Industry Task Force Publishes Guide for Resuming Production

The Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee Task Force (“The Task Force”) submitted its suggested safety guidelines for the reopening of film, television and streaming industries to New York governor Andrew Cuomo and California governor Gavin Newsom. The Task Force, comprised of studios, guilds and producers, published a 22-page “Proposed Health and Safety Guidelines” white paper that includes the need for cast and crew physical distancing “whenever possible.” Industry leaders based the proposals on discussions with health experts and guidelines issued by the CDC and OSHA.  Continue reading Industry Task Force Publishes Guide for Resuming Production

Hulu Launches Watch Party Feature to Enable Social Viewing

Hulu is the first major streaming platform to launch a built-in Watch Party feature that allows its subscribers to watch a show in a group chat room. During COVID-19 shutdowns, watch parties have become increasingly popular, although most are enabled by third-party apps and services rather than built-in social viewing features. The Hulu Watch Party feature is now available to web users who subscribe to the platform’s ad-free plan. Plex also launched a Watch Together feature that works with the user’s own media and the company’s on-demand content. Continue reading Hulu Launches Watch Party Feature to Enable Social Viewing

Streamer HBO Max Offers Wide Range of Movies, TV Shows

AT&T launched HBO Max this week, with a plan to spend $4.5+ billion on the streaming platform over the next few years. AT&T, which hopes to sign up 50 million HBO Max subscribers by 2025, bought Time Warner for $85.4 billion in 2018 with the idea of creating a significant streaming platform. HBO Max, which costs $15 per month, offers 10,000 hours of programming, including HBO series “Game of Thrones” and “Succession” as well as Warner Bros. hit TV shows such as “Friends” and “The Big Bang Theory.” Continue reading Streamer HBO Max Offers Wide Range of Movies, TV Shows

Scener Offers Virtual Theater and Video Chat for HBO, Netflix

WarnerMedia’s HBO has partnered with Seattle-based Scener to allow HBO Now and HBO GO subscribers to create a private virtual theater, including video chat, for up to 20 people. Scener already allows co-viewing for Netflix accounts. This is HBO’s first significant partnership with an online co-viewing platform. Scener co-founder Joe Braidwood said the company saw a “crazy surge in demand” for the product with the COVID-19 pandemic. The partnership, which began in March, includes a new design for the site and update for Google Chrome browsers. Continue reading Scener Offers Virtual Theater and Video Chat for HBO, Netflix

HPA Tech Retreat: Evolving Security for Media & Entertainment

An increasing concern over content security was the subject of HBO/WarnerMedia productions and content security head Marc Zorn’s talk on “Why Traditional Information Security Doesn’t Fit in Most of Media & Entertainment.” “Film security was based on physical controls,” he said. “Post production began after photography, and threats were primarily from post onwards.” Once the workflow became digital, he added, threats to digital media looked like IT security, “from an IT security professional’s perspective.” Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Evolving Security for Media & Entertainment

WarnerMedia Deal to Bring HBO and Cinemax to YouTube TV

Google’s streaming OTT service YouTube TV — which provides subscribers with live television and news, on-demand video, cloud-based DVR, and live and local sports from 70+ networks— will carry Cinemax and HBO for the first time under a new distribution deal with AT&T’s WarnerMedia. As part of the agreement, YouTube TV will also offer the upcoming streamer HBO Max when it debuts in May, and will continue to provide Turner cable networks such as Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, CNN, HLN, TBS, TNT, truTV and Turner Classic Movies.  Continue reading WarnerMedia Deal to Bring HBO and Cinemax to YouTube TV

HPA Tech Retreat: The Latest Workflows for Virtual Production

The HPA Tech Retreat kicked off with an ambitious daylong demo that highlighted innovations in content creation, management and distribution technology and workflows. Supersession chair Joachim Zell, VP technology for EFILM walked the audience through numerous elements of an HDR production: filming, editing and finishing two scenes that provided the final chapters for a short film. The process, much of which involved workflows in the cloud, featured multiple cameras, on-set management and collaboration platforms, editorial, dailies and digital intermediate color grading systems, as well as online mastering and distribution platforms. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: The Latest Workflows for Virtual Production

Warner Bros. and HBO Max Have Big Plans for New Film Unit

Last week, Warner Bros. announced the creation of a new film production unit named Warner Max that will create original content for WarnerMedia’s new streaming service, HBO Max, set to launch in the U.S. this May for $15/month. The joint venture plans to produce 8-10 mid-budget movies per year, and will not impact the number of theatrical releases produced by Warner Bros. or New Line Cinema. The first Warner Max film is slated to premiere later this year, while Warner Bros. will distribute content across other media and territories beyond the HBO Max SVOD window. Meanwhile, WarnerMedia is reportedly investing heavily in online original series ahead of the HBO Max launch, including a number of sci-fi and fantasy titles. Continue reading Warner Bros. and HBO Max Have Big Plans for New Film Unit

