In Landmark Deal, 76ers Acquire Stake in Two eSports Teams

Competitive videogaming just got a boost when the National Basketball Association’s Philadelphia 76ers acquired a controlling interest in two so-called eSports squads, Dignitas and Apex. The move marks the first time an organization in any of the four major U.S. sports leagues invested in eSports. Prior to this landmark purchase, professional athletes have invested in eSports and both Time Warner’s TBS and Disney’s ESPN have live-broadcast the competitions. Specifics of the 76ers deal were not disclosed. Continue reading In Landmark Deal, 76ers Acquire Stake in Two eSports Teams

Top Record Labels File Lawsuit Against YouTube Ripping Site

Sony, Universal, Warner Bros. and other record labels are taking legal action against the German operator of website YouTube-mp3.org, claiming that the industry is being robbed of revenue from streaming, downloads and advertising. BBC notes that the site provides an easy-to-use method of downloading audio from YouTube videos. The labels filed the suit in a federal court in Los Angeles, seeking damages including $150,000 per each alleged act of piracy. According to the labels, “tens, or even hundreds, of millions of tracks are illegally copied and distributed by stream-ripping services each month.” YouTube-mp3.org is described as the “chief offender,” with more than 60 million monthly users. Continue reading Top Record Labels File Lawsuit Against YouTube Ripping Site

Facing Slow Growth, Twitter Said to Be Considering Takeover

Twitter is reportedly in early discussions with Google, Salesforce.com and others about a possible takeover of the San Francisco-based company. “Twitter is considering divesting itself of … Vine, the mobile six-second video service, and MoPub, a mobile advertising business,” according to The New York Times. Stalled growth has been a challenge for Twitter, which has largely failed to keep up with competitors in recent years. Facebook’s “offerings like Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger continued to outpace Twitter in user growth and profitability, while five-year-old Snapchat has become the newest darling of the social media world.” Continue reading Facing Slow Growth, Twitter Said to Be Considering Takeover

Pandora Plus Makes Debut, Record Labels Experience Uptick

Pandora unveiled Pandora Plus, replacing the 16-year old company’s original ad-free service. What’s different is that the company now licenses music from the major record labels, rather than using compulsory licenses from the government, with rates determined by federal judges. With the new version, users can replay or skip songs and listen offline. The monthly price remains $4.99. Out of Pandora’s nearly 80 million users, only 4 million are paying subscribers. An on-demand tier for $10/month will also debut by end of 2016. Continue reading Pandora Plus Makes Debut, Record Labels Experience Uptick

Adblock Expands Service with Fresh Take on Acceptable Ads

Adblock, the company that blocks online advertising, is now introducing a service that allows website operators to run ads. Adblock Plus’s new service is an extension of the Acceptable Ads program debuted in 2011. A so-called acceptable ad, vetted by Adblock, is smaller, less brash and intrusive and thus, in principle, less irritating. The number of ads in this marketplace, which just debuted in beta, is limited because of how time-consuming it is to vet ads. The service will come out of beta later in 2016. Continue reading Adblock Expands Service with Fresh Take on Acceptable Ads

Spotify Focuses on Major Record Label Deals to Boost Profits

In its efforts to move more free-tier users to its $10/month subscription service, Spotify has redoubled its efforts to ink long-term licenses with major record labels. One potential option is that the labels would limit new releases to Spotify’s subscription tier in exchange for a lower percentage of subscription revenue. Another possibility is that Spotify will provide artists data and promotion in exchange for reduced royalty payments. Spotify is trying to settle the deals by end of 2016, say sources. Continue reading Spotify Focuses on Major Record Label Deals to Boost Profits

Sony, Universal Ink Deals with Pandora for Streaming Services

Sony Music, Universal Music and Merlin Network, which represents 20,000 independents, have agreed to license songs to Pandora for its two new music services. Pandora plans to offer the advertising-free Pandora Plus and an on-demand service similar to Spotify. The company is also still in talks with Warner Music in an attempt to ink a deal with this third-largest music rights holder. Pandora hopes to launch both of its new services by the end of 2016. As of June 30, Pandora says it has 78.1 million active listeners. Continue reading Sony, Universal Ink Deals with Pandora for Streaming Services

