States Fight Misinformation on Social Media Before Midterms

As various states undergo primary elections and the nation gears up for midterm elections in the fall, the social network misinformation machines are becoming more active, too. Connecticut is actively addressing the problem with a marketing budget of nearly $2 million to counter unfounded rumors. The state is also creating a new position to monitor the disinformation mill. Salaried at $150,000 per year, the job involves combing fringe sites like Gettr, Rumble and 4chan as well as mainstream social media sites to weed-out falsehoods before they go viral, alerting platforms to remove or flag such posts. Continue reading States Fight Misinformation on Social Media Before Midterms

Ad Tech, Brand Messaging Take Center Stage at TV Upfronts

While this year’s TV Upfronts were packed with celebrity appearances and musical performances, the focus had clearly shifted from scheduling to content that could be watched anytime and anywhere and the technologies that facilitate ad insertions and brand messaging opportunities. In addition to changing viewer habits, streaming and binge watching have resulted in new priorities for program services, now focused on libraries that amount to inventory by the ton, according to reports from the television industry’s annual New York pitch event for advertisers. Continue reading Ad Tech, Brand Messaging Take Center Stage at TV Upfronts

Marvel Live-Action Series to Exit Netflix and Move to Disney+

Marvel series are moving from Netflix to Disney+. Beginning March 16, “Daredevil,” “The Defenders,” “Iron Fist,” “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage” and “The Punisher” will begin streaming from Disney+ in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The Netflix licensing rights expired on February 28, reverting back to Marvel parent Disney. “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” will also join the Disney+ streaming fold on March 16 after seven seasons on ABC. The seven series will be made available to the rest of the Disney+ global markets later this year. Continue reading Marvel Live-Action Series to Exit Netflix and Move to Disney+

Disney’s Quarter Reflects Theme Park and Streaming Success

The Walt Disney Company reported record revenue in its theme parks sector and strong gains in streaming, a rather unlikely situation of benefitting from both sides of the COVID-19 pandemic, as Disney+ added 11.8 million new subscribers while people flocked to its location-based U.S. venues. “We’ve had a very strong start to the fiscal year,” said CEO Bob Chapek, announcing “record revenue and operating income at our domestic parks and resorts, the launch of a new franchise with ‘Encanto,’ and a significant increase in total subscriptions across our streaming portfolio” for the company’s first fiscal quarter, ended January 1, 2022. Continue reading Disney’s Quarter Reflects Theme Park and Streaming Success

ABC Announces Launch of 8 Local Streaming News Channels

ABC Owned Television Stations, a division of Disney, announced it is launching free 24/7 live and local streaming news services in the eight markets where its stations are located. As brand extensions of New York’s WABC, LA’s KABC, San Francisco’s KGO, Fresno’s KFSN, Philadelphia’s WPVI, Chicago’s WLS, Houston’s KTRK and Raleigh-Durham’s WTVD, the streaming news channels will serve local news and weather, breaking news and lifestyle stories from ABC’s multiplatform Localish as well as exclusive content. The streaming channels will be available via websites, mobile apps, Roku TV, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV and more. Continue reading ABC Announces Launch of 8 Local Streaming News Channels

YouTube TV Carries Networks for Spanish-Language Market

YouTube TV is expanding its Spanish-language programming, adding Univision, UniMás and Galavisión to its base membership. The YouTube TV lineup will now include sports programming like the Campeones Cup championship between the top U.S. and Mexico soccer leagues and the Latin Grammy Awards along with a panoply of telenovelas. Subscribers in top Hispanic markets will also have access to Spanish-language local news and weather. An upgrade package that offers more Spanish-language content is coming soon. In May, Google-owned YouTube TV was reported to have more than 3 million U.S. subscribers. Continue reading YouTube TV Carries Networks for Spanish-Language Market

Major TV Broadcasters Prevail in Court Case Against Locast

Locast, a non-profit organization founded by lawyer and former FCC legal advisor David Goodfriend, streamed local TV to those who couldn’t access local signals, declaring that U.S. copyright law allows third parties to boost local signals. Major broadcasters ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX disputed that claim, believing that Locast simply wanted to avoid carriage fees, and have now won a court battle finding that Locast violated their copyrights. The court also stated that Locast cannot use its non-profit status as a defense against further action. Continue reading Major TV Broadcasters Prevail in Court Case Against Locast

