Highlights From Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends Report

Noted venture capitalist and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Mary Meeker recently released her annual Internet Trends report at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. Among the 294 slides, Meeker explained that smartphone shipments did not grow in 2017, and Internet user growth slowed to 7 percent (more than half the world is already online). However, people are spending more time online. Of the 5.9 hours per day that U.S. adults spent on digital media last year, 3.3 were spent on mobile, which is leading the charge in digital media consumption. Continue reading Highlights From Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends Report

Microsoft Buys Four Game Studios to Ramp Up Development

During Microsoft’s E3 press conference yesterday in Los Angeles, Xbox head Phil Spencer announced that the company has acquired game studios Compulsion Games (Canada), Playground Games (United Kingdom), Ninja Theory (United Kingdom) and Undead Labs (Seattle). Microsoft is planning to expand its Xbox Game Pass service; building up its in-house game development should assist in that effort. Spencer also revealed that the company is developing a cloud-based game-streaming network that will work across Xbox, PCs and phones. Continue reading Microsoft Buys Four Game Studios to Ramp Up Development

Amazon Debuts 4K Fire TV Cube With Alexa-Centric Strategy

Amazon, which started shipping its Fire TV video streaming devices four years ago, is now planning the release of its 4K Fire TV Cube, which combines Fire TV capabilities with Amazon Echo and acts as a TV control center for other devices. Fire TV Cube offers built-in Alexa and was designed with a “voice first” strategy to, as Amazon Fire TV vice president of product development Sandeep Gupta said, “highlight the use of voice.” Priced at $119, Fire TV Cube is the most expensive device in the segment and the sleekest. Continue reading Amazon Debuts 4K Fire TV Cube With Alexa-Centric Strategy

European Broadcasters Partner to Fend Off Amazon, Netflix

Spain’s three major broadcasters — state-run RTVE and privately run Mediaset España and Atresmedia — are joining forces to launch LovesTV, an 18-channel streaming platform featuring programs from all of them. This paradigm is also taking place in the U.K., France, Germany and Italy, as competitors join forces to co-produce programs or stream programs online. It’s a strategy to fend off Netflix, Amazon and HBO, all of which are increasing their budgets to offer streaming programming for European audiences. Continue reading European Broadcasters Partner to Fend Off Amazon, Netflix

Monetizing Remixes Is Now Possible With the BlockTune App

BlockTune, a remix monetization app from Common Edits, was the big winner at Sunday’s Entertainment App Challenge held during the AT&T SHAPE conference at Warner Bros. Studios in Los Angeles. BlockTune has both a simple and an advanced UI for sampling music and creating remixes that can be shared with others. The key feature that won over both the judges and the audience is BlockTune’s ability to track the use of samples on a moment-by-moment basis and determine what portion of ad revenue should go to the source artists and the person who created the remix while the music is streaming. Continue reading Monetizing Remixes Is Now Possible With the BlockTune App

Spotify Tweaks Contentious Policy on Hate Content, Conduct

Spotify introduced a “Hate Content & Hateful Conduct” policy in May and, due to the dismay and confusion it sparked, the company is changing its policy, specifically canceling the portion related to the decision to remove artists from playlists if they were involved in “controversies.” Kendrick Lamar’s record label felt so strongly about the policy that it threatened to remove his music from Spotify, and company chief executive Daniel Ek was forced to admit the company could have done a better job in explaining the policy. Continue reading Spotify Tweaks Contentious Policy on Hate Content, Conduct

Helios and Matheson to Buy EFO Films Library, Current Slate

Helios and Matheson Analytics, MoviePass’ parent company, has the exclusive option to acquire the film library and production slate of Emmett Furla Oasis (EFO) Films, which produced “Lone Survivor” and “End of Watch.” The company would use EFO Films’ assets and expertise to debut its own production company, MoviePass Films. EFO founders Randall Emmett and George Furla would be co-chief executives of the new venture. Helios and Matheson chief executive Ted Farnsworth said the deal signals MoviePass’ continued viability. Continue reading Helios and Matheson to Buy EFO Films Library, Current Slate

AirTV Rolls Out Networked Tuner to Access Local Broadcasts

Dish subsidiary AirTV just launched a new device, also dubbed AirTV, that lets its subscribers watch free live content from broadcast networks, including ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS and Fox, on TVs and mobile devices. AirTV is a networked tuner that comes with Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity. Priced at $120, AirTV also comes with a $25 credit for Dish’s Sling TV streaming service, which mainly provides access to cable channels. With AirTV, Sling TV subscribers can access over-the-air channels via their Sling TV app. Continue reading AirTV Rolls Out Networked Tuner to Access Local Broadcasts

