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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EPIX Offers Original Content, Movies via Streaming Service

MGM’s premium TV net EPIX has launched a new subscription streaming service that features original programming and films from MGM, Paramount and Lionsgate. The EPIX NOW app “is available for download today in the App store for iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, and in Google Play for Android phones and tablets,” reports Deadline. “It will also be coming soon to Roku devices and Amazon Fire TV.” The $5.99 per month service, which also includes the four EPIX linear live channels, will be available across additional devices later this year. Continue reading EPIX Offers Original Content, Movies via Streaming Service

AT&T Chief Outlines Future WarnerMedia Streaming Platform

At the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference, AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson revealed that investing in more HBO programs is a target for the coming year, as WarnerMedia readies its direct-to-consumer subscription platform due to launch by end of 2019. HBO will anchor the as-of-yet unnamed service, which will also offer original programming and other WarnerMedia content year-round. Stephenson did stress, however, that AT&T won’t spend the $11 billion that is Netflix’s current annual budget for content. Continue reading AT&T Chief Outlines Future WarnerMedia Streaming Platform

AT&T to Roll Out Three Tiers of Streaming Service Next Year

AT&T announced it plans to introduce three tiers of a new streaming video service to launch in beta by the fourth quarter of 2019, although pricing and details have yet to be revealed. The WarnerMedia service, intended to take on Netflix and other streaming competitors, will offer movies and TV shows from Warner Bros., Turner and HBO. In the future, the unnamed service is expected to feature licensed content from additional media companies. The venture is part of AT&T’s larger plans to pursue areas outside of its core businesses following the company’s acquisition of Time Warner. Continue reading AT&T to Roll Out Three Tiers of Streaming Service Next Year

YouTube Plans to Offer Free, Ad-Supported Originals in 2019

In a strategy shift, Google-owned YouTube plans to make much of its original video programming available for free starting next year. YouTube Originals will be offered as free, ad-supported content, rather than exclusively available via the $11.99-per-month YouTube Premium subscription service (formerly called YouTube Red). YouTube will continue to greenlight scripted productions, but plans to scale back in order to focus on more mainstream celebrity-driven and creator-based reality offerings. YouTube refers to the new strategy of combining ad-supported and SVOD programming as “Single Slate.” Continue reading YouTube Plans to Offer Free, Ad-Supported Originals in 2019

Apple Streaming TV Service to Launch Worldwide Next Year

Apple is reportedly planning to introduce its subscription streaming television service in more than 100 countries during the first half of next year. Such a global launch could help make Apple a serious competitor with established services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video that already have an international presence. The service is expected to offer original programming free to iOS device owners while allowing users to sign up for third party services and TV network subscriptions. It will launch in the U.S. a few months prior to the global rollout. Continue reading Apple Streaming TV Service to Launch Worldwide Next Year

Walmart Signs MGM Deal, Invests in Interactive Storytelling

Walmart is partnering with MGM, which will create short-form original series for release in 2019, to help boost content on its ad-supported streaming service Vudu. The company also invested a reported $250 million in a joint venture with New York startup Eko, which produces so-called interactive stories in which viewers control the plots of commercials and TV episodes. This investment is believed to be the largest ever made in this particular storytelling niche that has interested creatives for years but never caught on. Continue reading Walmart Signs MGM Deal, Invests in Interactive Storytelling

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.

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Apple Pursues Plan to Offer Free Content to Device Owners

According to sources, Apple is developing a new digital video service that will provide original content and third-party subscription services to owners of its devices. Content owned by Apple will be free to device owners, who will also be able to sign up for services from the likes of HBO and Starz. On current iPhones, iPads and Apple TVs, users can find a pre-installed TV app, say sources who also note the app will debut in early 2019. The company has already said it is spending $1 billion on PG-rated content this year. Continue reading Apple Pursues Plan to Offer Free Content to Device Owners

Netflix to Offer Interactive Feature, Starting With ‘Black Mirror’

Netflix, famous for disrupting the traditional TV model by delivering all episodes of a new TV season at once, is readying experimentation with interactive TV. The company is reportedly developing a series of specials that will allow viewers of the streaming service to select the next storyline of a movie or television episode. According to people with knowledge of the plans, the new feature will be introduced later this year when viewers can select storylines for an upcoming episode of Emmy-winning sci-fi series “Black Mirror,” a show noted for its examination of tech and its social implications. Continue reading Netflix to Offer Interactive Feature, Starting With ‘Black Mirror’

Disney Tops a Million Subscribers for Streaming ESPN Service

Disney announced that its new ESPN+ streaming-only service, which launched five months ago in April, has already reached the milestone of more than one million paying subscribers. While it does not carry live streams from ESPN’s television channels, the $4.99-per-month streaming service offers original studio programming and sports content including MLB and NHL games, college football and international soccer matches, in addition to Top Rank Boxing and UFC mixed martial arts. Continue reading Disney Tops a Million Subscribers for Streaming ESPN Service

EU Will Require Streaming Services to Feature Local Content

The EU’s European Commission announced its plans to make Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services operating within the European Union to dedicate at least 30 percent of their catalogs to content produced locally. A final vote approving the new law, described as “a mere formality” by Roberto Viola of the European Commission, is expected in December. The European Union plans to publish a report that details the percentages of European projects that are tied to multiple streaming platforms. Netflix is reportedly already close to the 30 percent quota. Continue reading EU Will Require Streaming Services to Feature Local Content

Netflix Deletes All Customer Reviews Based on Declining Use

After last month’s announcement, Netflix began to remove all customer reviews of TV shows, movies and other programming from its site, saying it was due to “declining use.” Although Netflix did allow customers to post new reviews until July 30, the company said it will have erased more than ten years’ worth of reviews by mid-August. Netflix removed the five-star rating system a year ago. Rival services Amazon, Apple’s iTunes and App Store, Google Play and Rotten Tomatoes still display user reviews and ratings. Continue reading Netflix Deletes All Customer Reviews Based on Declining Use

New Accounting Rules Could Impact the Profits of TV Shows

In the new age of streaming (and often binge-watching) video content across multiple platforms, the distinction between movies and TV shows has become blurred. The Emerging Issues Task Force, a part of the non-profit Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), is recommending a change that would impact the profits of today’s TV shows. Calling the difference between such shows and movies as “no longer relevant” for gauging companies’ finances, the new accounting rules would let TV producers track costs the same way movie producers do. Continue reading New Accounting Rules Could Impact the Profits of TV Shows

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