Amazon Offers Expanded Music and Podcast Catalog Ad-Free

Amazon Music has taken a major leap forward, expanding its catalog from about 2 million to 100 million songs that will be made available ad-free to Prime members as part of their existing $139 annual membership fee. Starting this week, Prime members can “shuffle play any artist, album, or playlist, plus stream a selection of All-Access playlists on demand” as well as “access the largest catalog of ad-free top podcasts,” the online retail giant said. The move underscores a new battleground for membership-focused retailers, including Costco and Walmart, who see streaming as an opportunity to add value. Continue reading Amazon Offers Expanded Music and Podcast Catalog Ad-Free

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

AT&T Announces Subscription Growth for HBO and HBO Max

AT&T’s Q1 quarterly earnings — the last to include results for WarnerMedia, which was offloaded to Discovery in early Q2 — reported good news about HBO Max and HBO, which AT&T said ended Q1 with global subscribers totaling 76.8 million, an increase of 12.8 million year-over-year, and a 3 million subscription increase from Q4 of last year. AT&T also disclosed that WarnerMedia’s Q1 operating income fell to $1.3 billion, a 32.7 percent decline year-over-year. Diminished WarnerMedia earnings were attributed in part to “investments incurred in launching CNN+,” which new owner Discovery announced will cease operations as of April 30. Continue reading AT&T Announces Subscription Growth for HBO and HBO Max

40 Blue-Chip Media Partners Join Snapchat to Stream News

Snapchat’s new feature, Dynamic Stories, uses RSS feeds from 40 media partners to automatically generate Stories that will appear in its Discover section. Early partners include Axios, Bloomberg, CNN, Condé Nast, ESPN, The Wall Street Journal and Vice. Publishers are already seeing results, Snapchat reports, with The Washington Post reaching more than 1.1 million Snapchatters with coverage of the war in Ukraine. Using RSS automation, Snap is lowering the barrier to entry for legitimate news publishers by eliminating the need for manual updates. After their initial appearance the Stories will update in real time. Continue reading 40 Blue-Chip Media Partners Join Snapchat to Stream News

WarnerMedia and Discovery Merger Alters Media Landscape

Discovery Inc., the broadcasting and film production company founded by John Hendricks in 1985, on Friday completed its $43 billion acquisition of AT&T’s subsidiary WarnerMedia, the multinational M&E conglomerate and parent of the famed Warner Bros. motion picture studio launched in 1923. The newly formed Warner Bros. Discovery includes film, television and news operations that generate roughly $50 billion in annual revenue, creating an entity valued at about $130 billion, placing it at the forefront of the world’s media empires. Continue reading WarnerMedia and Discovery Merger Alters Media Landscape

CNN Readies Launch of Subscription Streaming News Outlet

WarnerMedia’s CNN is expected to charge $5.99 per month for its subscription-video streaming news outlet, CNN+, when it rolls out this spring. Early subscribers who sign up for CNN+ during the initial four-week promotion will pay $2.99 and have the option of CNN+ for life at 50 percent off the regular price, as long as the subscription is kept active. While many TV news networks have been launching free, ad-supported streaming outlets, CNN+ will reportedly run the same price as Fox Nation. The news network hopes that CNN+ will attract consumers growing up without cable and help the brand transition to a post-pay TV world. Continue reading CNN Readies Launch of Subscription Streaming News Outlet

ABC Announces Launch of 8 Local Streaming News Channels

ABC Owned Television Stations, a division of Disney, announced it is launching free 24/7 live and local streaming news services in the eight markets where its stations are located. As brand extensions of New York’s WABC, LA’s KABC, San Francisco’s KGO, Fresno’s KFSN, Philadelphia’s WPVI, Chicago’s WLS, Houston’s KTRK and Raleigh-Durham’s WTVD, the streaming news channels will serve local news and weather, breaking news and lifestyle stories from ABC’s multiplatform Localish as well as exclusive content. The streaming channels will be available via websites, mobile apps, Roku TV, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV and more. Continue reading ABC Announces Launch of 8 Local Streaming News Channels

Australia Is Opening Door to Social Media Defamation Liability

The Parliament of Australia is preparing to crackdown on social media trolls by preparing legislation that will hold companies legally responsible for defamatory material posted to their sites. A draft of the proposed law would require companies to have formal complaint processes in place to report online abuse and require they provide complainants with the identities of alleged bullies once certain criteria are met. The proposed legislation is scheduled to be released this week, and expected to come before the Parliament next year. It is part of the country’s broader effort to overhaul defamation laws. Continue reading Australia Is Opening Door to Social Media Defamation Liability