Hulu Draws 800,000+ Subscribers to its New Live TV Service

In an interview with CNBC, Hulu CEO Randy Freer revealed that his company’s $40 per month Internet streaming service, Hulu with Live TV, which launched a little more than one year ago, has surpassed 800,000 subscribers. Dish Network’s Sling TV reached 2.3 million customers at the end of Q1, and AT&T’s DirecTV Now has about 1.46 million subscribers. Other competitors in this space include Google’s YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue from Sony, and the sports-focused fuboTV. In total, Hulu has more than 20 million paying customers (half subscribe to the ad-free $11.99 monthly package). Continue reading Hulu Draws 800,000+ Subscribers to its New Live TV Service

FCC’s O’Rielly Asks Amazon, eBay to Remove ‘Rogue’ STBs

FCC commissioner Michael O’Rielly is urging Amazon and eBay to pull listings from their sites for “rogue” set-top boxes that enable consumers to watch pirated TV shows. On Friday, the commissioner sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and eBay CEO Devin Wenig noting that the STBs in question often falsely feature the FCC logo, and are responsible for encouraging “intellectual property theft and consumer fraud.” O’Rielly recognized that the companies have been working to address the problem, but wrote “despite your good work in this area, devices continue to make it to consumers through your websites.” Continue reading FCC’s O’Rielly Asks Amazon, eBay to Remove ‘Rogue’ STBs

Viewers Not Warming to Recommendations by Video Services

According to research from UserTesting, the personalized viewing recommendations offered by video streaming services are failing to gain traction with most consumers. While results varied across services, only 29 percent of participants indicated that they watch content recommended to them. In addition to relevant recommendations, the study rated services based on metrics such as speed, availability of content, episode scanning, and overall ease-of-use. With a total score of 89.5, Netflix led the field, followed by Hulu (86.8), Amazon Prime (85) and YouTube TV (80.7). Continue reading Viewers Not Warming to Recommendations by Video Services

The Obamas Are the Latest to Sign Production Deal with Netflix

Netflix yesterday announced a multi-year partnership with former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to produce original content for the streaming service. The Obamas created production company Higher Ground Productions for the Netflix deal, which is reportedly valued in the high eight figures. According to Netflix, the partnership may include scripted, unscripted and docu-series, in addition to documentary and feature films. Two months ago, the Obamas signed a joint book deal with Penguin Random House worth a reported $65 million for their respective memoirs. Continue reading The Obamas Are the Latest to Sign Production Deal with Netflix

YouTube Splits Red into YouTube Music and YouTube Premium

Changes are afoot at YouTube. The company plans to debut a new version of its music service and charge more to view original shows. YouTube Red, an on-demand subscription service that offered music and original programming without ads debuted two years ago for $10 per month. Next week, the company will launch YouTube Music, which adds personalized playlists based on YouTube history and will eventually replace Google Play Music. YouTube Music will cost $10 per month after a trial period. Continue reading YouTube Splits Red into YouTube Music and YouTube Premium

Hulu Upgrades Mobile Apps With Live TV Guide, Vertical Video

Hulu will soon debut upgraded iOS and Android mobile apps with a new live TV program guide and a vertical video player that will let live TV viewers stream linear programming while browsing the channel guide. The streaming service’s iPhone and iPad apps will also get support for HDMI-out and Android apps will enjoy improved performance on Chromecast. Users will also be able to improve personal recommendations by deleting entries from watch history and removing certain kinds of programs. Continue reading Hulu Upgrades Mobile Apps With Live TV Guide, Vertical Video

CBS and Nielsen to Serve Dynamic Ads for Live TV Broadcasts

CBS and Nielsen are joining forces to deliver dynamic ad insertion (DAI) into linear national television programming that is viewed via connected devices. This will enable advertisers to better target individual viewers with more relevant commercials. The collaboration will use Gracenote’s Automatic Content Recognition software, which is already installed in millions of smart TVs. “Nielsen, through its acquisition of Gracenote, will leverage patented technology to replace linear ad spots on individual smart TV sets to offer more advanced advertising capabilities to brands,” said Nielsen exec Peter Bradbury. Continue reading CBS and Nielsen to Serve Dynamic Ads for Live TV Broadcasts

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