AWE 2016 Addresses Rapidly Evolving VR and AR Ecosystem

This year’s Augmented World Expo (AWE) in Santa Clara was equal parts augmented and virtual reality. Curtis Hickman of The VOID presented some compelling instances in which physical and psychological misdirection are effective tools for the VR experience. Meta CEO Meron Gribetz demonstrated the sub-millimeter hand tracking accuracy of his company’s AR HMD. Jared Finder provided an update on the core tech components of Google’s Project Tango. Baobab Studios CEO Maureen Fan discussed the importance of image composition and story beats in VR. Highlights from the show floor included the latest ODG AR glasses and waveguide AR displays from Epson and Lumus. Continue reading AWE 2016 Addresses Rapidly Evolving VR and AR Ecosystem

Growth Slow for Skinny Bundles, Attracting Younger Demos

In-home video entertainment is expected to be a $381 billion global business by 2019, of which about $100 billion represents the North American market. That’s why TV conglomerates aren’t eager to offer skinny bundles, and Apple, for the meantime, has given up on it. In the U.S., video entertainment tends to be spread among five different apps on at least two different hardware platforms, costing between $120 and $14o a month, including a TV package of 200+ channels from providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Dish. Continue reading Growth Slow for Skinny Bundles, Attracting Younger Demos

Google’s Daniel Alegre on Perils and Promise of the New TV

At NAB 2016, Google president of global partnerships Daniel Alegre gave the closing keynote on how television is transforming. “If you search for the term ‘TV is dead’, you’ll find 338 million results,” said Alegre. The TV set and viewing of our childhood, he explained, is gone, as the TV evolves to incorporate a computer and the hours of video viewership continue to climb. “A newer better TV is rising from the ashes, better than ever,” said Alegre, who noted mobile video is predicted to be responsible for 80 percent of all Internet traffic by 2018. Continue reading Google’s Daniel Alegre on Perils and Promise of the New TV

Facebook Live Partners with Broadcast, Aims to Share Profits

Since Facebook rolled out Live to everyone in December, it’s quickly built momentum, distinguishing itself from YouTube and other video platforms, and building a massive audience. Although Facebook had to overcome a range of technical challenges to enable hundreds of thousands of phones to stream at the same time, it used its expertise and engineering capacity to do so. Now, Facebook is encouraging celebrities and broadcasters to create Live content, and is also working on a business model to share eventual revenues. Continue reading Facebook Live Partners with Broadcast, Aims to Share Profits

Hulu Unveils its First VR App, Content for Samsung Gear VR

Hulu debuted an app for Samsung’s Gear VR now available in the Gear VR Oculus Store, the first of several VR apps for different platforms that the company plans to unveil. The app allows users to watch Hulu’s 2D TV/film content library in a 360-degree immersive environment, choosing from several settings (a living room, a big screen movie theater, a beach). Among original content is Hulu’s first VR film, “The Big One,” produced in partnership with Lionsgate and featuring Freddie Wong and his RocketJump brand. Continue reading Hulu Unveils its First VR App, Content for Samsung Gear VR

Sony PlayStation Vue Debuts OTT Tiers, Skinny to Full Bundles

Sony’s PlayStation Vue, which recently added ESPN, is offering OTT service throughout the U.S., although most markets still won’t get live local TV programs. The national OTT offering competes head-on with Dish Networks’s Sling TV, priced at $20+ per month, and AT&T’s DirecTV pay-TV packages, slated to launch in Q4 2016. PlayStation Vue’s Slim packages, which start at $30 per month and are on offer in 203 U.S. markets, provide on-demand access to ABC, NBC and Fox primetime content, with CBS on board later in some markets. Continue reading Sony PlayStation Vue Debuts OTT Tiers, Skinny to Full Bundles

Netflix’s $5 Billion Budget Pushes Networks to Also Spend Big

FX Network chief executive John Landgraf says there’s too much TV, citing the 400+ scripted shows he estimates were made last year. But rather than slowing down on the new programs, media companies including Discovery, Viacom, Starz as well as Amazon and Hulu are all spending more. They’re competing for viewers in an increasingly fragmented market — and against Netflix, which has committed $5 billion this year for film/TV projects, and an estimated $11 billion over the next five years. Continue reading Netflix’s $5 Billion Budget Pushes Networks to Also Spend Big

