Qloo Raises $25M for Ad-Targeting Using AI Taste Predictions

New York-based Qloo has raised $25 million to fund an artificial intelligence-powered analytics engine. Drawing on consumer behavioral data from around the globe, Qloo uses proprietary algorithms to filter through more than half a billion attributes, including brands, music, film, TV, podcasts, dining, travel and more. Qloo’s AI models “are capable of identifying trillions of connections between these entities,” the company says, listing Netflix, Michelin and Samsung among those already using the service to find connections between customers who frequent Starbucks and the kind of movies they like. Continue reading Qloo Raises $25M for Ad-Targeting Using AI Taste Predictions

Filmmakers Purchase the Historic Village Theatre in Westwood

A group of filmmakers led by Jason Reitman has purchased the 93-year-old Village Theatre in Westwood, an architectural gem that currently boasts one of the largest screens in Los Angeles. Originally opened as the Fox Westwood Village in 1931 and operated since 2010 by the Regency Theatres group, the structure’s unusual combination of Spanish Mission and Art Deco design earned it a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument designation in 1988. After it was put on the market last year, Reitman gathered more than three dozen backers, including Steven Spielberg, Judd Apatow, J.J. Abrams, Christopher Nolan, Alejandro González Iñárritu and Alexander Payne. Continue reading Filmmakers Purchase the Historic Village Theatre in Westwood

Nielsen: TV Viewership Hits Four-Year High Led by YouTube

The NFL playoffs coupled with heavy streaming and the return of scripted broadcast programming sent January television viewership to a four-year high, according to Nielsen’s The Gauge, which charted a 1.4 percent viewership increase year-over-year — described as noteworthy in a month in which the NFL playoffs typically drive viewership higher. January 2024 included three of the top 10 highest-viewership TV days since The Gauge debuted in May 2021. YouTube continued its streaming dominance for the twelfth consecutive month, with 8.6 percent of January TV streaming viewership, according to The Gauge. Netflix was number two at 7.9 percent. Continue reading Nielsen: TV Viewership Hits Four-Year High Led by YouTube

Nielsen: 21 Million Years Worth of Video Was Streamed in 2023

In 2023, U.S. audiences streamed the equivalent of 21 million years of video, according to Nielsen, which says that’s a record, surpassing by 21 percent the 17 million years’ worth of video streamed in 2022. Apple TV+’s “Ted Lasso” was the most streamed original, while “Suits” was the most-streamed show in a single year. Its 57.7 billion viewing minutes on Netflix and Peacock surpassed “The Office,” which generated 57.1 billion viewing minutes on Netflix in 2020. According to Nielsen’s Gracenote, “audiences had 90 different streaming services to choose from at the end of last year, up from 51 at the start of 2020.” Continue reading Nielsen: 21 Million Years Worth of Video Was Streamed in 2023

Hulu Is Joining Netflix in Cracking Down on Password Sharing

Hulu has revised its Terms of Service in an effort to ban password sharing amongst friends and family members outside of a subscriber’s primary personal residence. Hulu has been announcing via email that subscribers will have until March 14 to comply. According to the revised Terms of Service: “If we determine, in our sole discretion, that you have violated this Agreement, we may limit or terminate access to the Service and/or take any other steps as permitted by this Agreement.” The move by Hulu follows what has been reported as a successful crackdown on password sharing by Netflix in addition to a record number of subscribers in the fourth quarter. Continue reading Hulu Is Joining Netflix in Cracking Down on Password Sharing

Netflix Adds WWE, Touts 12.5 Percent Revenue Growth in Q4

Netflix added 13.1 million subscribers in Q4 2023, its biggest gain in a year-end quarter, and the streamer continues to try to broaden its demographic reach by investing in new content, including a new deal for live WWE wrestling matches. The expansion into live-streaming provides an opportunity to draw regular, appointment viewers, something advertisers like. “No entertainment company has ever tried to program at this scale, and for so many tastes and cultures,” Netflix wrote in a shareholder letter that says it plans to spend up to $17 billion on content in 2024. Continue reading Netflix Adds WWE, Touts 12.5 Percent Revenue Growth in Q4

CES: AI Was Everywhere but Not the Only Thing in Las Vegas

Technology that empowers creators, a new generation of displays, and the promise and peril of artificial intelligence dominated CES 2024. After several years of incremental advances, market development built on maturing technology, and over-hyped trends, this year felt different with an energy that suggests the beginning of a new era. Among the highlights were next generation displays, including MicroLED and transparent technologies. If a consensus emerged, it is that AI may be everywhere but it isn’t everything. “People at the heart of creativity” was Sony’s CES slogan, yet its people-centered sentiment applied broadly across the show. Continue reading CES: AI Was Everywhere but Not the Only Thing in Las Vegas

