Blizzard Suspends Pro eSports Player for His Political Stance

Gaming company Activision Blizzard suspended an eSports player who, during a live broadcast, expressed his support for the pro-democracy protest movement in Hong Kong. Professional “Hearthstone” player Chung Ng Wai has been suspended for a year and forced to give up $10,000 in prize money. The move led to a significant backlash from gamers and politicians via social media and online forums. The public relations dilemma is similar to what played out this week following NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s support of free speech, which led to the decision by China’s state-run television not to broadcast two NBA games. Continue reading Blizzard Suspends Pro eSports Player for His Political Stance

Twitch Makes a Bigger Play to Become All-Purpose Streamer

The live-streaming gaming platform Twitch is hugely popular but has a goal to get even bigger. At the annual TwitchCon event, the company showed off an advertising campaign promoting itself as an all-purpose live-streaming platform. This move takes place just as the site’s biggest star, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, defected to Mixer, a rival streaming service owned by Microsoft. On the gaming front, the company also faces competition from Caffeine, a social broadcast platform that received $100 million from 21st Century Fox. Continue reading Twitch Makes a Bigger Play to Become All-Purpose Streamer

Streaming TV Service Locast Receives a Boost From AT&T

Locast is a streaming service that allows those without a pay-TV subscription to watch sports, news and primetime broadcast programming. Backed by the non-profit Sports Fan Coalition, Locast last week received a $500,000 contribution from AT&T. The service has launched in New York and Los Angeles among other large markets. But Locast has not received TV stations’ consent to carry their feeds, something required by federal copyright law, nor is it paying fees, which comprise a significant portion of broadcasters’ revenue. Continue reading Streaming TV Service Locast Receives a Boost From AT&T

Twitter’s New Content Deals with Univision, WSJ and Others

Twitter hosted its second-ever Digital Content NewFronts event this week, showcasing a series of new and renewed video content deals. The social media mainstay announced 13 video content deals, including a new one with Univision that will cover Spanish-language sports, entertainment, and news, including 2020 election coverage. It also announced a deal with The Wall Street Journal for an original show called “What’s Now,” and other deals with major players like the NFL, Bleacher Report, CNET and others.

Continue reading Twitter’s New Content Deals with Univision, WSJ and Others

MTV VMAs, Twitter Team Up For Fan-Controlled Streaming

For the first time ever, the MTV Video Music Awards will take place in Newark, New Jersey. With the new location comes a new video strategy courtesy of a partnership with Twitter, announced at the social media company’s Digital Content NewFronts event on Monday. When viewers tune into the VMAs in late August of this year, they’ll be greeted by the Stan Cam — a live and interactive viewing experience through which they can vote on the feeds they most want to see, giving them access to celebrities and behind-the-scenes footage. Continue reading MTV VMAs, Twitter Team Up For Fan-Controlled Streaming

March Madness Live VR App Signals Future for Sports Fans

In the age of television, sports fans typically watched their games on the couch or, if they were lucky, in arenas or stadiums. With the advent of virtual reality, however, that paradigm is about to shift. The future of sports promises to be more accessible, interactive, personalized and immersive. The fan might still sit on the couch — or at an office desk — but technologies including the Oculus Go VR headset and Intel’s True View will deliver the game in exciting new angles and a 3D view of everything on the field or court. Continue reading March Madness Live VR App Signals Future for Sports Fans

CES Returns to Las Vegas This Week with Expanded Exhibits

CES 2019, which calls itself the largest and most influential tech event in the world — “where the entire technology ecosystem gathers to conduct business, launch products, build brands and partner to solve some of today’s most pressing societal challenges” — gets underway today with a full day of conference sessions and media briefings before the millions of square feet of exhibit space opens on Tuesday, January 8. CTA, owner of the show, highlighted a number of key sessions and exhibit marketplaces that visitors to CES may want not want to miss and our team will cover this week. Continue reading CES Returns to Las Vegas This Week with Expanded Exhibits

