‘Star Wars’ Smashes Box Office, Rallies Blockbuster Strategy

On its opening weekend, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” demolished box office records — as well as the trope that crowds no longer throng to movie theaters, even in the first days. The Walt Disney Company’s latest “Star Wars” movie brought in about $517 million globally, a success that is stunning in its size and scope, and that underscores Hollywood studios’ efforts to focus on repurposing the blockbuster, from “Avatar” to “Frozen.” According to Disney, 3D screenings account for 47 percent of the gross. Continue reading ‘Star Wars’ Smashes Box Office, Rallies Blockbuster Strategy

Netflix Earns Spot in the Top 10 Grossing Apps Worldwide

Netflix has become one of the world’s top grossing apps after the streaming company introduced an in-app subscription option. Netflix placed ninth in App Annie’s Top Grossing Apps chart for November 2015. This marks the first time that Netflix has made the list, joining the ranks of other streaming services including Spotify, Pandora, HBO Now and Hulu. Netflix’s reluctance to sell subscriptions through its app in the past may have been due to Apple’s steep cut of in-app purchase revenue. Continue reading Netflix Earns Spot in the Top 10 Grossing Apps Worldwide

CES: Virtual Reality Has Young Adults Cautiously Optimistic

The second wave of virtual reality is here, and with it comes a burst of awareness and interest from young adults. The edgy and experimental virtual reality projects of the mid-90’s have given way to the consumer, with many news outlets billing 2016 as the “year of virtual reality.” I call out the two waves of virtual reality because many people in their early to mid twenties have no idea that the first wave ever happened, though the aesthetics, anxieties, and excitement that it produced seem to have carried into the modern perception of what virtual reality is today. Continue reading CES: Virtual Reality Has Young Adults Cautiously Optimistic

Disney Partners with Alibaba to Bring OTT Service to China

Having inked a multi-year licensing agreement, Alibaba and The Walt Disney Company will begin pre-sales of DisneyLife, an OTT system aimed to increase sales of movie-related toys and trips to Disneyland. The system’s device will be sold on Alibaba’s online shopping site Tmall starting December 28. Priced at $125, the Mickey Mouse-shaped device comes with a free one-year subscription and lets customers connect to Disney and Pixar movies, cartoon series, e-books, music and games, as well as plan a trip to the Shanghai and Hong Kong Disneyland theme parks.

Continue reading Disney Partners with Alibaba to Bring OTT Service to China

BBC Turns to Parrot Analytics AI to Measure Show Demand

BBC Worldwide has recently employed artificial intelligence to analyze global demand for specific TV shows. In the most notable case, the BBC turned to New Zealand company Parrot Analytics’ AI and data science to learn that Germany, China, India and Singapore had high demand for its contemporary “Sherlock” series. After extensive testing, the BBC has again used Parrot’s data for several other shows, to find territories and platforms where demand exists. Parrot’s research includes multiple screens and markets. Continue reading BBC Turns to Parrot Analytics AI to Measure Show Demand

CES 2016: Setting the Stage for VR Gaming’s Breakout Year

As the first major tech show for “The Year of VR,” the upcoming CES is likely going to be instrumental in setting the tone for the next wave of virtual reality devices. Largely seen as a platform for gamers, it is this segment of consumers that could ultimately drive large-scale adoption of the medium. In anticipation, the show organizers have dedicated a conference track and expanded the floor space devoted to gaming and VR by 77 percent. The devices and interfaces that debut at CES will become the foundation for E3 later in the year. We expect multiple HMDs to be announced, but, for gamers, much of the attention will be on the interfaces. Continue reading CES 2016: Setting the Stage for VR Gaming’s Breakout Year

Netflix Adopts New Streaming Plan for Better Pix, Less Data

Netflix is changing how it streams video, the first such effort since the company launched in 2007. Beginning in 2011, Netflix has been working on a new streaming algorithm that will not only improve image quality but also save up to 20 percent of data. Netflix currently accounts for nearly 40 percent of all data consumed during peak Internet viewing hours. As Netflix focuses on entering more international territories, including nations with less developed Internet capabilities, streaming quality and data usage are critical. Continue reading Netflix Adopts New Streaming Plan for Better Pix, Less Data

