Netflix Reveals Content, Tech Plans at Mobile World Congress

In several meetings at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Netflix discussed plans for content and technology plays over the coming months, including the release of a large slate of original programs. The company revealed that it’s keeping an eye on virtual reality as a storytelling tool and is also about to launch a second screen experience, which has been in development for a number of years. The company has also been more forthcoming about its plans to acquire and distribute content in high dynamic range. Continue reading Netflix Reveals Content, Tech Plans at Mobile World Congress

BitTorrent Program Popcorn Time Returns After 2015 Shutdown

Popcorn Time is back. The fork most closely associated with the version shut down by the MPAA last year is now promising “resilience-driven development” based on the development of the relatively new and legal Project Butter. In October 2015, the most popular Popcorn Time fork shuttered its website after the MPAA filed a lawsuit against developers in Canada. While the MPAA’s threats created a domino effect that stopped several contributors from working on the platform, outdated versions of PopcornTime.io software began receiving updates this month. Continue reading BitTorrent Program Popcorn Time Returns After 2015 Shutdown

AMC Employs Digital Watermarking to Pinpoint and Halt Piracy

AMC Networks is the latest Hollywood company to adopt digital watermarking to protect its shows — chief among them “The Walking Dead” — from digital piracy, especially before the episodes air on TV. AMC has said it plans to use Civolution’s NexGuard to embed watermarks on a list of its original shows, also including “Better Call Saul” and “Humans.” The watermarking would take place at its New York production/distribution facilities, where the technology will be implemented as software plug-ins for its transcoders. Continue reading AMC Employs Digital Watermarking to Pinpoint and Halt Piracy

Warner Bros. Buys DramaFever, Considers New OTT Services

Warner Bros. has acquired streaming-video subscription service DramaFever from Japan’s SoftBank Group. DramaFever was launched in 2009 with a focus on Korean TV shows and eventually movies. Today, it reaches 20 countries and offers a wide range of series, films and kids programming available in multiple languages. WB may use the acquisition, expected to close during Q2 2016, to launch new OTT services such as a new offering with content from Machinima or an expanded subscription service with programming licensed from other countries. Continue reading Warner Bros. Buys DramaFever, Considers New OTT Services

Sling TV Adds First Broadcast Station, ABC, for Cord Cutters

Dish Network’s streaming service Sling TV just added support for streaming broadcast network ABC in select U.S. markets. Sling TV subscribers in metro regions, including Chicago, Fresno-Visalia, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham, and San Francisco can add the $5/month “Broadcast Extra” bundle by calling the company, which has not officially announced the service. According to Dish, these markets represent more than half of the top 10 U.S. market areas, serving almost 25 percent of the population. Continue reading Sling TV Adds First Broadcast Station, ABC, for Cord Cutters

HPA Tech Retreat: Next-Gen Cloud Workflows Hosted by ETC

The Entertainment Technology Center@USC hosted a discussion on next-generation cloud workflows, featuring toolsets and specific technologies. Led by ETC’s cloud project lead Erik Weaver, the conversation began with the real-world case study for post production in the cloud implemented by Los Angeles post facility DigitalFilm Tree. That company’s CTO/managing partner Guillaume Aubuchon led the audience through the workflows put in place to handle productions taking place in “remote parts of Asia and Africa.” Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Next-Gen Cloud Workflows Hosted by ETC

HPA Tech Retreat: OTT Metadata an Opportunity for Post Houses

The huge quantities of metadata generated by over-the-top programming poses an opportunity for new revenue streams, said Siemens executive Steve Wong and media tech consultant Christy King at an HPA Tech Retreat panel on “Big Data, Big Dollars for Post in an OTT World.” Wong noted that a tremendous amount of data about a production is generated through production, from scriptwriting software through scheduling and budgeting. That’s why it frustrates him that nearly everyone has been served irrelevant ads online. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: OTT Metadata an Opportunity for Post Houses

Netflix Pioneers Upcoming Trend of Moving IT to Public Cloud

Netflix became one of the largest companies to move all its information technology to Amazon Web Services’ public cloud platform, completing a process that began seven years ago. The company says that, among hundreds of IT functions in the cloud, it’s moved business logic, distributed databases, big data processing and analytics, recommendations and transcoding apps to the AWS servers, and shut down its last on-premise data center. The shift to cloud services also helped Netflix expand to 130 more countries. Continue reading Netflix Pioneers Upcoming Trend of Moving IT to Public Cloud

