Netflix to Offer Interactive Feature, Starting With ‘Black Mirror’

Netflix, famous for disrupting the traditional TV model by delivering all episodes of a new TV season at once, is readying experimentation with interactive TV. The company is reportedly developing a series of specials that will allow viewers of the streaming service to select the next storyline of a movie or television episode. According to people with knowledge of the plans, the new feature will be introduced later this year when viewers can select storylines for an upcoming episode of Emmy-winning sci-fi series “Black Mirror,” a show noted for its examination of tech and its social implications. Continue reading Netflix to Offer Interactive Feature, Starting With ‘Black Mirror’

Amazon, TiVo Unveil Over-the-Air Products for Cord Cutters

Amazon recently introduced its Fire TV Recast, a networked DVR, and TiVo debuted its new set-top box, the TiVo Bolt OTA, with both companies’ products aimed at giving cord cutters a new way to enjoy content. Fire TV Recast allows consumers to watch and record over-the-air TV content with a Fire TV, Echo Show or other compatible mobile device. TiVo’s new STB joins its existing line of Bolt devices, including the voice-controlled Bolt Vox DVRs, and enables anyone with a digital antenna to watch live over-the-air TV. Continue reading Amazon, TiVo Unveil Over-the-Air Products for Cord Cutters

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

Amazon Eyes Video With New Echo Show and Fire TV Recast

Amazon announced plans last week to introduce a range of new devices intended for the automotive, home security, and premium audio markets. The Seattle-based tech giant also unveiled updated versions of its Echo Plus, Dot and Show smart speakers as well as other Alexa-powered devices including a wall clock and microwave oven. In addition to more than a dozen new voice-powered products, the company revealed the Fire TV Recast that enables consumers to view and record live television via a connected digital antenna. The content can be streamed inside and outside the user’s home. Continue reading Amazon Eyes Video With New Echo Show and Fire TV Recast

Music Modernization Act Passed in Senate, Returns to House

Following the House of Representatives passage of the Music Modernization Act in April, the U.S. Senate also gave its unanimous consent on September 18. The bill was renamed after Republican Utah senator Orrin Hatch, also a songwriter, scheduled to retire at the end of his term this year. With the Senate passage, the bill will return to the House to get approval for all the changes made to achieve Senate approval. If and when the House approves, the bill will go to President Donald Trump to become law. Continue reading Music Modernization Act Passed in Senate, Returns to House

Sirius to Acquire Pandora Media in $3.5 Billion All-Stock Deal

Satellite radio giant SiriusXM is acquiring online music service Pandora Media in a $3.5 billion all-stock deal. The deal should help John Malone’s SiriusXM reach beyond its current audience that most commonly listens while driving, and better compete with Spotify. The satellite radio operator paid $480 million last year for a 19 percent stake in Pandora when it started losing subscribers to streaming services. Billionaire Malone has been expanding his radio empire; in addition to the Pandora deal, his Liberty Media has expressed interest in iHeartMedia. Continue reading Sirius to Acquire Pandora Media in $3.5 Billion All-Stock Deal

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

Netflix Will Continue Broadcast Partnerships, Remain Ad-Free

Maria Ferreras, Netflix VP of business development for EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), explained that Netflix will not discontinue its broadcast partnerships in which it takes global rights outside a production’s territory of origin. Speaking at the IBC Conference in Amsterdam, Ferreras pointed to a production in partnership with the United Kingdom’s Channel 4 as an example. U.K. producers have been concerned that Netflix would cease these partnerships as it gets deeper into local production. The company also reiterated it would not run ads on its streaming service. Continue reading Netflix Will Continue Broadcast Partnerships, Remain Ad-Free

Netflix’s New Logo Program Will Certify Post Production Tools

Netflix launched its Post Technology Alliance logo program last week, with plans to certify post-production products and systems from manufacturers and vendors that meet the streaming service’s technical and content delivery specs. “The Post Technology Alliance will build a more seamless experience from production through post-production,” said Chris Fetner, Netflix director of post partnerships and integrations, noting that certified vendors are “committed to better interoperability and faster innovation cycles.” Adobe, Avid, Blackmagic Design, Canon, Panasonic, RED Digital Cinema and Sony are among those with products already certified. Continue reading Netflix’s New Logo Program Will Certify Post Production Tools

Hollywood Wins Piracy Battle Against STB Seller TickBox TV

Georgia-based TickBox TV has agreed to end all piracy-related activities and pay $25 million in damages to Hollywood studios and streaming services that had accused the set-top box manufacturer of copyright infringement. Major film and television companies filed a proposal yesterday with the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles for a permanent injunction against TickBox to prevent pirated movies and TV shows from being streamed to consumer televisions via the STB. The decision is the first legal win for the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), a coalition of entertainment companies and studios formed to combat piracy. Continue reading Hollywood Wins Piracy Battle Against STB Seller TickBox TV

Spotify Licensing Deals Could Have Impact on Music Industry

Stockholm-based Spotify is making a move that could challenge traditional royalty models and the major record labels that have long led the music industry. Spotify has struck licensing deals directly with a handful of independent artists over the last year, giving the artists a larger monetary cut and ownership of their recordings. The financial details include advance payments of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to sources, considered “modest” in the music industry. Spotify has released few details about the deals. Continue reading Spotify Licensing Deals Could Have Impact on Music Industry

Facebook and Twitter Execs Answer Questions on Capitol Hill

In Washington DC, as Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey were concluding testimony on efforts to repel foreign interference ahead of the midterm elections, Attorney General Jeff Sessions dropped a bombshell. He stated plans to convene state attorneys general on September 25 to look at what the Justice Department said is the intentional “stifling [of] the free exchange of ideas on their platforms.” Google, which had been invited to testify, did not send a representative. Continue reading Facebook and Twitter Execs Answer Questions on Capitol Hill

EU Will Require Streaming Services to Feature Local Content

The EU’s European Commission announced its plans to make Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services operating within the European Union to dedicate at least 30 percent of their catalogs to content produced locally. A final vote approving the new law, described as “a mere formality” by Roberto Viola of the European Commission, is expected in December. The European Union plans to publish a report that details the percentages of European projects that are tied to multiple streaming platforms. Netflix is reportedly already close to the 30 percent quota. Continue reading EU Will Require Streaming Services to Feature Local Content

Sony Adds 200 Local Channels to its PlayStation Vue Service

Sony’s OTT service PlayStation Vue is expanding its lineup by adding 200 local stations across the U.S., including ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC affiliates and ESPN College Extra. With the expanded lineup, Playstation Vue now features more than 450 local stations. The service is available via Sony’s game console; across Android, iOS and web platforms; and media players such as Android TV, Apple TV, Amazon’s Fire TV, Google’s Chromecast and Roku devices. The additions could help the service compete with new players, including Hulu and YouTube TV. Continue reading Sony Adds 200 Local Channels to its PlayStation Vue Service

Facebook Extends Watch Video Platform to a Global Audience

Facebook announced that its Facebook Watch video platform is rolling out worldwide starting today. The VOD platform, designed for episodic content and a potential competitor to YouTube, initially launched in the U.S. one year ago. In what should be good news to content creators and publishers, Facebook is also making its Ad Breaks program for monetizing video content available in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, with plans to launch in 21 other countries in September. Continue reading Facebook Extends Watch Video Platform to a Global Audience

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