Americans Now Spend $2 Billion Monthly on Streaming Video

According to Deloitte’s 2018 Digital Media Trends Survey, U.S. consumers are now spending about $2 billion per month to watch their favorite TV shows and movies via streaming video services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. The survey notes that 55 percent of U.S. households subscribe to at least one such service — a significant increase from 2009, when it was just 10 percent — and the average customer pays for three. Conversely, the survey found that pay-TV subscriptions like cable and satellite are down to 63 percent from 74 percent in 2016.

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NBCUniversal, Intel, Microsoft, Unity Launch Gaming Contest

NBCUniversal is inviting developers to create games leveraging its popular television and film properties such as “Battlestar Galactica,” “Back to the Future” and “Jaws.” Through the Universal GameDev Challenge — co-sponsored by Universal, Unity Technologies, Intel, and Microsoft — Unity game engine developers can submit pitches to be selected to build out their full vision in PC game form. Winner and runner-up win a consulting contract with Universal, Microsoft and Unity, along with a combined $250,000.

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Internal Numbers Reveal the Success of Amazon Prime Video

For the first time, numbers are available to demonstrate how Amazon’s original video strategy is paying off. Thanks to internal documents read by Reuters, the general public can see evidence that Amazon’s top shows enticed over 5 million people to sign up for its Prime shopping membership by 2017. Using video to create shoppers is a key to Amazon’s strategy, and chief executive Jeff Bezos has been open about that approach. In total, Amazon’s U.S. audience for video (original and licensed) is about 26 million. Continue reading Internal Numbers Reveal the Success of Amazon Prime Video

NBC News Could Launch a Live-Streaming Product This Year

NBC News programming is currently available via broadcast television, cable channel MSNBC and social platform Snapchat. An additional distribution option to attract younger viewers is being considered. Speaking to reporters this week, NBC News and MSNBC chair Andrew Lack explained that execs are mulling a new live-streaming service. “Lack did not give a time frame for a launch, though he suggested the concept could roll out in 2018,” reports Variety. “He and Nick Ascheim, senior vice president of digital for NBC News, said executives were also considering whether the product would be free or require a subscription.” Continue reading NBC News Could Launch a Live-Streaming Product This Year

Google Maps Helps Develop Real-World Gaming Experiences

Google is enabling game developers to create “Pokémon Go”-like experiences in which game elements are embedded into real-world maps using the new Google Maps API and the Unity game engine. Over 200 games are already in development. Next Games is developing a game based on the popular TV series “The Walking Dead,” and NBCUniversal and Ludia will release a “Jurassic World Alive” location-based game for mobile. Because Google Maps updates in real time, developers can create gaming experiences with a sharp eye on reality.

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TV Time Adds Personalized Recommendations to its Features

The TV Time app, which boasts a million daily users, now offers filterable, personalized recommendations to help organize your viewing selections. With programming spread across multiple services, it is often a challenge to keep up with what’s out there, what’s new, and what you might enjoy. Based on a user’s viewing habits and behaviors across multiple services (such as Netflix, Hulu and cable), the app makes recommendations and helps users track what they’re watching while connecting with other fans after episodes.

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Facebook Strikes Significant Deals With MLB, Warner Music

Facebook and Major League Baseball have agreed to an exclusive deal through which Facebook now has rights to stream 25 afternoon MLB games live on its social media platform. This marks the first time a major sports league in the U.S. has agreed to broadcast regular season games exclusively on Facebook — and the decision was unanimous among MLB owners. Though neither party disclosed financial details, people close to the matter say it is valued between $30-$35 million. Facebook also signed a major licensing deal with Warner Music Group. Continue reading Facebook Strikes Significant Deals With MLB, Warner Music

Today’s Podcasts Are Finally Proving They Can Turn a Profit

Podcasts have the potential to be intimate, captivating and entertaining. The recent podcasting boom began in 2014 with “Serial,” a true crime drama that changed perceptions of how big podcasting could be. But it wasn’t profitable right away and took millions of downloads over time to get there. The question became: could podcasts similar to “Serial” be replicated on a commercial basis? It seems that they now have the potential. For example, news sources such as The New York Times and Vox are proving that there can be big money in daily news podcasting.

