Apple Plans to Purchase Digital Magazine Distributor Texture

Apple announced that it is acquiring Next Issue Media LLC and the company’s digital subscription service, Texture. For $10 per month, Texture provides subscribers with access to all or part of more than 200 magazines on Apple and Android devices. The deal will give the tech giant an additional business line that provides recurring revenue, similar to Apple Music. It could also help Apple’s relationship with publishers. Texture was originally created to give publishers more control over digital distribution, but was later rebranded as a service that offers curated articles based on subscribers’ interests. Continue reading Apple Plans to Purchase Digital Magazine Distributor Texture

Facebook Strikes Significant Deals With MLB, Warner Music

Facebook and Major League Baseball have agreed to an exclusive deal through which Facebook now has rights to stream 25 afternoon MLB games live on its social media platform. This marks the first time a major sports league in the U.S. has agreed to broadcast regular season games exclusively on Facebook — and the decision was unanimous among MLB owners. Though neither party disclosed financial details, people close to the matter say it is valued between $30-$35 million. Facebook also signed a major licensing deal with Warner Music Group. Continue reading Facebook Strikes Significant Deals With MLB, Warner Music

Sony Showcases Interactive Hologram Experiences at SXSW

The South by Southwest (SXSW) technology, media and culture conference is taking place in Austin, Texas this week. From March 10-13, Sony invited guests to its WOW Studio, an interactive exhibit blending art and technology that featured displays and prototypes involving spatial audio, AI and robotics, tabletop projection, VR gaming, and more. Sony created interactive augmented reality without the fuss (or added cost) of goggles, glasses or other headgear, and SXSW attendees had the opportunity to participate in immersive hologram experiences.

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Nearly 20 Percent of Adults Have Access to a Smart Speaker

Nearly one in five U.S. adults — 47.3 million, or 20 percent of the country’s adult population — has access to a smart speaker, according to Voicebot.ai research. In this case, “access to a smart speaker” means having a smart speaker in the home, even if the adult is not the primary user. Unlike smartphones and other personal technologies, not every person in the home is likely to have one. Thus, it’s likely most apt to compare smart speakers to TVs, which took 13 years to reach the 50 million mark versus just two years for smart speakers.

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Amazon Envisions Alexa as a Universal Language Translator

You may soon be able to command “Alexa, Translate” and get sophisticated results. According to sources familiar with the matter, Amazon’s latest aim for Alexa, its popular voice-enabled assistant, is to become a real-time universal language translator. They say the tech giant is “seriously exploring” ways to make Alexa more useful cross-culturally. In order to do so, Amazon must significantly expand Alexa’s current ability to translate basic words and phrases in languages including Spanish, German, French and Italian.

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Riding AirPod Success, Apple to Debut High-End Headphones

Following the success of Apple’s AirPod earphones, the tech giant is planning another music-centric product with a push into the high-end headphones market. This would potentially compete with its own Beats by Dre brand, which Apple acquired in 2014 for $3 billion. According to people familiar with the product’s development (Apple reps declined to comment), Apple is working on wireless, noise-canceling, over-ear headphones for launch at the end of 2018 unless ongoing development challenges push back the release. Continue reading Riding AirPod Success, Apple to Debut High-End Headphones

Twitch’s Reality Show Aims to Promote Aspiring Video Stars

Twitch will debut its reality competition show, “Stream On” on March 8, featuring 14 online video personalities vying for a $60,000 prize over an 11-week period. The competition and its prize money is intended to help finance and promote the streaming careers of new Twitch Partners who are building audiences already, but have yet to break out. Those selected to compete are gaining recognition for talent beyond gaming, such as art, comedy, cooking and music. The show will be produced by Twitch Studios and air live on Twitch.tv. Continue reading Twitch’s Reality Show Aims to Promote Aspiring Video Stars

Google Plans to Maintain Current Spending on YouTube Red

Google plans to maintain its current level of spending on the YouTube Red streaming service for the next two years, unlike Amazon and Netflix, both of which continue to up their investments. After switching its video strategy more than once, YouTube is currently approaching entertainment in three ways: its YouTube Red on-demand streaming service, live video service YouTube TV, and a new music streaming product. YouTube Originals are a “driving force” on YouTube Red, says the company’s chief business officer Robert Kyncl. Continue reading Google Plans to Maintain Current Spending on YouTube Red

