Filmmakers Return to Production During COVID-19 Pandemic

After months of shutdown, film and television production is reviving in two countries that have successfully flattened the curve. Producer Lucas Foster isolated his cast and crew in a small Australia town to shoot Stephen King’s “Children of the Corn.” Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur used color-coded armbands to shoot Netflix sci-fi series “Katla” in Reykjavik. Going back to production in the time of coronavirus isn’t easy, and requires security guards to monitor social distancing, medical staff and other strict protocols. Continue reading Filmmakers Return to Production During COVID-19 Pandemic

EU Commissioner Holds Facebook Liable For Disinformation

European commissioner for internal market Thierry Breton advised Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg that, if he and his company do not redouble efforts to rid the platform of disinformation, they will be subject to tougher rules. “When you are the [chief executive], at the end of the day, you are the only one to be responsible, no one else,” said Breton at an online event organized by the Centre on Regulation in Europe (CERRE).  The two had a face-to-face meeting two months ago in Brussels. Continue reading EU Commissioner Holds Facebook Liable For Disinformation

Scener Offers Virtual Theater and Video Chat for HBO, Netflix

WarnerMedia’s HBO has partnered with Seattle-based Scener to allow HBO Now and HBO GO subscribers to create a private virtual theater, including video chat, for up to 20 people. Scener already allows co-viewing for Netflix accounts. This is HBO’s first significant partnership with an online co-viewing platform. Scener co-founder Joe Braidwood said the company saw a “crazy surge in demand” for the product with the COVID-19 pandemic. The partnership, which began in March, includes a new design for the site and update for Google Chrome browsers. Continue reading Scener Offers Virtual Theater and Video Chat for HBO, Netflix

TiVo Stream 4K Offers Cord-Cutters Live TV, Streaming Apps

TiVo launched Stream 4K, its first device that focuses on streaming video. The Stream 4K dongle, which plugs into HDMI and hangs from the bank of the TV set, was announced at CES 2020 and is shipping today for $50. It uses Google’s Android TV system to access Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube and other familiar apps and provides 4K resolution, Dolby Atmos sound and Dolby Vision HDR if available from the app. Stream 4K will compete with Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K and Roku Streaming Stick+. Continue reading TiVo Stream 4K Offers Cord-Cutters Live TV, Streaming Apps

Cloud Services Experience Record Revenue, Slowing Growth

According to Canalys, by the end of Q1 2020, companies spent a record $31 billion on cloud infrastructure, 34.5 percent growth from $23.1 billion for Q1 2019. Despite increased spending, however, the growth trajectory is slowing: Q1 2019 showed a 39.3 percent year-on-year (YoY) increase and Q4 2019 a 37.2 percent year-on-year increase. Cloud spending therefore grew only 2.6 percent or $800 million quarter-on-quarter by end of March 2020. Canalys attributes growth to the shift to remote working during the pandemic. Continue reading Cloud Services Experience Record Revenue, Slowing Growth

Some Drive-Ins Experience New Life as Movie Theaters Close

Drive-in theaters have been in decline since the 1970s, with only 300 such theaters still open in the U.S. Now, with movie theaters closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, some of those remaining drive-ins are experiencing a bit of a renaissance. In Virginia, one 54-year old theater is open for business, with at least three of that state’s other drive-ins ready to reopen. According to United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association president John Vincent, about 150 drive-ins will reopen in the next three weeks as the shutdowns are lifted. Continue reading Some Drive-Ins Experience New Life as Movie Theaters Close

Chip Sales Surge as Screen Time Increases During Pandemic

As a result of the global shutdown, personal and business Internet usage is way up. SimilarWeb reported that users spent an additional 5 billion hours of screen time in March — a 13 percent leap over February — on the 100 most popular sites, including Facebook and Google. Likewise, Amazon, Netflix and YouTube are thriving. That’s led to a surge in demand for chipsets. Micron Technology chief executive Sanjay Mehrotra said his company is shifting production of its chips away from smartphones and towards data-center products. Continue reading Chip Sales Surge as Screen Time Increases During Pandemic

‘Trolls’ Sequel Tests PVOD Model While Theaters Are Closed

“Trolls World Tour,” produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Universal Pictures, was due to release in movie theaters on April 10. But when the coronavirus pandemic closed theaters, Universal decided to release it as a $19.99 digital rental on platforms including Apple TV, Amazon and Comcast’s Xfinity. Three weeks later, “Trolls” has generated almost $100 million, more than the original 2016 movie. That has encouraged Universal execs to consider digital release as a real alternative to postponing a theatrical release. Continue reading ‘Trolls’ Sequel Tests PVOD Model While Theaters Are Closed

