Viewers Turn to Xumo and Other Ad-Supported VOD Services

Despite the focus on successful subscription streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+, free ad-supported TV services have actually been growing at a faster clip. AVOD (ad-supported video on demand) or FAST (free ad-supported TV) is flourishing largely via large media companies. Fox’s Tubi, ViacomCBS’ Pluto TV and Xumo, now owned by Comcast, are all performing well. Xumo has skyrocketed 2.5 times, reaching 24 million U.S. monthly active users. Comcast acquired Xumo in February 2020 from Panasonic and Meredith Corp. Continue reading Viewers Turn to Xumo and Other Ad-Supported VOD Services

Amazon Unveils Devices for Gaming, Autos and Smart Home

Amazon announced new smart home devices during its fall hardware event last week, including an expanded Fire Stick collection, redesigned Echo speaker lineup, and Ring in-home drone. Amazon is also launching its Luna cloud gaming service, and introducing Car Cam and Car Alarm to Ring’s lineup. Alexa’s capabilities have expanded, from being able to read books to children to a new security feature, Guard Plus, that can detect sounds around a user’s house and trigger dog-barking to scare off intruders. In times of COVID-19, said Amazon head of devices and services Dave Limp, “our homes have become our offices, our classrooms, movie theaters and more.” Continue reading Amazon Unveils Devices for Gaming, Autos and Smart Home

$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

Amazon Licenses Original Interactive Audio Series for Alexa

Amazon has inked an exclusive license for “Tala’s World,” a seven-episode young adult adventure series produced by audio startup Xandra, which has produced Alexa skills for HBO, Sesame Workshop and Ubisoft. In the new adventure series, listeners help elf-like character Blobby find his missing best friend Tala by making decisions, collecting clues, and interrogating suspects. Available exclusively on Alexa, Amazon recently released the first episode and plans to release the second episode on December 13. Continue reading Amazon Licenses Original Interactive Audio Series for Alexa

TiVo Introduces Its Free, Ad-Supported Streaming Service 

On Tuesday, TiVo officially entered the streaming content service arena with the release of its ad-supported streaming service, TiVo Plus. The new service appears to be the company’s answer to The Roku Channel. TiVo Plus is available for free but only to those who own TiVo devices, and it’s enabled by a partnership with XUMO, Jukin Media, and other publishers, allowing TiVo to offer a wide range of content. TiVo indicates that, in total, there will be thousands of movies and TV shows available to consumers. 

Continue reading TiVo Introduces Its Free, Ad-Supported Streaming Service 

Amazon Ad-Free Kindle Kids Edition Aims to Boost Reading

Amazon’s upcoming $109.99 Kindle Kids Edition features a six-inch e-ink display, adjustable front light and long battery life. The device, whose hardware is identical to the entry-level Kindle that costs $20 less, offers cases and wallpapers that appeal to young people. A two-year guarantee will replace a broken unit. Amazon also provides a one-year subscription to its FreeTime Unlimited, which gives access to curated e-books within a walled garden. When the year is up, subscriptions range from $2.99 to $9.99 per month. Continue reading Amazon Ad-Free Kindle Kids Edition Aims to Boost Reading

Amazon Unveils New IoT Devices for On-the-Go Consumers

Amazon is strategically moving its Alexa digital voice assistant into a wide range of products, for use in many settings. Among the newly introduced smart products powered by Alexa are earbuds, a ring, eyeglass frames and even a lamp. The idea, said Amazon hardware head Dave Limp, is to allow Alexa to follow the consumer throughout her day, via such smart lifestyle devices. To enable this, Amazon also debuted its own low bandwidth 900MHz network, Amazon Sidewalk, to connect Internet of Things devices. Continue reading Amazon Unveils New IoT Devices for On-the-Go Consumers

