Snap Debuts Sponsored AR Lenses, User Growth Is Slowing

The growth of Snapchat’s audience, now at about 166 million daily users, appears to be slowing, and analysts and stockholders have taken note. On its May 10 quarterly report, the first since its March IPO, chief executive Evan Spiegel offered up the idea that his company’s AR Lenses present users with a creative tool they can’t find elsewhere, even though the Lenses have now been copied by Facebook. A new report shows that Snap’s trouble drawing in new users got serious at the start of Q2, even as rival Instagram pulls ahead. Continue reading Snap Debuts Sponsored AR Lenses, User Growth Is Slowing

Amazon’s Twitch Weighs Original Programs With Interactivity

Twitch, the live streaming video and gaming site purchased by Amazon for $1 billion almost three years ago, is thinking about streaming original programming, says its chief operating officer Kevin Lin. But unlike all other new platforms streaming original content, Twitch is looking for its users to have input on the programs as they are written and produced. Twitch already lets its users comment on the videos in real time and Lin believes these comments can help guide a scripted show as it evolves from episode one onward. Continue reading Amazon’s Twitch Weighs Original Programs With Interactivity

Roku Signs Licensing Deal with TiVo, Gains Access to Patents

Roku and TiVo have signed a multiyear IP agreement that will provide Roku with access to thousands of patents. According to Variety, the license “agreement covers the TiVo and Rovi patent portfolios as well as the over-the-top patents in the Intellectual Ventures portfolio under the TiVo-IV licensing partnership. TiVo in its current instantiation was formed out of Rovi’s $1.1 billion acquisition of the DVR maker last year.” There are currently about 6,000 issued and pending patents in the combined company’s portfolio covering tech “including interactive program guides, DVR functions and mobile device media processes.” Continue reading Roku Signs Licensing Deal with TiVo, Gains Access to Patents

Interactive Media Emmys Redefined, May 1st Entry Deadline

The Emmy Award categories for Interactive Media have been completely redesigned for the 69th Emmy Award season. The Interactive Media Peer Group of the Television Academy announced four Category Awards and one new Juried Award. The four categories are Outstanding Interactive Program, Outstanding Original Interactive Program, Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media Within a Scripted Program, and Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media Within an Unscripted Program. The reimagined Juried Award for Innovation in Interactive Programming will recognize pioneering interactive work in emerging uses of interactive media in television. Continue reading Interactive Media Emmys Redefined, May 1st Entry Deadline

Nielsen Debuts Overnight Screening Tool to Test Product Ideas

Nielsen is rolling out a new tool to provide fast-moving consumer goods manufacturers (FMCG) with analysis about what ideas have higher probability of in-market success. According to Nielsen exec Kevin Daly, Quick Screen was developed as a cost-effective solution for the “second-tier” product innovation level. The tool questions consumers (who identify with specific product categories) to determine the relative strength of proposed ideas. Predictive analytics then evaluate the data to identify levels of potential in-market success. Continue reading Nielsen Debuts Overnight Screening Tool to Test Product Ideas

Facebook Signs Exclusive Streaming Deal with MLS, Univision

As part of Facebook’s strategy to expand its video business, the social network is looking to stream professional sporting events. Most recently, Facebook signed an agreement with Major League Soccer and Univision that will give the social platform exclusive, English-language streaming rights for a minimum of 22 regular season games in the U.S. The games will stream via Univision Deportes’ Facebook page, and the exclusive “Matchday Live” analysis shows produced by Major League Soccer will air on the MLS Facebook page. The first match-up is slated to stream this Saturday. Continue reading Facebook Signs Exclusive Streaming Deal with MLS, Univision

Twitch Introduces its Twitter Competitor Designed for Gamers

Amazon’s game-themed streaming site Twitch is launching a Twitter competitor called Pulse — “a place where streamers can post and engage with all of their followers and the greater Twitch community right from the Twitch front page,” according to the platform’s blog. “It’s an always-on way to share clips, stream highlights, schedules, photos, and more so followers are more informed, engaged, and connected.” This will help broadcasters promote news streams and share content with those who missed earlier streams. “If Twitter were ever going to be disrupted,” writes Casey Newton for The Verge, “this is exactly what I’d imagine it would look like at the beginning.” Continue reading Twitch Introduces its Twitter Competitor Designed for Gamers

IBM’s Watson Joins with H&R Block for Better Tax Preparation

IBM struck a deal with H&R Block to utilize Watson to help the company’s 70,000 tax professionals at 10,000 branch offices file taxes for 11 million customers. The partnership, which was presented in a 60-second Super Bowl ad on Sunday, began last summer when H&R Block chief executive Bill Cobb contacted IBM. His goal was to aid the company’s professionals in increasing tax refunds and reducing tax liabilities for the company’s clients, and make the experience “engaging and interactive.” Continue reading IBM’s Watson Joins with H&R Block for Better Tax Preparation

