Apple Makes an Original Content Play to Beef Up Apple Music

Apple plans to focus on a new business in original TV shows and movies, say sources. The content would be available to subscribers of Apple Music, the company’s $10/month streaming music service, which continues to be an underdog to Spotify. In the wake of slowing iPhone and iPad sales, Apple has been casting about for a new source of revenue; recently, it has been in discussions with Hollywood producers to buy the rights to scripted TV programs and is trying to hire studio/network marketers to promote the content. Continue reading Apple Makes an Original Content Play to Beef Up Apple Music

Facebook Journalism Project Aims to Improve Ties with Media

Facebook’s Journalism Project is creating stronger connections to media companies, the result of the company’s unwelcomed limelight regarding fake news, and founder Mark Zuckerberg’s reluctant admission that the company is, at least in part, a media company. Facebook is also reaching out to support local news and making more efforts to educate users about hoaxes. Facebook plans to offer training for journalists and keep media updated on its efforts. This is the latest chapter in a historically complicated relationship. Continue reading Facebook Journalism Project Aims to Improve Ties with Media

DEG Report: Streaming Exceeds Disc Sales in Industry First

The Digital Entertainment Group reports that, for the first time, subscription streaming has surpassed disc sales, further evidence that Hollywood may need to reconsider traditional windows for theatrical distribution. While total home entertainment spending increased 1.36 percent, “the $5.4 billion in disc sales fell well short of the $6.2 billion tabulated from SVOD providers like Netflix,” notes Variety. Subscription streaming jumped nearly 23 percent in 2016 (although figures do not include Amazon Prime), while disc sales dropped almost 10 percent. In another first, “spending on electronic-sell-through, or EST, which totaled just over $2 billion, was edged by VOD by just $67 million.” Continue reading DEG Report: Streaming Exceeds Disc Sales in Industry First

NAGRA to Roll Out Secure Platform for Content Distribution

As studios and exhibitors grapple to find a way to alter the movie release window to serve the changing audience for movies, NAGRA unveiled Early @t Home, a new platform aimed at both studios and exhibitors, at CES in Las Vegas. The platform combines NAGRA’s secure cloud solution with purpose-built hardware to enable content creators, studios, and theater chains to use “first release content” to directly connect with the consumer. The platform offers access to real-time analytics and provides a unique engagement opportunity through synchronized extras that could include complementary virtual and augmented reality experiences. The HD and UHD hardware solutions are priced to compete with other media dongles, but do not require specific app development. Continue reading NAGRA to Roll Out Secure Platform for Content Distribution

Cisco’s SPP System Shuts Down Pirate Streams in Real Time

Cisco rolled out its Streaming Piracy Prevention (SPP) platform that uses third-party forensic watermarking to take down pirate streams in real-time. The company says the platform can shut down the streams — which have become a favored method of distribution for pirates — without sending takedown notices or requiring third-party cooperation. Pirates capture feeds from sources such as subscriber accounts, and then re-stream them to thousands of sites, posing a threat to PPV TV and subscription content providers. Continue reading Cisco’s SPP System Shuts Down Pirate Streams in Real Time

Vimeo Refreshes Creator Pages and Launches New TV Store

In partnership with Lionsgate and Starz, Vimeo has opened a TV storefront in the model of iTunes, meaning viewers can purchase shows rather than stream them. Available series include “Orange Is the New Black,” “Casual,” “The Royals,” “Mad Men,” and “Weeds” as well as the entire Lionsgate catalog, which adds “Nurse Jackie,” “Boss,” “Blue Mountain State,” and “Manhattan.” Vimeo has been focused on improving its video-on-demand business, including buying VHX, a video distribution platform, and making its own original content. Continue reading Vimeo Refreshes Creator Pages and Launches New TV Store

Netflix, iPic to Simultaneously Offer Movies Online, in Theaters

Netflix is continuing its push into cinema by signing a deal with luxury theater-chain iPic Entertainment. The agreement would allow Netflix original films to screen theatrically the same day they are made available via the streaming service. Ten Netflix movies over the next year will screen in iPic theaters in New York City and Los Angeles, according to Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, who indicates the deal could be extended. The agreement also includes the option for films to screen at the chain’s 13 other locations or independent theaters. Continue reading Netflix, iPic to Simultaneously Offer Movies Online, in Theaters

Netflix Debuts Open Source Tools for IMF and Image Testing

Netflix has long collaborated with rivals, most notably on cloud computing open source projects. Now, it’s released “Meridian,” a 12-minute movie that acts as test footage to allow hardware manufacturers, codec developers and engineers to evaluate imagery. The company is also releasing open source tools to encourage the use of the Interoperable Master Format (IMF), developed as a standard by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers for exchanging master files between studios, distributors and services such as Netflix. Continue reading Netflix Debuts Open Source Tools for IMF and Image Testing

