Chinese Search Engine Baidu Now Defender of Copyright Law

Since Baidu began creating and licensing content, the Chinese search engine titan has become focused on protecting copyright, a complete U-turn from the days when it was often accused of being a pipeline for pirated content. Among its newly licensed content are original shows from Netflix. Data from China’s Supreme People’s Court reveals that almost 87,000 copyright-related cases were filed in the country in 2016, a figure that is 15-times more than the cases filed ten years previously. Continue reading Chinese Search Engine Baidu Now Defender of Copyright Law

Facebook Bolsters Premium Content With New eSports Deals

Facebook is pursuing eSports to satisfy user demand for more premium content. Earlier in 2017, the company inked deals with five eSports teams to publish live and on-demand video of players practicing and competing. Now Facebook has signed a deal with global eSports contest organizer ESL, to stream matches, player interviews and additional content. According to SuperData Research, in 2016 people watched 9.6 billion hours of live-streamed eSports and other videogame content, a number projected to rise to 11.4 billion in 2017. Continue reading Facebook Bolsters Premium Content With New eSports Deals

SoftBank Bets on Virtual Worlds, Invests in U.K.’s Improbable

Japanese telecommunications/Internet titan SoftBank Group just led a $502 million investment round in Improbable, a London-based startup that makes virtual worlds for video games and real-world simulations. In exchange, SoftBank will take a board seat and a non-controlling interest in Improbable, although details of the deal were not released. SoftBank founder/chief executive Masayoshi Son’s growing interest in artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things has been a driver in the company’s recent deals. Continue reading SoftBank Bets on Virtual Worlds, Invests in U.K.’s Improbable

Electronic Arts Scores Record Year With Games-As-Services

Electronic Arts is apparently doing a better job at engaging players over a longer period of time. That’s the conclusion of the company’s chief executive Andrew Wilson, who said that its record-breaking fiscal year is due to live operations of games that run as services, rather than one-time purchases. The goal, he says, is to increase gamers’ engagement, thus growing an audience over time and preventing them from defecting to rival products. Proof that the strategy is working is in the numbers, he adds. Continue reading Electronic Arts Scores Record Year With Games-As-Services

Amazon’s Twitch Weighs Original Programs With Interactivity

Twitch, the live streaming video and gaming site purchased by Amazon for $1 billion almost three years ago, is thinking about streaming original programming, says its chief operating officer Kevin Lin. But unlike all other new platforms streaming original content, Twitch is looking for its users to have input on the programs as they are written and produced. Twitch already lets its users comment on the videos in real time and Lin believes these comments can help guide a scripted show as it evolves from episode one onward. Continue reading Amazon’s Twitch Weighs Original Programs With Interactivity

NAB 2017: ETC Charts Path From Big Data to Big Knowledge

At ETC’s conference on machine learning/AI at NAB, director of data and analytics Yves Bergquist talked about the work ETC@USC is doing to understand AI, storygraphics and audience intelligence. At the heart of the question, he said, is why we like or don’t like a movie or TV show. Getting an audience member to describe why she liked her favorite movie, he responded that the people who made that movie don’t know why she liked it. “Not because they’re stupid, but because it is a very complex, multi-faceted question,” he said. Continue reading NAB 2017: ETC Charts Path From Big Data to Big Knowledge

Startup to Introduce Holographic TV Technology at NAB 2017

Startup Light Field Labs, founded by three former Lytro engineers, is working on creating holographic displays via light field technology. The goal is to create a TV set that can project a 3D hologram into the living room, with the further-off goal of enabling the user to touch it. Although that might sound like science fiction, the company founders stand behind their idea, and state the company will be able to ship a few displays to developers in 2018. Commercial production will be in operation by 2019 or 2020. Continue reading Startup to Introduce Holographic TV Technology at NAB 2017

AMD Pitches Latency-Free Virtual Reality via Super-Fast Wi-Fi

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has acquired Nitero, a startup responsible for a 60-gigahertz wireless chip that transmits high-res video without latency. AMD, which bought the company for an undisclosed price, believes that Nitero’s chip will enable it to push sales of more wireless virtual reality headsets. Sales of VR headsets, according to AMD executive Roy Taylor, have been limited due to their need to be tethered to a computer. Nitero was originally a spinoff from a research center sponsored by the Australian government. Continue reading AMD Pitches Latency-Free Virtual Reality via Super-Fast Wi-Fi

