Details Continue to Emerge on Disney+ Subscription Service

Disney is continuing to invest in its ESPN+ streaming service and expenses are mounting for the company’s upcoming Disney+ subscription offering as it finances productions such as the “High School Musical” series and exclusive “Star Wars” spinoff “The Mandalorian.” Shareholders learned yesterday that the company posted a quarterly loss for its direct-to-consumer division as a result, but that revenue increased 15 percent, beating Wall Street projections. Disney also announced yesterday that its blockbuster, record-breaking hit “Avengers: Endgame” will debut exclusively on Disney+ this December. Continue reading Details Continue to Emerge on Disney+ Subscription Service

AMD’s New Frontier Will Be World’s Fastest Supercomputer

This week, AMD announced a partnership with Cray to build a supercomputer called Frontier, which the two companies predict will become the world’s fastest supercomputer, capable of “exascale” performance when it is released in 2021. All told, they expect Frontier to be capable of 1.5 exaflops, performing somewhere around 50 times faster than the top supercomputers out today, and faster than the currently available top 160 supercomputers combined. Frontier will be built at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

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YouTube to Roll Out Free Originals, Measurement Analysis

At IAB’s Digital Content NewFronts in New York City last week, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki revealed that 2 billion monthly global users now watch more than 250 million hours of YouTube content on TV screens daily. The video hub is actively working on brand safety issues, plans to integrate Nielsen Catalina analysis to measure increases in offline sales, and — in a significant strategy shift — announced it would remove the paywall for some of its ad-supported original programming. Starting this year, all of the platform’s new original series and specials will be available for free. Continue reading YouTube to Roll Out Free Originals, Measurement Analysis

YouTube Aims For Trending Videos to Come From Own Site

On the heels of a controversial quarter, YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki sent a newsletter to YouTube users and creators announcing that half of all featured videos on the site’s trending tab will come from YouTube itself. This assurance is meant to alleviate worries from some of YouTube’s most popular content creators who have concerns over copyright challenges, advertising policies, and video monetization, particularly related to YouTube’s favoring of more traditional content (movie trailers, TV clips) on its trending tab.

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Netflix Rolls Out Audio Quality Upgrade For Its Programming

After noticing that the audio in episodes of the Netflix series “Stranger Things” wasn’t as crisp as it should be, the company’s internal sound technicians took steps to address the issue. For the past several months, they’ve been working to enhance the sound quality of all Netflix programming, original and licensed. This week and moving forward, subscribers will have access to what’s simply being called “high-quality audio.” The upgrade, which will not require Netflix users to change their Internet service speeds, is optimized for devices that support Dolby 5.1 and Dolby Atmos sound.

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Hulu Has 28 Million U.S. Users, Announces Original Content

At the Digital Content NewFronts in New York City this week, Hulu revealed that its streaming video service now has 26.8 million monthly paid subscribers in the U.S., plus 1.3 million promotional accounts. That’s an increase from about 20 million total users this time last year. Hulu announced a new “binge advertising experience” that intends to be a less intrusive way to target binge viewers. Hulu also detailed new content deals, including a multi-year partnership with Vox Media Studios for food-centric programming and two new live-action series from Marvel for 2020. Continue reading Hulu Has 28 Million U.S. Users, Announces Original Content

Walmart Plans to Launch Original Content For Vudu Service

As the world’s largest retailer, Walmart is known for selling many things, including TVs. However, it’s not typically known for what consumers watch on those TVs. That could soon change. This week, Walmart will unveil a sampling of a new slate of original programming to advertisers in New York with the goal of driving viewership to its Vudu streaming service. Unlike other streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon, Walmart doesn’t plan to sell subscriptions. Instead, it wants to use shows to advertise products directly.

