HPA Tech Retreat: Call for Proposals and Roundtable Topics

The Hollywood Professional Association (HPA) just called for proposals for the 2019 HPA Tech Retreat, which will take place February 11–15 at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa in Palm Desert, California. Proposals submitted during this process make up the main portion of the conference, which focuses on the intersection of creative media and technology. The HPA Tech Retreat is made up of the Tech Retreat Extra (TR-X), the Supersession, breakfast roundtables, an Innovation Zone, and the main conference. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Call for Proposals and Roundtable Topics

Alexa Support Comes to Devices From Toshiba, Sony, Others

Toshiba revealed that many of its OLED, 4K and Full HD Smart Range TV sets will respond to Alexa voice control starting next year. Via Alexa, consumers will be able to change the channel or volume, offer movie recommendations, read the news or launch more than 45,000 Alexa skills. Toshiba also introduced its first Android TV, a 55-inch model, with Google Assistant voice, which became available last fall, to control smart home devices and the TV volume, search for movies, and launch apps. Bose, Marshall and Sony are among those also introducing Alexa-enabled products. Continue reading Alexa Support Comes to Devices From Toshiba, Sony, Others

New Phones, 8K TVs, Alexa Garner the Most Attention at IFA

While the IFA conference in Berlin has traditionally targeted consumers in Europe, the show has recently become a global launching pad for products being readied for the holiday shopping season, one reason IFA has become more significant. According to TechCrunch, this year’s more notable announcements included Alexa routers from Netgear and Huawei; 8K TV sets from LG, Samsung, Sharp, Toshiba and others; smartphones such as the Sony Xperia XZ2, LG G7 One and HTC U12 Life; Polaroid’s new instant camera the OneStep+; and Lenovo’s Yoga Book C930 convertible, which features an E Ink display instead of a keyboard. Continue reading New Phones, 8K TVs, Alexa Garner the Most Attention at IFA

Sony Adds 200 Local Channels to its PlayStation Vue Service

Sony’s OTT service PlayStation Vue is expanding its lineup by adding 200 local stations across the U.S., including ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC affiliates and ESPN College Extra. With the expanded lineup, Playstation Vue now features more than 450 local stations. The service is available via Sony’s game console; across Android, iOS and web platforms; and media players such as Android TV, Apple TV, Amazon’s Fire TV, Google’s Chromecast and Roku devices. The additions could help the service compete with new players, including Hulu and YouTube TV. Continue reading Sony Adds 200 Local Channels to its PlayStation Vue Service

Rotten Tomatoes Diversifies Critic Pool to Strengthen Service

In an effort to make its Tomatometer ranking of movies and TV shows even stronger, popular review aggregation service Rotten Tomatoes made a move this week to add more female and minority reviewers. By revising its criteria for new critics, the service aims to include a wider range of voices, including those from the increasing number of reviewers gaining audiences via podcasts and YouTube. In order to be more inclusive, Rotten Tomatoes has adjusted its requirements that have thus far been based largely on employment duration and scale of publishing. As a result of the changes, 200 new critics were added to the site yesterday. Continue reading Rotten Tomatoes Diversifies Critic Pool to Strengthen Service

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

Amazon May Expand Media Efforts With Landmark Purchase

Amazon is reportedly among those vying to acquire Landmark Theatres, the country’s largest chain focused on indie and foreign movies. Landmark is part of the Wagner/Cuban entertainment holdings, backed by film producer Todd Wagner and billionaire investor Mark Cuban. According to insiders, Landmark’s owners have been working with financial services firm Stephens Inc. on a possible sale. The move would introduce Amazon to the brick-and-mortar cinema industry, while complementing the e-commerce giant’s media expansion of interests such as Prime Video, Prime Music and Amazon Studios. Continue reading Amazon May Expand Media Efforts With Landmark Purchase

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

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

New comScore CEO Readies Cross-Platform Ad Metrics Tool

Under the aegis of new chief executive Bryan Wiener, comScore is readying the debut of its Campaign Ratings tool to measure ad views across platforms. Wiener was hired about two months ago, in the wake of corporate difficulties including accounting irregularities and management changes. The tool promises to provide advertisers with a more realistic report of ad viewing by measuring viewers who see an ad on any device, including TV and mobile and avoiding double-counting of viewers who watch an ad once on different devices. Continue reading New comScore CEO Readies Cross-Platform Ad Metrics Tool

Nielsen: U.S. Adults Average 6 Hours per Day Watching Video

According to a new report from Nielsen covering Q1 2018, adult consumers in the U.S. are spending an average of 5 hours and 57 minutes per day watching video content (Americans average 11 hours per day interacting with all media). Nielsen’s research includes live and time-shifted television as well as video watched on a computer, via mobile apps and websites on smartphones or tablets, over Internet devices like Roku, and through connected devices such as Blu-ray players and game consoles. Continue reading Nielsen: U.S. Adults Average 6 Hours per Day Watching Video

Senators Request Investigation of Smart TV Privacy Practices

Senators Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) have written a letter to Federal Trade Commission chair Joseph Simons requesting that his agency investigate the business practices of smart TV manufacturers. The two senators are concerned about “consumer privacy issues raised by the proliferation of smart TV technology,” since some companies are able to identify what people are watching and use that data to feed ads to other device’s in the consumer’s home. Continue reading Senators Request Investigation of Smart TV Privacy Practices

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