Game Streamer Twitch Debuts Always-On Chat Room Feature

Amazon-owned game streaming platform Twitch introduced a new feature yesterday called “Rooms.” First announced at TwitchCon in October, the always-on chat room feature is now available for web and mobile (for now, creators can host up to three public or private Rooms). Individuals with a Twitch account have the ability to create custom chat rooms accessible from the Stream Chat feature on channel pages. Channel owners can specify which users get access, such as followers, moderators or subscribers. The rooms can also be created based on shared interests, such as spoilers. Continue reading Game Streamer Twitch Debuts Always-On Chat Room Feature

MoviePass Sells $128M in Tickets for Oscar-Nominated Films

Startup MoviePass, which charges subscribers $10 per month for the option to watch one film per day in a participating theater, said it has passed 2 million subscribers. The company also reported that it was responsible for $128.7 million of the domestic box office for this year’s Oscar nominated films. MoviePass chief executive Mitch Lowe has described the math behind the company’s claim. He also has an explanation for how the company will survive its biggest economic challenge: that it loses money on any customers who sees at least two movies a month. Continue reading MoviePass Sells $128M in Tickets for Oscar-Nominated Films

AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Further Plans to Roll Out 5G Networks

Sprint plans to launch a 5G network by early 2019, joining its competitors in rolling out the new technology and spending $5 billion to $6 billion annually on its network. Verizon and AT&T plan to roll out their 5G networks later this year. Although today’s smartphones can already stream HD video with the current 4G networks, 5G networks will enable other devices and technologies, including autonomous vehicles. Sprint’s parent company, SoftBank Group, also has a significant investment in Uber Technologies. Continue reading AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Further Plans to Roll Out 5G Networks

Netflix Experiences Its Best Quarter for Signing Up New Subs

Q4 2017 marked Netflix’s biggest quarter to date; the video service signed 8.3 million new subscribers. That surpasses the 6.3 million new subscribers the company had predicted, and brings the company’s total number of global paid subscribers to 110.6 million. The news boosted Netflix shares 9 percent, and put its market capitalization above $100 billion. The growth also took place during a period in which Netflix has faced more competition, from a wide range of content distributors and producers. Continue reading Netflix Experiences Its Best Quarter for Signing Up New Subs

Spotify Adds Content to Compete With Radio, YouTube, Apple

Popular streaming music service Spotify plans to take on radio and podcasts from Apple and others by introducing news and political coverage to its content offerings. Spotify’s new Spotlight feature will include programming from partners such as BuzzFeed and Refinery29. BuzzFeed, for example, will provide daily newscasts that run four to seven minutes in duration. Spotify’s 70 million users already have access to music and new video and podcast offerings; Spotlight will add news, politics, pop culture and sports coverage. The strategy could position Spotify as a competitor to YouTube and Apple. Continue reading Spotify Adds Content to Compete With Radio, YouTube, Apple

YouTube Promises Human Vetting of Google Preferred Videos

After YouTube star Logan Paul posted a video of a dead body hanging in a Japanese forest, YouTube again promised to scrutinize its top videos more closely, and also change the threshold for which videos can accept ads. Last year, marketers discovered their ads were being shown next to extremist videos. In response, YouTube developed new policies to give advertisers more control over the placement of their content and said it would better police videos. But the Logan Paul video shows just how challenging that can be. Continue reading YouTube Promises Human Vetting of Google Preferred Videos

Netflix Takes #1 Ranking for Top Non-Game App By Revenue

Sensor Tower lists Netflix as the top-earning app for 2017 (not counting mobile games). According to TechCrunch: “The service saw gross subscriber revenue of approximately $510 million — a 138 percent increase over last year. That’s about 2.4 times the $215 million users spent in the Netflix app in 2016.” In previous years, the #1 ranking was earned by Spotify and LINE. The annual report ranks apps and publishers available on the Apple App Store and Google Play. Top earners on Google Play included Tinder, Google Drive, LINE, Pandora, and HBO Now. Continue reading Netflix Takes #1 Ranking for Top Non-Game App By Revenue

MoviePass Continues Rapid Ascent, Tops 1 Million Subscribers

MoviePass is a service that lets subscribers attend up to one 2D movie screening per day in theaters for a monthly charge. Shortly after a price drop to $9.95 per month in August (from a tiered $15-$50 model), the New York-based company announced it had jumped to 400,000 customers. By October, that number increased to 600,000. Last month, MoviePass dropped its monthly fee again for a limited time offer of about $6.95 per month for those willing to pay up front for a year. Now the company announced it “has since reached one million subscribers in less time than Spotify, Hulu, and Netflix.” Continue reading MoviePass Continues Rapid Ascent, Tops 1 Million Subscribers

