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

Tablo to Debut Automatic Commercial Skipping in Open Beta

At CES 2019, Tablo, a Canadian OTA receiver manufacturer, announced plans to unveil its Automatic Commercial Skip feature, which makes recorded TV ads skip automatically on over-the-air broadcasts. An open beta for Tablo owners who subscribe to its $5 per month guide will begin in March. The company says the technology is “a cloud-based hybrid of digital signal processing (DSP) algorithms and machine learning.” With it, Tablo apps on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV and Roku will skip ads without human intervention. Continue reading Tablo to Debut Automatic Commercial Skipping in Open Beta

CES: Voice Assistants Are No Longer Just for Smart Speakers

If CES is any indication, 2019 may be the year that voice assistants become more integrated into our daily lives. Amazon and Google went head-to-head in Las Vegas last week with a flood of partnerships touting smart home and CE devices that now support Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Among the products featuring voice support included LG’s much-hyped rollable OLED TV; Panasonic’s new 4K OLED TV; Samsung’s 2019 TV lineup; Vuzix Blade AR glasses; an array of speakers, soundbars and headphones; new smart displays from Lenovo, Archos and KitchenAid; and a collection of home security devices, kitchen and bathroom appliances — even toilets. Continue reading CES: Voice Assistants Are No Longer Just for Smart Speakers

Roku Adds Premium Subs to Roku Channel, Updates its App

Following in the footsteps of its rival Amazon, Roku announced that users will be able to buy pay-TV subscriptions through its streaming service, The Roku Channel, beginning in late January. That mimics Amazon’s sale of access to HBO and other premium channels through its Prime Video platform. Roku’s offering will include Showtime, Starz and EPIX among others. The new feature, which replaces one in which Roku acted as a portal to outside services, will also be financially favorable for the company. Continue reading Roku Adds Premium Subs to Roku Channel, Updates its App

Study Shows That Second Screen Is Popular With TV Viewers

Nielsen research indicates that American consumers are regularly accessing second screens while watching television content. The study found that 28 percent of U.S. adults “sometimes” use a device such as a smartphone or tablet at the same time they are watching TV, while 45 percent say they turn to a second screen “very often” or “always.” Only 12 percent of respondents suggest that they “never” access other devices during TV viewing. Nielsen found that second screens are often being used to complement the TV viewing experience, rather than serving as a distraction. Continue reading Study Shows That Second Screen Is Popular With TV Viewers

Roku Channel Adds Entertainment and Sports to Free Lineup

Roku is adding more sports and entertainment content to its ad-supported free streaming channel that already offers free-to-stream movies and news. The Roku Channel introduced live news earlier this year from ABC News, Cheddar, Newsmax, Newsy, People TV, The Young Turks and Yahoo. New entertainment content will now come from partners including AFV, FailArmy, People Are Awesome, The Pet Collective and TMZ, while live sports will be available from Adventure Sports Network, Combat GO, EDGEsport, Stadium, WHAM Network and others. Continue reading Roku Channel Adds Entertainment and Sports to Free Lineup

SVOD Apps and Virtual MVPDs Continue to Gain Momentum

Leading subscription video apps such as Netflix and Hulu generated a total of $781 million last year as streaming video continues its rise. According to app intelligence firm Sensor Tower, U.S. consumers spent about $329 million during Q3 2018 on the top 10 SVOD apps available via Google Play and Apple’s App Store. That figure represents a 15 percent jump over Q1. While Netflix and Hulu continue their growth, live-streaming TV services are also gaining traction. Online video analytics firm Conviva reports that virtual MVPDs including Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, and Hulu with Live TV have experienced a 212 percent increase in viewing hours over the past year in the U.S. Continue reading SVOD Apps and Virtual MVPDs Continue to Gain Momentum

Facebook Reportedly Building a TV Cam for Streaming Video

Just last week, Facebook announced its two new Portal video chat devices featuring 12-megapixel cameras with HD video and AI-powered software. New information suggests that the social giant is also readying a camera-equipped device codenamed “Ripley,” designed to work with your TV for video calling in addition to entertainment services including Facebook Watch. According to an insider with direct knowledge of the project, Ripley — which will use the same core tech as Portal — is likely to be announced by the spring of 2019. Continue reading Facebook Reportedly Building a TV Cam for Streaming Video

Finding the Ideal TV Guide for Multiple Services and Devices

As the number of options for watching great content has grown, the ability to search and find that content has lagged behind. An ideal TV guide, from a single remote control (or smartphone), would offer search, sorting and personalization, and suggest the next program we might want to watch. One such possibility is the $100 Caavo Control Center, which enables up to four devices to be plugged in to a single remote control. A second is the Reelgood smartphone-based streaming guide that tracks over 50 streaming services. Continue reading Finding the Ideal TV Guide for Multiple Services and Devices

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

ABC Stations Target Millennials With ‘Localish’ Mobile Brand

The ABC Owned Television Stations Group has debuted Localish, a brand targeting digital-native millennials with hyper-local stories that will be distributed on digital and social media platforms. The stations already have a large digital and social presence, making this segue to Localish a natural move. Creation of the brand is based on ABC research that found this cohort feels better about their local community than the world. The ABC websites, social platforms, iOS and Android apps and Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV will play the content. Continue reading ABC Stations Target Millennials With ‘Localish’ Mobile Brand

Verizon Plans to Debut 5G Services in Four Cities Next Month

On October 1, Verizon Communications will roll out a 5G package to residential customers in four cities: Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento. Signups for the service begin this week. The new 5G service relies on millimeter waves, higher-frequency spectrum that can carry more data but can’t travel as far or penetrate many hard materials. Verizon’s new chief executive Hans Vestberg pointed to 5G’s network reliability, low latency, energy efficiency, service deployment time and speedier connection to the Internet. Continue reading Verizon Plans to Debut 5G Services in Four Cities Next Month

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

Roku Expands Reach of Video Channel to the Web and Mobile

Earlier this month, streaming device maker Roku introduced The Roku Channel — its streaming destination for free, ad-supported movies and TV shows — to non-Roku devices for the first time. The rollout started on the web and select Samsung smart TVs, before plans for a wider cross-platform launch. In addition to updating the navigation for Roku players and Roku TVs to access free TV content, the company plans to bring its service to PCs, smartphones and tablets for those consumers who have not purchased Roku devices. Continue reading Roku Expands Reach of Video Channel to the Web and Mobile

Amazon Is Reportedly Developing Live TV DVR to Rival TiVo

According to sources, Amazon is developing a TiVo-like device, dubbed “Frank,” that records live TV. The sources added that the DVR device, which includes physical storage, connects to the company’s Fire TV box using the same wireless technology as the Echo. The Frank DVR also has the ability to record live TV and stream the video to a smartphone for later viewing, but Amazon, said the sources, isn’t certain it will debut the DVR with that feature, which is offered by TiVo and Dish Network’s Slingbox. Continue reading Amazon Is Reportedly Developing Live TV DVR to Rival TiVo

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