Number of OTT-Only Households in the U.S. Continues to Rise

According to a new report from the Video Advertising Bureau, the number of households in the United States that are now using only OTT streaming services to watch movies and TV shows has reached 14.1 million, a figure that has almost tripled over five years. However, that number makes up just 11 percent of all U.S. TV households. The report also found that over-the-top services are often used in tandem with pay TV subscriptions; 70 percent of those with OTT services also pay for cable, satellite or telcos.

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Facebook’s New Centralized Page for Editing Privacy Settings

In response to the recent outcry regarding how Facebook handles personal user data, the social media giant announced a new centralized page for users to control their privacy and security settings. Instead of having to visit multiple pages across the platform to change all privacy settings, users will now be able to use one centralized page. Users will also be able to review data the platform has collected about them over time. Facebook will officially introduce the system to users across the world in the coming weeks.

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Google Initiates Rollout of its Mobile-First Indexing of the Web

After a year and a half of testing, Google is rolling out its mobile-first indexing of the web. According to TechCrunch, Google first detailed its plan in 2016, aiming to “change the way its search index operates, explaining how its algorithms would eventually be shifted to use the mobile version of a website’s content to index its pages, as well as to understand its structured data and to show snippets from the site in the Google search results.” The move caters to Google Search users, the majority of whom search via mobile devices.

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Spotify Promotes Potential Growth as It Prepares to Go Public

As Spotify Technology SA prepares to go public, co-founder and chief executive officer Daniel Ek has some convincing to do. Not necessarily about the company’s numbers, which are impressive (70 million paying subscribers, for starters), but about the potential for growth and revenue. On the one hand, with Spotify’s help, the music business has seen three years of global growth after 15 years of decline — but on the other hand, Spotify isn’t making money, having to contend with music-rights holders collecting over 75 cents per dollar.

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Mozilla and Others Pull Facebook Ads Over Privacy Concerns

Following the now widespread reports of Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook user data, some companies are pulling ads from the social media giant, in large part due to “consumer backlash and questions from lawmakers” over the company’s privacy policy, reports Engadget. Mozilla has pulled its ads, claiming to have taken a closer look at Facebook’s current privacy settings, particularly related to third-party apps. Many other companies around the world are considering a similar ad-related move, according to the article.

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Sprint Working On AI Software to Assist Its Call Center Reps

Sprint is currently developing AI-powered software to help call center representatives better handle customer service. Sprint plans to use data related to customer calls to create “interaction assistants” that provide employees with best next steps. This effort is part of the company’s digital transformation project, which involves a partnership with Adobe Systems Inc. “Our focus has been about evolving and really becoming a digital company across all facets,” said Sprint CIO Scott Rice. Data has “become core across all our infrastructure and we really are changing our mindset.”

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Facebook Plans to Be Next Home to Online Content Creators

Facebook wants to be the next home for online content creators, aiming to displace YouTube, Patreon and others with additions to its Creator app, which launched in November on iOS and will be available on Android soon. The social media giant is currently testing ways Creator users can make more money and connect with their fans. One such way would allow monthly subscribers to gain access to exclusive content from their favorite creators and allow them to earn fan badges similar to those used on Patreon.

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Radio Company iHeartMedia Files for Bankruptcy Protection

The largest owner of radio stations in the U.S., iHeartMedia Inc., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week to address $20 billion in debt. “The company said the agreement it ‍reached with holders of more than $10 billion of its outstanding debt would restructure its balance sheet by transferring 94 percent of the stock in the reorganized company to its lenders,” reports Reuters. The company has struggled with significant debt since its $17.9 billion leveraged buyout of Clear Channel Communications in 2008. Radio company Cumulus Media filed for Chapter 11 less than four months ago. Continue reading Radio Company iHeartMedia Files for Bankruptcy Protection

New Camera-First Twitter Feature Could Threaten Snap’s Ads

After its first profitable quarter on record, Twitter is focusing on new business and advertising opportunities. For example, sources say the social media company is currently working on a camera-first feature that could compete with Snap and potentially threaten its advertising opportunities. The new feature would combine videos and photos with the Twitter Moments feature, creating more real-time content around events and enabling companies to sponsor events or place ads between tweeted content.

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Google to Ban Cryptocurrency and ICO Ads Beginning in June

Google announced its intention to ban advertisements related to risky financial products, including any that promote cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs), beginning this June. This is part of an update to Google’s policy and seems to closely resemble a similar ban announced by Facebook in January. However, reports indicate that ad makers have found workarounds within Facebook (like typing “Bitc0in” with a zero instead of “Bitcoin”). Google plans to anticipate these sorts of workarounds in advance of the ban.

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Apple Plans to Purchase Digital Magazine Distributor Texture

Apple announced that it is acquiring Next Issue Media LLC and the company’s digital subscription service, Texture. For $10 per month, Texture provides subscribers with access to all or part of more than 200 magazines on Apple and Android devices. The deal will give the tech giant an additional business line that provides recurring revenue, similar to Apple Music. It could also help Apple’s relationship with publishers. Texture was originally created to give publishers more control over digital distribution, but was later rebranded as a service that offers curated articles based on subscribers’ interests. Continue reading Apple Plans to Purchase Digital Magazine Distributor Texture

Facebook Strikes Significant Deals With MLB, Warner Music

Facebook and Major League Baseball have agreed to an exclusive deal through which Facebook now has rights to stream 25 afternoon MLB games live on its social media platform. This marks the first time a major sports league in the U.S. has agreed to broadcast regular season games exclusively on Facebook — and the decision was unanimous among MLB owners. Though neither party disclosed financial details, people close to the matter say it is valued between $30-$35 million. Facebook also signed a major licensing deal with Warner Music Group. Continue reading Facebook Strikes Significant Deals With MLB, Warner Music

Ghostery Goes Open Source and Intros New Business Model

Ghostery, an ad blocker recommended by Edward Snowden, just published all its code on GitHub. The company was acquired last year by Cliqz, “the first browser with integrated privacy protection,” including anti-tracking and anti-phishing. Ghostery’s revenue model has been hard to understand for some users, who opt-in to share data about the ad trackers they find on the web. Ghostery then sells that data to e-commerce websites and other companies, a seeming incongruity with its stated mission. Continue reading Ghostery Goes Open Source and Intros New Business Model

Today’s Podcasts Are Finally Proving They Can Turn a Profit

Podcasts have the potential to be intimate, captivating and entertaining. The recent podcasting boom began in 2014 with “Serial,” a true crime drama that changed perceptions of how big podcasting could be. But it wasn’t profitable right away and took millions of downloads over time to get there. The question became: could podcasts similar to “Serial” be replicated on a commercial basis? It seems that they now have the potential. For example, news sources such as The New York Times and Vox are proving that there can be big money in daily news podcasting.

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Netflix Has No Plans to Offer Live TV Such as News or Sports

From Netflix’s 280,000-square foot studio in Hollywood, chief executive Reed Hastings revealed that the company has no plans to enter the live TV market in news or sports, as its rivals Hulu and Amazon Video have done. Instead, the company is investing $8 billion in original content this year, part of its larger strategy to fend off competition from these popular services and a growing list of emerging competitors. Hastings also explained that Netflix has no plans to introduce advertising. Continue reading Netflix Has No Plans to Offer Live TV Such as News or Sports

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