Disney+ Service Has Strong Start With 41 Million Downloads

Since its debut two months ago, the Disney+ mobile app has been downloaded from the Apple Store and Google Play 41 million times — four times as many as HBO Now — earning nearly $100 million, reports Sensor Tower. That news sent Disney shares up two percent to $146.72. In Q4 2019, Disney+ was downloaded 30 million times, more than twice that of TikTok. According to a YouGov survey, 76 percent of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with Disney+ compared to 48 percent for Apple TV+. Continue reading Disney+ Service Has Strong Start With 41 Million Downloads

Netflix Tests Feature to Skip Browsing and Begin Streaming

Netflix started a global test of a new feature — dubbed Watch Now — that allows users to skip browsing titles and begin streaming immediately. The new feature will appear as a button on the profile selection page that opens when the Netflix app launches on a smart TV or streaming device. Netflix is well known for testing features with specific local markets, device categories or audiences. Watch Now is being tested for a month or two with a small worldwide audience on TVs and TV-connected devices including Roku and Fire TV. Continue reading Netflix Tests Feature to Skip Browsing and Begin Streaming

Advertisers Turn to Streaming Services For More User Data

As streaming services proliferate, so does the technology that tracks their viewers. AT&T, Roku, and ad giant Publicis, among others, are harvesting viewers’ email addresses and the devices they use to stream content. Privacy advocates are concerned, with Center for Digital Democracy executive director Jeff Chester calling the practice a “digital daisy chain of data-gathering on viewers.” But advertisers find the opportunity to gather the specific data available with streaming services too appealing to pass up. Continue reading Advertisers Turn to Streaming Services For More User Data

Hulu Advances Personalization With Like/Dislike Buttons

Ahead of the launch of two new streaming services, Disney+ and Apple TV+, Hulu is taking steps to add more personalization to its platform. After launching an enhanced recommendation engine that takes into account what viewers watch and when, it’s now introducing Like and Dislike buttons that will enable more personal and accurate content recommendations. The new buttons now appear across the Hulu platform. When using a living room device, you’ll see them on the Details page; when using a computer, you’ll see them on the Homepage.

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Hulu Joins the Streaming Competition in Offering 4K Video

After removing it in 2018, Hulu once again has 4K content available via its service. This time around, 4K content can be accessed through Xbox One devices (Hulu will soon add 4K support for Amazon Fire TV, LG webOS and others). Formerly, Hulu had only made 4K content available via Apple TV 4K and Chromecast Ultra, and the content selection had been somewhat limited compared to rivals like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Now, Hulu has more original content under its belt to offer in 4K, including hits like “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The First,” “Castle Rock,” and others. 

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Princeton Study Shows Smart TVs Are Collecting Your Data

While streaming your favorite show on Netflix via an Internet-connected smart TV, your data is being collected, according to a new study from Princeton University, which found that smart TVs are equipped with data-collecting trackers. Researchers built a bot that installed thousands of channels on both Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices and mimicked human behaviors like watching videos and browsing. When the bot ran into an ad, it tracked what data was collected. Researchers claim there’s little consumer awareness of this activity.

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Researchers Find Fire TV, Roku Channels Are Tracking Data

Princeton University and University of Chicago researchers studied over 2,000 channels on streaming devices Amazon Fire TV and Roku — and found that 89 percent of the Fire TV channels and 69 percent of Roku channels included trackers. Those trackers collect data on viewing habits and preferences, device serial numbers and IDs, Wi-Fi network names and MAC (media access control) addresses, which are network interface identifiers. Some channels had 64+ different tracks. Users have no tools to examine the traffic or block ads. Continue reading Researchers Find Fire TV, Roku Channels Are Tracking Data

Amazon-Google Truce Offers More Cross-Platform Access

Google and Amazon, which reached a truce in April after months of wrangling, opened the door to multiple cross-platform compatibilities: Amazon Fire TV streaming platforms will now carry Google’s YouTube, YouTube TV and YouTube Kids apps — and Google Chromecast platforms and Android TVs will carry Amazon Prime Video. In addition, users will be able to request YouTube content on the Fire TV via the Alexa voice assistant. Not available yet is the ability of Google Assistant to work with Amazon Prime Video on Chromecast. Continue reading Amazon-Google Truce Offers More Cross-Platform Access

