Today’s Podcasts Are Finally Proving They Can Turn a Profit

Podcasts have the potential to be intimate, captivating and entertaining. The recent podcasting boom began in 2014 with “Serial,” a true crime drama that changed perceptions of how big podcasting could be. But it wasn’t profitable right away and took millions of downloads over time to get there. The question became: could podcasts similar to “Serial” be replicated on a commercial basis? It seems that they now have the potential. For example, news sources such as The New York Times and Vox are proving that there can be big money in daily news podcasting.

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Netflix Creates Apps for Production, Doubles Down on Mobile

With a team of 30 to 35 people, Netflix is creating apps to streamline parts of the production process, such as crew management, scheduling and budgeting. One app, dubbed Move, has been in beta with a few Netflix productions since November. Move, which was built as a progressive web app, replaces all the paperwork related to scheduling shoot days and distributing the script, sending email and SMS to notify the crew of any schedule changes. It was first tested on the second season of “Glow,” and since used on 10 different shoots. Continue reading Netflix Creates Apps for Production, Doubles Down on Mobile

Netflix Has No Plans to Offer Live TV Such as News or Sports

From Netflix’s 280,000-square foot studio in Hollywood, chief executive Reed Hastings revealed that the company has no plans to enter the live TV market in news or sports, as its rivals Hulu and Amazon Video have done. Instead, the company is investing $8 billion in original content this year, part of its larger strategy to fend off competition from these popular services and a growing list of emerging competitors. Hastings also explained that Netflix has no plans to introduce advertising. Continue reading Netflix Has No Plans to Offer Live TV Such as News or Sports

Nearly 20 Percent of Adults Have Access to a Smart Speaker

Nearly one in five U.S. adults — 47.3 million, or 20 percent of the country’s adult population — has access to a smart speaker, according to Voicebot.ai research. In this case, “access to a smart speaker” means having a smart speaker in the home, even if the adult is not the primary user. Unlike smartphones and other personal technologies, not every person in the home is likely to have one. Thus, it’s likely most apt to compare smart speakers to TVs, which took 13 years to reach the 50 million mark versus just two years for smart speakers.

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Amazon Envisions Alexa as a Universal Language Translator

You may soon be able to command “Alexa, Translate” and get sophisticated results. According to sources familiar with the matter, Amazon’s latest aim for Alexa, its popular voice-enabled assistant, is to become a real-time universal language translator. They say the tech giant is “seriously exploring” ways to make Alexa more useful cross-culturally. In order to do so, Amazon must significantly expand Alexa’s current ability to translate basic words and phrases in languages including Spanish, German, French and Italian.

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Facebook, Google Improve Transparency After P&G Cuts Ads

Last year, Procter & Gamble cut its digital advertising by more than $200 million, after its call for transparency wasn’t satisfactorily answered. The company, whose brands include Crest, Pampers and Tide, believed that much of the spending on digital ads was not effective and that it could find more productive means of reaching consumers. The company cut $100 million in last year’s June quarter, for $100 million, with $100 million more from July through December, and included “several big digital players.” Continue reading Facebook, Google Improve Transparency After P&G Cuts Ads

Riding AirPod Success, Apple to Debut High-End Headphones

Following the success of Apple’s AirPod earphones, the tech giant is planning another music-centric product with a push into the high-end headphones market. This would potentially compete with its own Beats by Dre brand, which Apple acquired in 2014 for $3 billion. According to people familiar with the product’s development (Apple reps declined to comment), Apple is working on wireless, noise-canceling, over-ear headphones for launch at the end of 2018 unless ongoing development challenges push back the release. Continue reading Riding AirPod Success, Apple to Debut High-End Headphones

Twitch’s Reality Show Aims to Promote Aspiring Video Stars

Twitch will debut its reality competition show, “Stream On” on March 8, featuring 14 online video personalities vying for a $60,000 prize over an 11-week period. The competition and its prize money is intended to help finance and promote the streaming careers of new Twitch Partners who are building audiences already, but have yet to break out. Those selected to compete are gaining recognition for talent beyond gaming, such as art, comedy, cooking and music. The show will be produced by Twitch Studios and air live on Twitch.tv. Continue reading Twitch’s Reality Show Aims to Promote Aspiring Video Stars

