Behind the Scenes, TikTok Working Hard to Create Viral Hits

Hit songs on TikTok seem to arise spontaneously, spurred on by user enthusiasm. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Take Megan Thee Stallion, for example, who recently won a Grammy for best female rapper. Her popular song “Savage” first become a hit on TikTok after that platform’s management analyzed user data and advised the singer’s record label how to best promote her. In other words, Tik Tok, which is described by experts as “more controlled” than competing apps, helps pick which videos go viral. Continue reading Behind the Scenes, TikTok Working Hard to Create Viral Hits

Nielsen Debuts Ratings Tool That Measures Streaming Video

Nielsen debuted its Streaming Video Ratings, which will measure streaming activity including how the different platforms compare, the devices being used and the streaming behavior of different audience cohorts. Nielsen stated 10 services will be tracked although it initially didn’t name them. But, since last summer, it has included Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu and Netflix in its weekly content ratings. The syndicated Nielsen Streaming Video Ratings is powered by Nielsen’s NPower audience insights platform. Continue reading Nielsen Debuts Ratings Tool That Measures Streaming Video

New Google Chip Streamlines Video Transcoding on YouTube

Google’s YouTube infrastructure team has built a Video (trans)Coding Unit (VCU) to streamline the transcoding of videos into the many versions required for a bandwidth-efficient and profitable website. Google software engineer Jeff Calow said the Argos chip offers “up to 20-33x improvements in compute efficiency compared to our previous optimized system, which was running software on traditional servers.” The VCU package is a full-length PCI-E card with two Argos ASIC chips under an aluminum heat sink. Continue reading New Google Chip Streamlines Video Transcoding on YouTube

Apple vs. Spotify: Battle for Podcasting Dominance Heats Up

The rivalry between Apple and Spotify to dominate the growing podcast market has heated up. Apple launched paid podcast subscriptions and Spotify recently partnered with Facebook to spur discovery. In its latest move, Spotify also launched a podcast subscription model but, unlike Apple, which keeps 30 percent of the fees, Spotify will allow content creators to keep 100 percent. Podcasting, which skyrocketed in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, is expected to bring in $1+ billion in advertising revenue this year. Continue reading Apple vs. Spotify: Battle for Podcasting Dominance Heats Up

Streamers Invest in Global Local Productions to Attract Subs

Emulating Netflix’s international strategy, Disney, Amazon and other companies with streaming services are heavily investing in local-language productions globally, to woo international subscribers. Formerly, Hollywood shipped dubbed or subtitled domestic movies and TV shows. These companies are fueling a boom of movie and TV production in Hindi, French, Portuguese, German, Polish and other languages. The Motion Picture Association reported that global subscriptions reached 1.1+ billion last year, rising from 400 million in 2016. Continue reading Streamers Invest in Global Local Productions to Attract Subs

AT&T: Gains in HBO and HBO Max Subs, Wireless Customers

AT&T has experienced an increase in HBO and HBO Max subscribers and wireless customers. Its number of domestic HBO and HBO Max subscribers grew from 41.5 million three months ago to 44.2 million today, including those who signed up for the new streaming service and others who subscribed via a cable TV provider. The company has also added 595,000 postpaid phone subscribers and a net gain of 207,000 prepaid phone subscribers. The telco cut expenses by increasing online customer service and promoting simpler plans. Continue reading AT&T: Gains in HBO and HBO Max Subs, Wireless Customers

Scams Are a Problem for Apple App Store, Digital Advertising

The Apple App Store is full of scams, according to Kosta Eleftheriou, who has hunted down scam apps for iPhones and iPads that lure consumers into a “free trial” and then charge them insanely high monthly subscription rates without an obvious way to cancel. Eleftheriou, who said these scam apps advertise themselves with thousands of fake 5-star reviews, has come to the conclusion that Apple doesn’t care or is incompetent. Apple isn’t the only target for fraudsters, who have a lucrative business scamming digital advertisers. Continue reading Scams Are a Problem for Apple App Store, Digital Advertising

EU Releases Its Draft Policy to Regulate Artificial Intelligence

The European Union issued a 108-page policy that establishes rules to govern the use of artificial intelligence, setting limits on its use in everything from bank lending and school enrollment to self-driving cars and hiring decisions. Use of artificial intelligence by law enforcement and court systems, considered “high risk” because of the potential to threaten safety and fundamental rights, is also regulated. Live facial recognition in public spaces would be banned except in cases of national security “and other purposes.” Continue reading EU Releases Its Draft Policy to Regulate Artificial Intelligence

