Amazon Opens Stage 15: New LA Virtual Production Facility

Amazon Studios has officially opened its 34,000-square-foot virtual production stage in Culver City, California. On hand for the Monday ribbon-cutting ceremony was director Reginald Hudlin, whose Eddie Murphy-starrer “Candy Cane Lane” will be the first feature to shoot there. Once the set for films including “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “RoboCop,” Stage 15 has undergone a transformation from its original 1940 configuration, now housing a wall of more than 3,000 LED panels as well as 100 motion capture cameras in what is LA’s largest virtual production stage. Continue reading Amazon Opens Stage 15: New LA Virtual Production Facility

Amazon Prime Video Knocks Netflix from Top Streamer Spot

Amazon Prime Video has overtaken Netflix as the most popular OTT video service in the U.S., according to a new study by Parks Associates, marking the first time Netflix fell from No. 1 in the history of the company’s annual report. Peacock entered the top 10 list for the first time in 2022, debuting at No. 9, while Showtime dropped off. The research firm reports that 83 percent of U.S. broadband households have at least one OTT service, while 23 percent subscribe to nine or more OTT subscriptions. While Netflix, Prime Video and Hulu have traditionally held the top three spots, the list has recently become more varied due to an influx of new players. Continue reading Amazon Prime Video Knocks Netflix from Top Streamer Spot

TV Exec Launches Astrid Entertainment for Games and More

Senior media executive Sharon Tal Yguado has launched Astrid Entertainment. The new venture will initially focus on games, with plans to expand into multiplatform content. Yguado, who earlier held top positions at Fox Networks Group and Amazon Studios, says Astrid is developing “rich worlds” where millions of people worldwide can build communities. The company, which is currently staffing, is already underway on its first interactive environment for multiplayer stories. Astrid has raised pre-seed investment funding of more than seven figures from participants including NetEase Games, Stardom and Tower 26. Continue reading TV Exec Launches Astrid Entertainment for Games and More

YouTube Tops Nielsen Gauge for First Time, Pluto Breaks Out

Streaming broke another all-time record in September, claiming 36.9 percent of total television usage. YouTube captured an 8 percent streaming share, enough to make it the No. 1 most-watched service, a first for the Google-owned platform, according to Nielsen’s monthly media snapshot “The Gauge.” Broadcast’s share also grew in September, climbing to 24.2 percent, while cable dropped to 33.8 percent. Total television usage increased 2.4 percent over August, with Nielsen citing the return of football as the rising tide that lifted all boats in in September, “as it provided new content across broadcast, cable and streaming.” Meanwhile, Pluto TV made a splash entering the rankings for the first time. Continue reading YouTube Tops Nielsen Gauge for First Time, Pluto Breaks Out

Nielsen Reports Streaming Leads Cable TV for the First Time

July was the first month in which streaming has overtaken cable viewing, according to Nielsen’s monthly snapshot The Gauge, which reports streaming captured a record 34.8 percent share of total U.S. TV viewership, cable 34.4 percent and broadcast 21.6 percent. While streaming has exceeded broadcast’s viewing share before, this is the first time it also exceeded cable, said Nielsen Global Media’s Brian Fuhrer, SVP of product strategy and thought leadership. Audiences spent 23 percent more time streaming content than they did in July 2021, 9 percent less time watching cable and 10 percent less time watching broadcast television. Continue reading Nielsen Reports Streaming Leads Cable TV for the First Time

YouTube Explores Plans for a Multi-Service Streaming Portal

YouTube is launching an online streaming video store and is in talks with entertainment companies to engage their participation. Internally referred to as a “channel store,” it could reportedly be open for business as early as this fall. Currently, subscribers who pay $64.99-a-month for the YouTube TV package of cable channels can add services such as HBO Max. The new marketplace would let consumers add streaming services a la carte via the main YouTube app. YouTube, a division of Alphabet-owned Google, will be competing with platforms including Amazon, Apple and Roku, which all have hubs that sell streaming video services. Continue reading YouTube Explores Plans for a Multi-Service Streaming Portal

Warner Bros. Discovery Explores Adding a New FAST Service

Warner Bros. Discovery reported Thursday that the number of direct-to-consumer subscribers to HBO, HBO Max and Discovery+ was up 1.7 million since the close of Q1, for a total of 92.1 million subs. As part of its effort to reach a broader streaming audience, the company plans to launch a combined subscription version of HBO Max and Discovery+ in summer of 2023. CEO David Zaslav revealed that the company is also exploring a free ad-supported TV service. “We see potential,” Zaslav said of launching a discrete FAST service, one that may offer different content from what is currently available on the premium VOD platforms. Continue reading Warner Bros. Discovery Explores Adding a New FAST Service

