CBS and Viacom Reunite With a Focus on Streaming Video

After a split of more than 10 years, CBS and Viacom finalized a deal yesterday to recombine. The new company, to be called ViacomCBS Inc. with a market value of about $30 billion, will bring Viacom brands such as BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures together with CBS, Showtime and the new CBS All Access streaming service. The merger follows several high-profile media deals, including Disney’s purchase of Fox’s movie and TV assets in March and AT&T’s 2018 acquisition of Time Warner, as media companies face significant changes involving pay TV and streaming services. Continue reading CBS and Viacom Reunite With a Focus on Streaming Video

Google Search Updates Plan to Improve Podcast Discovery

Google now makes it easier for users to find individual podcasts in search results, showing potential episodes that fit search terms and playing back those podcasts. Users will have to ask Google or Google Assistant for podcasts about that particular topic — that is, “find a podcast on golden retrievers” — which will then open in Google Podcasts’ web app. Google, which houses a 2+ million podcast index, said it will eventually support third-party playback and drop the “podcast” search term requirement. Continue reading Google Search Updates Plan to Improve Podcast Discovery

Pandora Rolls Out Voice Mode Assistant For All Platforms

SiriusXM’s Pandora unveiled Voice Mode, its voice assistant, to Pandora app users on all platforms. This broad rollout took place after a January debut of Voice Mode on about one million iOS and Android devices. The shortcut to Voice Mode can be found in the upper right of the Pandora app screen. Pandora chief product officer Chris Phillips noted that Voice Mode introduces “an even more natural and conversational way for listeners to discover new music … like getting recommendations from a friend who really knows you.” Continue reading Pandora Rolls Out Voice Mode Assistant For All Platforms

Streaming Service fuboTV Adds More Non-Sports Content

Live sports streamer fuboTV has signed a multi-year deal to bring Discovery networks to its service as part of the $54.99 per month base package. In coming weeks, fuboTV will add networks including Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, Investigation Discovery, MotorTrend, OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) and TLC. Food Network, HGTV and Travel Channel are already live on fuboTV through a deal with Discovery-owned Scripps Networks Interactive. The deal also includes additions to the fubo Latino Spanish-language package as well as on-demand content from Discovery. Continue reading Streaming Service fuboTV Adds More Non-Sports Content

TV Networks Partner on Technology to Deliver Targeted Ads

A consortium of television networks teamed up to create a technology standard for targeted advertising. Project OAR (Open Addressable Ready)’s watermark technology makes it easier to send specific ads to consumers with smart TVs. The consortium expects to complete its work by 2020. Such collaborative ventures are atypical for the highly competitive TV market. Currently, TV networks depend on cable and satellite operators to send targeted ads, and this technology will help networks control part of the process for smart TVs. Continue reading TV Networks Partner on Technology to Deliver Targeted Ads

Developers Are Struggling to Create Alexa-Centric Killer App

Four years after launching its program to allow outside developers to write apps for Alexa, Amazon’s voice system has some 80,000 “skills” — but no huge hit. In fact, most people with Alexa-enabled smart speakers still use them only to listen to music or make simple requests. That compares to Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store, each of which are home to over 550,000 apps, many of which have been huge successes for developers. But voice-centric apps are challenging to build and don’t appear to attract consumers. Continue reading Developers Are Struggling to Create Alexa-Centric Killer App

Luminary Launches With Plan to Be the Netflix of Podcasts

Luminary is a podcast startup that has debuted with more than 40 exclusive shows and no ads. The company also has almost $100 million in funding and, for $8 per month, subscribers will get full access to the content lineup, which includes a new show from Lena Dunham and series from Conan O’Brien, Malcolm Gladwell and Trevor Noah. Co-founder/chief executive Matt Sacks stated that Luminary aims to be “synonymous with podcasting in the same way Netflix has become synonymous with streaming.” Continue reading Luminary Launches With Plan to Be the Netflix of Podcasts

