Amazon Aims for Quality Not Quantity With 30 Films Per Year

Amazon hasn’t had a good year in the film business since 2017 when it moved away from its Hollywood distribution partners into self-distribution. Since then, the company released six flops in a row, including director Woody Allen’s “Wonder Wheel,” which cost $25 million and only earned $14 million in North America, and “Beautiful Boy,” which cost $23 million and made a mere $7.6 million. Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke surmised that the company put “too much focus on a narrow prestige lane.” Continue reading Amazon Aims for Quality Not Quantity With 30 Films Per Year

Diller and Spielberg on the Growing Dominance of Streaming

On Kara Swisher’s podcast Recode Decode, Barry Diller declared that Hollywood is “now irrelevant,” adding that those executives who used to hold a lot of power now have much less and that the six movie companies that once dominated everything no longer do. “For the first time, they ain’t buying anything,” he said. “Meaning they’re not buying Netflix. They are not buying Amazon.” Meanwhile, at the Cinema Audio Society Awards, Steven Spielberg declared his affinity for the movie theater experience. Continue reading Diller and Spielberg on the Growing Dominance of Streaming

Japan’s Recruit Aims to Compete With Top Global Websites

In Japan, Recruit Holdings, the center of a corporate scandal that ended with the ousting of the prime minister, is being put back together by a group of employees. Whereas the former Recruit was a magazine publisher and job-placement firm, the new version is an Internet behemoth that combines the capabilities of LinkedIn, Zillow, Yelp, eHarmony, Booking.com, Square and many other apps. Recruit chief executive Masumi Minegishi is betting the company has the experience and resources to dominate consumer spending by 2030. Continue reading Japan’s Recruit Aims to Compete With Top Global Websites

Twitch Streamers in the U.S. Generated $87 Million in 2017

A new study from Recreate Coalition suggests that Amazon’s live-streaming video platform Twitch is gaining in popularity with content creators. The study “estimates that revenue-earning American Twitch streamers grew to nearly 9,800 in 2017 (a 59 percent increase from 2016) and made an estimated $87.1 million (representing a 30 percent YOY increase),” reports TechCrunch. “In terms of year over year growth in number of creators themselves, Twitch falls just behind Instagram and YouTube, and ranks second behind Instagram in YOY revenue growth for those creators.” Continue reading Twitch Streamers in the U.S. Generated $87 Million in 2017

HPA Tech Retreat: CDSA Promotes Trusted Partner Network

The Content Delivery & Security Association (CDSA), in collaboration with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), are responding to next-gen threats with the Trusted Partner Network (TPN), “a voluntary process by which vendors can assess the security preparedness of their facilities, staffs and workflows against industry best practices.” CDSA executive director Guy Finley, who is also MESA president, and CDSA chairman of the board Ben Stanbury, Amazon’s chief security officer, described TPN at the HPA Tech Retreat. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: CDSA Promotes Trusted Partner Network

Apple Readies TV Service With CBS, Starz, Viacom Content

Apple is reportedly aiming for a March or April event to announce its new streaming TV service that is expected to include original content plus subscription services from CBS, Viacom and Starz among others. Apple has been hinting at such a service for quite a while, has spent about $2 billion on original programming, and has signed major players such as Oprah Winfrey. Apple’s service is expected to take on competitors Netflix and Amazon Prime Video by launching globally, possibly distributed via the App Store since it is already available in more than 100 countries. Continue reading Apple Readies TV Service With CBS, Starz, Viacom Content

In Surprise Move, Amazon Opts to Scrap HQ2 Plans in NYC

Amazon has decided to cancel plans to develop a new campus in New York’s Long Island City, taking with it the promise of 25,000 new jobs and $2.5 billion in investment. In recent weeks, a debate has heated up between government officials who supported the e-commerce leader’s plans and New York politicians, activists and labor union leaders who have criticized a lack of transparency regarding deal specifics and questioned the necessity to provide Amazon with tax incentives worth billions. Despite the debate, the news still came as a surprise to many, especially real estate developers and renters who were rushing to the Long Island City neighborhood. Continue reading In Surprise Move, Amazon Opts to Scrap HQ2 Plans in NYC

