Consumer Groups Say Next Gen TV Standard Ignores Privacy

The FCC is scheduled to vote today on the long-awaited ATSC 3.0 broadcast standard. On the eve of the vote, privacy advocates have expressed concern that the standard allows broadcasters to harvest data about individual viewing habits so that advertisers can target their pitches, and there are no rules governing how broadcasters handle the data. In its 109-page proposal for the new rule, the FCC does not mention the issue of privacy. Broadcasters perceive the rule as a way to catch up to Facebook, YouTube, Amazon Prime and others. CTA president Gary Shapiro defends the standard and suggests the vote is being politicized due to the Sinclair-Tribune merger proposal. Continue reading Consumer Groups Say Next Gen TV Standard Ignores Privacy

AT&T to Roll Out New Android TV-Based Set-Top Box for OTT

AT&T’s DirecTV is preparing to launch a new TV set-top box based on Google’s Android TV platform. A new FCC filing reveals that the satellite TV company is trying its hand at over-the-top streaming, with the model  number C71KW-400 set-top box, described as the “AT&T/DirecTV Wireless 4K OTT Client.” The accompanying user manual, which defines OTT as delivering video via the Internet to user-connected devices, notes that the device will not be able to interact with DirecTV’s current Genie hardware. Continue reading AT&T to Roll Out New Android TV-Based Set-Top Box for OTT

Comcast Rolls Out ‘Skinny Bundle’ for Its Internet Customers

Comcast is introducing an $18-per-month “skinny bundle,” a new service the pay-TV provider has been testing and is now ready to roll out across different regions over the next few weeks. Xfinity Instant TV, which is available for Comcast’s 25.3 million broadband customers, is designed for cord cutters (and cord nevers), and will compete with OTT services such as Hulu Live TV, Sling TV and YouTube TV. Comcast’s service can be streamed at home or anywhere with a broadband connection. The company is specifically marketing to its customers that pay for Internet but not TV, hoping they will one day switch to a larger bundle. Continue reading Comcast Rolls Out ‘Skinny Bundle’ for Its Internet Customers

Amazon to Debut Two New Fire TVs, One With Built-In Alexa

Amazon will soon introduce two new Fire TV models, both of which will playback 4K HDR video at 60 fps. The first is a dongle that hangs off a permanently attached HDMI cable, similar to Google Chromecast, and the second is a new Fire TV shaped like a set-top box that will be the new flagship model. The dongle is positioned between the existing Fire TV Stick and a new high-end model. The new Fire TV cube has far-field microphones, a built-in speaker and LED light bar, with functionality similar to an Amazon Echo. Continue reading Amazon to Debut Two New Fire TVs, One With Built-In Alexa

Major Jump in Mobile Revenue for Top-Grossing Netflix App

As Netflix continues its subscriber growth (it added 5.2 million subscribers the last quarter), the streaming service’s app has also taken the top spot in revenue earnings. Analytics firm Sensor Tower reports a 233 percent revenue growth to $153 million year-over-year for Q2. “That’s up from the $46 million seen at this same time last year, across both top app store platforms, and on the iOS App Store alone,” notes TechCrunch. “This level of growth puts Netflix far ahead of the average revenue growth across both app stores, which is currently at 56 percent.” Continue reading Major Jump in Mobile Revenue for Top-Grossing Netflix App

Apple iTunes Losing Market Share for Movie Rentals, Sales

Apple’s iTunes Store continues to lose market share for video viewers. In 2012, say sources, the company was responsible for well over 50 percent of movie rentals and sales; that figure has now decreased to between 20 percent and 35 percent. The figures are uncertain because no trade group or company tracks market share of digital movies, but several Hollywood studios have reported a decline in the amount of business with iTunes. An Apple spokeswoman said the company is targeting subscription services, an area experiencing significant growth. Continue reading Apple iTunes Losing Market Share for Movie Rentals, Sales

AMC Announces the Launch of its Ad-Free Streaming Service

AMC is introducing AMC Premiere, its new $5 per month streaming service that offers commercial-free versions of current programs, movies, trailers, bonus scenes, and the ability to stream shows at the same time they air on television. However, the cable network is not targeting cord cutters yet. “For now at least, you have to be a pay TV subscriber to use AMC Premiere — and specifically, a Comcast Xfinity TV customer,” reports TechCrunch. “That’s because launch of the new service is currently tied to a deal with Comcast, whose Xfinity TV customers will be able to stream the service via their set-top boxes as well as the Xfinity Stream website and mobile app.” Continue reading AMC Announces the Launch of its Ad-Free Streaming Service

