Streaming Service to Debut Without Pricey Sports Channels

Discovery Communications, Viacom, AMC Networks, A+E Networks and Scripps Networks Interactive are joining forces to create a new streaming service catering to people who don’t want sports in their streaming TV bundles. According to sources, the service will have a soft launch in the next few weeks, cost less than $20 per month, and offer nonfiction, lifestyle, children’s and scripted drama programs from the channels owned by these networks. Media outlets have discussed a bundle without sports for some time. Continue reading Streaming Service to Debut Without Pricey Sports Channels

Incoming MPAA Chief Faces Industry Shifts, New Challenges

Entertainment industry veteran Charles Rivkin is replacing Christopher Dodd this week as the MPAA chief. While the position has historically faced numerous challenges, such as managing consensus among the six major Hollywood studios, Rivkin takes the helm as the industry contends with a growing list of new hurdles: the MPAA has yet to take a stance on the debate over net neutrality rules, Silicon Valley is a growing force in Washington, digital platforms and changes in consumer behavior are impacting theater attendance and traditional distribution models, and media continues to battle global piracy. Continue reading Incoming MPAA Chief Faces Industry Shifts, New Challenges

New Software Tackles Scratch Removal for Film Restoration

At The Reel Thing, an AMIA (Association of Moving Image Archivists) conference, Hollywood technologists and filmmakers gathered to hear presentations on challenges in restoration, remastering and archiving. PurePix Images chief executive Michael Inchalik and University of Georgia mathematics professor Alexander Petukhov looked at how Algosoft is developing software to repair vertical scratches, one of the toughest challenges in digital restoration. “We’re discussing a high-level restoration workflow,” said Inchalik. Continue reading New Software Tackles Scratch Removal for Film Restoration

Disney to Introduce Streaming Services Over Next Two Years

In a significant departure from its traditional business model, Disney announced it plans to pull its movies from Netflix and roll out two of its own online streaming services. Early next year the company will introduce an ESPN streaming service that is expected to cover 10,000 events each year, including MLB, NHL and MLS content. The company also plans to launch a Disney-branded streaming platform in 2019 that will offer its movies and TV programming as well as original content exclusive to the service. Following the news, Netflix stock dropped 7 percent in after-hours trading. Continue reading Disney to Introduce Streaming Services Over Next Two Years

Netflix Expands its IP, Buys Comic-Book Publisher Millarworld

Netflix just made its first acquisition, purchasing Millarworld, a comic-book publisher known for “Kick-Ass” and “Old Man Logan,” among other stories. The company won’t disclose what it paid for Millarworld, but sources put the purchase price at between $50 million and $100 million. Netflix, which has a $78 billion market capitalization and $1.9 billion in cash, has grown from licensing TV shows and movies to funding its own original productions and, now, owning intellectual property and production. Continue reading Netflix Expands its IP, Buys Comic-Book Publisher Millarworld

Mira’s $99 Prism Turns Apple’s iPhone Into an AR Headset

For Apple iPhone users looking forward to augmented reality, there will soon be another option to looking at images on the phone’s screen. Due to launch later this year, the Mira Prism, which looks like a sun visor or welder’s mask that fits over the user’s head, will reflect AR’s 3D images in front of the user’s face — and only costs $99. The visor comes from Los Angeles-based company Mira, founded by students from the inaugural class of USC’s Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation. Continue reading Mira’s $99 Prism Turns Apple’s iPhone Into an AR Headset

Disney Plans Immersive ‘Star Wars’ Attraction for Two Parks

At last week’s D23 Expo in Anaheim, The Walt Disney Company unveiled the first look of a 3D model for its new “Star Wars” attraction, “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge,” which was first announced at the same Expo two years ago. The planned exhibitions, to be housed at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando and Disneyland in Anaheim, will cost $1 billion each and open in 2019. The exhibitions will be the most immersive the company has offered in a theme park, and will include a themed hotel, allowing guests to have a “Westworld”-like experience. Continue reading Disney Plans Immersive ‘Star Wars’ Attraction for Two Parks

Disney Selects 11 Companies for 2017 Accelerator Program

The Walt Disney Company announced 11 tech and media companies will receive funding and support as part of the Disney Accelerator program, now in its fourth year. The companies will be given access to work space at Disney’s L.A. creative campus and guidance from entertainment and media technology leaders. The 2017 class covers a range of compelling areas such as artificial intelligence, eSports, messaging, online learning, robotics, video games and virtual reality. Among the 11 startups are Epic Games, creator of Unreal Engine tech, and location-based VR firm The VOID. Continue reading Disney Selects 11 Companies for 2017 Accelerator Program

Unity’s Cinemachine Designed for Animation, Games, Movies

At the Unite Europe conference in Amsterdam, more than 1,400 game developers examined tools and innovations from game engine company Unity. Among those was the virtual camera system Cinemachine, which makes it easier for even neophyte content creators to get creative with animation, games, eSports, cinematics and movie pre-visualization. Unity’s Asset Store offers free 3D models and environments, including the Adam character from last year’s impressive tech demo. The engine also offers generic animations that can be applied to characters. Continue reading Unity’s Cinemachine Designed for Animation, Games, Movies

Ad Trade Group Launches New Tool to Blacklist Piracy Apps

Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), an advertising industry alliance, has introduced a tool that will track apps promoting piracy, to alert advertisers not to run ads on such apps. The blacklist, which currently lists 8,000 violators, will be continuously updated with mobile apps that enable dissemination of pirated content, including music, movies, TV shows and games. TAG members and other organizations will help with the continual update. The MPAA and the Recording Industry Association of America both support TAG’s effort. Continue reading Ad Trade Group Launches New Tool to Blacklist Piracy Apps

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

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

‘Cars 3′ Released in Experiential 4DX Format, Boosting Trend

“Cars 3” became the first Pixar film to be distributed in the 4DX motion-based “immersive” film format from CJ 4DPlex, one of several formats that give the moviegoer a physical experience, as seats shake, tilt and pivot and the theater emits scents, sprays of water, fog and strobe-lighting, all relevant to what’s on the screen. These experiential formats have focused mainly on superhero and action movies, although 4DX films were released for “Despicable Me” in 2010, as well as “The Jungle Book” and “Kung Fu Panda 3.” Continue reading ‘Cars 3′ Released in Experiential 4DX Format, Boosting Trend

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

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

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