CES Panel: Defining TV Across Primetime and Multi-Platforms

Altman Vilandrie & Company director Jonathan Hurd presided over a panel at CES on how TV has evolved and will continue to change. Viacom’s Stefanie Schwartz noted that her company is making “hours of original content to drive viewership and engagement on all the social platforms.” “We’re experimenting with all kinds of formats and seeing what works,” she said. MAGNA North America president David Cohen said his company is doubling down on OTT. “We’re looking to think about where to put the dollars as consumers migrate,” he said. Continue reading CES Panel: Defining TV Across Primetime and Multi-Platforms

CES Session: Defining and Creating the Killer AR/VR/MR App

At a session on “Gaming is the Killer App for AR/VR,” moderator Ariella Lehrer of HitPoint Studios stated that a “killer app” would be defined as any app that moves hardware units. That brought a wince from Needham & Company’s Laura Martin who objected that money, not hardware, is the metric to look at. Martin added that hardware sales don’t take into account the fact that so much AR will be done on a smartphone rather than a game console. “Because it uses your smartphone, AR will get faster adoption,” she suggested. Continue reading CES Session: Defining and Creating the Killer AR/VR/MR App

Roku Adds Premium Subs to Roku Channel, Updates its App

Following in the footsteps of its rival Amazon, Roku announced that users will be able to buy pay-TV subscriptions through its streaming service, The Roku Channel, beginning in late January. That mimics Amazon’s sale of access to HBO and other premium channels through its Prime Video platform. Roku’s offering will include Showtime, Starz and EPIX among others. The new feature, which replaces one in which Roku acted as a portal to outside services, will also be financially favorable for the company. Continue reading Roku Adds Premium Subs to Roku Channel, Updates its App

Quibi Chief Meg Whitman Talks Mobile Content, 5G, eSports

Founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg and headed by chief executive Meg Whitman, Quibi (“quick bites”) is a subscription service for short mobile videos set to launch in about a year. Quibi will deliver daily news and longer features, with production budgets higher than the typical YouTube video content. The app will also feature a control for adjusting screen brightness; videos are shot and edited for portrait and landscape modes. Every major Hollywood studio has invested in a $1 billion seed funding round. Continue reading Quibi Chief Meg Whitman Talks Mobile Content, 5G, eSports

Various Groups Complain to FTC About Google’s Apps for Kids

Twenty-two children’s and consumer groups asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google’s marketing of children’s apps in its Play store. Google has stated that its “Family” section of the Play store is where parents can find age-appropriate apps, but the groups state that some apps may violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which prevents children’s apps/sites from collecting phone numbers, locations, photographs, and other data from children under 13 without verifiable parental consent. Continue reading Various Groups Complain to FTC About Google’s Apps for Kids

France to Impose Tax on U.S. Technology Companies in 2019

On January 1, 2019, the French government will begin to tax digital companies including Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, even as other members of the European Union have balked at imposing an EU-wide tax. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire declared that, as the other EU countries debate, his country will move forward alone, estimating that the total tax bill will come to 500 million Euros ($568 million), which will help defray 10 billion Euros in emergency spending announced by President Emmanuel Macron. Continue reading France to Impose Tax on U.S. Technology Companies in 2019

Facebook Shared Private Data to Advance Its Own Interests

According to its 2017 internal records, Facebook shared users’ personal data with the world’s biggest tech firms, allowing them to circumvent privacy rules. By doing so, Facebook boosted its advertising revenue, partner companies enhanced their products with more features, and Facebook users were able to connect across websites and devices. For example, Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see names of all its 2.2 billion global users without consent, and let Netflix and Spotify read users’ private messages. Continue reading Facebook Shared Private Data to Advance Its Own Interests

Google Commits $1 Billion to New York City Expansion Plans

In the wake of tech giants Amazon and Apple detailing their latest expansion plans, Google unveiled specifics regarding its planned facilities in New York City. The company, which currently employs more than 7,000 people in New York, announced it plans to spend $1 billion on its new Google Hudson Square campus, which will provide more than 1.7 million square feet of space in lower Manhattan. “We will have the capacity to more than double the number of Googlers in New York over the next 10 years,” explained Ruth Porat, SVP and CFO of Google and Alphabet.  Continue reading Google Commits $1 Billion to New York City Expansion Plans

