Roku to Offer Subscription Video Market Similar to Amazon’s

According to sources, Roku will debut a marketplace similar to Amazon Channels, allowing consumers to sign up for video subscription services without downloading separate apps on Roku devices. Roku already offers access to HBO Now, CBS All Access and other subscription services via its channel store, but, up until now, consumers have needed to download a dedicated app (which Roku calls a “channel”) onto their device and then sign up for the service. The new marketplace is expected to make it much easier to access such services. Continue reading Roku to Offer Subscription Video Market Similar to Amazon’s

Amazon Debuts 4K Fire TV Cube With Alexa-Centric Strategy

Amazon, which started shipping its Fire TV video streaming devices four years ago, is now planning the release of its 4K Fire TV Cube, which combines Fire TV capabilities with Amazon Echo and acts as a TV control center for other devices. Fire TV Cube offers built-in Alexa and was designed with a “voice first” strategy to, as Amazon Fire TV vice president of product development Sandeep Gupta said, “highlight the use of voice.” Priced at $119, Fire TV Cube is the most expensive device in the segment and the sleekest. Continue reading Amazon Debuts 4K Fire TV Cube With Alexa-Centric Strategy

Capitol Hill Panel Explores Piracy Threat of Streaming Boxes

President Trump recently explained that the United States is “acting swiftly on intellectual property theft,” adding that we cannot “allow this to happen as it has for many years.” Meanwhile, a panel of experts met on Capitol Hill last week to examine intellectual property theft and the growing threat of streaming media boxes. The MPAA revealed that the Department of Justice is looking into criminal action for several “candidates” that peddle pre-configured set-top boxes enabling piracy. The United Kingdom has already arrested numerous individuals accused of this behavior.

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Amazon, Google Ramp Up Competition in Smart Home Market

Although Amazon currently sells a certain number of Google smart home Nest devices, the company has decided to stop doing so, thus ramping up the competition in this space between the two tech behemoths. Nest employees apparently had been expecting the move, which came in a conference call last year when Amazon said it would not list any of the newer Nest products such as the Nest thermostat and Nest Secure home security system. The decision reportedly came directly from Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos. Continue reading Amazon, Google Ramp Up Competition in Smart Home Market

Hulu to Offer High-Quality Live Streaming With 60fps Support

One of the criticisms of Internet-based live television services involves video quality limitations for sports fans. Some of the services support 30fps, a frame rate that leads to problems when streaming live sports. Hulu announced this week that it plans to address this concern with a staggered rollout of support for 60fps for its Live TV service. The streams will initially be available for select channels and devices, to be followed by an expanded rollout. Support for higher-quality streams could attract new customers for Hulu, especially on the eve of the Winter Olympics. Continue reading Hulu to Offer High-Quality Live Streaming With 60fps Support

Google Removes YouTube From Amazon Fire TV, Echo Show

Google is pulling YouTube from Amazon’s smart speaker Echo Show, saying it is doing so because Amazon won’t sell Google products including its Home speaker, Chromecast streaming device and some Alphabet Nest products. Google also states that Amazon won’t make its Prime Video shows available for Chromecast. The move escalates an ongoing battle between the two behemoths whose business interests now overlap. In addition to Echo Show, Google plans to block YouTube on Amazon Fire TV’s media streaming device beginning January 1. Continue reading Google Removes YouTube From Amazon Fire TV, Echo Show

Amazon Builds New Ad Goals on Thursday Night NFL Games

With its NFL stream, Amazon hopes for more digital advertising. Advertisers considering the platform see at least two things they like: Amazon’s promised “attribution,” which shows how ads led to brand awareness or online store sales (including on Amazon), data that advertisers haven’t gotten reliably on TV; and Amazon’s viewers, all $99 per year Prime subscribers, which makes them more likely to make online purchases. Sling TV, Showtime, Gillette, Pepsi and Hyundai are the first to buy an Amazon NFL ad package. Continue reading Amazon Builds New Ad Goals on Thursday Night NFL Games

Amazon Intends to Rule the Smart Home With Alexa Devices

Amazon is making a big push to be everywhere in the smart home, which is why its devices are relatively inexpensive: the new Amazon Echo is $99.99, Echo Plus is $149.99, Echo Spot is $129.99 and the new Fire TV stick is $69.99. The company is betting on being ubiquitous enough in homes to become the de facto standard for smart home devices — in essence, a new operating system. Proof that Amazon is playing a long game is the Echo Plus, which with a single command could turn off the lights, lock the door and turn off the TV. Continue reading Amazon Intends to Rule the Smart Home With Alexa Devices