Google Plans to Maintain Current Spending on YouTube Red

Google plans to maintain its current level of spending on the YouTube Red streaming service for the next two years, unlike Amazon and Netflix, both of which continue to up their investments. After switching its video strategy more than once, YouTube is currently approaching entertainment in three ways: its YouTube Red on-demand streaming service, live video service YouTube TV, and a new music streaming product. YouTube Originals are a “driving force” on YouTube Red, says the company’s chief business officer Robert Kyncl. Continue reading Google Plans to Maintain Current Spending on YouTube Red

Blade Shadow: Reviewers Point to the Potential of Virtual PC

A virtual computer, loaded with personal data and preferences, and able to be used across devices with any screen size, with super-fast Internet, is still a dream of the future. French startup Blade has created Shadow, which offers a tantalizing taste of that virtual PC future, although reviewers suggest it still needs some fine-tuning. One reviewer tried out a Shadow PC with the performance of a $2,000 gaming PC, and was able to stream games in 4K, at high frame rates, with the promise of continuous (invisible) chip upgrades — all for $50 a month (or $35/month for a year’s subscription). Continue reading Blade Shadow: Reviewers Point to the Potential of Virtual PC

Epix to Offer 4K Support, Explores New Subscription Service

Epix is scheduled to roll out support for 4K Ultra HD video on its apps this year. The cable network is also exploring the creation of a direct-to-consumer subscription service. “Direct-to-consumer is very important,” Epix VP and GM Monty Sahran told Variety. “We will be in that space.” While he didn’t specify a launch date or pricing, he confirmed the network’s plans. “It’s on our roadmap and we are working towards it,” he explained. Epix would join a growing field of such offerings from premium networks; HBO, Showtime and Starz currently offer their own standalone streaming services. Continue reading Epix to Offer 4K Support, Explores New Subscription Service

CBS Brings Sports News and Analysis to Connected Devices

CBS launched its streaming CBS Sports HQ network this week, designed to complement programming from CBS Sports. The free, 24-hour streaming network will feature live reporting, news, previews, highlights and analysis. The offering — a collaborative effort between CBS Sports and CBS Interactive — is available on Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Roku, in addition to the CBS Sports app (iOS and Android), news streaming network CBSN and the CBS All Access subscription service. Later this spring, ESPN is expected to launch its standalone streaming service, ESPN Plus. Continue reading CBS Brings Sports News and Analysis to Connected Devices

HPA 2018: Efforts to Ensure That TVs Display Creative Intent

With the Academy Color Encoding System (ACES), filmmakers have been assured that the color decisions on set are carried through production and post, all the way to archives. But there’s a missing piece: the TV sets, mobile phones and other devices that display what consumers use to watch it. During a panel at the HPA Tech Retreat, led by the International Cinematographers Guild advanced production technology specialist Michael Chambliss, several industry figures discussed how to make sure that consumers see the images as intended. Continue reading HPA 2018: Efforts to Ensure That TVs Display Creative Intent

HPA 2018: Real Networks Explores the Future of T-Commerce

T-Commerce, which allows consumers to buy items they see on TV shows directly from their set, is not new. Predicted since the 1980s, it’s appeared as Enhanced TV, T-Commerce and Shopification. The idea that a viewer could simply click on a sweater worn by her favorite sitcom character and purchase it is heady, but the difficulty of making items clickable frame-by-frame was (and is) a massive stumbling block. At the HPA Tech Retreat, RealNetworks described its T-Commerce solution, powered by computer vision. Continue reading HPA 2018: Real Networks Explores the Future of T-Commerce

Sling TV Takes the Lead in the Internet-Based Live TV Market

Sling TV announced that it reached 2.212 million subscribers at the end of Q4 2017, a year-over-year growth of 47 percent. The Dish-owned streaming TV service, one of the first OTT streaming options for ESPN, now leads competitors in this space such as DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue and newcomers YouTube TV and Hulu Live TV. However, it was also the first live TV streaming service to launch, giving it the most time to accumulate subscribers, and is facing an increasing number of rival streaming options. Meanwhile, DirecTV Now picked up more than 1 million subscribers last year.  Continue reading Sling TV Takes the Lead in the Internet-Based Live TV Market

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