NBC News Plans to Launch Free Streaming Service in May

NBC plans to launch its free, ad-supported NBC News Now streaming service in early May. The service will be available to everyone, whether or not they subscribe to NBCUniversal cable networks. “It will be something you can access on Apple TV or Roku or any of those other boxes,” NBC News president Noah Oppenheim told a crowd at SXSW in Austin, Texas. “We are going to launch with 8 hours of programming, including live updates at the top of every hour, and when breaking news mandates, we’ll go up live as well.” Continue reading NBC News Plans to Launch Free Streaming Service in May

Amazon Aims for Quality Not Quantity With 30 Films Per Year

Amazon hasn’t had a good year in the film business since 2017 when it moved away from its Hollywood distribution partners into self-distribution. Since then, the company released six flops in a row, including director Woody Allen’s “Wonder Wheel,” which cost $25 million and only earned $14 million in North America, and “Beautiful Boy,” which cost $23 million and made a mere $7.6 million. Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke surmised that the company put “too much focus on a narrow prestige lane.” Continue reading Amazon Aims for Quality Not Quantity With 30 Films Per Year

Locast Founder Offers Free Broadcast Streaming to Test Law

Attorney David Goodfriend is a law professor and founder of Locast, a free streaming service that enables audiences to get content from ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and PBS, on almost any device, at any time, with high-quality video. If this sounds like Aereo, the startup supported by Barry Diller that offered streaming content to subscribers, you’d be partially right. But the Supreme Court determined Aereo violated copyright law, forcing its closure, and Goodfriend believes he’s found a legal workaround: Locast is a nonprofit. Continue reading Locast Founder Offers Free Broadcast Streaming to Test Law

NBCUniversal Readies Free, Ad-Supported Streaming Service

In 2020, Comcast’s NBCUniversal will launch a free, ad-supported streaming video service featuring the company’s own TV and film content as well as acquired programming and original content. The 52 million subscribers to Comcast Cable and Sky, the recently acquired European pay-TV unit, will receive the streaming service for free. According to sources, NBCUniversal will also offer the service for no additional charge to Charter Communications and Cox Communications, among other U.S. pay-TV companies with NBC channels. Continue reading NBCUniversal Readies Free, Ad-Supported Streaming Service

Netflix Users Watching More Licensed Than Original Content

According to 7Park Data, the majority of content — 63 percent — viewed via Netflix is licensed content. Whereas viewing of original content rose from 24 percent a year ago, it still only accounts for 37 percent of its U.S. streams this October. Of the licensed content, NBC’s “The Office” is the most viewed TV show on Netflix, with “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” in second place. The dominance of licensed content is worrisome for Netflix given that Disney, Fox and WarnerMedia will soon pull their programs. Continue reading Netflix Users Watching More Licensed Than Original Content

Sports Leagues Pioneer Virtual Reality-Powered Innovations

In February, Verizon hosted a virtual reality Super Bowl LII experience over a 5G network at a virtual luxury suite at Minneapolis’ U.S. Bank Stadium. That NFL/Oculus Rift collaboration put viewers on the field in the midst of 3D holographic models, and is only one of numerous examples of the marriage of professional sports and virtual reality. The BBC app, for example, offered a virtual reality World Cup experience, and NBC let viewers pick their camera angles and access data for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Continue reading Sports Leagues Pioneer Virtual Reality-Powered Innovations

Snap Is Latest Social Company to Plan Original Video Push

To better compete with social platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, Snap Inc. is launching a scripted video initiative called Snap Originals. Teaming with media titans such as Viacom and NBCUniversal to produce original content and syndicate existing shows, Snap aims to ramp up its serialized offerings as Instagram readies its IGTV hub for mobile video. Snap has already been experimenting in this space through partnerships with networks including E!, NBC and ESPN to produce content for its Discover section.

