Comcast Signs Deals with Four Studios to Offer Movie Extras

Comcast inked deals with Universal Pictures (which it owns), Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment for “movie extras” to accompany those studios’ film titles. The cable company, which will offer a free sample of the enhanced extras during the 10 days leading up to Christmas, says it is working on adding more studios and movies in the coming year. With the extra content, Comcast hopes to better compete with other digital movie providers, including Apple, which added extra content two years ago. Continue reading Comcast Signs Deals with Four Studios to Offer Movie Extras

Departure of FCC’s Tom Wheeler Could Impact Net Neutrality

The FCC announced that Tom Wheeler will resign his chair position on January 20. The Obama appointee led the agency for the last three years. It is customary for the chairperson to resign when there is a new administration. Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel’s nomination for another term was also impacted last week by the Senate’s decision not to vote prior to adjourning for the year. Rosenworcel is expected to step down by the end of December. President-elect Donald Trump will have two FCC seats to fill, one from each major party. Meanwhile, the departures leave the agency with two Republican commissioners and one Democratic commissioner. Continue reading Departure of FCC’s Tom Wheeler Could Impact Net Neutrality

FCC, Net Neutrality Face Changes Under New Administration

The Federal Communications Commission is undergoing changes prior to the transition to a new administration. When the Senate adjourned without voting on a new term for commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, it sealed her departure at the end of December. And when President-elect Donald Trump takes office, Tom Wheeler will step down as chairman of the FCC, although his term as commissioner runs through 2018. Trump has not yet mentioned names with regard to the next FCC chairman, but it will likely be someone opposed to net neutrality. Continue reading FCC, Net Neutrality Face Changes Under New Administration

Nintendo, Comcast Reveal Details of Universal Park Alliance

After inking a deal in May 2015 with Universal Parks & Resorts, a unit of Comcast NBCUniversal, the two companies are finally revealing details of how that partnership would play out at three Universal Studios theme parks. Configured as a park-within-a-park, Nintendo videogame characters will star at rides, restaurants and other forms of entertainment. Dubbing the setting “expansive, immersive and interactive,” Nintendo and Comcast say the new attractions will open in the coming years at Orlando, Los Angeles and Osaka, Japan. Continue reading Nintendo, Comcast Reveal Details of Universal Park Alliance

Daily Fantasy Sports: FanDuel and DraftKings Agree to Merge

Former rivals DraftKings and FanDuel announced they plan to merge their daily fantasy sports operations into one company, to be run by DraftKings CEO Jason Robins. FanDuel chief exec Nigel Eccles will become chairman. The board will include three directors each from DraftKings and FanDuel, plus an independent director, while headquarters will be divided between New York and Boston offices. The deal, which aims to increase innovation by freeing up money, is expected to close during the second half of next year. Continue reading Daily Fantasy Sports: FanDuel and DraftKings Agree to Merge

Fandango Brings Movie VOD Service to Xbox Game Consoles

Movie ticketing company Fandango launched its VOD service FandangoNOW on Microsoft’s Xbox One and Xbox One S consoles. FandangoNOW, which is already on Android TV among other platforms, offers 40,000 new-release and catalog movies as well as next-day TV shows for rent and purchase. The move puts Fandango in direct competition with Apple iTunes, Amazon Video and Walmart’s Vudu. Fandango’s end game is to deploy the rebranded FandangoNOW to increase overall revenues via a home entertainment offering. Continue reading Fandango Brings Movie VOD Service to Xbox Game Consoles

ABC, ESPN, Fox News to Join Hulu’s Live Streaming Service

Hulu announced it has signed deals with 21st Century Fox and Disney to include the media giants’ broadcast and cable channels in Hulu’s planned live streaming service, expected to launch in early 2017. ABC, ESPN and Fox News will join channels including CNN, TBS and TNT, following an earlier deal with Time Warner. All three companies are part owners of Hulu. The fourth owner, Comcast, has not yet reached an agreement for channels under the NBCUniversal banner. According to The New York Times, “Hulu’s live offering will be the latest cheaper and slimmer television package at a time when more people are canceling traditional — and more expensive — cable subscriptions.” Continue reading ABC, ESPN, Fox News to Join Hulu’s Live Streaming Service

In Landmark Ruling, FCC Protects Privacy of Consumer Data

The Federal Communications Commission, by a 3-to-2 vote, passed rules protecting consumers’ digital information, by preventing broadband companies such as AT&T and Comcast from collecting and distributing data including Web browsing, app use, location and financial information. Up until this ruling, users had to opt-out of broadband providers’ right to track such data. The ruling is considered a landmark since it is the first time the FCC issued privacy restrictions to high-speed Internet providers. Continue reading In Landmark Ruling, FCC Protects Privacy of Consumer Data

