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

NBC to Air – and Stream – 2018 Olympics Live Coast-to-Coast

Ratings for the Olympics, once a bulwark of mass audience viewing, have been slipping. Now, NBC has a plan to reverse the slump, by airing live coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea from coast-to-coast in the U.S. The move acknowledges that viewers have immediate access to information via online platforms. That’s responsible for at least some of the 18 percent dip in viewership from the 2012 Games in London to the Summer Games in Rio last summer, which averaged 25.4 million viewers over 17 nights. Continue reading NBC to Air – and Stream – 2018 Olympics Live Coast-to-Coast

Live Streaming 360 Video via Facebook Is Now Possible for All

Facebook has opened up live streaming 360-degree video for anyone with the professional equipment necessary to capture content — and users of devices such as the latest Samsung Gear 360, Insta360 Nano ($200, for iPhone) or Insta360 Air ($130, for Android). According to TechCrunch, “Facebook’s live-streaming video tech” now provides “1080p, 30fps playback and a maximum streaming time of four hours.” The Live 360 broadcasts “aren’t yet embeddable on other sites” and “can’t be viewed via Apple TV or Chromecast” yet. And while some cameras already support live broadcasting via YouTube and Periscope, “Facebook’s in-app integration is a useful way to reach more people with minimal effort and promotion.” Continue reading Live Streaming 360 Video via Facebook Is Now Possible for All

Internet Privacy Legislation Is Overturned in Win for Telecoms

In a 215-to-205 vote that largely followed party lines, House Republicans successfully dismantled the new FCC Internet privacy protections for individuals, which was landmark legislation of the Obama administration. Overturning the legislation marks a victory for telecoms that are now free to collect and sell data on users’ online activities without permission, although some have expressed plans to honor voluntary privacy policies. The protections were originally slated to go into effect later this year. Continue reading Internet Privacy Legislation Is Overturned in Win for Telecoms

Twitch to Start Streaming 1080p at 60fps in Upcoming Weeks

Amazon broadcasting site Twitch announced that its support for 1080p video resolution at 60 frames per second will significantly improve video quality when live-streaming via the platform. To accommodate the higher frame rate, Twitch is lifting its 3.5-megabit ingest bitrate restriction. Twitch product manager Noreen McInnis says the company recommends “3-to-6 megabits for most streams, skewing toward the higher end for 1080p broadcasts or faster, more demanding games.” Continue reading Twitch to Start Streaming 1080p at 60fps in Upcoming Weeks

Spotify Purchases Content Recommendation Startup MightyTV

Streaming music service Spotify has acquired New York-based startup MightyTV, which created an app that uses artificial intelligence to provide video recommendations based on individual personal preferences and aggregated user ratings. The acquisition will provide Spotify with technology that could be used to target ads. The company is looking to ramp up ad revenue, since most of its millions of users opt for the free ad-supported version of its service. MightyTV has already shuttered its video app, and plans to integrate the technology into Spotify. The deal will also bring MightyTV founder and CEO Brian Adams to Spotify as VP of technology. Continue reading Spotify Purchases Content Recommendation Startup MightyTV

BitTorrent Adds New Chief Exec, Aims to Spinoff Live Service

BitTorrent is going through some changes: according to sources, founder Bram Cohen is turning his efforts to a new crypto-currency project, Rogelio Choy is taking over the chief executive position from Dipak Joshi, and plans are afoot to turn the BitTorrent Live service into a separate, venture-funded company. Joshi, who came on board as interim chief executive after BitTorrent fired its co-chief executives in October, will continue to work as its chief financial officer, a role he’s held since 2014. Continue reading BitTorrent Adds New Chief Exec, Aims to Spinoff Live Service

Amazon Hits Roadblocks in Pursuit of Retail Grocery Business

Amazon’s plan to open Amazon Go, a convenience store without a cashier, has suffered a setback. In beta since December, the first store was scheduled to open to the public by the end of March, but sources reported that there are problems with the technology used to automatically charge customers when they leave the store. Brick-and-mortar stores are key to Amazon’s desire to enter the food sales market in earnest. The company is also exploring the possibility of retail stores to sell furniture, appliances and other items. Continue reading Amazon Hits Roadblocks in Pursuit of Retail Grocery Business

Netflix Dominance Pushing Studios to Earlier Release Window

Big spending digital players Netflix and Amazon are shaking up traditional TV stalwarts. Netflix is expected to spend $6 billion on original and acquired programming this year, up $1 billion from last year. That figure is five times more than what cable outlets FX (owned by 21st Century Fox) and Showtime (owned by CBS Corp.) spend and more than twice that spent by Time Warner’s premium channel HBO. TV actors are demanding $250,000 an episode, twice their previous rate, and there’s a feeding frenzy for A-list below-the-line crews. Continue reading Netflix Dominance Pushing Studios to Earlier Release Window

Comcast’s Upcoming Streaming Option to Target Cord-Cutters

Comcast is planning a third quarter launch for its expanded streaming video service called Xfinity Instant TV. The $15-$40 per month service, targeting broadband subscribers looking to opt out of traditional cable bundles, “will include major broadcast networks as well as add-on options for sports channels like ESPN and Spanish language channels such as Telemundo and Univision,” reports Reuters. The company hopes customers will later upgrade to the X1 platform. Xfinity Instant TV is a new version of its Stream service that was tested earlier in Boston and Chicago. Dish and AT&T are already targeting cord cutters, but “Comcast’s service is different in that it is limited to its territories and to its own broadband subscribers.” Continue reading Comcast’s Upcoming Streaming Option to Target Cord-Cutters

Vudu’s Mobile App Converts DVDs, Blu-rays into Digital Copies

Vudu will now let people convert their DVD and Blu-ray Disc content into digital copies for use on various Internet-connected devices by simply scanning the UPC barcode via their smartphones. One caveat, however, is that the Vudu Mobile Disc-to-Digital feature requires the user to be physically located at their home billing address. That requirement is an anti-fraud measure put in place by Walmart, which bought the premium video-streaming service in 2010. The feature is also limited to transfer 100 titles per year per account. Continue reading Vudu’s Mobile App Converts DVDs, Blu-rays into Digital Copies

Tech Giants Compete to Stream NFL’s Thursday Night Football

Amazon, Facebook, Google and Twitter are vying for the rights to stream the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” games next season, say sources. Last year, Twitter won the bidding, paying $10 million to stream 10 games. The NFL will likely make its decision within the next month, and there’s a chance it may hint at its decision at its annual meeting in Phoenix this week. Live sports are a hot commodity and since the TV rights for nearly all of them are already locked up, “Thursday Night Football” streaming is even more valuable. Continue reading Tech Giants Compete to Stream NFL’s Thursday Night Football

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