ETC@USC Announces RoninX Foundation as Board Member

The Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California (ETC@USC) is pleased to announce the addition of the RoninX Foundation to its executive board. The Japan-based foundation is pursuing a camera metadata interoperability standard and a new 8K streaming protocol for innovative use cases for the open multiverse. The RoninX Foundation is guided by its community of camera manufacturers, storage providers, Internet service providers, infrastructure providers, 5G operators and studios. Continue reading ETC@USC Announces RoninX Foundation as Board Member

VTubers are Latest Creators Earning on YouTube and Twitch

VTubers are Japan’s latest export, with dozens of the virtual online stars claiming millions of fans and becoming a new breed of influencer, raking in hefty sums on platforms such as YouTube and Twitch. Tokyo-based Hololive Production kicked off the creator trend, which centers on animated personas that stream using motion-capture or AR face-tracking. Complete with their own mythos and origin stories, the characters amass large followings. As of April, Hololive represented more than 65 VTubers, the most popular in English, Gawr Gura, has more than 4 million YouTube subscribers. Now UTA has signed VTubers Shxtou and Baoo for representation. Continue reading VTubers are Latest Creators Earning on YouTube and Twitch

Sony’s Funimation Pursues Anime with Crunchyroll Purchase

AT&T closed the sale of its anime streamer Crunchyroll to Sony’s Funimation Global Group for $1.175 billion in cash. Funimation is a joint venture between Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Music Entertainment subsidiary Aniplex. According to Sony Pictures chair and chief executive Tony Vinciquerra, the goal is to “create a unified anime subscription experience as soon as possible.” The two services will remain separate initially. Crunchyroll currently has 5+ million paying subscribers globally and 120 million registered users in 200+ countries. Continue reading Sony’s Funimation Pursues Anime with Crunchyroll Purchase

Japan’s Virtual YouTube Celebrities Test the Waters in China

Japan’s most popular YouTube star is Kizuna AI, a virtual teenager with thigh-high socks and a pink hair ribbon, brought to life by an off-screen actress. Millions of fans follow Kizuna, the brainchild of Activ8, a Tokyo-based company. According to Activ8 founder Takeshi Osaka, what sets such so-called virtual YouTubers (or VTubers) apart is that “you can believe they actually exist.” To create Kizuna, Activ8 uses motion capture gear to create skits, music videos and game streams for its over four million subscribers. Continue reading Japan’s Virtual YouTube Celebrities Test the Waters in China

Why This Reviewer Hails Mastodon as a Refuge From Twitter

For people who may be growing tired of Twitter, there is Mastodon, an open-source community-run microblogging website that first appeared in 2017. The social media platform lets users post “toots” and “boost” other users’ posts. The decentralized network exists as numerous “instances,” each of which has its own rules and administrators and which together form a “federation.” There is no central server, so if one “instance” stumbles in some way (for example, forgets to pay for the Internet), none of the other instances are harmed. Continue reading Why This Reviewer Hails Mastodon as a Refuge From Twitter

AT&T Buys Chernin Group’s Controlling Stake in Otter Media

In 2013, Chernin Group chair/chief executive Peter Chernin and company president Jesse Jacobs, believing streaming media was the future, bought Crunchyroll, which specialized in anime, for $75 million. They then added other new media startups including Fullscreen, an ad agency for YouTube stars, Rooster Teeth, a video producer aimed at gamers and VRV’s 11 niche channels, creating Otter Media. On Tuesday, in a move that was long expected by analysts, the Chernin Group sold controlling interest in Otter Media to joint-venture partner AT&T in a deal valued at more than $1 billion. Continue reading AT&T Buys Chernin Group’s Controlling Stake in Otter Media

NAB 2017: Parks Associates Study Finds That TV Is Still King

Parks Associates debuted a report looking at trends in OTT, focusing on 2010 through 2016. Senior research analyst Glenn Hower stated that TV remains the top viewing platform by hours of video watched in U.S. households. “Yes, people do watch video on lots of devices,” said Hower. “But it hasn’t cannibalized TV.” Among those devices, viewing on computers has leveled out, whereas mobile phones and tablets have seen modest increases, but low overall viewership, which means people are watching a lot of short form content.” Continue reading NAB 2017: Parks Associates Study Finds That TV Is Still King

