Amazon Debuts New Smart Speaker Edition Designed for Kids

Amazon is introducing the $80 Echo Dot Kids Edition with FreeTime services. Intended for children ages 5 to 12, the modified Echo Dot features a brightly colored, protective rubber case; kid-friendly content from the likes of Audible, Disney and iHeartRadio; and parental controls such as time limits, activity review and content filtering. Users can wake up to alarms based on characters from Disney, Nickelodeon and others. The speaker, which is available for pre-order and starts shipping May 9, includes the same two-year replacement guarantee that Amazon rolled out for its Fire tablets for kids. Continue reading Amazon Debuts New Smart Speaker Edition Designed for Kids

Viacom to Roll Out its Own Streaming Service Later This Year

Viacom, which has hinted it might introduce a direct-to-consumer streaming service, revealed it will launch such a service by September 2018, with “tens of thousands of hours” of content from such channels as Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon. The company is not, however, going to produce a dedicated cable alternative for cord cutters, as have YouTube TV, DirecTV Now, Hulu Live and Fubo. The packaging of the content will more likely be competitive with Hulu and Netflix. Pricing details were not available. Continue reading Viacom to Roll Out its Own Streaming Service Later This Year

Dreamscape Immersive Raises $30M More for VR Attractions

Dreamscape Immersive, a location-based VR startup, is joining forces with Nickelodeon to produce a new intellectual property aimed at children and families. The company, which is headed by former Disney and DreamWorks veterans, just raised $30 million in its Series B round of funding, led by AMC Entertainment with investments from Nickelodeon, 21st Century Fox and Warner Bros. as well as Majid Al Futtaim, VRSense Solutions, and Image Nation Abu Dhabi. Bold Capital Partners, a Series A investor, also joined the second round. Continue reading Dreamscape Immersive Raises $30M More for VR Attractions

Amazon FreeTime Rolls Out New Feature for Offline Viewing

Amazon is introducing a new feature to its subscription children’s service this week that enables users to download and watch FreeTime Unlimited content without an Internet connection. The new Offline Mode will roll out for free as an over-the-air software update for Fire and Fire Kids Edition tablets. Parents can create Kindle Fire profiles for their kids through FreeTime and specify age, gender, time limits, filters and appropriate content. FreeTime Unlimited features a range of children’s offerings from the likes of Amazon Originals for Kids, DC Comics, Disney, Nickelodeon and PBS. Continue reading Amazon FreeTime Rolls Out New Feature for Offline Viewing

Streaming Service to Debut Without Pricey Sports Channels

Discovery Communications, Viacom, AMC Networks, A+E Networks and Scripps Networks Interactive are joining forces to create a new streaming service catering to people who don’t want sports in their streaming TV bundles. According to sources, the service will have a soft launch in the next few weeks, cost less than $20 per month, and offer nonfiction, lifestyle, children’s and scripted drama programs from the channels owned by these networks. Media outlets have discussed a bundle without sports for some time. Continue reading Streaming Service to Debut Without Pricey Sports Channels

GameMine Inks Distribution Partnership With Mobile Carriers

Los Angeles-based GameMine has inked distribution partnerships with five international mobile carriers, enabling direct billing of game subscriptions through mobile plans. With the partnerships, the carriers’ subscribers will have access to GameMine’s more than 400 games, all of them unlocked, ad-free and available for iOS and Android devices. Among the involved carriers are Movistar in Spain, Orange in Egypt, and TIM, Vodafone and Wind Tre in Italy, with a combined mobile subscribership of more than 150 million people. Continue reading GameMine Inks Distribution Partnership With Mobile Carriers

Amazon Bows Android App for Kid-Friendly FreeTime Service

Amazon rolled out a new Android app for its FreeTime service, which provides curated children’s content and parental controls similar to those found on Amazon’s Fire tablets. The FreeTime Web browser has vetted over 40,000 YouTube videos and websites as kid-friendly. FreeTime Unlimited offers more kid-centric content, including 10,000 books and videos from Disney, Nickelodoen, Amazon Studios, PBS Kids, Harper Collins, Sesame Street, Simon & Schuster and others, priced at $2.99 per month for Prime members and $4.99 for others. Continue reading Amazon Bows Android App for Kid-Friendly FreeTime Service

