Netflix Plans Debut of Video Download Feature By End of Year

Earlier this year, Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings said the idea of offering video downloads was a possibility — but he wasn’t more specific. Now, industry insider Dan Taitz, whose company Penthera Partners offers video downloading technology, reports that, by the end of the year, Netflix will allow subscribers to download some programs for offline viewing, a feature already in place at Amazon, Comcast and elsewhere. Frost & Sullivan principal analyst Dan Rayburn confirms Taitz’s prediction. Continue reading Netflix Plans Debut of Video Download Feature By End of Year

Comcast Rolls Out X1 Search & Record Tool for Rio Olympics

Comcast developed X1, a voice-controlled remote technology that allows its subscribers to search, similar to virtual assistants from Amazon and Apple. Now chief executive Brian Roberts has a good reason to roll it out: the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. NBC plans to broadcast every event live on TV or online — a programming equivalent of 24 hours a day for 250 days — and X1 will make it all searchable, by event, athlete or country. Subscribers can even get alerts when an American is close to winning gold. Continue reading Comcast Rolls Out X1 Search & Record Tool for Rio Olympics

Altice Closes Cablevision Deal to Become Major U.S. Operator

The $17.7 billion acquisition of New York-based Cablevision Systems Corp. by European cable company Altice NV is now complete. The new company, Altice USA, will become the fourth largest broadband provider in the country with 4.6 million customers across 20 states. Cablevision will join with Suddenlink, acquired by Altice last year. “Altice has vowed to invest more in improving the infrastructure of the Cablevision and Suddenlink networks with a focus on boosting broadband speeds, improving Wi-Fi service and updating the programming guide and interface to more user-friendly designs,” reports Variety. Continue reading Altice Closes Cablevision Deal to Become Major U.S. Operator

Vrse Changes its Name to Within and Raises More VC Money

VR company Vrse has changed its name to Within and received $12.56 million in funding, led by venture firm Andreessen Horowitz. Other Within investors include 21st Century Fox and Annapurna Pictures. This is just the latest example of the huge sums that VR and AR companies have been able to garner. Magic Leap raised $793.5 million earlier this year, and Disney spearheaded a $65 million round for VR firm Jaunt. Comcast also led a $6.8 million Series A funding round in VR studio Felix & Paul. Continue reading Vrse Changes its Name to Within and Raises More VC Money

Court Rejects Telecom Industry’s Challenges to Net Neutrality

In a 2-1 vote, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has upheld the FCC’s net neutrality rules, “handing a defeat to cable and telephone companies trying to fend off tighter oversight of the consumer broadband business,” reports The Wall Street Journal. The ruling is also considered a victory for the Obama administration and companies such as Google and Netflix that see net neutrality as a defense against unfair competition from ISPs. The decision “opens the door to further pending FCC regulatory steps that cable and wireless firms have resisted,” notes WSJ. “It also sharpens a growing policy divide between Internet firms and the broadband-access industry.” Continue reading Court Rejects Telecom Industry’s Challenges to Net Neutrality

Cable and Telecom Companies Lobby Against FCC Proposals

Last month, 60 lawmakers signed a letter objecting to an FCC regulation that would open up the cable TV set-top box market. More recently, Democratic congressman Bobby Rush’s staff pushed his colleagues to sign another letter, this one opposing an FCC proposal to limit how broadband providers can share users’ personal data. These are just recent efforts by the cable industry to oppose what it sees as unfair advantages enjoyed by tech companies such as Google in the light of new FCC proposals. Continue reading Cable and Telecom Companies Lobby Against FCC Proposals

Fortune 500 Lists Apple as the Highest Tech Company in Sales

In its annual ranking of companies based on revenue, the latest Fortune 500 lists Apple third on the list, followed by Walmart and Exxon Mobil. With $233 billion in revenue, Apple is the top tech company on the Fortune 500. “Apple jumped two slots from last year, and it was also the most profitable company, with $53 billion in profits in 2015,” reports Business Insider. Amazon is listed as number 18, with $107 billion in sales, while Verizon is ranked 13th, HP 20th, Microsoft 25th, IBM 31st and Alphabet 36th. Meanwhile, Facebook jumped 85 spots to number 157, and Netflix moved from 474 to number 379. Continue reading Fortune 500 Lists Apple as the Highest Tech Company in Sales

