Ubisoft to Launch Its Uplay Plus Game Subscription Service

At the E3 conference in Los Angeles this week, Ubisoft announced its entrance into subscription PC gaming with Uplay Plus, which will offer 100 titles published by Ubisoft. The service is slated to launch on September 3 and is designed as a monthly fee in exchange for unlimited access to the games. Although that model is similar to Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass and EA’s Origin Access, Uplay Plus is more expensive, at $14.99 per month. Among the games available on Uplay are “Assassin’s Creed” and “Rainbow Six” titles, which will also be on Google’s Stadia service next year. Continue reading Ubisoft to Launch Its Uplay Plus Game Subscription Service

AT&T Rolls Out Its Ad-Buying Service for Premium Content

AT&T’s ad unit Xandr has launched its ad-buying platform that offers exclusive access to AT&T’s customer data and assists companies in purchasing ad space across formats including mobile and streaming video. The platform, called Xandr Invest, will let advertisers buy ads on AT&T properties such as CNN, TBS and TNT, and will serve as the only ad-buying platform for Xandr’s Community marketplace that also features curated content from publishers such as Philo, Tubi and Vice. AT&T will compete in advertising with Google and Facebook, which combined represented almost 60 percent of the Internet ad market last year, according to PwC. Continue reading AT&T Rolls Out Its Ad-Buying Service for Premium Content

Companies Complain to Justice Department About Big Tech

The federal government is listening to complaints about how the major digital platforms exploit their size and the paucity of regulations — and companies are lining up to tell their tales of woe. Yelp public policy chief Luther Lowe says firms that once quietly grumbled are now talking to the Department of Justice about anti-competitive behavior by the big tech companies, all of which vigorously deny the accusations. Two Instagram executives stated that, although some would like to break up social giant Facebook, that won’t help the problem. Continue reading Companies Complain to Justice Department About Big Tech

Hulu Strategizes Ad Sales as Marketers Migrate Back to TV

Streaming video service Hulu, co-owned by The Walt Disney Company and Comcast and controlled by Disney, began lowering its CPM advertising rates (the amount charged to reach 1,000 viewers) to lure marketers to commit dollars to its site, according to several sources. Hopeful to boost ad sales, the company is implementing this strategy as major broadcast television networks are expected to secure increased ad commitments for the fall prime time schedules. Although viewers are migrating to streaming video services, marketers have been returning to broadcast TV, which is a known and trusted outlet. Continue reading Hulu Strategizes Ad Sales as Marketers Migrate Back to TV

Deloitte: More Millennials Subscribe to Games Than Pay TV

According to Deloitte’s 13th annual digital media trends survey, more millennials in the U.S. currently subscribe to a game service than to a traditional pay TV service. Approximately 53 percent of those born 1983-1996 pay for gaming services, while 51 percent from the same age group pay for television. Last year, Deloitte found that 44 percent of U.S. millennials had paid subscriptions for video games and 52 percent for television. Results of the latest survey were revealed as new game services from the likes of Apple, Google, Microsoft, Ubisoft and others have recently debuted or are planned to launch soon. Continue reading Deloitte: More Millennials Subscribe to Games Than Pay TV

Google Scientists Generate Realistic Videos at Scale with AI

Google research scientists report that they have produced realistic frames from open source video data sets at scale. Neural networks are able to generate complete videos from only a start and end frame, but it’s the complexity, information density and randomness of video that have made it too challenging to create such realistic clips at scale. The scientists wrote that, to their knowledge, “this is the first promising application of video-generation models to videos of this complexity.” The systems are based on a neural architecture known as Transformers, as described in a Google Brain paper, and are autoregressive, “meaning they generate videos pixel by pixel.” Continue reading Google Scientists Generate Realistic Videos at Scale with AI

Microsoft’s Next-Gen 8K Xbox Will Significantly Boost Power

Just ahead of this week’s E3 conference in Los Angeles, Microsoft announced that its next-gen Xbox console, dubbed Project Scarlett and slated for release Christmas 2020, will feature an AMD Ryzen processor that will make the console four times more powerful than today’s Xbox One X. The AMD processor features 120 fps operation, which means that latency for loading games will be greatly reduced. Project Scarlett will also feature 8K capability and will ship with a new version of “Halo.” Additionally, Microsoft’s xCloud streaming platform will debut in October, enabling users to stream games from their Xbox One to numerous devices. Continue reading Microsoft’s Next-Gen 8K Xbox Will Significantly Boost Power

