What Twitter’s NFL Deal Means For Live Sports on TV, Online

Twitter’s acquisition of the rights for “Thursday Night Football” shows that a social media platform can compete with traditional broadcasters for the highest value of all TV rights deals. Although it’s not clear whether the deal indicates that more non-traditional deals are in the offing, one thing is certain: because sports organizations want viewers to be able access their events on any device at any time, they lead other content owners in figuring out what the new viewing ecosystem might look like. Continue reading What Twitter’s NFL Deal Means For Live Sports on TV, Online

Spotify Now Producing Original Music-Focused Video Content

Music streaming service Spotify, which boasts 75 million users, plans to debut 12 new original video programs around music themes. The new programs, which will feature performances, pop culture, musical storytelling, animation and videos about music culture, will be produced and streamed beginning this summer. Spotify had announced a year ago that it planned to move into video. The content will initially be available in four regions — the U.S., U.K., Germany and its home market Sweden — out of the company’s 59 markets. Continue reading Spotify Now Producing Original Music-Focused Video Content

Apple May or May Not Put an End to iTunes Music Downloads

Depending on who you believe, Apple is either ready to “completely terminate” iTunes music downloads in as little as two years — or has no plans at all to shut down this still-valuable source of revenue. Even as streaming gains dominance, music downloading still plays a lucrative role, say some. Sources deep inside Apple revealed discussions about the potential timetable for ending music download offerings, with a possibility of staggered shutdowns beginning in the U.S., U.K. and some European and Asian countries. Continue reading Apple May or May Not Put an End to iTunes Music Downloads

Microsoft Demos Live 3D Holoportation System via HoloLens

Microsoft researchers from the U.K. created a holoportation system, which projects a live 3D hologram of a person into another room, anywhere in the world, where it can interact in real-time with whoever is present. The researchers, who focus on 3D sensors and machine learning, spent two-and-a-half years with the HoloLens team in Washington state to develop holoportation. The system requires a lot of horsepower and high-quality 3D capture cameras, as well as a HoloLens (or other VR/AR headset) on the receiving end. Continue reading Microsoft Demos Live 3D Holoportation System via HoloLens

Netflix’s Two-Stream HD Plan Increasing by $2/Month in May

Starting next month, Netflix will increase the price of its two-stream HD service plan by 25 percent for long-term streaming customers. Subscribers previously paying $7.99 monthly will now be charged $9.99 per month for the service’s standard plan. The rate change will be based on subscriber billing periods. Those who signed up at $8.99 per month following the previous increase in May 2014 will experience the jump to $9.99 this October. Netflix members will have the option of continuing at $7.99 for a single stream SD plan or keeping the HD plan at $9.99. Continue reading Netflix’s Two-Stream HD Plan Increasing by $2/Month in May

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

Netflix Ban on VPNs Impacts Growth Abroad, May Spur Piracy

For many years, Netflix subscribers living outside the U.S. have accessed content not available in their regions via a VPN (virtual private network) that hid their location. In January, Netflix began blocking VPNs, in part to mollify Hollywood studios by showing it respects regional licensing agreements. But Netflix subscribers aren’t happy about the new state of affairs and have even started a petition — with 36,000 signatures and counting — to overturn the ban. One study shows piracy as a consequence of the new policy. Continue reading Netflix Ban on VPNs Impacts Growth Abroad, May Spur Piracy

Spotify Introducing Video Content to Music Streaming Service

Spotify will debut video content on its Android app this week, and the iOS app by end of next week, in the U.S., the U.K., Germany and Sweden. Originally, the music streaming service planned to offer video in May, but has focused on testing videos on its apps with less than 10 percent of its users in the four launch markets. The content is mostly comprised of short clips from ESPN, Comedy Central, the BBC, Vice Media and Maker Studios, among others. Some companies, like Tastemade, are creating original, music-themed series. Continue reading Spotify Introducing Video Content to Music Streaming Service

Amazon Plans to Expand Online Grocery Shopping in Europe

Amazon is looking to expand its services, particularly online grocery shopping and video streaming, in Europe this year. The company plans to add several thousand new jobs in Europe to help expand its operations. Amazon has already found success in its online grocery shopping and delivery service, Amazon Fresh, in the United Kingdom, and will likely use that model in other major cities. Amazon’s online sales continue to grow at the same pace as the online sales rate across the region. Continue reading Amazon Plans to Expand Online Grocery Shopping in Europe

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

Juniper Networks Backdoor Hack Likely From Foreign Nation

Tech giant Juniper Networks just found unauthorized code — essentially a backdoor — in the operating system running some of its firewalls. The hidden backdoor, found in versions of the company’s ScreenOS software dating back to at least August 2012, enable hackers to take complete control of Juniper NetScreen firewalls as well as decrypt encrypted traffic running through the Virtual Private Networks (VPN) on the firewalls. The FBI is investigating the breach, which appears to be the work of a foreign government. Continue reading Juniper Networks Backdoor Hack Likely From Foreign Nation

Kickstarter Hires Reporter to Investigate Drone Startup Failure

Kickstarter has hired an investigative journalist to look into a recent case in which a successful fundraising campaign led to spectacular failure. British drone startup Torquing Group raised $3.4 million (£2.3 million) and, less than a year later, went down in flames. Its co-founder/chief executive Ivan Reedman left the company for “personal health issues and irreconcilable differences” and, a visit to the company’s Wales headquarters didn’t turn up a working prototype of the product due to ship within months. Continue reading Kickstarter Hires Reporter to Investigate Drone Startup Failure

The BBC Experiments with TV Shows That Adapt to Personality

The BBC introduced “Visual Perceptive Media,” an experimental project out of its R&D unit in Salford, UK, which allows video stories to adapt in response to individuals’ personalities and tastes. The British broadcaster earlier created the audio-based Perceptive Media project; a radio drama makes adaptations based on the listener’s location, time of day and other factors such as proximity to the device and background noise. The video-based project begins with a mobile app that conducts a personalization process. Continue reading The BBC Experiments with TV Shows That Adapt to Personality

U.K. Plans to Ban Advanced Encryption to Combat Terrorists

In response to Edward Snowden’s revelations of government surveillance of ordinary citizens, many Internet and social media companies responded by creating encryption so advanced that even they couldn’t read users’ communications. Now, many critics say, terrorists and other criminals are using those same platforms because their messages will be safely encrypted from prying eyes of intelligence and government authorities. Among the strongest critic is the U.K. government, which is proposing that such encryption be illegal. Continue reading U.K. Plans to Ban Advanced Encryption to Combat Terrorists

Lionsgate and Fox to Mold Movies into Theme Park Attractions

“Hunger Games,” “Divergent” and “Twilight” are Lions Gate Entertainment hits now morphing into theme park attractions in the U.S., U.K., China and the United Arab Emirates. Two theme parks near Atlanta and Macau, built by different companies, will host a “Hunger Games” stage show already slated to be performed in London and as part of a Lionsgate zone in a $3 billion entertainment complex being built in the United Arab Emirates. Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox announced yesterday that it plans to open a theme park in Dubai in 2018 that features Fox movies and TV shows such as “Aliens,” “Ice Age,” “The Simpsons” and “Sons of Anarchy.” Continue reading Lionsgate and Fox to Mold Movies into Theme Park Attractions

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