Netflix Tests Instagram Stories-Like Feature in its Mobile App

Netflix is currently testing a new feature in its mobile app that helps users stay connected with shows via trailers, alerts, videos and photos. Those who are in the test group will see an “Extras” tab positioned between Search and Downloads at the bottom of the screen. Rather than the vertical scroll of the current Coming Soon section, users navigate through the Extras feed horizontally, similar to the Instagram Stories model. Videos will play automatically, but require pressing a button to activate sound. Netflix has confirmed testing the new feature, but not whether it will become a permanent addition. Continue reading Netflix Tests Instagram Stories-Like Feature in its Mobile App

Instagram Plans to Introduce More Ads From its Influencers

Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing app Instagram announced yesterday that it plans a change to its advertising strategy that involves more sponsored ads from social influencers. Instagram will offer brands the ability to promote creators’ branded content in users’ feeds, regardless of whether or not those users follow the influencers creating the content. The move could be lucrative for popular influencers who generate revenue promoting products and services, but may prove frustrating to average users who will subsequently see more unwanted ads in their feeds. Continue reading Instagram Plans to Introduce More Ads From its Influencers

Social Listening: Spotify Developing a Shared Music Queue

Spotify is working on a new feature called “Social Listening” that would allow multiple people to add tracks to a social queue so they could all listen to the same songs from different devices in different locations. According to screenshots shared by an app researcher, users can add songs to the real-time playlist for a communal listening experience after scanning their friends’ QR-style Spotify Social Listening codes. The feature, not yet released, is essentially a jazzed-up version of Spotify’s Collaborative Playlists for now, but in the future Spotify could possibly upgrade it for synchronized playback. Continue reading Social Listening: Spotify Developing a Shared Music Queue

Majority of Hulu Subscribers Opt For the Ad-Supported Plan

Hulu, which recently revealed that it has 28 million customer accounts, has provided additional details on its subscribers. The streaming video service offers an ad-free $11.99 per month tier, but the majority of its users pay $5.99 per month for the ad-supported plan. Hulu claims 82 million total viewers (2.9 viewers per account), of which 70 percent pay for the ad-supported plan. The company generated nearly $1.5 billion in ad revenue last year. Since advertising is vital to keeping its subscribers, Hulu strives to present ads via viewer-friendly models. Continue reading Majority of Hulu Subscribers Opt For the Ad-Supported Plan

Apple Updates App Store, Hopes to Combat Antitrust Claims

Apple is hoping that its new App Store website will help curb accusations regarding antitrust and anti-competition practices. Ahead of next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California, the company launched a new App Store site with details about how apps are carefully reviewed and curated, and the different business models that are available to app developers. “We created the App Store with two goals in mind: that it be a safe and trusted place for customers to discover and download apps, and a great business opportunity for all developers,” the company detailed on the site. Continue reading Apple Updates App Store, Hopes to Combat Antitrust Claims

NBC Targets News Junkies With Ad-Supported OTT Service

NBC News is introducing its free, ad-supported streaming video service with an eight-hour programming day (3:00-11:00 pm Eastern, Monday through Friday) and a mix of news content. “NBC News Now” hopes to attract a new generation of information aficionados with a blend of short-form “Briefly” updates, live reports and in-depth stories. “We want to be the premiere place for viewers who are news junkies — news savvy, digitally savvy, but may not be watching on traditional platforms or have access to cable service,” explained Rashida Jones, SVP of specials for NBC News and MSNBC, who is overseeing the initiative. Continue reading NBC Targets News Junkies With Ad-Supported OTT Service

Cable Providers Hope Wireless Deals Will Curb Cord-Cutting

New York-based cable provider Altice USA is planning to compete in the crowded wireless market by launching a new mobile service that offers consumers unlimited data at a $20-$30 monthly price point per phone, according to individuals familiar with the plans. Employees will test the new service, likely to be named Altice Mobile, in the coming weeks, with plans for a summer launch. The company will be joining cable rivals Charter and Comcast in offering wireless deals to subscribers. Cable providers are hoping that offering wireless service will discourage their customers from cord-cutting. Continue reading Cable Providers Hope Wireless Deals Will Curb Cord-Cutting

New Company Acquires Meta’s AR Assets and Hires CEO

Meta View, a new spatial computing company backed by Olive Tree Ventures and BNSG Capital, has acquired the IP assets of Meta Company, a pioneer in AR head-mounted displays that shut down earlier this year. Meta Company previously generated a lot of buzz regarding its Meta 2 headset and wide field-of-view display system. To run the new San Mateo, California-based company, Meta View has hired former Qualcomm VP Jay Wright as CEO. Wright co-founded Vuforia, where he served as president and GM cultivating the popular AR platform. Continue reading New Company Acquires Meta’s AR Assets and Hires CEO

