SMPTE: Industry Leaders Gather to Discuss the Future of AI

SMPTE kicked off its 2017 Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition on Monday with an all-day symposium on artificial intelligence and its emerging role in entertainment production and distribution. Among the day’s presentations, SMPTE’s Richard Welsh presented a compelling primer on AI, Google’s Jeff Kember discussed the differences between supervised and unsupervised systems, Hitachi Vantara’s Jay Yogeshwar addressed using machine learning and AI for production workflow, Yvonne Thomas of Arvato Systems looked at the value of effective data analytics, Greg Taieb of Deluxe addressed language localization for multilingual distribution, and Aspera co-founder Michelle Munson examined next generation network design. Continue reading SMPTE: Industry Leaders Gather to Discuss the Future of AI

Netflix Makes Major Commitment to Canada With New Studio

Netflix is planning to invest a minimum of 500 million Canadian dollars ($400.8 million U.S.) over the next five years to build a studio in Canada, revealed Canada’s Heritage Minister, Melanie Joly. The studio will create original Canadian productions, some of which will be French-language, in recognition of Canada’s status as a bilingual country. Canada, which was the first foreign country where Netflix launched, is also home to the third most global subscribers. The Canadian studio will be Netflix’s first global content outpost. Continue reading Netflix Makes Major Commitment to Canada With New Studio

Amazon to Handle Distribution, Marketing of Movie Releases

Thus far, Amazon has followed a traditional distribution model, releasing its movies via indie distributors Roadside Attractions, Bleecker Street and Lionsgate. But in December, Amazon will itself distribute and handle the theatrical campaign for Woody Allen’s “Wonder Wheel,” the first of many scheduled films. Other upcoming movies Amazon plans to self-distribute include Gus Van Sant’s “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot,” Luca Guadagnino’s remake of “Suspiria,” and Lynne Ramsay’s “You Were Never Really Here.” Continue reading Amazon to Handle Distribution, Marketing of Movie Releases

Vimeo to Acquire Livestream Platform and Launch Vimeo Live

IAC-owned Vimeo is purchasing the Livestream platform and rolling out its own live-streaming service called Vimeo Live. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Earlier this year, Vimeo abandoned its plans to release a SVOD business. Rather than compete in the SVOD space with Amazon, Hulu and Netflix, “Vimeo’s core business is focused around selling tools and services to professional and semi-professional video creators,” reports TechCrunch. Integrating Livestream tech into Vimeo Live “will allow video creators to capture, edit, stream and archive their live events … in addition to hosting, distributing, and generating revenue from their videos.”  Continue reading Vimeo to Acquire Livestream Platform and Launch Vimeo Live

Pay TV Losses Could Jump to 5 Million Households per Year

We’ve seen a wide range of recent forecasts regarding cord cutting and the impact on traditional pay TV. According to a new survey from RBC Capital Markets, only 55 percent of respondents said they would continue their pay-TV subscriptions. While 2016 saw a loss of 2 million subscribers, a future increase exceeding 5 million per year “does not seem impossible,” wrote RBC analyst Steven Cahall. “The RBC survey found that 21 percent of current cable, satellite or telco TV customers were considering switching to a lower-cost virtual pay-TV service,” reports Variety, “like Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV or DirecTV Now.” Continue reading Pay TV Losses Could Jump to 5 Million Households per Year

VR Industry Forum Draft Guidelines Push for Open Ecosystem

Over the weekend, the Virtual Reality Industry Forum (VRIF) released its draft VR and 360 video production and distribution guidelines at IBC 2017 in Amsterdam. The draft document begins with an intro section suggesting best practices for VR/360 production, including experiences with three degrees of freedom (3DOF). It then makes specific recommendations for the technical aspects of visual and audio VR/360 content production, media and presentation profiles, and content security. VRIF aims to release the full guidelines, with an emphasis on an open ecosystem, at CES 2018 in January. Continue reading VR Industry Forum Draft Guidelines Push for Open Ecosystem

Apple, Now a Content Creator, Speaks Up for Net Neutrality

After remaining quiet on the topic over the past months, Apple has finally made its position clear on net neutrality, urging the current administration to preserve it and prevent service providers from interfering or slowing Internet traffic. In its comments to the Federal Communications Commission, Apple also asked chair Ajit Pai not to end the ban against “fast lanes” that allow broadband providers to charge for delivery of specific content, something that could impact consumers of Apple’s fare. Continue reading Apple, Now a Content Creator, Speaks Up for Net Neutrality

