Apple Turbo-Charges MacBook Pro with M1 Pro, Max Chips

Apple unveiled the long-awaited upgrade to its MacBook Pro, which comes in 14- and 16-inch display configurations with mini-LED screens (what the company calls Liquid Retina XDR). The new laptops are powered by Apple’s homegrown M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, which the company calls “the first pro chips designed for the Mac.” Improvements such as stronger battery life, ports galore and eradication of the dreaded Touch Bar have been largely well-received by Mac bloggers. Apple says the 32 GPU cores on the M1 Max provide power that rivals the Nvidia RTX 3080 high-end gaming class laptop chip. The 14-inch model starts at $1,999 and the 16-inch at $2,499. Continue reading Apple Turbo-Charges MacBook Pro with M1 Pro, Max Chips

Comcast Launches Sky Glass Smart TV with Streaming in UK

Comcast’s European subscription service Sky has officially launched its anticipated smart TV set, Sky Glass, which allows customers to stream Sky and other content services over the Internet without a set-top box or satellite dish. Sky was acquired in 2018 by Philadelphia-based Comcast, which paid $39 billion for the European pay TV service. Sky Glass is currently available in 43-, 55- and 65-inch sizes in five colors — white, pink, green, blue and black. The televisions will be sold in the United Kingdom beginning October 18 with launches to other European markets starting next year. Continue reading Comcast Launches Sky Glass Smart TV with Streaming in UK

Comcast Launching XiOne Streaming Device and XClass TVs

Comcast is upping its hardware play, launching a branded wireless streaming device, the XiOne, and offering TVs running its own software, dubbed XClass in the U.S. The cable giant plans to make XiOne its branded global platform. Comcast describes XiOne as a plug-and-play device with faster processing, more memory and a voice-activated remote. It supports Dolby Atmos, Dolby Vision, Wi-Fi 6, 4K UHD and HDR. XiOne boxes are currently available in Italy and Germany to some subscribers of Sky Q, which Comcast owns. Comcast has begun introducing the devices in the U.S. to customers using older boxes.  Continue reading Comcast Launching XiOne Streaming Device and XClass TVs

Amazon Readies Launch of Fire TV Sets with Alexa Assistant

E-commerce giant Amazon is readying the October launch of its own Fire TV sets featuring its Alexa voice assistant. The Amazon Fire TV Omni Series 4K, which starts at $409.99, and the Amazon Fire TV 4-Series 4K, which starts at $369.99, will be available on Amazon’s website and at Best Buy stores. Toshiba and Insignia, Best Buy’s house brand, have sold TVs powered by Amazon’s Fire TV operating system, the latter since 2018. Amazon adds TVs to its other branded products including clothing, groceries and even batteries. Continue reading Amazon Readies Launch of Fire TV Sets with Alexa Assistant

More Americans Now Subscribing to Multiple SVOD Services

According to Leichtman Research Group, the number of U.S. consumers subscribing to more than one of the big three SVOD services — Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu — more than doubled to 58 percent in 2021, up from 28 percent 2016. Overall, 78 percent of U.S. households now subscribe to one of the three, compared to 59 percent in 2016. Among those that have any of the three top-tier SVOD services, 74 percent also pay for a second service of some sort, versus 47 percent in 2016. Findings from LRG’s Emerging Video Services study are based on a survey of 2,000 households nationwide. Continue reading More Americans Now Subscribing to Multiple SVOD Services

Vizio Upgrades Content, Navigation, Discovery for WatchFree

Vizio refreshed its WatchFree+ streaming service (that now sports a plus sign) with a new look, customized recommendations and new navigation features to improve search and discovery. Also on tap is a programming guide with hundreds of free channels across multiple genres and a “featured” category for seasonal content, themed collections, pop-up channels for limited time programming and Vizio-exclusive custom-curated channels including Fork and Flight for food and travel and Investigation for true-crime shows. Continue reading Vizio Upgrades Content, Navigation, Discovery for WatchFree

NBCU Merges FandangoNOW and Vudu as Single Streamer

NBCUniversal has merged its FandangoNOW on-demand movie and TV platform with Vudu, the video streaming service it purchased from Walmart last year. FandangoNOW customers will be able to transfer their accounts and collections to Vudu, which uses Roku Pay as its in-app payment system. In a revenue-sharing deal, the new Vudu-branded offering will serve as Roku’s official film and TV store. Fandango executives concluded that Vudu had a stronger brand and that the merger would help to “rapidly innovate and make bolder, faster enhancements to benefit consumers and partners.” Continue reading NBCU Merges FandangoNOW and Vudu as Single Streamer