Hulu CEO Predicts the End of Most Linear Cable TV Channels

At Business Insider‘s IGNITION conference in New York City, Hulu chief executive Randy Freer predicted that, 10 years from now, out of 300+ current cable channels, the only ones that will survive are those that have built a brand with a strong viewer base. He added that, with the exception of live news and sports, everything else on TV will be distributed on-demand. Hulu, which offers live streaming TV with 55+ channels and several Discovery linear channels, is considering less expensive skinny bundles without linear channels. Continue reading Hulu CEO Predicts the End of Most Linear Cable TV Channels

Industry Experts Say Music Streaming, Vinyl Not Competitors

Although streaming may be hastening the end of the CD, it’s actually helping sales of vinyl. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) reported this year that 75 percent of the music revenue in the country comes from streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify. At the same time that CD sales have plummeted, vinyl sales have risen $2 million per year over the last three years. At a Making Vinyl conference in Detroit, experts said that streaming and vinyl are not competitive, but rather complementary. Continue reading Industry Experts Say Music Streaming, Vinyl Not Competitors

Pandora Launches Beta Version of Podcast Genome Project

With over half-a-million podcasts today, discoverability is often difficult for consumers. To make the process easier, Pandora has come up with its algorithm-based Podcast Genome Project, first announced a year ago and just released in beta. Pandora rose to success with its initial Music Genome Project, and the Podcast version is similar, in that it uses more than 1,500 tags to create a recommendation engine. Also similar to the Music Genome Project, the Podcast Genome Project relies on humans as an adjunct to the algorithms. Continue reading Pandora Launches Beta Version of Podcast Genome Project

Pandora and Spotify Bring Streaming Experience to Podcasts

Podcasting is growing popular among a younger demographic, and now Pandora and Spotify are leveraging their music streaming experience in an effort to engage those listeners. The main challenge with podcasting is discoverability. Pandora Media chief executive Roger Lynch characterizes podcast discovery as “the Stone Age” compared to music discovery. He believes that the company can bring people in to listen to a podcast and keep them on the platform with music. Neither company revealed details of its podcast businesses. Continue reading Pandora and Spotify Bring Streaming Experience to Podcasts

Facebook Gives HTML5 Another Shot for its Instant Games

Although its first experiences with HTML5 were just short of disastrous, Facebook is now using it again to expand Instant Games to developing countries via Facebook Lite and to interest communities via Facebook Groups. Because smartphone processing power and mobile browser app technology have improved, HTML5 is now able to support more complicated games, and Instant Games can launch in a mobile browser or directly into Groups. Currently, 90 million people take part in 270,000 Facebook Groups about gaming each month. Continue reading Facebook Gives HTML5 Another Shot for its Instant Games

Hulu Floats Idea of Skinny Bundle Minus Linear TV Networks

According to Hulu chief executive Randy Freer, the company is considering a skinnier bundle aimed at pay-TV cord shavers watching their wallets. The bundle would not include linear TV networks, which have pricey carriage fees, but would continue to offer sports, news and on-demand content licensed from cable networks. Hulu is in talks with programmers about the possibility of such a bundle. Few additional details are available, but that the price would be less than the current $40 per month plan. Continue reading Hulu Floats Idea of Skinny Bundle Minus Linear TV Networks

Mattel Launches a New Film Division to Help Revitalize Sales

Toy maker Mattel just opened a new division, Mattel Films, to develop and produce movies based on its brands and headed up by Academy Award-nominated producer Robbie Brenner. Known for her work on “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Mirror Mirror” and “The Fighter,” Brenner will report directly to Mattel chief executive/chair Ynon Kreiz, a media and entertainment veteran, who has worked on children’s content. The new division could help bolster Mattel, which has seen slumping sales since the shuttering of Toys R Us. Continue reading Mattel Launches a New Film Division to Help Revitalize Sales

Facebook Extends Watch Video Platform to a Global Audience

Facebook announced that its Facebook Watch video platform is rolling out worldwide starting today. The VOD platform, designed for episodic content and a potential competitor to YouTube, initially launched in the U.S. one year ago. In what should be good news to content creators and publishers, Facebook is also making its Ad Breaks program for monetizing video content available in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, with plans to launch in 21 other countries in September. Continue reading Facebook Extends Watch Video Platform to a Global Audience

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