Amazon’s IMDb Debuts Free Ad-Supported Movie, TV Service

Amazon launched Freedive, a free, ad-supported streaming video channel on its Internet Movie Database (IMDb) site, featuring 130 movies and 29 TV shows licensed from CBS, NBCUniversal Television, Sony Pictures Entertainment/Columbia Pictures, Warner Bros. Television and others. Movies include “Awakenings,” “A Few Good Men,” “Adaptation,” “Memento,” “True Romance,” “The Last Samurai” — and TV shows include “Fringe,” “The Bachelor,” “Gilligan’s Island,” “Duck Dynasty,” “Quantum Leap,” “Born This Way,” “Kitchen Nightmares” and “Without a Trace.” Continue reading Amazon’s IMDb Debuts Free Ad-Supported Movie, TV Service

Keynote: IBM Chief Uses Case Studies to Explain Deep Data

IBM chair, CEO and president Ginni Rometty made her second CES keynote appearance and focused on artificial intelligence, big data, quantum computing, and closing the skills gap in computer science in a series of onstage conversations. Rometty drew a distinction between big data and deep data as she explained that there is a tremendous amount of information collected for specific analysis, but there is a wealth of analytical and predictive opportunity yet available. As an example, she cited analysis of fingernails as a means of predicting health issues or weather data to better forecast mid-air turbulence. Continue reading Keynote: IBM Chief Uses Case Studies to Explain Deep Data

Amazon On Track to Be a Bigger Player in Online Advertising

Amazon is poised to be an advertising behemoth, even as it dominates in online retail, handling almost half of all online sales in the U.S. The company currently holds the No. 3 spot in online advertising, behind Google and Facebook, with a mere 4 percent of the market. But Amazon is on a hiring binge for its advertising division, and, according to eMarketer, is on track to double its ad revenue this year to $5.83 billion. One source of tension is the fact that Amazon’s own products compete with retailers on its site. Continue reading Amazon On Track to Be a Bigger Player in Online Advertising

Sports Streamer DAZN to Introduce Less Annoying Ad Model

DAZN, thus far an ad-free sports-streaming service, plans to introduce advertising, but in a format that will prevent the annoyance of frequently repeating ads. This format — called “ad frequency” — can replay the same ad six times within a three-hour game, said DAZN Group executive chairman John Skipper, a former ESPN president. His new model, which will debut in the next six to eight months, will focus on sponsored content and product placement. DAZN targets sports deals to be the “exclusive over-the-top provider.” Continue reading Sports Streamer DAZN to Introduce Less Annoying Ad Model

With Free Hollywood Films, YouTube Evolves into TV Network

Last month, YouTube began showing free, ad-supported Hollywood movies including “The Terminator” and “Legally Blonde,” an offering it began to promote in the site’s movie section. Although users have been able to purchase prime-time TV shows and feature films there, this is the first time YouTube has offered a free, ad-supported option. YouTube director of product management Rohit Dhawan would not disclose the terms of the agreement with studios, but noted the movies represent an opportunity for users and advertisers. Continue reading With Free Hollywood Films, YouTube Evolves into TV Network

Nielsen and Microsoft Partner on Cloud-Based Platform for Data

Nielsen Holdings and Microsoft are partnering on a cloud-based platform, Nielsen Connect, to help retailers gain insights from its consumer and operational data related to, respectively, media/TV ratings, and purchases of consumer goods. Nielsen chief technology/operations officer John Tavolieri noted that, given the value of the data, the industry has thus far not found a good way to “unlock” it. Nielsen’s data will be loaded to Microsoft Azure where the latter’s AI tools and APIs will enable users to search. Continue reading Nielsen and Microsoft Partner on Cloud-Based Platform for Data

Amazon Confirms Selection of New York and Virginia for HQ2

Seattle-based Amazon finally announced that it has selected two locations for its next major corporate outposts. Referring to the planned sites as headquarters, the company will eventually bring 25,000 employees to both Long Island City in Queens, New York and the Crystal City area in Arlington, Virginia, outside of Washington DC. Amazon also revealed plans to build a third facility in Nashville, Tennessee — an operations facility that will house 5,000 employees. The new headquarters are expected to cost $5 billion in construction and investments. Continue reading Amazon Confirms Selection of New York and Virginia for HQ2