Facebook Negatively Impacts Society, According to CNN Poll

About 76 percent of adults believe Facebook makes U.S. society worse while 11 percent say the social network makes society better and 13 find it neutral, according to a new CNN poll by SSRS. Roughly 50 percent said they know someone who bought into a conspiracy theory they read about on the site. Meanwhile, Facebook parent Meta Platforms says that beginning January 19 it will discontinue advertisers’ ability to target users based on their history of accessing content about health, ethnicity, politics, religion, sexual orientation and myriad other topics. The change applies to Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. Continue reading Facebook Negatively Impacts Society, According to CNN Poll

Discovery Touts Global Growth, Hires Consultant Kevin Mayer

Broadcasting the 2020 Summer Olympics and expenses related to its new direct-to-consumer businesses affected Discovery’s third quarter profits, despite adding three million streaming subscribers and overall increases in traditional revenues. The owner of the Discovery Channel, Food Network, TLC and Discovery+ said that while Q3 revenue rose 23 percent to $3.15 billion, net income fell 48 percent to $156 million. International was the big growth area, with foreign revenue surging 44 percent. Meanwhile, Discovery has hired Kevin Mayer as a consultant to help with its streaming strategy as the company preps for its merger with WarnerMedia.  Continue reading Discovery Touts Global Growth, Hires Consultant Kevin Mayer

AT&T Spins Off DirecTV, Combines It with AT&T TV, U-verse

After acquiring DirecTV six years ago, AT&T has spun it off and, along with AT&T TV and U-verse, formed a new company it will co-manage with TPG Capital. AT&T received $7.1 billion in cash and a 70 percent interest in the new company, and TPG contributed $1.8 billion and owns the remaining 30 percent. In 2015, AT&T had paid $49 billion to acquire DirecTV, absorbing another $18 billion in debt, becoming the largest U.S. pay-TV provider with 26 million customers. It then lost almost 40 percent of its TV subscriber base. Continue reading AT&T Spins Off DirecTV, Combines It with AT&T TV, U-verse

HBO and HBO Max Subscriber Numbers Exceed Expectations

AT&T reported advances made by HBO in Q2 2021: a net gain of 2.85 million total domestic HBO Max and HBO subscribers, including 2.38 million retail net additions, for a total of 47.0 million at the end of the period, representing a gain of 10.7 million over the last year in the United Sates. HBO and HBO Max counted 67.5 million customers worldwide, up 12 million from last year. AT&T chief financial officer Pascal Desroches noted that the numbers exceeded Wall Street forecasts as well as AT&T’s own expectations. Continue reading HBO and HBO Max Subscriber Numbers Exceed Expectations

Netflix Still Confident Despite New Rivals and Slowed Growth

In Q2, Netflix added 1.5 million new subscribers, slower growth after a peak at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the company isn’t worried, telling investors that it is “mostly competing with ourselves to improve our service as fast as we can.” “If we do that, we’re confident we can maintain our strong position and continue to grow nicely as we have been for the past two-plus decades,” Netflix said, adding that it doesn’t view any particular assets as “must-have,” and that consolidation isn’t impacting its growth. Meanwhile, the company is facing new competitors in the streaming space. Continue reading Netflix Still Confident Despite New Rivals and Slowed Growth

CNN Plans to Offer Sub-Based Streaming Service Next Year

WarnerMedia’s CNN is slated to launch a new subscription-based streaming service, CNN+, early next year. The service, which will co-exist with CNN’s current TV networks, will feature eight to 12 hours of live programming per day. WarnerMedia News and Sports chair Jeff Zucker, who is also president of CNN Worldwide, noted that, “CNN invented cable news in 1980, defined online news in 1995 and now is taking an important step in expanding what news can be by launching a direct-to-consumer streaming subscription service” in Q1 2022. Continue reading CNN Plans to Offer Sub-Based Streaming Service Next Year

Media Consortium Reveals Extent of Pegasus Spyware Reach

A consortium of media outlets dubbed the Pegasus Project found that Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group licensed its military-grade spyware Pegasus to governments that used it to hack 37 smartphones of business executives, human rights activists and journalists. Two women close to murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khasghoggi were also reportedly targeted. Amnesty International and journalism non-profit Forbidden Stories shared a list of 50,000 phone numbers that dates to 2016 and included the 37 targets. New evidence also suggests that thousands of iPhones worldwide may have been compromised.  Continue reading Media Consortium Reveals Extent of Pegasus Spyware Reach