Canadian Law Would Impose Levy on All Streaming Services

Canada would like to levy a portion of online streaming services’ revenue to help fund domestic TV and music production. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and others would be required to meet Canadian benchmarks, such as more content to serve its French-speaking and indigenous populations. According to Canada’s broadcast regulator, streaming services’ annual revenue is about $5 billion in Canadian dollars or $3.77 billion U.S. Canada seeks “nearly C$1 billion” a year from streaming services. Continue reading Canadian Law Would Impose Levy on All Streaming Services

Chinese Regulators Suspend Ant IPO, Legislate New Hurdles

China put a halt to Ant Group’s two initial public offerings, leaving investors, employees and shareholders in a state of shock. The IPOs, described as “heavily oversubscribed,” was expected to raise at least $334.4 billion. The first inkling that things were going off the rails came Wednesday when some investors were informed their orders were canceled and monies would be refunded. The Shanghai Stock Exchange suspended the scheduled November 5 IPO, saying Ant might not be in compliance with new fintech regulations. Continue reading Chinese Regulators Suspend Ant IPO, Legislate New Hurdles

Passage of California Prop 22 Is Big Victory for Gig Economy

California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 22, which will allow gig workers for Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and others to remain independent contractors. These three companies created the proposition to exempt them from a state labor law that would require them to treat drivers as employees and pay for healthcare, unemployment insurance and other benefits. Proposition 22 does include a wage floor and some benefits for drivers. San Francisco, headquarters for Uber and Lyft, presented the strongest opposition. Continue reading Passage of California Prop 22 Is Big Victory for Gig Economy

MPAA Reports on Threat of Geolocation Piracy to Streaming

The Motion Picture Association submitted comments to the U.S. Trade Representative stating that VPNs, DNS masks and Tor networks can be a direct threat to legitimate streaming services. MPAA membership has been limited to top Hollywood studios such as Disney and Warner Bros. but that changed last year when Netflix joined. The mission, however, remains the same, which is to deter global piracy. The association goes after copyright infringers, be they site owners or app developers, and is also involved in lobbying. Continue reading MPAA Reports on Threat of Geolocation Piracy to Streaming

Hollywood VFX Experts Gravitate to AR/VR Jobs in Big Tech

Apple, Facebook and Google are among the Big Tech companies that are hiring technologists behind Hollywood movies like “Avatar” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” All three companies are developing headsets or glasses for AR/VR or so-called extended reality, and the most cutting-edge Hollywood visual effects create needed photoreal computer-generated characters and landscapes. VFX veteran Paul Debevec, now a professor at the University of Southern California, was recruited by Google four-and-a-half years ago. Continue reading Hollywood VFX Experts Gravitate to AR/VR Jobs in Big Tech

Comcast, Walmart Discuss a Potential Smart TV Partnership

Comcast and Walmart are discussing a partnership whereby the former would develop smart TV software, and the latter would promote the TVs, possibly under its own brand Onn, and get a share of recurring revenues. The TVs would be manufactured by a third party. Comcast, whose software would aim to help consumers navigate streaming apps, would be able to market its TVs nationwide. The Comcast sets would put it in competition with Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Roku, the dominant players in streaming platforms. Continue reading Comcast, Walmart Discuss a Potential Smart TV Partnership

New AI-Based Google System Converts Webpages to Video

Google announced it has developed URL2Video, an AI-enabled system that automatically converts webpages into short videos by extracting text and images. The system also harvests design styles such as colors, fonts, graphics and layouts from HTML sources and organizes all the elements into a sequence of shots that looks and feels similar to the original webpage. Google is targeting businesses with websites for their products and services, enabling them to easily create marketing videos out of existing resources. Continue reading New AI-Based Google System Converts Webpages to Video

Spotify Tests Service That Helps Artists Promote Their Music

Spotify is testing a new service that gives artists more power over how their music is discovered on its platform. First, it will allow artists and labels to identify the music that matters most to them, and Spotify will add a “signal” to help the music be found by its personalization algorithms. Spotify has created a model in which artists, labels and rights holders will be paid a “promotional recording royalty rate” for streams that it provides, although the service does not require an upfront budget for artists and labels. Continue reading Spotify Tests Service That Helps Artists Promote Their Music