Streaming Viewership to Surpass Cable TV Before Year’s End

Streaming is expected to overtake linear TV viewing by the end of the year, according to a study by research firm Omdia. The Gauge, Nielsen’s latest media analysis report, found that streaming claimed 34 percent of total TV time in June for a fourth consecutive monthly record. That’s what cable claimed in June 2021, only to decline to 35 percent in June 2022. Nielsen SVP of product strategy and thought leadership Brian Fuhrer says what is unusual is “the extraordinary breakout that a number of the streamers had,” with Netflix jumping the most, a full share point. Continue reading Streaming Viewership to Surpass Cable TV Before Year’s End

Big Tech Drives Up Sports Prices as Amazon, Apple Go All In

Big Tech has become a disruptor in the marketplace for sports rights, with Amazon and Apple bidding against traditional media for rights to NFL and MLB games in addition to college conference competition and Formula 1 racing, according to recent reports. Among the prizes, DirecTV’s expiring rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket, a package that is being shopped with a $2.5 billion annual price tag, $1 billion more than the satellite operator’s current deal, which ends in January. In addition, Google is said to be bidding on behalf of YouTube. Beginning September 15, Amazon Prime Video begins its exclusive carriage deal for “Thursday Night Football.”  Continue reading Big Tech Drives Up Sports Prices as Amazon, Apple Go All In

Meta Shifts Focus and Investments as It Looks to Cut Costs

Meta Platforms is reportedly ceasing production of consumer version of its Portal video calling device, but will continue manufacturing the Meta Portal (formerly Facebook Portal) — which can connect up to 50 participants — for business use, according to recent reports. The company is also said to be cutting back on Reality Labs investments, reportedly shelving plans to release the augmented reality glasses developed under the codename Project Nazare, expected to come to market in 2024, and is skipping ahead to a more advanced, second generation version. Continue reading Meta Shifts Focus and Investments as It Looks to Cut Costs

Amazon Plans to Continue Diversifying Despite Tough Times

Despite slowing e-commerce sales growth and signs of a global recession, Amazon plans to continue diversifying through investments like building a brick-and-mortar grocery chain, launching a satellite network for Internet delivery, expanding Alexa services, and developing self-driving cars — including through Zoox, an autonomous taxi subsidiary. That was the message from company CEO Andy Jassy at the Bloomberg Technology Summit in San Francisco. The remarks come after Amazon posted its first quarterly loss in seven years in Q1, which also marked the company’s slowest revenue growth since 2001. Continue reading Amazon Plans to Continue Diversifying Despite Tough Times

Amazon Rebrands Its IMDb TV Streaming Service as Freevee

Amazon Studios’ free streaming service IMDb TV has been rebranded Freevee as part of a global expansion. The ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) platform has in the past two years tripled its monthly active users, with growth driven by “rapid distribution across living room devices and mobile, an increasing slate of originals, frequently updated library of licensed content and more than 60 channels,” according to Amazon. Following a successful launch in the UK last September, Freevee will launch in Germany this year and plans to expand original programming by 70 percent in 2022. Continue reading Amazon Rebrands Its IMDb TV Streaming Service as Freevee

Disney+ to Roll Out Ad-Supported Plan in U.S. Later This Year

Streaming video service Disney+ plans to introduce an ad-supported subscription tier in the U.S. later this year, with plans to expand the tier internationally in 2023. While the company has yet to announce pricing or specific launch dates, the AVOD plan will cost less than the current $7.99-per-month ad-free version. According to the entertainment giant, the new ad-supported offering is part of a larger goal to attract 230-260 million subscribers globally by the close of Disney’s 2024 fiscal year. Streaming leaders such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video do not currently offer ad-supported options. Disney’s Hulu does offer an ad-supported streaming plan. Continue reading Disney+ to Roll Out Ad-Supported Plan in U.S. Later This Year

New CineBeam Models Are Most Advanced LG 4K Projectors

LG has unveiled two new 4K HDR projectors that the company says are its most advanced models to date. Both the LG CineBeam HU715Q and HU710P feature 2,000,000:1 contrast ratios. With a retail price of $2,500, the HU710P uses a hybrid laser-LED light source that doesn’t require a color wheel and can pump up to 2,000 lumens of brightness. The $3,000 HU715Q ultra short-throw (UST) relies only on laser light, producing up to 2,500 lumens. Both projectors are designed for indoors, but LG says they’ll also work outside after sundown. Continue reading New CineBeam Models Are Most Advanced LG 4K Projectors

Streaming Distributor Filmhub Floats $6.8 Million Seed Round

Filmhub, the independent distribution website incubated by German composer Klaus Badelt and Brazilian tech entrepreneur Alan d’Escragnolle, has raised $6.8 million led by Andreessen Horowitz in the company’s first capital raise. Filmhub helps budding cineastes get their work onto more than 100 streaming platforms, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, IMDb TV, Plex, Roku Channel and others. Using its own sales team and technology, Filmhub pushes out content from shorts to episodics to full-length films, taking a 20 percent fee from royalties, which vary by service. Continue reading Streaming Distributor Filmhub Floats $6.8 Million Seed Round