Google to Let Android Users Choose Other Search Engines

Under pressure from European Union antitrust head Margrethe Vestager, Google will make it easier for users to choose a competitive search engine. Since Google’s record $4.8 billion fine didn’t “do the trick” to fix the problem, she proposed a “choice screen mechanism.” Beginning March 2020, Google will now offer this screen that allows users to pick a default search engine, and list rival search engines for little or no money. Google said the solution had been “developed in consultation with the European Commission.” Continue reading Google to Let Android Users Choose Other Search Engines

FTC Begins Amazon Probe by Talking to Third-Party Vendors

The Federal Trade Commission has begun its investigation of Amazon by trying to determine if small businesses do in fact have alternative marketplaces. Several attorneys and “at least one economist” have been conducting 90-minute interviews with some of Amazon’s third-party vendors, to see if they do earn revenue from eBay, Walmart or other shopping sites. According to former FTC staffer Michael Kades, the length of the interviews and number of staff dedicated to the task indicates the agency is doing a “serious job.” Continue reading FTC Begins Amazon Probe by Talking to Third-Party Vendors

State Attorneys General Team Up to Investigate Tech Firms

After several states began pursuing an antitrust probe of the big technology companies, sources reported that representatives of several state attorneys general met with top Justice Department officials to air their concerns about the lack of competition in the technology sector. Now, according to sources, a bipartisan group of states plans to initiate a joint antitrust investigation, to be launched as soon as next month. Sources say the investigation will focus on whether dominant platforms stifle competition. Continue reading State Attorneys General Team Up to Investigate Tech Firms

ASCAP, BMI Urge Government to Update Consent Decrees

ASCAP and BMI, the two largest U.S. performing rights organizations, have operated under separate 1941 consent decrees. The decrees, designed to protect competition, dictate how ASCAP and BMI (but not rivals SESAC and Global Music Rights) license music. In February, ASCAP and BMI, who are fierce competitors, urged the consent decrees to be updated or ended, and, last year, Justice Department assistant attorney general for the antitrust division Makan Delrahim vowed to examine the decrees to “determine their validity.” Continue reading ASCAP, BMI Urge Government to Update Consent Decrees

Netflix Is Not Planning to Compete at Cannes Fest Next Month

Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos says the streaming giant will not be heading to the Cannes Film Festival in May. This is in response to the festival banning films from playing in competition if they have not had theatrical distribution in France. “Netflix could screen some of its upcoming movies out of competition,” reports Variety, “but Sarandos says that doesn’t make sense for the streaming service.” “We want our films to be on fair ground with every other filmmaker,” he noted. “There’s a risk in us going in this way and having our films and filmmakers treated disrespectfully at the festival.” Continue reading Netflix Is Not Planning to Compete at Cannes Fest Next Month

Twitch’s Reality Show Aims to Promote Aspiring Video Stars

Twitch will debut its reality competition show, “Stream On” on March 8, featuring 14 online video personalities vying for a $60,000 prize over an 11-week period. The competition and its prize money is intended to help finance and promote the streaming careers of new Twitch Partners who are building audiences already, but have yet to break out. Those selected to compete are gaining recognition for talent beyond gaming, such as art, comedy, cooking and music. The show will be produced by Twitch Studios and air live on Twitch.tv. Continue reading Twitch’s Reality Show Aims to Promote Aspiring Video Stars

Federal Regulators Need More Time to Vote on Set-Top Boxes

The FCC delayed its vote yesterday on the proposal to unlock cable set-top boxes. FCC members “could not agree on a set-top box proposal that requires cable operators to provide their shows and movies on alternative devices rather than just on a cable box,” reports The New York Times. “The plan was intended to bring more competition to the television industry and liberate consumers from an average of $231 in annual cable box fees.” While the proposal will be considered for a future vote, FCC chair Tom Wheeler said commissioners needed additional discussions. However, with an upcoming change of administration, Wheeler’s window to adopt the regulation may be dwindling. Continue reading Federal Regulators Need More Time to Vote on Set-Top Boxes