AMC, Regal Debut Mobile Apps to Pre-Order Popcorn, Drinks

Movie theaters make their primary living at the concession stands, so it’s no surprise that the next trend at the local multiplex is aimed at making it easier to buy popcorn. AMC Theatres (about 350 theaters) and Regal Entertainment (570 theaters), the largest multiplex chains in North America, just debuted a way for customers to preorder and prepay for food and drinks via a smartphone app. The goal is to reduce what the chains call the “popcorn pinch point,” and reduce or eliminate the line at the concession stand. Continue reading AMC, Regal Debut Mobile Apps to Pre-Order Popcorn, Drinks

Movie Trailers Proliferate, Building Fervor, Fan Engagement

The number of trailers for franchise blockbusters has skyrocketed, flooding YouTube, Facebook and other platforms. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” counts 17 trailers, teasers and ads thus far. Today’s trailer looks much more like entertainment than an ad, linking to past franchise chapters, teasing out the identity of shadowy or hooded characters, and generally amping up anticipation and heated fan engagement before the film even opens. The nested teasers and trailers dole out details without giving away plot. Continue reading Movie Trailers Proliferate, Building Fervor, Fan Engagement

Apple Shelves Live TV Service, Opens App Store to Developers

Apple has put its plans to offer a live Internet-based television service — a package of 14 or more channels for $30 to $40 a month — on hold, say sources. Media companies balked at the prices Apple wants to pay, in order to keep its own subscription price low. Executives from Starz and other outlets have already stated they expect Apple and Amazon to pay more, not less, than existing distributors for media. Instead, Apple has pivoted to opening up its App Store so media companies to sell directly to customers. Continue reading Apple Shelves Live TV Service, Opens App Store to Developers

Showtime, Starz Now On Tap For Amazon Prime Members

Amazon just began offering some enticing add-ons for its Prime members: on-demand programming from Showtime, Starz and other channels, for as much as $8.99 a month. The goal is to lure more consumers to become Prime members, a $99 a year program that offers unlimited two-day shipping among other benefits, since Prime members spend more money on the site than non-Prime members. The add-on channels can be accessed via Amazon’s apps on mobile devices, streaming boxes and connected TVs. Continue reading Showtime, Starz Now On Tap For Amazon Prime Members

Streaming Video, Notably Netflix, Dominates Internet Traffic

Streaming video now makes up 70 percent of Internet traffic, says Sandvine, a Canadian networking-equipment company that conducted a global study during September/October 2015. The company monitored a slice of global services for home broadband to take a snapshot of online traffic across North America, Africa and the Middle East and found that real-time entertainment now prevails. Furthermore, in North America, Netflix dominates about 35 percent of aggregate peak-period Internet traffic, up from 22 percent in 2011. Continue reading Streaming Video, Notably Netflix, Dominates Internet Traffic

Netflix Amps Up Original Content, Pushes for Global Presence

At the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said the company is facing pushback from television networks and Hollywood studios balking at selling global rights. Netflix has set the goal of offering service in every country in the world by the end of 2016, in part to offset a slow-down in domestic subscription growth. To do so, the company is committing to 31 original scripted shows slated for 2016, more than double the 15 that aired in 2015. Continue reading Netflix Amps Up Original Content, Pushes for Global Presence

Google Hones Mobile Search with More Music, TV, Movie Info

Google already offers information on music, TV and movies, but with a new update, Google search will offer more structure to a broader range of information, including recommendations on songs, TV shows, movies and more. For example, a search for a singer will produce tabs on her songs, albums, upcoming events, and a link to listen to her music on YouTube, Spotify, Google Play Music and iHeartRadio. The update is now available to mobile users on Android phones and tablets, and will be available for iOS soon. Continue reading Google Hones Mobile Search with More Music, TV, Movie Info

Prime Instant Video Heads to New Networks, JetBlue, Apple TV

Although Amazon won’t comment, those in the know say that the company will soon open up Prime Instant Video to other on-demand networks. With this move, Prime customers will be able to add other online subscriptions to their accounts, and Amazon will be able to aggregate its own network bundles. Amazon has also signed a deal with JetBlue to feature its streaming video and music services on the airline’s satellite Internet system, and Apple TV users will soon have access to a Prime Instant Video iOS app. Continue reading Prime Instant Video Heads to New Networks, JetBlue, Apple TV

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