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Netflix Has No Plans to Offer Live TV Such as News or Sports

From Netflix’s 280,000-square foot studio in Hollywood, chief executive Reed Hastings revealed that the company has no plans to enter the live TV market in news or sports, as its rivals Hulu and Amazon Video have done. Instead, the company is investing $8 billion in original content this year, part of its larger strategy to fend off competition from these popular services and a growing list of emerging competitors. Hastings also explained that Netflix has no plans to introduce advertising. Continue reading Netflix Has No Plans to Offer Live TV Such as News or Sports

Nearly 20 Percent of Adults Have Access to a Smart Speaker

Nearly one in five U.S. adults — 47.3 million, or 20 percent of the country’s adult population — has access to a smart speaker, according to Voicebot.ai research. In this case, “access to a smart speaker” means having a smart speaker in the home, even if the adult is not the primary user. Unlike smartphones and other personal technologies, not every person in the home is likely to have one. Thus, it’s likely most apt to compare smart speakers to TVs, which took 13 years to reach the 50 million mark versus just two years for smart speakers.

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Facebook, Google Improve Transparency After P&G Cuts Ads

Last year, Procter & Gamble cut its digital advertising by more than $200 million, after its call for transparency wasn’t satisfactorily answered. The company, whose brands include Crest, Pampers and Tide, believed that much of the spending on digital ads was not effective and that it could find more productive means of reaching consumers. The company cut $100 million in last year’s June quarter, for $100 million, with $100 million more from July through December, and included “several big digital players.” Continue reading Facebook, Google Improve Transparency After P&G Cuts Ads

Google Plans to Maintain Current Spending on YouTube Red

Google plans to maintain its current level of spending on the YouTube Red streaming service for the next two years, unlike Amazon and Netflix, both of which continue to up their investments. After switching its video strategy more than once, YouTube is currently approaching entertainment in three ways: its YouTube Red on-demand streaming service, live video service YouTube TV, and a new music streaming product. YouTube Originals are a “driving force” on YouTube Red, says the company’s chief business officer Robert Kyncl. Continue reading Google Plans to Maintain Current Spending on YouTube Red

Epix to Offer 4K Support, Explores New Subscription Service

Epix is scheduled to roll out support for 4K Ultra HD video on its apps this year. The cable network is also exploring the creation of a direct-to-consumer subscription service. “Direct-to-consumer is very important,” Epix VP and GM Monty Sahran told Variety. “We will be in that space.” While he didn’t specify a launch date or pricing, he confirmed the network’s plans. “It’s on our roadmap and we are working towards it,” he explained. Epix would join a growing field of such offerings from premium networks; HBO, Showtime and Starz currently offer their own standalone streaming services. Continue reading Epix to Offer 4K Support, Explores New Subscription Service

CBS Brings Sports News and Analysis to Connected Devices

CBS launched its streaming CBS Sports HQ network this week, designed to complement programming from CBS Sports. The free, 24-hour streaming network will feature live reporting, news, previews, highlights and analysis. The offering — a collaborative effort between CBS Sports and CBS Interactive — is available on Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Roku, in addition to the CBS Sports app (iOS and Android), news streaming network CBSN and the CBS All Access subscription service. Later this spring, ESPN is expected to launch its standalone streaming service, ESPN Plus. Continue reading CBS Brings Sports News and Analysis to Connected Devices

HPA 2018: Updates on ACES 1.0, The Evolution to ACESnext

ACES (the Academy Color Encoding System), which makes certain that the color decisions made early on in production are preserved through to the finished master, has evolved since it first launched in December 2014. At the HPA Tech Retreat, NBCUniversal vice president of creative technologies Annie Chang reported that, in 2015, 15 titles were done in ACES, compared to today’s 49+ titles. “We’ve seen the growth not just in feature and episodic, but in the gaming community and corporate clients like IKEA,” she added. Continue reading HPA 2018: Updates on ACES 1.0, The Evolution to ACESnext

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