Hulu Floats Idea of Skinny Bundle Minus Linear TV Networks

According to Hulu chief executive Randy Freer, the company is considering a skinnier bundle aimed at pay-TV cord shavers watching their wallets. The bundle would not include linear TV networks, which have pricey carriage fees, but would continue to offer sports, news and on-demand content licensed from cable networks. Hulu is in talks with programmers about the possibility of such a bundle. Few additional details are available, but that the price would be less than the current $40 per month plan. Continue reading Hulu Floats Idea of Skinny Bundle Minus Linear TV Networks

Mattel Launches a New Film Division to Help Revitalize Sales

Toy maker Mattel just opened a new division, Mattel Films, to develop and produce movies based on its brands and headed up by Academy Award-nominated producer Robbie Brenner. Known for her work on “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Mirror Mirror” and “The Fighter,” Brenner will report directly to Mattel chief executive/chair Ynon Kreiz, a media and entertainment veteran, who has worked on children’s content. The new division could help bolster Mattel, which has seen slumping sales since the shuttering of Toys R Us. Continue reading Mattel Launches a New Film Division to Help Revitalize Sales

Facebook Extends Watch Video Platform to a Global Audience

Facebook announced that its Facebook Watch video platform is rolling out worldwide starting today. The VOD platform, designed for episodic content and a potential competitor to YouTube, initially launched in the U.S. one year ago. In what should be good news to content creators and publishers, Facebook is also making its Ad Breaks program for monetizing video content available in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, with plans to launch in 21 other countries in September. Continue reading Facebook Extends Watch Video Platform to a Global Audience

Walmart and Discovery Are Considering New Video Services

Walmart is in the early stages of considering the launch of a subscription video-streaming service that would compete with Amazon, Hulu, HBO and Netflix. Sources said that the retail behemoth hasn’t yet greenlit the ambitious project, which may include a lower-price monthly subscription fee, but that decision could come as early as later this summer or early fall. Discovery is also contemplating the launch of a direct-to-consumer service, priced at $5 to $8 monthly, that would include all the company’s networks. Continue reading Walmart and Discovery Are Considering New Video Services

AT&T Looks to Attract Cord Cutters With New Video Service

AT&T launched WatchTV, a “skinny bundle” video service aimed at luring cord cutters. The package offers a select number of TV channels for as little as $15 per month and gives free access to subscribers on unlimited data plans. For now, the service will be free with the company’s two top-tier wireless plans; the $15 per month plan will launch later. Among the channels to be included are AMC Networks and Discovery; Viacom’s Comedy Central and MTV2 will be added after launch. AT&T just acquired Time Warner for $81 billion. Continue reading AT&T Looks to Attract Cord Cutters With New Video Service

European Broadcasters Partner to Fend Off Amazon, Netflix

Spain’s three major broadcasters — state-run RTVE and privately run Mediaset España and Atresmedia — are joining forces to launch LovesTV, an 18-channel streaming platform featuring programs from all of them. This paradigm is also taking place in the U.K., France, Germany and Italy, as competitors join forces to co-produce programs or stream programs online. It’s a strategy to fend off Netflix, Amazon and HBO, all of which are increasing their budgets to offer streaming programming for European audiences. Continue reading European Broadcasters Partner to Fend Off Amazon, Netflix

NBCUniversal, Google Ink Deal to Produce Multi-Episode VR

NBCUniversal and Google have teamed up to create and distribute 10+ multi-episode original 360-degree video and VR180 video productions, for “Saturday Night Live,” Bravo’s “Vanderpump Rules” and SYFY Wire among others. The two companies began their collaboration in January, producing a few 360-degree videos for “Saturday Night Live,” and, on Monday, they released two new videos related to “Vanderpump Rules,” which were produced with Google’s 360-degree video capture/production platform Jump. Continue reading NBCUniversal, Google Ink Deal to Produce Multi-Episode VR

Spotify Expands Free Offerings, Looks to Extend Market Lead

Spotify is offering more free music in an effort to ultimately increase its number of paid subscribers. The popular streaming service has introduced an updated version of its free mobile app that offers non-paying users more on-demand tracks from 15 pre-populated playlists. Some of the playlists — such as “Discover Weekly” — are personalized for individual users. Spotify, already the world’s largest paid music service (and now a public company), is expanding its freemium model with the goal of one day reaching billions of users, while maintaining its lead over #2 subscription service Apple Music and other competitors. Continue reading Spotify Expands Free Offerings, Looks to Extend Market Lead