DirecTV Now: AT&T Streaming TV Service to Undercut Cable

Shortly after the Time Warner acquisition made headlines, AT&T announced that its streaming TV service, launching next month, will offer 100-plus channels for $35 per month. The company previously suggested that DirecTV Now would not undercut cable. “It’s clear what customers want. They want premium content in a mobile environment,” said AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. “Our goal is to drive prices down.” The move can also be seen as a way to generate support for the Time Warner deal. “Regulators will heavily scrutinize the proposed merger of two such large and influential companies, but the pair are insistent that the deal benefits consumers,” reports Wired. “Certainly, Internet television benefits consumers.” Continue reading DirecTV Now: AT&T Streaming TV Service to Undercut Cable

Amazon’s Reach in Online Retail Much Bigger Than Estimated

Amazon accounts for 15 percent of U.S. consumer online shares, according to the Department of Commerce. But Amazon’s actual reach in the retail market may be as much as double that due to an undetermined volume of sales transacted with third parties. Just as Walmart destroyed many smaller retailers, so may Amazon’s massive reach have an even greater disruptive impact. The comparison is apt because Amazon is now building pickup locations for groceries in Seattle that could open by the end of 2016. Continue reading Amazon’s Reach in Online Retail Much Bigger Than Estimated

AT&T to Purchase Media Giant Time Warner for $85.4 Billion

Over the weekend, AT&T announced it has agreed to acquire Time Warner for $85.4 billion in cash and stock. If the deal passes regulatory hurdles, AT&T would become home to Turner cable networks (such as TBS, CNN and TNT), premium cable channel HBO and the Warner Bros. film and TV studios. The telco, which already owns DirecTV, would also pick up a stake in Hulu. The new business would combine the carrier’s millions of wireless and pay-TV subscribers with Time Warner’s major media entities, enabling AT&T to produce and distribute an array of content across wireless phone, broadband and satellite TV. Continue reading AT&T to Purchase Media Giant Time Warner for $85.4 Billion

Google Signs Deal with CBS for Planned YouTube TV Service

Google has signed an agreement with CBS to feature the network’s content on Unplugged, YouTube’s soon-to-be-launched Web TV service, expected to roll out early next year. While CBS is the first major network to join Unplugged, Google is reportedly close to signing deals with 21st Century Fox, Disney and NBCUniversal. The company is targeting cord cutters and consumers growing wary of traditional pay-TV subscription costs with its YouTube alternative — a skinny bundle of channels priced at $25 to $40 per month. Google will join a crowded field of OTT offerings, including Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and a planned service from Hulu. Continue reading Google Signs Deal with CBS for Planned YouTube TV Service

Discovery Invests $100 Million in Digital Content Conglomerate

To expand its social media presence, Discovery Communications invested $100 million in Group Nine Media, a new holding company composed of NowThis, The DoDo, Thrillist, Discovery’s digital network Seeker and digital production company SourceFed Studios. In two years, Discovery will be able to buy a controlling stake in Group Nine. German media company Axel Springer will continue to be the second-largest shareholder. NowThis, The DoDo and Thrillist are said to be valued at $400 million, for a total deal value of $550 million. Continue reading Discovery Invests $100 Million in Digital Content Conglomerate

FCC, Market Trends Push Move to Unlock Set-Top Box Market

Federal Communications Commission chair Tom Wheeler continues to promote his plan to “unlock” the set-top box marketplace, ending the dominance of cable and satellite TV companies. Opposing the plan are, no surprise, those same cable and satellite companies, including Comcast and AT&T’s DirecTV, which reap profits of $20 billion a year in set-top-box rentals. CBS also opposes the plan, as do other studios that believe regulation will get in the way of quickly making their content available on multiple platforms. Continue reading FCC, Market Trends Push Move to Unlock Set-Top Box Market

Netflix CFO Explains Plans to Ramp Up Original Programming

Speaking at Goldman Sachs’ Communacopia conference yesterday, Netflix CFO David Wells explained that the streaming service’s goal over the next few years is to offer more original programming. The company is aiming for half of its content to be represented by original productions and the other half licensed movies and TV shows. According to Wells, original programming will continue to be content produced by Netflix in addition to a range of co-productions and acquisitions. Netflix is “one-third to halfway” toward reaching its goal, he said. Continue reading Netflix CFO Explains Plans to Ramp Up Original Programming

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