AT&T to Launch Ad-Supported HBO Max and Mobile Service

AT&T plans to introduce a lower-cost, ad-supported version of HBO Max in the spring, said chief executive John Stankey, who added that it would be a “light ad load.” Some shows, however, would only be available to subscribers who pay for the full-price version. With the move, HBO Max is joining Hulu and NBC’s Peacock that also offer a free or lower-price version that comes with commercials. Stankey also revealed the company is considering ad-supported wireless phone plans as soon as a year from now. Continue reading AT&T to Launch Ad-Supported HBO Max and Mobile Service

Release of ‘Tenet’ Could Be a Bellwether for Movie Exhibitors

Major Hollywood movies are finally being released in movie theaters, with “The New Mutants,” which had a $70+ million budget, and director Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” a $200 million thriller. But it’s still unclear how many people in the U.S. feel safe enough to go inside. Abroad, “Tenet” raked in $53 million on its opening day weekend from 41 global markets, a source of optimism for Warner Bros. (the film opens in the U.S. and China this week). Pirates have been foiled, meanwhile, fooled into downloading fake torrents of the blockbuster. Continue reading Release of ‘Tenet’ Could Be a Bellwether for Movie Exhibitors

New TikTok Chief Executive Departs Over U.S.-China Battle

TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer quit the company only months after assuming the role. The company’s general manager Vanessa Pappas will become the interim chief. Sources stated that Mayer, formerly of Disney, decided to leave TikTok after President Trump issued a ban on the popular social platform unless its Chinese parent company ByteDance sold its assets to a U.S. company within 90 days. Mayer’s resignation letter stated that he had reflected on “what the corporate structural changes will require, and what it means for the global role I signed up for.” Continue reading New TikTok Chief Executive Departs Over U.S.-China Battle

‘Unhinged’ Earns $4 Million Box Office on Opening Weekend

On Friday, Solstice Studios’ “Unhinged,” a $33 million psychological thriller starring Russell Crowe, enjoyed a wide release in 1,823 locations across the country. Because most theaters are operating at 50 percent capacity due to the coronavirus pandemic, opening weekend box office was modest — $4 million — but considered a success given the unique circumstances. Solstice Studios chief executive Mark Gill predicted that “Unhinged” will earn “at least $30 million” in North America. The movie has already generated $8 million internationally. Continue reading ‘Unhinged’ Earns $4 Million Box Office on Opening Weekend

Big Five Tech Companies Dominate the Rise in Stock Market

The S&P 500 achieved record heights via the 37 percent rise in shares of the Big Five tech companies in the first seven months of 2020. Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft and Facebook, the five largest publicly traded companies in the U.S., now account for 20 percent of the entire stock market’s total value. Meanwhile, according to Credit Suisse, all other stocks, fell a combined 6 percent. Apple’s valuation hit $2 trillion, the first U.S. company to do so, and only 21 weeks after its $1 trillion valuation. Continue reading Big Five Tech Companies Dominate the Rise in Stock Market

China & U.S. Both Stand to Lose in Current Technology Battle

The current U.S.-China tensions over technology may result in both countries being impeded from achieving their targets: China’s aim to build a modern technocratic state and the U.S.’s efforts to continue to build lucrative businesses with China’s huge market. U.S. Internet companies are already barred by China’s Great Firewall, and now the U.S. is targeting Huawei Technologies, ByteDance’s TikTok and Tencent Holdings’ WeChat. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo proposed a “Clean Network” free of Chinese apps and other technology. Continue reading China & U.S. Both Stand to Lose in Current Technology Battle

Judge Rules in Favor of Ending Paramount Consent Decrees

U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres approved the Justice Department’s proposal to terminate the 71-year-old Paramount Consent Decrees, intended to prevent Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Paramount and other major studios from owning both the means of production and distribution. Studios such as The Walt Disney Company and Lionsgate that became distributors after the law went into effect were not subject to its rules. Last fall, the Justice Department suggested the Decrees were anachronistic in today’s entertainment ecosystem. Continue reading Judge Rules in Favor of Ending Paramount Consent Decrees

