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. Continue reading NBC Sports Targets Younger Viewers With eSports Tourney

White House American Technology Council Draws Top Execs

At the conclusion of the inaugural meeting of the White House’s American Technology Council, President Donald Trump called for a “sweeping transformation of the federal government’s technology,” admitting that the government needed to catch up with the private sector and that federal agencies had to deliver “dramatically better services to citizens.” The Council’s mandate is to convert paper forms into easy-to-use websites, and help the government buy better technology and use new tools like artificial intelligence. Continue reading White House American Technology Council Draws Top Execs

VidAngel Debuts New Service as 9th Circuit Court Mulls Suit

VidAngel, the Utah-based video streaming service that filters out language, nudity and violence from Hollywood movies, launched a new version of its service that it hopes will address concerns about release windows and licensing fees. Disney, Warner Bros. and Fox sued VidAngel for copyright infringement, and in December, U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte issued an injunction against the company, which appealed. While litigation plays out in the 9th Circuit Court, however, VidAngel is back in the game with a new service. Continue reading VidAngel Debuts New Service as 9th Circuit Court Mulls Suit

Google May Be Facing a Record Fine by the European Union

Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s commissioner for competition, is reportedly close to ruling on an antitrust case regarding Google’s search services that is likely to result in a record fine, according to insiders. The penalty is expected to exceed the $1.4 billion antitrust fine that Intel paid in Europe in 2009. “Officials could also force Google to alter how it operates in the region, and potentially elsewhere, to give rivals a greater ability to compete,” reports The New York Times. The case “claims that Google diverted traffic from competitors’ services to favor its own comparison shopping site.” The European Commission is also investigating two other cases that involve Android and Google’s advertising products. “Google has denied any wrongdoing,” notes NYT. Continue reading Google May Be Facing a Record Fine by the European Union

Amazon to Acquire Whole Foods Market in $13.7 Billion Deal

Online retail giant Amazon.com announced it plans to acquire Whole Foods Market in a deal valued at $13.7 billion. Organic grocer Whole Foods, founded in 1978, has more than 460 locations, but has been facing increased competition from large chains such as Walmart that have introduced more natural and organic products. The Austin, Texas-based company built its brand on premium service and generally higher prices. This approach may mark a change for Amazon, which has built much of its business on lower prices. Whole Foods will continue operating under its existing brand and CEO John Mackey will remain in his position. Continue reading Amazon to Acquire Whole Foods Market in $13.7 Billion Deal

Sling TV Debuts Enhanced DVR, Availability on More Devices

Sling TV’s DVR is one of its more attractive features to consumers, and the company just rolled out DVR enhancements, as well as the option to record TV shows on more devices and channels. The company reports it took customer requests into consideration in tweaking the DVR, which now also protects recordings from deletion, a feature found on hardware-based DVRs. Being able to protect against deletions, however, is not commonly found on cloud-based DVRs for streaming video services. Continue reading Sling TV Debuts Enhanced DVR, Availability on More Devices

Comparing Major Cloud Storage Services by Price, Features

Amazon just pulled the plug on its Unlimited Everything plan, which allowed users to keep as much as they wanted in their private Amazon cloud “locker” for a mere $60 per year. That figure is at least half of the industry standard of $10 per month for 1TB of space. Although Unlimited Everything, which launched in 2015, has come to an end, Amazon’s new offering is still relatively inexpensive, at that same $60 per year for 1TB and an extra $60 for every additional terabyte up to 30TB. Continue reading Comparing Major Cloud Storage Services by Price, Features

Entertainment Companies Join Forces to Battle Online Piracy

A group of media and entertainment companies — including Amazon, AMC Networks, CBS, Disney, HBO, Hulu, Lionsgate, MGM, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Bros. — has formed a new coalition, the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), to combat online piracy. “ACE will draw on the anti-piracy resources of the MPAA,” reports Variety. “The group plans to conduct research, work with law enforcement to curtail illegal pirate enterprises and ‘pursue voluntary agreements with responsible parties across the Internet ecosystem.’” The coalition also plans “to file civil litigation in their fight against copyright infringement.” Continue reading Entertainment Companies Join Forces to Battle Online Piracy

