Verizon Invests in AwesomenessTV to Grow its Mobile Video

Verizon Communications announced yesterday that it has purchased a minority stake in AwesomenessTV, the digital entertainment network geared toward teens and young adults. Verizon is buying 24.5 percent of the video company, now valued at $650 million. DreamWorks Animation owns 51 percent of the unit (it acquired Awesomeness in 2013), and Hearst owns another 24.5 percent. According to the telco, plans include creating a “a first-of-its-kind premium short-form mobile video service featuring leading talent in front of and behind the camera.” Continue reading Verizon Invests in AwesomenessTV to Grow its Mobile Video

Nielsen Breaks into Set-Top Box Data with Dish Network Deal

In a major breakthrough, Nielsen has signed a multi-year deal with Dish Network to use data from its 14-million set-top boxes for ratings, in addition to its long-standing 40,000-household panel. The deal comes on the heels of comScore’s merger with Rentrak, which also measures set-top-box data, as that company attempts to challenge Nielsen’s dominance in TV audience measurement. The Dish deal, which is not exclusive, will let Nielsen improve ratings in local, smaller markets where panelists aren’t measured electronically. Continue reading Nielsen Breaks into Set-Top Box Data with Dish Network Deal

Facebook Live Attracts Media Partners, Joins the ‘Today’ Show

Facebook Live, a pet project of chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and one of the company’s top priorities, is getting a big push. Posting video there now requires a Facebook app on a mobile device, but the Silicon Valley company also plans to introduce new features and partners in early April and at F8, Facebook’s developer conference. Facebook is also gaining traction with getting media companies and celebrities to participate, most recently on the “Today” show, which launched a Facebook Live video-streaming booth. Continue reading Facebook Live Attracts Media Partners, Joins the ‘Today’ Show

Sony to Launch Ultra 4K Movie Streaming Service Next Week

Sony is slated to roll out its 4K movie streaming service on Monday, April 4. First announced at January’s CES in Las Vegas, the new service will be called Ultra. Viewers will be charged $30 to purchase new Sony-produced films and $12-15 to upgrade pre-owned movies from their UltraViolet cloud locker. Ultra will also offer 4K HDR content such as extras previously only featured on discs. Consumers who buy a 2016 4K Sony TV will get four UHD movies bundled with their new television. Transactional VOD rentals are not expected to be an option featured with the launch. Continue reading Sony to Launch Ultra 4K Movie Streaming Service Next Week

ABC and Warner Bros. Ink Deal for Network’s Digital Platforms

ABC just struck a deal with Warner Bros. Television to make all in-season episodes of any future series from the studio available on ABC digital platforms. That’s a victory for the network over other streaming services, in particular Netflix, which often insists on exclusivity, thus blocking networks from securing so-called stacking rights, or five rolling episodes of a current show. The ABC-Warner Bros. deal means that ABC will have more relevant content for its own time-shifted options, including the revamped WatchABC app. Continue reading ABC and Warner Bros. Ink Deal for Network’s Digital Platforms

Nielsen Debuts Connected TV Data, Adds to Television Usage

Starting April 25, Nielsen will provide data for connected TV devices, including Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast, Microsoft Xbox, Sony PlayStation and Nintendo Wii. Also new is Nielsen’s Total Use of Television (TUT) that adds connected-TV device data to traditional TV usage. Nielsen research, based on data from 40,000 households with 100,ooo+ TVs and 50,000 TV-connected devices, also shows that consumers are less likely to cut the cord than add streaming services to traditional pay TV. Continue reading Nielsen Debuts Connected TV Data, Adds to Television Usage

Comcast, Amazon Partner to Sell TV, Internet, Phone Services

Comcast now sells TV, Internet and phone service on Amazon.com in a new retail partnership that has been a year in the making. A new Amazon landing page — the Amazon Cable Store — sells Comcast’s Xfinity-branded bundles, with dedicated customer service for Amazon customers. Comcast, which hopes the relationship will improve its customer service image, also opened two customer call centers to focus entirely on Amazon-generated inquiries about Comcast sales, part of $300 million earmarked to improve customer service. Continue reading Comcast, Amazon Partner to Sell TV, Internet, Phone Services

Google Cast Technology Powers New Vizio TVs and Speakers

Vizio is launching a SmartCast TV set and several soundbars and speakers, all based on Google Cast, the same technology as that company’s Chromecast streaming stick. With the SmartCast TV, the user can control streaming services directly from his or her phone, without a remote control. Vizio just introduced a companion Android app on Google Play that will allow volume control and other basic functions as well as a movie/TV show guide. One partner in the launch is Walmart’s video service Vudu. Continue reading Google Cast Technology Powers New Vizio TVs and Speakers

