Netflix Push For Global Expansion Pays Off in Subscriptions

On the heels of its aggressive Q4 move into international regions, Netflix saw an uptick in subscribers totaling 5.12 million abroad and 1.93 million domestically. The numbers beat Wall Street’s expectations and account for Netflix’s biggest quarterly subscription growth in its history. The company is now operating in almost every country and every territory globally. To pump up content, in the coming year, Netflix plans to invest $6 billion in original programming, up from $5 billion last year. Continue reading Netflix Push For Global Expansion Pays Off in Subscriptions

Anime Strike: Amazon’s First Branded Subscription Channel

Amazon is launching Anime Strike, its first on-demand subscription service for Amazon Channels, available in the U.S. to Prime members for $4.99/month. The channel will offer more than 1,000 ad-free series episodes and movies, including same-day-broadcasts from Japanese series including “Scum’s Wish” (“Kuzu no Honkai”) and “Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga” (“Ao No Exorcist: Kyoto Fujouou-hen”). Also featured will be older anime titles including “Paprika,” “Tokyo Godfathers” and “Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS.” Continue reading Anime Strike: Amazon’s First Branded Subscription Channel

3D Television Gives Way to Rise of 4K and HDR Technology

Support for 3D television has experienced a steady decline and now its demise seems inevitable (unless it is later resurrected). Samsung ceased its 3D support last year and Vizio has not offered 3D since 2013. Hisense, Sharp and TCL were among the companies that did not showcase 3D sets during CES earlier this month. “LG and Sony, the last two major TV makers to support the 3D feature in their TVs, will stop doing so in 2017,” reports CNET. “None of their sets, not even high-end models such as their new OLED TVs, will be able to show 3D movies and TV shows.” DirecTV shuttered its 3D channel in 2012 and ESPN did the same in 2013. Despite affordability of 3D TVs and the success of 3D in theaters, the technology failed to gain traction in the home. Continue reading 3D Television Gives Way to Rise of 4K and HDR Technology

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

Streaming Services Top Chart of Apps Earning Most Revenue

When examining top apps based on revenue (outside of games), streaming services dominated 2016. Sensor Tower lists Spotify as the top earner, generating the most revenue across platforms, including Apple’s App Store and Google Play. Android chat app LINE took the second spot, followed by Netflix, Tinder, Pandora and HBO Now. Hulu ranked No. 7 on the App Store and No. 9 in overall revenue. “The list indicates that the trend toward cord cutting … is still going strong, as is the growth of subscription-based streaming of music,” reports TechCrunch. However, translating app success into profits remains a challenge for some (Pandora is laying off 7 percent of its workforce, despite touting more than 4.3 million subscribers). Continue reading Streaming Services Top Chart of Apps Earning Most Revenue

Samsung Updates Smart Hub with Emphasis on Sports, Music

Searching for and organizing content is a fact of life with smart TVs. Samsung has updated its Smart Hub to make that experience — on the TV and smartphone — much easier, especially with regard to sports and music. The company demonstrated its new Smart Hub “experience” at CES 2017. The user no longer needs to search for where his or her favorite team can be found on OTA channels and streaming services. Instead, the user tells the Hub what teams he follows, and the Smart TV will give him channels, schedules and scores. For music, Samsung’s Hub now offers Shazam. Continue reading Samsung Updates Smart Hub with Emphasis on Sports, Music

Dish’s AirTV Box Fuses Streaming, OTA Channels with EPG

At CES, Dish debuted AirTV, a 4K set-top box that features Sling TV, Netflix and Android TV for streaming apps and OTA channels, with the Sling TV guide as an organizer for all of the content. The accompanying remote control, which connects to the box via Bluetooth and offers voice controls, provides dedicated buttons for the streaming libraries. The set-top box is “about the size of an Apple TV or Roku box,” with ports for power, Ethernet, HDMI and USB. AirTV is priced at $100 or $130 for the antenna-compatible version. Continue reading Dish’s AirTV Box Fuses Streaming, OTA Channels with EPG