Google Tools Encourage Developers to Create More Chatbots

Alphabet recently unveiled a system of tools called Conversation Actions, designed to help developers create chatbots that work with Google Assistant. The move is the latest by Google to compete in the emerging digital assistant space with companies such as Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook that are investing heavily in artificial intelligence. Google’s virtual assistant “is the strategic centerpiece of an effort to keep its lucrative Web search business relevant in an age of mobile devices and wearable gadgets,” reports Bloomberg. “Just like its search engine sent people to the right places on the Web, the company’s assistant should connect users to the most relevant and useful services.” Continue reading Google Tools Encourage Developers to Create More Chatbots

Andy Roddick Live-Streaming on Periscope During U.S. Open

In an effort to monetize its broadcasting app Periscope, Twitter has partnered with retired tennis champ Andy Roddick for a series of broadcasts during the U.S. Open. Roddick is broadcasting gameplay commentary and answering audience questions from his Twitter handle. Also, marking the first ad campaigns on Periscope, Chase and Grey Goose are serving as sponsors. “JPMorgan Chase, which is an official U.S. Open sponsor, was drawn to Roddick’s Periscope broadcasts during Wimbledon,” reports Variety. “When he started Periscoping during Wimbledon, it was clear to us that is a change in how people will watch sports,” said CMO Kristin Lemkau. Continue reading Andy Roddick Live-Streaming on Periscope During U.S. Open

STX Entertainment Acquires Surreal, Launches New Division

STX Entertainment is making a move into virtual reality with its purchase of Surreal Inc., producer and distributor of immersive media content. “Under terms of the deal, Surreal will operate as a division of STX, led by co-founders Rick Rey and Andy Vick, who now will serve as co-presidents of VR and Immersive Entertainment under the new STX Surreal label,” reports Deadline. “Rey and Vick are among those at the forefront of VR, including live-action 360-degree video and interactive VR content.” STX president Sophie Watts will oversee the new division. STX recently became strategic equity partners with China’s Tencent Holdings Limited and Hong Kong telecom PCCW. Continue reading STX Entertainment Acquires Surreal, Launches New Division

RadicalMedia and Uncorporeal Develop Hologram Experience

RadicalMedia has been working on a project to present “great people” as holograms in venues optimized for augmented reality. Although much of the project is under wraps, more became clear recently when RadicalMedia partnered with Uncorporeal, a volumetric capture startup developing technology to create human holograms that can be used in VR or AR content. Headed by Sebastian Marino, formerly visual effects supervisor on “Avatar,” Uncorporeal’s eight staffers are veterans of Lucasfilm, Weta Digital and Electronic Arts. Continue reading RadicalMedia and Uncorporeal Develop Hologram Experience

Twitter Character Update Makes Room for Interactive Content

Twitter is planning a series of changes designed to make communication easier via the social platform, hopefully without alienating its loyal base (earlier proposed changes led to public outcry). Notably, Twitter will modify the 140-character limit of a tweet, which often frustrates some users, but in many ways has come to define the service. “Under the rule-bending, tagging users by their handles at the beginning of replies and adding photos, GIFs and videos will no longer count against the 140-character limit in tweets,” reports The New York Times. “Twitter users will also be able to quote and ‘retweet’ — or rebroadcast — their own older tweets, which was not possible before.” Continue reading Twitter Character Update Makes Room for Interactive Content

YouTube Builds Daydream VR App, Immersive Content Catalog

Shortly after Google unveiled its Daydream VR system during its I/O conference, YouTube revealed its plans for a virtual reality app, to be available on Daydream mobile VR devices. YouTube has also been encouraging its content partners to produce 360-degree content by providing VR cameras, in an effort to build up content for its VR app, which will function like YouTube on mobile or a smart TV. The app, which is being built from scratch, will be full-featured and enable access to subscriptions, favorites, search and more. Continue reading YouTube Builds Daydream VR App, Immersive Content Catalog

Google Makes its Move to Become a Player in Cloud Services

Until now, Google has been third, behind Amazon and Microsoft, in the fast-growing market of cloud computing services. That all changed at its NEXT conference in San Francisco when the company showcased a variety of cloud-based services including software for machine learning, a powerful new speech service that challenges Nuance’s dominance, and a recently introduced vision service. Google also plans to expand places where people can purchase its cloud services from four regions to 16 in the next year-and-a-half. Continue reading Google Makes its Move to Become a Player in Cloud Services

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