Facing New Pressure, Huawei Trademarks Own Mobile OS

As the trade war between China and the U.S. escalates, the Trump administration’s order preventing telecoms from using foreign-made hardware that could threaten national security has placed Huawei under increased scrutiny. As a result, a number of major tech companies — including ARM, Broadcom, Intel, Qualcomm and Xilinx — as well as carriers in Japan, Taiwan and the U.K. have stalled business with Huawei. Since Google plans to cut off Android support for new Huawei phones, the Chinese company faces significant trouble in Europe where it historically has been very successful. In response, Huawei is taking matters into its own hands and was granted a trademark last week for a smartphone OS to replace Android. Continue reading Facing New Pressure, Huawei Trademarks Own Mobile OS

IGTV Shifts Model From Exclusively Offering Vertical Video

Instagram launched IGTV last year with plans to exclusively offer long-form vertical videos for mobile devices. Landscape video uploads would not be included. However, enthusiasm on the part of video creators failed to gain traction, and now IGTV is changing its vertical video policy. As of last week, users can upload horizontal landscape videos that can easily be viewed full-screen by turning a mobile device on its side. “Ultimately, our vision is to make IGTV a destination for great content no matter how it’s shot so creators can express themselves how they want,” the company explained. Continue reading IGTV Shifts Model From Exclusively Offering Vertical Video

Snap Inc. Hoping to Expand Use of Music in Snapchat App

As Snap faces increased pressure from competitors such as Facebook’s Instagram and ByteDance’s TikTok, the company is reportedly talking with music labels for broader licensing agreements to allow increased use of music via the popular Snapchat app. According to people familiar with the matter, Snap is in discussions with Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group. Snap is not looking to launch the next Spotify, but rather expand the way its users can integrate music into Snaps and social media applications. Continue reading Snap Inc. Hoping to Expand Use of Music in Snapchat App

NLRB Considers Uber Drivers Freelancers, Not Employees

In an opinion released May 14, the National Labor Relations Board concluded that Uber drivers should be classified as independent contractors, and not company employees. According to the NLRB, Uber drivers qualify as independent workers because they are given “significant entrepreneurial opportunity” and “virtually complete control of their cars, work schedules, and log-in locations, together with their freedom to work for competitors of Uber.” The opinion is a victory for Uber and a setback for drivers and labor advocates, since it makes it more challenging for drivers to file labor complaints, form a union, or seek federal protection. Continue reading NLRB Considers Uber Drivers Freelancers, Not Employees

Disney Finalizes Deal with Comcast to Take Control of Hulu

Comcast, which owns roughly one-third of Hulu, has agreed to sell its stake in the streaming video service to Disney. The deal calls for Comcast to sell its interest for Hulu’s fair market value no earlier than 2024. The Hulu joint venture launched nearly 12 years ago with the goal of providing a legal platform for television content that would serve as an alternative to YouTube and pirate sites. The platform has since become a major Netflix competitor. Disney’s share increased with its recent $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox’s movie and TV studios. AT&T, which picked up 9.5 percent of Hulu with its $85 billion deal for Time Warner, recently sold back its share to Hulu for $1.43 billion. Continue reading Disney Finalizes Deal with Comcast to Take Control of Hulu

Supreme Court: App Store Customers Can Now Sue Apple

In what could become a landmark decision, the Supreme Court has ruled to allow individual iPhone users to sue Apple in antitrust violation cases related to the tech giant’s App Store. In a 5-4 decision written by Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court agreed with a lower court ruling that determined App Store customers could sue Apple for allegedly driving up prices by forcing them to purchase apps exclusively from the App Store. Apple lost its argument that was based on the contention that third-party developers set the prices for apps. While Apple holds steady in its belief that it does not represent a monopoly, the ruling could have future ramifications regarding consumers who seek to sue other app sellers for antitrust violations. Continue reading Supreme Court: App Store Customers Can Now Sue Apple

YouTube Launches New Ad Tool Dubbed Bumper Machine

Ahead of the May 14th Google Marketing Live event, during which the company will describe its latest digital marketing products, YouTube announced a new editing tool designed to streamline ad production. Bumper Machine, which YouTube is currently alpha testing, intends to help advertisers optimize content for mobile audiences by identifying compelling moments in video content to create packages of six-second videos that highlight key brand and product information. According to IAB, mobile video ads are steering a significant part of the digital media market, worth $107.5 billion last year in the U.S. alone. Continue reading YouTube Launches New Ad Tool Dubbed Bumper Machine

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