Amazon Hits 100M Prime Subscribers, Inks Deal with Best Buy

For the first time, Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos revealed the number of Amazon Prime subscribers: 100 million people. In 2015, the company last hinted about the number, saying there were “tens of millions” of Prime members. With this revelation, Bezos is letting shareholders know that Prime is healthy, and that the large number of subscribers will allow the company to continue to invest in technology and thrive. Bezos also recently announced that Amazon is teaming with Best Buy to sell Amazon Fire TV-powered sets. Continue reading Amazon Hits 100M Prime Subscribers, Inks Deal with Best Buy

Consumers Are Using Phones to Control Smart Home Devices

Smartphones could be on their way toward becoming the new remote, as a recent GfK survey of 1,000 Internet users 18 and older found that 89 percent use their phones to control connected home products and services (an increase of 19 percent since 2015). The same respondents indicated that they are now using their phones more than other devices in the home: 83 percent use their smartphones at home, 75 percent use their laptops, 54 percent use PCs, and 34 percent use game consoles. The figures represent increases across all categories when compared to 2015. Continue reading Consumers Are Using Phones to Control Smart Home Devices

Adobe Experience Cloud Collects Data for Digital Ad Analysis

Adobe recently released its “2018 State of Digital Advertising” report, which indicates that 74 percent of marketers believe they are now serving consumers relevant ads. However, only 8 percent of today’s consumers agree that digital ads delivered to them are “always relevant,” and 27 percent find the online ads “often relevant.” Meanwhile, the report also suggests that new customers are three times as likely as existing customers to be driven by social media to visit a retailer. Adobe found that connected TV sites, on-demand streaming, and mobile retail are areas experiencing significant growth. Continue reading Adobe Experience Cloud Collects Data for Digital Ad Analysis

NAB 2018: Artificial Intelligence Tools for Animation and VFX

Tools powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning can also be used in animation and visual effects. Nvidia senior solutions architect Rick Grandy noted that the benefit of such tools is that artists don’t have to replicate their own work. That includes deep learning used for realistic character motion created in real-time via game engines and AI, as well as a phase-functioned neural network for character control, whereby the network can be trained by motion capture or animation. Continue reading NAB 2018: Artificial Intelligence Tools for Animation and VFX

NAB 2018: Machine-Learning Tools to Become Vital for Editing

USC School of Cinematic Arts professor and editor Norman Hollyn spoke at a conference on machine learning about ML tools available today and those that are imminent for editing film/TV content. Underlying the growing importance of ML-powered tools for editors, Hollyn pointed out that editors who resisted the advent of digital nonlinear editing in the 1990s exited the industry. “AI is bringing things into the post production world and if we don’t start to look at and embrace them, we’ll be ex-editors,” he said. Continue reading NAB 2018: Machine-Learning Tools to Become Vital for Editing

NAB 2018: Post-Millennial/Gen Z Survey on Cinema, TV, VR

If you want to know what’s on the mind of a post-millennial, the best person to ask is a member of that demographic. At NAB 2018, a 15-year-old high school sophomore did even better than that, presenting the results of her own survey of over 200 members of her age group. Based on a family conversation (that included her father, industry consultant Pete Ludé), Helen Ludé, a student at Lowell High School in San Francisco, decided to poll her friends on cinema attendance, home consumption habits and virtual reality.  Continue reading NAB 2018: Post-Millennial/Gen Z Survey on Cinema, TV, VR

NAB 2018: Distinct Traits of Gen Z, The YouTube Generation

Call them Gen Z, or Plurals or Centennials. But whatever you do, don’t call these 14- to 19-year-olds millennials. During one of NAB’s Future of Cinema sessions, ETC Immersive Media Initiative lead Phil Lelyveld described Gen Z and what makes them distinct from the much more familiar millennials. For starters, he said, they spend only 13.2 hours a week watching TV, the lowest number of any preceding generation. Lelyveld also noted that the exact definition, by age, of Gen Z is undetermined, but behaviors are clear. Continue reading NAB 2018: Distinct Traits of Gen Z, The YouTube Generation

NAB 2018: Hollywood Pushes HDR Production, Post – Part 1

At NAB 2018 in Las Vegas, a panel of Hollywood leaders described the progress of high dynamic range (HDR) as part of the motion picture, TV, and home entertainment pipelines. They also revealed some of the pitfalls that continue to bedevil adoption of the new standard, as well as spell out the changes that need to take place for HDR to be fully embraced. Sony Pictures Entertainment senior vice president, technology Bill Baggelaar noted however that, “consumers have a preference for HDR,” underlining its inevitability. Continue reading NAB 2018: Hollywood Pushes HDR Production, Post – Part 1

