Amazon Is Open to Streaming Content Through Cable STBs

Amazon, which recently won its first Oscars for “Manchester by the Sea” and “The Salesman,” is taking on pay-TV providers and game developers as it expands beyond e-commerce into various media initiatives. Now, the company suggests it would be open to discussing deals that would enable it to stream content through the set-top boxes of cable operators, similar to Netflix’s approach. “Amazon is definitely open to those partnerships,” explained Amazon Video managing director Alex Green at Cable Congress 2017 in Brussels. Continue reading Amazon Is Open to Streaming Content Through Cable STBs

Media Player Software Company Plex Debuts Online Service

Online service Plex Cloud, which has been in private beta since September, is now open to all paying Plex users. The new service “eliminates the need for an always-on PC or other network-attached piece of hardware in order to use the Plex media player software for watching your saved TV shows and movies, viewing photos or streaming from your music collection,” explains TechCrunch. Plex Cloud, which initially used Amazon Cloud Drive to host files, experienced a number of technical challenges that Plex says have been resolved. Plex supports Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox. Plex Cloud is now “an option for anyone who subscribes to Plex Pass, the company’s $5 per month, subscription-based service offering a variety of premium features.” Continue reading Media Player Software Company Plex Debuts Online Service

Milestone: Netflix Service Surpasses DVR in U.S. Households

According to Leichtman Research Group’s latest on-demand study, more TV households in the U.S. now have Netflix (54 percent) than a digital video recorder (53 percent), marking a first for the streaming service. The study also found that 64 percent of households presently use SVOD services from Netflix, Amazon and/or Hulu. “In 2011, according to the research firm, 44 percent of TV households had a DVR and 28 percent had Netflix,” reports Variety. “About 23 percent of all adults in TV homes stream Netflix daily … compared with 6 percent who did in 2011. LRG president Bruce Leichtman noted that Netflix’s penetration is boosted by password sharing.” Continue reading Milestone: Netflix Service Surpasses DVR in U.S. Households

Cord Cutters Have Recording Options with TiVo Roamio OTA

Consumers interested in recording over-the-air TV shows without the need for a cable or satellite subscription can turn to recorders compatible with HDTV antennas such as TiVo’s Roamio OTA 1TB DVR. The $400 recorder (currently $370 on Amazon for a limited time) receives channels over an antenna rather than using a CableCARD. The device provides “access to streaming services and the TiVo interface,” notes Digital Trends, and “allows you to record four shows at once and up to 150 hours of HD programming.” You can beef up recording capacity with a TiVo-ready Netgear ReadyNAS or external hard drive. SkipMode allows for bypassing commercials, while QuickMode speeds through slow-moving recorded and buffered shows without audio distortion. Continue reading Cord Cutters Have Recording Options with TiVo Roamio OTA

Game Developers Conference: What’s Next in VR Storytelling

VR leaders gathered for day two of the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco last week. Many of the talks addressed techniques for dealing with a medium in which you present a story and a world to the ‘visitor,’ but you have limited control over how the visitor experiences it. The “Job Simulator” team created microstories bounded by story pinchpoints within a macrostory. The HBO “Westworld” VR and Baobab Studios teams rewarded visitors for taking actions that advance the story, but embedded triggers that advance the story when the visitor misses the cues. The “Trials on Tatooine” team learned that understanding and accommodating visitors with varying physical abilities can not only improve user experience design, but inform story development. Continue reading Game Developers Conference: What’s Next in VR Storytelling

Netflix Develops AI to Help Optimize Video for Mobile Devices

Netflix needed a way to improve video streaming quality for consumers in emerging economies watching movies and TV shows on the go. The company came up with a new method for video encoding called Dynamic Optimizer that reduces the amount of data in the video file without losing image quality. The Netflix team trained an AI to compress the video specifically based on the complexity of a given scene. The Dynamic Optimizer system expected to roll out in the coming months. Continue reading Netflix Develops AI to Help Optimize Video for Mobile Devices

Katzenberg Envisions Next Wave of Entertainment for Mobile

Jeffrey Katzenberg, who left DreamWorks Animation last summer, is launching WndrCo, a new media and tech venture that has already raised nearly $600 million. During a Q&A in New York with Hearst Magazines president David Carey, Katzenberg said he is interested in the next wave of television, which he sees as a mobile experience. He cited the roughly $200,000 per minute that Netflix spends on content and the less than $100 a minute needed to produce most YouTube content, suggesting there’s an opportunity that falls between the two approaches. “He said a few companies have been successful at producing mobile-oriented original video for a few thousand dollars per minute — citing Vice Media, BuzzFeed and AwesomenessTV,” reports Variety. Continue reading Katzenberg Envisions Next Wave of Entertainment for Mobile