HBO Now Reaches 800,000 Paid Subs, Expects Future Growth

HBO’s standalone streaming service HBO Now, which launched in April 2015 exclusively for Apple TV, currently has about 800,000 paid subscribers, the cable network announced this week. Since it is now available across a variety of devices and does not require a traditional TV subscription, the $15-per-month service is primarily targeting cord cutters and cord nevers, who are willing to pay for Internet connectivity but not necessarily a cable or satellite service. HBO’s goal is to reach half of the 10 million U.S. homes that have Web access but no TV subs. Continue reading HBO Now Reaches 800,000 Paid Subs, Expects Future Growth

Viacom Teams with Canvs to Track Emotions on Social Media

Assessing and quantifying reaction to content and advertising on social media has been limited to the fuzzy capabilities of “sentiment analysis” tools that capture only generic positive and negative attitudes. Now, Viacom believes it’s found the perfect tool to do better. Media conglomerate Velocity’s marketing and creative content division teamed with tech startup Canvs, whose database of 4 million words and phrases — including millennial slang and social media shorthand — falls into 56 emotional categories. Continue reading Viacom Teams with Canvs to Track Emotions on Social Media

Amazon and Netflix Acquire Movies and Visibility at Sundance

After coming up empty at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, streaming services Amazon and Netflix made some significant acquisitions at this year’s indie film festival in Utah. Prior to the festival, Netflix spent $5 million for the streaming rights to “Tallulah,” starring Allison Janney and Ellen Page, and almost $7 million for “The Fundamentals of Caring,” starring Paul Rudd and Selena Gomez. Amazon inked a deal for Kenneth Lonergan’s “Manchester by the Sea,” with Kyle Chandler, Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges. Continue reading Amazon and Netflix Acquire Movies and Visibility at Sundance

Nielsen Adds Facebook, Instagram to Its Social Media Tracking

In Fall 2013, Nielsen expanded its purview into the social media sphere with its “Twitter TV Ratings.” The company is now adding Facebook and, later, Instagram, to its “Social Content Ratings” that will measure aggregate-level chatter related to TV shows in posts shared with friends, family, followers and the public. The new social media ratings are slated to be available sometime in the first half of 2016, wherever Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings are currently available (Australia, Italy, Mexico and the U.S.). Continue reading Nielsen Adds Facebook, Instagram to Its Social Media Tracking

Netflix Cracking Down on VPNs, in a Push for Global Rights

Netflix recently announced it would begin to block VPNs (virtual private networks), which consumers use to get around geographic-based content licensing restrictions. The company has turned a blind eye to VPN usage, but that was before it distributed its content globally, now live in 190 countries. Netflix has a reason to protect its content (especially its originals) and infrastructure investments, and it can’t offer all content to every country. But there’s another, just as potent reason for the move. Continue reading Netflix Cracking Down on VPNs, in a Push for Global Rights

Netflix’s Unlikely Path to Global Media Success, Minus China

Netflix and Amazon are currently small players in the content business compared to Disney, Comcast and Time Warner. And although there are plenty of reasons why these media behemoths need not be too concerned about Netflix and Amazon, these two streaming services do continue to grow and succeed. Most recently, Netflix’s stock rose 140 percent, making it the best performing of Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, and the company announced at CES that it will make its content available worldwide (except for China). Continue reading Netflix’s Unlikely Path to Global Media Success, Minus China

Amazon, Streaming Services Dominate 73rd Golden Globes

Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards ceremony delivered a number of surprises that have since sparked commentary from traditional and social media outlets. Aside from the surprise wins and snubs, memorable or disappointing speeches, and debate over the most appropriate category for “The Martian,” it’s worth noting that streaming services — especially Amazon — scored major wins this year. In another sign of how our entertainment media delivery and consumption is shifting, Netflix beat out broadcast and cable powerhouses in nominations, while Amazon scored a number of major wins. Continue reading Amazon, Streaming Services Dominate 73rd Golden Globes

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