Google Play Sells Movies in 117 Countries, Launches 4K Titles

Launched less than four years ago, Google Play has become much more than the official Android app store, establishing itself as a top retailer in home entertainment. Users treat it like a digital media store, where they can buy movies or TV shows digitally — often sooner than they can on Netflix or other streaming services. Google is now selling movies in 117 countries. Next, Play Movies & TV will be offering 4K for over 125 movies in its collection, for sale via Web or mobile. Continue reading Google Play Sells Movies in 117 Countries, Launches 4K Titles

Hulu Launches Ultra HD, YouTube Supports 4K Live Streaming

Hulu has joined Netflix and Amazon in offering select titles in 4K. Subscribers with a Microsoft Xbox One S or Sony PlayStation 4 Pro console (and a minimum connection speed of 13 megabits per second) can now enjoy James Bond films and original Hulu series in the Ultra HD format. Netflix and Amazon also offer select high dynamic range content. Meanwhile, YouTube — which first introduced 4K support to its video-sharing site in 2010 — is now bringing the same capability to live streaming of 4K and 360 videos. The feature should help the site compete with Facebook and Twitter in the live streaming space. Continue reading Hulu Launches Ultra HD, YouTube Supports 4K Live Streaming

Netflix Makes Updates to Improve Visual Quality of Downloads

Last week, Netflix opened the doors to downloaded content for offline viewing on mobile devices. Now, the company is describing some judicious technology adjustments it made to ensure viewers enjoy an improved video image, and that the resulting content doesn’t eat up the mobile device’s storage. The company did that by switching video codecs, although the result favors Android users, as well as improving its already-established method of varying data rates based on the needs of each scene in a movie or TV show. Continue reading Netflix Makes Updates to Improve Visual Quality of Downloads

Amazon Expands its A La Carte Offerings with HBO, Cinemax

Prime video members can access premium cable content from HBO and Cinemax now that Amazon has introduced the channels to its add-on packs in Amazon Channels, which now features more than 70 add-ons available to subscribers willing to pay more each month. “HBO is an additional $14.99 per month, and Cinemax is $9.99 monthly, with both offering 30-day free trials,” notes TechCrunch (HBO’s standalone HBO Now also runs $15/month). “The HBO add-on provides access to HBO’s current hits and past hit shows and limited series, as well as their current licensed movies, and news shows. Likewise Cinemax provides access to their original shows, as well as movies.” Continue reading Amazon Expands its A La Carte Offerings with HBO, Cinemax

Dish’s Sling TV Introduces Beta Test of a Cloud DVR Feature

Dish’s Sling TV is launching a cloud DVR feature, to better compete with Sony PlayStation Vue and other companies that already offer that capability. The new feature will allow consumers to record TV shows and movies for later viewing, and is slated to go into beta in December, according to Sling. The beta test is at first only available to those accessing Sling TV through Roku devices. To sweeten the deal, Sling says its recordings will not expire after 28 days, the length of time that PlayStation Vue saves them. Continue reading Dish’s Sling TV Introduces Beta Test of a Cloud DVR Feature

Amazon Readies Launch of Prime Video in 120 More Countries

Amazon is expected to debut its streaming Amazon Prime Video in about 200 countries and territories, say sources close to the matter. Although a launch in India was already announced, Prime is currently only available in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Austria and Japan. The news was leaked by Jeremy Clarkson, star of the upcoming Amazon automotive show “The Grand Tour,” who tweeted that “Amazon has gone global,” with the show to be available in 200 territories. With a global reach, Amazon will be in direct competition with Netflix. Continue reading Amazon Readies Launch of Prime Video in 120 More Countries

Apple Cuts Fees Charged to Streaming Services in App Store

Apple is halving the amount it charges streaming services to sell video on its App Store, in response to widespread discontent among content partners. Earlier, Apple tried unsuccessfully to create its own live TV service, but instead released an app that relies on programs from streaming services including HBO, Hulu and Showtime. Apple is now cutting its share from 30 percent to 15 percent. Some non-video apps will also dip to 15 percent after the customer has been a subscriber for a year. Continue reading Apple Cuts Fees Charged to Streaming Services in App Store

Fandango Brings Movie VOD Service to Xbox Game Consoles

Movie ticketing company Fandango launched its VOD service FandangoNOW on Microsoft’s Xbox One and Xbox One S consoles. FandangoNOW, which is already on Android TV among other platforms, offers 40,000 new-release and catalog movies as well as next-day TV shows for rent and purchase. The move puts Fandango in direct competition with Apple iTunes, Amazon Video and Walmart’s Vudu. Fandango’s end game is to deploy the rebranded FandangoNOW to increase overall revenues via a home entertainment offering. Continue reading Fandango Brings Movie VOD Service to Xbox Game Consoles