Facebook Renews Four Series, Aims to Distribute Premium TV

Facebook, which just renewed four original series that have proven popular, also highlighted the success of Facebook Watch, which debuted in the U.S. in August 2017. The renewed shows are Kerry Washington’s “Five Points,” influencer Huda Kattan’s reality show “Huda Boss,” fairy-tale-inspired series “Sacred Lies,” and drama “Sorry For Your Loss” with Elizabeth Olsen. Facebook Watch now attracts 400+ million users around the world who spend at least one minute on the site, with 75 million doing so on a daily basis. Continue reading Facebook Renews Four Series, Aims to Distribute Premium TV

Google CEO Sundar Pichai Faces House Judiciary Committee

At a hearing at the House Judiciary Committee, Google chief executive Sundar Pichai faced tough questions about how his company handles data privacy and disinformation by foreign actors. Republicans on the Committee also grilled him about a perceived anti-conservative bias, which Pichai staunchly denied, saying Google uses a “robust methodology” on all topics “without regards to political ideology.” Unconvinced, these lawmakers pointed to videos and emails from Google executives expressing dislike of right-leaning ideas. Continue reading Google CEO Sundar Pichai Faces House Judiciary Committee

Study Shows That Second Screen Is Popular With TV Viewers

Nielsen research indicates that American consumers are regularly accessing second screens while watching television content. The study found that 28 percent of U.S. adults “sometimes” use a device such as a smartphone or tablet at the same time they are watching TV, while 45 percent say they turn to a second screen “very often” or “always.” Only 12 percent of respondents suggest that they “never” access other devices during TV viewing. Nielsen found that second screens are often being used to complement the TV viewing experience, rather than serving as a distraction. Continue reading Study Shows That Second Screen Is Popular With TV Viewers

The Industry Built Upon Analyzing, Selling Your Location Data

Location data has become big business. According to recent research from The New York Times, at least 75 companies receive reams of precise, anonymous location data from apps with enabled location services. Some of these companies state they track up to 200 million mobile devices, to collect such data, which they sell, use or analyze for customers such as advertisers, retail companies and financial outlets including hedge funds. The location-targeted advertising industry is valued at $21 billion this year. Continue reading The Industry Built Upon Analyzing, Selling Your Location Data

Hulu CEO Predicts the End of Most Linear Cable TV Channels

At Business Insider‘s IGNITION conference in New York City, Hulu chief executive Randy Freer predicted that, 10 years from now, out of 300+ current cable channels, the only ones that will survive are those that have built a brand with a strong viewer base. He added that, with the exception of live news and sports, everything else on TV will be distributed on-demand. Hulu, which offers live streaming TV with 55+ channels and several Discovery linear channels, is considering less expensive skinny bundles without linear channels. Continue reading Hulu CEO Predicts the End of Most Linear Cable TV Channels

YouTube Expands its 7-Day Stories Feature to More Creators

YouTube expanded its Stories to more than 100,000 subscribers in its Partner Program, meaning they will appear more often in mobile users’ homepages. The trial for Stories began earlier this year with only a few channels. YouTube Stories last for seven days, appear for subscribers and non-subscribers, and allow creators to interact with fans that can leave comments or ask questions. First announced in November 2017, YouTube Stories appears to target channel promotion and community engagement rather than day-to-day updates. Continue reading YouTube Expands its 7-Day Stories Feature to More Creators

Pandora Launches Beta Version of Podcast Genome Project

With over half-a-million podcasts today, discoverability is often difficult for consumers. To make the process easier, Pandora has come up with its algorithm-based Podcast Genome Project, first announced a year ago and just released in beta. Pandora rose to success with its initial Music Genome Project, and the Podcast version is similar, in that it uses more than 1,500 tags to create a recommendation engine. Also similar to the Music Genome Project, the Podcast Genome Project relies on humans as an adjunct to the algorithms. Continue reading Pandora Launches Beta Version of Podcast Genome Project

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