Disney Readies Launch of New Subscription Streaming Service

The Walt Disney Company reported a record profit of $12.6 billion for its fiscal year, due to its hit movies, increased attendance at theme parks and a stabilized ESPN. Now the company is getting ready to introduce a new subscription streaming service that is similar to Netflix. While the rewards of the direct-to-consumer offering are potentially significant, launching such a service will entail expenses in content, technology and marketing. Disney chief executive Bob Iger recently revealed the new service’s name: Disney+. Continue reading Disney Readies Launch of New Subscription Streaming Service

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

In Speedier Rollout, Amazon Adds Four New Alexa Slot Types

When Amazon’s Alexa asks for the name of an actor, athlete, author or another noun in response to a question, there’s a method to the madness: it’s trying to fill a “slot type,” which defines how data is recognized. A skill or third party app with a slot type for actors would likely query filmographies listing names of actors. These slots are intended to save time, says Amazon, as well as provide a more consistent experience. Amazon is adding four new slot types: Creative Work, Food, Sport and Video Game. Continue reading In Speedier Rollout, Amazon Adds Four New Alexa Slot Types

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

Unity Deepens Storytelling Workbench With CineCast Feature

At the Unite 2018 developers conference last week, Unity Technologies’ head of cinematics, Adam Myhill, unveiled CineCast, a synthetic co-director for filming video games that has implications for narrative storytelling and sports broadcasts of all kinds. Myhill, with the help of four players and a stand-in director — professional gamer Stephanie Harvey — demoed the CineCast mode for “GTFO,” a first-person shooter and the first property to use CineCast. Under Harvey’s watchful eye, CineCast automatically and in real-time chose the best and highest quality shot to move the action forward, with Harvey making only a few, on-the-fly adjustments. Continue reading Unity Deepens Storytelling Workbench With CineCast Feature

PlayStation Vue Content Now Available via the Apple TV App

Sony announced that PlayStation Vue’s on-demand programming and live sports are now accessible via the Apple TV App on iOS and tvOS. PlayStation Vue becomes the first U.S. pay TV provider added to the TV App, which already includes content from major cable channels and top streaming services (although not Netflix). While viewers will be forwarded to the PlayStation Vue service rather than streaming content directly in Apple’s TV App once content has been selected, the integration should make the process of finding available movies and TV shows easier. Continue reading PlayStation Vue Content Now Available via the Apple TV App

Pro Sports Teams Offer Immersive, Interactive Experiences

Professional sports are often the first to embrace new technology because their fans demand the best experiences available. That’s why the professional sports arena is now integrating immersive technologies including augmented reality, virtual reality and the Internet of Things. The Sacramento Kings use Reddit, Facebook Live, video streaming, virtual reality and bitcoin to immerse their fans in an interactive world. Meanwhile, Los Angeles Clippers chief executive Steve Ballmer is launching CourtVision to offer more interactivity for fans. Continue reading Pro Sports Teams Offer Immersive, Interactive Experiences

Hulu Floats Idea of Skinny Bundle Minus Linear TV Networks

According to Hulu chief executive Randy Freer, the company is considering a skinnier bundle aimed at pay-TV cord shavers watching their wallets. The bundle would not include linear TV networks, which have pricey carriage fees, but would continue to offer sports, news and on-demand content licensed from cable networks. Hulu is in talks with programmers about the possibility of such a bundle. Few additional details are available, but that the price would be less than the current $40 per month plan. Continue reading Hulu Floats Idea of Skinny Bundle Minus Linear TV Networks

Facebook Launches Android Version of Game Streaming Site

Facebook introduced its Fb.gg online gaming hub this summer, created to draw game streamers and their followers away from rival sites such as Amazon-owned Twitch. The hub — featuring videos based on games and streaming celebs that Facebook users follow, as well as Liked Pages and Groups — is going mobile with an Android launch, now in its beta testing stage. The Android version is expected to provide gamers who stream via Facebook Live a more prominent landing page for improved discovery. Continue reading Facebook Launches Android Version of Game Streaming Site

Hulu with Live TV Surpasses One Million Subscriber Milestone

Hulu’s live TV streaming service, launched just over a year ago, has topped one million subscribers, up from the 800,000 Hulu announced in May and the estimated 450,000 reported by CNBC at the beginning of the year. While its new service numbers are on the rise, they remain a mere fraction of Hulu’s total base of more than 20 million subscribers (including its paid on-demand programming). However, the milestone is significant considering the competition in the burgeoning space between services such as Sling TV from Dish (2.3 million subscribers) and AT&T’s DirecTV Now (1.8 million subscribers). Continue reading Hulu with Live TV Surpasses One Million Subscriber Milestone

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

Instagram Unveils Explore Shopping Tab, Stickers for Stories

Instagram plans to debut a standalone Shopping app, a move that could rival Pinterest and Wish. Ahead of the move, it is adding a shopping tab to the Explore page, which will allow users to look through a dedicated feed of merchandise from a wide range of vendors. Those sellers will be able to add stickers to their Stories for the first time, letting consumers shop from the Stories feed by tapping on the product. With this feature, shoppers will let people consider possible purchases before heading to the seller’s website. Continue reading Instagram Unveils Explore Shopping Tab, Stickers for Stories

Our Stories: Snapchat Turns to Publishers to Boost Revenue

In an effort to grow its stalled user base and generate more revenue, Snap Inc. announced it will encourage 20 publishing partners such as CNN, Cosmopolitan, NBC News and Viacom to create curated collections of user posts called Our Stories. Each collection of snaps will center on a specific event and will be made available via Snapchat’s Discover section. Snap has been generating revenue through ad sales by curating Our Stories for events such as concerts, awards shows and sports. While these have been curated by Snapchat employees, Snap is now asking media companies to build the collections. Continue reading Our Stories: Snapchat Turns to Publishers to Boost Revenue

Survey Finds That Smart Speakers Are Gaining in Popularity

A new Adobe Analytics survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers has found that voice assistants and smart speakers are becoming increasingly popular. Adobe predicts that following the next holiday season, almost half of U.S. consumers will own a smart speaker. The market has grown about 15 percent in less than one year; more than 32 percent of consumers now own a smart speaker. People are most commonly using such tech to play music, check weather forecasts, set alarms/reminders as well as obtain directions, check sports scores and traffic, and ask fun questions. Continue reading Survey Finds That Smart Speakers Are Gaining in Popularity

Newzoo Upbeat on eSports, Predicting Dominance of Gaming

Newzoo predicts that eSports will earn $1.7 billion in revenues by 2021 and every major U.S. media conglomerate will own at least some eSports rights. To buttress the latter prediction, Newzoo notes that Disney, Comcast and AT&T are “already looking into content rights for eSports,” in part, at least, to “entice younger consumers.” The research firm further predicts that eSports content will not only be featured on these media outlets’ linear platforms but also on their nonlinear live-streaming platforms. Continue reading Newzoo Upbeat on eSports, Predicting Dominance of Gaming

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