Warner Bros. Discovery Adds Nearly 3 Million DTC Subs in Q3

Warner Bros. Discovery saw streaming subscriptions grow to almost 95 million globally in Q3 across HBO, HBO Max and Discovery+, propelled largely by “House of the Dragon,” the hotly anticipated “Game of Thrones” prequel. The buoyant performance prompted WBD CEO David Zaslav to announce on the earnings call that the company has accelerated the U.S. launch for the new streaming platform that combines HBO Max and Discovery+ to spring, rather than waiting until summer 2023 as originally planned. The growth translates to 2.8 million HBO, HBO Max and Discovery+ subscriptions added from Q2 to Q3 — 500,000 of them domestically. Continue reading Warner Bros. Discovery Adds Nearly 3 Million DTC Subs in Q3

New Apple TV 4K Touts Upgrades Including A15 Bionic Chip

The new Apple TV 4K went on sale online and in stores last week, offering improvements over what some say is the best streaming hardware available. The 2022 model has an A15 Bionic processor, a significant update over the A12 inside the previous model, which shipped in May. A 16-core neural engine and added RAM are among the upgrades. Starting at $129 for Wi-Fi only with 64GB of RAM, there is also a higher-end $149 version with 128GB that is Wi-Fi and Ethernet compatible and has a Thread IoT modem that supports Matter. Continue reading New Apple TV 4K Touts Upgrades Including A15 Bionic Chip

PlayStation VR2 with 4K HDR Shipping in Early 2023 for $550

The Sony PlayStation VR2 will be available for purchase for $549.99 starting February 22, 2023, with pre-orders beginning November 15. Sony says the PlayStation VR2 will come equipped with stereo headphones, PSVR2 Sense controllers and a PSVR2 headset. With 4K HDR support, OLED displaying 2000×2040 pixels per eye, 110-degree field of view and a refresh rate of up to 120Hz, the VR2 offers many improvements over its predecessor. There are four cameras built into the front of the headset, eliminating a need for external cameras to track movements. Continue reading PlayStation VR2 with 4K HDR Shipping in Early 2023 for $550

Comcast, Charter Provide Details of Xumo Streaming Venture

Comcast and Charter Communications have christened their streaming joint venture Xumo, taking the name from the FAST platform Comcast acquired in 2020 for a reported $100 million. Built to challenge biggies like Amazon, Apple, Google and Roku, the Xumo joint venture aims to create “an entire entertainment ecosystem” to include hardware as well as content and a platform to help advertisers “reach audiences at scale.” The first Xumo devices are targeting late 2023 delivery, with distribution through Comcast, Charter and Walmart (and other vendors to be announced). Xumo’s FAST service will be rebranded Xumo Play. Continue reading Comcast, Charter Provide Details of Xumo Streaming Venture

Google Shows Off Impressive Range of AI at NY Media Event

Google Research is touting new advances in artificial intelligence, which can now generate its own code and write fiction, in addition to better text-to-video and language translation. At a New York media event at Google’s Pier 57 office — which opened earlier this year to become the company’s third Manhattan outpost — roughly a dozen projects in various stages of development were on display, with robot learning, LaMDA (language model for dialogue applications) and text-generated 3D images sharing the spotlight with practical AI for things like disaster management, weather forecasts and healthcare. Continue reading Google Shows Off Impressive Range of AI at NY Media Event

Amazon Offers Expanded Music and Podcast Catalog Ad-Free

Amazon Music has taken a major leap forward, expanding its catalog from about 2 million to 100 million songs that will be made available ad-free to Prime members as part of their existing $139 annual membership fee. Starting this week, Prime members can “shuffle play any artist, album, or playlist, plus stream a selection of All-Access playlists on demand” as well as “access the largest catalog of ad-free top podcasts,” the online retail giant said. The move underscores a new battleground for membership-focused retailers, including Costco and Walmart, who see streaming as an opportunity to add value. Continue reading Amazon Offers Expanded Music and Podcast Catalog Ad-Free

YouTube Launches a Streaming Hub for Subscription Services

In Google’s ongoing bid to become a one-stop destination for video entertainment, the company’s YouTube has launched a U.S. streaming marketplace called Primetime Channels that debuts with 34 services, including Paramount+, Showtime, AMC+ and Starz. The company jumps in the ring with Amazon, Apple and Roku, all of which offer streaming subscriptions directly through their platforms, although none has managed to secure every major on-demand outlet. YouTube, the leader in free video streaming says it has integrated Primetime Channels among user-uploaded content, making it easy for viewers to hop from free trailers to subscription purchases. Continue reading YouTube Launches a Streaming Hub for Subscription Services