Google’s Daydream, Cardboard Continue to Gain Momentum

Google has now shipped 10 million Cardboard VR sets. That’s double the number Google had shipped from the device’s launch in 2014 to July of last year. Meanwhile, the company is also pushing its next generation of VR devices like the Daydream View headset. The variety of phones and content for the platform are continuing to expand, and current users are already watching an average of 40 minutes per week. Google is working with content partners such as Hulu, Netflix and HBO. Continue reading Google’s Daydream, Cardboard Continue to Gain Momentum

Copyright Holders Demand DMCA Update, Addition of Filtering

According to the Recording Industry Association of America and 14 other groups, the 19-year-old Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) needs to be updated. They’re telling the U.S. Copyright Office that new piracy controls are required. Currently, ISPs that “expeditiously” remove copyrighted content when alerted by rights holders get legal immunity or so-called safe harbor. But the RIAA and others say this process is not sufficient, as the pirated copy reappears instantly, requiring yet another takedown notice. Continue reading Copyright Holders Demand DMCA Update, Addition of Filtering

TheTake Looks to Convert Product Recognition to B2B Service

TheTake, a startup that helps viewers purchase the products that they see in movies and television shows, is now turning its image recognition technology into a business-to-business service. The company is selling the service to major studios and entertainment sites so that they can generate extra revenue from identifying marketable products and locations. TheTake built the technology by training an AI to look for matches from the company’s database of more than 10 million products. Continue reading TheTake Looks to Convert Product Recognition to B2B Service

European Broadcasters Create Web Videos for Young Viewers

While U.S. networks primarily repost their broadcast television shows online, European broadcasters are taking a different approach by producing short-form Web series that are created specifically for mobile viewing. The new shows are a way for broadcasters to compete with the growing popularity of Netflix and Amazon, while creating a new revenue stream as mobile advertising sales are expected to surge 82 percent in the next two years. The ads for these shows are often targeted at younger audiences who are more likely to be watching on the go. Continue reading European Broadcasters Create Web Videos for Young Viewers

Apple to Roll Out Original Video Programming via Apple Music

Apple is joining the ranks of Amazon and Netflix in creating original series specifically intended for online platforms. However, unlike its competitors, Apple does not have a devoted video platform, so it plans to create original content for its Apple Music streaming service that can be viewed on Apple TVs, iPads, iPhones and other devices. So far, Apple is developing a reality series called “Planet of the Apps” and a standalone series based on James Corden’s popular “Carpool Karaoke.” Continue reading Apple to Roll Out Original Video Programming via Apple Music

Amazon: Prime, Other Subscription Services Earn $6.4 Billion

For the first time, Amazon is revealing earnings from its Prime membership program as well as other subscription services, in a 77-page document. Up until now, the company has been tight-lipped on such numbers, leaving investors to wonder how these important services are faring. The last time Amazon revealed numbers, in April 2015, it detailed the profitability of its Amazon Web Services, resulting in analysts and investors bumping the company’s value upwards. Since then, shares in Amazon have more than doubled. Continue reading Amazon: Prime, Other Subscription Services Earn $6.4 Billion

EU’s Digital Single Market Strategy Concerns Film/TV Industry

To help create a unified digital market, the European Union just agreed to so-called portability, which will allow subscribers to access their online services as they travel from one EU country to another. When the EU introduced its Digital Single Market (DSM) in May 2015, Europe’s film/TV industry, which licenses its content territory-by-territory, promptly opposed it, especially the provision that would allow people in the EU to buy content on other countries’ digital platforms. The Motion Picture Association of America shares these concerns. Continue reading EU’s Digital Single Market Strategy Concerns Film/TV Industry

HBO Now Service Has More Than 2 Million Subscribers in U.S.

During a conference call yesterday with analysts detailing HBO’s strong 2016 earnings, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes announced that the cable network’s standalone streaming service HBO Now, which launched in April 2015, has officially surpassed the 2 million domestic subscriber mark. “Wall Street has been keenly attuned to the pace of subscriber growth for HBO Now as a bellwether of how major media giants will evolve their businesses in the digital era,” reports Variety. The service is vital to Time Warner since “HBO is in the midst of carriage renewal deals with major MVPDs, including the two largest cable operators, Comcast and Charter Communications.” Time Warner is also looking to merge with AT&T, parent of DirecTV. Continue reading HBO Now Service Has More Than 2 Million Subscribers in U.S.

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