Roku Expands Reach of Video Channel to the Web and Mobile

Earlier this month, streaming device maker Roku introduced The Roku Channel — its streaming destination for free, ad-supported movies and TV shows — to non-Roku devices for the first time. The rollout started on the web and select Samsung smart TVs, before plans for a wider cross-platform launch. In addition to updating the navigation for Roku players and Roku TVs to access free TV content, the company plans to bring its service to PCs, smartphones and tablets for those consumers who have not purchased Roku devices. Continue reading Roku Expands Reach of Video Channel to the Web and Mobile

Amazon Is Reportedly Developing Live TV DVR to Rival TiVo

According to sources, Amazon is developing a TiVo-like device, dubbed “Frank,” that records live TV. The sources added that the DVR device, which includes physical storage, connects to the company’s Fire TV box using the same wireless technology as the Echo. The Frank DVR also has the ability to record live TV and stream the video to a smartphone for later viewing, but Amazon, said the sources, isn’t certain it will debut the DVR with that feature, which is offered by TiVo and Dish Network’s Slingbox. Continue reading Amazon Is Reportedly Developing Live TV DVR to Rival TiVo

Netflix Deletes All Customer Reviews Based on Declining Use

After last month’s announcement, Netflix began to remove all customer reviews of TV shows, movies and other programming from its site, saying it was due to “declining use.” Although Netflix did allow customers to post new reviews until July 30, the company said it will have erased more than ten years’ worth of reviews by mid-August. Netflix removed the five-star rating system a year ago. Rival services Amazon, Apple’s iTunes and App Store, Google Play and Rotten Tomatoes still display user reviews and ratings. Continue reading Netflix Deletes All Customer Reviews Based on Declining Use

Netflix Is Testing Promotional Videos That Play During Binges

While Netflix bingers may be accustomed to the occasional “Are you still watching?” interruption, some subscribers are now experiencing 10- to 20-second promotional videos, and complaints have suggested that the videos cannot be skipped or muted. Similar to traditional commercials, the videos appear between episodes, reminding users about various series available on the streaming service. The company explained on Sunday that it is merely testing the promotional videos and they can actually be skipped. Netflix did not indicate how many of its more than 100 million subscribers are experiencing the tests. Continue reading Netflix Is Testing Promotional Videos That Play During Binges

Amazon Promotes Music Services to Pair With Echo Speakers

Amazon is readying its first national campaign for Amazon Music with a push via television, online video, radio and billboards in the U.S., U.K. and Germany. The campaign for its streaming service will feature songs from Ariana Grande, Kendrick Lamar and Queen. With the popularity of Echo and Alexa, Amazon is now paying more attention to its music service, which helps differentiate it from rivals, according to Amazon Music vice president Steve Boom. Apple and Google also offer smart speakers and streaming music services. Continue reading Amazon Promotes Music Services to Pair With Echo Speakers

Tidal Streaming Music Service Accused of Falsifying Streams

Jay-Z’s streaming music service Tidal was accused by Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) of data manipulation, claiming the company faked many millions of streams for Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” and Kanye West’s “The Life of Pablo” albums. That’s considered fraud since labels and rights holders are paid based on the number of streams. Tidal denies the charges but investigators are reportedly looking into the possibility of a data breach. Continue reading Tidal Streaming Music Service Accused of Falsifying Streams

Amazon’s Twitch Inks Live-Streaming Deals to Rival YouTube

Amazon is boosting content on Twitch by inking exclusive live-streaming deals with media companies and influencers, to better compete with its rival, YouTube. According to sources, Twitch now offers minimum guarantees of up to “a few million dollars a year” plus a piece of future advertising sales and subscription revenue. In return, Amazon demands a minimum number of live-streaming hours per week. Among the deals signed is one with prankster Tanner Braungardt, who has 4 million YouTube subscribers. Continue reading Amazon’s Twitch Inks Live-Streaming Deals to Rival YouTube

Amazon, Microsoft Introduce Integration of Alexa and Cortana

Amazon and Microsoft gave a public demonstration of the integration of Alexa and Cortana into all Echo speakers and to all Windows 10 users. That means that a user can ask Windows 10’s Cortana to open Alexa, and ask Alexa on Echo speakers to open Cortana. This integration is now available to most users but will completely roll out around the country over the next week, said a Microsoft spokesperson. Some features, such as streaming music, audiobooks and news flashes will not be available at launch. Continue reading Amazon, Microsoft Introduce Integration of Alexa and Cortana

