Supreme Court: App Store Customers Can Now Sue Apple

In what could become a landmark decision, the Supreme Court has ruled to allow individual iPhone users to sue Apple in antitrust violation cases related to the tech giant’s App Store. In a 5-4 decision written by Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court agreed with a lower court ruling that determined App Store customers could sue Apple for allegedly driving up prices by forcing them to purchase apps exclusively from the App Store. Apple lost its argument that was based on the contention that third-party developers set the prices for apps. While Apple holds steady in its belief that it does not represent a monopoly, the ruling could have future ramifications regarding consumers who seek to sue other app sellers for antitrust violations. Continue reading Supreme Court: App Store Customers Can Now Sue Apple

Amazon and Google Offering Ad-Supported Music Services

Spotify has new competition. Amazon just introduced an ad-supported version of Amazon Music available in the U.S. via Alexa devices. To jumpstart the service, Amazon has reportedly offered to pay some record labels per stream for music licenses, separate from ad sales. The catalog is limited, but listeners can access some of Amazon Music’s “top playlists.” Google also announced that YouTube Music will be free on Google Home smart speakers and Google Assistant devices in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and parts of Europe. Continue reading Amazon and Google Offering Ad-Supported Music Services

YouTube Expands its 7-Day Stories Feature to More Creators

YouTube expanded its Stories to more than 100,000 subscribers in its Partner Program, meaning they will appear more often in mobile users’ homepages. The trial for Stories began earlier this year with only a few channels. YouTube Stories last for seven days, appear for subscribers and non-subscribers, and allow creators to interact with fans that can leave comments or ask questions. First announced in November 2017, YouTube Stories appears to target channel promotion and community engagement rather than day-to-day updates. Continue reading YouTube Expands its 7-Day Stories Feature to More Creators

Amazon Seeks Efficiency While Investing in New Businesses

After decades of unreliable profits, Amazon has had four consecutive quarters with profits over $1 billion, and a net income of $2.9 billion in Q3. Although the numbers exceeded analysts’ expectations, the e-commerce giant also revealed that revenue in its core retail business was below expectations, with sales up 29 percent to $56.6 billion, and sales in its online store rose only 11 percent over the last year, half the pace of a year ago. As a result, discontent investors recently dropped shares 7 percent in aftermarket trading. Continue reading Amazon Seeks Efficiency While Investing in New Businesses

Amazon and Apple Turn Up the Heat in the Audiobook Market

According to the Association of American Publishers, in the first eight months of 2017, based on data from 1,200 publishers, revenue from audiobooks grew 20 percent, compared to print books sales increasing a mere 1.5 percent and e-books losing 5.4 percent. Amazon, which bought Audible in 2008, has been the dominant player, with Audible carving out a unique and profitable portion of the market. But Apple is now attempting to take on its rival with a redesigned iBooks e-book reading application for iPhones and iPads. Continue reading Amazon and Apple Turn Up the Heat in the Audiobook Market

Facebook to Debut Feature for Enabling Media Subscriptions

According to sources, Facebook is readying the launch a feature that will allow users to subscribe to The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post and other publications, directly from the mobile app. The feature, which is expected to debut by the end of the year, is still under discussion internally. Among the unresolved issues are whether Facebook will limit stories to those published natively to Facebook via Instant Articles, the payment model and whether Facebook would get a percentage of revenue. Continue reading Facebook to Debut Feature for Enabling Media Subscriptions

Podcast Companies Try Out Subscription Model to Replace Ads

Some podcasts are experimenting with paid subscriptions rather than advertising as the way to generate revenue. Swedish-based podcast app and ad network Acast unveiled a service, Acast+, to enable that, taking a share of the revenue for letting podcast creators set their own prices and sell content directly to listeners without ads. Although current podcasts use the platform to hawk exclusive bonus content, Acast’s plan is to entice social media stars and celebrities to create new podcasts for their fans. Continue reading Podcast Companies Try Out Subscription Model to Replace Ads

Netflix Ban on VPNs Impacts Growth Abroad, May Spur Piracy

For many years, Netflix subscribers living outside the U.S. have accessed content not available in their regions via a VPN (virtual private network) that hid their location. In January, Netflix began blocking VPNs, in part to mollify Hollywood studios by showing it respects regional licensing agreements. But Netflix subscribers aren’t happy about the new state of affairs and have even started a petition — with 36,000 signatures and counting — to overturn the ban. One study shows piracy as a consequence of the new policy. Continue reading Netflix Ban on VPNs Impacts Growth Abroad, May Spur Piracy

Advertisers Seek New Ways to Combat Growth of Ad Blocking

For advertisers, ad blocking is a problem that’s quickly getting bigger, as more consumers download ad-blocking apps and browsers. Mobile marketing company Tune just released a new report that predicts that ad blocking could comprise 80 percent of smartphone owners by Q3 2017. In response, advertisers are exploring ways to block the ad blockers. Digital advertising trade group Interactive Advertising Bureau has written a primer on how to block the blockers, and even The New York Times is testing ways around them. Continue reading Advertisers Seek New Ways to Combat Growth of Ad Blocking

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

Federal Ruling Updates Royalty Rates for Streaming Music

When a panel of federal judges increased the royalty rates that free Internet radio services pay, there were winners and losers. The rate for pure-play Internet services rose to 17 cents from 14 cents, disappointing SoundExchange, the non-profit licensing agency representing record companies, which had asked for 25 cents. The Copyright Royalty Board also evened the playing field between pure-play and broadcasters with Web streams such as iHeartRadio, with the latter owing less — 22 cents rather than 25 cents — for their paid subscriptions. Continue reading Federal Ruling Updates Royalty Rates for Streaming Music

Showtime, Starz Now On Tap For Amazon Prime Members

Amazon just began offering some enticing add-ons for its Prime members: on-demand programming from Showtime, Starz and other channels, for as much as $8.99 a month. The goal is to lure more consumers to become Prime members, a $99 a year program that offers unlimited two-day shipping among other benefits, since Prime members spend more money on the site than non-Prime members. The add-on channels can be accessed via Amazon’s apps on mobile devices, streaming boxes and connected TVs. Continue reading Showtime, Starz Now On Tap For Amazon Prime Members

Prime Instant Video Heads to New Networks, JetBlue, Apple TV

Although Amazon won’t comment, those in the know say that the company will soon open up Prime Instant Video to other on-demand networks. With this move, Prime customers will be able to add other online subscriptions to their accounts, and Amazon will be able to aggregate its own network bundles. Amazon has also signed a deal with JetBlue to feature its streaming video and music services on the airline’s satellite Internet system, and Apple TV users will soon have access to a Prime Instant Video iOS app. Continue reading Prime Instant Video Heads to New Networks, JetBlue, Apple TV

Pandora, Spotify Explore On-Demand Music and Ticket Sales

Pandora just acquired Rdio for its technology and talent, and Spotify is unrolling Fan Insights to offer its musicians a way to research its fan base and plan smarter tours. In both cases, these popular streaming music services are expanding beyond their core expertise — and their unstable revenue — by uniting radio, on demand and even live shows. As bigger players such as Apple, Google and Amazon create music services, Pandora and Spotify must offer more services to survive. Continue reading Pandora, Spotify Explore On-Demand Music and Ticket Sales

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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