New Daily Talk Show from E! Now Livestreaming on Facebook

On March 21, the NBCUniversal-owned cable network E! debuted a daily live talk show — “Live From E!” — on Facebook Live. The show, which runs 15 to 20 minutes each weekday at 12:30 pm Eastern time, is shot with an Apple iPhone 6s Plus smartphone, and is also available on eonline.com and the E! Online app. The show represents a success for Facebook, which has been pitching TV networks, media companies, sports leagues (including the NFL) and celebrities to bring premium live content to its streaming service. Continue reading New Daily Talk Show from E! Now Livestreaming on Facebook

Viacom Inks Multi-Year Deal for comScore/Rentrak Digital Data

Ever since comScore acquired Rentrak, the merged companies have posed competition to ratings giant Nielsen. Now, the merged digital measurement firm has signed a multi-year deal with Viacom to help the media giant more accurately target specific demographics across its linear TV, digital, mobile and over-the-top channels including MTV, VH1 and Comedy Central. Viacom offers Vantage as a data-targeting service to advertisers who want to reach “new parents looking for diapers” and other more granular targets. Continue reading Viacom Inks Multi-Year Deal for comScore/Rentrak Digital Data

FTC Goes After Paid Endorsements Presented as Commentary

As smartphone users turn increasingly to ad blockers, marketers are getting their messages out by paying Internet influencers under the table to promote their products as personal reviews and commentary. For some time, the practice was beyond the reach of the Federal Trade Commission, which made sure paid endorsements were advertised as such in television, newspapers and magazines. With new guideline changes initiated in 2015, however, the FTC is now going after violators, just reaching a settlement with video network Machinima. Continue reading FTC Goes After Paid Endorsements Presented as Commentary

Amazon, Netflix Producing Local Content for European Markets

Amazon and Netflix have both entered a new arena: producing local content in Europe that, they hope, will also have global appeal. Germany, as Europe’s largest and wealthiest country, is of particular interest, but Amazon and Netflix also have competition. In one example, Britain’s Sky – which has 21 million subscribers — and German broadcaster ARD are shooting a 12-episode TV series, “Babylon Berlin,” about the years before Hitler’s rise, at a new $13 million outdoor set constructed at the Babelsberg Film Studio. Continue reading Amazon, Netflix Producing Local Content for European Markets

Media Companies Turn to A La Carte Sales in Foreign Markets

Viacom, 21st Century Fox and The Walt Disney Company are among the numerous entertainment companies offering their content a la carte — in Europe, Latin America and Asia. In the U.S., these networks are still parts of more expensive bundles proffered by Comcast, DirecTV and other pay TV services. That reflects a much lower penetration of homes outside the U.S. that have a cable or satellite subscription, which makes it possible for media companies to make a la carte offers without running afoul of pay TV providers. Continue reading Media Companies Turn to A La Carte Sales in Foreign Markets

CBS Five-Year Plan Looks to Expand OTT and Skinny Bundles

During an investor day in New York on Tuesday, CBS chairman and CEO Les Moonves unveiled the network’s five-year business plan, which intends to ramp up business online and overseas, and cash in on retransmission fees in order to increase overall revenue by $3.75 billion. To help achieve its goal, the company plans to reach 8 million subscribers for its OTT services — CBS All Access and Showtime streaming — and add another 4 million subs for its skinny bundle packages. Sources also indicate that CBS has expressed interest in adding Starz to its cable portfolio. Continue reading CBS Five-Year Plan Looks to Expand OTT and Skinny Bundles

Sony PlayStation Vue Debuts OTT Tiers, Skinny to Full Bundles

Sony’s PlayStation Vue, which recently added ESPN, is offering OTT service throughout the U.S., although most markets still won’t get live local TV programs. The national OTT offering competes head-on with Dish Networks’s Sling TV, priced at $20+ per month, and AT&T’s DirecTV pay-TV packages, slated to launch in Q4 2016. PlayStation Vue’s Slim packages, which start at $30 per month and are on offer in 203 U.S. markets, provide on-demand access to ABC, NBC and Fox primetime content, with CBS on board later in some markets. Continue reading Sony PlayStation Vue Debuts OTT Tiers, Skinny to Full Bundles

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