Disney Aims Its Resources at Disney Plus Streaming Service

To ready the launch of its Disney Plus streaming service, The Walt Disney Company has invested in technical infrastructure and doubled down on original content. At the same time that chair/chief executive Bob Iger deemed the service “the highest priority,” he also pursued the acquisition of 21st Century Fox, which is projected to close by the end of March. Now, Disney is a very busy studio, stepping up production for the new service. Of the largest media companies’ estimated $107 billion in global content spending, Disney is responsible for 22 percent, followed by AT&T and Netflix, for $14.3 billion and $14 billion respectively.  Continue reading Disney Aims Its Resources at Disney Plus Streaming Service

Experts Question Apple’s Security in Light of FaceTime Bug

News site 9to5Mac reported that Apple’s FaceTime app, which places audio/video calls over the Internet, had a significant bug: an iPhone user could call another iPhone user and eavesdrop on that person’s conversation through the phone’s microphone — even if the call recipient doesn’t answer the call. The bug was actually discovered a full week before Apple disabled Group FaceTime and stated that it was working to fix it. In that gap, a developer discovered the bug, which was reported in 9to5Mac. Security researchers have dubbed the glitch FacePalm. Continue reading Experts Question Apple’s Security in Light of FaceTime Bug

Justice Department Levies Multiple Charges Against Huawei

The Justice Department charged Huawei and its chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou with the theft of trade secrets, obstructing a criminal investigation and evading economic sanctions on Iran. The charges are part of an aggressive move by the U.S. to block the Chinese telecom firm suspected of undermining national interests. The charges are based on Huawei’s internal emails describing a plan to steal T-Mobile testing equipment. Internal memos also link Meng to bank fraud to evade sanctions against Iran. Continue reading Justice Department Levies Multiple Charges Against Huawei

Facebook, Google Continue to Experience Digital Ad Growth

Despite the widespread pushback against their privacy policies and lack of regulation, Facebook and Google are enjoying booming ad sales. According to industry analysts, robust consumer spending and the continued evolution from brick-and-mortars to online shopping is what’s keeping digital ad sales healthy. At online advertising agency Merkle, associate director of research Andy Taylor noted that, despite its woes, Facebook — especially Instagram — continues to do well among advertisers. Continue reading Facebook, Google Continue to Experience Digital Ad Growth

Facebook Unveils Tools to Prevent the Spread of Fake News

Facebook is unveiling new tools to prevent the spread of fake news and misinformation, including making more information available about political ads on its platform. The tools will first debut in India next month and then to the European Union in March. Facebook is also tweaking its moderation, announcing plans for an outside group or board to review its content decisions, giving it authority to reverse internal content decisions. The board will be comprised of 40 members worldwide chosen by Facebook. Continue reading Facebook Unveils Tools to Prevent the Spread of Fake News

How Personalization May Drive Netflix’s Interactive Content

In 2017, Netflix launched its first experiments in interactive content with moments in “Puss in Boots” and “Buddy Thunderstruck” where viewers picked the action. With the “Bandersnatch” episode of sci-fi series “Black Mirror,” the company made its first serious push into interactive content for adults. The episode tells the story of a video game designer trying to adapt an interactive novel that drove its author insane. Netflix vice president of product Todd Yellin has said the company will try again in this “rich vein.” Continue reading How Personalization May Drive Netflix’s Interactive Content

Hamlet 360 and Other Stage Plays Integrate Immersive Tech

Theaters, from the experimental to the commercial, are using augmented reality, 360-degree videography and other new technologies to make their productions more immersive, even on traditional stages. In one recent production, “Hamlet 360,” technical direction by Sensorium transforms the 61-minute Shakespearean play into virtual reality. Another recent example is The Builders Association’s AR-integrated production “Elements of Oz,” where audience members use their cellphones to see a tornado approach Dorothy’s house. Continue reading Hamlet 360 and Other Stage Plays Integrate Immersive Tech

