Top Stories

Microsoft Closes $69 Billion Acquisition of Activision Blizzard

Right on schedule and after a rocky start, Microsoft has closed the $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard that regulators in the U.S. and UK had challenged. Big Tech is celebrating the move as a signal that their cash reserves can still be used to target expansion. The deal is consumer tech’s largest since AOL purchased Time Warner in a 2000 deal valued at more than twice that. Until now, Microsoft’s games unit, built around Xbox, has been a modest part of the company’s immense portfolio — representing just over 7 percent of total sales, or revenue of about $15 billion. Read more

Netflix Streaming Game Test Expanding to U.S. TVs and PCs

Netflix is expanding its cloud gaming test to the U.S. after initially deploying trials in Canada and the United Kingdom. The streaming game service builds on mobile gaming efforts the company began in 2021 and is now targeting games on connected TV devices and smart TVs, including Roku, Chromecast, Fire TV, and others, with mobile phones serving as game controllers. Netflix has made no secret of its intention to make games a major part of its business, and this next step is being called a bid to take on game giants Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox.
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NBC Streamer SportsEngine Play Targets $37B Youth Market

NBC Sports Next has launched a subscription amateur sports streaming service geared toward the youth market. SportsEngine Play will also offer a free tier for live and on-demand content centered on its target audience. The service leverages the technology acquired with Rapid Replay, a streaming startup purchased by NBC in September 2022. The new service is among a dozen related brands NBC has purchased over the years, including a specialty software company called Sports Ngin that the company bought in 2016 to make apps for youth sports organizations and leagues. Read more

Captions Debuts AI Lipdub with Translation and Gen Z Slang

Captions, which leverages AI to help its customers produce “studio quality videos directly from their mobile devices,” has launched a new app called Lipdub that automatically translates and dubs content into 28 languages. The free download lets user dub anyone “and experience familiar voices and faces in a suite of new languages.” Lipdub’s translations not only duplicate what the company says is “the subject’s exact voice,” but also syncs lip movements to match. It also incorporates dialects and idioms, with options like Gen Z and Texas slang. Read more

Klarna AI Image Search Takes Aim at the E-Commerce Space

Swedish fintech company Klarna, whose online payments platform claims to work with 500,000 merchants worldwide, is debuting an AI-powered shopping lens. As with in-app lens tools from Google and Amazon, the Klarna lens lets shoppers snap pictures of items or styles then use its app to find out where to buy using a “search and compare” filter. Klarna claims its camera feature can visually identify over 10 million items and match them with more than 50 million store offers. “Klarna uses AI to translate the image into a search term,” turning it into “a shoppable item,” the company explains. Read more

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