March. Read more

Facebook Builds Watch Audience with WWE and Vice Series

Facebook is building audiences for its new Watch video platform with a strategic series of deals and productions. The social media platform nabbed exclusive rights to “Mixed Match Challenge,” a 12-episode 20-minute live weekly show from WWE that it will begin streaming on January 16 in the U.S. only. The ad-free series is an elimination, tag-team tournament that matches male and female stars from “Raw” and “SmackDown Live.” Facebook also ordered three original weekly series from Vice Media, all of them unscripted. Read more

Snapchat Users Can Now Create World Lenses with AR Tool

Snapchat launched its Lens Studio AR developer tool for desktop that enables users to build augmented reality experiences for the platform. Anyone can now create World Lenses for adding interactive 3D objects to photos and video content. “But brands, news publishers and developers will have to promote their own Lenses by marketing their QR Snapcodes that users scan to unlock an AR effect for 24 hours,” reports TechCrunch. “That’s because Snapchat won’t display these Community Lenses in its camera unless businesses pay a partnered creative agency to build them a special effect and then buy Sponsored Lens ads from Snap.” Read more

FCC Votes 3-2 to Roll Back 2015 Net Neutrality Regulations

As anticipated, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 along party lines yesterday to repeal the Obama administration’s net neutrality rules, which were originally introduced to help protect an open Internet. FCC chair Ajit Pai and two other Republicans backed the change. Net neutrality rules were created as a means of regulating how broadband providers treat Internet traffic in an effort to avoid slowing content delivery or providing fast lanes for specific services. Dismantling the rules is seen as a win for cable and wireless providers and will likely result in lawsuits. Read more

CES Keynotes: Intel, Ford & Huawei Focus on Smart, Mobile

CES, a massive exhibition of innovation and new products, now offers a rich program experience with more than 1,200 speakers participating in 42 different conference tracks and hundreds of individual sessions. Intel, Ford and Huawei have been announced as the featured keynote presentations. This is a smaller set of main stage keynotes than previous years and features a more traditional line-up than the past two years, when Carnival Corporation surprised in 2017 and Netflix announced itself as the world’s first global television network in 2016. Read more

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