VidAngel Debuts New Service as 9th Circuit Court Mulls Suit

VidAngel, the Utah-based video streaming service that filters out language, nudity and violence from Hollywood movies, launched a new version of its service that it hopes will address concerns about release windows and licensing fees. Disney, Warner Bros. and Fox sued VidAngel for copyright infringement, and in December, U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte issued an injunction against the company, which appealed. While litigation plays out in the 9th Circuit Court, however, VidAngel is back in the game with a new service. Continue reading VidAngel Debuts New Service as 9th Circuit Court Mulls Suit

YouTube Intros Heatmaps, Production Tips for VR, 360 Video

YouTube creators who want to see specifically where people are looking in their 360-degree and VR videos are in luck. The company is introducing a new analytics tool that does just that, via heatmaps, available for any such videos that exceed 1,000 views. YouTube is also sharing tips on 360-degree videos aimed to help video producers. Making these videos is particularly challenging since viewers can watch in a variety of ways, including via a VR headset, the YouTube smartphone app or desktop web browsers, where they can rotate the video. Continue reading YouTube Intros Heatmaps, Production Tips for VR, 360 Video

Spotify Signs New Universal and Merlin Deals, Preps for IPO

Spotify will pay music labels more than $2 billion in minimum payments over the next two years. The company’s revenue has grown more than 50 percent, to $3.3 billion last year, so the big deals are a means to keep growing. Sources say the company has inked two deals recently, with Universal Music Group, the world’s biggest music label, accounting for one-third of the market, and Merlin, which represents a group of independent labels. The Wall Street Journal previously reported that Spotify plans to go public this year. Continue reading Spotify Signs New Universal and Merlin Deals, Preps for IPO

Katy Perry Is First to Achieve 100 Million Followers on Twitter

Singer Katy Perry, who joined Twitter in early 2009 and just released a new album called “Witness,” has become the first to achieve the 100 million follower milestone on the social platform. “The second most-followed Twitter account belongs to Justin Bieber, who currently has 96.7 million followers,” according to Variety. “Next in line are Barack Obama (90.8 million), Taylor Swift (85.1 million) and Rihanna (74.1 million).” While these figures do not specify the number of spam accounts or bots, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said bogus bots represent less than 5 percent of accounts. Perry also broke her own YouTube record last month when single “Bon Appetit” reached 16.8 million views in just 24 hours. Continue reading Katy Perry Is First to Achieve 100 Million Followers on Twitter

Amazon to Acquire Whole Foods Market in $13.7 Billion Deal

Online retail giant Amazon.com announced it plans to acquire Whole Foods Market in a deal valued at $13.7 billion. Organic grocer Whole Foods, founded in 1978, has more than 460 locations, but has been facing increased competition from large chains such as Walmart that have introduced more natural and organic products. The Austin, Texas-based company built its brand on premium service and generally higher prices. This approach may mark a change for Amazon, which has built much of its business on lower prices. Whole Foods will continue operating under its existing brand and CEO John Mackey will remain in his position. Continue reading Amazon to Acquire Whole Foods Market in $13.7 Billion Deal

Sling TV Debuts Enhanced DVR, Availability on More Devices

Sling TV’s DVR is one of its more attractive features to consumers, and the company just rolled out DVR enhancements, as well as the option to record TV shows on more devices and channels. The company reports it took customer requests into consideration in tweaking the DVR, which now also protects recordings from deletion, a feature found on hardware-based DVRs. Being able to protect against deletions, however, is not commonly found on cloud-based DVRs for streaming video services. Continue reading Sling TV Debuts Enhanced DVR, Availability on More Devices

Netflix Doubles Subscription Base in 5 Years, Surpasses Cable

According to Leichtman Research, Netflix has surpassed cable TV in number of total subscribers. Netflix recently reached 50.85 million subscribers, whereas U.S. cable companies presently have 48.61 million. “The numbers don’t count minor cable networks, which could in themselves amount to 5 percent of total cable customers,” explains Forbes. While Netflix has added 27 million subs in the last five years, cable subs are only down by 4 million, “not a massive drop off. It’s also worth bearing in mind that cable TV makes up only 50 percent of total TV viewership in pay TV.” Satellite TV presently has around 38 million subscribers. “In total there are 93,319,187 subscribers to cable, satellite and Internet streaming services in the U.S. Continue reading Netflix Doubles Subscription Base in 5 Years, Surpasses Cable

