Native Video and Live Streaming Crucial to Facebook Strategy

Since 25 percent of U.S. Internet users adopted ad blockers in 2016, native video is becoming increasingly important to marketers and brands. Native video is also one of the primary reasons that a new wave of user-generated content and influencer marketing has become so relevant. According to a new study from social analytics firm Quintly, native videos are dominating Facebook, and doing so by design. The social network is becoming a major player in the video realm by downplaying other platforms and introducing auto plays in feeds as a default. The company is also starting its pursuit of live streaming professional broadcasts, including sports. Continue reading Native Video and Live Streaming Crucial to Facebook Strategy

PlayStation Now Service to Support Streaming of PS4 Games

Sony’s cloud-based PlayStation Now service currently offers subscribers access to 483 PS3 titles for streaming via PS4 consoles and Windows PCs. The service is about to expand its offerings with support for a new platform. In the next few weeks, the company will launch a private test of PlayStation 4 games on PS Now (select subscribers will receive emailed invitations). This means that gamers will no longer need a PlayStation 4 to experience the platform’s games. According to Sony, additional details will be shared “as we get closer to launch.” Continue reading PlayStation Now Service to Support Streaming of PS4 Games

Facebook Rolls Out VR App, Vimeo Adds 360 Video Support

Facebook launched its first dedicated virtual reality app, Facebook 360, initially available only for the Samsung Gear VR mobile headset. The new app, for download via the Oculus Store, will serve as a central hub for the more than one million 360 videos and 25 million 360 photos already posted to the site. Meanwhile, Vimeo has joined competitors Facebook and YouTube in introducing support for 360-degree video content. The site now features a channel of curated 360 videos in addition to a series of tutorials designed to assist video creators with producing immersive content. Continue reading Facebook Rolls Out VR App, Vimeo Adds 360 Video Support

Sling TV Expands Cloud DVR Access in Early Access Program

Dish’s Sling TV is rolling out its new Cloud DVR to customers with Amazon devices through an early access program. The feature has been in private beta for Roku users since November. While one potential advantage of the cloud is never running out of storage space, “Sling TV isn’t offering infinite storage or even different storage capacities,” reports TechCrunch. “Instead, ‘First Look’ customers pay an extra $5 per month for up to 50 hours of storage, with no expiration on those programs. When capacity runs out, the oldest ‘watched’ recordings are removed first, to make room for others.” Sling TV’s Cloud DVR also allows users to record multiple programs simultaneously (although limited based on rights deals with broadcasters). Continue reading Sling TV Expands Cloud DVR Access in Early Access Program

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

Media Player Software Company Plex Debuts Online Service

Online service Plex Cloud, which has been in private beta since September, is now open to all paying Plex users. The new service “eliminates the need for an always-on PC or other network-attached piece of hardware in order to use the Plex media player software for watching your saved TV shows and movies, viewing photos or streaming from your music collection,” explains TechCrunch. Plex Cloud, which initially used Amazon Cloud Drive to host files, experienced a number of technical challenges that Plex says have been resolved. Plex supports Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox. Plex Cloud is now “an option for anyone who subscribes to Plex Pass, the company’s $5 per month, subscription-based service offering a variety of premium features.” Continue reading Media Player Software Company Plex Debuts Online Service

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

Sony Smartphones Tout Premium Cameras and 4K Displays

Sony’s Xperia series smartphones — the flagship XZ Premium, the smaller XZ, and the large XA1 Ultra — now feature impressive imaging capabilities, including an option to shoot video at 960 frames per second to enhance the phones’ slow motion capture feature. The lens improvements adjust the lighting to better illuminate nighttime scenes and all images are displayed in ultra-high definition 4K. Beyond the camera, Sony struck a deal to stream Amazon content on Xperia phones without the need for clunky third-party apps. Continue reading Sony Smartphones Tout Premium Cameras and 4K Displays

Milestone: Netflix Service Surpasses DVR in U.S. Households

According to Leichtman Research Group’s latest on-demand study, more TV households in the U.S. now have Netflix (54 percent) than a digital video recorder (53 percent), marking a first for the streaming service. The study also found that 64 percent of households presently use SVOD services from Netflix, Amazon and/or Hulu. “In 2011, according to the research firm, 44 percent of TV households had a DVR and 28 percent had Netflix,” reports Variety. “About 23 percent of all adults in TV homes stream Netflix daily … compared with 6 percent who did in 2011. LRG president Bruce Leichtman noted that Netflix’s penetration is boosted by password sharing.” Continue reading Milestone: Netflix Service Surpasses DVR in U.S. Households