Pro Sports Teams Offer Immersive, Interactive Experiences

Professional sports are often the first to embrace new technology because their fans demand the best experiences available. That’s why the professional sports arena is now integrating immersive technologies including augmented reality, virtual reality and the Internet of Things. The Sacramento Kings use Reddit, Facebook Live, video streaming, virtual reality and bitcoin to immerse their fans in an interactive world. Meanwhile, Los Angeles Clippers chief executive Steve Ballmer is launching CourtVision to offer more interactivity for fans. Continue reading Pro Sports Teams Offer Immersive, Interactive Experiences

Quest: Oculus Demonstrates its $399 Standalone VR Headset

Oculus’ prototype wireless VR headset, codenamed Santa Cruz, is now a product. The new Quest headset is slated to debut this coming spring for $399. At its annual developer conference, the Facebook-owned company showed off the Quest headset, which joins the $199 Oculus Go and $400 Oculus Rift (that requires a dedicated PC). The standalone Quest offers 6DOF (six degrees of freedom). In his keynote address at the event, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg reiterated his goal to have one billion people using VR. Continue reading Quest: Oculus Demonstrates its $399 Standalone VR Headset

Blizzard Entertainment Reveals eSports Expansion Franchises

Blizzard Entertainment, which pioneered competitive eSports 20 years ago in South Korea, is busily turning eSports from a game into a genuine sport. This year, the company, which employs former NBA, NFL, ESPN and Fox Sports executives, launched the Overwatch League’s inaugural season with 12 teams. More than 20,000 spectators attended finals, held at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, with the matches broadcast on ESPN. Blizzard also plans expansion franchises in cities in the U.S., Canada and China. Continue reading Blizzard Entertainment Reveals eSports Expansion Franchises

Verizon Plans to Debut 5G Services in Four Cities Next Month

On October 1, Verizon Communications will roll out a 5G package to residential customers in four cities: Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento. Signups for the service begin this week. The new 5G service relies on millimeter waves, higher-frequency spectrum that can carry more data but can’t travel as far or penetrate many hard materials. Verizon’s new chief executive Hans Vestberg pointed to 5G’s network reliability, low latency, energy efficiency, service deployment time and speedier connection to the Internet. Continue reading Verizon Plans to Debut 5G Services in Four Cities Next Month

Amazon’s Twitch Inks Live-Streaming Deals to Rival YouTube

Amazon is boosting content on Twitch by inking exclusive live-streaming deals with media companies and influencers, to better compete with its rival, YouTube. According to sources, Twitch now offers minimum guarantees of up to “a few million dollars a year” plus a piece of future advertising sales and subscription revenue. In return, Amazon demands a minimum number of live-streaming hours per week. Among the deals signed is one with prankster Tanner Braungardt, who has 4 million YouTube subscribers. Continue reading Amazon’s Twitch Inks Live-Streaming Deals to Rival YouTube

Verizon Announces 5G Wireless Deals With Apple and Google

Apple and Google will be the first video providers for Verizon’s superfast 5G wireless service, slated to launch later this year in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento, California. According to those familiar with Verizon’s plan, customers of the home broadband service will have the option to access live television via a free Apple TV box or a free subscription to the YouTube TV app. Verizon plans to introduce online services using 5G technology that matches or exceeds the speeds of landline offerings. Continue reading Verizon Announces 5G Wireless Deals With Apple and Google

AT&T, Magic Leap Strike Exclusive Mobile Distribution Deal

AT&T inked an exclusive partnership with Magic Leap to distribute its augmented reality glasses. Later this year, potential buyers will be able to try them out at stores in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Magic Leap, which promises a “more practical” AR experience, is reportedly debuting a Creator Edition version later this year. With the deal, AT&T, which is making an equity investment in the company, will offer wireless service and content, most likely from existing partners such as the NBA. Continue reading AT&T, Magic Leap Strike Exclusive Mobile Distribution Deal

U.S. Supreme Court Rules States Can Allow Sports Gambling

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6-3 opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, struck down the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), a federal law stipulating that states could not “sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize” sports gambling. The ruling, which sided with a challenge brought by New Jersey, now opens the door for states to allow legal gambling, upending an over-25 year ban. The major sports leagues have responded positively and enthusiastically to the new status quo. Continue reading U.S. Supreme Court Rules States Can Allow Sports Gambling

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