New Netflix Hire Signals the Service’s Push into Video Games

As part of its plan to expand into gaming, video streamer Netflix has hired former Electronic Arts and Facebook executive Mike Verdu as its vice president of game development. At Facebook, Verdu worked with developers to bring virtual reality games and other content to Oculus headsets. At Netflix, Verdu will report to chief operating officer Greg Peters and is mandated with bringing video games to the Netflix platform within the next year. Sources said that Netflix does not plan on charging subscribers extra for gaming content. Continue reading New Netflix Hire Signals the Service’s Push into Video Games

EU’s Vestager Calls for Aligned Global Regulation of Big Tech

Margrethe Vestager, executive vice president of the European Commission for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age, is calling for greater global alignment on tech regulation, noting “we do not have a global competition enforcer, but we have global companies.” Vestager added she was “really encouraged” by the Biden administration’s efforts to take similar actions in the U.S. with the 72 actions listed in his recent executive order that focused on Big Tech’s collection of data, surveillance practices and acquisitions of startups. Continue reading EU’s Vestager Calls for Aligned Global Regulation of Big Tech

Universal Signs New Streaming Deals with Peacock, Amazon

Starting next year, Comcast’s streaming service Peacock will begin to show movies from sister company Universal Pictures, sidestepping a long-time deal with HBO for initial TV rights. The 2022 movies — which will reach Peacock no more than four months after theatrical release — include the next “Jurassic World” and the new “Halloween” movies. In addition, Amazon has signed a multiyear deal with Universal to bring the studio’s movies to Prime Video and IMDb TV following their four-month runs on Peacock. Under the new deal, Universal movies will be available on Amazon for 10 months and then return to Peacock for another four months. Continue reading Universal Signs New Streaming Deals with Peacock, Amazon

The Linux Foundation Leads Charge for Voice Tech Standards

The Linux Foundation — along with Microsoft, Target, Veritone and other companies — has launched the Open Voice Network (OVN) in order to “prioritize trust and standards” in voice-focused technology. Open Voice Network executive director Jon Stine said the impetus is the tremendous growth of voice assistance for AI-enabled devices and its future potential as an interface and data source. Linux Foundation senior vice president Mike Dolan said the effort is a “proactive response to combating deepfakes in AI-based voice technology.” Continue reading The Linux Foundation Leads Charge for Voice Tech Standards

OpenAI and Microsoft Introduce $100 Million AI Startup Fund

OpenAI unveiled a $100 million OpenAI Startup Fund to fund early-stage companies pursuing ways that AI can have a “transformative” impact on healthcare, education, climate change and other fields. OpenAI chief executive Sam Altman said the Fund will make “big, early bets” on no more than 10 such companies. OpenAI, with funding from Microsoft and others, will manage the Fund. Selected projects will get “early access” to future OpenAI systems, support from OpenAI’s team and credits for Microsoft Azure. Continue reading OpenAI and Microsoft Introduce $100 Million AI Startup Fund

Fox Corp Quarterly Figures Exceed Wall Street Expectations

In the quarter ending March 31, Fox Corporation saw its year-over-year profit increase sevenfold to $567 million, with a 6.5 percent drop in revenue to $3.2 billion. The numbers exceeded Wall Street estimates. Earnings per share were 88 cents, ahead of analyst expectations of 58 cents. Fox chief executive Lachlan Murdoch reported that exiting “Thursday Night Football” a year early would lift earnings from $350 million to $400 million, which would help finance the 13-year deal that the company struck to continue broadcasting Sunday NFL games. Continue reading Fox Corp Quarterly Figures Exceed Wall Street Expectations

Netflix Drops $465 Million to Produce ‘Knives Out’ Franchise

In 2019, director Rian Johnson (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”) wrote and directed “Knives Out,” which became a surprise hit. Now, Netflix spent about $465 million to buy two sequels. Experts are debating if the streamer overpaid or made a canny move to create a new franchise. Former Lionsgate co-president Erik Feig, who was involved with both the “Twilight” and “Hunger Games” franchises, noted that the sequels could turn into a TV show and, more importantly, establish a long-term relationship with high-profile writer/director Johnson. Continue reading Netflix Drops $465 Million to Produce ‘Knives Out’ Franchise

