FCC Chair Unveils Sweeping Changes to Net Neutrality Rules

FCC chair Ajit Pai yesterday outlined his proposed changes to net neutrality rules and the federal regulation of ISPs. Pai is calling for high-speed Internet service to no longer be classified as a public utility, as a counter to policy approved under the Obama administration intended to treat the delivery of all online content equally. Pai’s proposal would lessen new rules and largely leave policing to the industry. He believes strict regulation of telecom, broadcast and cable companies is detrimental to business and innovation. However, his proposals will likely face resistance from companies and advocacy groups that fear such changes would result in broadband providers awarding unfair accommodations to specific news and video sites. Continue reading FCC Chair Unveils Sweeping Changes to Net Neutrality Rules

NAB 2017: Parks Associates Study Finds That TV Is Still King

Parks Associates debuted a report looking at trends in OTT, focusing on 2010 through 2016. Senior research analyst Glenn Hower stated that TV remains the top viewing platform by hours of video watched in U.S. households. “Yes, people do watch video on lots of devices,” said Hower. “But it hasn’t cannibalized TV.” Among those devices, viewing on computers has leveled out, whereas mobile phones and tablets have seen modest increases, but low overall viewership, which means people are watching a lot of short form content.” Continue reading NAB 2017: Parks Associates Study Finds That TV Is Still King

Startup to Introduce Holographic TV Technology at NAB 2017

Startup Light Field Labs, founded by three former Lytro engineers, is working on creating holographic displays via light field technology. The goal is to create a TV set that can project a 3D hologram into the living room, with the further-off goal of enabling the user to touch it. Although that might sound like science fiction, the company founders stand behind their idea, and state the company will be able to ship a few displays to developers in 2018. Commercial production will be in operation by 2019 or 2020. Continue reading Startup to Introduce Holographic TV Technology at NAB 2017

Netflix Misses Subscriber Estimates, Rethinks Movie Releases

New subscriber numbers for Netflix, both in the U.S. and globally, were lower than expected, at 98.75 million total subscribers, up from 81.5 million a year ago. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters before Netflix released the number expected 98.9 million subscribers. Netflix has stated it expects to pass the 100-million subscriber mark this week. Netflix also indicated a willingness to debut its feature films first in large theater chains, saying that it should be up to the consumers who pay for these films to be made. Continue reading Netflix Misses Subscriber Estimates, Rethinks Movie Releases

Tumblr Explores a New Direction with Video Chat App Cabana

In a first for Yahoo-owned Tumblr, the blogging platform is launching a group video chat app it has named Cabana. The new app — available now on iOS and coming to Android next month — enables video chat for up to six users who can also stream YouTube video content while chatting. Blogging remains the company’s primary focus, but Cabana represents the first communication app it has developed. Tumblr is “not pivoting, but definitely exploring a new direction here,” said founder/CEO David Karp. “The idea is similar to Houseparty, the app from the company behind former live-streaming darling Meerkat,” notes Recode, and “similar to Airtime, Sean Parker’s chat startup that was revived a year ago.” Continue reading Tumblr Explores a New Direction with Video Chat App Cabana

AMC, Discovery, Viacom Mull a Sports-Free Streaming Bundle

Cable programmers such as AMC Networks, Discovery Communications and Viacom find themselves in competition with streaming Internet TV services. Consumers are cutting off expensive pay TV bundles in favor of skinny ones, and streaming services such as YouTube TV and Hulu are among those that pare down the offerings, leaving cable programmers in the lurch. In response, four to six pay TV providers are now in negotiations to create a new online service devoid of sports programming that would cost less than $20 per month.