Google Fiber Will No Longer Offer Its Traditional TV Bundle

Alphabet’s Google Fiber, a service that provides fiber-to-the-premises IPTV content, is shutting down its bundle offering news, sports, local and premium channels. Existing subscribers to Fiber with TV will not see any changes to their service, but new customers won’t have the option. A company blog post explained that the service would return its focus “to where we started — as a gigabit Internet company.” It added that, “customers today just don’t need traditional TV … [because] the best TV is already online.” Continue reading Google Fiber Will No Longer Offer Its Traditional TV Bundle

Mobile Games, Home Entertainment Strong Earners in 2019

Mobile games and home entertainment were big in 2019. Sensor Tower reported that Android and iOS mobile game players spent about $61.7 billion in 2019, up 12.8 percent from 2018’s $54.7 billion total. Mobile gaming also represented 74 percent of mobile spending for 2019. That year, home entertainment grew 8.4 percent to $25.2 billion, a record-breaking number. According to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, the greatest areas of growth were digital, subscription streaming, and digital movie sales and rentals. Continue reading Mobile Games, Home Entertainment Strong Earners in 2019

Verizon to Drop Cable Bundles in Favor of Customer Choice

To prevent further cord-cutting, Verizon Communications is abandoning traditional cable bundles. Fios customers will be able to select Internet speeds and TV packets separately, at preset rates, and can change their services on a monthly basis. Verizon senior vice president Frank Boulben stated that customers can then avoid promotional pricing that expires — and then skyrockets. Altice USA, Comcast and Charter Communications are offering lower cost wireless plans for Internet/TV customers. Continue reading Verizon to Drop Cable Bundles in Favor of Customer Choice

CES: Quibi Pitches Streaming Short Video for Small Screens

During CES in Las Vegas last week, Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and chief executive Meg Whitman revealed more details about their streaming content venture fueled by $1.4 billion in venture capital funding. A portmanteau for “quick bites,” Quibi plans to offer short content — under 10-minutes — for mobile phones. In other words, the enterprise is entering the streaming wars, looking for a sweet spot between the heavy-hitter long-form providers like Netflix and HBO and the free, varied content of YouTube and TikTok. Continue reading CES: Quibi Pitches Streaming Short Video for Small Screens

CES 2020: TiVo Joins Streaming Wars With HDMI Dongle

At CES this week, TiVo announced a new device described by CEO Dave Shull as a “tiny little HDMI puck” that will bring the company “full on into the streaming wars.” The $50 TiVo Stream 4K, hitting shelves in April as a competitor to Roku and Amazon devices, is designed to expand the company’s current user base by offering streaming and live television for today’s cord cutters and cord shavers. While TiVo plans to continue offering its signature cable-ready DVRs, the new 4K dongle could be a glimpse into the company’s future. In December, TiVo announced its $3 billion merger with licensing firm Xperi. “This transformation for TiVo enabled the merger,” said Shull. Continue reading CES 2020: TiVo Joins Streaming Wars With HDMI Dongle

CES 2020: The Next Decade Brings the Intelligence of Things

At Sunday’s opening CES event, CTA’s VP of research Steve Koenig and director of research Lesley Rohrbaugh revealed trends for CES 2020, as we move “into the data age.” “In the previous decade, we could describe the dynamic in hardware, software, apps and even content as IoT, the Internet of Things,” said Koenig. “In the new decade, we’ll be increasingly confronted with a new IoT: the Intelligence of Things. This new IoT bears testimony to the fact that AI is permeating commerce and culture.” Continue reading CES 2020: The Next Decade Brings the Intelligence of Things

YouTube, Facebook Step Back From Their SVOD Strategies

Although YouTube made a splash announcing its plans to produce scripted entertainment, the platform is pulling back from that ambition, which it once saw as the tip-of-the-spear for its $12-per-month ad-free YouTube Premium. The arena of Subscription VOD has become more crowded than ever, as Apple, Disney, WarnerMedia’s HBO Max and, next year, NBCUniversal’s Peacock join stalwarts Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and HBO. YouTube chief business officer Robert Kyncl calls the sector “as crowded as L.A. traffic.” Continue reading YouTube, Facebook Step Back From Their SVOD Strategies

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