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Verizon, ThirdEye Gen Partner on 5G Mixed Reality Glasses

Verizon is teaming with ThirdEye Gen to offer its first official mixed reality smart glasses for 5G. ThirdEye has been awarded two patents for OLED displays and low-latency data streaming. The partnership is ThirdEye’s first with a wireless provider, said company founder Nick Cherukuri, who noted that the “advanced 5G use cases … will bring about a new era of hands-free human interaction.” One example would be an auto mechanic who could scan a “complex motor” and send the image to a remote expert for real-time help. Continue reading Verizon, ThirdEye Gen Partner on 5G Mixed Reality Glasses

NBCUniversal Debuts Its ‘Series’ Interactive Storytelling App

NBCUniversal became the latest media outlet to dip a toe into interactive storytelling, with “Series: Your Story Universe,” a mobile game produced by Universal Games and Digital Platforms with Endless Entertainment. The team picked IPs not easily adapted for mobile games that allow users to interact with stories based on favorite TV shows and movies, including “Vanderpump Rules,” “Saved by the Bell,” “Law & Order,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Bridesmaids,” “Sixteen Candles” and “Xena: Warrior Princess.” Continue reading NBCUniversal Debuts Its ‘Series’ Interactive Storytelling App

Sinemia Movie Subscription Service Calls It Quits in the U.S.

Sinemia, billed as a competitor to MoviePass with its multi-tiered subscription-based movie ticket offering that started in Europe, announced it will shutter its U.S. operations. Like MoviePass, Sinemia has faced challenges sustaining its subscription model and working out monetization, especially while contending with similar services from theater chains such as AMC with its Stubs A-List offering. In addition, Sinemia has been dealing with a patent lawsuit from MoviePass and a class-action suit from subscribers frustrated by account policies, hidden fees and app problems. Continue reading Sinemia Movie Subscription Service Calls It Quits in the U.S.

MoviePass Subs Down 90 Percent, Despite Unlimited Plan

Since MoviePass tweaked its formula, it has lost over 90 percent of its subscribers. Business Insider reported that, based on “internal data,” it found that the movie subscription company now has 225,000 subscribers. In June 2018, MoviePass stated it had signed up over three million subscribers for a plan that then cost $9.95 per month and allowed viewers to see one movie a day. The company pulled back on the plan in August that year, converting subscribers to a new plan permitting three movies per month. Continue reading MoviePass Subs Down 90 Percent, Despite Unlimited Plan

Verizon Media Tackles Production Tech With Global Studios

Verizon Media (formerly Oath) now has production studios located in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris, Singapore, Sunnyvale and Taiwan. In addition, it built a 5G Los Angeles studio with plans to help pioneer new formats and production tech enabled by advanced 5G wireless connectivity. The worldwide facilities are being used by Verizon Media brands such as AOL, HuffPost, TechCrunch and Yahoo. The L.A. space — led by Verizon Media’s immersive media arm RYOT — is outfitted with full motion capture and volumetric capture stages. Continue reading Verizon Media Tackles Production Tech With Global Studios

Netflix Facing New Competition as Domestic Growth Slows

Subscription video service Netflix is still growing, but the new subscription numbers come largely from the international market. In the U.S., Netflix reported 1.7 million new subs in Q1 2019 out of a total of 9.6 million new customers. The streaming giant’s slowed domestic growth — including predictions for a slower Q2 globally — is likely due to increased competition as well as its recently raised subscription fees. Netflix investors are also concerned that the company cannot maintain what has thus far been rapid growth. Continue reading Netflix Facing New Competition as Domestic Growth Slows

Hulu Positioned to Become Most Serious Netflix Competitor

Amazon, Apple, AT&T and Disney aim to compete against Netflix, the current giant in streaming video. The one contender that rises above is Hulu, which has gone through several owners (Disney, 21st Century Fox, Comcast and Time Warner). AT&T sold Time Warner’s stake, and with the purchase of Fox, Disney is now Hulu’s majority owner. Hulu originally streamed shows from other networks, but its profile changed with “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which became the first “streaming-native” show to win an Emmy for best drama series. Continue reading Hulu Positioned to Become Most Serious Netflix Competitor

Disney, Rutgers Scientists Use AI to Generate Storyboards

Disney Research and Rutgers University scientists just created an end-to-end model using artificial intelligence to produce a storyboard and video featuring text from movie screenplays. This kind of text-to-animation model is not new, but this research advances the state-of-the-art by producing animations without annotated data or pre-training. The researchers wrote that the system is “capable of handling complex sentences” and is intended to make creatives’ work “more efficient and less tedious.” Continue reading Disney, Rutgers Scientists Use AI to Generate Storyboards

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