Hulu Acquires The VGP to Improve Recommendation Options

Hulu just bought the assets of The Video Genome Project (The VGP), whose technology automatically aggregates metadata around video content, classifies it into subgenres and then uses the data to connect titles. The VGP makes connections beyond obvious criteria such as genre, director or cast. Hulu says a “small team” from The VGP will join the company, and, with this technology, Hulu will be able to offer classifications similar to Netflix’s more granular offerings, such as “Action Sci-Fi & Fantasy Based on Books.” Continue reading Hulu Acquires The VGP to Improve Recommendation Options

Fox Releases Immersive Project: ‘The Martian VR Experience’

At CES in January, Fox Innovation Lab showed its first cut of “The Martian VR Experience.” Now, 11 months later, 20th Century Fox’s Lab has just released the finished product, directed by Robert Stromberg and executive produced by Ridley Scott, for use with HTC Vive and PlayStation VR. “The Martian VR Experience,” which is available to consumers for $19, takes viewers into the world of the 2015 Fox movie “The Martian,” directed by Scott, where astronaut Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon) was abandoned on Mars. Continue reading Fox Releases Immersive Project: ‘The Martian VR Experience’

Media Companies Leverage Data-Driven AI to Evolve, Prosper

The media industry’s interest in artificial intelligence goes much deeper than simply portraying its implications in movies such as “Her” or “Ex Machina.” Recommendations and push notifications are just two examples of how media uses AI. YouTube has evolved its use of machine learning algorithms to improve its content recommendations. In the early days, the site used “collaborative filtering” to feed videos to viewers. Now the company uses much more complex models based on deep learning powered by neural networks. Continue reading Media Companies Leverage Data-Driven AI to Evolve, Prosper

Arcades Introduce Virtual Reality Entertainment to Consumers

A visitor to New York City’s Westfield World Trade Center Mall will have the opportunity to view a variety of virtual reality films for free. The Mall, in partnership with Tribeca Enterprises, launched a free pop-up virtual reality arcade, offering eight viewing stations with several short immersive films. Virtual reality has failed to catch on in numerous iterations over the last 60 years, and some experts now say that the virtual reality arcade, gaining in popularity in different parts of the world, may save today’s VR from that same fate. Continue reading Arcades Introduce Virtual Reality Entertainment to Consumers

Watching Video on Mobile Devices Increases 85% Since 2010

According to the seventh annual edition of the Ericsson ConsumerLab TV & Media Report, the weekly amount of time that consumers spend watching TV and video via mobile devices has increased 85 percent over the last six years. The report notes that 1.1 billion consumers now use their smartphones or other connected mobile devices to watch streaming video. Average time watching mobile video has jumped more than 200 hours a year since 2012. Overall TV and video viewing is up 1.5 hours per week, while there has been a 2.5 hour per week decline in television fixed screen viewing. Continue reading Watching Video on Mobile Devices Increases 85% Since 2010

DEG Reports Increase in U.S. Home Entertainment Spending

Consumer spending on home entertainment was up 3.8 percent to $4.2 billion in Q3, according to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group. “Leading the charge was subscription streaming, with sales up 23.9 percent,” reports TWICE. “Electronic sell-through followed with a 9.8 percent gain, while VOD trailed in third place among digital formats with a 4.8 percent increase.” Packaged media took a hit, with combined Blu-ray and DVD sales dropping 8.7 percent, while storefront, kiosk and subscription rentals declined 17.8 percent. DEG notes that 85 percent of U.S. homes now have a 1080p TV, and sales of 4K TVs are approaching 10 million units. Continue reading DEG Reports Increase in U.S. Home Entertainment Spending

Vimeo Plans to Become Next Major Subscription VOD Player

According to Variety, “Barry Diller’s IAC has outlined a new strategy for Vimeo to become a major new Netflix-style subscription video-on-demand player — but without spending the kind of dough that Netflix does on original content.” Joey Levin, IAC CEO and interim chief exec of Vimeo, introduced the new strategy during IAC’s Q3 earnings announcement, noting that the company plans to experiment with proprietary subscription services. He did not discuss launch dates or pricing. “Ultimately, our goal is for Vimeo to drive millions of subscriptions and transactions for our creators while also growing a proprietary subscriber base with millions of consumers directly,” wrote Levin. Continue reading Vimeo Plans to Become Next Major Subscription VOD Player

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