Disney: Streaming Subscription Growth, Theme Parks Reopen

At the end of Q3, Disney+ had 116 million subscribers, exceeding the 112-115 million analysts had predicted. The most popular content included the Pixar animated feature “Luca,” superhero series “Loki” and live-action film “Cruella.” Meanwhile, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products earned a profit of $356 million. Disneyland in California reopened with limited capacity on April 30 after being closed for 14 months. Disney chief executive Bob Chapek said that park bookings are “really strong” despite the surge of COVID-19 cases with the Delta variant.  Continue reading Disney: Streaming Subscription Growth, Theme Parks Reopen

Gray to Buy 17 Meredith TV Stations, Will Reach 113 Markets

Gray Television inked a deal with Meredith Corporation to acquire 17 TV stations for $2.7 billion, bringing its number of outlets to 101 stations serving 113 markets and reaching 36 percent of U.S. TV households. It is acquiring Meredith TV stations in Atlanta; Phoenix; Nashville; Portland, Oregon and other mid-sized markets. Meredith is refocusing its efforts on magazine publishing and digital assets. Gray will become the No. 2 U.S. broadcaster after Nexstar, with its 116 stations reaching 62 percent of U.S. TV households.

Continue reading Gray to Buy 17 Meredith TV Stations, Will Reach 113 Markets

Supreme Court Allows FCC to Relax Media Ownership Rules

In a 9-0 ruling authored by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the U.S. Supreme Court loosened local media ownership restrictions, which could enable more industry consolidation. It’s viewed as a victory for broadcasters that wanted to overturn the 2017 decision of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals that found the FCC did not sufficiently consider the effect of changes on minority and female owners. The FCC appeal was supported by News Corp, Fox Corporation, Sinclair Broadcast Group and the National Association of Broadcasters. Continue reading Supreme Court Allows FCC to Relax Media Ownership Rules

HPA Tech Retreat: ETC Details Its Executive Coffee Program

During the HPA Tech Retreat, ETC Immersive Media Initiative program lead Phil Lelyveld presented highlights from the Entertainment Technology Center’s “Executive Coffee With…” program, a series of discussions between ETC industry members and USC students on a range of topics related to the future of entertainment. To date, executives from Verizon, Universal, Fox, Equinix, Vubiquity and Dolby have posed questions to the USC students, on topics from production during COVID-19 to the future of the theater experience. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: ETC Details Its Executive Coffee Program

Productions Return Slowly in California But Boom in Canada

California Film Commission executive director Colleen Bell said Hollywood production is slowly but steadily coming back. In March, all projects approved under the California film and TV tax credit program requested force majeure to retain their tax credits, and now 10 of them have resumed production since June 12. Still, the number of on-location film permits in Los Angeles declined 7.6 percent from October to November while production in Vancouver and Toronto are at pre-pandemic levels although movie theaters are shuttered. Continue reading Productions Return Slowly in California But Boom in Canada

Disney Doubles Down on Success of New Streaming Service

Last Thursday, The Walt Disney Company celebrated the one-year anniversary of its Disney+ streaming service, which reached 73.7 million subscriptions as of October 3, up from the 60+ million reported in August. That positive news has offset losses, much of it due to COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on tourism and movie-going, reported in the quarter ending June 27. “The real bright spot has been our direct-to-consumer business,” said Disney chief executive Bob Chapek, pointing to the division that includes streaming operations. Continue reading Disney Doubles Down on Success of New Streaming Service

Disney’s Streaming Services Hit 100 Million Subscriber Mark

Disney’s new streaming businesses — Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ — have now accrued more than 100 million subscribers worldwide. With the release of blockbuster “Hamilton” on Disney+, that service hit 60.5 million subscribers after only nine months. That was a (low-end) number that Disney originally hoped to achieve at the end of five years. Disney has also announced that it would release its $200 million feature “Mulan” on Disney+, on a premium basis rather than movie theaters, in the U.S., Canada and parts of Europe. Continue reading Disney’s Streaming Services Hit 100 Million Subscriber Mark

Plex Launches 80 Live TV Channels on Its Ad-Supported App

The free, ad-supported media app Plex just added 80 live TV channels, none of them cable channels like CNN, Lifetime or TBS. Rather, it offers a lineup that includes Reuters, Toon Goggles and the Bob Ross Channel, among others. In the current economic climate, consumers are gravitating to this kind of free linear programming, which harkens back to the early days of television. Plex got its start as a cord-cutting solution with free on-demand video and DVR functionality for on-air TV networks. Continue reading Plex Launches 80 Live TV Channels on Its Ad-Supported App