Amazon Faces Opposition to its Planned New York Campus

According to sources, Amazon executives are rethinking the decision to build a New York City campus, which would create 25,000 jobs in Long Island City and $2.5 billion in investment. That’s heated up the conflict between government officials who support the project and local officials who have been vocally opposed to giving the company tax incentives worth billions. Should Amazon abandon its plan, it would also be a dramatic upset of its very public search for a second headquarters over a year’s time. Continue reading Amazon Faces Opposition to its Planned New York Campus

Microsoft Advocates For Washington State AI Regulation Bill

Washington State has introduced a bill to regulate facial recognition software, and tech giant Microsoft is advocating for its passage, while e-commerce leader Amazon remains undecided. Amazon asked state senator Reuven Carlyle, who sponsored the bill, for clarification as well as a change to the requirement that AI software developers claiming the ability to identify faces must allow third parties to test it. Carlyle explained he would examine all submitted requests and introduce a revised version of the bill. Continue reading Microsoft Advocates For Washington State AI Regulation Bill

Amazon Has Growing Problem of Third-Party Counterfeiters

In the “risk factors” section of its annual report, e-commerce leader Amazon listed counterfeit products, stating that the company may be “unable to prevent sellers in our stores or through other stores from selling unlawful, counterfeit, pirated, or stolen goods, selling goods in an unlawful or unethical manner … or otherwise violating our policies.” This is a first for the tech giant, which had never discussed the ongoing problem. In principle, it has a “zero tolerance” policy but the site is full of merchants selling knockoffs. Continue reading Amazon Has Growing Problem of Third-Party Counterfeiters

Audible, Chooseco Team on Interactive Tales via Alexa Skill

Amazon’s Audible and Chooseco have collaborated on two new “choose your own adventure” children’s audiobooks. Available on Amazon Alexa-enabled devices via Chooseco’s Choose skill, “The Abominable Snowman” and “Journey Under the Sea,” designed by the two teams, feature professional voice actors and can be navigated by voice commands. The two stories together offer 65 different endings and, on Alexa devices with screens, show illustrations for story beats. Decision-making points in the story are signaled by a sound. Continue reading Audible, Chooseco Team on Interactive Tales via Alexa Skill

Google’s AI White Paper Calls for Self-Regulation, Not Laws

After Google co-founder Sergey Brin wrote shareholders about the potential downsides of AI in April, chief executive Sundar Pichai released “guiding principles” for the company’s AI projects in June. This came after employee protests succeeded in getting Google to drop a Pentagon contract to interpret drone footage. Now, Google has released a 30-page white paper that stresses the benefits of artificial intelligence, arguing that its downsides can be avoided without more regulation “in the vast majority of instances.” Continue reading Google’s AI White Paper Calls for Self-Regulation, Not Laws

Twitch, YouTube Gaming Continue Growth in Viewing Hours

According to a new “State of the Stream” report from live-streaming platform StreamElements, gaming fans watched nearly 9.4 billion hours of content on Twitch last year, a 25 percent growth rate over 2017. While YouTube Gaming’s live content viewing totaled 2.3 billion hours (or about a quarter of Twitch’s hours), YouTube’s year-to-year growth rate was an impressive 104 percent. Microsoft’s live-streaming Mixer, which launched in 2016, had almost 168 million hours watched last year, which was an increase of 179 percent over 2017. Continue reading Twitch, YouTube Gaming Continue Growth in Viewing Hours

In a Win for Hollywood, Dragon Media to Shutter Its Services

In January 2018, Amazon, Columbia Pictures, Disney, Netflix, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Universal and Warner Bros. sued Dragon Media, which manufactured Dragon Box, a “free TV” box that allowed users to watch pirated video without a cable TV or streaming service subscription. The media titans just achieved victory in the case, with Dragon Media agreeing to shut down its services and pay $14.5 million in damages. Under the terms of the agreement, Dragon Media must shut down service in five days. Continue reading In a Win for Hollywood, Dragon Media to Shutter Its Services

Vice Media Is the Latest to Announce Trimming Its Workforce

Vice Media’s new CEO Nancy Dubuc plans strategic changes to help limit spending and increase company profits. Part of the reorganization will involve laying off about 10 percent of staff (roughly 250 people) across all departments. The Canadian digital media and broadcasting company is expected to shift its focus to film, television and branded content, in addition to restructuring its international teams. The news follows Vice’s hiring freeze in 2018 and recent announcements from other media companies regarding layoffs. Continue reading Vice Media Is the Latest to Announce Trimming Its Workforce

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