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

Researchers Find Fire TV, Roku Channels Are Tracking Data

Princeton University and University of Chicago researchers studied over 2,000 channels on streaming devices Amazon Fire TV and Roku — and found that 89 percent of the Fire TV channels and 69 percent of Roku channels included trackers. Those trackers collect data on viewing habits and preferences, device serial numbers and IDs, Wi-Fi network names and MAC (media access control) addresses, which are network interface identifiers. Some channels had 64+ different tracks. Users have no tools to examine the traffic or block ads. Continue reading Researchers Find Fire TV, Roku Channels Are Tracking Data

Facebook Set to Launch Portal TV Streamer With Video Chat

For the holidays, Facebook plans to unveil a Portal TV streaming device that will feature a camera and far-field microphones and offer video chat with TV viewing and augmented reality. Rather than competing directly with Fire TV or Roku, the device focuses more on video chatting. It is also likely to run Android, as does most Facebook hardware including Oculus Go and Oculus Quest VR headsets. By being based on the Android operating system, the Portal device will synch seamlessly with Android-based TV apps. Continue reading Facebook Set to Launch Portal TV Streamer With Video Chat

New NFL-Facebook Contract Will Run Through 2020 Season

The NFL and Facebook renewed their video deal through the 2020 season. In the original deal, inked in 2017, the NFL provided recaps from all 256 regular season games plus other content for Facebook Watch. The NFL will continue to supply the season recaps, along with original content, content related to the NFL’s 100th anniversary and material from the NFL Films archive featured on “NFL Throwback.” Facebook says that, in 2017 and 2018, over 22 million people watched at least a minute of an NFL recap. Continue reading New NFL-Facebook Contract Will Run Through 2020 Season

Amazon Seeks Exclusive Licenses to Add IMDb TV Content

Amazon, which is increasing its investment in IMDb TV, an ad-supported streaming service for movies/TV, is now asking content creators for exclusive licenses, according to sources. An example of this is its contact with Vice Media to make a deal for Emmy-winning “Vice News Tonight,” recently canceled by HBO. The tech company also now offers an upfront license fee for “some type of exclusivity,” as opposed to its earlier model of only sharing ad revenue. Some content owners prefer an upfront fee, which is a guaranteed payment. Continue reading Amazon Seeks Exclusive Licenses to Add IMDb TV Content

Broadcasters File Federal Suit to Stop TV Streamer Locast

CBS, Disney’s ABC, Comcast’s NBCUniversal and Fox are suing non-profit streaming service Locast in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York. Locast, funded in part by AT&T, retransmits local television stations without permission, free to consumers. The Supreme Court shut down Aereo, which streamed content without permission in 2014. Locast says its status is legal under the Copyright Act of 1976, because, unlike Aereo, it is a non-profit operating “booster” and “translator stations” that strengthen a TV station’s signal. Continue reading Broadcasters File Federal Suit to Stop TV Streamer Locast

Once Again, Prime Day Shatters Sales Records for Amazon

According to Amazon, this week’s Prime Day 2019 topped last year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. Despite competing discounts offered by eBay, Best Buy and Walmart, Prime members purchased more than 175 million products during the annual sales event. The tally is challenging to compare to previous Prime Day events since the e-commerce giant keeps expanding the duration of the sale (this year it was 48 hours, compared to 36 hours in 2018 and 30 hours in 2017). However, the event set a number of sales records, including new milestones for Amazon devices. Continue reading Once Again, Prime Day Shatters Sales Records for Amazon

IMDb Rebrands Its New AVOD Service and Triples Content

Amazon-owned IMDb — the popular online database featuring information related to movies, television and video games — is rebranding its recently launched Freedive video service as IMDb TV. Thanks to new deals with MGM, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Warner Bros., the ad-supported VOD service will add thousands of new titles in the upcoming months, essentially tripling the number of TV shows and movies available to U.S. viewers for free. The company also plans to expand its audience with a European launch later this year. Continue reading IMDb Rebrands Its New AVOD Service and Triples Content

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