Report: Worldwide Piracy for TV and Music Increases in 2017

According to the latest figures from London-based piracy tracking firm MUSO, entertainment media piracy continues its ascent. Globally, consumers made more than 300 billion visits to piracy websites in 2017, up 1.6 percent from the previous year. Despite the popularity of legal streaming options such as Netflix and Spotify, MUSO found that the illegal streaming and downloading of television content and music increased last year, up 3.4 percent and 14.7 percent, respectively. However, movie piracy decreased by 2.3 percent. Continue reading Report: Worldwide Piracy for TV and Music Increases in 2017

Bloomberg to Launch its ‘TicToc’ 24/7 News Service on Twitter

Bloomberg is launching “TicToc by Bloomberg,” the first-ever 24/7 television news stream on Twitter. Rather than financial reporting, “TicToc by Bloomberg” will feature a round-up of news at the top of every hour; the rest of the feed will be a mix of breaking news reported by its staff around the world and video, images and text from Twitter users that have been curated and vetted. About 50 news staffers in New York, London and Hong Kong will lead in producing content, adding to Bloomberg’s global editorial staff. Continue reading Bloomberg to Launch its ‘TicToc’ 24/7 News Service on Twitter

Apple to Purchase Music Recognition App Shazam for $400M

Apple is purchasing Shazam Entertainment Ltd. for a reported $400 million. Shazam’s music recognition app, which lets users identify songs that are playing nearby, skyrocketed in popularity when it debuted in 2009, and has been downloaded more than one billion times. If the transaction is successful, Apple could integrate the Shazam feature into its iPhones, thereby helping the company gain an edge over the latest phones from Google and Samsung. Google already has a similar feature in its Pixel 2 smartphone. Continue reading Apple to Purchase Music Recognition App Shazam for $400M

Overwatch League, NBA 2K League Establish eSports Profile

In November 2016, Blizzard announced it was creating the Overwatch League, the first-ever eSports venture to model itself after professional North American sports, with franchised teams in major cities, salaried athletes and live spectator events. This was in the early days of “Overwatch,” a first-person shooter, team-based game, which had already accrued die-hard fans when it was in beta. The game, an “optimistic” battle between heroes and AI robots, has become a huge hit, with more than 35 million players and more than $1 billion in annual revenue. Continue reading Overwatch League, NBA 2K League Establish eSports Profile

Uber Reaches Deal With Benchmark, Loses Ruling in London

Former Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick and major investor Benchmark reached an agreement over board seats, paving the way for a multi-billion dollar investment led by SoftBank Group. This investment will give Uber resources to fend off its global rivals. Until recently, Kalanick and Benchmark were in a stalemate; the new agreement will add six directors and change voting in a way that will limit Kalanick’s power on the board. These changes are the aftermath of scandals that led the board to force Kalanick out. Meanwhile, Uber is facing setbacks in the U.K. regarding the status of its drivers. Continue reading Uber Reaches Deal With Benchmark, Loses Ruling in London

Microsoft Opens Studios to Produce Mixed Reality Holograms

Microsoft is pitching its new mixed reality studios in San Francisco and London to developers and producers interested in creating holograms from real life objects. “Microsoft has been using its own studio at its Redmond headquarters to capture Buzz Aldrin, Reggie Watts, Max Frost, and Cirque Du Soleil performances and bring them into virtual reality and augmented reality holograms,” reports The Verge. The new studios will enable content creators to produce holograms for “regular 2D screens, a HoloLens device, or even Microsoft’s new Windows Mixed Reality headsets.” The company “is also expanding its Mixed Reality Academy program to San Francisco,” with workshops for “developing apps and experiences for VR and HoloLens headsets.” Continue reading Microsoft Opens Studios to Produce Mixed Reality Holograms

London Pulls Uber’s License to Operate, Uber Appeals Ruling

London cut Uber’s license to operate, which will expire September 30. London said that Uber lacked corporate responsibility and was not fit and proper to hold a private vehicle hire licenses. Uber has 40,000 drivers and 3.5 million users in London. Transport for London (TfL), the agency that oversees the city’s cabs, buses and subways, said it would allow Uber to operate until the conclusion of the appeals process. TfL also cited Uber’s background checks on drivers, its approach to reporting serious criminal offenses and Greyball, a software that could block regulators from accessing the app. Continue reading London Pulls Uber’s License to Operate, Uber Appeals Ruling

