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

Walmart Debuts Free, Ad-Supported Video Streaming Service

Retail giant Walmart announced the launch of its free, ad-supported streaming video service called Vudu Movies On Us, which offers thousands of titles available for 1080p HD streaming, and supports Dolby Digital sound when available. Vudu has been selling and renting movies and TV shows for almost 10 years. The new service, however, will not feature new releases or current series. Instead, it will focus on older blockbusters and classics. Vudu considered developing a subscription VOD service, but opted for the ad-supported model since the majority of Walmart customers expressed interest in free or discounted video services. Continue reading Walmart Debuts Free, Ad-Supported Video Streaming Service

Sony Doubles Down on VR with ‘Billy Lynn’ and PlayStation VR

At his MIPCOM TV keynote, Sony president/chief executive Kazuo Hirai talked about the importance of virtual reality to the company, singling out its PlayStation VR headset; director Ang Lee’s “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” which was shot in 3D 4K at 120 frames per second; and VR experiences tied to its movies, including “Ghostbusters,” “The Walk” and “Goosebumps.” Kando, the Japanese concept of stimulating emotional response in people, says Hirai, is at the center of what Sony wants to create in all its work. Continue reading Sony Doubles Down on VR with ‘Billy Lynn’ and PlayStation VR

Razer Purchases THX with Plans for VR and Global Expansion

Razer, which develops hardware and services for the gaming world, announced this week that it is acquiring THX from Creative Labs, with plans to run the iconic audio company (founded by filmmaker George Lucas in 1983) as an independent subsidiary with a focus on overseas expansion and new device areas such as VR headsets. THX is expected to continue operating under current management, led by CEO Ty Ahmad-Taylor. Razer, run by CEO Min-Liang Tan and valued at $1.5 billion, also acquired gaming startup Ouya last year. Financial terms of the THX deal have not been disclosed. Continue reading Razer Purchases THX with Plans for VR and Global Expansion

Netflix Adjusts China Plans, Pursues Licensing Deals for Now

Facing stiff regulatory hurdles, Netflix has decided to shift gears regarding its plans for expansion into China. Rather than launching its own streaming subscription service as originally planned, the company will instead focus on licensing content to Chinese online service providers for now. “We still have a long-term desire to serve the Chinese people directly, and hope to launch our service in China eventually,” the company said while announcing its impressive Q3 earnings and subscriber jump. Netflix added more than 130 countries to its global presence this year, but a move into China would involve a “challenging” regulatory environment. Continue reading Netflix Adjusts China Plans, Pursues Licensing Deals for Now

Industry Visionaries Discuss VR Production at Oculus Connect

Best practices for remaining on budget, the importance of planning and testing, whether to capture in mono or stereoscopic 3D, techniques for directing talent, and how to treat (or not to treat) VR environments were among the many topics discussed during a compelling panel about creating 360-degree video at the Oculus Connect 3 conference in San Jose last week. Four accomplished virtual reality production executives and technologists shared their practical knowledge and recommendations for navigating the uncharted waters of budgeting and producing VR content. Continue reading Industry Visionaries Discuss VR Production at Oculus Connect

Amblin and Alibaba Ink Mutually Beneficial Moviemaking Deal

Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment just inked a deal with Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group to produce, finance and distribute movies. The relationship gives Alibaba an entrée into the Hollywood moviemaking industry, and Amblin a pipeline to distribution in China. Although the financial details of the deal were not disclosed, Alibaba will now have a minority equity stake in Amblin and a seat on its board, and Amblin will have access to the Chinese company’s massive database on consumers there. Continue reading Amblin and Alibaba Ink Mutually Beneficial Moviemaking Deal

Oculus Chief Scientist Predicts the Future of VR Platform Tech

Disavowing popular wisdom that it doesn’t pay to be too specific, Oculus chief scientist Michael Abrash delineated what virtual reality tech will look like in 2021 at the Oculus Connect 3 conference last week. With the caveat that he would be proved “wrong about some of the specifics,” Abrash described a high-end VR future that includes 4K x 4K resolution per eye and 140-degree field of view displays, foveated rendering, personalized audio encoding, and “augmented virtual reality.” Abrash was the final speaker in a keynote session that stretched past two hours. Continue reading Oculus Chief Scientist Predicts the Future of VR Platform Tech

