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

Sony’s Future Lab R&D Program to Showcase Tech at SXSW

Sony announced the launch of its Future Lab Program, a new research and development initiative “that emphasizes an open creative environment and direct lines of communication with society, through which it aims to co-create new lifestyles and user value in the future.” Sony’s program will share prototypes with the user community during development and welcome feedback to help refine projects. The first project — a hands-free interface that offers a new way to experience audio — will be featured in Austin at the SXSW Interactive Festival. Continue reading Sony’s Future Lab R&D Program to Showcase Tech at SXSW

‘The Martian VR Experience’: Cinema, Video Game or Both?

At CES 2016, attendees could be astronaut Mark Watney in “The Martian VR Experience,” accomplishing many of the tasks he did in the movie. Using the Oculus Rift headset and Oculus Touch handheld controllers, the “VR Experience,” executive produced by the film’s director Ridley Scott and “Experience” director Robert Stromberg, is fully interactive and makes use of the Rift’s positional tracking system. 20th Century Fox, Fox Innovation Lab, RSA Films and The VR Company collaborated on the project. Continue reading ‘The Martian VR Experience’: Cinema, Video Game or Both?

Assessing the Impact of VOD, Broadband, Apps and 4K on TV

The consumer is besieged by content ad platform choices and options. A group of broadcast, cable and social media executives gathered during CES to describe how it’s changing their business. “It is crazy competitive,” said Starz CRO Michael Thornton. “You have to make that show not just the best of the season but the best of all time.” Needham & Co.’s Laura Martin put digital in its place, succinctly. “There is no money in digital,” she noted. “Unless you have the powerful economic engine of TV to fund it, you’re losing money.” Continue reading Assessing the Impact of VOD, Broadband, Apps and 4K on TV