Study: Streaming Music Services Continue Worldwide Growth

According to a new report from MIDiA Research and digital media association DiMA, 2017 marked the third consecutive year of revenue growth for streaming music and subscription services. Worldwide recorded music revenue increased from $16 billion in 2016 to $17.4 billion last year. Streaming revenues reached $7.4 billion, representing 43 percent of all revenue. Meanwhile, legacy music formats — including downloads and physical albums — dropped by $783 million. Streaming music subscriptions experienced significant growth in the U.S., up 63 percent from 2016 to $4 billion in 2017. Continue reading Study: Streaming Music Services Continue Worldwide Growth

NAB 2018: Analytics Scientists Look at Social Media and Bots

Fabric Media chief executive/founder Jason Damata led a discussion at NAB with two experts in the field of social media intelligence. Dr. Indraneel Mukherjee founded LiftIgniter, which is “a machine learning personalization, recommendation and discovery engine” for websites and apps to have one-on-one conversations with users. Dr. John Kelly is chief executive at Graphika, which turns “network relationships into dynamic maps of social influence, enabling precision targeting and action to drive business results.” Continue reading NAB 2018: Analytics Scientists Look at Social Media and Bots

NAB 2018: AWS Machine-Learning Tools for Content Creation

At a conference track on machine learning during the NAB Show in Las Vegas, Amazon Web Services M&E worldwide technical leader Usman Shakeel described his company’s toolsets. Shakeel addressed up front the question of whether machine learning can replace human creativity. “Can content ever create itself?” he asked. He emphasized that, in today’s world, machine-learning (ML) tools are being used to create efficient workflows, and curate and extract massive amounts of metadata. Continue reading NAB 2018: AWS Machine-Learning Tools for Content Creation

Pandora Takes On Spotify With Debut of Personalized Playlists

Pandora believes it can out-playlist Spotify. The music streaming service has released new personalized playlist options for users, catering to moods, activities and genres. The feature is powered by Pandora’s Music Genome, an information database that “has been in development for over a decade and is capable of classifying music at the song level across 450 different attributes — ‘genes’ that can be as specific as what types of strings are on the guitar,” reports TechCrunch. Pandora’s new feature arrives on the eve of Spotify’s public debut, slated for early April (as a direct listing rather than IPO).

Continue reading Pandora Takes On Spotify With Debut of Personalized Playlists

Streaming Helps Indie Record Labels Rock Overseas Markets

Thanks to streaming services like Spotify, which works with more than 20,000 independent labels in 53 countries, independent record labels are experiencing an international revenue surge that would have been unimaginable years ago. Whereas foreign music markets used to be assessable only via local companies or major labels with global marketing capacities and strategies, worldwide digital streaming services have changed the music business landscape in a short period of time, changing the way independent labels make money.

Continue reading Streaming Helps Indie Record Labels Rock Overseas Markets

Spotify Launches New Tool, Enlisting Users to Add Metadata

Spotify has launched Line-In, a music metadata editor, and has begun collecting information from users, who are now able to add descriptions of genres, albums and songs on the platform. The move is an effort by the streaming service to better understand how listeners hear and interpret music — and to continue emphasizing the importance of data to its business. All contributed edits are treated as suggestions and are carefully reviewed before being added to the data that powers the service. The 10-year-old Swedish company is about to go public via a direct listing rather than a traditional IPO.

Continue reading Spotify Launches New Tool, Enlisting Users to Add Metadata

Silicon Valley Could Compete with Pay TV in Streaming Sports

Silicon Valley companies are getting closer to becoming major players in sports broadcasting. Up until now, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Verizon and Yahoo have been happy to ink contracts for various smaller sports packages that allow them to stream what has already been broadcast by the TV networks. But that scenario may be poised for a change, evidenced by the recent bidding war for primetime TV rights to NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” (Fox just signed a 5-year broadcast agreement, but a digital partner has yet to be announced). Continue reading Silicon Valley Could Compete with Pay TV in Streaming Sports

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