Pandora Hopes to Convert Users with Free On-Demand Music

Pandora Media is launching free on-demand music with 15-second ads, in an effort to boost declining revenue and users. In doing so, it inches closer to rival Spotify’s model. According to one source, the user will be able to queue up 15 minutes, 30 minutes or an hour of specific songs for every ad watched; the company is still testing models that mix music and ads. By offering free songs in exchange for ads, Pandora hopes to entice listeners to sign up for its $9.99 per month Premium on-demand tier, which was introduced in March. Continue reading Pandora Hopes to Convert Users with Free On-Demand Music

T-Mobile Buys Layer3, Prepares to Debut Streaming Service

T-Mobile US is buying Layer3 TV, a streaming pay-TV distributor, to launch its own pay-TV streaming service. In doing so, T-Mobile, the third largest wireless carrier (by subscribers) in the U.S., joins a growing host of other companies, such as Sony, Dish and YouTube, that aim to lure cord-cutters to their streaming services. Some of those efforts have been successful; AT&T, for example, now has one million subscribers to its DirecTV Now streaming service, which debuted last year and is priced as little as $35 per month. Continue reading T-Mobile Buys Layer3, Prepares to Debut Streaming Service

Netflix Users Are Watching a Billion Hours of Video Per Week

While facing increased competition from Amazon Prime, HBO Go, Hulu and others, Netflix revealed that its users collectively watched about one billion hours of content per week in 2017 (that’s more than 140 million hours per day). Despite being an impressive number, the average user may actually be watching less over time. Based on 109 million global subscribers, the math points to about 480 hours per account. According to TechCrunch, “at the end of 2015, Netflix announced that the 74.7 million users it had at the time had watched 42.5 billion hours of content that year. That suggests about 570 hours per year per account.” Continue reading Netflix Users Are Watching a Billion Hours of Video Per Week

TDG: 40 Percent of U.S. Households Will Cut the Cord by 2030

Despite the increasing number of digital streaming services currently available, including Amazon, Hulu and Netflix, about 85 percent of U.S. households continue to subscribe to traditional cable television. However, The Diffusion Group suggests the tide is turning; the market analyst predicts that by 2030 as many as 40 percent of Americans will have cut the cord. TDG Research also expects the percentage of households subscribing to pay TV will drop to 60 percent during the same period. TDG suggests that by 2030, about 30 million households will be “without an MVPD service of any kind.” Continue reading TDG: 40 Percent of U.S. Households Will Cut the Cord by 2030

YouTube Ups its Social Profile with the Debut of Reels Feature

YouTube has debuted Reels, a video feature similar to Snapchat and Instagram Stories. Users will find Reels on a new tab in creators’ channels and will be able to adorn videos with filters, text and stickers. Unlike Snapchat and Instagram Stories, a single creator can make many Reels on different topics and the videos will not disappear after 24 hours. With Reels, Google hopes to make YouTube a more social environment and keep users glued to the platform. Google reportedly bid $30 billion to buy Snap last year. Continue reading YouTube Ups its Social Profile with the Debut of Reels Feature

Verizon Plans to Introduce 5G Residential Broadband in 2018

In late 2018, Verizon Communications will begin to sell 5G home broadband services in three to five cities, first in Sacramento, California. All these cities are expected to be outside the Northeast U.S. region where it has a landline business and also offers its FiOS high-speed fiber-optic Internet service. To access the 5G signal, customers will have a box in their windows to convert it to Wi-Fi inside the house. If Verizon succeeds, it could compete in cities where most users have access to only one broadband provider. Continue reading Verizon Plans to Introduce 5G Residential Broadband in 2018

Taylor Swift’s Album Debuts on CD, Not Streaming Services

Taylor Swift is releasing her sixth album, “Reputation,” on CD, rather than any streaming service, say sources, who suggest that the streaming “blackout” could last one or two weeks. Swift and her label Big Machine Records have declined to be more specific, but an initial streaming blackout would be in line with Swift’s last album, “1989,” which when it was released in 2014 took seven months to reach streaming services, including Spotify, Apple Music and others. Now, “1989” streaming sales dominate over downloads and CDs. Continue reading Taylor Swift’s Album Debuts on CD, Not Streaming Services

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