FCC Queries Comcast, AT&T and T-Mobile About Data Caps

Comcast, AT&T, and T-Mobile USA received a letter from the FCC asking them to answer questions about their use of “zero rating,” by which some types of content are exempted from a customer’s data cap. Though FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler insisted this doesn’t constitute an investigation, the FCC has previously noted that data cap exemptions can favor the exempted content over content that counts against a customer’s data use. The FCC asked the companies’ technical and business personnel to be available for discussions by January 15. Continue reading FCC Queries Comcast, AT&T and T-Mobile About Data Caps

Networks Cautious of Canceling Shows as TV Viewing Evolves

The television industry is experiencing an unusually long cancellation-free streak for its current season, as networks struggle to adapt to a changing landscape with more viewing alternatives than ever before. Network execs are being extra cautious not to drop a series that may have potential as consumers turn beyond the major broadcasters to cable, on demand, and online streaming alternatives. In addition, overall TV ratings are down and there are more shows than ever before (more than a record-setting 400 are expected by the end of the year across broadcast, cable and online services). Continue reading Networks Cautious of Canceling Shows as TV Viewing Evolves

Vizio Smart TV Tracks Users’ Viewing, Shares with Advertisers

In an October IPO filing, Vizio described its ability to provide “highly specific viewing behavior data on a massive scale with great accuracy.” This refers to Vizio’s Smart TVs ability to track the user’s viewing habits and share that information with advertisers, who use it to connect with that user’s devices. Vizio dubs this “Smart Interactivity” and it is turned on by default for the more than 10 million Smart TVs the company has sold. Users who do not want to be tracked in this fashion must opt-out. Continue reading Vizio Smart TV Tracks Users’ Viewing, Shares with Advertisers

Networks Turn to Neuroscience, Biometrics to Study TV Viewing

Up until now, the methodology to find out what TV viewers like — based largely on written surveys and machines with dials to indicate their degree of enjoyment — has been fairly primitive and, most likely, not very reliable. Comcast’s NBCUniversal and Viacom are now both trying to dig deeper using biometrics, including eye movements, facial reactions, skin sensors, heart monitors, and EEGs to monitor brain waves. Viewing measurement company Nielsen even bought a neuroscience firm, Innerscope Resesarch, to add these skillsets to its lab. Continue reading Networks Turn to Neuroscience, Biometrics to Study TV Viewing

Viacom Marries Madison Ave. and Silicon Valley for Better Ads

Viacom is introducing a new strategy involving the use of big data to optimize the placement of ads. Initially known as Project Gemini (after an early NASA human spaceflight program), and now called Vantage, Viacom’s new big data capabilities were created by data scientists and other technologists hired away from Microsoft and elsewhere. As Viacom leverages Silicon Valley technology in an effort to capture Madison Avenue dollars, competitors are ramping up similar big data strategies. Continue reading Viacom Marries Madison Ave. and Silicon Valley for Better Ads

Users Express Concern Over Snapchat’s Updated Privacy Policy

Snapchat has appealed to its fans for a variety of reasons, chief among them the fact that its photo messages disappear once they’ve been opened. That ephemeral nature has now been up-ended with the startup’s new Terms of Service. Whereas, formerly, Snapchat noted that its privacy policy was “delete is our default,” its new terms state that the company has the right, specifically in regards to the ‘Live Story’ feature, to reproduce, modify and republish photos as well as save them to Shapchat’s servers. The update has led to concern and confusion by many users. Continue reading Users Express Concern Over Snapchat’s Updated Privacy Policy

SMPTE 2015: Hollywood Engineers Examine OTT Deployment

As OTT becomes an increasingly compelling delivery platform, engineers born and bred on over-the-air, cable and satellite technologies are closely examining various schemes for deployment. On SMPTE 2015’s second day, sessions focused on that topic, featuring panelists from Prime Focus Technologies, Comcast and USC Viterbi School of Engineering. The big take-away was that going over-the-top might take some planning but it’s a worthwhile route to take, to engage viewers and provide more data for advertisers. Continue reading SMPTE 2015: Hollywood Engineers Examine OTT Deployment