Cerebras Introduces AI Processor with 2.6 Trillion Transistors

Cerebras Systems introduced its Wafer Scale Engine 2 (WSE-2) processor, which touts a record-breaking 2.6 trillion transistors and 850,000 AI-optimized cores, what the company describes as “the largest chip ever built.” Established by SeaMicro founder Andrew Feldman, Cerebras makes a massive chip out of a single wafer, unlike the typical process of slicing it into hundreds of separate chips. This is the company’s second chip that is built out of an entire wafer, wherein the pieces of the chip, dubbed cores, interconnect to enable the transistors to work together as one. Continue reading Cerebras Introduces AI Processor with 2.6 Trillion Transistors

Netflix Battles New Rivals, Cracks Down on Password Sharing

Netflix, with 207.6 million global subscribers, still dominates streaming video. But the growing number of rivals, including Disney+, HBO Max, Paramount+, Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, is beginning to chip away at its position. Netflix reported four million new subscribers in Q1 2021, below the six million it predicted; it expects only one million new customers in the current quarter. It is also cracking down on password-sharing, but co-chief executive Reed Hastings said the process won’t be aggressive. Continue reading Netflix Battles New Rivals, Cracks Down on Password Sharing

Apple’s First 2021 Product Launch Highlights Use of M1 Chip

Apple’s 2021 “Spring Loaded” product launch this week included a new iMac, an updated iPad Pro with 5G and the company’s M1 chip, an AirTag lost-device tracking device, a refreshed Apple TV 4K with a new remote, and a purple iPhone. Apple shares fell 2 percent after the event. Previous iPad Pros used A-series chips, that power the company’s iPhones; the M1 chip in the high-end iPad Pros are used in its Mac computers. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro also offers an improved USB-C connector for high-res monitors and faster camera downloads. Continue reading Apple’s First 2021 Product Launch Highlights Use of M1 Chip

Deloitte Report: Gen Z Entertainment Choice is Video Games

Deloitte’s 2021 Digital Media Trends survey revealed the entertainment tastes of Generation Z, those aged 14 to 24 years old. About 26 percent named video games as their No. 1 entertainment activity, and 87 percent in the age bracket said they play video games daily or weekly. Second most popular entertainment activity is music, at 14 percent, following by surfing the Internet (12 percent) and social media (11 percent). In fifth place, 10 percent of Gen Z said watching TV or movies was their favorite entertainment. Continue reading Deloitte Report: Gen Z Entertainment Choice is Video Games

Netflix Drops $465 Million to Produce ‘Knives Out’ Franchise

In 2019, director Rian Johnson (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”) wrote and directed “Knives Out,” which became a surprise hit. Now, Netflix spent about $465 million to buy two sequels. Experts are debating if the streamer overpaid or made a canny move to create a new franchise. Former Lionsgate co-president Erik Feig, who was involved with both the “Twilight” and “Hunger Games” franchises, noted that the sequels could turn into a TV show and, more importantly, establish a long-term relationship with high-profile writer/director Johnson. Continue reading Netflix Drops $465 Million to Produce ‘Knives Out’ Franchise

Facebook Reveals Audio Products, Including Clubhouse Rival

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced an upcoming suite of new audio products including a push into podcasting and Live Audio Rooms, an audio-only version of the Rooms videoconferencing product, intended to rival the popular Clubhouse audio app. Live Audio Rooms will roll out this summer as a test to public figures and groups. Users will be able to record and distribute their conversations and eventually charge for access to the rooms via a one-time fee or subscription. Meanwhile, Clubhouse closed a new Series C funding round. Continue reading Facebook Reveals Audio Products, Including Clubhouse Rival

New York Makes Internet Affordable for Low-Income Families

New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill requiring Internet service providers to offer broadband to low-income families for $15 per month, noting that it is “an essential service.” At the signing, Cuomo was accompanied by former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt, who chairs a state commission on technology. The new mandate was passed by the New York State Legislature. Cuomo also revealed that Schmidt Futures and the Ford Foundation will provide free Internet to 50,000 students in the 2021-2022 school year. Continue reading New York Makes Internet Affordable for Low-Income Families