HPA Tech Retreat: Washington Update Examines IP, FCC, FAA

At the HPA Tech Retreat, Thompson Coburn attorney Jim Burger delivered his annual Washington Update, opening with a clip of President Trump suggesting that his government is operating like a well-oiled machine. “I have nothing to say,” said Burger in response, reporting that Marco Rubio told him, “every day something is new in the Senate.” Burger’s update focused on intellectual property issues, including litigation, as well as actions of the FCC regarding net neutrality and set-top boxes, and the FAA regarding drones. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Washington Update Examines IP, FCC, FAA

Facebook Readies TV App for Streaming Video Through STBs

Facebook will soon launch a TV app that will let users stream videos in their News Feed through set-top boxes including Apple TV and Amazon’s Fire TV, and smart TVs from Samsung. The move to a television app is evidence of Facebook’s new directive from chief executive Mark Zuckerberg to become a “video first” company, and positions the social network to compete for TV advertising dollars. Users can employ the TV app to watch Facebook videos on their living room TV sets, and Facebook is in discussions to provide access to other video content. Continue reading Facebook Readies TV App for Streaming Video Through STBs

Ford Pursues Self-Driving Tech, Invests $1 Billion in AI Startup

The Ford Motor Company is extending its foray into self-driving car technology with a $1 billion investment in Argo AI, an artificial intelligence startup. The newly formed startup, led by former Google and Uber self-driving experts, will initially develop the technology for Ford before licensing it to other companies. The move is part of Ford’s strategy to rebrand itself as more than a car manufacturer. The billion-dollar investment will roll out over the next five years. Argo AI will become a subsidiary of Ford that operates out of Pittsburgh, one of the main hubs of autonomous driving research. Continue reading Ford Pursues Self-Driving Tech, Invests $1 Billion in AI Startup

Twitter Reveals Plans to Attract More Users, Draw Ad Revenue

President Donald Trump’s frequent use of Twitter has increased that platform’s visibility. That is potentially drawing in new “passive, non-tweeting” users, which may, in turn, result in more much-needed advertising revenue. But even as usage increases, the company still struggles to burnish its financial profile. To improve its fortunes, Twitter says it plans to tweak its advertising strategies, focus more on video and expand its data licensing business, by which companies pay to mine billions of daily tweets. Continue reading Twitter Reveals Plans to Attract More Users, Draw Ad Revenue

NBA, Take-Two Establish First Professional Sports E-League

The National Basketball Association and videogame publisher Take-Two Interactive Software inked a joint venture to establish a professional videogame league, with NBA franchises creating teams for Take-Two’s “NBA 2K” videogame, beginning next year. The NBA 2K e-league is the first to be operated by a major U.S. sports league, although both teams and athletes have bought or invested in e-sports teams before. Anheuser-Busch InBev NV and Arby’s Restaurant Group and other major advertisers have also gravitated to e-sports. Continue reading NBA, Take-Two Establish First Professional Sports E-League

EU’s Digital Single Market Strategy Concerns Film/TV Industry

To help create a unified digital market, the European Union just agreed to so-called portability, which will allow subscribers to access their online services as they travel from one EU country to another. When the EU introduced its Digital Single Market (DSM) in May 2015, Europe’s film/TV industry, which licenses its content territory-by-territory, promptly opposed it, especially the provision that would allow people in the EU to buy content on other countries’ digital platforms. The Motion Picture Association of America shares these concerns. Continue reading EU’s Digital Single Market Strategy Concerns Film/TV Industry

Facebook Working on Video App, Licensing TV-Quality Content

As part of its “video first” strategy, Facebook is at work on a video app for Apple TV and other TV set-top boxes, say knowledgeable sources, who add that the social media platform is also in discussions to license long-form “TV-quality” content. The move will allow Facebook to compete for TV advertising revenue and distribute content to TV sets. The company is already the No. 2 destination for digital ads after Google, but has said it is running out of room for more ads in its News Feed, the company’s main source of revenue. Continue reading Facebook Working on Video App, Licensing TV-Quality Content

With Gains in Cloud Computing, Microsoft Achieves No. 2 Spot

In fiscal Q2, Microsoft posted gains for its Intelligent Cloud segment, which includes Azure, showing an uptick of 8 percent — or 10 percent accounting for currency fluctuations — to $6.9 billion. Azure revenue has increased 93 percent, more than doubling from the same period a year ago. Microsoft is now firmly in second place, behind Amazon, in cloud computing. Microsoft also enjoyed a 5 percent increase in revenue from licensing Windows software to PC manufacturers and another 5 percent uptick from corporate agreements. Continue reading With Gains in Cloud Computing, Microsoft Achieves No. 2 Spot