Comcast Confirms That It Has Dropped $45 Billion Bid for TWC

Comcast issued a statement this morning that the proposed merger with Time Warner Cable has officially been terminated. “Today, we move on,” noted Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts. “Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn’t agree, we could walk away.” Reports had circulated in recent days that a merger of the country’s two largest cable operators was ending as Comcast faced intense regulatory scrutiny regarding the $45.2 billion acquisition. Continue reading Comcast Confirms That It Has Dropped $45 Billion Bid for TWC

‘Silicon Valley’ Season 2 Premiere to Stream for Free on Twitch

HBO recently announced it plans to stream the second season premiere of “Silicon Valley” on Twitch, Amazon’s streaming service for game enthusiasts. The episode will stream free of charge starting next Wednesday, April 8. Cast members are expected to participate in a live stream discussion, which will be made available on Twitch before the episode begins streaming. The partnership not only helps Twitch expand its content offerings, but also allows HBO to reach a wider, younger audience.  Continue reading ‘Silicon Valley’ Season 2 Premiere to Stream for Free on Twitch

Chosen: iOS Talent App Aims to Attract Performers and Judges

There is a new mobile app called Chosen that offers users a platform through which they can upload videos of themselves performing talented acts or simply judge and critique other performances, all while earning rewards for actively doing so. Chosen aims to recreate the talent show experience and competitive landscape of TV shows like “American Idol.” Users can quickly scan through various performances, vote for those they like and skip those they don’t with the swipe of a finger. Continue reading Chosen: iOS Talent App Aims to Attract Performers and Judges

Eventbrite Study Provides Breakdown of E-Sports Demographics

In an attempt to improve its understanding of e-sports enthusiasts, Eventbrite conducted a survey of those that used its site to purchase tickets for live multiplayer video game competitions. The company discovered that e-sports fans are generally male, between the ages of 18 and 34, as well as active gamers themselves. E-sports are typically held in large arenas and draw thousands of fans who typically attend as an opportunity to be part of the larger gaming community. Continue reading Eventbrite Study Provides Breakdown of E-Sports Demographics

Apple Purchases Startup to Bolster Analytics for Beats Music

Apple has acquired British startup Semetric to analyze the data from music sales, streaming services, and social networks. Semetric’s music analytics tool, Musicmetric, is already popular with music labels and industry clients. The $50 million acquisition will likely help improve Beats Music, which will be built into Apple’s iOS update this year. With download sales continuing their decline, Apple and other companies need data analytics to better understand digital music consumption. Continue reading Apple Purchases Startup to Bolster Analytics for Beats Music

Dailymotion Games Plans to Compete with YouTube and Twitch

French startup Dailymotion announced this week that it is launching a streaming site for the growing number of fans who enjoy watching video of live gaming, a move that would put the company in competition with Twitch, the leader in this emerging field. The move will also provide Dailymotion with another means of taking on its rival YouTube. Gaming video has grown increasingly popular due to new streaming services, the appeal of live professional gaming events, and the rise of massively multiplayer team-based games. Continue reading Dailymotion Games Plans to Compete with YouTube and Twitch

President Obama Calls for New Improvements to Cybersecurity

President Barack Obama proposed a series of new regulations that intend to help protect the country from cyberattacks. In the wake of a series of significant hacks last year, Obama is asking Congress to increase prosecution and toughen the penalties of people committing cybercrimes. He also wants companies to be able to share their information about hacks. In other news, President Obama wants to increase broadband competition by ending the laws in 19 states that limit municipal broadband. Continue reading President Obama Calls for New Improvements to Cybersecurity

Valve Takes on Live Game Streaming with Steam Broadcasting

The game streaming space, one that has been dominated by Amazon’s Twitch and various gamer YouTube channels, has proven that today’s gamers are just as interested in watching others play as they are in playing games themselves. In response to this trend, game developer Valve, the company behind Steam’s game services, has announced Steam Broadcasting, a tool that allows members to become viewers by tuning into the live gameplay of other users within the Steam gaming community.  Continue reading Valve Takes on Live Game Streaming with Steam Broadcasting

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