Disney+ Subs Get Early Access to Exclusive Holiday Shopping

The Walt Disney Company has begun mixing-in shopping opportunities among Disney+ streaming content. U.S. subscribers with Disney+ profiles verified as 18 and older will have first crack at new products from franchises including “Frozen,” “Star Wars” and “Black Panther.” Included among the items are a light saber ($250 to $400) and apparel ($27 to $100). After the limited Disney+ window closes on November 8 the goods will be made available to the general public for purchase. Disney is reportedly also considering an experiment with early access to new theme park rides. Continue reading Disney+ Subs Get Early Access to Exclusive Holiday Shopping

FCC’s Carr Renews Call for a National Security Ban on TikTok

Brendan Carr, a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, is continuing his efforts to have TikTok banned, telling the Council on Foreign Investment in the U.S. in his strongest language to date that the viral short-form video app is, as a result of consumer adoption, becoming a part of the nation’s critical information infrastructure, and thus presents a national security risk due to Chinese ownership. TikTok is reportedly back in negotiations with the CFIUS, an interagency committee that reviews foreign investment, about a change of ownership that would smooth the path to ongoing U.S. operations. Continue reading FCC’s Carr Renews Call for a National Security Ban on TikTok

TiVo Study: Consumers Average About 10 Streaming Services

TiVo has released research indicating the average number of video services used by consumers is 9.86, up from 8.8 a year ago and approaching double-digits for the first time in history. The gain is largely due to increased adoption of free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) services, also known as ad-supported video on demand (AVOD), which account for 32 percent of the overall share of video services used by consumers in 2022, up from 26 percent as of Q4 2021. According to the TiVo Video Trends Report, the average consumer is now using three ad-based video-on-demand services. Continue reading TiVo Study: Consumers Average About 10 Streaming Services

Netflix Buys Seattle-Based Children’s Game Studio Spry Fox

Netflix continues to build-out its games portfolio, adding a sixth gaming studio, the Seattle-based Spry Fox. Founded in 2010 by Daniel Cook and David Edery, Spry Fox focuses on children’s games, with titles including “Alphabear,” “Triple Town” and “Cozy Grove.” Netflix VP of games studios Amir Rahimi says the new purchase will help accelerate Netflix in a popular genre known as “cozy games.” The announcement comes weeks after Netflix VP of gaming Mike Verdu made public that the company plans to open a new games operation in Southern California and is considering a move into cloud gaming. Continue reading Netflix Buys Seattle-Based Children’s Game Studio Spry Fox

Incubated at Twitter by Jack Dorsey, Bluesky Launching Beta

Bluesky, a decentralized platform conceived by Jack Dorsey while he was CEO of Twitter, has generated more than 30,000 waitlist signups as it prepares for a private beta launch of Bluesky Social. Bluesky’s main innovation is the Authenticated Transport (AT) Protocol, described as a networking technology “to power the next generation of social applications.” AT Protocol is an open standard designed to allow different social apps the ability to interoperate, giving users more control by letting them independently adjust algorithm settings or move profiles without losing data. Continue reading Incubated at Twitter by Jack Dorsey, Bluesky Launching Beta

Big Tech to Face Increased EU Scrutiny as DMA Takes Effect

Next week, the EU’s Digital Markets Act takes effect, and U.S. tech giants are preparing for headaches. Among the DMA’s goals is making companies like Amazon, Google and Meta Platforms more open and interoperable in 2023. Last month, veteran EU official Gerard de Graaf, who helped create the DMA, was installed as director of a satellite office in San Francisco. There, he will help Big Tech prepare for breaking out their wallets and breaking open their walled gardens as the result of  “significant” changes to how they’ve been doing business in Europe. Meanwhile, telecoms in Europe are looking for tech firms to pay new fees based on bandwidth issues. Continue reading Big Tech to Face Increased EU Scrutiny as DMA Takes Effect

Google, Amazon Reach an Accord in OS Battle for Smart TVs

Google and Amazon have struck a deal to end simmering hostilities over a battle for control of smart TVs. After a particularly damning report by the Competition Commission of India last week, Amazon announced that TCL — a major player in the drama — will this fall release in Europe two new models equipped with Amazon Fire TV software. The new pax has also paved the way for Amazon to work with consumer electronics companies including Hisense, Xiaomi, and more, who were previously forbidden from using the Amazon OS under Google’s licensing terms. Continue reading Google, Amazon Reach an Accord in OS Battle for Smart TVs

Reviews Are in for Meta Quest Pro, Quest 3 to Arrive in 2023

The Meta Quest Pro is making its way to reviewers, who say that the pricey $1,500 mixed reality headset from Meta Platforms will be out of reach for most consumers but could be a natural upgrade to business users who want to upgrade from the Quest 2. Offering augmented reality in color and avatars with nuanced facial expressions, the Quest Pro is a productivity tool “ideal for builders, architects, engineers, designers, and others” who want to create or work in immersive environments. For everyone else, a consumer-priced Meta Quest 3 will be arriving in late 2023. Continue reading Reviews Are in for Meta Quest Pro, Quest 3 to Arrive in 2023