Niche Audiences, Binge Watching Impact Testing of TV Pilots

Television networks are in the midst of their annual process of testing new shows to decide which ones they’ll pick up. The typical test audience is made up of 50 people, recruited based on age, sex and race, and a network’s core demographic. The audience members watch the show, judging it via a handheld device that has a knob enabling them to express like and dislike. Not every media outlet embraces the concept of test audiences, and the testing services are modifying their criteria to better reflect today’s viewing behavior. Continue reading Niche Audiences, Binge Watching Impact Testing of TV Pilots

Growth Slow for Skinny Bundles, Attracting Younger Demos

In-home video entertainment is expected to be a $381 billion global business by 2019, of which about $100 billion represents the North American market. That’s why TV conglomerates aren’t eager to offer skinny bundles, and Apple, for the meantime, has given up on it. In the U.S., video entertainment tends to be spread among five different apps on at least two different hardware platforms, costing between $120 and $14o a month, including a TV package of 200+ channels from providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Dish. Continue reading Growth Slow for Skinny Bundles, Attracting Younger Demos

Web Video is the New TV, But MCNs are Fading for Ad Buyers

Streaming video services, including Hulu and Crackle, are now defining themselves as TV networks to capture some of the $63 billion TV advertising market, still much more lucrative than Web video’s $10 billion in annual sales. Rather than differentiate themselves from cable and network TV by emphasizing their millennial viewers, these streaming video companies are focusing on the ways they are similar to traditional media outlets, even changing their events from “NewFronts” to “Upfronts,” the moniker used by TV outlets. Meanwhile, ad buyers are losing interest in MCNs. Continue reading Web Video is the New TV, But MCNs are Fading for Ad Buyers

FCC Approves Charter’s Purchase of TWC and Bright House

The Federal Communications Commission has approved the proposed acquisitions of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks by Charter Communications. If California regulators also approve (a decision is expected by Thursday), the deals would result in the second-largest broadband provider and third-largest video provider in the U.S. The Time Warner Cable deal is valued at $56.7 billion, while the Bright House deal is valued at $10.4 billion. Thomas Rutledge, president and chief exec of Charter, said the deals would lead to increased competition, more access to affordable broadband and new jobs. Continue reading FCC Approves Charter’s Purchase of TWC and Bright House

‘Deadpool’ Sets New Record: Sells One Million Digital Units

Already the top-grossing R-rated movie in history (earning $761 million worldwide), “Deadpool” has broken another record by selling one million units in Digital HD sales during its first week, the fastest of any superhero title. The film “holds the record as Fox’s best performing Digital HD title ever,” notes The Wrap. “In comparison, ‘The Martian’ hit the one million unit mark in three weeks over Christmas, which was a record back then.” Digital HD includes Comcast, Google Play, iTunes, Xbox, and other digital outlets. “Deadpool” will be available on Blu-ray, DVD and on demand starting May 10. Continue reading ‘Deadpool’ Sets New Record: Sells One Million Digital Units

Hulu to Launch Pay TV Service, Joining Other Digital Players

Hulu is the latest platform to compete with traditional pay TV services. Separate from its current on-demand programming model, Hulu plans to launch a cable TV-style online service in Q1 2017, say those familiar with the company’s plans. Hulu co-owners 21st Century Fox and The Walt Disney Company are likely to strike agreements to license many of their channels. ABC, ESPN, Disney Channel, the Fox network, Fox News, FX and Fox national and regional sports channels are also anticipated to be part of the lineup. Continue reading Hulu to Launch Pay TV Service, Joining Other Digital Players

NBC and Snapchat Sign Landmark Deal for Summer Olympics

For the first time, a U.S. broadcast network is allowing distribution of Olympics highlights off its own platform. Snapchat just inked a deal with NBC to do exactly that for the 2016 Summer Games. The social media app will create a dedicated mobile channel. Content will come both from BuzzFeed, which will curate short clips and behind-the-scenes content to the Snapchat app’s Discover channel, and from Snapchat itself, which will create daily “live stories” from content from NBC, athletes and sports fans at the games. Continue reading NBC and Snapchat Sign Landmark Deal for Summer Olympics

Comcast to Introduce 1,000-GB Data Limits in Select Markets

In the wake of customer backlash over limits and surcharges, by June 1, Comcast will unveil a 1,000-gigabyte cap for broadband customers in markets previously limited to 300-gigabytes monthly. In 2012, the company stopped enforcing a universal 250-gigabyte limit, and since then has been testing different Internet plans in mainly Southern states, reaching 14 percent of its homes or 2.8 million customers. Comcast has stated that 10 percent, or more than 2 million people, use 300 gigabytes or more a month. Continue reading Comcast to Introduce 1,000-GB Data Limits in Select Markets

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