Facebook’s New Videos Feed Poised to Compete with YouTube

Facebook continues to up its game with video, this time with a dedicated Videos tab, which, for now, is only being shown to a handful of users. Experts following Facebook aren’t surprised, since the social media site has been increasing its use of video over several years, currently placing up to 5 billion videos in users’ feeds, among other video-centric features. The increased use of video and its built-in user base may put Facebook on track to become a serious competitor with YouTube. Continue reading Facebook’s New Videos Feed Poised to Compete with YouTube

Twitter Expands Video Ad Tools with Generous Revenue Share

Twitter hasn’t kept up with other social media platforms with advertising offerings, say some critics, but newly reappointed chief executive Jack Dorsey hopes to buoy the company’s fortunes with an array of new video advertising products. One of Twitter’s major advantages from the advertiser’s point of view is its emphasis on international, national and local live events. Whether Dorsey’s bid to curry favor among advertisers works to appease Wall Street, however, remains to be seen. Continue reading Twitter Expands Video Ad Tools with Generous Revenue Share

Video-Sharing Site Vimeo Bankrolls First Original Productions

Vimeo, the IAC-owned video platform, is now investing in its first original programs. Since its launch, Vimeo has served as a platform for creatives to sell or rent content directly to fans. Vimeo is now funding three projects: the second season of “The Outs,” which debuted online in 2013; a stand-up comedy special featuring Bianca Del Rio, and a short film, “Darby Forever,” from “Saturday Night Live” cast member Aidy Bryant. Vimeo says the new model is also intended to encourage other creators to post content on the site. Continue reading Video-Sharing Site Vimeo Bankrolls First Original Productions

Companies Develop Tools for Sifting Through Online Images

Internet users are typically more engaged when accessing websites and social platforms that include photos and videos. Marketing firm Shift, for example, notes that readers are five times more likely to click an embedded link if a tweet includes an image. As a result, companies are now developing software solutions for sifting through the millions of online images in an effort to help brands, advertisers and e-commerce players identify what draws viewers. EyeEm Mobile and Neon Labs are among those looking to enhance the power of online visuals. Continue reading Companies Develop Tools for Sifting Through Online Images

Twitter May Lift 140-Character Limit, Aimed at Mainstream Use

In an effort to build its user base, Twitter is thinking about tweaking one of its signature features: the 140-character limit on tweets. Although the new feature is in the planning stages and no Twitter executive would comment on any new plan, the idea of going beyond 140 characters is no surprise, having been debated for many years. In June, the company overrode the 140-character limit on private messages, signaling an openness to new rules. Interim chief executive Jack Dorsey is seen as likely to endorse change. Continue reading Twitter May Lift 140-Character Limit, Aimed at Mainstream Use

YouTube to Promote Links Between User Videos and Retailers

YouTube is debuting shopping ads that expand the ability to link to retailer’s websites from user-generated videos. The Google-owned company has already let advertisers link from their YouTube videos to their own websites. But now, anyone who shoots a YouTube video can opt in to a program that will create links to retailer websites for products highlighted in videos. The new feature is a response to the growing trend of user-generated product reviews and tutorials, and also adds shopping to the video-centric site. Continue reading YouTube to Promote Links Between User Videos and Retailers

Twitter Tweaks TV Timelines, Expanding Pages and Availability

Twitter is now making its TV Timelines feature available to more users in an attempt to draw in more TV fans, networks and advertisers. TV Timelines, which aggregates TV-related content with a dedicated page for each TV show, is accessed via a separate interface within the Twitter app. When Twitter first debuted TV Timelines, it was only available to a select group of users and for a handful of TV shows. After several months of experimentation, Twitter has tweaked the feature, including adding shortcuts to users’ tweets. Continue reading Twitter Tweaks TV Timelines, Expanding Pages and Availability

Facial Monitoring Software Could Impact Your TV Experience

TV technology is getting closer to monitoring and analyzing our facial expressions in order to distinguish between boredom and enthusiasm to better understand our viewing tastes. Software from media startup Affectiva could usher in a new frontier in television viewing, one in which our devices watch our reactions and offer content suggestions or enable brands to provide more targeted ads. If consumers are willing to allow their emotional data to be gathered, movie and TV show recommendations from Netflix, for example, could become more relevant. Continue reading Facial Monitoring Software Could Impact Your TV Experience