New Research Places Roku at Top of Connected-TV Market

According to a new eMarketer study, Roku is now the leading connected-TV device in the U.S. Roku has more users than Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Google Chromecast. The research firm estimates that 38.9 million U.S. consumers will use their Roku devices at least once per month this year. Chromecast will follow at 36.9 million users, Amazon Fire TV at 35.8 million, and Apple TV at 21.3 million. Roku is the only one of the four leading brands that is not connected to an affiliated content service and, as a result, has signed agreements with numerous partners. Continue reading New Research Places Roku at Top of Connected-TV Market

Sony Music Reaches New Licensing Agreement with Spotify

Sony Music Entertainment has agreed to a new licensing deal with Spotify, which should be finalized in the coming weeks. “The agreement helps to clear the way for Spotify’s long-anticipated public offering, which is expected later this year or early next year,” reports Variety. An inside source suggests the deal is similar to the current Spotify agreements with Universal Music Group and digital rights agency Merlin. A major component of the deal is a windowing option, “whereby artists can withhold their releases from its free, ad-supported service for up to two weeks.” Continue reading Sony Music Reaches New Licensing Agreement with Spotify

Spotify Signs New Universal and Merlin Deals, Preps for IPO

Spotify will pay music labels more than $2 billion in minimum payments over the next two years. The company’s revenue has grown more than 50 percent, to $3.3 billion last year, so the big deals are a means to keep growing. Sources say the company has inked two deals recently, with Universal Music Group, the world’s biggest music label, accounting for one-third of the market, and Merlin, which represents a group of independent labels. The Wall Street Journal previously reported that Spotify plans to go public this year. Continue reading Spotify Signs New Universal and Merlin Deals, Preps for IPO

TV Networks Add Snapchat Shows to Multiplatform Strategy

Snapchat Shows is exceeding Snap Inc.’s expectations, encouraging the company to focus on an ambitious expansion to the app’s 166 million daily global users. The first Snapchat Show launch, in January 2016, was an internal creation, “Good Luck America,” which has since averaged 5.2 million viewers per episode in its second season, a 53 percent surge from its first season. That popularity is emboldening a long list of celebrities and media entities to jump on board, among them Jimmy Fallon, James Corden, A&E and BBC. Continue reading TV Networks Add Snapchat Shows to Multiplatform Strategy

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

Snap Widens Snap to Store, Serving User Data to Advertisers

Snap is opening up Snap to Store, letting advertisers make the best use of Snapchat’s database to determine how well their ads are working. Snap has been testing Snap to Store since 2016, with Paramount Pictures and 7-Eleven among a handful of others who would like to know if their campaigns are actually driving viewers to movie theaters, stores and other venues. Now, Snap is rolling out Snap to Store to more brands, in retail, fast food, movie and automotive, as well as providing more data and a proprietary digital dashboard. Continue reading Snap Widens Snap to Store, Serving User Data to Advertisers

Spotify Inks a New Licensing Deal with Universal Music Group

Spotify and Universal Music Group, the world’s biggest record company, finally inked a global, multiyear licensing deal after two years of intermittent negotiations. With this deal in place, Spotify now has a better chance of convincing Sony and Warner to follow suit, and UMG, whose artists include Drake, U2, The Weeknd and Lady Gaga, has more flexibility on how it streams its music. Spotify’s contracts with UMG, Sony and Warner had expired long ago. Spotify, valued at $8 billion, now also has a clearer path to going public. Continue reading Spotify Inks a New Licensing Deal with Universal Music Group

Snapchat Introduces Search Tool Based on Machine Learning

In a few cities last week, Snapchat introduced a new search tool that relies on machine learning to collect text and visual metadata, enabling users to find content, even from users they do not follow. Previously, users only saw Stories from others they followed or that Snapchat served up. This is Snap Inc.’s first major change to its Snapchat software since the company went public in early March; in January, Snap added a search function allowing users to search for friends and publisher content. Continue reading Snapchat Introduces Search Tool Based on Machine Learning

