Apple Debuts 24-Hour Live-Streaming Music Video Channel

On October 19, Apple premiered Apple Music TV, a free 24-hour curated live stream of popular videos including what the company says are “exclusive new music videos and premiers, special curated music video blocks, and live shows and events as well as chart countdowns and guests.” The new service will, at first, be available to U.S. residents only on the Apple Music and Apple TV apps. The service launched with a countdown of the top 100 “most-streamed” songs in the U.S. and held an all-day Bruce Springsteen special event on October 22. Continue reading Apple Debuts 24-Hour Live-Streaming Music Video Channel

Universal Adopts a New Theatrical/Online Distribution Model

During the holiday season, to pump up motion picture theater attendance, Comcast’s Universal Pictures is trying a new distribution model — releasing more movies and making them available sooner for online rental. On December 4, it will release “All My Life” to U.S. theaters, the eighth film slated for domestic release by the end of 2020. That’s almost double its releases during the same period in 2019, and far more than other Hollywood studios. Meanwhile, AMC is offering its theaters for rent, starting at $99.

Continue reading Universal Adopts a New Theatrical/Online Distribution Model

Virtual Production Is on Track to Replace More Costly Tools

In virtual production, filmmakers marry actors and digital environments in real time. Now, in the United Kingdom, video game developer Rebellion Developments has completed what it says is the first “all virtual” film, the five-minute “Percival,” which was broadcast on Rebellion’s YouTube channel. The company built a studio to create more such virtual productions out of its library of intellectual property. Rebellion said “Percival” was shot entirely in front of large flat screen displays connected to PCs running Unreal Engine. Continue reading Virtual Production Is on Track to Replace More Costly Tools

Music Is the Focus in Spotify’s New ‘Original Shows’ Format

In response to learning that listeners want to discover and save music in their favorite podcasts, Spotify is debuting “Original Shows,” a new spoken word format that combines music with particular themes featuring a monologue or conversation with guests. But, unlike a typical podcast, each song inside an Original Show will redirect the listener to that artist’s Spotify official audio files. That means the artist will make the same money as if a listener sought out his or her music. Listeners can also like and save a song while they’re listening to it. Continue reading Music Is the Focus in Spotify’s New ‘Original Shows’ Format

AMC Is Running Out of Cash, Sells Some Shares and Assets

AMC Entertainment, the world’s largest movie theater chain, will run out of cash by the end of 2020 if current conditions do not change. Although it’s reopened 83 percent of its U.S. theaters, attendance is down 85 percent from a year ago. In September, AMC set a goal of raising $180 million but so far has raised only about $37.8 million by selling shares. Other fundraising options include taking on debt or selling assets. AMC sold its nine theaters in Europe’s Baltic region of Europe for about $77 million. Continue reading AMC Is Running Out of Cash, Sells Some Shares and Assets

In Major Reorg, Disney Moves Streaming Services to Center

The Walt Disney Company is reorganizing to put more emphasis on its streaming video services Disney+ and Hulu. The company is creating content groups for movies, general entertainment and sports, with a distribution unit that will determine the best platform — streaming, TV network, movie theater — for every piece of content. According to Disney chief executive Bob Chapek, the move acknowledges that consumers now are more likely to watch content on a streaming service than broadcast and cable channels or movie theater screens. Continue reading In Major Reorg, Disney Moves Streaming Services to Center

Viewers Turn to Xumo and Other Ad-Supported VOD Services

Despite the focus on successful subscription streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+, free ad-supported TV services have actually been growing at a faster clip. AVOD (ad-supported video on demand) or FAST (free ad-supported TV) is flourishing largely via large media companies. Fox’s Tubi, ViacomCBS’ Pluto TV and Xumo, now owned by Comcast, are all performing well. Xumo has skyrocketed 2.5 times, reaching 24 million U.S. monthly active users. Comcast acquired Xumo in February 2020 from Panasonic and Meredith Corp. Continue reading Viewers Turn to Xumo and Other Ad-Supported VOD Services