Amazon Fresh Stores Aim to Reinvent Shopping Experiences

Amazon Fresh Stores have a very different look from Whole Foods, which the e-commerce giant purchased in 2017. The Fresh Store, which just opened its second outpost last week in Irvine, California, looks like a small warehouse, with Dash Carts offering integrated touchscreens and cameras. The Fresh Store is designed to be as easy as possible to retrofit in an existing retailer space and the look is spartan and appears to be optimized for robots. Prepared foods are available but there’s no place to sit and eat them. Continue reading Amazon Fresh Stores Aim to Reinvent Shopping Experiences

Huawei, Apple Drop in Rankings of Top Global Phone Makers

After attaining a position as No. 1 in global smartphone shipments in Q2, Huawei Technologies ceded that position to Samsung Electronics in Q3, according to International Data Corporation. IDC added that Huawei’s global shipments fell by 22 percent, a sign that U.S. efforts to disrupt its supply chain are having an impact. All vendors without a license from the U.S. Commerce Department have been banned from selling chips and other components to Huawei since September 15. Huawei’s domestic sales also fell 15+ percent in Q3. Continue reading Huawei, Apple Drop in Rankings of Top Global Phone Makers

Pandemic Could Have Long-Term Impact on Gaming Industry

The COVID-19 pandemic is boosting the multi-billion-dollar video-game industry into the stratosphere, and Big Tech companies predict the trend will endure past the pandemic. Microsoft, for example, plans to acquire the company behind the “Doom” game franchise for $7.5 billion. NPD Group reported that about 244 million people in the U.S. play video games, up 15 percent from a 2018 study. The report added that, “Americans spend an average of 14 hours a week playing video games … compared with 12 hours weekly in 2018.” Continue reading Pandemic Could Have Long-Term Impact on Gaming Industry

Walmart Opens Test Stores to Advance E-Commerce Goals

Walmart is transforming four of its stores into test labs to find the best ways to transition them into online fulfillment centers for e-commerce. Two of the stores are near its Bentonville, Arkansas headquarters, and the locations of the second two will be announced at a later date. Employees at these so-called laboratories will rely on digital tools and try out different strategies to integrate the company’s e-commerce and brick-and-mortar sides. The company’s online sales almost doubled during Q2, which ended July 31. Continue reading Walmart Opens Test Stores to Advance E-Commerce Goals

Television Academy Live-Streams Engineering Emmy Awards

On October 29, the Television Academy celebrated the honorees of the 72nd Engineering Emmy Awards, live-streaming the ceremony from its website for the first time. The awards were announced on October 8, and the event was hosted by CBS “Criminal Minds” star Kirsten Vangsness for the fifth consecutive year. The Engineering Emmys are awarded to individuals, companies or organizations for technical developments that improve or invent things that “greatly impacts the production, recording, transmission or reception of TV.” Continue reading Television Academy Live-Streams Engineering Emmy Awards

Big Tech Companies Report Strong Third Quarter Revenues

In an otherwise glum economic picture, Big Tech companies have boomed. The general economy is improving, while Alphabet, Amazon, Apple and Facebook are reporting profits that suggest they may be capable of generating the kind of wealth that a single industry hasn’t seen in generations. In fact, those four companies had a quarterly net profit of $38 billion, despite regulator scrutiny and other obstacles. Amazon saw an almost 200 percent rise in profits, and Facebook had a stupendous quarter, despite the advertiser boycott. Continue reading Big Tech Companies Report Strong Third Quarter Revenues

Comcast Posts Strong Q3 with Peacock, High-Speed Internet

In July, Comcast reported that its NBCUniversal Peacock streaming service had 10 million subscribers. Now, the company announced, Peacock has 22 million subscribers, adding that it is “a differentiating factor for customers considering Xfinity broadband and is also improving churn.” In the same quarter, Comcast added 633,000 high-speed Internet customers, for its best quarterly results in its history. Comcast stated that, in the first nine months of 2020, cable added more broadband sign-ups than in all of 2019. Continue reading Comcast Posts Strong Q3 with Peacock, High-Speed Internet

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