NBCUniversal Set to Launch Universal Kids Network This Fall

On September 9, NBCUniversal will unveil the rebranding of its Sprout cable property into a new network, Universal Kids, to be overseen by Sprout exec Deirdre Brennan. The network will feature family-friendly content from DreamWorks Animation, Illumination Entertainment and Universal theme park attractions. Whereas Sprout targets preschool children, Universal Kids will broaden its reach to children 2 through 11 years old. The first series is “Top Chef Junior,” a version of Bravo’s cooking competition show. Continue reading NBCUniversal Set to Launch Universal Kids Network This Fall

Federal Court Decides Not to Rehear Net Neutrality Challenge

A federal court on Monday declined to reconsider the telecom industry’s net neutrality challenge since the FCC and its chairman Ajit Pai plan to roll back the Obama-era rules anyway. The decision could set the stage for an eventual appeal to the Supreme Court. Despite Pai’s recent announcement regarding plans to eliminate and possibly replace net neutrality rules, telecoms and their supporters are still seeking court backing to help provide future legal protection. However, Judges Sri Srinivasan and David Tatel wrote that a rehearing “would be particularly unwarranted at this point in light of the uncertainty surrounding the fate of the FCC’s Order.” Continue reading Federal Court Decides Not to Rehear Net Neutrality Challenge

FCC Chair Discusses Net Neutrality Rules with Tech Industry

After meeting with execs at Cisco, Facebook, Intel and Oracle to discuss future plans for net neutrality, FCC chair Ajit Pai believes tech companies are interested in finding “common ground.” Most Internet companies have expressed support for “net neutrality, saying the protections guard them from paying tolls to get their content in front of consumers,” reports The New York Times. “Pai said that he agreed with the broad principles of net neutrality but that the rules, created by the commission in 2015, went too far in restricting broadband providers.” Continue reading FCC Chair Discusses Net Neutrality Rules with Tech Industry

T-Mobile Is Biggest Spender in Government Spectrum Auction

The results of the government’s wireless airwaves auction are in, and T-Mobile ended up as the biggest spender at $8 billion, followed by Dish at $6.2 billion and Comcast at $1.7 billion. The FCC auction, which began last year, generated $19.8 billion in bids. While the companies have yet to announce their plans for the spectrum, Comcast recently indicated that it would offer cell service to its Internet subscribers. Conclusion of the auction also means that companies will be able to resume deal discussions by April 27, now that bidding collusion is no longer a concern. Continue reading T-Mobile Is Biggest Spender in Government Spectrum Auction

Roku Hires Lobbyists, Prepping for Changes to Net Neutrality

Roku seems to be gearing up for a battle regarding net neutrality, as the FCC is expected to repeal or change regulations that require ISPs to treat all Internet traffic equally. Such changes could make it more challenging and potentially more expensive for Roku and others to provide services at top download speeds. In a first for the company, Roku has hired two DC lobbyists to focus on net neutrality issues. The President Obama-era net neutrality rules treat telecoms similarly to utilities. Those who support the regulations believe they are necessary to prevent service providers from throttling speeds or charging media companies more for content delivery. Continue reading Roku Hires Lobbyists, Prepping for Changes to Net Neutrality

Comcast, AT&T and Verizon Respond to Backlash on Privacy

Since Congress overturned the Internet privacy rules preventing Internet service providers from sharing or selling customers’ Web browsing history, ISPs have been under attack. Now, Comcast, AT&T and Verizon have published blog posts to reassure their customers. Comcast said it does not sell its broadband customers’ Web browsing histories and has no plans to do so in the future. Verizon made a similar claim, and AT&T’s tack is to tell customers that the nixed privacy laws wouldn’t have really protected them. Continue reading Comcast, AT&T and Verizon Respond to Backlash on Privacy

Comcast’s Upcoming Streaming Option to Target Cord-Cutters

Comcast is planning a third quarter launch for its expanded streaming video service called Xfinity Instant TV. The $15-$40 per month service, targeting broadband subscribers looking to opt out of traditional cable bundles, “will include major broadcast networks as well as add-on options for sports channels like ESPN and Spanish language channels such as Telemundo and Univision,” reports Reuters. The company hopes customers will later upgrade to the X1 platform. Xfinity Instant TV is a new version of its Stream service that was tested earlier in Boston and Chicago. Dish and AT&T are already targeting cord cutters, but “Comcast’s service is different in that it is limited to its territories and to its own broadband subscribers.” Continue reading Comcast’s Upcoming Streaming Option to Target Cord-Cutters

