Adele’s New Album to Launch Today, But Not for Streaming

Adele’s long-awaited new album “25,” her first in nearly five years, is scheduled for release today, but will not be made available via top streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music. Less than one day before the album’s launch, major music services were reportedly informed that the singer’s new songs would not be made available for streaming. With the music industry in flux, especially in regards to distribution platforms, most artists need to accept the royalty payments and terms of service related to streaming offerings. However, top acts such as Adele, Beyoncé and Taylor Swift may have the power to set their own terms. Continue reading Adele’s New Album to Launch Today, But Not for Streaming

Univision Launches Subscription Video with Live Broadcasts

Hispanic media powerhouse Univision Communications has launched Univision Now, a $5.99-per-month Internet video service that features live broadcasts of the Univision and UniMás networks for Spanish-speaking viewers. The SVOD service features DVR-style replays of its live programming for up to three days after broadcast, in addition to on-demand access to primetime shows up to seven days after airing. Univision Now — offering the networks’ full slate of news, sports, telenovelas and award shows — is available via the Internet and iOS and Android apps. Continue reading Univision Launches Subscription Video with Live Broadcasts

Pandora Media to Acquire Rdio Assets Following Bankruptcy

Pandora has largely been focused on Internet radio since its inception, but has also been increasingly competing with on-demand music services such as Spotify and Apple Music. The company announced yesterday that it plans to spend $75 million for the assets of struggling online service Rdio, which is filing for bankruptcy. The move could help Pandora significantly expand the way it delivers music. While the company presently touts 78 million customers, most of them listen for free, and the current Pandora model involves a feed of songs based on a user’s tastes, but with limited control. Rdio’s tech could offer Pandora users more control over their selections. Continue reading Pandora Media to Acquire Rdio Assets Following Bankruptcy

Netflix Doubles Down on Movie Production with $50M for ‘Okja’

On the heels of its first original theatrical film acquisition, “Beasts of No Nation,” Netflix is financing “Snowpiercer” director Bong Joon-ho’s next film, “Okja,” to the tune of $50 million. The film, which stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Tilda Swinton and Paul Dano and will be produced by Brad Pitt/Dede Gardner’s Plan B, marks the next step of the streaming media company’s transition to film production studio. Netflix’s 2016 releases include a “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” sequel and the Weinstein’s “Marco Polo.” Continue reading Netflix Doubles Down on Movie Production with $50M for ‘Okja’

Beats Music to Close Now That Apple Music is Live on Android

Apple acquired Beats Electronics for $3 billion in May 2014. While it was expected that the Beats Music streaming service would be folded into iTunes Radio to take on Spotify and similar offerings, Apple Music was launched more than a year later. Now, Apple has announced that it plans to officially shutter Beats Music on November 30. A statement on the Beats Music site encourages subscribers to check out Apple’s new service: “Your subscription will be cancelled, but you can move your picks and preferences over to Apple Music right now.” Continue reading Beats Music to Close Now That Apple Music is Live on Android

Programming Free-for-All Favors Consumer Power of Choice

Traditional TV networks are pulling out all stops to succeed with their non-traditional streaming platforms. CBS is launching a new “Star Trek” series in 2017, which will air exclusively on its CBS All Access app; HBO inked a deal with former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart to create new content for HBO Now; and NBCUniversal is cranking out original series and specials for its Seeso comedy channel, due to launch in January. Meanwhile, Vice Media plans a 24/7-cable channel with A+E Networks. Continue reading Programming Free-for-All Favors Consumer Power of Choice

ABC Developing Original Programming for Streaming Initiative

ABC is said to be exploring a new approach to streaming original content online. Rather than launching a standalone subscription service similar to CBS All Access or NBCUniversal’s upcoming comedy offering Seeso, the network is reportedly planning to introduce new series exclusively through its WatchABC app. In addition to offering expanded original programming on an alternative platform, the Disney-owned network could also use the model as a means of trying out new concepts and talent that could eventually make their way to broadcast television. Continue reading ABC Developing Original Programming for Streaming Initiative

YouTube Music Aims Spotlight on Personalization, Discovery

After a year in beta testing, YouTube Music is finally available for Android and iOS. The app — meant to compete with streaming music offerings such as Apple Music, Pandora, Rdio, Spotify and Tidal — emphasizes music videos and amateur recordings. YouTube’s catalog of 50 million songs does not mean a video for every song, since the collection mixes video, audio-only, fan covers, emerging indie artists and much more. Discovery continues to be the underlying focus, and each song is connected to an auto-generated station of related songs. YouTube Music also blends human and algorithmic curation, similar to Apple Music’s approach. Continue reading YouTube Music Aims Spotlight on Personalization, Discovery