Twitch Introduces its Twitter Competitor Designed for Gamers

Amazon’s game-themed streaming site Twitch is launching a Twitter competitor called Pulse — “a place where streamers can post and engage with all of their followers and the greater Twitch community right from the Twitch front page,” according to the platform’s blog. “It’s an always-on way to share clips, stream highlights, schedules, photos, and more so followers are more informed, engaged, and connected.” This will help broadcasters promote news streams and share content with those who missed earlier streams. “If Twitter were ever going to be disrupted,” writes Casey Newton for The Verge, “this is exactly what I’d imagine it would look like at the beginning.” Continue reading Twitch Introduces its Twitter Competitor Designed for Gamers

Cord Cutters Have Recording Options with TiVo Roamio OTA

Consumers interested in recording over-the-air TV shows without the need for a cable or satellite subscription can turn to recorders compatible with HDTV antennas such as TiVo’s Roamio OTA 1TB DVR. The $400 recorder (currently $370 on Amazon for a limited time) receives channels over an antenna rather than using a CableCARD. The device provides “access to streaming services and the TiVo interface,” notes Digital Trends, and “allows you to record four shows at once and up to 150 hours of HD programming.” You can beef up recording capacity with a TiVo-ready Netgear ReadyNAS or external hard drive. SkipMode allows for bypassing commercials, while QuickMode speeds through slow-moving recorded and buffered shows without audio distortion. Continue reading Cord Cutters Have Recording Options with TiVo Roamio OTA

Netflix Develops AI to Help Optimize Video for Mobile Devices

Netflix needed a way to improve video streaming quality for consumers in emerging economies watching movies and TV shows on the go. The company came up with a new method for video encoding called Dynamic Optimizer that reduces the amount of data in the video file without losing image quality. The Netflix team trained an AI to compress the video specifically based on the complexity of a given scene. The Dynamic Optimizer system expected to roll out in the coming months. Continue reading Netflix Develops AI to Help Optimize Video for Mobile Devices

Katzenberg Envisions Next Wave of Entertainment for Mobile

Jeffrey Katzenberg, who left DreamWorks Animation last summer, is launching WndrCo, a new media and tech venture that has already raised nearly $600 million. During a Q&A in New York with Hearst Magazines president David Carey, Katzenberg said he is interested in the next wave of television, which he sees as a mobile experience. He cited the roughly $200,000 per minute that Netflix spends on content and the less than $100 a minute needed to produce most YouTube content, suggesting there’s an opportunity that falls between the two approaches. “He said a few companies have been successful at producing mobile-oriented original video for a few thousand dollars per minute — citing Vice Media, BuzzFeed and AwesomenessTV,” reports Variety. Continue reading Katzenberg Envisions Next Wave of Entertainment for Mobile

Nintendo Releases Switch, Anticipated Hybrid Game Console

Nintendo just released Switch, a new console that combines mobile and home gaming. A tablet with wireless controllers that can be used anywhere, the Switch is aimed at enabling inventive software that will help distinguish it from its rivals. Unlike past platforms, the Switch was created without the direct participation of Super Mario and Wii veterans Shigeru Miyamoto, Genyo Takeda and their team. Shinya Takahashi, who oversaw its development, says the Switch comes loaded with capabilities allowing a variety of content. Continue reading Nintendo Releases Switch, Anticipated Hybrid Game Console

Twitch Moves to Digital Delivery, Microsoft Game Site to Debut

Amazon’s live streaming video platform Twitch plans to begin delivering computer games digitally. Starting this spring, the user will see a “buy” button on website broadcasts of computer games from 20 companies; players can download the game and other goods, such as expansion packs, directly from the site. According to comScore, in the U.S., Twitch is now No. 8 among the top 500 visited websites in terms of average time spent per visitor. Also this spring, Microsoft will debut subscription-based Xbox Game Pass. Continue reading Twitch Moves to Digital Delivery, Microsoft Game Site to Debut

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