Disney Finalizes Deal with Comcast to Take Control of Hulu

Comcast, which owns roughly one-third of Hulu, has agreed to sell its stake in the streaming video service to Disney. The deal calls for Comcast to sell its interest for Hulu’s fair market value no earlier than 2024. The Hulu joint venture launched nearly 12 years ago with the goal of providing a legal platform for television content that would serve as an alternative to YouTube and pirate sites. The platform has since become a major Netflix competitor. Disney’s share increased with its recent $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox’s movie and TV studios. AT&T, which picked up 9.5 percent of Hulu with its $85 billion deal for Time Warner, recently sold back its share to Hulu for $1.43 billion. Continue reading Disney Finalizes Deal with Comcast to Take Control of Hulu

Details Continue to Emerge on Disney+ Subscription Service

Disney is continuing to invest in its ESPN+ streaming service and expenses are mounting for the company’s upcoming Disney+ subscription offering as it finances productions such as the “High School Musical” series and exclusive “Star Wars” spinoff “The Mandalorian.” Shareholders learned yesterday that the company posted a quarterly loss for its direct-to-consumer division as a result, but that revenue increased 15 percent, beating Wall Street projections. Disney also announced yesterday that its blockbuster, record-breaking hit “Avengers: Endgame” will debut exclusively on Disney+ this December. Continue reading Details Continue to Emerge on Disney+ Subscription Service

Netflix Rolls Out Audio Quality Upgrade For Its Programming

After noticing that the audio in episodes of the Netflix series “Stranger Things” wasn’t as crisp as it should be, the company’s internal sound technicians took steps to address the issue. For the past several months, they’ve been working to enhance the sound quality of all Netflix programming, original and licensed. This week and moving forward, subscribers will have access to what’s simply being called “high-quality audio.” The upgrade, which will not require Netflix users to change their Internet service speeds, is optimized for devices that support Dolby 5.1 and Dolby Atmos sound.

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Walmart Plans to Launch Original Content For Vudu Service

As the world’s largest retailer, Walmart is known for selling many things, including TVs. However, it’s not typically known for what consumers watch on those TVs. That could soon change. This week, Walmart will unveil a sampling of a new slate of original programming to advertisers in New York with the goal of driving viewership to its Vudu streaming service. Unlike other streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon, Walmart doesn’t plan to sell subscriptions. Instead, it wants to use shows to advertise products directly.

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Cable Providers Update Boxes to Retain Fleeing Customers

With its Xfinity X1, Comcast has remade the traditional cable box, with a voice-enabled remote that allows search across live TV, on-demand and sources such as Netflix. It combines the multiple apps, passwords and monthly fees of streaming services into one place, with one bill. Perhaps we don’t need to get rid of cable, but rather to improve it. With the advent of ever-more choices from Apple, Amazon, Roku to Verizon and T-Mobile, the major cablecasters have the chance to bring their services into the modern TV age. Continue reading Cable Providers Update Boxes to Retain Fleeing Customers

Netflix Facing New Competition as Domestic Growth Slows

Subscription video service Netflix is still growing, but the new subscription numbers come largely from the international market. In the U.S., Netflix reported 1.7 million new subs in Q1 2019 out of a total of 9.6 million new customers. The streaming giant’s slowed domestic growth — including predictions for a slower Q2 globally — is likely due to increased competition as well as its recently raised subscription fees. Netflix investors are also concerned that the company cannot maintain what has thus far been rapid growth. Continue reading Netflix Facing New Competition as Domestic Growth Slows

Hulu Positioned to Become Most Serious Netflix Competitor

Amazon, Apple, AT&T and Disney aim to compete against Netflix, the current giant in streaming video. The one contender that rises above is Hulu, which has gone through several owners (Disney, 21st Century Fox, Comcast and Time Warner). AT&T sold Time Warner’s stake, and with the purchase of Fox, Disney is now Hulu’s majority owner. Hulu originally streamed shows from other networks, but its profile changed with “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which became the first “streaming-native” show to win an Emmy for best drama series. Continue reading Hulu Positioned to Become Most Serious Netflix Competitor

Digital Agency Exec Details Why Set-Top Box Needs to Die

At an NAB 2019 panel moderated by the organization’s vice president of advanced technology So Vang, Jason Brush detailed the case for why today’s set-top box needs to die. Brush, who is the global EVP for experiences and innovation at WPP’s flagship digital agency known as POSSIBLE, has designed interfaces for set-top boxes (as well as the Sony PlayStation 4 game console and Sony Xperia X10 mobile phones among others). His perspective on the topic arose from an epiphany he had looking at his cable bill. Continue reading Digital Agency Exec Details Why Set-Top Box Needs to Die