SoundCloud Debuts New ‘Stations’ Feature for its Mobile Apps

Music streaming service SoundCloud intends to make music discovery easier through its new “Stations” feature for iOS and Android apps. Stations can create an endless playlist of music based on a search term or track. The new feature populates these stations with songs related to a user’s “Likes” on the streaming music platform. Users have long sought such a feature to make discovery easier. SoundCloud’s latest update makes it more comparable to paid streaming services like Pandora, Apple Music and Spotify. Continue reading SoundCloud Debuts New ‘Stations’ Feature for its Mobile Apps

Facebook Makes Decision to Shutter Services Platform Parse

Facebook announced yesterday that it plans to shutter Parse, its toolkit and support platform for mobile developers the company hoped would serve the Internet of Things and lead to a cloud business that could compete with Amazon, Google and Microsoft. Parse provides developers with support and tools that enable programmers to write code rather than spend valuable time maintaining the back end. Users of the platform include developers at productivity app Quip and Expedia’s travel website Orbitz. The social giant paid a reported $85 million to acquire Parse in 2013. Continue reading Facebook Makes Decision to Shutter Services Platform Parse

NAGRA Unveils intuiTV All-In-One Immersive TV Experience

NAGRA presented its new all-in-one TV experience called intuiTV at CES this week. The new television interface provides an intuitive, immersive and elegantly simple viewing experience in 4K Ultra HD and HD centered around making television more enjoyable for the consumer. NAGRA offers intuiTV to pay-TV operators as a managed cloud-based platform they can configure with a full line-up of premium content and advanced TV services including live TV, VOD, SVOD, PVR, social TV and more via an innovative streaming device and touchscreen remote control. Continue reading NAGRA Unveils intuiTV All-In-One Immersive TV Experience

Sling TV: Redesigned Interface Highlights On-Demand Content

Sling TV, the Internet TV service from Dish Network, unveiled a new user interface at CES this week. The service is shifting emphasis from live television to on-demand content, with a new menu section that allows people to save a list of their favorite TV shows and movies and search by content, rather than by channel. Sling also tweaked the interface so that customers can discover the add-on packages of channels and purchase them directly from their TV or smartphone. Continue reading Sling TV: Redesigned Interface Highlights On-Demand Content

Pandora Media to Acquire Rdio Assets Following Bankruptcy

Pandora has largely been focused on Internet radio since its inception, but has also been increasingly competing with on-demand music services such as Spotify and Apple Music. The company announced yesterday that it plans to spend $75 million for the assets of struggling online service Rdio, which is filing for bankruptcy. The move could help Pandora significantly expand the way it delivers music. While the company presently touts 78 million customers, most of them listen for free, and the current Pandora model involves a feed of songs based on a user’s tastes, but with limited control. Rdio’s tech could offer Pandora users more control over their selections. Continue reading Pandora Media to Acquire Rdio Assets Following Bankruptcy

Beats Music to Close Now That Apple Music is Live on Android

Apple acquired Beats Electronics for $3 billion in May 2014. While it was expected that the Beats Music streaming service would be folded into iTunes Radio to take on Spotify and similar offerings, Apple Music was launched more than a year later. Now, Apple has announced that it plans to officially shutter Beats Music on November 30. A statement on the Beats Music site encourages subscribers to check out Apple’s new service: “Your subscription will be cancelled, but you can move your picks and preferences over to Apple Music right now.” Continue reading Beats Music to Close Now That Apple Music is Live on Android

YouTube Music Aims Spotlight on Personalization, Discovery

After a year in beta testing, YouTube Music is finally available for Android and iOS. The app — meant to compete with streaming music offerings such as Apple Music, Pandora, Rdio, Spotify and Tidal — emphasizes music videos and amateur recordings. YouTube’s catalog of 50 million songs does not mean a video for every song, since the collection mixes video, audio-only, fan covers, emerging indie artists and much more. Discovery continues to be the underlying focus, and each song is connected to an auto-generated station of related songs. YouTube Music also blends human and algorithmic curation, similar to Apple Music’s approach. Continue reading YouTube Music Aims Spotlight on Personalization, Discovery

Networks Turn to Neuroscience, Biometrics to Study TV Viewing

Up until now, the methodology to find out what TV viewers like — based largely on written surveys and machines with dials to indicate their degree of enjoyment — has been fairly primitive and, most likely, not very reliable. Comcast’s NBCUniversal and Viacom are now both trying to dig deeper using biometrics, including eye movements, facial reactions, skin sensors, heart monitors, and EEGs to monitor brain waves. Viewing measurement company Nielsen even bought a neuroscience firm, Innerscope Resesarch, to add these skillsets to its lab. Continue reading Networks Turn to Neuroscience, Biometrics to Study TV Viewing

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