TV, Streaming and E-Commerce Skyrocket During Pandemic

According to a poll by Los Angeles-based E-Poll Market Research, Americans have doubled their TV viewing in the last month-and-a-half and expect to continue watching TV and streaming more after the coronavirus pandemic is over. E-Poll also found that people are wary of going into spaces such as theaters, concert venues, sports stadiums and theme parks where social distancing is problematic. Polling lowest was “taking a cruise.” E-commerce is also booming in the current crisis, with Amazon seen as the biggest winner. Continue reading TV, Streaming and E-Commerce Skyrocket During Pandemic

Netflix Adds About 16 Million New Subscribers, New Content

At the end of Q1 2020, Netflix added 15.8 million new subscribers, more than double the company forecast. The growth spiked in March when people began to be confined due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Netflix stated that viewing and membership growth will decline when those circumstances end. As chief executive Reed Hastings put it, “We, too, are really unsure of what the future brings.” The company is still adding to its stock of original programs, buying the rights to a period piece set in the world of Sherlock Holmes. Continue reading Netflix Adds About 16 Million New Subscribers, New Content

NBCU’s Fandango Purchases Streaming Video Service Vudu

Following the soft launch of its Peacock streaming service to Comcast Xfinity X1 and Flex customers, NBCUniversal is bringing another streamer into the fold, this time to expand its Fandango offerings. Movie ticket seller Fandango has acquired digital movie and TV streaming platform Vudu from retail giant Walmart, with plans to merge it with digital marketplace FandangoNOW. According to Walmart, Vudu is available on more than 100 million devices, while its mobile app has more than 14 million downloads.  Continue reading NBCU’s Fandango Purchases Streaming Video Service Vudu

NBCUniversal Launches Peacock Service for Comcast Subs

NBCUniversal debuted its streaming platform Peacock to more than 10 million subscribers of parent company Comcast’s cable service using Xfinity X1 and Flex devices. Peacock is slated for a wider rollout this summer. With the coronavirus pandemic forcing many in the U.S. to stay at home, TV and streaming services have seen skyrocketing usage, according to Nielsen. Streaming via Comcast Xfinity was up 50 percent in March from February. NBC had planned to promote Peacock during the Tokyo Summer Games, which have since been postponed. Continue reading NBCUniversal Launches Peacock Service for Comcast Subs

While Streaming Services Surge, a Number of Hurdles Loom

Streaming video is in high demand, as millions of people sheltering at home seek entertainment. According to a poll of 2,000 people by The Wall Street Journal and the Harris Poll, Americans spent $37 per month on streaming services in March, up from the $30 they spent in November. Amazon Studios chief operating officer Albert Cheng calls the rising metrics “jaw-dropping.” The Walt Disney Company is also experiencing a bump, with its Disney+ signing up 50 million global subscribers within five months of launching. However, existing and emerging services face a mounting recession and delayed productions. Continue reading While Streaming Services Surge, a Number of Hurdles Loom

Arthouse Theaters Opt to Stream Indies via Virtual Cinemas

Movie theaters have been shutting down as the coronavirus pandemic keeps patrons at home, and smaller, often family-run chains are taking it hard. At the Laemmle Theatres arthouse chain in Los Angeles, Greg Laemmle noted his concern about “generating revenue during this period.” Like other such small theater chains, Laemmle has taken a step he never dreamed of: introducing “virtual cinemas” to stream the movies that would have run in their theaters to audiences’ homes. Digital tickets cost around $12, and the link remains available for a few days. Continue reading Arthouse Theaters Opt to Stream Indies via Virtual Cinemas

MANRS Group Intends to Ramp Up Internet Routing Security

A group of Big Tech companies — including Akamai, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Netflix — have signed on to Mutually Agreed Norms for Routing Security (MANRS), a group designed to improve the Internet’s routing security. The ability to hijack Internet connections has proven too tempting and too easy for some evildoers, and MANRS is intended to tighten up security in an environment that has emboldened criminals and nation-state spies to create ever-bigger, more dangerous disruptions. Continue reading MANRS Group Intends to Ramp Up Internet Routing Security

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