NAB 2018: ATSC 3.0 Now Live with Next Gen TV Deployments

ATSC 3.0 — otherwise known as Next Gen TV — is a dramatic remaking of U.S. broadcast, and, at NAB 2018, a select group of broadcasters and technologists came together to describe actual field deployments of the new system and talk about the potential innovations and opportunities for programming, advertising and return-on-investment. Capitol Broadcasting Company director of engineering and operations Pete Sockett said it best: “UHD works. It just plain works, like it says in the spreadsheet.” Continue reading NAB 2018: ATSC 3.0 Now Live with Next Gen TV Deployments

YouTube Debuts Cost Effective Ad Option: TrueView for Reach

For a more cost-effective way to reach viewers, YouTube introduced a skippable option for ads called TrueView for Reach, priced on a cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) basis. With the company’s standard TrueView ads — which Google recommends to be at least 12-seconds long — advertisers pay only if a viewer watches to the end or clicks on an element in the in-stream content. The new format works ideally with 10- to 15-second spots, and YouTube touts TrueView for Reach as helping advertisers reach a “broad set of customers” and achieve 95 percent viewability rates. Continue reading YouTube Debuts Cost Effective Ad Option: TrueView for Reach

California Law Would Require Social Platforms to Report Bots

State legislators in California are pushing for a law that would require Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to identify bots, automated accounts that can be created or used by individuals or organizations. Most recently, bots, reportedly out of Russia, generated hundreds of posts on gun control in the wake of the shooting in Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Russia-linked bots also played a role sharing Donald Trump’s tweets almost 500,000 times in the final weeks of the 2016 election. Continue reading California Law Would Require Social Platforms to Report Bots

Facebook Rolls Out Plan in Effort to Increase Platform Security

Last week, Facebook executives detailed their plan to protect future elections from meddling on the social media platform, elaborating on Facebook’s “use of human moderators, third-party fact checkers, and automation to catch fake accounts, foreign interference, fake news, and to increase transparency in political ads,” reports Wired. This comes in response to what happened nearly three years ago, when “a Russian propaganda group infiltrated Facebook and other tech platforms in hopes of seeding chaos in the 2016 U.S. election.”

Continue reading Facebook Rolls Out Plan in Effort to Increase Platform Security

Number of OTT-Only Households in the U.S. Continues to Rise

According to a new report from the Video Advertising Bureau, the number of households in the United States that are now using only OTT streaming services to watch movies and TV shows has reached 14.1 million, a figure that has almost tripled over five years. However, that number makes up just 11 percent of all U.S. TV households. The report also found that over-the-top services are often used in tandem with pay TV subscriptions; 70 percent of those with OTT services also pay for cable, satellite or telcos.

Continue reading Number of OTT-Only Households in the U.S. Continues to Rise

Startup Using AI to Help Create Effects for Movies, TV, Games

Palo Alto-based startup Arraiy is developing methods for automating part of the often-tedious process of producing visual effects for movies, TV shows and video games. “Filmmakers can do this stuff, but they have to do it by hand,” said CTO Gary Bradski, who has worked with tech companies such as Intel and Magic Leap. The Arraiy team, led by Bradski and CEO Ethan Rublee, “are building computer algorithms that can learn design tasks by analyzing years of work by movie effects houses,” reports The New York Times. “That includes systems that learn to ‘rotoscope’ raw camera footage, carefully separating people and objects from their backgrounds so that they can be dropped onto new backgrounds.” Continue reading Startup Using AI to Help Create Effects for Movies, TV, Games

NBA Digital Begins Testing 99-Cent Streaming of 4th Quarters

Fans of the NBA have game streaming options ranging from league-wide packages, team-specific packages, and single game options (with certain blackouts applicable to all). Now, NBA Digital, a combined effort between the NBA and Turner, is testing an even more affordable option — streaming the 4th quarter of live games for just 99 cents, according to social media reports from fans who are receiving notifications via the NBA app to test the service. NBA Digital has yet to respond to requests for more information.

Continue reading NBA Digital Begins Testing 99-Cent Streaming of 4th Quarters

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