Facebook Takes Aim at YouTube with Mobile Video Features

Facebook is testing new mobile video features for its Android app, including subscription-based video channels and a dedicated video tab that incorporates video search, which would provide brands with the opportunity to target ads based on keywords. Enhancing the mobile viewing experience is the next step toward making the social platform more video-centric and ramping up competition with YouTube. However, Facebook needs to convince its users to watch video mixed with other content and, especially for advertisers, show successful video completion rates. Continue reading Facebook Takes Aim at YouTube with Mobile Video Features

Tumblr Users Can Stream Live Video to Followers’ Dashboards

Blogging platform Tumblr now enables users to live stream video directly to their followers’ dashboards. Live videos “can be reblogged like any other post,” while push notifications can be distributed when someone goes live or reblogs a live stream. Unlike Facebook Live, Tumblr is positioning itself as the publishing and discovery platform for existing services, including YouTube, YouNow, Kanvas and Upclose. All partner apps are ready to support live streaming to Tumblr on iOS and Android, with the exception of YouTube, which is Android-ready now and will add iOS support shortly. Continue reading Tumblr Users Can Stream Live Video to Followers’ Dashboards

Flix Premiere: New Online Movie Platform Streams Indie Films

Flix Premiere — “the world’s first online Cineplex” featuring international and indie films — has launched in the U.S., two months after its debut in the U.K. Available online and via iOS and Android apps, the streaming service offers exclusive “curated theatrical releases” for $4.99 per title (or five tickets for $19.99). The website describes the service as “the single point of discovery for the 95 percent of films that ‘never’ find their audience.” Flix Premiere plans to introduce 8-9 new films every 10-14 days that will be exclusive to the platform for 12 months. Continue reading Flix Premiere: New Online Movie Platform Streams Indie Films

Apple Changes its App Store to Address Developer Complaints

Apple is now addressing developer complaints with changes to its App Store. Among those changes, Apple will allow more app subscriptions and start running ads with App Store search results. Creators of smaller, independent apps say discovery is difficult in the massive App Store. Other apps, such as those for workplace productivity, are difficult to make profitable without subscriptions. Up until now, Apple has only allowed subscriptions for a few categories, including music streaming, news publications and dating services. Continue reading Apple Changes its App Store to Address Developer Complaints

Amazon Alexa Skills Grow Ten-Fold via Third Party Developers

Amazon’s Echo, Dot and Tap smart speakers have started to attract the attention of developers interested in adding so-called skills to Alexa, the speakers’ voice-computing platform. Amazon reports that Alexa now has 1,000 skills, an explosion since Alexa’s skills numbered 130 apps in January. Echo debuted last June, when Amazon offered it by invite; now Amazon has brought Alexa to its Fire TV platform and third party hardware manufacturers have also brought Alexa to other connected devices. Continue reading Amazon Alexa Skills Grow Ten-Fold via Third Party Developers

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

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