MPAA Report Details Shifts in Home Entertainment Market

According to the MPAA’s annual Theatrical Home Entertainment Market Environment (THEME) Report, data from DEG and IHS Markit points to a significant reduction in the sales of video discs, including DVD, Blu-ray Disc, and Ultra HD Blu-ray. Global sales of video disc formats dropped from $25.2 billion in 2014 to $13.1 billion in 2018. However, global consumer spending on home entertainment increased 16 percent over 2017, thanks in part to the growing adoption of online subscription services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. The combined theatrical and home entertainment market increased 25 percent from five years ago. Continue reading MPAA Report Details Shifts in Home Entertainment Market

Disney Reveals Details For Its Upcoming Streaming Service

Disney CEO Bob Iger announced yesterday that the company’s planned subscription video service is slated to launch November 12th of this year at $6.99 per month (undercutting competitors such as Netflix). The service, which will feature movies and TV series from Disney, Fox, Pixar, National Geographic, Marvel and the “Star Wars” franchise, is planned to roll out in Europe and Asia in 2020. Disney is anticipating 60 million to 90 million subscribers by 2024. To start, Disney+ will offer 10 original movies, 25 original series, all 30 seasons of “The Simpsons,” many of the “Star Wars” films, and family content from the Fox library. Continue reading Disney Reveals Details For Its Upcoming Streaming Service

YouTube Taps Ben Relles to Lead Programming Innovation

Google’s YouTube is planning new original programming with a focus on live specials and interactive content. Ben Relles, former head of unscripted for YouTube Originals, will assume his new role as head of innovation to lead the initiative. Reporting to Susanne Daniels, global head of original content, Relles will be responsible for the development of new scripted and unscripted original programming intended to foster interaction and engagement with viewers. Interactive content has been getting more attention since the success of Netflix’s “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.” Continue reading YouTube Taps Ben Relles to Lead Programming Innovation

How AI & Machine Learning Tools Could Benefit Filmmaking

Before an NAB 2019 panel discussion on machine learning and artificial intelligence in filmmaking began, Corto chief executive Yves Bergquist wanted to make one thing clear. “AI and machine learning are used interchangeably,” said Bergquist, who also leads research in AI and neurosciences at USC’s Entertainment Technology Center. “But they are not. Machine learning is a property of AI. The ML app will have opinions about the data, but AI will use ML to have agency over that data and take action.” Bergquist asked the panel how filmmakers can leverage ML and AI to create optimization and efficiencies as well as better artistic content. Continue reading How AI & Machine Learning Tools Could Benefit Filmmaking

Netflix Ups Its Monthly Subscription Prices For U.S. Viewers

Netflix is raising its subscription fees for all U.S. plans in May this year. The price hike, announced in January, was immediately applied to new customers and is being introduced to existing customers based on their billing cycle. The new price for its Standard plan, which offers two HD streams, will be boosted from $10.99 to $12.99, and the Premium plan, which includes up to four Ultra HD streams, will be raised from $13.99 to $15.99. The Basic plan for one non-HD stream is being increased for the first time, from $7.99 to $8.99. Continue reading Netflix Ups Its Monthly Subscription Prices For U.S. Viewers

Snapchat Now Competing in the Multiplayer Gaming Arena

Snap Inc. announced yesterday that its popular Snapchat app now features multiplayer games, starting with “Bitmoji Party” and five other titles. The move is an effort to compete in a new social space dominated by “Fortnite” in which real-time, multiplayer games also serve as online communities. Snap plans to work with game developers such as Zynga and ZeptoLab. The combination of gaming and social networking is on the rise. According to Epic Games, its “Fortnite” had 250 million players as of March, while Netflix recently suggested that it competes with “Fortnite” more than HBO. Continue reading Snapchat Now Competing in the Multiplayer Gaming Arena

DOJ Warns Academy New Netflix Rules Could Violate Laws

As the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences mulls over rule changes that would limit the eligibility of content from Netflix and other streaming services, the U.S. Department of Justice weighed in with a warning that doing so could violate competition law and raise antitrust issues. Academy board member Steven Spielberg reportedly has encouraged changes to Oscar eligibility rules, prompting the DOJ’s response. At CinemaCon, movie theater owners are also discussing how Netflix is changing the landscape. Continue reading DOJ Warns Academy New Netflix Rules Could Violate Laws

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