Technology May Lead to Change for Theatrical Film Releases

MoffettNathanson analyst Robert Fishman suggests that the film industry is on the verge of change, “in part because the movie studios want and need it to change,” notes Recode, “and in part because Netflix is going to push the industry forward whether it likes it or not.” Studios are looking to make movies available in the home without waiting for the traditional 90-day theatrical window, while Netflix is ramping up its original programming and straight-to-streaming library. According to Fishman, such change could cost theater owners up to 20 percent of their profits. While Hollywood was not successful with earlier attempts to shorten the release window, Fishman believes this year could be different, since Internet technologies continue to impact the home video business. Continue reading Technology May Lead to Change for Theatrical Film Releases

Video Will Comprise 82 Percent of All Internet Traffic by 2021

Cisco predicts that online video will be responsible for 82 percent of all consumer IP traffic in 2021, with live video expected to see the fastest rate of growth over the next four years. By comparison, video accounted for 73 percent of Internet traffic last year. Demand is coming from a range of video, including on-demand content from services such as Netflix, webcam viewing and IP VOD. Not surprisingly, Cisco forecasts the amount of bandwidth will grow as more online video is consumed and an increasing number of higher-quality videos are watched. Continue reading Video Will Comprise 82 Percent of All Internet Traffic by 2021

New Amazon Video API Turns Alexa Into a Remote Control

Amazon unveiled its Video Skill API, a new tool set to help content creators turn virtual assistant Alexa into a sophisticated TV remote. With the API, Alexa can search for titles, actors or genres; play or pause media and adjust the volume. Developers can also create their own Alexa commands. It keeps track of enabled services, which means the user won’t need to specify a provider or device or add any extra commands. Alexa already controls Fire TV, but the Video Skill API now opens up those controls to any cable or satellite TV company. Continue reading New Amazon Video API Turns Alexa Into a Remote Control

EPIX Streaming Content Coming to the New Honda Odyssey

MGM-owned pay TV network EPIX is revealing details of its video streaming app being integrated into the 2018 Honda Odyssey, that company’s upgraded fifth-generation minivan. The move is significant because, even as in-car entertainment has become increasingly sophisticated (with Spotify being integrated into many vehicles, for example, and Google developing a version of Android just for cars), mainstream visual entertainment services have not shown up in vehicles until now. Continue reading EPIX Streaming Content Coming to the New Honda Odyssey

PwC Forecast Points to Growth in Gaming, VR and eSports

Consulting firm PwC predicts a 6.3 percent compound annual growth rate for console video games over the next five years in the U.S., with revenue increasing from $21 billion in 2016 to $28.5 billion in 2021. “That doesn’t include PC games microtransaction revenue, which is expected to grow from $3 billion in 2016 to $4.2 billion in 2021,” reports VentureBeat. PwC also predicts social and casual games will surpass console games this year. Meanwhile, the PwC forecast points to significantly faster growth rates for virtual reality and eSports in the U.S. Continue reading PwC Forecast Points to Growth in Gaming, VR and eSports

Mary Meeker Delivers Her Annual State of the Internet Report

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Mary Meeker delivered her annual Internet trends report at last week’s Code Conference in California. This year’s presentation featured 355 slides and a new section on healthcare. Among the key takeaways: global Internet users reached 3.4 billion in 2016 (46 percent of the world’s population, more than double the number from 2009); digital advertising jumped 22 percent to $73 billion; worldwide smartphone growth is slowing; China is the new leading market for interactive gaming; Apple, Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook are collectively worth $2.4 trillion, while seven of the next 16 top tech firms are Chinese companies such as Alibaba and Tencent. Continue reading Mary Meeker Delivers Her Annual State of the Internet Report

Netflix’s Hastings Says Streaming Can Coexist With Theaters

Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings thinks it’s a win-win for movies to play in theaters and stream to the home, comparing the former to going out to dinner, and the latter to cooking at home. Saying it is “inevitable that the current window system breaks down,” Hastings believes that audiences will still pay for the communal experience of a movie theater. He also stated that, although he had argued for net neutrality in the past, he currently believes it is not Netflix’s primary battle anymore. Continue reading Netflix’s Hastings Says Streaming Can Coexist With Theaters

Intel Plans to Live-Stream Free MLB Games in Virtual Reality

Under a three-year deal with Major League Baseball, Intel plans to live-stream one free out-of-market game each Tuesday in virtual reality. Starting next week, the games, on-demand replays and post-game highlights will be made available via the Intel True VR app on Samsung Gear VR headsets. The “Intel True VR Game of the Week” will provide baseball fans with the option of viewing a produced VR broadcast or selecting angles from up to four cameras. The experience will also feature exclusive commentary and live player and team stats. Continue reading Intel Plans to Live-Stream Free MLB Games in Virtual Reality

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