Toshiba Fire TV Model Lowers Price Barrier for Dolby Vision

Amazon and Toshiba are launching a line of Fire TV Edition sets that include support for Dolby Vision. The 4K televisions, which will be sold exclusively through Amazon and Best Buy, come in a 55-inch model ($499.99) that is available today, followed by 43-inch ($329.99) and 50-inch ($379.99) models to be released on June 30. Dolby Vision’s HDR format is regarded as superior to HDR10 because it allows scene-by-scene adjustments to picture quality. The Amazon-Toshiba sets mark the first time that Dolby Vision will be available in more affordable Fire TV Edition models. Continue reading Toshiba Fire TV Model Lowers Price Barrier for Dolby Vision

More Marketers Test Targeted Ads on Streaming Platforms

The automobile recommendation site Cars.com used to run its advertisements on TV, aimed at a broad swathe of consumers. But since early 2019, the online company began running its ads on streaming TV platforms such as Amazon Fire TV and Roku to target their ads more precisely to people shopping for cars. Targeted advertising is taking off as a trend because many factors now make it possible to more narrowly aim them to relevant viewers. Some of the data now available includes income, purchase history and web-browsing behavior. Continue reading More Marketers Test Targeted Ads on Streaming Platforms

Details Continue to Emerge on Disney+ Subscription Service

Disney is continuing to invest in its ESPN+ streaming service and expenses are mounting for the company’s upcoming Disney+ subscription offering as it finances productions such as the “High School Musical” series and exclusive “Star Wars” spinoff “The Mandalorian.” Shareholders learned yesterday that the company posted a quarterly loss for its direct-to-consumer division as a result, but that revenue increased 15 percent, beating Wall Street projections. Disney also announced yesterday that its blockbuster, record-breaking hit “Avengers: Endgame” will debut exclusively on Disney+ this December. Continue reading Details Continue to Emerge on Disney+ Subscription Service

Tablo to Debut Automatic Commercial Skipping in Open Beta

At CES 2019, Tablo, a Canadian OTA receiver manufacturer, announced plans to unveil its Automatic Commercial Skip feature, which makes recorded TV ads skip automatically on over-the-air broadcasts. An open beta for Tablo owners who subscribe to its $5 per month guide will begin in March. The company says the technology is “a cloud-based hybrid of digital signal processing (DSP) algorithms and machine learning.” With it, Tablo apps on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV and Roku will skip ads without human intervention. Continue reading Tablo to Debut Automatic Commercial Skipping in Open Beta

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

SVOD Apps and Virtual MVPDs Continue to Gain Momentum

Leading subscription video apps such as Netflix and Hulu generated a total of $781 million last year as streaming video continues its rise. According to app intelligence firm Sensor Tower, U.S. consumers spent about $329 million during Q3 2018 on the top 10 SVOD apps available via Google Play and Apple’s App Store. That figure represents a 15 percent jump over Q1. While Netflix and Hulu continue their growth, live-streaming TV services are also gaining traction. Online video analytics firm Conviva reports that virtual MVPDs including Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, and Hulu with Live TV have experienced a 212 percent increase in viewing hours over the past year in the U.S. Continue reading SVOD Apps and Virtual MVPDs Continue to Gain Momentum

CBS Introduces Streaming Network for Entertainment News

CBS launched its latest streaming network this week, as part of its strategy to reach younger viewers who are losing interest in traditional pay TV. The free ET Live channel, developed by CBS Interactive and “Entertainment Tonight,” will offer a wide array of entertainment news and related original programming via CBS All Access and ETLive.com, in addition to its own standalone app for Android, iOS, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV (integration with more platforms is expected in the future). CBS recently rolled out a number of streaming services as part of its CBS Local brand. Continue reading CBS Introduces Streaming Network for Entertainment News

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