Snap Debuts Sponsored AR Lenses, User Growth Is Slowing

The growth of Snapchat’s audience, now at about 166 million daily users, appears to be slowing, and analysts and stockholders have taken note. On its May 10 quarterly report, the first since its March IPO, chief executive Evan Spiegel offered up the idea that his company’s AR Lenses present users with a creative tool they can’t find elsewhere, even though the Lenses have now been copied by Facebook. A new report shows that Snap’s trouble drawing in new users got serious at the start of Q2, even as rival Instagram pulls ahead. Continue reading Snap Debuts Sponsored AR Lenses, User Growth Is Slowing

Android Users Can Download Netflix Content onto SD Storage

Netflix is accommodating Android users who are interested in offline downloads but face storage limitations with their mobile devices. The streaming video service now allows users to store TV shows and movies on microSD cards. “The latest version of the Netflix app gives you a choice of saving things to internal storage or, if your phone supports SD, picking the external option instead,” reports The Verge. Previously, customers could only save to internal memory, which frustrated those “with 32GB of built-in space and a ton of expandable storage.” The offline Netflix content has time limits, however, and eventually expires. Continue reading Android Users Can Download Netflix Content onto SD Storage

Streaming Music Surpasses Digital Downloads for First Time

According to Nielsen, streaming officially became the primary means of consuming music in the U.S. during 2016. “Overall on-demand audio streams surpassed 251 billion in 2016 — a 76 percent increase that accounts for 38 percent of the entire music consumption market,” reports Pitchfork. For the first time, on-demand audio streaming has surpassed sales of digital albums + digital track equivalents. An average day saw 1.2 billion streams, compared to a total of 734 million downloads for the entire year. Rock is the most popular genre, representing 29 percent of consumption (but only 20 percent of streaming), while hip-hop and R&B make up 22 percent of total consumption (but an industry-leading 28 percent of streaming).

Continue reading Streaming Music Surpasses Digital Downloads for First Time

Netflix Makes Updates to Improve Visual Quality of Downloads

Last week, Netflix opened the doors to downloaded content for offline viewing on mobile devices. Now, the company is describing some judicious technology adjustments it made to ensure viewers enjoy an improved video image, and that the resulting content doesn’t eat up the mobile device’s storage. The company did that by switching video codecs, although the result favors Android users, as well as improving its already-established method of varying data rates based on the needs of each scene in a movie or TV show. Continue reading Netflix Makes Updates to Improve Visual Quality of Downloads

Music Industry Contends with Major Uptick in Counterfeit CDs

Despite shifts in music consumption involving streaming services, Internet radio, digital downloads and more, many consumers are still purchasing CDs. However, the revenue does not always reach the artists and labels responsible for the music, since piracy is running rampant in the form of counterfeit CDs offered through online retailers such as Amazon. Counterfeits are becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish from the official versions. While CD sales represented a mere 13 percent of revenue for U.S. labels the first half of this year, they accounted for almost 40 percent of global revenue for the recording industry last year. Continue reading Music Industry Contends with Major Uptick in Counterfeit CDs

Top Record Labels File Lawsuit Against YouTube Ripping Site

Sony, Universal, Warner Bros. and other record labels are taking legal action against the German operator of website YouTube-mp3.org, claiming that the industry is being robbed of revenue from streaming, downloads and advertising. BBC notes that the site provides an easy-to-use method of downloading audio from YouTube videos. The labels filed the suit in a federal court in Los Angeles, seeking damages including $150,000 per each alleged act of piracy. According to the labels, “tens, or even hundreds, of millions of tracks are illegally copied and distributed by stream-ripping services each month.” YouTube-mp3.org is described as the “chief offender,” with more than 60 million monthly users. Continue reading Top Record Labels File Lawsuit Against YouTube Ripping Site

Redbox Owner Agrees to Be Taken Private by Apollo Global

Apollo Global Management will acquire Bellevue, Washington-based Outerwall Inc., owner of Redbox movie rental kiosks and Coinstar coin counting machines, “for $52 a share, a transaction value of $1.6 billion when including debt,” reports The New York Times. “Investors applauded the move, sending the stock 11 percent higher in early trading Monday to a level just above the $52 buyout price.” Outerwall operates more than 40,000 rental kiosks in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, but has struggled to compete with cable VOD and streaming services. Redbox recently started testing its own streaming and download service. Continue reading Redbox Owner Agrees to Be Taken Private by Apollo Global