Flare MeTV: Cox to Roll Out New Streaming Content Service

In an attempt to attract and maintain the youth demographic, Cox Communications plans to debut Flare MeTV, featuring a variety of streaming offerings, by the end of 2015. Similar to Comcast’s “Watchable,” which debuted in September, and Verizon’s go90, Flare MeTV will aggregate online video content and may in the future carry some licensed traditional TV content. Flare MeTV will be introduced as free without ads, but may eventually become ad-supported or subscription-based. The app will initially only be available on the iPad.   Continue reading Flare MeTV: Cox to Roll Out New Streaming Content Service

YouTube Democratizes VR, Stays a Step Ahead of Competition

YouTube is introducing 360-degree VR videos as well as a virtual movie theater for all YouTube videos. Anyone with a Google Cardboard headset and the Android app can begin viewing the ten or so VR videos that YouTube produced; the iOS app is coming soon. YouTube’s VR features come just before The New York Times ships 1.3 million Google Cardboard sets and its own VR documentary, “The Displaced.” YouTube’s assertive move into VR is widely seen as a way to stay a step ahead of the competition, Facebook in particular. Continue reading YouTube Democratizes VR, Stays a Step Ahead of Competition

Pandora and Sony/ATV No Longer Opponents in Streaming Wars

Pandora Media and Sony/ATV announced a multiyear licensing deal yesterday that brings the companies together to provide better rates for artists while allowing Pandora to “benefit from greater rate certainty” that could also help “add new flexibility to the company’s product offering over time.” The direct licensing deal arrives as the music industry prepares for potential changes regarding federal regulation of songwriting rights. Sony/ATV is the world’s biggest music publisher with songwriting rights to thousands of artists, including the Beatles and Taylor Swift. Continue reading Pandora and Sony/ATV No Longer Opponents in Streaming Wars

Netflix Chief Exec Tells Conference: “There’s Not Enough TV”

At The New York Times’ DealBook conference, Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings pointed to a broad, sustained growth of consumer spending on entertainment as proof that there is not enough television content currently available. Great content, he said, will find viewers. The bar for quality is rising, he noted further, and said Netflix is maintaining its high standards by working with other production companies. As an example, he pointed to “Narcos,” which was produced with French company Gaumont. Continue reading Netflix Chief Exec Tells Conference: “There’s Not Enough TV”

TruTV Cuts Ad Time, Hopes to Increase Value for Advertisers

Cable networks tend to schedule advertising with a “more is more” approach. But the added revenue comes at a cost to marketers and viewers. Marketers worry that the resulting “ad clutter” obscures their message. Meanwhile, the proliferation of commercial-free, OTT content has shortened the average viewer’s commercial tolerance, especially among the ever-valuable millennial demographic. In a move that truTV sees as a way for advertisers to “rise above the noise,” the cable and satellite channel is planning to cut down ad time and increase each slot’s value. Continue reading TruTV Cuts Ad Time, Hopes to Increase Value for Advertisers

SMPTE 2015: Hollywood Engineers Examine OTT Deployment

As OTT becomes an increasingly compelling delivery platform, engineers born and bred on over-the-air, cable and satellite technologies are closely examining various schemes for deployment. On SMPTE 2015’s second day, sessions focused on that topic, featuring panelists from Prime Focus Technologies, Comcast and USC Viterbi School of Engineering. The big take-away was that going over-the-top might take some planning but it’s a worthwhile route to take, to engage viewers and provide more data for advertisers. Continue reading SMPTE 2015: Hollywood Engineers Examine OTT Deployment

SMPTE 2015: Verizon’s Middleton Says Linear TV Is Not Dead

At the Industry Luncheon on SMPTE 2015’s second day, Verizon Digital Media Services chief product officer Ted Middleton delivered the keynote address, which was, in part, a paean to the joys of linear TV. The luncheon also honored Wendy Aylsworth, the first woman to be SMPTE president, and showed a trailer for “Moving Images,” a retrospective of the science and engineering behind the industry’s cinema and television, directed by Howard Lukk and sparked by SMPTE’s upcoming 100th anniversary. Continue reading SMPTE 2015: Verizon’s Middleton Says Linear TV Is Not Dead

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