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

Tech Startups Pitch Innovative New Drone Concepts at CES

The VR, AR and Robotics Pitch Competition at CES in Las Vegas included three drone-related entertainment tech startups. The Fotokite, from Zurich-based Perspective Robotics, is a tethered drone camera system. The $249 consumer version unfolds from an easy-carry tube and flies like a kite, but unlike a kite it works to maintain its position and camera angle relative to the handheld ‘kite’ tether. Dotterel “takes the drone out of drones” with technology that was developed to make it possible to record audio from a drone without the loud background buzz. And Boxfish Research showed a simple-to-operate submarine ROV with two universal camera mounts for capturing 360-degree video. Continue reading Tech Startups Pitch Innovative New Drone Concepts at CES

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

Nvidia’s New Shield TV Adds 4K HDR and Google Assistant

At CES, Nvidia introduced a new version of its Shield TV streaming box, featuring an updated design and support for 4K HDR. Available later this month, the $200 Shield TV now includes a remote and game controller. The box — which Nvidia claims offers three times the performance speed of any streaming competitor on today’s market — runs Android TV and provides support for thousands of games and access to 4K content from Google Play Movies, Netflix and Vudu. It also features Amazon Video in 4K HDR, which is unusual for Android TV boxes. With Google Assistant also built-in, Nvidia may be looking to take on Amazon Echo. Continue reading Nvidia’s New Shield TV Adds 4K HDR and Google Assistant

LG Wows the Vegas Crowds with Super-Thin 4K OLED Series

LG is showcasing its new Signature 4K OLED W-series this week in Las Vegas with the tagline “Picture on Wall” (as a follow-up to its previous “Picture on Glass”). That’s because at 2.57-millimeters thin, the TVs are best mounted completely flat against a wall (the ‘W’ stands for ‘wallpaper’). To address the lack of ports with such a super-thin design, the W-series features companion soundbars connected via a thin cable. The Dolby Atmos capable soundbars are outfitted with four HDMI ports, three USB connections and an optical audio port. The two models are also exceptionally light; the 65-inch version weighs 18 pounds, and the 77-inch model is 27 pounds. Continue reading LG Wows the Vegas Crowds with Super-Thin 4K OLED Series

Sony CEO Reveals Plan to Make Products ‘Objects of Desire’

During his CES presentation, Sony president and CEO Kazuo Hirai revealed plans for the company’s future, including an emphasis on creating personal experiences for customers, generating sustainable growth for the Sony brand through continued innovation, and developing new products as “objects of desire.” “When you experience one of our products, interact with one of them, we want to generate an emotional response,” he explained. Hirai recognized Mike Fasulo, president/COO of Sony North America, for his “incredible efforts in this pursuit,” and announced the company’s new 4K OLED offerings, new 4K Bravias and Android TV OS. Continue reading Sony CEO Reveals Plan to Make Products ‘Objects of Desire’

Roku Readies 4K HDR Platform, Announces New TVs at CES

Roku is introducing new hardware at CES this week, including a number of 4K TVs featuring Dolby Vision HDR (high dynamic range). The company, whose app platform is now the basis of 13 percent of smart TVs sold in the U.S., has partnered with Element Electronics on Roku TVs expected to hit shelves later this year. TCL, which uses the Roku TV program for all its smart TVs, is also introducing new Roku-based 4K HDR TVs. And Hisense unveiled its H4 series, the company’s first 4K HDR Roku TVs. Dish, Dolby, Element, Hisense, Hitachi and TCL are among the vendors showcasing Roku TVs in Las Vegas. Continue reading Roku Readies 4K HDR Platform, Announces New TVs at CES

Lenovo Plans to Launch Windows VR Headset Later This Year

Microsoft is planning a push into VR this year with its Windows Holographic software and Windows-compatible VR headsets. At CES, Chinese consumer tech company Lenovo is previewing its own upcoming headset based on the Windows Holographic platform (users will need a PC with Windows 10), which is expected to launch during the second half of 2017. Priced under $400, it seems Lenovo is looking to compete with the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR. Interestingly, the unnamed Lenovo headset will also feature the ability to run some augmented reality experiences using external cameras. Continue reading Lenovo Plans to Launch Windows VR Headset Later This Year

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