Verizon May Use Yahoo-AOL to Test New OTT Video Service

Verizon’s $4.5 billion acquisition of Yahoo’s Internet business is likely to close in mid-June, at which point the combination of Yahoo and AOL (with its 1.3 billion users) could serve as the “platform … to test out an over-the-top service,” according to Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam. The OTT offering “would be in addition to the telco’s go90 ad-supported mobile video service,” reports Variety. “Verizon has reportedly been mulling an Internet-delivered skinny bundle offering, akin to AT&T’s DirecTV Now and Dish Network’s Sling TV.” Continue reading Verizon May Use Yahoo-AOL to Test New OTT Video Service

Extortion Hacking On the Rise, But Does Not Always Pay Off

Cyberattacks are on the rise, with major corporations, media companies, the healthcare industry and even the federal government becoming targets of hacking. Recent incidents involved media content as hackers threatened early releases of movies and streaming series if the property owners failed to pay ransoms. Hackers called the Shadow Brokers told the NSA they would release secret espionage tools unless the agency pays up. Security experts suggest that this type of extortion has had mixed results thus far. Continue reading Extortion Hacking On the Rise, But Does Not Always Pay Off

Early Reviews Largely Positive for Hulu’s New Live TV Service

Hulu’s Live TV has rolled out in beta, offering more than 50 channels for just under $40 per month. What makes Hulu stand out from competing services is that it now offers a combination of streaming video plus live television. Among its live content, Hulu offers the four major broadcast networks, ESPN, HGTV and an array of news and animation content. Original content includes “The Handmaid’s Tale” and the service also boasts day-after TV shows and B-list movies, all melded into a single library. Continue reading Early Reviews Largely Positive for Hulu’s New Live TV Service

Amazon Bows Android App for Kid-Friendly FreeTime Service

Amazon rolled out a new Android app for its FreeTime service, which provides curated children’s content and parental controls similar to those found on Amazon’s Fire tablets. The FreeTime Web browser has vetted over 40,000 YouTube videos and websites as kid-friendly. FreeTime Unlimited offers more kid-centric content, including 10,000 books and videos from Disney, Nickelodoen, Amazon Studios, PBS Kids, Harper Collins, Sesame Street, Simon & Schuster and others, priced at $2.99 per month for Prime members and $4.99 for others. Continue reading Amazon Bows Android App for Kid-Friendly FreeTime Service

New Disney Digital Network Connects Advertisers, Millennials

To help advertisers better target millennial and Gen-Z audiences, The Walt Disney Company debuted the Disney Digital Network, a conglomeration of more than 300 social media channels and a wide range of content. Disney says the new Digital Network reaches an audience of more than one billion. The content includes everything from classic Disney characters to the new material emerging from Maker Studios. Disney Co/Op, an in-house branded content service, puts advertisers together with Disney digital creators for customized campaigns. Continue reading New Disney Digital Network Connects Advertisers, Millennials

Netflix Inks Licensing Deal with Chinese Online Video Platform

Streaming video giant Netflix will finally enter the Chinese market, via a newly inked licensing deal with iQIYI, one of that country’s streaming platforms. When Netflix launched its efforts to go global a year ago, it failed to make deals in only a few countries, among them China, Iran and North Korea. Although not many details of the new arrangement have been made public, what is known is that Netflix content will be available on a day-and-date or near-simultaneous basis, as with other global territories. Continue reading Netflix Inks Licensing Deal with Chinese Online Video Platform

ETC@USC Posts New vNAB Conference Videos on YouTube

More than 30 videos from the 3rd annual Entertainment Technology Center@USC vNAB Conference are going live for viewing on the ETCenterVideos YouTube channel. This year’s vNAB featured thought leaders and catalysts from the entertainment, consumer electronics, technology, and service industries presenting their insider’s perspective on emerging and disruptive technologies. The talks were recorded March 20-21 at Google’s offices in Venice, California. The vNAB Conference is a prelude to the Next Generation Media Technologies sessions scheduled for the upcoming NAB Show in Las Vegas, April 25-26. Continue reading ETC@USC Posts New vNAB Conference Videos on YouTube

AMC, Discovery, Viacom Mull a Sports-Free Streaming Bundle

Cable programmers such as AMC Networks, Discovery Communications and Viacom find themselves in competition with streaming Internet TV services. Consumers are cutting off expensive pay TV bundles in favor of skinny ones, and streaming services such as YouTube TV and Hulu are among those that pare down the offerings, leaving cable programmers in the lurch. In response, four to six pay TV providers are now in negotiations to create a new online service devoid of sports programming that would cost less than $20 per month.