Publishers Rethink Sharing Content on Social Media Platforms

The trade group Digital Content Next just released a report that details how some publishers of newspapers and other media outlets are pulling back on their use of Facebook’s Instant Articles program. The change comes as publishers re-examine their business models, especially vis-à-vis social media platforms. Publishers have hosted stories on Facebook, rather than their own websites, so they load more quickly on mobile phones. But these publishers also chafe against Facebook restrictions on the number and types of ads in Instant Articles. Continue reading Publishers Rethink Sharing Content on Social Media Platforms

Amazon’s Global Push Creates Direct Competition with Netflix

Amazon launched its global Prime Video service, pricing it under Netflix to compete in the subscription-video arena. This year, according to Cowen & Co., Amazon is on track to spend more than $3 billion on Prime Video content, compared with $6 billion by Netflix. In addition to its Amazon Studios originals, the program line-up for its international Prime Video offering will include hundreds of movies and TV shows, varying by country. Licensed movies include “Jurassic Park,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Gone Girl” and others. Continue reading Amazon’s Global Push Creates Direct Competition with Netflix

Facebook Pursues Funding, Licensing Original Video Content

Facebook plans to fund original productions and license original video content from media companies and digital celebrities for its platform. To be led by Facebook head of global strategy Ricky Van Veen, the new initiative is still in its nascent stages; a spokesperson only says the company is reaching out to many potential partners. Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has steadfastly insisted Facebook is not a media company, but given this decisive move towards content, that will be a difficult position to maintain. Continue reading Facebook Pursues Funding, Licensing Original Video Content

Supreme Court Rules in Apple-Samsung Design Patent Case

In the carefully watched design patent battle between Apple and Samsung, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled yesterday that Samsung may not be liable for its entire $399 million in profits after copying the iPhone’s distinctive look, including its rectangular front face, rounded corners and grid of icons. In 2012, a jury decided that Samsung had infringed on Apple’s patents. “Design patents, which address what products look like, are far less common than utility patents, which cover how products work,” explains The New York Times. “The Supreme Court’s opinion, while not decisively resolving the case, found that liability in design patent cases is not necessarily an all-or-nothing proposition.” The two companies will return to court to determine an appropriate amount for damages. Continue reading Supreme Court Rules in Apple-Samsung Design Patent Case

Amazon Expands its A La Carte Offerings with HBO, Cinemax

Prime video members can access premium cable content from HBO and Cinemax now that Amazon has introduced the channels to its add-on packs in Amazon Channels, which now features more than 70 add-ons available to subscribers willing to pay more each month. “HBO is an additional $14.99 per month, and Cinemax is $9.99 monthly, with both offering 30-day free trials,” notes TechCrunch (HBO’s standalone HBO Now also runs $15/month). “The HBO add-on provides access to HBO’s current hits and past hit shows and limited series, as well as their current licensed movies, and news shows. Likewise Cinemax provides access to their original shows, as well as movies.” Continue reading Amazon Expands its A La Carte Offerings with HBO, Cinemax

Vimeo Plans to Become Next Major Subscription VOD Player

According to Variety, “Barry Diller’s IAC has outlined a new strategy for Vimeo to become a major new Netflix-style subscription video-on-demand player — but without spending the kind of dough that Netflix does on original content.” Joey Levin, IAC CEO and interim chief exec of Vimeo, introduced the new strategy during IAC’s Q3 earnings announcement, noting that the company plans to experiment with proprietary subscription services. He did not discuss launch dates or pricing. “Ultimately, our goal is for Vimeo to drive millions of subscriptions and transactions for our creators while also growing a proprietary subscriber base with millions of consumers directly,” wrote Levin. Continue reading Vimeo Plans to Become Next Major Subscription VOD Player

Pandora’s Promotional Tools Help Artists Market New Songs

Digital music services have a problem introducing new songs: Fans prefer music they’ve heard before, and can easily skip a song they don’t know. A radio station can promote a new song by repeatedly playing it, but up until now digital services haven’t had many tools to boost new song popularity. Now, Pandora has debuted a toolset that lets an artist introduce a new song with an audio message to fans. It worked for R&B singer Jill Scott, who was able to boost the popularity of a new song by 30 percent that way. Continue reading Pandora’s Promotional Tools Help Artists Market New Songs

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