Roku Refreshes Product Line to Compete With Apple, Amazon

Following its recent Nasdaq debut, Roku is updating its product line with new specs and pricing in addition to a number of software enhancements. Roku’s entire line — from its streaming stick to home entertainment hub — is being upgraded. The $30 Roku Express gets a new processor, while the $50 Roku Streaming Stick now features a remote with voice control. The $40 Roku Express+ is the next step up from the Roku Express, offering analog component connections for those with older TVs. And the high-end 4K Roku Ultra will remain $100 for the holiday season (it recently had a $30 reduction), and gets a refresh for its remote and a wider selection of streaming options.  Continue reading Roku Refreshes Product Line to Compete With Apple, Amazon

Roku Goes Public Today, Sets its IPO Price at $14 per Share

Video streaming device maker Roku begins trading today on Nasdaq, setting its IPO price at $14 per share, which would give it a $1.3 billion stock market value. The 15-year-old company is competing with the likes of Amazon, Apple and Google that all offer streaming video boxes featuring popular apps such as Netflix and Hulu. Roku’s devices provide access to Amazon, Netflix, YouTube and dozens of online channels, but competition is a major consideration with today’s tech investors. Snap Inc., for example, the year’s biggest tech IPO, has watched its shares plummet in value as Facebook’s Instagram rolled out Snapchat-like functionality. Continue reading Roku Goes Public Today, Sets its IPO Price at $14 per Share

Amazon to Debut Two New Fire TVs, One With Built-In Alexa

Amazon will soon introduce two new Fire TV models, both of which will playback 4K HDR video at 60 fps. The first is a dongle that hangs off a permanently attached HDMI cable, similar to Google Chromecast, and the second is a new Fire TV shaped like a set-top box that will be the new flagship model. The dongle is positioned between the existing Fire TV Stick and a new high-end model. The new Fire TV cube has far-field microphones, a built-in speaker and LED light bar, with functionality similar to an Amazon Echo. Continue reading Amazon to Debut Two New Fire TVs, One With Built-In Alexa

Roku Delivers Free, Ad-Supported Movies on New Channel

Owners of Roku streaming players, sticks and TVs will now have access to a new service — “The Roku Channel” — that offers free, ad-supported streaming of movies and TV shows. The channel, which will roll out in phases “over the coming weeks,” features content that Roku has licensed directly from studios including Lionsgate, MGM, Paramount, Sony and Warner Bros. — and movies from other channel publishers currently on the Roku platform such as American Classics, FilmRise, Nosey, OVGuide, Popcornflix, Vidmark and YuYu. Roku expects additional publishers to participate in the future.

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Plex Live TV Adds Time-Shifting, Comes to Apple TV, Android

The Plex Live TV service, including its DVR feature, is coming out of beta today and expanding support to include Apple TV and Android devices. The service was originally available for iOS and Android TV platforms, including the Nvidia Shield. In addition to accessing live television programming from within the Plex app, users will be introduced to a new time-shifting feature that enables them to rewind, fast-forward and pause live programs. Plex says that its Live TV and DVR features will be available for Roku and Fire TV platforms next. Continue reading Plex Live TV Adds Time-Shifting, Comes to Apple TV, Android

New Research Places Roku at Top of Connected-TV Market

According to a new eMarketer study, Roku is now the leading connected-TV device in the U.S. Roku has more users than Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Google Chromecast. The research firm estimates that 38.9 million U.S. consumers will use their Roku devices at least once per month this year. Chromecast will follow at 36.9 million users, Amazon Fire TV at 35.8 million, and Apple TV at 21.3 million. Roku is the only one of the four leading brands that is not connected to an affiliated content service and, as a result, has signed agreements with numerous partners. Continue reading New Research Places Roku at Top of Connected-TV Market

Sling TV Debuts Enhanced DVR, Availability on More Devices

Sling TV’s DVR is one of its more attractive features to consumers, and the company just rolled out DVR enhancements, as well as the option to record TV shows on more devices and channels. The company reports it took customer requests into consideration in tweaking the DVR, which now also protects recordings from deletion, a feature found on hardware-based DVRs. Being able to protect against deletions, however, is not commonly found on cloud-based DVRs for streaming video services. Continue reading Sling TV Debuts Enhanced DVR, Availability on More Devices

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