FCC Chair Takes Steps to Reverse Restrictions on Telecoms

FCC chair Ajit Pai is moving forward with plans to reverse regulation introduced during the Obama administration under former FCC chair Tom Wheeler. Two items expected to pass today — involving Internet connection fees and limits on the number of stations a TV broadcaster can own — “will empower big telecom and media firms that have lobbied aggressively for deregulation,” reports The New York Times, “but consumer groups say it may also eventually put consumers at risk of higher prices and fewer options for services and media.” The new Trump appointee “has abolished a plan to open the cable box market” and “suspended several participants from a program for low-income broadband subsidies.” Pai is expected to introduce a proposal to counter net neutrality soon. Continue reading FCC Chair Takes Steps to Reverse Restrictions on Telecoms

Roku Signs Licensing Deal with TiVo, Gains Access to Patents

Roku and TiVo have signed a multiyear IP agreement that will provide Roku with access to thousands of patents. According to Variety, the license “agreement covers the TiVo and Rovi patent portfolios as well as the over-the-top patents in the Intellectual Ventures portfolio under the TiVo-IV licensing partnership. TiVo in its current instantiation was formed out of Rovi’s $1.1 billion acquisition of the DVR maker last year.” There are currently about 6,000 issued and pending patents in the combined company’s portfolio covering tech “including interactive program guides, DVR functions and mobile device media processes.” Continue reading Roku Signs Licensing Deal with TiVo, Gains Access to Patents

Apple Pursues Premium Bundle to Sell HBO, Showtime, Starz

In its latest pay TV proposal, Apple wants to offer a premium bundle that combines HBO, Showtime and Starz, three channels it already sells individually (sources say Apple does not yet have a deal with any of the networks for a package deal). The bundle would be different than a traditional subscription level offered by a conventional pay TV operator, since Apple could offer its proposed premium bundle as a “standalone product, delivered via its iOS devices and its Apple TV set-top box,” reports Recode. “Sony, AT&T and Dish all sell Web TV packages, and Google and Hulu have announced plans to sell their own.” Continue reading Apple Pursues Premium Bundle to Sell HBO, Showtime, Starz

Amazon Is Open to Streaming Content Through Cable STBs

Amazon, which recently won its first Oscars for “Manchester by the Sea” and “The Salesman,” is taking on pay-TV providers and game developers as it expands beyond e-commerce into various media initiatives. Now, the company suggests it would be open to discussing deals that would enable it to stream content through the set-top boxes of cable operators, similar to Netflix’s approach. “Amazon is definitely open to those partnerships,” explained Amazon Video managing director Alex Green at Cable Congress 2017 in Brussels. Continue reading Amazon Is Open to Streaming Content Through Cable STBs

Boomerang: Turner and Warner to Offer Streaming Animation

Time Warner properties Turner and Warner Bros. are planning the spring launch of a new subscription streaming service. Boomerang, which will run $5 per month or $40 per year, “will offer more than 5,000 animated titles from Hanna-Barbera, Looney Tunes and MGM,” notes The Hollywood Reporter. Franchises will “include Scooby-Doo, Tom & Jerry, The Jetsons and The Flintstones.” The streaming service will also serve as the exclusive outlet for new animated series and new episodes of iconic franchises. Boomerang will be powered by DramaFever tech, and “will be available online and on iOS and Android devices at launch,” explains THR. “It expects to add support for additional platforms, including set-top boxes, after the service starts running.” Continue reading Boomerang: Turner and Warner to Offer Streaming Animation

Facebook Working on Video App, Licensing TV-Quality Content

As part of its “video first” strategy, Facebook is at work on a video app for Apple TV and other TV set-top boxes, say knowledgeable sources, who add that the social media platform is also in discussions to license long-form “TV-quality” content. The move will allow Facebook to compete for TV advertising revenue and distribute content to TV sets. The company is already the No. 2 destination for digital ads after Google, but has said it is running out of room for more ads in its News Feed, the company’s main source of revenue. Continue reading Facebook Working on Video App, Licensing TV-Quality Content

Dish’s AirTV Box Fuses Streaming, OTA Channels with EPG

At CES, Dish debuted AirTV, a 4K set-top box that features Sling TV, Netflix and Android TV for streaming apps and OTA channels, with the Sling TV guide as an organizer for all of the content. The accompanying remote control, which connects to the box via Bluetooth and offers voice controls, provides dedicated buttons for the streaming libraries. The set-top box is “about the size of an Apple TV or Roku box,” with ports for power, Ethernet, HDMI and USB. AirTV is priced at $100 or $130 for the antenna-compatible version. Continue reading Dish’s AirTV Box Fuses Streaming, OTA Channels with EPG

CES: Advances in OLED, 4K, HDR TVs and Streaming Options

Television displays are must-see products at CES. Last year saw LG’s 98-inch 8K display and that company’s prototype 18-inch rollable display among other highlights. This year, expect to see more manufacturers unveiling what was shown last year — 4K and 8K, HDR and OLED — in more varied and mature versions. But the biggest, brightest TV displays don’t matter a whit for an entire generation that’s happy with a few streaming video services and a laptop. They too will have more choices at CES 2017. Continue reading CES: Advances in OLED, 4K, HDR TVs and Streaming Options

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