Amazon Readies Launch of Fire TV Sets with Alexa Assistant

E-commerce giant Amazon is readying the October launch of its own Fire TV sets featuring its Alexa voice assistant. The Amazon Fire TV Omni Series 4K, which starts at $409.99, and the Amazon Fire TV 4-Series 4K, which starts at $369.99, will be available on Amazon’s website and at Best Buy stores. Toshiba and Insignia, Best Buy’s house brand, have sold TVs powered by Amazon’s Fire TV operating system, the latter since 2018. Amazon adds TVs to its other branded products including clothing, groceries and even batteries. Continue reading Amazon Readies Launch of Fire TV Sets with Alexa Assistant

Universal Signs New Streaming Deals with Peacock, Amazon

Starting next year, Comcast’s streaming service Peacock will begin to show movies from sister company Universal Pictures, sidestepping a long-time deal with HBO for initial TV rights. The 2022 movies — which will reach Peacock no more than four months after theatrical release — include the next “Jurassic World” and the new “Halloween” movies. In addition, Amazon has signed a multiyear deal with Universal to bring the studio’s movies to Prime Video and IMDb TV following their four-month runs on Peacock. Under the new deal, Universal movies will be available on Amazon for 10 months and then return to Peacock for another four months. Continue reading Universal Signs New Streaming Deals with Peacock, Amazon

Roku Expands Advertising, Charts Strategy for New Originals

When Netflix founder Reed Hastings spun out Roku, the streaming video box in development, in 2008 and then sold his Roku shares to Menlo Ventures, he had no idea that this stake today would be worth almost $7 billion. Roku grew exponentially during COVID-19, with its shares rising 480+ percent from March 17, 2020; its market capitalization is now $45+ billion. The company, which went public in 2017, has become the dominant “intermediary” for streaming video distribution, with distribution to 50+ million households. Roku is now focusing on original content while continuing to expand its advertising.

Continue reading Roku Expands Advertising, Charts Strategy for New Originals

Amazon OTT Businesses Reach 120+ Million Monthly Viewers

Amazon’s over-the-top businesses (including IMDb TV, Twitch, live sports and Amazon’s News app among others) have grown to 120+ million monthly viewers. The free, ad-supported IMDb TV, which is getting a mobile app, has seen its viewership rise 138 percent year-over-year, making it a rival to similar ad-supported streamers including Fox’s Tubi, ViacomCBS’s Pluto TV and Roku’s The Roku Channel. Amazon’s exclusive rights to NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” will begin a year earlier than originally planned, with the 2022-2023 season. Continue reading Amazon OTT Businesses Reach 120+ Million Monthly Viewers

Startup Debuts a DVR-Like App for Media Content: ‘Channels’

Startup Fancy Bits, founded by two former GitHub employees, has launched Channels, a kind of DVR for the streaming age. The $8 per month service pulls video from feeds as disparate as cable channels, live streaming apps, on-demand services and over-the-air broadcasts and places them into a single app. “What we’re building towards is something that was sort of built 20 years ago,” said co-founder Jon Maddox. “Really, we’re just trying to make this single place for people to go watch their TV that everybody is looking for.” Continue reading Startup Debuts a DVR-Like App for Media Content: ‘Channels’

Amazon Will Debut New UI for Fire TV Stick 4K, Fire TV Cube

Next month, Amazon is slated to launch a new Fire TV interface for its Fire TV Stick 4K and Fire TV Cube streaming devices. In 2016, Amazon pioneered the “content-first user experience,” which listed rows of movies and TV shows from various streaming apps on the home TV. This idea was picked up by many others in the industry, including Google, Vizio and LG. But, as the number of streaming services has expanded, this model has become unwieldy and chaotic — and Amazon is about to rein it in via a simplified navigation bar. Continue reading Amazon Will Debut New UI for Fire TV Stick 4K, Fire TV Cube

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

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