Twitter, Yahoo Score Major Live Sports Deals with Ad Slots

Two digital platforms scored big live sports deals this week. Twitter beat out Verizon, Facebook and Amazon to win the rights to stream 10 of the National Football League’s Thursday night games. In exchange for $10 million for the global rights, Twitter will get 15 advertising slots to sell commercials for each game. Yahoo, which offered free Major League Baseball games last year, will stream 180 games this year for free online, one per day for the rest of the league’s season, except for local TV blackout restrictions. Continue reading Twitter, Yahoo Score Major Live Sports Deals with Ad Slots

NAB and ETC to Present Virtual Reality Summit in Las Vegas

NAB and the Entertainment Technology Center at USC are coproducing a Virtual Reality Summit at the annual NAB Show on Wednesday, April 20, from 1:00-5:00 pm at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The half-day summit will address key concepts and lessons learned regarding VR production. Hands-on practitioners will discuss the technical and business aspects of producing content in this emerging marketplace, which some consider to be a new media type and art form. You can register for the Virtual Reality Summit and learn more about the NAB conference at the event’s website. Continue reading NAB and ETC to Present Virtual Reality Summit in Las Vegas

Spike in Takedown Requests Questions Effectiveness of DMCA

In the first 12 weeks this year, Google received takedown requests for 213 million links, representing a 125 percent increase over the same period in 2015, to remove copyright infringing sites, as per the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The spike does not represent a dramatic increase in piracy but, rather, new automated tools for finding copyright violators as well as more copyright holders actively looking for infringers. The MPAA and Recording Industry Association of America say it’s proof that the DMCA isn’t working. Continue reading Spike in Takedown Requests Questions Effectiveness of DMCA

VR Faces its Moment of Truth as Headsets Become Available

Virtual reality is finally available for consumers. Oculus will ship the much-anticipated Rift VR headset next week, HTC will deliver its Vive VR headset one week later, and Sony is also readying the launch of its PlayStation VR headset. Although there are technical kinks to be worked out and business models to emerge, early signs that consumers want VR are positive. The Rift is back-ordered to July, the Vive to May, and, on Amazon, the PlayStation VR Launch Bundle pre-order sold out within minutes of going live. Continue reading VR Faces its Moment of Truth as Headsets Become Available

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

Screening Room Proposes Bold Day-and-Date Release Model

Last year, the motion picture box office surpassed $11 billion for the first time in history. But that hasn’t kept distributors and exhibitors from guarding the traditional 90-day window between theatrical release and home entertainment. When major studios attempted to shrink that window five years ago, theater owners fought back. Now, Screening Room, a startup backed by entrepreneur and former Facebook/Napster executive Sean Parker, as well as some Hollywood heavyweights, is trying again — and may succeed by offering anti-piracy tech and revenue sharing. Continue reading Screening Room Proposes Bold Day-and-Date Release Model

AMC Employs Digital Watermarking to Pinpoint and Halt Piracy

AMC Networks is the latest Hollywood company to adopt digital watermarking to protect its shows — chief among them “The Walking Dead” — from digital piracy, especially before the episodes air on TV. AMC has said it plans to use Civolution’s NexGuard to embed watermarks on a list of its original shows, also including “Better Call Saul” and “Humans.” The watermarking would take place at its New York production/distribution facilities, where the technology will be implemented as software plug-ins for its transcoders. Continue reading AMC Employs Digital Watermarking to Pinpoint and Halt Piracy

ETC Presents vNAB Cloud Innovation Conference March 2-3

The Entertainment Technology Center@USC will host its second annual vNAB Cloud Innovation Conference on March 2-3, 2016 in the Venice, California offices of Google. This year, the 2-day extension of the April NAB Cloud Innovation Conference presents “Masters of the Media Cloud Lifecycle” with 32 Media & Entertainment (M&E) superstars, panelists and keynotes presenting TED-style talks focused on cloud-related topics designed to keep senior leaders up to date on an ever-changing world. For more information please visit ETC’s vNAB page. Continue reading ETC Presents vNAB Cloud Innovation Conference March 2-3