NBCUniversal Set to Launch Universal Kids Network This Fall

On September 9, NBCUniversal will unveil the rebranding of its Sprout cable property into a new network, Universal Kids, to be overseen by Sprout exec Deirdre Brennan. The network will feature family-friendly content from DreamWorks Animation, Illumination Entertainment and Universal theme park attractions. Whereas Sprout targets preschool children, Universal Kids will broaden its reach to children 2 through 11 years old. The first series is “Top Chef Junior,” a version of Bravo’s cooking competition show. Continue reading NBCUniversal Set to Launch Universal Kids Network This Fall

Viacom Debuts BET Streaming Service for International Market

Viacom rolled out a standalone online service this week dubbed BET Play, targeting an adult audience (last year, Viacom launched Nickelodeon-related app Noggin for kids). The video-on-demand application will feature BET’s award programs, such as this week’s 2016 BET Awards, in addition to TV series, musical performances, documentaries, comedy specials and news. BET Play will launch for iOS, Android and Apple AirPlay-enabled TVs without the need for a broader pay TV subscription. It will be available in 100 countries outside the U.S. for the equivalent of $3.99 per month. Continue reading Viacom Debuts BET Streaming Service for International Market

Media Companies Turn to A La Carte Sales in Foreign Markets

Viacom, 21st Century Fox and The Walt Disney Company are among the numerous entertainment companies offering their content a la carte — in Europe, Latin America and Asia. In the U.S., these networks are still parts of more expensive bundles proffered by Comcast, DirecTV and other pay TV services. That reflects a much lower penetration of homes outside the U.S. that have a cable or satellite subscription, which makes it possible for media companies to make a la carte offers without running afoul of pay TV providers. Continue reading Media Companies Turn to A La Carte Sales in Foreign Markets

Netflix’s $5 Billion Budget Pushes Networks to Also Spend Big

FX Network chief executive John Landgraf says there’s too much TV, citing the 400+ scripted shows he estimates were made last year. But rather than slowing down on the new programs, media companies including Discovery, Viacom, Starz as well as Amazon and Hulu are all spending more. They’re competing for viewers in an increasingly fragmented market — and against Netflix, which has committed $5 billion this year for film/TV projects, and an estimated $11 billion over the next five years. Continue reading Netflix’s $5 Billion Budget Pushes Networks to Also Spend Big

Networks Test Sponsored Content and Fewer 30-Second Ads

On Monday, NBC tested out a new concept: airing more content and fewer ads. Sponsored by American Express, the additional content included “Blindspot” interviews with the show’s creator and stars, and a segment with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb of the “Today” show. NBC isn’t alone; Vice Media has embraced a similar advertising strategy for its new Viceland cable channel. TV networks hurting from ratings declines and cord cutting are taking a serious look at swapping out 30-second spots for sponsored content. Continue reading Networks Test Sponsored Content and Fewer 30-Second Ads

Top YouTube Stars Using Online Success to Launch Careers

Forbes has compiled its first-ever list of the world’s highest-paid YouTube stars. To appear in the ranking, Internet celebrities had to make at least $2.5 million in earnings for the year ending June 1, 2015. The top 13 DIY videomakers, most under the age of 30, have earned a combined total of $54.5 million. The group includes gamers, singers, comedy teams, pranksters, a beauty blogger and a dancing violinist. While most make their revenue from online advertising, some are also branching out into traditional media such as film, TV, music and publishing. Continue reading Top YouTube Stars Using Online Success to Launch Careers

Hulu Doubles the Amount of TV Content it Licenses from Viacom

While streaming services continue to invest in original series to attract new subscribers, the SVOD battle over TV rights has also been heating up. Amazon, Hulu and Netflix are competing for the exclusive rights to stream popular shows that first air on television. A number of new deals have been announced in recent weeks, including Amazon picking up USA Network’s “Mr. Robot,” Hulu getting Fox’s “The Last Man on Earth,” and Netflix signing ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder” and CW’s “Jane the Virgin.” Most recently, Viacom extended its licensing agreement with Hulu. Continue reading Hulu Doubles the Amount of TV Content it Licenses from Viacom

Viacom Play Plex Offers Mobile TV Apps for its Major Brands

Viacom International is getting ready to debut Viacom Play Plex, a suite of apps for all its major brands, for iPhone and Android smartphones and tablets. Viacom Play Plex, which will be available in the company’s 180 international territories, will offer live and on-demand content from Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Channel, Spike and BET. The suite of apps allows the company to make a significant move into the burgeoning mobile TV world. Viacom had previously launched a Nickelodeon app in 2013. Continue reading Viacom Play Plex Offers Mobile TV Apps for its Major Brands

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