GameMine Inks Distribution Partnership With Mobile Carriers

Los Angeles-based GameMine has inked distribution partnerships with five international mobile carriers, enabling direct billing of game subscriptions through mobile plans. With the partnerships, the carriers’ subscribers will have access to GameMine’s more than 400 games, all of them unlocked, ad-free and available for iOS and Android devices. Among the involved carriers are Movistar in Spain, Orange in Egypt, and TIM, Vodafone and Wind Tre in Italy, with a combined mobile subscribership of more than 150 million people. Continue reading GameMine Inks Distribution Partnership With Mobile Carriers

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

Technology May Lead to Change for Theatrical Film Releases

MoffettNathanson analyst Robert Fishman suggests that the film industry is on the verge of change, “in part because the movie studios want and need it to change,” notes Recode, “and in part because Netflix is going to push the industry forward whether it likes it or not.” Studios are looking to make movies available in the home without waiting for the traditional 90-day theatrical window, while Netflix is ramping up its original programming and straight-to-streaming library. According to Fishman, such change could cost theater owners up to 20 percent of their profits. While Hollywood was not successful with earlier attempts to shorten the release window, Fishman believes this year could be different, since Internet technologies continue to impact the home video business. Continue reading Technology May Lead to Change for Theatrical Film Releases

NAB 2017: Digital Domain Demos VR Camera and New Tools

Visual effects studio Digital Domain is launching a new suite of platform agnostic “creation, production, and distribution tools for virtual reality experiences — including a VR camera,” which it is demonstrating at NAB this week, reports VentureBeat. Digital Domain’s portable spherical camera features “advanced live-streaming capabilities, new integrations with post-production suites, and a cloud-based VR distribution platform. It enables visual effects production, 360 capture hardware and software, real-time stitching and encoding, livestreaming, application development, and content distribution.” Continue reading NAB 2017: Digital Domain Demos VR Camera and New Tools

Netflix Misses Subscriber Estimates, Rethinks Movie Releases

New subscriber numbers for Netflix, both in the U.S. and globally, were lower than expected, at 98.75 million total subscribers, up from 81.5 million a year ago. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters before Netflix released the number expected 98.9 million subscribers. Netflix has stated it expects to pass the 100-million subscriber mark this week. Netflix also indicated a willingness to debut its feature films first in large theater chains, saying that it should be up to the consumers who pay for these films to be made. Continue reading Netflix Misses Subscriber Estimates, Rethinks Movie Releases

Amazon and Walmart’s Race to the Bottom Rattles Suppliers

Walmart just told its suppliers that it wants to have the lowest prices on 80 percent of its sales. That means that suppliers will have to cut their prices by at least 15 percent — in some cases, losing money on the deal. For those who comply, Walmart will offer better distribution and other kinds of help. Those who don’t will see Walmart limit distribution of their products. Walmart regularly tells suppliers to lower prices, but this time is different: the company is in an all-out price war with Amazon. Continue reading Amazon and Walmart’s Race to the Bottom Rattles Suppliers

Netflix Continues Push to Become the First Global TV Network

Journalists were recently invited to the Silicon Valley offices of Netflix for a behind-the-scenes look at the company’s distribution efforts for its latest Marvel series, “Iron Fist.” Through a series of talks that emphasized how the streaming service is essentially becoming a global Internet-based television network for more than 93 million subscribers, the “Netflix Lab Days” event addressed the tech and business considerations involved with programming for an international audience, creating “taste communities” for recommendations and personalization, initiating deals with TV operators and ISPs around the world, language translations for original content, and translating the Netflix apps and catalog into multiple languages. Continue reading Netflix Continues Push to Become the First Global TV Network

HPA Tech Retreat: Impact of OTT Video on TV/Film Production

The Digital Production Partnership (DPP), formed and funded by UK broadcasters BBC, ITV and Channel 4 to help broadcast companies maximize the potential benefits of digital TV production, conducted in-depth research into how OTT video is produced. It reports that more audiovisual content is now commissioned for uses other than broadcast distribution, with many production companies now producing entirely for the non-broadcast market. At the HPA Tech Retreat in Indian Wells, DPP managing director Mark Harrison addressed how this is impacting the film/TV production industry. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Impact of OTT Video on TV/Film Production

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