Layer3 TV Launches Texas Beta of Its Umio Pay TV Service

Three years after its founding, Layer3 TV, a new player in the pay TV space, rolled out a beta test in two Texas markets. Launched by Broadbus Technologies founder Jeff Binder, and former Comcast/AT&T CTO Dave Fellows, the company’s new Umio service is based on a “state-of-the-art” set-top box with an integrated cable modem for Internet and TV services. The content bundle, however, appears to be fairly traditional, including local broadcasters and most cable networks, although Umio also offers some add-on channels. Continue reading Layer3 TV Launches Texas Beta of Its Umio Pay TV Service

Amazon Plans to Launch Portable, Lower Cost Version of Echo

Since Amazon had a surprise hit with its tabletop, voice-controlled Echo speaker, released in November 2014, competitors have stepped into the space. Amazon is fighting back with another, smaller, portable and lower-cost version, code-named Fox, expected to debut in a few weeks. Echo, which costs $180, must be plugged into an outlet; its Alexa software answers questions, creates shopping lists, plays music and can control connected lights. Originally a voice activation experiment, Echo has become a popular personal assistant. Continue reading Amazon Plans to Launch Portable, Lower Cost Version of Echo

CES 2016: Virtual Reality Startups Are Tackling Big Problems

A number of startups at the Sands Convention Center during CES are showcasing solutions for targeted problems and shortcomings within the overall VR experience. Some plan to develop products, while others hope to license their technologies and IP to others. IonVR is showing lens-based tech that reduces motion sickness and latency in mobile VR. The Eye Tribe is working on foviated rendering and an interface based on eye tracking, while Reach Bionics is developing a UI based on facial expressions. Continue reading CES 2016: Virtual Reality Startups Are Tackling Big Problems

‘Star Wars’ Smashes Box Office, Rallies Blockbuster Strategy

On its opening weekend, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” demolished box office records — as well as the trope that crowds no longer throng to movie theaters, even in the first days. The Walt Disney Company’s latest “Star Wars” movie brought in about $517 million globally, a success that is stunning in its size and scope, and that underscores Hollywood studios’ efforts to focus on repurposing the blockbuster, from “Avatar” to “Frozen.” According to Disney, 3D screenings account for 47 percent of the gross. Continue reading ‘Star Wars’ Smashes Box Office, Rallies Blockbuster Strategy

VR Exploding at Sundance Fest, to Reach $70B Value by 2020

At the Sundance Film Festival in January, the New Frontier program will host 30 virtual reality experiences, more than double the number from last year. Those 30 were chosen from a pool of 200 to 300 submissions. Most projects are artistic or experimental but two came out of Hollywood, highlighting continued interest there. Now, pointing to Facebook and Google’s big investments and recent VR experiments by the National Basketball Association and The New York Times, one market researcher projects virtual reality’s value at $70 billion by 2020. Continue reading VR Exploding at Sundance Fest, to Reach $70B Value by 2020

DirecTV Planning to Debut Live 4K Broadcasting in Early 2016

DirecTV has joined the ranks of those looking to bring more 4K content to consumers. During New York’s TranSPORT conference, DirecTV’s Phil Goswitz confirmed that the company plans to launch a live 4K broadcast service sometime early next year. He said live sports transmissions are currently being tested and DirecTV has the ability to transmit up to 50 new UHD channels. Goswitz explained that DirecTV is “moving into working with partners” for more 4K content. CBS, ESPN and Fox are among the networks that have also been experimenting with live 4K production. Continue reading DirecTV Planning to Debut Live 4K Broadcasting in Early 2016

MPAA Wins Injunction in MovieTube Suit, But Battle Continues

The owners and operators of the MovieTube websites are in big trouble — whoever they are. The Motion Picture Association of America won a final default judgment, to the tune of $10.5 million, against the sites. But collecting is going to be a problem, since the MPAA has not been able to identify any of the defendants, and no companies have answered the complaint or engaged in any of the proceedings. Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Twitter, however, filed an amicus brief that could trigger subpoenas in the future. Continue reading MPAA Wins Injunction in MovieTube Suit, But Battle Continues

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