MoviePass Ventures Plans to Acquire Films With Distributors

During the Sundance Film Festival, theater subscription service MoviePass announced the launch of MoviePass Ventures, part of a new strategy to co-acquire films with distributors. Data firm Helios and Matheson Analytics Inc. (HMNY), now the majority owner of MoviePass, claims its new service is already boosting domestic box office. HMNY plans to invest in movies so that it can share in downstream revenues, including streaming, pay TV, Blu-ray, DVD, EST, PPV, and ancillary and foreign markets. HMNY could also eventually sell subscriber data to Hollywood studios for targeted marketing. Continue reading MoviePass Ventures Plans to Acquire Films With Distributors

CES: AirSelfie Updates its ‘Flying Camera’ With New Features

The pocket-sized AirSelfie drone first appeared as a Kickstarter project in 2016, and now the AirSelfie2 is on display at CES 2018. The new model — which touts camera, flight time and field-of-view upgrades — features the ability to hover in one spot, providing users with the opportunity to record unique selfies and video footage. The AirSelfie2 is controlled by a smartphone app (Android or iOS) and includes a 12MP camera, 16GB of on-board storage, and a flight range of about 60 feet. The drone will be available this March for around $300. Continue reading CES: AirSelfie Updates its ‘Flying Camera’ With New Features

CES: Ujet Unveils Energy-Efficient Scooter With Smart Battery

Ujet rolled out its first energy-efficient, lightweight, portable, electric smart scooter at CES. Priced at $8,900 or $9,900, depending on which smart battery is selected, the Ujet weighs less than 100 pounds due to the frame’s alloy and carbon composite materials, and tires constructed of single-wall carbon nanotubes. Easily chargeable via a standard outlet (no charging station required), the scooter can be controlled remotely by an Android or iOS app that provides access to customer support, performance monitoring, ignition system, locks, directions, location, even the ability to disable the Ujet in the case of a theft. Continue reading CES: Ujet Unveils Energy-Efficient Scooter With Smart Battery

HBO Experiments with Branching Narrative TV Series and App

Against the backdrop of eroding live TV viewership and the expansion of video games and Web video, acclaimed filmmaker Steven Soderbergh (“Traffic,” “The Knick”) has directed “Mosaic,” an interactive series with branching narratives. Co-developed by Soderbergh and former Universal Pictures head Casey Silver with screenwriter Ed Solomon, “Mosaic” is a multi-episodic mystery that allows audiences to choose the story threads they experience. The series is now available for free download from Android and Apple stores and for viewing with Apple TV. Continue reading HBO Experiments with Branching Narrative TV Series and App

Chinese Tech Giant Tencent Buys 12 Percent Stake in Snap

Less than one day after Snap Inc. posted disappointing quarterly results and its stock subsequently plunged, the company revealed that Chinese Internet titan Tencent Holdings recently purchased a 12 percent stake in Snap. Chinese tech companies such as Tencent, Alibaba Group and Baidu have been investing in U.S. firms. According to Morningstar analyst Ali Mogharabi, Snap’s main problems include declining user growth and competition from the more established Instagram. Disappointing ad revenue is reportedly also disappointing investors. Continue reading Chinese Tech Giant Tencent Buys 12 Percent Stake in Snap

AMC Introduces VR App With ‘Walking Dead’ Bonus Content

AMC released a free promotional VR app that lets fans experience turning into a zombie from “The Walking Dead” and other immersive content from the martial arts series “Into the Badlands.” The app also includes trailers of other AMC content and behind-the-scenes video. The new app is stoking fan enthusiasm for the season 8 premiere of “The Walking Dead” on October 22. The app will include a 360-degree bonus scene, available at the conclusion of the premiere episode, which is also the popular show’s 100th episode. Continue reading AMC Introduces VR App With ‘Walking Dead’ Bonus Content

TunesMap to Offer Liner Notes and More for Streaming Music

TunesMap believes every song has a story. After 10 years of development, the company will debut a product intended to fill an empty space in the digital music industry: liner notes. Online streaming music has grown to be a huge success, but it still lacks all the materials that once graced the album, including lyrics, songwriting credits, thank-you lists, essays, artwork and other information. TunesMap, founded by music supervisor G. Marq Roswell, will debut an Apple TV app for Sonos speakers in November that will uncover “the greater cultural context around any song” and offer a feed of links to relevant material, photographs and videos. Continue reading TunesMap to Offer Liner Notes and More for Streaming Music