Movies Anywhere Ends First Year With Six Million Downloads

Launched one year ago, Movies Anywhere, a Disney-owned app and service for movies in partnership with 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros., has six million users who have purchased more than 150 million movies. The most watched movie was Disney-Pixar’s “Coco.” Among the six million downloaded apps, Movies Anywhere has 5.8 million user accounts, which have watched 16 million hours in the first year. Although those numbers are miniscule compared to Netflix, they also show robust growth. Continue reading Movies Anywhere Ends First Year With Six Million Downloads

In First, Amazon Offers Free Holiday Shipping for All Orders

To better compete with Walmart and Target for online holiday shopping, Amazon will offer free shipping without the $25 minimum purchase required of shoppers who are not Prime members. This first-time Amazon offer is good only in the U.S., and will be in effect from November 5 until Amazon can no longer promise delivery in time for Christmas, typically five to eight days. Also for the upcoming holiday season, Amazon plans to add 100,000 staffers, fewer than the last two holiday seasons, evidence that the company is successfully automating operations. Continue reading In First, Amazon Offers Free Holiday Shipping for All Orders

Walmart to Test Retail Tech With Launch of Sam’s Club Now

Walmart is upping the ante with rival Amazon by opening a cashierless “Sam’s Club Now” store in Texas, vying with automated Amazon Go stores. Walmart is experimenting with the concept via its members-only Sam’s Club. According to Jamie Iannone, chief exec of SamsClub.com and executive vice president of membership and technology, the store is “very close to opening” and will be the “epicenter of innovation for Sam’s Club.” In the soon-to-open shop, users will rely on a new Sam’s Club Now app to scan items, and a staff member will scan the entire purchase before the user exits. Continue reading Walmart to Test Retail Tech With Launch of Sam’s Club Now

Walmart Signs MGM Deal, Invests in Interactive Storytelling

Walmart is partnering with MGM, which will create short-form original series for release in 2019, to help boost content on its ad-supported streaming service Vudu. The company also invested a reported $250 million in a joint venture with New York startup Eko, which produces so-called interactive stories in which viewers control the plots of commercials and TV episodes. This investment is believed to be the largest ever made in this particular storytelling niche that has interested creatives for years but never caught on. Continue reading Walmart Signs MGM Deal, Invests in Interactive Storytelling

Walmart to License MGM Content for its Vudu VOD Service

Walmart, which bought video-on-demand service Vudu eight years ago, just inked a partnership with MGM to license family-friendly content. Vudu’s monthly viewer numbers lag behind Netflix and Hulu, the latter controlled by Disney, Comcast, 21st Century Fox and AT&T. Although media outlets reported that Walmart intends to launch a subscription-based streaming video service, sources inside Walmart reveal that Walmart is not doing so, but still hopes to improve its VOD business and target viewers outside big cities. Continue reading Walmart to License MGM Content for its Vudu VOD Service

Walmart to Expand VR-Based Employee Training to All Stores

Walmart is widening its VR-based employee-training program in the U.S., shipping four Oculus Go VR headsets to each Walmart Supercenter and two to smaller Neighborhood Market stores starting in October, for a total of 17,000 Oculus Go headsets by the end of 2018. The retailer first tried out VR for employee training a year ago, and is expanding it due to employee feedback that it boosted their confidence and familiarity with technology. VR software company STRIVR has created 45 activity-based modules for the employees. Continue reading Walmart to Expand VR-Based Employee Training to All Stores

Amazon’s Two-Day Delivery Sets the Bar for Today’s Retailers

Amazon’s Prime program that offers two-day shipping to its 100 million members has become a standard that other retailers have struggled to meet. Last year, Target, Walmart and many Google Express vendors started offering two-day delivery, some of it free. The latest company to do so is Overstock.com, which claims it can reach 99 percent of the U.S. in two days from one distribution center in Kansas City, Kansas. In comparison, Amazon operates 75 fulfillment centers and 25 sortation centers. Continue reading Amazon’s Two-Day Delivery Sets the Bar for Today’s Retailers

Amazon Considers Opening 3,000 Cashierless Stores by 2021

According to sources, Amazon is contemplating aggressive growth for its new Amazon Go cashierless stores. With plans to open as many as 3,000 new stores, Amazon would rival 7-Eleven, Subway, Panera Bread and mom-and-pop shops where people go to get a quick meal. Chief executive officer Jeff Bezos sees the move as a way to reduce time to buy a meal in busy cities and “reinvent” the brick-and-mortar store experience but hasn’t settled on the best format: a store for prepared foods and limited groceries or one that offers speedy meals. Continue reading Amazon Considers Opening 3,000 Cashierless Stores by 2021

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