Disney’s Streaming Services Hit 100 Million Subscriber Mark

Disney’s new streaming businesses — Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ — have now accrued more than 100 million subscribers worldwide. With the release of blockbuster “Hamilton” on Disney+, that service hit 60.5 million subscribers after only nine months. That was a (low-end) number that Disney originally hoped to achieve at the end of five years. Disney has also announced that it would release its $200 million feature “Mulan” on Disney+, on a premium basis rather than movie theaters, in the U.S., Canada and parts of Europe. Continue reading Disney’s Streaming Services Hit 100 Million Subscriber Mark

TikTok Counters Critics, Regulators With More Transparency

TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer published an open letter aimed at regulators intent on curbing its reach. After listing some of the app’s accomplishments in its thus-far short term in social media, he focused on charges critics are levying. He admitted that, “with our success comes responsibility and accountability,” but insisted that the company is made up of “responsible and committed members of the American community that follows U.S. laws.” The company has launched an effort to win over critics with increased transparency. Continue reading TikTok Counters Critics, Regulators With More Transparency

Parrot Analytics Develops a New Model for Streaming Metrics

Measuring the success of streaming video content has been challenging, but startup Parrot Analytics said it has created a solid metric — which it dubs Demand Expressions (DEx) — that not only counts viewers but also their levels of enthusiasm. From that data, the company said it can also extract information to accurately determine how many subscribers the show will attract. Chief executive Wared Seger noted the challenge of creating a “new standard” that will measure across “different shows, on different platforms, at different times.” Continue reading Parrot Analytics Develops a New Model for Streaming Metrics

Streaming Services Raise Fees, Edging Toward Cable Prices

The monthly cost of numerous streaming services is moving closer to those of cable and satellite services. Google is raising the price of its basic YouTube TV package from $50 per month to $65, a 30 percent jump, and sports-centric fuboTV is raising its standard monthly price from $55 per month to $60. Google said the higher price is due to higher programming costs, and fuboTV’s rate is going up when Disney-owned channels, including ESPN, join the lineup in August. Skinny bundles from AT&T TV Now, Dish Network’s Sling TV and Hulu + Live TV have also gone up in price since the beginning of 2019. Continue reading Streaming Services Raise Fees, Edging Toward Cable Prices

Snap Introduces Its First Shoppable Original Show: ‘The Drop’

At Snap’s first Digital Content NewFronts presentation, VP of sales for the Americas Peter Naylor announced “The Drop,” the platform’s first “shoppable” original show, highlighting “exclusive streetwear collabs” from celebrities and designers. It also debuted the Verizon-sponsored “Fake Up,” in which make-up artists compete to create optical illusions and greenlit the second season of original series “Driven,” about custom cars. Naylor, a former Hulu executive, said his two Gen Z daughters are “big Snapchat users.” Continue reading Snap Introduces Its First Shoppable Original Show: ‘The Drop’

Snap Expands AR Toolset, Announces Deals for New Content

Snap inked multi-year deals for custom short-form content with Disney, NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS, the National Basketball Association and the National Football League. It released plans for original content including unscripted series, docuseries, and scripted dramas and comedies. In partnership with The Washington Post, Bloomberg and ESPN, Snap will produce “Happening Now,” a breaking news feature. It also revealed that 170+ million people use its augmented-reality tools daily, moving the technology into the mainstream. Continue reading Snap Expands AR Toolset, Announces Deals for New Content

TikTok Becomes a Revenue Giant as App Spawns Subgenres

According to reports, young people are now equally splitting their time between popular video-sharing platforms YouTube and TikTok. Since starting to watch TikTok, consumers ages 4-15 have increased their social app use by 100 percent in 2019 and 200 percent this year. Parent company ByteDance is making so much money on TikTok’s advertising and in-app purchases that it may be valued between $150 billion and $180 billion in an IPO. ByteDance just hired former Disney exec Kevin Mayer as TikTok’s new CEO, giving the company an American face. Continue reading TikTok Becomes a Revenue Giant as App Spawns Subgenres

Disney Reveals Dates for Reopening California, Florida Parks

In California, pending state and local government approvals, the Downtown Disney District will reopen on July 9, with Disneyland and Disney California Adventure following on July 17. Its Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and the Paradise Pier Hotel plan to reopen on July 23. In Florida, Walt Disney World got the green light for a July 11 reopening. Disney reaps one-third of its revenue from its parks and resorts. The company’s Shanghai theme park, which was the first to close, reopened last month. Universal Orlando reopened June 11, but the company hasn’t set a date to reopen Universal Studios Hollywood. Continue reading Disney Reveals Dates for Reopening California, Florida Parks

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