T-Mobile Teams With Pandora and Live Nation for Music Perks

T-Mobile announced it is partnering with music streamer Pandora and concert promoter Live Nation Entertainment to offer its customers free music, concert deals, special seating and other perks. As competition ramps up to attract new customers, wireless carriers are looking for new ways to reach those consumers without discounting their regular prices. T-Mobile will offer customers a free year of Pandora Plus ad-free music streaming. Customers can also enjoy “Rockstar Status” with discounted tickets, access to last-minute seats, and reservations at sold out shows through Live Nation. Continue reading T-Mobile Teams With Pandora and Live Nation for Music Perks

Verizon Announces 5G Wireless Deals With Apple and Google

Apple and Google will be the first video providers for Verizon’s superfast 5G wireless service, slated to launch later this year in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento, California. According to those familiar with Verizon’s plan, customers of the home broadband service will have the option to access live television via a free Apple TV box or a free subscription to the YouTube TV app. Verizon plans to introduce online services using 5G technology that matches or exceeds the speeds of landline offerings. Continue reading Verizon Announces 5G Wireless Deals With Apple and Google

Samsung Tackles Home Networking With SmartThings Router

Samsung has launched its SmartThings Wifi router to provide consumers with fast, secure home networking and a reliable smart home hub. Currently available in the U.S. for $120 per single unit or $280 for a 3-pack, the new router leverages artificial intelligence for Wi-Fi management and faster speeds — in addition to mesh networking for optimized Wi-Fi coverage. According to Samsung, a single unit covers up to 1,500 square feet; deploying multiple units helps ensure strong signals throughout the home while minimizing dead zones. Continue reading Samsung Tackles Home Networking With SmartThings Router

New Research Underlines the Ongoing Strength of P2P Piracy

Anti-piracy company Irdeto has revealed that P2P piracy is booming and still more popular than streaming in several countries. P2P traffic — mostly of the BitTorrent variety — continues to be a significant source of content for streaming portals hosting pirated content. Irdeto’s report comes at a time when Hollywood has focused its attention on streaming sites and services that distribute pirated content. Irdeto’s research examines web traffic to 962 piracy sites in 19 countries where P2P was the “dominant piracy tool.” Continue reading New Research Underlines the Ongoing Strength of P2P Piracy

AT&T Buys Chernin Group’s Controlling Stake in Otter Media

In 2013, Chernin Group chair/chief executive Peter Chernin and company president Jesse Jacobs, believing streaming media was the future, bought Crunchyroll, which specialized in anime, for $75 million. They then added other new media startups including Fullscreen, an ad agency for YouTube stars, Rooster Teeth, a video producer aimed at gamers and VRV’s 11 niche channels, creating Otter Media. On Tuesday, in a move that was long expected by analysts, the Chernin Group sold controlling interest in Otter Media to joint-venture partner AT&T in a deal valued at more than $1 billion. Continue reading AT&T Buys Chernin Group’s Controlling Stake in Otter Media

Sony Introduces its New Premium OLED and LED Televisions

Sony Electronics revealed its new premium TVs, the Bravia Master Series, with the goal of bringing a professional-level studio monitor into the home. The OLED A9F, which follows the first Bravia OLED set in 2017, and the A8F, launched earlier this year, feature an upgraded version of Sony’s Acoustic Surface, recreating a 3.2 audio set-up. Other new features are object-based HDR remastering and “super resolution.” Sony has also invested in large crystal LED (CLED) screens, “currently targeted at commercial users,” but not hard to imagine ultimately being scaled down for consumers. Continue reading Sony Introduces its New Premium OLED and LED Televisions

Vizio Adds WatchFree Service to SmartCast TVs via Pluto TV

On Wednesday, Vizio debuted WatchFree to its TV sets with its SmartCast operating system, adding more access to free, ad-supported TV programming. Pluto TV, an ad-supported streaming service, powers the service, which will offer 100 channels including NBC News/MSNBC, Fox Sports, MST3K and The Surf Channel, as well as movie channels. In the near future, “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares” and “Unsolved Mysteries” will appear as pop-up channels. Vizio’s SmartCast operating system was first launched in 2016. Continue reading Vizio Adds WatchFree Service to SmartCast TVs via Pluto TV

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