Congress Makes a Move to Change New Internet Privacy Rules

The Republican-controlled Senate voted yesterday to reverse FCC privacy protections created under the Obama administration and former FCC chair Tom Wheeler that would have forbidden Internet service providers from using customer data without permission for use in targeted ads. “The measure passed in a 50-to-48 vote largely along party lines,” reports The New York Times. “The House is expected to mirror the Senate’s action next week, followed by a quick signature from President Trump.” The decision means service providers would not require permission to track and share the browsing and app activities of its customers. Continue reading Congress Makes a Move to Change New Internet Privacy Rules

Amazon Is Open to Streaming Content Through Cable STBs

Amazon, which recently won its first Oscars for “Manchester by the Sea” and “The Salesman,” is taking on pay-TV providers and game developers as it expands beyond e-commerce into various media initiatives. Now, the company suggests it would be open to discussing deals that would enable it to stream content through the set-top boxes of cable operators, similar to Netflix’s approach. “Amazon is definitely open to those partnerships,” explained Amazon Video managing director Alex Green at Cable Congress 2017 in Brussels. Continue reading Amazon Is Open to Streaming Content Through Cable STBs

Katzenberg Envisions Next Wave of Entertainment for Mobile

Jeffrey Katzenberg, who left DreamWorks Animation last summer, is launching WndrCo, a new media and tech venture that has already raised nearly $600 million. During a Q&A in New York with Hearst Magazines president David Carey, Katzenberg said he is interested in the next wave of television, which he sees as a mobile experience. He cited the roughly $200,000 per minute that Netflix spends on content and the less than $100 a minute needed to produce most YouTube content, suggesting there’s an opportunity that falls between the two approaches. “He said a few companies have been successful at producing mobile-oriented original video for a few thousand dollars per minute — citing Vice Media, BuzzFeed and AwesomenessTV,” reports Variety. Continue reading Katzenberg Envisions Next Wave of Entertainment for Mobile

FCC: Pai Halts Privacy Rules, Foreshadowing Broader Repeal

After a 2-to-1 vote, the FCC put a halt to a portion of the privacy rules passed in October. New FCC chair Ajit Pai said those rules required high-speed Internet providers, such as AT&T and Comcast, to secure their customers’ data against hacking and other unauthorized uses. This stay of new government rules may be a foreshadowing of a broader repeal of privacy protections, believe some experts. In line with that, Pai also stated that the Federal Trade Commission, not the FCC, should “oversee broadband and Internet industries.” Continue reading FCC: Pai Halts Privacy Rules, Foreshadowing Broader Repeal

At 1 Billion Video Hours Daily, YouTube May Topple TV Views

Worldwide, people are watching more than 1 billion hours a day of YouTube videos, a number that threatens to topple the primacy of U.S. television viewing. That represents a 10-fold increase in YouTube viewership since 2012, said to be pegged, in part, to Google’s use of artificial intelligence to recommend videos. These personalized video line-ups keep people watching, and YouTube’s exponential growth of content — 400 hours of video uploaded each minute — means there’s always something new to watch. Continue reading At 1 Billion Video Hours Daily, YouTube May Topple TV Views

Netflix Foreign Sales Catching Up to North American Revenue

At the opening of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona yesterday, Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings gave a keynote address, indicative of the importance of his company’s many international partnerships with cellphone and cable operators. As a result of those relationships, Netflix is able to build out its subscriber base without much advertising and more readily enter new markets. Hastings’ appearance in Barcelona jibes with the company’s stated goal of focusing on subscribers outside the U.S. Continue reading Netflix Foreign Sales Catching Up to North American Revenue

TheTake Looks to Convert Product Recognition to B2B Service

TheTake, a startup that helps viewers purchase the products that they see in movies and television shows, is now turning its image recognition technology into a business-to-business service. The company is selling the service to major studios and entertainment sites so that they can generate extra revenue from identifying marketable products and locations. TheTake built the technology by training an AI to look for matches from the company’s database of more than 10 million products. Continue reading TheTake Looks to Convert Product Recognition to B2B Service

SoftBank Reportedly Ready to Sell Sprint to Deutsche Telekom

When the U.S. spectrum auction ends in April, Japan’s SoftBank Group plans to approach Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile US about taking over Sprint, for a merger of the two wireless carriers. Until then, SoftBank is restricted by FCC anti-collusion rules preventing discussions between competitors. SoftBank ran into U.S. antitrust regulations two-and-a-half years ago when it was forced to stop negotiations to acquire T-Mobile for Sprint, a deal that would have put SoftBank in control with Deutsche Telekom a minority shareholder. Continue reading SoftBank Reportedly Ready to Sell Sprint to Deutsche Telekom

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