Facebook Co-Opts Stories, Puts More Pressure on Snapchat

Facebook has again integrated one of Snapchat’s most notable features, introducing Stories, which allows users to create photo/video montages that vanish within 24 hours. Two other camera-oriented features allow users to make the camera accessible with one rightward swipe and add filters and masks; and introduce a direct-messaging tool. All three features will be unveiled this week. Facebook has experienced a slump in posting, and is studying Snapchat as a way to zero-in on its millennial appeal. Continue reading Facebook Co-Opts Stories, Puts More Pressure on Snapchat

Pinterest, Targeting $500 in Revenue, Could Be Prepping IPO

Pinterest, now in its third full year earning selling ads, is targeting more than $500 million in revenue this year. The company earned $100 million in revenue in 2015 and $300 million last year. Some close to Pinterest say the company is gearing up for an eventual IPO. “The company hired its first CFO, Todd Morgenfeld, from Twitter back in October, and has Facebook’s former monetization director, Tim Kendall, overseeing all of Pinterest’s revenue efforts, among other things,” reports Recode. Those close to the company suggest that if Snap “can fetch a valuation north of $20 billion on the public markets, Pinterest is in good shape to do something similar.” Continue reading Pinterest, Targeting $500 in Revenue, Could Be Prepping IPO

Snap Opens Online Store for Spectacles and Readies its IPO

Snap Inc. will open the doors to a new online store dedicated to expanding sales of its connected sunglasses. Spectacles.com launches just as the company’s New York City pop-up store closes, and anyone in the U.S. can buy a pair of Spectacles, priced at $130. At the same time, Snap’s founders will start marketing its upcoming IPO to mutual funds and hedge funds in London. Snap released Spectacles, its first hardware product, before filing for its IPO. They were initially sold in a handful of vending machines. Continue reading Snap Opens Online Store for Spectacles and Readies its IPO

WhatsApp Introduces New Feature Emulating Snapchat Stories

Messaging app WhatsApp has launched a new image-based Status feature that allows users to post a disappearing Status update, which erases after 24 hours just like Snapchat Stories. Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, has a pattern of integrating Snapchat-like features into its apps, such as Instagram and Facebook Messenger. With the new Status feature, a major departure for the text-based application, WhatsApp hopes to capitalize on the success of the format that Snapchat originated, which emphasizes videos and ephemeral content. Continue reading WhatsApp Introduces New Feature Emulating Snapchat Stories

Snap Inc. Preps for Public Offering, Embarks on Investors Tour

Snap Inc. revealed that it expects to be valued at as much as $22.2 billion in its upcoming public offering. Share prices are expected to land between $14 and $16, the midpoint of which would value the company at $20.9 billion. All of these figures are significantly higher than the $16.5 billion Snap valued itself at in late 2016, and the final pricing of the new shares, and the company’s overall valuation, could still change. First Snap executives will launch a two-week tour of investors across the country. Continue reading Snap Inc. Preps for Public Offering, Embarks on Investors Tour

Snap to Spend $1B on Amazon Cloud Services Over 5 Years

Yesterday we reported that Venice-based Snap Inc. — owner of the Snapchat app — had signed a 5-year deal for Google Cloud services valued at $2 billion. A revised version of its S-1 IPO filing, made public this morning, indicates that Snap is also planning to spend up to $1 billion on cloud support from Amazon Web Services. The deal was originally signed in 2016 and amended this week. According to Snap, it provides “redundant infrastructure support of our business operations,” and may lead the company toward investing in its “own infrastructure to better serve our customers.” Continue reading Snap to Spend $1B on Amazon Cloud Services Over 5 Years

Snap Inc. Signs $2B Deal for Google Cloud Services Until 2022

Snap has inked a deal for Google Cloud services worth $400 million annually over the next five years, for a total of $2 billion. The deal is a continuation of a partnership that dates back to 2013. Analysts say the $400 million will give Google a “hefty annual bump.” Google doesn’t report numbers specific to its cloud business, but rolls it into all non-advertising revenue. In Q4 2016, Google’s non-advertising sector earned $3.4 billion in sales. The partnership could presage future alliances or mutually beneficial projects. Continue reading Snap Inc. Signs $2B Deal for Google Cloud Services Until 2022

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