Survey Shows Netflix Subscribers Want Ability to View Offline

Netflix indicated recently that it is considering offering its subscribers the ability to download content and watch it offline. But, in an era in which Wi-Fi and 4G are everywhere, the question is: Is it necessary? How many subscribers think they would actually download content? And, if so, when do subscribers think they would watch downloaded videos? Since its 2007 introduction, Netflix has streamed videos (and mailed physical DVDs), an unchanged paradigm that has served it and its subscribers well. Continue reading Survey Shows Netflix Subscribers Want Ability to View Offline

Facebook to Test Downloading Social Video for Offline Viewing

As a means of addressing concerns related to social video and costly data consumption, Facebook will start testing a new video download option next week with users in India. “While on Wi-Fi, people can sync videos to their device for offline viewing within Facebook’s app,” explains TechCrunch. “Facebook is touting this as a win for video publishers, who might be grumpy about Facebook’s recent feed ranking algorithm change that prioritizes friends over pro content creators.” To avoid piracy, videos will be locked in the platform’s app, and not viewable from a device’s local memory. Also, publishers can opt out of the feature via the Content Distribution setting. Continue reading Facebook to Test Downloading Social Video for Offline Viewing

Netflix Plans Debut of Video Download Feature By End of Year

Earlier this year, Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings said the idea of offering video downloads was a possibility — but he wasn’t more specific. Now, industry insider Dan Taitz, whose company Penthera Partners offers video downloading technology, reports that, by the end of the year, Netflix will allow subscribers to download some programs for offline viewing, a feature already in place at Amazon, Comcast and elsewhere. Frost & Sullivan principal analyst Dan Rayburn confirms Taitz’s prediction. Continue reading Netflix Plans Debut of Video Download Feature By End of Year

Apple May or May Not Put an End to iTunes Music Downloads

Depending on who you believe, Apple is either ready to “completely terminate” iTunes music downloads in as little as two years — or has no plans at all to shut down this still-valuable source of revenue. Even as streaming gains dominance, music downloading still plays a lucrative role, say some. Sources deep inside Apple revealed discussions about the potential timetable for ending music download offerings, with a possibility of staggered shutdowns beginning in the U.S., U.K. and some European and Asian countries. Continue reading Apple May or May Not Put an End to iTunes Music Downloads

New Apple Music Interface Will Likely Be Unveiled at WWDC

In response to disappointing reviews and the departure of several top executives — in addition to declining iTunes sales and growth of rival Spotify — Apple is reportedly planning significant changes to its $10-per-month music streaming service. According to people familiar with the plans, the year-old Apple Music will soon feature a redesigned user interface. “Apple also plans to better integrate its streaming and download businesses and expand its online radio service,” reports Bloomberg. The company is expected to unveil the redesigned Apple Music and make related announcements at June’s Worldwide Developers Conference. Continue reading New Apple Music Interface Will Likely Be Unveiled at WWDC

Netflix Considers Offering Downloads, Unveils its HDR Plans

Downloading content appears to be on the table at Netflix. For some time, the company executives have insisted that downloads would not be “a compelling proposition,” because they add complexity to the system and, due to more widespread speed connectivity, are unnecessary. Now, chief executive Reed Hastings says the company should “keep an open mind” on the topic. This takes place at the same time that Netflix plans to introduce more than 150 hours of HDR content to the roster by end of year. Continue reading Netflix Considers Offering Downloads, Unveils its HDR Plans

Advertisers Pay for Users’ Mobile Data in Verizon’s Beta Test

Verizon Wireless does not offer an unlimited data plan, but it’s got another idea on how users can watch mobile content to their heart’s content without racking up data charges: get media firms and advertisers to pay to deliver video and other content. The telco has launched a 1,000-user beta test of its sponsored-data program, FreeBee Data, that lets content providers opt to pay per-click or per-gigabyte fees. Just how many media companies will agree to pay data fees isn’t clear, and Verizon did not announce pricing. Continue reading Advertisers Pay for Users’ Mobile Data in Verizon’s Beta Test

Adele’s Latest Album Breaks Sales Records Without Streaming

With her latest album, “25,” Adele has erased any doubt about her preeminent position in the music world. The new album, which showcases her signature torch songs and ballads, had a record-breaking first week of sales — $3.38 million in the U.S. — despite the fact that Adele withholds her music from streaming sites and largely eschews a social media presence (although she did appear on “Saturday Night Live” and promotions for Target). Adele’s previous album, “21,” sold 30 million copies worldwide. Continue reading Adele’s Latest Album Breaks Sales Records Without Streaming

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