Facebook Launches Live Video, Starts to Develop VR Network

Facebook is turning on live streaming video broadcasting to what is potentially a nearly 1 billion-member base. With 934 million customers worldwide, Facebook will offer the live streaming capability first to iPhone users, with a global rollout over the next few weeks. The company has been testing this service with a handful of public figures for the last two months. At the same time, with chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s strong belief in the future potential of VR, Facebook is making strides in developing a network for it. Continue reading Facebook Launches Live Video, Starts to Develop VR Network

Immersive Journalists Talk Real-Time and Long-Form VR News

Award-winning filmmakers and video reporters Nonny de la Peña, Sandy Smolan and Ben Solomon, along with ABC News Digital executive Dan Silver, took part in a wide-ranging discussion about immersive journalism at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival this past week. Among the ideas expressed were the importance of choosing the right stories for the virtual reality medium, of telling them with filmic finesse to maintain audience interest, and of designing the role of the on-screen reporter. Noted as on the near horizon for immersive reportage were real-time streaming, interactivity, and live action capture with the aid of videogrammetry. Continue reading Immersive Journalists Talk Real-Time and Long-Form VR News

Spotify Introducing Video Content to Music Streaming Service

Spotify will debut video content on its Android app this week, and the iOS app by end of next week, in the U.S., the U.K., Germany and Sweden. Originally, the music streaming service planned to offer video in May, but has focused on testing videos on its apps with less than 10 percent of its users in the four launch markets. The content is mostly comprised of short clips from ESPN, Comedy Central, the BBC, Vice Media and Maker Studios, among others. Some companies, like Tastemade, are creating original, music-themed series. Continue reading Spotify Introducing Video Content to Music Streaming Service

Amazon Plans to Expand Online Grocery Shopping in Europe

Amazon is looking to expand its services, particularly online grocery shopping and video streaming, in Europe this year. The company plans to add several thousand new jobs in Europe to help expand its operations. Amazon has already found success in its online grocery shopping and delivery service, Amazon Fresh, in the United Kingdom, and will likely use that model in other major cities. Amazon’s online sales continue to grow at the same pace as the online sales rate across the region. Continue reading Amazon Plans to Expand Online Grocery Shopping in Europe

Amazon and Netflix Acquire Movies and Visibility at Sundance

After coming up empty at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, streaming services Amazon and Netflix made some significant acquisitions at this year’s indie film festival in Utah. Prior to the festival, Netflix spent $5 million for the streaming rights to “Tallulah,” starring Allison Janney and Ellen Page, and almost $7 million for “The Fundamentals of Caring,” starring Paul Rudd and Selena Gomez. Amazon inked a deal for Kenneth Lonergan’s “Manchester by the Sea,” with Kyle Chandler, Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges. Continue reading Amazon and Netflix Acquire Movies and Visibility at Sundance

YouTube Adds Real-Time Spots to Super Bowl AdBlitz Platform

For the eighth year in a row, YouTube launched its AdBlitz platform, a channel and separate website that displays Super Bowl television spots online before game day and allows viewers to vote for their favorite ads. This year, YouTube has unveiled a new feature: a real-time advertising tool, which enables advertisers to run ads across Google’s platforms, timed to big moments during live events, such as a game-winning field goal. Currently in beta, the feature was already tested by a Marco Rubio Super PAC on debate night. Continue reading YouTube Adds Real-Time Spots to Super Bowl AdBlitz Platform

Valve Upgrades to 100Gbps Internet Ports For Gaming Traffic

Valve’s popular Internet gaming platform Steam hosts some of today’s largest online games. “Dota 2” alone has more than 870,000 concurrent players in a single day. To keep up with the increasingly heavy traffic, Valve is working with Level 3 Communications to install a network infrastructure with 100Gbps Internet ports. Standard game downloads are generally about 10 to 40 gigabytes, but because the site averages more than 10 million concurrent players, massive bandwidth is necessary. Continue reading Valve Upgrades to 100Gbps Internet Ports For Gaming Traffic

Investors Are Drawn to eSports as Popularity Doubles in U.S.