ETC Executive Coffee: Verizon’s Albert Lao & USC Students

“How will advances in network technology over the next 36 months impact the way we watch movies, play video games, and create and produce immersive and engaging experiences?” was addressed during the first “ETC Executive Coffee with…” Zoom session. The September 23rd meeting was hosted by Albert Lao, executive director of solutions architecture for the Americas, Verizon Business Group, who took time to speak with a group of USC students. After a short video describing Verizon’s plans for 5G and edge computing, Lao led a discussion on the future of streaming media, the post-pandemic theatrical experience, immersive media, and other topics related to entertainment and technology. You can watch a 22-minute highlight reel of the one hour discussion or start with a 4-minute preview video. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Verizon’s Albert Lao & USC Students

Cineworld Temporarily Suspends Operation of Regal Cinemas

A day after the opening of James Bond film “No Time to Die” was pushed to April 2, 2021, Cineworld stated it was considering closing 536 Regal Cinema theaters across the United States and 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse Cinemas locations in the United Kingdom. Now, Cineworld has confirmed the temporary suspension of its U.S. and UK operations starting Thursday, October 8, blaming the lack of new films in the pipeline. Cineworld is the UK’s biggest cinema operator and the second largest chain in the U.S. The closure will impact about 45,000 employees. Continue reading Cineworld Temporarily Suspends Operation of Regal Cinemas

Watch-Party Startup Scener Gets $2.1 Million in New Funding

Two-year startup Scener, which has been offering co-viewing watch parties, just brought in $2.1 million in new funding. Its usage spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic, even as Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and other services also debuted watch-together features. Scener, which unveiled with a web-browser overlay for Netflix, now supports 10 streaming platforms, including, in addition to Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Funimation, Vimeo, YouTube, Alamo On Demand and Disney’s Hotstar. Continue reading Watch-Party Startup Scener Gets $2.1 Million in New Funding

Unions and Studios Agree to New Rules for Safe Productions

Hollywood unions and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers inked new safety protocols to enable the return of film and TV productions after six months of inactivity due to COVID-19. The Directors Guild of America, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Basic Crafts unions and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists inked the deal after months of negotiation. On June 12th, the unions adopted the “Safe Way Forward” protocols. Continue reading Unions and Studios Agree to New Rules for Safe Productions

AT&T to Launch Ad-Supported HBO Max and Mobile Service

AT&T plans to introduce a lower-cost, ad-supported version of HBO Max in the spring, said chief executive John Stankey, who added that it would be a “light ad load.” Some shows, however, would only be available to subscribers who pay for the full-price version. With the move, HBO Max is joining Hulu and NBC’s Peacock that also offer a free or lower-price version that comes with commercials. Stankey also revealed the company is considering ad-supported wireless phone plans as soon as a year from now. Continue reading AT&T to Launch Ad-Supported HBO Max and Mobile Service

CBS All Access Will Be Rebranded Paramount+ Early in 2021

ViacomCBS plans to roll out Paramount+, a new version of its flagship streamer CBS All Access, that will take advantage of a larger program catalog created by last year’s merger of CBS and Viacom. Among the original shows exclusive to Paramount+ are “Lioness” from “Yellowstone” creator Taylor Sheridan and “The Offer,” a scripted series about the making of “The Godfather” saga. CBS All Access costs $5.99 per month with ads and $9.99 per month without them, but ViacomCBS didn’t release pricing for Paramount+. Continue reading CBS All Access Will Be Rebranded Paramount+ Early in 2021

Facebook Rolls Out New Messenger Feature, Watch Together

Facebook launched Watch Together, a feature for Messenger and videoconferencing platform Messenger Rooms, to allow users to watch videos in real time with family and friends on Apple and Android mobile devices. Users choose videos to view through Facebook’s video hub, Facebook Watch. The push to promote yet more video comes at a time when, due largely to COVID-19, more people than ever are at home watching content. Facebook Messenger allows up to eight people on a video call, and Messenger Rooms tops out at 50 people. Continue reading Facebook Rolls Out New Messenger Feature, Watch Together

Video: NAB Panel on ETC Film Project and Virtual Production

Last week, NAB and sponsor Grass Valley hosted a day of online sessions covering various “Production in a Pandemic” topics. ETC@USC’s Erik Weaver moderated a compelling panel during which industry experts discussed the methods used to produce the short film “Ripple Effect,” a live-action project testing the limits of virtual production. The production focused on how Previz, Techviz and Safetyviz can help limit crew and cast to create a safer work environment. Video of the panel — “In Harm’s Way: Using Safetyviz to Mitigate Onset Liability” — is now available on the NAB Show site. Continue reading Video: NAB Panel on ETC Film Project and Virtual Production

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