Amazon Spent Heavily on Video and Music Content Last Year

In 2020 Amazon spent $11 billion on Prime services content, up 41 percent from the $7.8 billion it spent in 2019. The sum includes licensing and production costs and costs related to digital subscriptions and content it sells and rents. The first season of its “Lord of the Rings” TV show reportedly cost $465 million to produce. However, Amazon canceled the “Lord of the Rings” online role-playing game announced in 2019. The huge sums Amazon is putting into content reflects its desire to dominate global digital entertainment. Continue reading Amazon Spent Heavily on Video and Music Content Last Year

Google Funds Initiatives for News Publishers in U.S., Europe

Google inked licensing deals with 600+ news outlets worldwide and continues to negotiate with more publishers. In the U.S., it plans to spend $1 billion to bring publishers onboard for its News Showcase, an effort that will be ongoing until 2023 to invest in news. But Google also made it clear it won’t hold publishers accountable for positive business results. Google is also contributing €25 million ($29 million) to the European Union’s European Media and Information Fund to tackle misinformation and fake news. Continue reading Google Funds Initiatives for News Publishers in U.S., Europe

YouTube Debuts Would-Be TikTok Rival ‘Shorts’ in U.S. Beta

YouTube Shorts, intended to rival video-sharing social media platform TikTok, rolled out in beta to a small group of U.S. users, after debuting first in India last fall. Shorts project lead Todd Sherman said the company plans to experiment with advertising and monetization features for creators “later this year.” In beta, Shorts offers the ability to add text to points in the video and sample audio from other Shorts. Similar to TikTok, YouTube Shorts is focused on music. Shorts, however, integrates with the larger YouTube platform. Continue reading YouTube Debuts Would-Be TikTok Rival ‘Shorts’ in U.S. Beta

Australian Landmark Law Passes, Big Tech to Pay for Content

Australia’s parliament passed the first law of its kind, requiring Facebook and Google to pay local publishers for news content on their platforms. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg noted that, “the code is a significant microeconomic reform, one that has drawn the eyes of the world on the Australian parliament.” In fact, Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison had discussed the new law with leaders of Canada, France, India and the United Kingdom. Facebook recently pledged to spend at least $1 billion over the next three years to license news content. Continue reading Australian Landmark Law Passes, Big Tech to Pay for Content

Forum: Vubiquity to Present ‘The Democratization of Content’

During this week’s MESA Content Workflow Management Forum, Vubiquity will address strategies for how to keep pace with today’s evolving video supply chain. Piers Godden, commercial director EMEA for Vubiquity and Amdocs Media, will discuss the numerous challenges involved with the growing changes to content licensing, material handling costs, processing and distribution. “The time has come for CaaS — Content as a Service,” notes Godden, “the content you want, where you want it, at the flick of a switch.” The online presentation is scheduled for February 25. Continue reading Forum: Vubiquity to Present ‘The Democratization of Content’

Nvidia Acquisition of Arm Faces FTC Probe, Big Tech Critics

As Nvidia moves to close its $40 billion deal to acquire Arm Holdings, tech companies Google, Microsoft and Qualcomm are saying the deal will harm competition and are asking for regulatory intervention. The UK-based Arm, which licenses its chip technology to Amazon, Apple, Huawei Technologies, Intel and Samsung Electronics among others, is known as the Switzerland in the semiconductor industry because it licenses its technology to companies rather than competes with them. Critics fear that Nvidia would change this policy or raise the cost. Continue reading Nvidia Acquisition of Arm Faces FTC Probe, Big Tech Critics

EA Acquires Game Developer Glu Mobile in $2.4 Billion Deal

Electronic Arts plans to boost its mobile game business by purchasing game developer Glu Mobile in a deal valued at $2.4 billion, one of the highest prices ever paid for a video game studio. Glu Mobile’s creations include, among others, “Diner DASH,” “Disney Sorcerer’s Arena,” “WWE Universe,” “MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2020” and “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood.” According to Glu Mobile, the company’s games earned $1.32+ billion in bookings last year. EA is particularly interested in Glu Mobile’s experience in sports and casual games. Continue reading EA Acquires Game Developer Glu Mobile in $2.4 Billion Deal

Australia Proposes Google, Facebook Pay for News Content

Australia is introducing a law that would make Google, Facebook and possibly other tech companies pay news publishers for their content. In response, Google threatened to remove its search engine from the country, fearing the law would set a dangerous precedent. Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said the country’s lawmakers will not respond to threats. News makes up 12.5 percent of Google searches there. In France, meanwhile, Google inked a deal with that country’s media publishers to negotiate individual license agreements. Continue reading Australia Proposes Google, Facebook Pay for News Content

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