Apple’s SharePlay to Power Watch Parties for FaceTime Users

As part of iOS 15, Apple will debut SharePlay to allow FaceTime users to stream online videos, movies and music from Apple TV or an iPad, iPhone or Mac and watch with friends while chatting — similarly to Facebook Messenger, Instagram and Houseparty. During COVID-19, the watch party feature was also adopted by Disney+, Hulu and Prime Video. SharePlay is ideally aimed at teens who are more likely to watch videos on their phones and chat. A Pew Research study showed that 59 percent of U.S. teens video-chat with friends. Continue reading Apple’s SharePlay to Power Watch Parties for FaceTime Users

Startup Debuts a DVR-Like App for Media Content: ‘Channels’

Startup Fancy Bits, founded by two former GitHub employees, has launched Channels, a kind of DVR for the streaming age. The $8 per month service pulls video from feeds as disparate as cable channels, live streaming apps, on-demand services and over-the-air broadcasts and places them into a single app. “What we’re building towards is something that was sort of built 20 years ago,” said co-founder Jon Maddox. “Really, we’re just trying to make this single place for people to go watch their TV that everybody is looking for.” Continue reading Startup Debuts a DVR-Like App for Media Content: ‘Channels’

Survey Reveals U.S Viewers Adding More Streaming Services

During the COVID-19 pandemic, an increasing number of streaming media services have thrived and, according to a J.D. Power survey, Americans now subscribe, on average, to four streaming services, up from three when the pandemic began. That translates to 24 percent more in subscription fees, for an average consumer outlay of $47 per month in December, up from $38 in April. Netflix and Disney+ have surged, and newcomers HBO Max and Peacock have also done well. Apple wants to boost its Apple TV+ service but may find itself at a disadvantage. Continue reading Survey Reveals U.S Viewers Adding More Streaming Services

Discovery Launches Streaming Service on Multiple Platforms

Discovery launched its discovery+ streaming service in the U.S. this week, which can be downloaded from an extensive list of platforms, including Amazon Fire TV, Fire Edition TVs, Apple TV, Android TV, Roku, Samsung Smart TVs (2017 and newer), Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S (but not PlayStation 4 or 5), on mobile via Android and iOS, and via the web on Chrome OS, macOS and Windows PCs. TVs with built-in Chromecast or AirPlay support can cast content from the app. The SVOD service launches with more than 55,000 episodes from channels including Animal Planet, Discovery, Food Network, HGTV, ID, OWN, TLC, Travel Channel and others. Continue reading Discovery Launches Streaming Service on Multiple Platforms

Oracle Reveals Advertising Fraud on Streaming TV Platforms

Oracle has uncovered a significant fraud involving advertising on streaming platforms. Dubbed StreamScam, Oracle Data Cloud found that the fraud leverages flaws in ad serving technology and the supply chain to trick advertisers into paying for ads never seen by viewers on real devices and apps. Oracle Data Cloud chief product officer Derek Wise puts the damage at $14.5 million over the last four months, based on an estimated average cost of $20 per one thousand consumer impressions in OTT viewing. Continue reading Oracle Reveals Advertising Fraud on Streaming TV Platforms

Universal, Cinemark Sign Deal for Shorter Exclusivity Window

Comcast’s Universal Pictures teamed with Cinemark Holdings, the third largest theater chain in the U.S., to permit online distribution of movies after three weekends (or 17 days) in theaters. The exception is movies that gross $50+ million domestically during their first weekend, lengthening the exclusivity window to five weekends or 31 days. Universal inked a similar deal with AMC Entertainment in July. Pre-pandemic, the exclusivity window was 2-1/2 months from a film’s premiere in theaters until it could be distributed to homes. Continue reading Universal, Cinemark Sign Deal for Shorter Exclusivity Window

Comcast, Walmart Discuss a Potential Smart TV Partnership

Comcast and Walmart are discussing a partnership whereby the former would develop smart TV software, and the latter would promote the TVs, possibly under its own brand Onn, and get a share of recurring revenues. The TVs would be manufactured by a third party. Comcast, whose software would aim to help consumers navigate streaming apps, would be able to market its TVs nationwide. The Comcast sets would put it in competition with Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Roku, the dominant players in streaming platforms. Continue reading Comcast, Walmart Discuss a Potential Smart TV Partnership

T-Mobile to Debut Pay TV Service Starting at $10 Per Month

T-Mobile US is aiming to lure cord-cutters with a new TV service that costs as little as $10 per month. Next week, the No. 2 mobile carrier will offer three tiers of service: TVision Vibe, a bundle without sports channels for $10 per month; TVision Live, with local broadcast channels, sports channels and news brands such as CNN; and TVision Channels, a bundle with premium cable options like Showtime and Starz. T-Mobile customers will be able to access the service this Sunday, followed by Sprint customers later in November. Continue reading T-Mobile to Debut Pay TV Service Starting at $10 Per Month