Pandora Unveils AMPcast Social Audio Messaging for Artists

Pandora just launched AMPcast, which lets a musician communicate with his fans via audio messages that he can record on his mobile phone and post to run in conjunction with his music streams. Pandora, which has 80 million users, is competing in this space with Spotify, which has acquired startups to expand messaging and social networking. AMPcast also competes with Superphone, a new service from musician Ryan Leslie that uses SMS and users’ phone numbers to directly message fans. Continue reading Pandora Unveils AMPcast Social Audio Messaging for Artists

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

Advertisers Seek New Ways to Combat Growth of Ad Blocking

For advertisers, ad blocking is a problem that’s quickly getting bigger, as more consumers download ad-blocking apps and browsers. Mobile marketing company Tune just released a new report that predicts that ad blocking could comprise 80 percent of smartphone owners by Q3 2017. In response, advertisers are exploring ways to block the ad blockers. Digital advertising trade group Interactive Advertising Bureau has written a primer on how to block the blockers, and even The New York Times is testing ways around them. Continue reading Advertisers Seek New Ways to Combat Growth of Ad Blocking

FCC May Add High-Speed Internet Subsidy to Lifeline Program

The Federal Communications Commission is nearing approval of a plan to provide Internet access for low-income people who don’t have regular access. An update to the $2 billion Lifeline program will add a broadband subsidy of $9.25 a month for low-income households. Lifeline was established in 1985 to bring landline phone service to that same demographic; the FCC added mobile service to the program in 2008. The addition of the high-speed Internet subsidy will come up for a vote on March 31 and is expected to pass. Continue reading FCC May Add High-Speed Internet Subsidy to Lifeline Program

RSA Conference Reveals More Nuances in FBI-Apple Battle

By now, everyone knows the general outline of the argument between Apple and the FBI, over the latter’s request for a backdoor into the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone. Apple’s refusal to do so has sparked a war of words and legal actions between Apple and other proponents of data protection/digital privacy and the government, as well as others who believe national security trumps digital privacy. More recently, at the RSA Conference, an information security event, more nuances were revealed. Continue reading RSA Conference Reveals More Nuances in FBI-Apple Battle

Facebook Looking to Stream NFL’s Thursday Night Football

Facebook is interested in global live-streaming rights to “Thursday Night Football” as well as a selection of the National Football League’s 2016-17 games, say sources knowledgeable about the Silicon Valley company’s plans. If Facebook succeeds in obtaining those rights, it will be its first major TV content deal and would mark a departure from its video strategy thus far, which has focused on short-form for the last two years. As Facebook Live has become more of a priority, sports have shifted to the fore. Continue reading Facebook Looking to Stream NFL’s Thursday Night Football

Meerkat Shifting From Livestreaming to Video Social Network

Just as Facebook and Twitter are doubling down on livestreaming video, Meerkat, the startup whose livestreaming app was a hit at last year’s SXSW Festival in Austin, is changing course. Chief executive Ben Rubin, who began to realize over a year ago that livestreaming wouldn’t produce the results to succeed, emailed the company’s 48 investors to explain the company’s pivot from mobile broadcast video towards video social networking. Most of the investors, he says, are supportive of the shift. Continue reading Meerkat Shifting From Livestreaming to Video Social Network

Intel to Leverage RealSense for Augmented Reality Headset

Intel is leveraging RealSense, its 3D camera technology, to develop a wearable headset for augmented reality, say sources knowledgeable about the chip maker’s plans. Those same sources report that Intel is more likely to license its headset design to other manufacturers rather than produce its own branded model. Intel’s RealSense could potentially help distinguish its technology offering in a field that already includes many major companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet’s Google and dozens of startups. Continue reading Intel to Leverage RealSense for Augmented Reality Headset

AT&T, with Videology, to Sell Programmatic Ads on Linear TV

AT&T has partnered with ad technology company Videology to introduce a “private marketplace” for a handful of select advertisers, who will be able to buy linear TV ads reaching 26 million households. Beginning in Q3, advertisers can use their own data and data from third parties to reach targeted audiences on cable networks on AT&T’s U-verse service or DirecTV, which AT&T acquired last year for $49 billion. Advertisers will be able to purchase ads via a self-serve website, although the back-end will operate manually. Continue reading AT&T, with Videology, to Sell Programmatic Ads on Linear TV

Open-Source Companies Turn to Proprietary Code for Profits

Open-source projects and operating systems are in offerings from Facebook, Twitter, Uber Technologies and operating systems such as Linux at the foundation of servers, financial trading platforms and Android phones. But businesses based on open-source code find it hard to make a profit, and sell tech support and consulting services for revenue. Even those that spin off companies from open-source projects don’t make big profits. The solution, some are finding, is to create proprietary code to support the free tools. Continue reading Open-Source Companies Turn to Proprietary Code for Profits

Netflix’s $5 Billion Budget Pushes Networks to Also Spend Big

FX Network chief executive John Landgraf says there’s too much TV, citing the 400+ scripted shows he estimates were made last year. But rather than slowing down on the new programs, media companies including Discovery, Viacom, Starz as well as Amazon and Hulu are all spending more. They’re competing for viewers in an increasingly fragmented market — and against Netflix, which has committed $5 billion this year for film/TV projects, and an estimated $11 billion over the next five years. Continue reading Netflix’s $5 Billion Budget Pushes Networks to Also Spend Big

Verizon-Hearst Venture Creates Mobile Content for Millennials

Verizon Communications and Hearst have formed Verizon Hearst Media Partners, a 50-50 joint venture to create content for millennials to watch on mobile devices. Two channels are coming soon: RatedRed.com, for “millennials from the heartland,” featuring programs on music, food, outdoors, politics, military and faith, and Seriously.TV, a comedic take on current events. The channels will also be available on Verizon’s go90 streaming service, launched in the fall, as well as computers and TV. Other channels are in the works. Continue reading Verizon-Hearst Venture Creates Mobile Content for Millennials

Google Launches Pilot Program for Hands-Free Mobile Wallet

Google launched a pilot for Hands Free, a mobile wallet application that allows a buyer to use her phone for purchases without taking it out of her purse. The pilot, conducted in the southern San Francisco Bay area, is available in a few stores and designated McDonald’s and Papa John’s locations. The cashier’s system can detect the user’s phone; to close the transaction, the user asks to pay with Google and gives her initials to the cashier. The cashier can also detect if the user is the same person in the Google profile. Continue reading Google Launches Pilot Program for Hands-Free Mobile Wallet

AT&T Reveals Plans for 3 Tiers of DirecTV-Branded Web TV

AT&T is the latest player to enter the video-streaming market with an announcement that in Q4 it will offer three plans under the brand of DirecTV, the satellite TV company it acquired last year. What’s missing are all the details. AT&T hasn’t provided programming, pricing or a more specific launch date. But one important point was made clear: AT&T’s national, app-based OTT service will be available to those who are not subscribers to its TV or wireless services. Verizon and Sony offer a similar service. Continue reading AT&T Reveals Plans for 3 Tiers of DirecTV-Branded Web TV

Facebook Puts Live Videos on Top, to Add Celebrity Content

Facebook took a step to popularize Live, by changing the algorithm to rank currently streaming videos higher in the News Feed than older ones. The company launched Live for celebrities in August, and then rolled it out to people with Verified Profiles and Pages. All iOS users gained access in January and Android users last week. Although Facebook Live videos can be saved, unlike Periscope videos, which are deleted after 24 hours, Facebook realized that Live videos convey an urgency that will make them more watched. Continue reading Facebook Puts Live Videos on Top, to Add Celebrity Content