HTC Unveils Subscription Service for Vive VR Headset Users

Taiwanese phone manufacturer HTC has rolled out its anticipated monthly subscription service for virtual reality content, including video games and short interactive films. For a $7 per month fee, users can download up to five VR titles a month from the online Viveport store. HTC is positioning the new service as a way for customers to try out an app before they decide to purchase it. The service is only available to owners of the HTC Vive VR headset. Among the titles initially available are “Everest VR” and “Mars Odyssey.” Continue reading HTC Unveils Subscription Service for Vive VR Headset Users

Twitch to Start Streaming 1080p at 60fps in Upcoming Weeks

Amazon broadcasting site Twitch announced that its support for 1080p video resolution at 60 frames per second will significantly improve video quality when live-streaming via the platform. To accommodate the higher frame rate, Twitch is lifting its 3.5-megabit ingest bitrate restriction. Twitch product manager Noreen McInnis says the company recommends “3-to-6 megabits for most streams, skewing toward the higher end for 1080p broadcasts or faster, more demanding games.” Continue reading Twitch to Start Streaming 1080p at 60fps in Upcoming Weeks

Bringing Modular Sets and Physical Objects to VR Experiences

Virtual reality startup Nomadic is integrating real-world physical objects, such as a flashlight, into its VR experiences. Among the other physical objects are leaky pipes that let off real hot air, a file cabinet that has to be opened to retrieve a real gun replica, and a virtual door with a real doorknob. The idea, according to Nomadic chief executive Doug Griffin, is that such real objects can add a feeling of magic to virtual reality. The company demonstrates these capabilities with an Oculus Rift VR headset. Continue reading Bringing Modular Sets and Physical Objects to VR Experiences

Facebook Takes its Next Step in Becoming Broadcast Platform

Facebook is taking on Amazon’s Twitch and the growing list of video competitors with new expanded live streaming features. “Users can go Live directly from Facebook’s desktop website via their webcam, stream through professional equipment and software hooked up to a desktop and broadcast gameplay from their computer,” reports TechCrunch. While mobile remains a focus for Facebook, desktop users can now broadcast straight to News Feeds and include graphics, titles and other overlays. “Opening up on desktop takes Facebook Live beyond Twitter and Periscope’s options, and brings it into competition with longer-running services like YouTube, Ustream and Livestream.” Continue reading Facebook Takes its Next Step in Becoming Broadcast Platform

Nintendo to Double Planned Production of New Hybrid Console

In response to strong initial demand, Nintendo plans to at least double production of its new Switch game console through March 2018. The hybrid console, designed for home and mobile use, launched globally March 3, and “its North American unit described the initial momentum as the strongest in the company’s history,” reports The Wall Street Journal. This could put Switch on a similar trajectory as the company’s popular Wii system (and Nintendo needs a hit after its Wii U performed less than expected). “In the fiscal year starting April 2017, assemblers under contract with Nintendo are now planning to manufacture 16 million or more Switches, up from an initial plan for eight million.” Continue reading Nintendo to Double Planned Production of New Hybrid Console

Sony Holds Lead in Console Market, Platform Subs on the Rise

IHS Markit reports that Sony led the gaming hardware, software and service market last year, nearly doubling the share of Microsoft and its Xbox One. Sony is expected to continue its dominance through 2017. According to IHS, Sony captured 57 percent ($19.7 billion) of spending by gamers in 2016, “thanks to growth of digital console games,” notes VentureBeat, adding, however, “that the overall console game market shrank in 2016, and Nintendo is newly competitive this year with the launch of the Switch game console.” Additionally, Microsoft may experience a rebound this year with the launch of its PS4 competitor, Project Scorpio. Continue reading Sony Holds Lead in Console Market, Platform Subs on the Rise

Twitter Live-Streaming eSports Competitions, Related Content

Twitter has added eSports to its growing list of live-streaming pursuits. The social-networking company plans to broadcast more than 1,500 hours of gaming competitions this year. Twitter is working with eSports organizer ESL (originally Electronic Sports League) and game festival organizer DreamHack, both owned by Sweden-based Modern Times Group. The live streams include coverage of globally popular games such as “StarCraft” and “League of Legends,” in addition to sponsored highlight packages and traditional advertising. Twitter is also broadcasting an exclusive weekly highlight program. Continue reading Twitter Live-Streaming eSports Competitions, Related Content

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