Amazon Will Launch New Echo Dot Kids Edition This Month

Amazon debuted a new version of its Echo Dot Kids Edition and several notable changes to its FreeTime Unlimited subscription service for children’s content. The new Echo Dot for children offers a new fabric case, including two colors — blue and rainbow stripes — both not available for the adult version. It is 70 percent louder than the first version, as is the new Echo Dot. The new Kids Edition will begin shipping June 26 for $69.99, $10 less than the first Kids Edition and will include access to FreeTime Unlimited for one year. Continue reading Amazon Will Launch New Echo Dot Kids Edition This Month

Survey Finds That Podcast Listening Continues U.S. Growth

Edison Research and Triton Digital just published the results of their latest annual survey, noting that the number of podcast listeners is on the rise. According to the 2019 edition of “The Infinite Dial,” more than half of U.S. consumers have listened to a podcast, while almost one out of three now listen to at least one podcast per month (up from one in four the previous year). “That’s the biggest growth we’ve seen, and we’ve been covering podcasts since 2006,” said Tom Webster of Edison Research. Interestingly, the survey found that consumers over age 55 are warming to podcasts. Continue reading Survey Finds That Podcast Listening Continues U.S. Growth

CES Returns to Las Vegas This Week with Expanded Exhibits

CES 2019, which calls itself the largest and most influential tech event in the world — “where the entire technology ecosystem gathers to conduct business, launch products, build brands and partner to solve some of today’s most pressing societal challenges” — gets underway today with a full day of conference sessions and media briefings before the millions of square feet of exhibit space opens on Tuesday, January 8. CTA, owner of the show, highlighted a number of key sessions and exhibit marketplaces that visitors to CES may want not want to miss and our team will cover this week. Continue reading CES Returns to Las Vegas This Week with Expanded Exhibits

Amazon and Alexa Devices Have a Lucrative Holiday Season

This holiday season has shown that U.S. consumer confidence is high despite the volatile stock market. Amazon reported record-breaking revenue and noted that “tens of millions of people worldwide” registered for the company’s Prime service, many enticed by free two-day shipping. During the holiday, Amazon stated, more than one billion items were shipped via Prime. According to Amazon, year over year, that included millions more Alexa-enabled devices like the Echo, Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick 4K, and Alexa Voice Remote. Continue reading Amazon and Alexa Devices Have a Lucrative Holiday Season

Public Radio Distributors to Merge in Push for More Podcasts

PRX and PRI, two of the four U.S. national distributors of programming for public radio stations, are merging to gain more leverage in the podcast/other digital formats marketplace. National Public Radio and American Public Media, the other two distributors, are much larger. PRI (Public Radio International), founded in 1983, produces programs such as “The World” and “The Takeaway” for 700 public radio stations. PRX (Public Radio Exchange) started in audio distribution but now focuses on podcasts. Continue reading Public Radio Distributors to Merge in Push for More Podcasts

U.S. Newspapers Block Online Access for European Audience

Rather than comply with the European Union’s new data privacy rules, some American news outlets have opted to block access to their online content in Europe. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) limits what info can be collected about users. This impacts companies that provide free content but share user data in order to sell targeted ads. Newspapers that have opted for a blackout or restricted access include the Arizona Daily StarNew York Daily News, St. Louis Post Dispatch, and Tronc-owned Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles TimesOrlando Sentinel and The Baltimore Sun. Continue reading U.S. Newspapers Block Online Access for European Audience

Report: About 16 Percent of Americans Own Smart Speakers

NPR and Edison Research released a report this week indicating that about one in six Americans (39 million people) now own a smart speaker, up 128 percent from last January. “Amazon’s Echo speakers are still in the lead, the report says, as 11 percent now own an Amazon Alexa device compared with 4 percent who own a Google Home product,” reports TechCrunch. Amazon and Google promoted their devices heavily and cut prices during the holiday shopping season. “The Echo Dot became a top seller across its site and by manufacturers through the Black Friday weekend.” Continue reading Report: About 16 Percent of Americans Own Smart Speakers

