Broadcast TV Programmers Move Upfronts to Online Platforms

Due to concerns regarding the coronavirus, broadcast TV programmers have canceled their in-person Upfront pitches to advertisers, scheduled for May in New York City. Viacom’s CBS, NBCUniversal, Fox Corp. and ABC parent Disney are calling off their annual stage shows, although advertisers will still seek to ink deals with them. NBCUniversal’s chair of advertising and partnerships Linda Yaccarino noted that, “this year’s Upfront presentation will ensure everybody’s safety, while allowing us to give fans and marketers a preview of the upcoming season.” Continue reading Broadcast TV Programmers Move Upfronts to Online Platforms

Warner Bros. and HBO Max Have Big Plans for New Film Unit

Last week, Warner Bros. announced the creation of a new film production unit named Warner Max that will create original content for WarnerMedia’s new streaming service, HBO Max, set to launch in the U.S. this May for $15/month. The joint venture plans to produce 8-10 mid-budget movies per year, and will not impact the number of theatrical releases produced by Warner Bros. or New Line Cinema. The first Warner Max film is slated to premiere later this year, while Warner Bros. will distribute content across other media and territories beyond the HBO Max SVOD window. Meanwhile, WarnerMedia is reportedly investing heavily in online original series ahead of the HBO Max launch, including a number of sci-fi and fantasy titles. Continue reading Warner Bros. and HBO Max Have Big Plans for New Film Unit

$3 Billion TiVo-Xperi Merger Is All About the Patent Portfolio

Rather than splitting itself into separate product and IP businesses as it explored earlier this year, Rovi-owned TiVo is merging with Xperi Corporation in a deal valued at $3 billion. San Jose-based TiVo, a pioneer in the DVR industry, licenses its IP for areas involving digital rights management, electronic program guides and metadata. Xperi, also with headquarters in San Jose, is a tech licensor in areas including mobile computing, data and memory storage and 3D integrated circuits. The deal will integrate TiVo and Xperi’s IP licensing and product businesses, which will then operate as separate units so that one could be sold in the future. Continue reading $3 Billion TiVo-Xperi Merger Is All About the Patent Portfolio

Twitter Users Can Follow 300+ Subjects via Topics Feature

On November 13, Twitter is launching Topics, a feature aimed at new or intermittent users that allows them to follow more than 300 subjects. By following a topic, the user will see tweets from experts in that arena. Twitter began testing the feature on Android in August. Topics team lead Rob Bishop noted, “the main reason that people come to Twitter is to keep up on the things that they’re interested in … [but] the challenge is it’s really quite difficult to do that on Twitter day to day.” Continue reading Twitter Users Can Follow 300+ Subjects via Topics Feature

Discovery May Target Cord Cutters With Streaming Service

Discovery Inc. revealed yesterday that it is considering a streaming service that would directly offer content from its collection of television channels to U.S. viewers. The company envisions “an opportunity to take content on a broader basis to mount an attack on those who are not existing cable subscribers,” explained CEO David Zaslav during Thursday’s earnings call with Wall Street analysts. Discovery is considering “aggregating all of our content in the U.S. and having something that looks very different.” Such a move would mark a major shift for Discovery, which has been comparatively cautious in providing content to consumers without cable subs. Continue reading Discovery May Target Cord Cutters With Streaming Service

Food Network App to Offer Live Interactive Cooking Classes

In partnership with Amazon, Discovery Inc. is introducing a video-streaming app in late October called Food Network Kitchen. The new app will feature on-demand programming, recipe videos, interactive classes and Alexa support. For $6.99 per month (or $59.99 annually), subscribers will be provided the opportunity to attend up to 25 live, interactive cooking classes each week led by celebrity chefs such as Alton Brown, Bobby Flay, Guy Fieri, Ina Garten and Martha Stewart. “It’s our mission to delight, inspire and, of course, teach our millions of viewers everything we know about food and cooking,” explains Food Network. Continue reading Food Network App to Offer Live Interactive Cooking Classes

Pinterest Becomes a Visual Discovery Engine for Shopping

Pinterest is now promoting itself as a “visual discovery engine,” where its 300 million global monthly active users can not only browse billions of images but also purchase the items they find there. For most of its users, Pinterest is a go-to place for home décor, gardening and personal style, allowing users to “pin” or post photos to create inspiration boards. According to Pinterest, its AI technology can accurately pinpoint 2.5+ billion objects in photos, millions of which can be purchased by clicking on the item. Continue reading Pinterest Becomes a Visual Discovery Engine for Shopping

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

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