Documentarians, Trade Associations Debate Copyright Laws

One of the gray areas of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is the exemption for filmmakers. Although documentary filmmakers are allowed to use small pieces of copyrighted films in some circumstances, many of them say the provision is unclear and can lead to confusion and uncertainty. In late 2017, the International Documentary Association, Kartemquin Films, Independent Filmmaker Project, University of Film and Video Association and others asked the U.S. Copyright Office for clarity. Trade associations including the MPAA, RIAA and ESA have expressed concerns regarding exemptions. Continue reading Documentarians, Trade Associations Debate Copyright Laws

IMDb and Paramount Network Introduce Alexa Flash Briefing

IMDb, the Internet Movie Database owned by Amazon has teamed up with Paramount Network (formerly Spike TV) to launch its first Alexa skill. The Flash Briefing is a customizable news alert that gathers information from several online sources; the “What’s on TV” Flash will also list the airtime and network information of the day’s top five trending TV shows, as rated by IMDb page views. The user activates the briefing by saying, “Alexa, what’s my Flash Briefing?” Amazon banned ads in Alexa skills except for Flash Briefings and within music. Continue reading IMDb and Paramount Network Introduce Alexa Flash Briefing

HPA 2018: Imagining the Future of AI and Storytelling in Media

At the HPA Tech Retreat Wednesday breakfast roundtables, program director Yves Bergquist led a discussion on the work he is doing at ETC on storytelling and artificial intelligence. “We’re doing a lot of research around how to create a more semantic understanding of narrative structures and create a machine-readable understanding of storytelling,” he explained. HPA Tech Retreat regular Jim Burger, an attorney who sat at the table, engaged in a conversation with Bergquist about the copyright infringement potential of AI and storytelling. Continue reading HPA 2018: Imagining the Future of AI and Storytelling in Media

Musicians and Music Groups Push for Updated Copyright Law

Musical artists and music organizations are banding together in an effort to pass copyright legislation on content recorded before February 17, 1972. A coalition of 213 artists and eight music organizations has joined forces to ask Congress to pass the “CLASSICS Act” (H.R. 3301/S. 2393), which would cover such older recordings, resulting in increased royalties for this older era of musical content. The coalition placed a two-page ad in Politico on February 14 that made their case for the legislation. Continue reading Musicians and Music Groups Push for Updated Copyright Law

Facebook to Enter the Smart Speaker Market With Two Devices

By no later than July 2018, Facebook plans to introduce two smart speakers with 15-inch touchscreens. Code-named Aloha and Fiona, the two smart speakers, say sources, are aimed to let family and friends stay in touch with video chat and other social features. With the launch, Facebook joins Amazon, Alibaba, Apple, Google and Microsoft, all of which have debuted smart speakers into the global marketplace. According to Canalys, smart speaker sales are on track to double to over 50 million units in 2018. Continue reading Facebook to Enter the Smart Speaker Market With Two Devices

Two Editors Describe New Model to Reinvigorate Local News

Local news is already in sad shape, and Facebook and Google now aim to cover it rather than national news. But two editors of digital outlets are proposing a different model for invigorating local news, especially in urban areas that where the local press has been destroyed by digital technology. In this model, very good journalists would cover the news that no one else is covering — and ignore everything else that isn’t local news, including the Super Bowl, movie reviews and the stock market report. Continue reading Two Editors Describe New Model to Reinvigorate Local News

Best Buy to End CD Sales, While Target Adjusts Sales Model

Physical CDs are still selling well, although the U.S. has seen sales down by 18.5 percent. But Best Buy and Target have just taken steps that may hasten the demise of physical media. Best Buy, which was once the biggest music seller in the U.S., has told its music suppliers that it plans to pull CDs from its stores on July 1. The company will continue to carry vinyl records for two years, fulfilling a promise made to vendors. Meanwhile, Target is now telling music suppliers it will sell CDs on a consignment basis. The move would also impact sales of movies, TV shows and other video content on DVD. Continue reading Best Buy to End CD Sales, While Target Adjusts Sales Model

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