Western Digital Acquires Upthere to Expand Cloud Services

Western Digital announced its acquisition of cloud services startup Upthere, which offers storage solutions for photos, videos, documents and music. “The Upthere app is platform agnostic and available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices, as well as macOS and Windows PCs,” notes the press release. “The addition of Upthere’s technology and team to Western Digital’s Client Solutions business unit will enhance the company’s consumer products portfolio with new cloud-based offerings.” Upthere CEO Chris Bourdon and his team will continue under Western Digital. Barbara Nelson, formerly of cloud security business IronKey, will lead Western Digital’s Cloud Services business. Continue reading Western Digital Acquires Upthere to Expand Cloud Services

Amazon Adds TGI Fridays to Its New Payment App Feature

Amazon added restaurant chain TGI Fridays to Amazon Pay Places, the tech giant’s new payments feature for its mobile app that allows people to make purchases in stores and restaurants. Amazon Pay Places is available for pick-up orders at a limited number of TGI Fridays restaurants on the East Coast, but will expand to additional locations. Amazon isn’t alone in pursuing digital payment features; Apple, PayPal, Samsung and others are also focused on such services for online and in-store purchases. Continue reading Amazon Adds TGI Fridays to Its New Payment App Feature

Sony Music Reaches New Licensing Agreement with Spotify

Sony Music Entertainment has agreed to a new licensing deal with Spotify, which should be finalized in the coming weeks. “The agreement helps to clear the way for Spotify’s long-anticipated public offering, which is expected later this year or early next year,” reports Variety. An inside source suggests the deal is similar to the current Spotify agreements with Universal Music Group and digital rights agency Merlin. A major component of the deal is a windowing option, “whereby artists can withhold their releases from its free, ad-supported service for up to two weeks.” Continue reading Sony Music Reaches New Licensing Agreement with Spotify

Facebook Announces its ‘Find Wi-Fi’ Feature Is Going Global

Facebook wants to help mobile consumers locate accessible Wi-Fi networks by expanding its “Find Wi-Fi” option, initially launched last year on iOS in select countries. Facebook announced that the feature would be made available worldwide on both iOS and Android devices to help users find public Wi-Fi networks, useful when traveling or in areas where cellular data is scarce. This could help Facebook’s “2 billion monthly users stay connected to the network and spend more time in its app — something that directly impacts Facebook’s bottom line,” notes TechCrunch, and “the tool also serves as another way to discover local businesses” as a possible alternative to Google Maps. The feature can be found under the “More” tab in the Facebook app. Continue reading Facebook Announces its ‘Find Wi-Fi’ Feature Is Going Global

AMC Announces the Launch of its Ad-Free Streaming Service

AMC is introducing AMC Premiere, its new $5 per month streaming service that offers commercial-free versions of current programs, movies, trailers, bonus scenes, and the ability to stream shows at the same time they air on television. However, the cable network is not targeting cord cutters yet. “For now at least, you have to be a pay TV subscriber to use AMC Premiere — and specifically, a Comcast Xfinity TV customer,” reports TechCrunch. “That’s because launch of the new service is currently tied to a deal with Comcast, whose Xfinity TV customers will be able to stream the service via their set-top boxes as well as the Xfinity Stream website and mobile app.” Continue reading AMC Announces the Launch of its Ad-Free Streaming Service

Snap, Time Warner Ink $100 Million Deal For Original Shows

Snap Inc. has inked a $100 million deal with Time Warner’s Turner cable channels and Warner Bros. studios for up to 10 original shows a year for the platform. The big studios and traditional TV companies see Snapchat as a way to reach its younger demographic, which is much less likely to subscribe to their premium channels. For example, HBO now has a path to creating content for Snapchat, and scripted drama and comedy are among the genres considered for distribution via the deal. Snap’s shows typically run three to five minutes. Continue reading Snap, Time Warner Ink $100 Million Deal For Original Shows

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

YouTube Intros Heatmaps, Production Tips for VR, 360 Video

YouTube creators who want to see specifically where people are looking in their 360-degree and VR videos are in luck. The company is introducing a new analytics tool that does just that, via heatmaps, available for any such videos that exceed 1,000 views. YouTube is also sharing tips on 360-degree videos aimed to help video producers. Making these videos is particularly challenging since viewers can watch in a variety of ways, including via a VR headset, the YouTube smartphone app or desktop web browsers, where they can rotate the video. Continue reading YouTube Intros Heatmaps, Production Tips for VR, 360 Video

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