Anime Strike: Amazon’s First Branded Subscription Channel

Amazon is launching Anime Strike, its first on-demand subscription service for Amazon Channels, available in the U.S. to Prime members for $4.99/month. The channel will offer more than 1,000 ad-free series episodes and movies, including same-day-broadcasts from Japanese series including “Scum’s Wish” (“Kuzu no Honkai”) and “Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga” (“Ao No Exorcist: Kyoto Fujouou-hen”). Also featured will be older anime titles including “Paprika,” “Tokyo Godfathers” and “Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS.” Continue reading Anime Strike: Amazon’s First Branded Subscription Channel

Amazon’s Global Push Creates Direct Competition with Netflix

Amazon launched its global Prime Video service, pricing it under Netflix to compete in the subscription-video arena. This year, according to Cowen & Co., Amazon is on track to spend more than $3 billion on Prime Video content, compared with $6 billion by Netflix. In addition to its Amazon Studios originals, the program line-up for its international Prime Video offering will include hundreds of movies and TV shows, varying by country. Licensed movies include “Jurassic Park,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Gone Girl” and others. Continue reading Amazon’s Global Push Creates Direct Competition with Netflix

China’s Tencent Pictures Seeking New Hollywood Acquisitions

Alibaba Pictures Group and Dalian Wanda Group have been spending big to acquire Hollywood companies, in their quest to make homegrown movies and capture a bigger portion of that nation’s huge box office. Now, Tencent Pictures, the film unit of China’s biggest Internet company, has joined that fraternity, with chief executive officer Edward Cheng saying acquisition targets could be in Hollywood and include creative and/or production companies. China’s box office is projected to reach $10.4 billion in 2017. Continue reading China’s Tencent Pictures Seeking New Hollywood Acquisitions

Ellation Signs New Content Deals for VRV Streaming Service

Otter Media-backed Ellation is launching VRV, a new streaming service with videos from channels that include the newly signed CollegeHumor, and others, along with already-signed Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth and Cartoon Hangover. Combined, all these channels boast more than one million paying subscribers and tens of millions of viewers. VRV, which hasn’t yet announced pricing, will debut later this year on the Xbox One, with other platforms to follow. The move is in line with Otter Media’s long-time interest in Web video. Continue reading Ellation Signs New Content Deals for VRV Streaming Service

AT&T, Otter Media to Unveil Anime-Focused Sub Video Bundle

AT&T and the Chernin Group’s Otter Media joint venture will soon introduce a video subscription bundle for fans of anime, video games, niche action sports and other less traditional content. San Francisco-based Ellation, which owns anime video subscription service Crunchyroll with its 800,00+ paying subscribers, is developing the Otter Media platform. The plan, say sources familiar with the plans, is to combine Crunchyroll with other channels, and sell it as a bundle or a la carte, similar to Amazon’s recent efforts. Continue reading AT&T, Otter Media to Unveil Anime-Focused Sub Video Bundle

Netflix Chief Exec Tells Conference: “There’s Not Enough TV”

At The New York Times’ DealBook conference, Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings pointed to a broad, sustained growth of consumer spending on entertainment as proof that there is not enough television content currently available. Great content, he said, will find viewers. The bar for quality is rising, he noted further, and said Netflix is maintaining its high standards by working with other production companies. As an example, he pointed to “Narcos,” which was produced with French company Gaumont. Continue reading Netflix Chief Exec Tells Conference: “There’s Not Enough TV”

Ellation Debuts as New Chernin, AT&T Brand for Online Video

Ellation, a new brand for subscription-based online video services, is about to be unveiled by Otter Media, the joint venture between AT&T and the Chernin Group. When it rolls out, Ellation — whose name is a play on words on the Aleutian Islands, a series of interconnected islands between Alaska and Russia — will host Crunchyroll, Creativebug and SoompiTV. Otter Media’s goal is to build between 30 and 50 niche video channels under the aegis of Ellation, which has been in development for the past few months. Continue reading Ellation Debuts as New Chernin, AT&T Brand for Online Video

New PlayStation TV Provides Gameplay and Streaming Media

Sony’s much-anticipated PlayStation TV went on sale this week for $100 MSRP — or $140 packaged with a DualShock 3 gamepad controller, 8GB memory card, and “The Lego Movie Videogame.” The mini console, which essentially provides a Vita experience on a big screen, connects to a TV or PC via HDMI and allows users to access games and streaming services. “It is essentially a modern version of Nintendo’s GameBoy Player mashed up with all the capabilities of an Amazon Fire TV,” suggests VentureBeat. Continue reading New PlayStation TV Provides Gameplay and Streaming Media