Google Debuts Developers Launchpad Studio for AI Startups

To help AI and machine learning startups succeed, Google introduced a Developers Launchpad Studio, a six-month program that will gift participants with $50,000 in financial support without a quid pro quo for Google equity. Benefits also include product credits for Google Cloud and other services, product validation assistance and introductions to AI investors. The program will also make Google director of research Peter Norvig and Israel-based Google R&D Research Center head Yossi Matias available for feedback and advice. Continue reading Google Debuts Developers Launchpad Studio for AI Startups

Verizon May Use Yahoo-AOL to Test New OTT Video Service

Verizon’s $4.5 billion acquisition of Yahoo’s Internet business is likely to close in mid-June, at which point the combination of Yahoo and AOL (with its 1.3 billion users) could serve as the “platform … to test out an over-the-top service,” according to Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam. The OTT offering “would be in addition to the telco’s go90 ad-supported mobile video service,” reports Variety. “Verizon has reportedly been mulling an Internet-delivered skinny bundle offering, akin to AT&T’s DirecTV Now and Dish Network’s Sling TV.” Continue reading Verizon May Use Yahoo-AOL to Test New OTT Video Service

SoftBank Bets on Virtual Worlds, Invests in U.K.’s Improbable

Japanese telecommunications/Internet titan SoftBank Group just led a $502 million investment round in Improbable, a London-based startup that makes virtual worlds for video games and real-world simulations. In exchange, SoftBank will take a board seat and a non-controlling interest in Improbable, although details of the deal were not released. SoftBank founder/chief executive Masayoshi Son’s growing interest in artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things has been a driver in the company’s recent deals. Continue reading SoftBank Bets on Virtual Worlds, Invests in U.K.’s Improbable

Escape Rooms Feed Appetite for More Immersive Experiences

Millennials are paying as much as $50 per hour to be locked in a room that they can only exit by cooperatively solving puzzles. This kind of immersive entertainment has similarities with games, live theater and virtual reality experiences, and is becoming increasingly popular. Among the most notable examples is Sleep No More, a UK immersive theatrical experience that has been a huge hit since it opened in 2011. Director and live experience entrepreneur Michael Counts is making the most of the trend. Continue reading Escape Rooms Feed Appetite for More Immersive Experiences

NBC to Air – and Stream – 2018 Olympics Live Coast-to-Coast

Ratings for the Olympics, once a bulwark of mass audience viewing, have been slipping. Now, NBC has a plan to reverse the slump, by airing live coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea from coast-to-coast in the U.S. The move acknowledges that viewers have immediate access to information via online platforms. That’s responsible for at least some of the 18 percent dip in viewership from the 2012 Games in London to the Summer Games in Rio last summer, which averaged 25.4 million viewers over 17 nights. Continue reading NBC to Air – and Stream – 2018 Olympics Live Coast-to-Coast

Google Plans to Simplify Advertiser Controls for YouTube Video

In response to pressure from advertisers unhappy with placement of their commercials before extremist group videos on YouTube, Google apologized and explained it would simplify the tools that help advertisers control where online ads appear. The British unit of French advertising firm Havas, the U.K. government, and Marks & Spencer Group are among those that suspended their ads on YouTube and the Google Display Network. Matt Brittin, Google’s president for Europe, Middle East and Africa, “said he would step up enforcement and review policies to make sure ads don’t inadvertently appear near inappropriate videos,” according to The Wall Street Journal. “He said Google wanted to be careful with how it did so because some advertisers, such as news organizations, might want to place ads alongside controversial content.” Continue reading Google Plans to Simplify Advertiser Controls for YouTube Video

Music Recognition App Shazam Taps into Augmented Reality

Shazam has introduced a new augmented reality platform that will let brands connect with users of the popular music recognition app. The Shazam app also has visual recognition technology, so users can scan objects and packaging. Now, when users scan mini Shazam codes on products, the app will open interactive content such as games, animations and product visualizations. Starting next month, Shazam is bringing the AR technology to its existing user base that numbers in the millions. Continue reading Music Recognition App Shazam Taps into Augmented Reality

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

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