Continue reading AMC, Discovery, Viacom Mull a Sports-Free Streaming Bundle

Hulu Readies Spring Launch of Its Live Streaming TV Service

Hulu’s live TV service, say sources, scheduled to launch this spring, will likely be priced at $39.99 per month, although a company spokesperson said that prices have not yet been finalized. The new live TV service, which will include access to Hulu Originals and on-demand content as well as live network broadcasts and broadcast networks’ on-demand content, will enter a crowded market, competing with Sling TV, DirectTV Now, YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue and other streaming services. Continue reading Hulu Readies Spring Launch of Its Live Streaming TV Service

Sony PlayStation Vue and ESL Ink Deal for E-Sports Channel

Sony’s PlayStation Vue TV service is adding a channel devoted to e-sports, becoming the first such 24-hour linear TV network in the U.S. The channel, esportsTV, comes from competitive-gaming event producer ESL. PlayStation Vue’s Elite ($55 per month) and Ultra ($75 per month) levels will have access to esportsTV. It’s got plenty of competition, with free gaming on Twitch, YouTube and other platforms. Last month, ESL also signed a non-exclusive deal with Twitter to livestream about 1,500 hours of e-sports programming in 2017. Continue reading Sony PlayStation Vue and ESL Ink Deal for E-Sports Channel

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

Netflix Remains No. 1, But Faces Increasing OTT Competition

A comScore study conducted in December 2016 revealed that streaming services have exploded, with a total of 11 reaching one million or more homes in any given month. Put another way, of the 49 million U.S. households connected to Wi-Fi, at least 53 percent use at least one OTT service. Netflix still dominates, found in 75 percent of these Wi-Fi homes, but the real news is that it’s got stronger competition than ever before. YouTube now reaches 53 percent of homes, Amazon is in 33 percent and Hulu is at 17 percent. Continue reading Netflix Remains No. 1, But Faces Increasing OTT Competition

Roku Hires Lobbyists, Prepping for Changes to Net Neutrality

Roku seems to be gearing up for a battle regarding net neutrality, as the FCC is expected to repeal or change regulations that require ISPs to treat all Internet traffic equally. Such changes could make it more challenging and potentially more expensive for Roku and others to provide services at top download speeds. In a first for the company, Roku has hired two DC lobbyists to focus on net neutrality issues. The President Obama-era net neutrality rules treat telecoms similarly to utilities. Those who support the regulations believe they are necessary to prevent service providers from throttling speeds or charging media companies more for content delivery. Continue reading Roku Hires Lobbyists, Prepping for Changes to Net Neutrality

Spotify Inks a New Licensing Deal with Universal Music Group

Spotify and Universal Music Group, the world’s biggest record company, finally inked a global, multiyear licensing deal after two years of intermittent negotiations. With this deal in place, Spotify now has a better chance of convincing Sony and Warner to follow suit, and UMG, whose artists include Drake, U2, The Weeknd and Lady Gaga, has more flexibility on how it streams its music. Spotify’s contracts with UMG, Sony and Warner had expired long ago. Spotify, valued at $8 billion, now also has a clearer path to going public. Continue reading Spotify Inks a New Licensing Deal with Universal Music Group

NFL and Amazon Sign Deal to Stream Thursday Night Games

The National Football League has signed a one-year agreement to stream 10 Thursday night games via Amazon in a deal insiders say is valued in the $50 million range (about five times the value of last season’s deal with Twitter). The games streamed for free on Twitter, but the Amazon deal will stream only to Prime members. Globally, more than 60 million consumers pay the annual $99 fee for Amazon Prime with perks including two-day shipping and access to movies, TV shows and music. The NFL deal is not exclusive; Thursday night games are split between CBS and NBC for television broadcasts, and are also made available on the NFL Network. Continue reading NFL and Amazon Sign Deal to Stream Thursday Night Games

Twitch Will Live-Stream Amazon Pilots, Original Documentary

Amazon-owned Twitch is diversifying from its usual fare of videogame broadcasts. Starting April 5, the company will live-stream three Amazon pilots. Sci-fi drama “Oasis,” and half-hour comedies “The Legend of Master Legend” and “Budding Prospects” will stream in back-to-back two-hour blocks over a 24-hour period at Twitch’s programmatic TV content site. Following this, Twitch Studios will premiere its first original documentary, the 22-minute “Ironsights,” about a female Twitch streamer who plays “Big Buck HD.” Continue reading Twitch Will Live-Stream Amazon Pilots, Original Documentary

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

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