Continue reading AMC, Discovery, Viacom Mull a Sports-Free Streaming Bundle

Disney Tests Prototype, Pursues Patent for Soft-Bodied Robot

Disney recently submitted a patent application for “a robot that will move and physically interact like an animated character.” The prototype sketch with the application shows a round body similar to the soft-robot character in Disney’s 2014 “Big Hero 6.” Before soft-body robots can be employed at Disney theme parks, the company will have to deal with the issue of robotic interaction safety, since the patent application implies that theme park guests will be able to hug the soft-body characters. Continue reading Disney Tests Prototype, Pursues Patent for Soft-Bodied Robot

Escape Rooms Feed Appetite for More Immersive Experiences

Millennials are paying as much as $50 per hour to be locked in a room that they can only exit by cooperatively solving puzzles. This kind of immersive entertainment has similarities with games, live theater and virtual reality experiences, and is becoming increasingly popular. Among the most notable examples is Sleep No More, a UK immersive theatrical experience that has been a huge hit since it opened in 2011. Director and live experience entrepreneur Michael Counts is making the most of the trend. Continue reading Escape Rooms Feed Appetite for More Immersive Experiences

Netflix Dominance Pushing Studios to Earlier Release Window

Big spending digital players Netflix and Amazon are shaking up traditional TV stalwarts. Netflix is expected to spend $6 billion on original and acquired programming this year, up $1 billion from last year. That figure is five times more than what cable outlets FX (owned by 21st Century Fox) and Showtime (owned by CBS Corp.) spend and more than twice that spent by Time Warner’s premium channel HBO. TV actors are demanding $250,000 an episode, twice their previous rate, and there’s a feeding frenzy for A-list below-the-line crews. Continue reading Netflix Dominance Pushing Studios to Earlier Release Window

Vudu’s Mobile App Converts DVDs, Blu-rays into Digital Copies

Vudu will now let people convert their DVD and Blu-ray Disc content into digital copies for use on various Internet-connected devices by simply scanning the UPC barcode via their smartphones. One caveat, however, is that the Vudu Mobile Disc-to-Digital feature requires the user to be physically located at their home billing address. That requirement is an anti-fraud measure put in place by Walmart, which bought the premium video-streaming service in 2010. The feature is also limited to transfer 100 titles per year per account. Continue reading Vudu’s Mobile App Converts DVDs, Blu-rays into Digital Copies

Adobe’s AI-Enabled System Could Replace Greenscreen Tech

The traditional bluescreen/greenscreen method of extracting foreground content from the background for film and video production may be on its way out. That’s due to research that Adobe is doing in collaboration with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, to develop a new system that relies on deep convolutional neural networks. A recent paper, “Deep Image Matting,” reports that the new method uses a dataset of 49,300 training images to teach the algorithm how to distinguish and eliminate backgrounds. Continue reading Adobe’s AI-Enabled System Could Replace Greenscreen Tech

MGM Television Is the First Major Studio to Ink Deal with Snap

MGM Television became the first major studio to ink a deal with Snap Inc. to create original short-form programming for its Discover platform; there were no details on the exact nature of the upcoming shows or when they would premiere. The deal marks the latest in Snap’s many media partnerships, which include ABC, NBC, ESPN, the NFL, Turner, the BBC, Vice Media, A+E Networks and Discovery Communications. MGM also recently made a co-production pact with Jukin Media to produce competition shows using user-generated content. Continue reading MGM Television Is the First Major Studio to Ink Deal with Snap

Hulu TV Service Will Likely Offer Simultaneous Streams, Alerts

Hulu’s upcoming live TV service will compete for cord cutters with offerings such as Dish’s Sling TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now, Sony’s PlayStation Vue and YouTube TV. While details of the new service have been limited, the company’s marketing site (where it’s currently taking sign-up requests) has teased a few tidbits. The service will likely offer a combination of Hulu’s on-demand content with the option of live TV for a monthly fee below $40. It will also feature a DVR option; a new interface with user profiles, guest profiles, and recommendations; the ability to pause a live TV show for later viewing; real-time custom alerts for events and programs; and support for multiple, simultaneous streams on live TV. Continue reading Hulu TV Service Will Likely Offer Simultaneous Streams, Alerts

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