Continue reading Snap Is Latest Social Company to Plan Original Video Push

Amazon, TiVo Unveil Over-the-Air Products for Cord Cutters

Amazon recently introduced its Fire TV Recast, a networked DVR, and TiVo debuted its new set-top box, the TiVo Bolt OTA, with both companies’ products aimed at giving cord cutters a new way to enjoy content. Fire TV Recast allows consumers to watch and record over-the-air TV content with a Fire TV, Echo Show or other compatible mobile device. TiVo’s new STB joins its existing line of Bolt devices, including the voice-controlled Bolt Vox DVRs, and enables anyone with a digital antenna to watch live over-the-air TV. Continue reading Amazon, TiVo Unveil Over-the-Air Products for Cord Cutters

Apple’s Hollywood Strategy Focuses on Family-Friendly Fare

Last year Apple set aside $1 billion for Hollywood entertainment. But as the tech company pushes into entertainment, it faces issues related to its brand. Its first scripted drama, “Vital Signs,” a semi-biographical story about Dr. Dre, is a key example. After seeing its guns, cocaine and adult themes, Apple chief executive Tim Cook reportedly told Apple Music executive Jimmy Iovine that the content went too far, say sources, and nixed the series. Cook wants entertainment, but not the kind that could tarnish Apple’s brand. Continue reading Apple’s Hollywood Strategy Focuses on Family-Friendly Fare

Sony Adds 200 Local Channels to its PlayStation Vue Service

Sony’s OTT service PlayStation Vue is expanding its lineup by adding 200 local stations across the U.S., including ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC affiliates and ESPN College Extra. With the expanded lineup, Playstation Vue now features more than 450 local stations. The service is available via Sony’s game console; across Android, iOS and web platforms; and media players such as Android TV, Apple TV, Amazon’s Fire TV, Google’s Chromecast and Roku devices. The additions could help the service compete with new players, including Hulu and YouTube TV. Continue reading Sony Adds 200 Local Channels to its PlayStation Vue Service

Facebook in Pursuit of Interactive Video With Vidspresso Deal

Facebook struck a deal with Utah-based Vidpresso to acquire its technology and absorb its seven-person team, without actually buying the company. Vidpresso’s website says that the new partnership will help put its tools in the hands of creators. Founded in 2012 to “make video more like HTML,” Vidpresso allows publishers to incorporate interactive graphics and superimposed captions to encourage viewers to respond to polls or ask questions. BuzzFeed, Nasdaq, NBC, TED, Turner Sports and Univision are among its customers. Continue reading Facebook in Pursuit of Interactive Video With Vidspresso Deal

NFL, Snap Extend Content Partnership for Next Two Seasons

The National Football League extended its content partnership with Snap for its 2018 and 2019 seasons, and added a Sunday experience, the Sunday Publisher Story, to deliver game news, highlights and hourly updates. The NFL content will continue to be featured in Snapchat’s Our Stories. In addition to the NFL, Snap has inked content partnerships with all major U.S. leagues as well as NBC and IOC for Olympics and Fox Sports for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The NFL and Snap signed their first deal in 2015. Continue reading NFL, Snap Extend Content Partnership for Next Two Seasons

Gray Television, Raycom Media to Merge in $3.6 Billion Deal

Gray Television and Raycom Media jointly announced plans to combine their companies in a $3.65 billion cash-and-stock deal. Gray will acquire Raycom for $2.85 billion in cash, $650 million in a new series of preferred stock, and 11.5 million shares of Gray common stock. After spinning off nine stations, the combined company will operate 142 stations in 92 markets. Raycom president and CEO Pat LaPlatney will become Gray’s president and co-CEO, while Gray’s current chief Hilton Howell will serve as executive chairman and co-CEO.

Continue reading Gray Television, Raycom Media to Merge in $3.6 Billion Deal

New Amazon Studios Head Is Charting an Ambitious Course

Four months ago, Jennifer Salke, previously NBC president of entertainment, replaced Amazon Studios chief Roy Price, who was ousted after a sexual harassment scandal. Now, she’s moving forward to clarify the studio’s message on the kinds of content it wants, as well as get more productions into the pipeline. Salke is making a strong play for Hollywood creatives to work with the studio, noting that, “there is a lot of talent out there looking for a home … [and] we have the resources.” Continue reading New Amazon Studios Head Is Charting an Ambitious Course

AirTV Rolls Out Networked Tuner to Access Local Broadcasts

Dish subsidiary AirTV just launched a new device, also dubbed AirTV, that lets its subscribers watch free live content from broadcast networks, including ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS and Fox, on TVs and mobile devices. AirTV is a networked tuner that comes with Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity. Priced at $120, AirTV also comes with a $25 credit for Dish’s Sling TV streaming service, which mainly provides access to cable channels. With AirTV, Sling TV subscribers can access over-the-air channels via their Sling TV app. Continue reading AirTV Rolls Out Networked Tuner to Access Local Broadcasts

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