Kaltura to Offer Cloud-Based TV Services on Microsoft Azure

Video technology provider Kaltura has announced its partnership with Microsoft’s cloud computing platform Azure to offer a new scalable, end-to-end OTT platform. Kaltura has integrated with Azure to encode, store and deliver OTT TV content via the cloud. According to the company release: “Microsoft Azure enables operators and media companies to leverage Kaltura OTT TV to launch OTT services while quickly scaling, with pay-as-you-go services. Microsoft is committed to protecting subscriber data, enhancing control of premium content and privacy.” Continue reading Kaltura to Offer Cloud-Based TV Services on Microsoft Azure

STX Entertainment Acquires Surreal, Launches New Division

STX Entertainment is making a move into virtual reality with its purchase of Surreal Inc., producer and distributor of immersive media content. “Under terms of the deal, Surreal will operate as a division of STX, led by co-founders Rick Rey and Andy Vick, who now will serve as co-presidents of VR and Immersive Entertainment under the new STX Surreal label,” reports Deadline. “Rey and Vick are among those at the forefront of VR, including live-action 360-degree video and interactive VR content.” STX president Sophie Watts will oversee the new division. STX recently became strategic equity partners with China’s Tencent Holdings Limited and Hong Kong telecom PCCW. Continue reading STX Entertainment Acquires Surreal, Launches New Division

Streaming ‘Warcraft’ in China Could Lead to New Marketplace

Chinese online-video network PPTV paid about $24 million for the streaming rights to fantasy feature “Warcraft,” based on the popular videogame series by Blizzard Entertainment. The film has so far grossed more than $433 million worldwide and has been successful with Chinese audiences. It will begin streaming next month on PPTV as a result of the record high deal, in what could also mark a significant milestone in film distribution. “This could be one of the beginning steps in having China become a huge marketplace for streaming services,” said comScore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian. Continue reading Streaming ‘Warcraft’ in China Could Lead to New Marketplace

Netflix-Style Video-On-Demand Service Debuts in North Korea

North Korea has launched its own Netflix-like streaming service called Manbang (“everywhere” or “every direction”), although the content and availability is limited. According to Digital Trends, Manbang offers “citizens in three cities, including the capital Pyongyang, access to five streamed channels alongside a selection of on-demand content.” The service’s set-top box also streams state-approved newspaper articles, documentaries about Kim Jong-un and the leadership, and English and Russian language lessons. The box enables “viewers to search for programs by typing in the title, or by browsing through categories, offering similar functionality to Netflix in the United States,” notes NK News. Continue reading Netflix-Style Video-On-Demand Service Debuts in North Korea

Enseo Service to Bring Netflix to More Hotel Rooms Worldwide

Netflix and in-room entertainment platform maker Enseo have announced an expanded deal to bring the Netflix app to more worldwide hotel rooms. Hotel guests will be able to log in to their Netflix accounts via Enseo’s system and access TV shows, movies and their personalized lists and settings. “The two companies were already working together on Enseo’s product, the Enseo Entertainment Experience,” reports TechCrunch, “which also provides access to other streaming services like YouTube, Pandora, Hulu and Crackle.” Enseo was the first to bring Netflix to hotels with its original 2014 agreement. The new deal means Enseo “can now offer Netflix to any hotel under a contract in any country worldwide where Netflix is available.” Continue reading Enseo Service to Bring Netflix to More Hotel Rooms Worldwide

NBCU Signs Deal to Produce Original Programs for Snapchat

NBCUniversal has signed a multiyear deal with Snapchat to bring new programming based on its popular brand names to the app’s media hub. What the content will look like has not been specified, but will launch with “The Voice on Snapchat,” followed by weekly pop culture series from E! News, “The Rundown.” NBCU will rely on other popular franchises such as “Saturday Night Live” and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” for additional programming. NBCU will not simply provide repurposed clips like it does on YouTube and Facebook, but will produce original content. Continue reading NBCU Signs Deal to Produce Original Programs for Snapchat

Apple’s New Plan for TV Ecosystem Influence is Digital Guide

Apple is now working on a digital TV guide that shows what’s playing on video apps from HBO, Netflix, ESPN and others, so consumers don’t have to open individual apps to discover content. The TV guide will work on a range of Apple devices, including Apple TV and iPhones. Last year, Apple’s goal was to sell TV programs to consumers, with an interface to make it easy to find content. By focusing on the interface, Apple leaves the financial arrangement to programmers, distributors and consumers. Continue reading Apple’s New Plan for TV Ecosystem Influence is Digital Guide

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