Augmented Reality Drives Need for New Cloud Infrastructure

The potential of augmented reality is massive but despite software development kits including Apple’s ARKit, Google’s ARCore, Amazon Sumerian and Microsoft’s Mixed Reality ecosystem, actual implementations have been limited. That’s because the current cloud infrastructure constrains actual consumer-facing AR projects. The popularity of “Pokémon Go” in summer of 2016 was an example of that; at the first Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago, 20,000 players experienced slowdowns and outages due to constrained network bandwidth. Continue reading Augmented Reality Drives Need for New Cloud Infrastructure

Dropbox, Google and Sony Debut Tech at Sundance Festival

At the Sundance Film Festival, tech companies now pitch new tools to the M&E industry. This year, Dropbox is offering a time-based commenting feature for video files, and Google and Sony are open-sourcing a tool that will simplify cloud rendering. Dropbox’s new feature will aid audio and video review by adding time-based commenting. Google, in partnership with Sony Picture Imageworks, will introduce OpenCue, which breaks down rendering steps and then schedules and manages the job across rendering farms. Continue reading Dropbox, Google and Sony Debut Tech at Sundance Festival

MoviePass Updates Service, Addresses Exhibitors’ Concerns

MoviePass is relaunching its service with a marketing campaign that includes a billboard in Times Square and print ads. With the tagline “let’s go to the movies,” MoviePass’s second incarnation has to rise above the failure of its unlimited $9.99/month movie plan that drew millions of subscribers but then continually changed its terms to keep the company afloat. The new model includes both basic and “red carpet” plans whose price varies based on geography, with more expensive plans for cities where movie ticket prices are higher. Continue reading MoviePass Updates Service, Addresses Exhibitors’ Concerns

Facebook Expands Its Takedown Powers Over Fake Content

Facebook has changed its policy to make it much easier to take down fraudulent pages and groups, in its efforts to suppress fake news and propaganda. Up until now, a troll has been able to create multiple fake pages and Facebook has had to close each page or group individually. Facebook stated, it “may now also remove other Pages and Groups with similar names that are maintained by the same person, even if that specific Page or Group has not met the threshold to be unpublished on its own.” Continue reading Facebook Expands Its Takedown Powers Over Fake Content

At Davos, a Call for Worldwide Oversight of Tech, Including AI

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, several countries’ leaders called for a global regulation of technology. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose country is chair of the Group of 20 nations (G20) this year, said he would push for an international system to oversee use of data when the group meets for its annual June summit in Osaka. Abe he would like the Osaka G20 to be “the summit that started worldwide data governance,” with a focus on expanding World Trade Organization rules to include data. Continue reading At Davos, a Call for Worldwide Oversight of Tech, Including AI

NBCUniversal, Viacom, Hulu Target Ad-Supported Streaming

The audiences for linear TV continue to shrink, but many major media players are eschewing subscription-based revenue for advertising-based video on demand (AVOD) services. That’s because Netflix and other super-aggregators as well as niche players are dominating — and saturating — the SVOD market. According to a Lab42 October 2018 survey, the average U.S. consumer subscribes to two to three streaming services, one of which is “almost always” Netflix. NBCUniversal, Viacom and Hulu are all making plays in the AVOD sector. Continue reading NBCUniversal, Viacom, Hulu Target Ad-Supported Streaming

Cinemark, Spaces Partner for Location-Based VR Experience

On February 8, Cinemark Holdings, in partnership with Spaces, will open VR entertainment centers at its Century 20 Oakridge and XD facility in San Jose, California, located at the Westfield Oakridge Shopping Center. Burbank-based Spaces, which spun out of DreamWorks, opened its first VR experience, based on “Terminator: Salvation,” in Irvine. Spaces offers more sensors and haptic feedback than a home VR experience, with physical features including ramps and motion platforms for a more realistic experience. Continue reading Cinemark, Spaces Partner for Location-Based VR Experience

Facing EU Copyright Law, Google May Remove News Service

In light of the fact that the European Union’s Copyright Directive may soon give publishers the right to demand payment when portions of their articles appear in news search results, Google is considering ceasing its Google News service in Europe. Although the law is not yet finalized, Google public policy manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa Jennifer Bernal stated that the company could reluctantly quit Europe after it has the chance to do a close examination of the proposed law’s details. Continue reading Facing EU Copyright Law, Google May Remove News Service

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