The eSports category, competitive gaming, is poised to skyrocket in popularity in the U.S., says a Frank N. Magid Associates report. Long popular in Asia, eSports has grown 100 percent in the last two years in the U.S. Of the 70 percent of Americans, aged 8 to 64 years old who play some kind of game, nine percent watched or attended an eSports event in 2013, a figure now grown to 18 percent. Games that fill arenas with fans include “League of Legends,” “Dota 2,” “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” and “Hearthstone.” Continue reading Investors Are Drawn to eSports as Popularity Doubles in U.S.

Netflix Cracking Down on VPNs, in a Push for Global Rights

Netflix recently announced it would begin to block VPNs (virtual private networks), which consumers use to get around geographic-based content licensing restrictions. The company has turned a blind eye to VPN usage, but that was before it distributed its content globally, now live in 190 countries. Netflix has a reason to protect its content (especially its originals) and infrastructure investments, and it can’t offer all content to every country. But there’s another, just as potent reason for the move. Continue reading Netflix Cracking Down on VPNs, in a Push for Global Rights

Netflix’s Unlikely Path to Global Media Success, Minus China

Netflix and Amazon are currently small players in the content business compared to Disney, Comcast and Time Warner. And although there are plenty of reasons why these media behemoths need not be too concerned about Netflix and Amazon, these two streaming services do continue to grow and succeed. Most recently, Netflix’s stock rose 140 percent, making it the best performing of Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, and the company announced at CES that it will make its content available worldwide (except for China). Continue reading Netflix’s Unlikely Path to Global Media Success, Minus China

Periscope Now Broadcasts Live Video Directly Within Twitter

Twitter now allows some mobile users to watch live video feeds on its sister app Periscope within the Twitter timeline. Previously, Twitter users linked to Periscope broadcasts via the discrete app. Acquired by Twitter in 2015, Periscope has taken off among users who use it to broadcast their whereabouts from smartphones. Users have posted an estimated 100 million live feeds on Periscope in the 10 months since its purchase. By linking the two apps, Twitter will introduce Periscope to new users and become home to more content. Continue reading Periscope Now Broadcasts Live Video Directly Within Twitter

YouTube Star PewDiePie Is Building His Own ‘Talent Squad’

Felix Kjellberg, better known by his YouTube username PewDiePie, is launching his own multi-channel network to create new content and foster new YouTube personalities. The brand is called Revelmode and it will be focused on YouTube creators related to video gaming. Kjellberg has already recruited some top YouTube creators to join the “collaborative talent squad.” Even though Kjellberg will be spearheading the Revelmode brand, he will continue his partnership with Maker Studios. Continue reading YouTube Star PewDiePie Is Building His Own ‘Talent Squad’

Amazon Plans to Launch Portable, Lower Cost Version of Echo

Since Amazon had a surprise hit with its tabletop, voice-controlled Echo speaker, released in November 2014, competitors have stepped into the space. Amazon is fighting back with another, smaller, portable and lower-cost version, code-named Fox, expected to debut in a few weeks. Echo, which costs $180, must be plugged into an outlet; its Alexa software answers questions, creates shopping lists, plays music and can control connected lights. Originally a voice activation experiment, Echo has become a popular personal assistant. Continue reading Amazon Plans to Launch Portable, Lower Cost Version of Echo

Digital and Physical Home Entertainment Dips Again in 2015

Home entertainment sales dipped last year, especially for DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, which fell 12 percent, one percent more than the drop in 2014. But the numbers, as compiled by the Digital Entertainment Group, aren’t easy to parse, as revealed in competing interpretations of the data. Two things are clear: physical media’s dip is linked to digital media’s rise. And, with revenues of $18 billion, home entertainment is still larger than theatrical box office, which clocked in at $11.1 billion last year. Continue reading Digital and Physical Home Entertainment Dips Again in 2015

AT&T Revives Unlimited Data Plan, Despite Surge in Video

AT&T is bringing back its unlimited wireless data plan, but only for those customers who subscribe to its U-verse home television service or to DirecTV, the satellite TV service it recently acquired. For the past five years, AT&T has been moving customers into plans that charge for data use. The recent switch, most likely in response to competition among carriers eager to sign up new customers and retain existing ones, comes at a time when customers are gobbling up data watching YouTube and Netflix videos on mobile devices. Continue reading AT&T Revives Unlimited Data Plan, Despite Surge in Video

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