On-Demand Television Is Giving the Music Industry a Boost

“Stranger Things,” “Breaking Bad” and “Transparent” are just a few examples of popular television shows that have been a boon to the music industry in recent years. During an era when physical music sales are at a low, artists and labels are eager to license their music to play during TV episodes for royalties and publicity. According to numbers provided by UK music collecting society PRS for Music — home of the Performing Right Society (PRS) and the Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society (MCPS), the use of music across on-demand platforms has increased 238 percent over the past five years.

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KidHQ: Walmart and Mattel Renting Space in Virtual Store

Online toy shopping is getting increasingly creative, as digital reality tools rise in popularity among retailers and consumers. Walmart and Mattel are now leasing “floors” at the BuzzFeed-produced interactive video experience KidHQ, a virtual reality store that allows users to browse products via choose-your-own-adventure-style videos. Both companies are looking ahead to the holiday season as they try to sell toys ranging from Barbies to “Frozen 2” merchandise, and are using interactive video to connect with consumers to do so. 

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Amazon Curated Annual Holiday Toy Guide Comes at a Cost

Amazon released its annual Holiday Toy Guide featuring more than 1,700 “curated” items. In order to be considered for a spot in the well-regarded guide, Amazon charges toy companies millions of dollars, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg. Amazon sells “Holiday Toy List” sponsorships for up to $2 million, and “the more sponsors pay, the more products they can nominate to be on the list and the more prominently their own products will be featured on the popular website.” Amazon’s summer toy list charged lower rates.

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Netflix Remains Confident, Despite Increased Competition

For the second straight quarter, Netflix fell short of its subscriber-growth target. For some, this raises questions about Netflix’s ability to fend off competition in an increasingly crowded market, particularly as traditional media companies continue flooding the space with video-streaming services. On Wednesday, however, Netflix shares rose 8.5 percent based on news that the overall subscriber base did grow in the 3rd quarter, it didn’t lose domestic numbers, and it also saw strong international subscriber growth.

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Hulu Advances Personalization With Like/Dislike Buttons

Ahead of the launch of two new streaming services, Disney+ and Apple TV+, Hulu is taking steps to add more personalization to its platform. After launching an enhanced recommendation engine that takes into account what viewers watch and when, it’s now introducing Like and Dislike buttons that will enable more personal and accurate content recommendations. The new buttons now appear across the Hulu platform. When using a living room device, you’ll see them on the Details page; when using a computer, you’ll see them on the Homepage.

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Facebook Falls, Amazon Rises, and Apple Holds Top Spot

In Interbrand’s latest Best Global Brands report, Facebook fell out of the top ten, dropping to 14th due to an estimated declined value of 12 percent. Amazon moved up to 3rd and The Walt Disney Company moved up to 10th. Apple remains in the top spot, with Google right behind. Previously, Facebook had grown in value each year of its existence up until 2017, when it came in 8th place on the list. But with incidents like the Cambridge Analytica scandal on its heels, the company’s value has dipped. 

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Google’s Latest Pixel Takes Phone Cameras to Next Level

At Google’s annual hardware event this week, the company introduced the new Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL smartphones, both featuring an extra camera lens, infrared scanner for unlocking the phone, and emphasis on computational photography for automatically processing more professional-looking images (even photos of the night sky). Both phones use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 chipset and come equipped with 19:9 “Smooth” displays, which refresh up to 90 times per second, and the touchscreens allow users to poke it or squeeze the body if they want to call upon Google’s built-in Assistant. 

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TiVo Introduces Its Free, Ad-Supported Streaming Service 

On Tuesday, TiVo officially entered the streaming content service arena with the release of its ad-supported streaming service, TiVo Plus. The new service appears to be the company’s answer to The Roku Channel. TiVo Plus is available for free but only to those who own TiVo devices, and it’s enabled by a partnership with XUMO, Jukin Media, and other publishers, allowing TiVo to offer a wide range of content. TiVo indicates that, in total, there will be thousands of movies and TV shows available to consumers. 

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Sony Readies Launch of Immersive 360 Reality Audio Tech

Sony wants listeners to feel like they’re having a live music experience even when listening to a recording. The company just announced plans to release its immersive listening technology, 360 Reality Audio, this fall. After debuting it at CES in Las Vegas, Sony is ready to move forward with the release, which will include around 1,000 tracks to start. Listeners will be able to access 360 Reality Audio songs through the Android and iOS apps of music streaming services such as Amazon Music HD, Deezer, nugs.net and Tidal

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Hulu Joins the Streaming Competition in Offering 4K Video

After removing it in 2018, Hulu once again has 4K content available via its service. This time around, 4K content can be accessed through Xbox One devices (Hulu will soon add 4K support for Amazon Fire TV, LG webOS and others). Formerly, Hulu had only made 4K content available via Apple TV 4K and Chromecast Ultra, and the content selection had been somewhat limited compared to rivals like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Now, Hulu has more original content under its belt to offer in 4K, including hits like “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The First,” “Castle Rock,” and others. 

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Netflix Film Will Debut on Broadway at the Belasco Theatre

Netflix’s plans for the upcoming release of its Martin Scorsese film, “The Irishman” have shifted due to pushback from major theater chains after they learned of the streaming giant’s plans for a limited run. Netflix now plans to debut the film at the Shubert Organization’s Belasco Theatre in New York City, with showings from November 1st to December 1st that will follow a standard Broadway theater schedule. The company will provide modern equipment for the screenings. The film will debut on Netflix on November 27th.

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Walmart Aims to Take On Amazon by Subsidizing Vendors

It seems as though the holiday online shopping competition is already revving up. Walmart will soon release a new program to compete with the Amazon marketplace, which boasts 40 percent control of the U.S. e-commerce market. On Walmart’s own marketplace site, vendors pay a fee to list goods. Soon, the prices of some of these goods will temporarily lower, but the vendors will still be paid in full with Walmart subsidizing the difference, according to a description of the plan obtained and reported by Bloomberg

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Netflix Ramps Up Team, Content Ahead of Disney+ Launch

As the November 12 launch of Disney+ approaches, Netflix is aiming to impress in order to stave off the competition. Disney+ will offer a wide range of content, including 7,500 episodes of Disney TV shows, 25 original series, National Geographic specials, 30 seasons of “The Simpsons,” and movies from Disney, Lucasfilm, Marvel and Pixar. Disney will no longer be licensing its content to Netflix. With that in mind, Netflix has been hiring top industry talent and the Netflix Animation team now includes veterans behind numerous successful projects. Continue reading Netflix Ramps Up Team, Content Ahead of Disney+ Launch

Princeton Study Shows Smart TVs Are Collecting Your Data

While streaming your favorite show on Netflix via an Internet-connected smart TV, your data is being collected, according to a new study from Princeton University, which found that smart TVs are equipped with data-collecting trackers. Researchers built a bot that installed thousands of channels on both Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices and mimicked human behaviors like watching videos and browsing. When the bot ran into an ad, it tracked what data was collected. Researchers claim there’s little consumer awareness of this activity.

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EU Private Risk Assessment Reveals 5G Security Concerns

According to a privately circulated risk assessment prepared by European governments, the European Union (EU) has identified security threats coming from foreign telecommunications equipment vendors, raising particular concerns about Huawei Technologies Co. A public report was released and warned of hostile states or state-backed companies posing a threat to new 5G networks rolling out across the globe. These promise faster connection speeds and the ability to link many devices (cars, pacemakers, and more) to the Internet. 

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