New Amazon Video API Turns Alexa Into a Remote Control

Amazon unveiled its Video Skill API, a new tool set to help content creators turn virtual assistant Alexa into a sophisticated TV remote. With the API, Alexa can search for titles, actors or genres; play or pause media and adjust the volume. Developers can also create their own Alexa commands. It keeps track of enabled services, which means the user won’t need to specify a provider or device or add any extra commands. Alexa already controls Fire TV, but the Video Skill API now opens up those controls to any cable or satellite TV company. Continue reading New Amazon Video API Turns Alexa Into a Remote Control

Most Americans Support Net Neutrality, Online Protest Slated

Amazon, Etsy, Kickstarter, Mozilla, Reddit and Y Combinator are planning a “day of action” to oppose the FCC’s plan to undo net neutrality. On July 12, the companies plan to change their websites in various ways to raise awareness of the current efforts to repeal net neutrality, which prohibits ISPs from blocking or slowing websites or charging fees to display content. A recent poll showed that a large percentage of Americans, across all political affiliations, support net neutrality and question the government’s ability to protect Internet access. Continue reading Most Americans Support Net Neutrality, Online Protest Slated

Apple Launches Its First Original Series: ‘Planet of the Apps’

At WWDC 2017 this week, Apple debuted its first original series produced for distribution via Apple Music, aimed at its 27 million subscribers. The 10-episode “Planet of the Apps” features Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow, musician will.i.am and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk. Structured similarly to “The Voice” and “Top Chef,” the show’s judges counsel inventors as they develop apps focusing on shopping, exercise and other services. Apple already produced a spinoff of “Carpool Karaoke” (to launch August 8) and acquired rights to a documentary about music tycoon Clive Davis. Continue reading Apple Launches Its First Original Series: ‘Planet of the Apps’

WWDC: Apple Unveils Product Updates and New HomePod

Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference kicked off yesterday in San Jose, California. During his keynote, CEO Tim Cook noted that 5,300 developers from 75 countries were attending this year’s conference. Among the more noteworthy announcements, Apple shared information regarding its High Sierra macOS update; iOS 11 with improved Siri (including language translation), iMessage features, and Core ML to make machine learning easier; a new 10.5-inch iPad Pro (starting at $649, available next week); a beefed-up iMac Pro; a completely redesigned App Store; and an Echo-like smart speaker called HomePod (shipping in December for $349). Continue reading WWDC: Apple Unveils Product Updates and New HomePod

Mary Meeker Delivers Her Annual State of the Internet Report

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Mary Meeker delivered her annual Internet trends report at last week’s Code Conference in California. This year’s presentation featured 355 slides and a new section on healthcare. Among the key takeaways: global Internet users reached 3.4 billion in 2016 (46 percent of the world’s population, more than double the number from 2009); digital advertising jumped 22 percent to $73 billion; worldwide smartphone growth is slowing; China is the new leading market for interactive gaming; Apple, Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook are collectively worth $2.4 trillion, while seven of the next 16 top tech firms are Chinese companies such as Alibaba and Tencent. Continue reading Mary Meeker Delivers Her Annual State of the Internet Report

Netflix’s Hastings Says Streaming Can Coexist With Theaters

Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings thinks it’s a win-win for movies to play in theaters and stream to the home, comparing the former to going out to dinner, and the latter to cooking at home. Saying it is “inevitable that the current window system breaks down,” Hastings believes that audiences will still pay for the communal experience of a movie theater. He also stated that, although he had argued for net neutrality in the past, he currently believes it is not Netflix’s primary battle anymore. Continue reading Netflix’s Hastings Says Streaming Can Coexist With Theaters

Apple Develops AI Chip to Compete in Autonomous Cars, AR

Apple is reportedly working on Apple Neural Engine, the internal name for a new AI-enhanced processor that will enable facial and speech recognition ordinarily accomplished by human intelligence. The company, which would not comment, had an early AI win with Siri, but has since been playing catch up with Amazon and Google, both of which offer AI-powered digital assistants. Apple Neural Engine would give Apple more capabilities in autonomous vehicles and augmented reality devices, both fields Apple is involved in. Continue reading Apple Develops AI Chip to Compete in Autonomous Cars, AR

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