CES: LG Unveils New Compact CineBeam Qube 4K Projector

LG Electronics’ CineBeam Qube projector weighs just 3.28 pounds, measures 5.3 x 3.1 inches, and doubles as a “stylish art object.” It packs a big picture punch, projecting in 4K Ultra HD (3,840 x 2,160) for images measuring up to 120 inches. Its RGB laser light source delivers pictures the company says are sharp and clear, boasting a 450,000:1 contrast ratio and DCI-P3 color gamut coverage of up to 154 percent. The CineBeam Qube boasts an old-timey rotator handle reminiscent of crank projectors of yore. It’s also a home entertainment center, running on the LG webOS 6.0 platform, with access to streaming services including Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video and YouTube. Continue reading CES: LG Unveils New Compact CineBeam Qube 4K Projector

CES 2024 Expects 130,000 Attendees and 4,000+ Exhibitors

Las Vegas becomes the global center of technology and innovation as more than 130,00 attendees, business leaders, and over 4,000 exhibitors arrive for the start of CES 2024, January 9-12. Across more than 2.5 million square feet of exhibit space and 250 conference sessions, the ETC@USC team of reporters and analysts will cover stories of greatest interest, importance, and potential impact to the future of media and entertainment. Smart TVs and next-gen displays; the latest in processor upgrades; AR, VR and XR; security; mobility and robotics are among the themes we expect to take center stage, all of which will be tied in one way or another to AI. Continue reading CES 2024 Expects 130,000 Attendees and 4,000+ Exhibitors

LG DukeBox Speaker Touts Vacuum Tubes and OLED Display

In the parade of attention-grabbing items queueing up for CES 2024, LG Labs’ “retro-futuristic concept speaker” is generating early buzz. The DukeBox combines old-timey vacuum tubes with a transparent OLED display that can be used to view programing or provide ambient imagery (of, say, a crackling fireplace that lets the tubes ghost through thanks to the OLED’s adjustable transparency). Also showcasing at the CES LG Labs zone: a biped robot equipped with AI, the Gram Fold 17-inch foldable OLED laptop and the CineBeam Qube 4K projector that displays up to 120-inch images. Continue reading LG DukeBox Speaker Touts Vacuum Tubes and OLED Display

Comcast Makes Its Xumo Boxes Available for One-Time Fee

Comcast is now making Xumo Stream Boxes available to its Xfinity broadband customers. New customers can get one Xumo Box for a $15 activation fee and no monthly charge. Additional units will be billed at $5 per month, the company says. The Xumo Stream Box comes preloaded with hundreds of streaming apps. In addition to NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service, popular favorites like Disney+, Hulu, Max, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube are on the menu. Free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channels are also packaged in, with 20 options from Xfinity Stream and more than 300 from Xumo Play. Continue reading Comcast Makes Its Xumo Boxes Available for One-Time Fee

Netflix Releases Engagement Report, Reveals Hours Viewed

In a move toward increased transparency, Netflix has begun sharing specifics regarding program consumption data. This week, the streamer released the first “What We Watched: A Netflix Engagement Report,” detailing how many hours the most popular content was viewed January to June 2023. On a call with reporters, co-CEO Ted Sarandos described the information as “a continuum” of improvements to viewership measurement. The report “covers more than 18,000 titles — representing 99 percent of all viewing on Netflix,” which for the six-month period totaled “nearly 100 billion hours worldwide,” according to Netflix. Continue reading Netflix Releases Engagement Report, Reveals Hours Viewed

Netflix Uses Deep Learning to Optimize Streaming in 4K HDR

Netflix has completed a worldwide technology upgrade that improves video quality for Premium subscribers viewing 4K HDR titles. The move is being hailed as welcome news in the wake of a price hike to $22.99 from $19.99 for U.S. Premium customers. Netflix used the “dynamic optimization” video encoding method to implement an HDR variant of the company’s VMAF (Video Multimethod Assessment Fusion) quality metric. The new HDR-VMAF is the result of a collaboration between Netflix and Dolby Laboratories that employs “subjective tests with 4K HDR content using high-end OLED panels,” according to Netflix. Continue reading Netflix Uses Deep Learning to Optimize Streaming in 4K HDR

YouTube Experiments with Streaming Video Game Playables

YouTube is following in Netflix’s footsteps as the latest streamer to expand into games. YouTube Premium subscribers on mobile and desktops will be able to access a suite of games it has branded “Playables.” A total of 37 mini-games can be found using the Explore tab for those who opt-in. Titles include “Angry Birds Showdown,” “Daily Solitaire,” “Brain Out,” and “Daily Crossword.” The streaming games don’t need to be downloaded or installed, but can be played directly from YouTube’s servers. YouTube says the games will initially be available through March 28, making the effort seem somewhat experimental. Continue reading YouTube Experiments with Streaming Video Game Playables

Bill Gates Imagines Agents as the Human-Computer Interface

Bill Gates has published his thinking about the future of computing, and fascinatingly, it’s the same as his prediction from decades ago: agents. No mere bots — and certainly not anthropomorphized paperclips — agents (to Gates) will abstract almost all HCI to a natural language conversation with systems that have our permission to take meaningful actions. Gates makes a highly specific prediction: within five years, the very idea of an app itself will seem as outdated as a rotary phone dial does next to an iPhone. A conversational UI will sit on top of a language model that has access to as much of our private data as we wish to give it. Continue reading Bill Gates Imagines Agents as the Human-Computer Interface