Roku Makes it Simpler for Publishers to Offer Video Channels

Through an update to the Roku Direct Publisher Platform this week, Roku introduced new tools designed to make it easier for publishers to deliver streaming video content via Roku media players without the need to write any code. Creators merely go through a few steps in order to create a video feed and make their channel go live on Roku. The platform is also supported by Brightcove, JW Player, Kaltura and Ooyala. Roku, which currently touts more than 10 million monthly active users, is expanding its advertising options by offering to address video ad sales for publishers. Continue reading Roku Makes it Simpler for Publishers to Offer Video Channels

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

Mi Box: Xiaomi Now Selling its New $69 Android TV Streamer

Chinese CE company Xiaomi introduced its first product geared for U.S. customers yesterday — the $69 streaming Mi Box, an Android TV STB that supports 4K video playback, HDR, and includes a Bluetooth voice remote. The company first unveiled the Mi Box at this year’s Google I/O developer conference. Since it’s based on Google’s Android TV, the device provides access to apps for Hulu, HBO Now, Netflix, Sling TV, YouTube and others. It also supports Google Cast for launching playback from mobile apps and makes recommendations based on a user’s YouTube and Google Play preferences. Continue reading Mi Box: Xiaomi Now Selling its New $69 Android TV Streamer

Drone Industry Is Under Rapid Change in Southern California

Drone operators are beginning to realize the commercial potential of UAVs. In Southern California, for example, drones are being used for film production, sports coverage, wedding photography, map-making and more. According to Los Angeles Daily News, drone operators are also making money with applications such as: “examining the health of agricultural crops,” “monitoring the progress of construction projects,” “documenting the installation of rooftop solar panels in order to claim federal tax credits,” “selling commercial, industrial and residential real estate” and “surveying electric wires, pipelines, railroad tracks, dams and canals for damage.” Meanwhile, companies including Amazon and Google are experimenting with drone delivery services. Continue reading Drone Industry Is Under Rapid Change in Southern California

Federal Regulators Need More Time to Vote on Set-Top Boxes

The FCC delayed its vote yesterday on the proposal to unlock cable set-top boxes. FCC members “could not agree on a set-top box proposal that requires cable operators to provide their shows and movies on alternative devices rather than just on a cable box,” reports The New York Times. “The plan was intended to bring more competition to the television industry and liberate consumers from an average of $231 in annual cable box fees.” While the proposal will be considered for a future vote, FCC chair Tom Wheeler said commissioners needed additional discussions. However, with an upcoming change of administration, Wheeler’s window to adopt the regulation may be dwindling. Continue reading Federal Regulators Need More Time to Vote on Set-Top Boxes

Sony PS Vue Offers HBO, Cinemax as Standalones or Bundle

Following Sony’s recent announcement that the company’s PlayStation Vue streaming service would offer HBO and Cinemax, both premium cable channels are now available as standalones for $15 per month or as part of a new bundle. In addition, the HBO Now app launched yesterday on PS3 and PS4 consoles. According to The Verge, “the new Ultra bundle will include all of Vue’s current offerings, including HBO and Showtime, for $64.99 per month in most locations, and $74.99 per month in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, and Miami. PlayStation says Vue is the first streaming service to offer live programming from HBO and Cinemax without a bundle subscription.” Continue reading Sony PS Vue Offers HBO, Cinemax as Standalones or Bundle

Plex, Amazon Launch Beta Test of Cloud-Based Media Center

Digital media center manufacturer Plex is debuting Plex Cloud, which runs its server on Amazon Drive without a local computer or network-attached storage drive. A select group of beta testers will get their hands on Plex Cloud, enabling them to set up a Plex server in one minute and use Amazon’s consumer cloud storage service, including the ability to stream media to any device. This change removes one of the biggest obstacles to adoption of Plex’s solution for personal media: the need for a dedicated server. Continue reading Plex, Amazon Launch Beta Test of Cloud-Based Media Center

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