Google and Microsoft to Intro Cloud-Based Gaming Services

Google and Microsoft are about to go mano-a-mano with new cloud-based gaming services. Google plans a limited launch in November of its Stadia service, which the company says will stream any title to any device. Microsoft, meanwhile, is building its Project xCloud on Azure, its own cloud network. Because every game on Xbox One, including Xbox 360 backward-compatible titles will be able to run on xCloud, the new service will debut with 3,500+ game titles. Microsoft said a beta version of its xCloud service will debut in October of this year. Continue reading Google and Microsoft to Intro Cloud-Based Gaming Services

AT&T’s WarnerMedia Readies Beta of Its Streaming Service

According to sources, AT&T’s WarnerMedia will package HBO, Cinemax, the Warner Bros. TV/movie library and original content into a streaming service priced at $16 to $17 per month. The new offering, which would be competitively priced in a crowded market of streaming services, is expected to launch in beta later this year. Currently, an HBO Now streaming subscription costs $14.99 per month and Cinemax for cable customers is priced at $12.99 per month. WarnerMedia executives are meeting to discuss the service’s name and other details of its operation. Continue reading AT&T’s WarnerMedia Readies Beta of Its Streaming Service

Tech Companies Have Long Prepared for Antitrust Scrutiny

Apple, Facebook and Google have been preparing for announcements from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that leading U.S. tech companies were going to be closely scrutinized for evidence of antitrust behavior. The news has sent shares roller-coasting but the three companies’ lawyers are, said sources, taking a “wait-and-see” approach. While Apple has been battling antitrust battles for years and Google has already faced antitrust investigations in the U.S. and Europe, some experts believe Facebook is not as prepared for the coming scrutiny. Continue reading Tech Companies Have Long Prepared for Antitrust Scrutiny

Amazon Adds Human Touch to Its Recommendation Model

Amazon created features — such as searching by star ratings or browsing best-selling products — to help consumers navigate “choice overloads” when selecting among thousands of similar products in any given category. The online shopping behemoth also offers “Amazon’s Choice,” which it says is given to “highly rated, well-priced products available to ship immediately.” Amazon will not reveal if a human or an algorithm is making these choices but, given the massive number of products, the latter is more likely. The company did reveal, however, that it recently began adding recommendations from outside publications. Continue reading Amazon Adds Human Touch to Its Recommendation Model

Study: Google Earned $4.7 Billion From U.S. News in 2018

According to a study by the News Media Alliance, Google earned $4.7 billion last year from the work of news publishers via the company’s search and Google News services (and the estimate is considered conservative since it does not include the value of personal data that Google collects on readers when they click on an article). The estimate is close to the $5.1 billion from digital advertising the entire U.S. news industry generated in 2018. The News Media Alliance is a trade association that represents more than 2,000 newspapers in North America. Its president and CEO David Chavern says journalists deserve a share of the $4.7 billion. Continue reading Study: Google Earned $4.7 Billion From U.S. News in 2018

YouTube Enacts Policy to Ban Noxious Videos, Hate Speech

Google’s YouTube unveiled a new policy in its latest attempt to clean up the content of the popular video platform. The policy bans videos “alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion,” as well as those that deny violent events happened, such as the Holocaust or the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Discrimination includes age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation and veteran status. With this policy in place, YouTube has begun to remove thousands of videos to rid its site of bigotry, extremism and hate speech. Continue reading YouTube Enacts Policy to Ban Noxious Videos, Hate Speech

Graphcore Builds Intelligence Processing Units For Better AI

British startup Graphcore has developed an AI chip for computers that attempts to mimic the neurons and synapses of the human brain, so that it can “ponder” questions rather than analyze data. Up until now, said Graphcore co-founder and chief executive Nigel Toon, GPUs and CPUs have excelled at precision, using vast amounts of energy to achieve small steps. Toon and Graphcore co-founder and CTO Simon Knowles dub their less precise chips as “intelligence processing units” (IPUs), that excel at aggregating approximate data points. Continue reading Graphcore Builds Intelligence Processing Units For Better AI

Apple Reinstates Kid Controls, App Developers File Lawsuit

Apple abruptly reversed a decision made a year ago to remove iPhone apps that use one of two technologies to allow parents to control their children’s use of Apple devices. The company revealed its move to allow parental controls in a short blog post on its website. The reversal comes on the heels of news that the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission are scrutinizing Silicon Valley tech companies for antitrust behavior. App developers filed a lawsuit in California accusing Apple of monopolizing app distribution. Continue reading Apple Reinstates Kid Controls, App Developers File Lawsuit

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