Walmart Debuts Free, Ad-Supported Video Streaming Service

Retail giant Walmart announced the launch of its free, ad-supported streaming video service called Vudu Movies On Us, which offers thousands of titles available for 1080p HD streaming, and supports Dolby Digital sound when available. Vudu has been selling and renting movies and TV shows for almost 10 years. The new service, however, will not feature new releases or current series. Instead, it will focus on older blockbusters and classics. Vudu considered developing a subscription VOD service, but opted for the ad-supported model since the majority of Walmart customers expressed interest in free or discounted video services. Continue reading Walmart Debuts Free, Ad-Supported Video Streaming Service

Discovery Invests $100 Million in Digital Content Conglomerate

To expand its social media presence, Discovery Communications invested $100 million in Group Nine Media, a new holding company composed of NowThis, The DoDo, Thrillist, Discovery’s digital network Seeker and digital production company SourceFed Studios. In two years, Discovery will be able to buy a controlling stake in Group Nine. German media company Axel Springer will continue to be the second-largest shareholder. NowThis, The DoDo and Thrillist are said to be valued at $400 million, for a total deal value of $550 million. Continue reading Discovery Invests $100 Million in Digital Content Conglomerate

Twitter Rolls Out Periscope Producer, Takes On Facebook Live

Twitter is unveiling Periscope Producer, a new feature that gives video creators a URL that they can stream to from professional gear, including cameras, editing systems, satellite trucks, VR headsets, drones, games, desktop streaming software and, eventually, 360 cameras. With its new capabilities, Periscope Producer, currently an iOS app, directly competes with Facebook’s Live API, which newsrooms, Web celebrities and others have been using to livestream content to mobile and Internet audiences. Continue reading Twitter Rolls Out Periscope Producer, Takes On Facebook Live

Facebook Allows You to Watch News Feed Videos on Your TV

Facebook has launched a new iOS feature (coming soon to Android) that enables users to cast News Feed videos to TV sets for stream through AirPlay devices, Apple TV, Google’s Chromecast and Google Cast devices. “The move could help Facebook generate more video ad revenue, and increase usage time by giving people the richest possible viewing experience while at home,” suggests TechCrunch. Users can continue to scroll through the Facebook feed as the video streams, allowing the social platform to serve as both first and second screen. Periscope is taking a different tack to do the same “by allowing professional content broadcasts to be piped into Periscope and Twitter via its new Producer feature.” Continue reading Facebook Allows You to Watch News Feed Videos on Your TV

Industry Visionaries Discuss VR Production at Oculus Connect

Best practices for remaining on budget, the importance of planning and testing, whether to capture in mono or stereoscopic 3D, techniques for directing talent, and how to treat (or not to treat) VR environments were among the many topics discussed during a compelling panel about creating 360-degree video at the Oculus Connect 3 conference in San Jose last week. Four accomplished virtual reality production executives and technologists shared their practical knowledge and recommendations for navigating the uncharted waters of budgeting and producing VR content. Continue reading Industry Visionaries Discuss VR Production at Oculus Connect

Could Twitter Better Serve Communities as a Social Nonprofit?

While Twitter has shown its potential as a communication and news-sharing platform, and continues to experiment (for example: streaming deals with the NFL and a SoundCloud partnership), the company has struggled to turn a profit and satisfy investors. With all the recent hype surrounding a possible acquisition, NPR asks if “it’s worth pondering the idea of Twitter getting out from under the pressures of Wall Street and turning itself into a nonprofit.” Rather than bending to the relentless pressure of competing for growth and profit, pursuing ad revenue and adjusting how its algorithms sort tweets, the platform could possibly prove most useful to journalists, politicians and grassroots movements if it was “free of investor pressure.” Continue reading Could Twitter Better Serve Communities as a Social Nonprofit?

Snapchat Parent Preparing IPO, Valuation Could Exceed $25B

Snap Inc., the newly named parent company of messaging service Snapchat, is readying an initial public offering that could value the company at more than $25 billion. Snap is reportedly prepping “for an IPO with a view toward selling the shares as early as late March,” explains The Wall Street Journal. “There is no guarantee the four-year-old Venice, California, company will proceed with a share sale in that time frame, and there is no guarantee it will achieve a valuation of $25 billion or more.” However, if the company does reach that value, “it would be the biggest company to go public on a U.S. exchange since 2014″ when China’s Alibaba Group Holding made its debut. Continue reading Snapchat Parent Preparing IPO, Valuation Could Exceed $25B

Roku Makes it Simpler for Publishers to Offer Video Channels

Through an update to the Roku Direct Publisher Platform this week, Roku introduced new tools designed to make it easier for publishers to deliver streaming video content via Roku media players without the need to write any code. Creators merely go through a few steps in order to create a video feed and make their channel go live on Roku. The platform is also supported by Brightcove, JW Player, Kaltura and Ooyala. Roku, which currently touts more than 10 million monthly active users, is expanding its advertising options by offering to address video ad sales for publishers. Continue reading Roku Makes it Simpler for Publishers to Offer Video Channels

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

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