Twitter to Live-Stream ‘Thursday Night Football’ for First Time

Twitter won a bidding war to live-stream NFL games in a $10 million deal inked in April. Now, this Thursday, the social media company will stream the first such match-up of the 10-game deal, seen as an effort by chief executive Jack Dorsey to revive the company’s dwindling support from advertisers. Viewers can watch the live CBS feed on Twitter’s mobile app and website, with the added value of in-the-moment tweets. Bank of America and Budweiser are two companies that will also stream commercials during the game. Continue reading Twitter to Live-Stream ‘Thursday Night Football’ for First Time

TiVo Introduces Bolt+ DVR with Six 4K Tuners and 3TB Drive

Following Rovi’s $1.1 billion acquisition of TiVo and the unveiling of TiVo’s new UX on-screen user experience, the company has now rolled out its latest DVR, the Bolt+ with six 4K tuners and 3TB of storage. While last fall’s 4K-ready Bolt debuted a white chassis and curved form factor, the Bolt+ returns to TiVo’s standard black body. The newest addition to the Bolt family can record 450 hours of HD content and allows users to simultaneously record and stream more shows. The Bolt+ will be available for $499.99 (not including the monthly service fee) starting tomorrow. Continue reading TiVo Introduces Bolt+ DVR with Six 4K Tuners and 3TB Drive

Stream-Ripping, the New Music Piracy, Becoming Problematic

The recording industry is concerned about a burgeoning trend: stream-ripping. Numerous mobile apps and sites now allow users to download MP3 files from songs on YouTube, thus circumventing both advertising and paid streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music. The music industry has had reasonable success in fighting the kind of peer-to-peer file sharing that hurt CD sales, but this new kind of piracy is proving much harder to combat because it sources legitimate streaming services. Continue reading Stream-Ripping, the New Music Piracy, Becoming Problematic

Facebook Messenger Unveils Native Bot Payments, Webview

Out of Messenger’s one billion users, 300 million people are now using its audio and video calling features every month. This represents tremendous growth from Facebook’s first trials with VoIP audio for Messenger in 2013, and video calling in mid-2015. More recently, Facebook launched Instant Video for live connections in Messenger and group audio calling, with hints on plans to introduce group video calling. The idea is that multimedia options will always be part of the ongoing conversation. Continue reading Facebook Messenger Unveils Native Bot Payments, Webview

Time Debuts People/Entertainment Weekly Streaming Network

Time is launching its People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN) today — a streaming, ad-supported video service also available as an app, on numerous Web-connected devices and People’s website. The venture, Time’s latest effort to leverage digital advertising, is free and available to watch live and on-demand, with a focus on celebrities, coverage of popular entertainment franchises (such as “Star Wars” and “Game of Thrones”), live events (such as the Emmy Awards) and human interest stories. Continue reading Time Debuts People/Entertainment Weekly Streaming Network

Twitter Launches App That Allows Alexa to Read Your Tweets

Twitter has introduced an app that enables Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa to read users’ Twitter timelines and topics currently trending on the social network. The new app is called Twitter Reader and it connects to Amazon Echo smart speakers and other Alexa-ready devices. Twitter Reader will recite individuals’ main timelines in addition to trending topics based on location. Users can ask for tweets that correspond to specific trends — or even ask if they have recently been mentioned on Twitter or if any of their tweets have been retweeted. Continue reading Twitter Launches App That Allows Alexa to Read Your Tweets

Amazon Lures Tablet Buyers with Price and Alexa Integration

Five years after Amazon first launched a tablet, it now has a new model, the Fire HD 8, that focuses on one compelling factor: price. The Fire HD 8 is an 8-inch touchscreen tablet with 50 percent more RAM, longer battery life and 16 gigabytes of storage, double Amazon’s previous model (and the same as Apple’s 8-inch iPad). Even as the Amazon tablet’s specs have improved, the price has dropped, from $149.99 to $89.99. That combination is allowing the company to beat the market trend of softening tablet sales. Continue reading Amazon Lures Tablet Buyers with Price and Alexa Integration

Washington Post Turns to Google Tech for Faster Mobile Site

The Washington Post is unrolling a new “lightning-fast” mobile website based on Google’s Progressive Web Apps that loads pages in under one second; the current mobile site loads pages in about three seconds. The goal is to create the fastest mobile news site possible, says chief technology officer Shailesh Prakash, who notes that 70 percent of the newspaper’s digital traffic is from mobile devices. The Post plans to direct 10 percent of traffic to the new site now, segueing to a complete switch by the end of the year. Continue reading Washington Post Turns to Google Tech for Faster Mobile Site

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