Vimeo to Acquire Livestream Platform and Launch Vimeo Live

IAC-owned Vimeo is purchasing the Livestream platform and rolling out its own live-streaming service called Vimeo Live. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Earlier this year, Vimeo abandoned its plans to release a SVOD business. Rather than compete in the SVOD space with Amazon, Hulu and Netflix, “Vimeo’s core business is focused around selling tools and services to professional and semi-professional video creators,” reports TechCrunch. Integrating Livestream tech into Vimeo Live “will allow video creators to capture, edit, stream and archive their live events … in addition to hosting, distributing, and generating revenue from their videos.”  Continue reading Vimeo to Acquire Livestream Platform and Launch Vimeo Live

Pandora Expands, Adds Questlove as First Artist Ambassador

Pandora took a major step as its service expands to directly compete with Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal: bringing on musician Questlove as its first artist ambassador. Questlove, whose Roots is the house band for NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” originally visited Pandora for non-specific discussions but, when its co-founder Tim Westergren showed him its Music Genome Project for categorizing songs by minute attributes, he was immediately hooked and accepted Westergren’s offer to join as a strategic adviser and ambassador. Continue reading Pandora Expands, Adds Questlove as First Artist Ambassador

Podcast Companies Try Out Subscription Model to Replace Ads

Some podcasts are experimenting with paid subscriptions rather than advertising as the way to generate revenue. Swedish-based podcast app and ad network Acast unveiled a service, Acast+, to enable that, taking a share of the revenue for letting podcast creators set their own prices and sell content directly to listeners without ads. Although current podcasts use the platform to hawk exclusive bonus content, Acast’s plan is to entice social media stars and celebrities to create new podcasts for their fans. Continue reading Podcast Companies Try Out Subscription Model to Replace Ads

OpenCar Poised to Take On Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

INRIX, a Seattle-based company that offers connected car solutions, just purchased OpenCar, which describes itself as an “updateable application platform and developer ecosystem” for the auto industry. With both solutions on board, INRIX can compete head-on with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, both aimed at auto manufacturers interested in integrating smartphone functionality in their vehicles. Ford, Volvo and BMW have confirmed they will integrate Apple and Google’s solutions into new models of their vehicles. Continue reading OpenCar Poised to Take On Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

Amazon Expands Its Audible Programming to Include Podcasts

Amazon is recruiting comedians, radio producers, engineers, marketers and lawyers for almost 100 positions in the company’s growing Audible division. Audible currently offers more than 250,000 audiobooks and plays, but the new hires suggest that Amazon is investing in more original programming. Prominent comedians like Maria Bamford and Jonathan Katz, as well as producers from NPR, WNYC and the radio show “Fresh Air,” have already joined the Audible team. Continue reading Amazon Expands Its Audible Programming to Include Podcasts

Podcasting Embraces Native Ads, Blends Story and Sponsors

As podcasts continue to grow in popularity, more journalists and major media brands are turning to the format. Behind much of the format’s growth is the embrace of native advertising — ads that reflect the tone of the podcast as hosts discuss products during their show or even report on brands as ad spots. Blurring the line between advertising and news has led to a clash between those coming from public radio and those coming from commercial radio. Regardless, evidence suggests that native advertisements are effective. Continue reading Podcasting Embraces Native Ads, Blends Story and Sponsors

Deezer Plans to Add Podcast Support with Stitcher Acquisition

Deezer, one of the most comprehensive music streaming services, operates in more than 180 countries with an active user base of around 16 million. Deezer has yet to launch in the U.S., but its arrival is expected soon. When it does, the streaming service will feature podcast support, now that Deezer has acquired podcast and talk radio platform Stitcher, which currently carries 35,000+ shows from ABC News, AP Radio, BBC, CBS Sports, KROQ, MSNBC, NPR, PBS, TED, WNYC and many others. Continue reading Deezer Plans to Add Podcast Support with Stitcher Acquisition

Google Acquires Mobile Startup Polar to Reinvigorate Google+

Google has acquired mobile startup Polar, to bring the founder Luke Wroblewski and his team to Google+. Polar developed online polling technology for clients such as HBO, TechCrunch and USA Today to poll their users on mobile websites and apps. At Google, the new hires are expected to work on optimizing Google’s struggling social network for the mobile platform. Wroblewski is a prominent mobile designer and author of the book, “Mobile First.” Continue reading Google Acquires Mobile Startup Polar to Reinvigorate Google+

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