AT&T to Roll Out Streaming TV Service Aimed at Cord-Nevers

By the end of 2016, AT&T plans to debut DirecTV Now, a streaming service targeting cord-nevers, the 20 million households with no cable or satellite service. Sources say that AT&T intends DirecTV Now, which will deliver multiple live-feeds via broadband to the home, to become its primary video platform within five years. The platform will offer more than 100 channels and the ability to stream to two devices simultaneously, all without the need for cable or satellite service. AT&T bought DirecTV for $48.5 billion last year. Continue reading AT&T to Roll Out Streaming TV Service Aimed at Cord-Nevers

Google Offers Daydream SDK and Unity Support to Developers

Having exited beta, Google’s VR platform Daydream is now available to developers who can use the VR SDK to build virtual reality experiences for Daydream-capable phones and headsets. Daydream is already baked into Android 7.0 (Nougat) and can also integrate with Unity and Unreal game engines. Apps to be available at launch include CNN, HBO, Hulu, IMAX, MLB, NBA, Netflix, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, as well as Ubisoft and Electronic Arts games. Daydream was first introduced at Google I/O in May. Continue reading Google Offers Daydream SDK and Unity Support to Developers

Netflix CFO Explains Plans to Ramp Up Original Programming

Speaking at Goldman Sachs’ Communacopia conference yesterday, Netflix CFO David Wells explained that the streaming service’s goal over the next few years is to offer more original programming. The company is aiming for half of its content to be represented by original productions and the other half licensed movies and TV shows. According to Wells, original programming will continue to be content produced by Netflix in addition to a range of co-productions and acquisitions. Netflix is “one-third to halfway” toward reaching its goal, he said. Continue reading Netflix CFO Explains Plans to Ramp Up Original Programming

Netflix Debuts Open Source Tools for IMF and Image Testing

Netflix has long collaborated with rivals, most notably on cloud computing open source projects. Now, it’s released “Meridian,” a 12-minute movie that acts as test footage to allow hardware manufacturers, codec developers and engineers to evaluate imagery. The company is also releasing open source tools to encourage the use of the Interoperable Master Format (IMF), developed as a standard by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers for exchanging master files between studios, distributors and services such as Netflix. Continue reading Netflix Debuts Open Source Tools for IMF and Image Testing

Startup Layer3 Streams 200 HD Channels on Private Network

For the high-end customer, startup Layer3 TV is offering a high-end solution: a wide selection of HDTV networks, delivered over the Internet, and installed by technicians driving all-electric BMW i3s. Unlike other streaming services, such as Hulu and Netflix, which use the public Internet, Layer3 has contracted the use of privately managed networks, a more costly option that provides better, more robust results. Layer3 debuted in Chicago in early September and plans to expand to major markets in the next 18 months. Continue reading Startup Layer3 Streams 200 HD Channels on Private Network

TiVo Introduces Bolt+ DVR with Six 4K Tuners and 3TB Drive

Following Rovi’s $1.1 billion acquisition of TiVo and the unveiling of TiVo’s new UX on-screen user experience, the company has now rolled out its latest DVR, the Bolt+ with six 4K tuners and 3TB of storage. While last fall’s 4K-ready Bolt debuted a white chassis and curved form factor, the Bolt+ returns to TiVo’s standard black body. The newest addition to the Bolt family can record 450 hours of HD content and allows users to simultaneously record and stream more shows. The Bolt+ will be available for $499.99 (not including the monthly service fee) starting tomorrow. Continue reading TiVo Introduces Bolt+ DVR with Six 4K Tuners and 3TB Drive

Amazon Said to Be Looking Beyond Video to Streaming Sports

According to unnamed sources, Amazon is actively pursuing the rights to numerous sports, including the French Open tennis championship and professional rugby as well as golf, soccer, auto racing and U.S. sports such as basketball and baseball. Capturing rights in the U.S. will be challenging since CBS, NBCUniversal, Fox, Turner Sports and ESPN have inked long-term contracts for most major sporting events. In talks, Amazon points to the popularity of Amazon Prime, which reaches an estimated 63 million U.S. subscribers. Continue reading Amazon Said to Be Looking Beyond Video to Streaming Sports

Google Builds Cast Functionality Directly into Chrome Browser

Google recently integrated full Google Cast capability directly into its Chrome browser, a significant upgrade to its previous Cast extension that allowed streaming from Chrome to supported devices like the company’s popular Chromecast. The Cast icon will appear on all sites that support it, enabling Cast functionality from the Chrome menu, no software download required. Cast is also now available on third party hardware such as TV sets and speakers. More than 38 million casts were sent from Chrome in August alone, representing over 50 million hours of consuming media content. Continue reading Google Builds Cast Functionality Directly into Chrome Browser

FCC Chair Pushes Compromise Plan to Open Set-Top Boxes

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler hasn’t given up on his goal to open up the TV set-top box market, thus breaking the cable industry’s dominance in this arena. Sources say he is preparing a “compromise version” of his proposal by which cable companies would be required to make their feeds available, via apps, to competitive device manufacturers. In today’s market, the set-top box, which once simply translated cable signals for TV sets, can now be used to offer access to cable TV and video-streaming services such as Hulu or Netflix. Continue reading FCC Chair Pushes Compromise Plan to Open Set-Top Boxes

Netflix Video Codec Study Finds x265 More Efficient Than VP9

After comparing 5,000 streaming clips from 500 titles using x264, x265, and libvpx codecs, Netflix found x265’s implementation of HEVC to be the most efficient while offering the highest quality. However, “whether that matters in light of compatibility and licensing issues isn’t so obvious,” notes Streaming Media. The study, which focused on VOD rather than live, compared codecs and not specifications (instead of comparing encoding specs, Netflix compared implementation of the specs). “Netflix’s tests clearly show that x265 is 20 percent more efficient than libvpx when encoding premium content using the most stringent settings, and measuring quality with VMAF.” Continue reading Netflix Video Codec Study Finds x265 More Efficient Than VP9

Amazon Debuts Pilots on Twitch, Remaking It as Test Platform

Amazon, which paid $1 billion for Twitch Interactive two years ago, has identified an interesting way to use the platform beyond gaming. The company streamed two original TV pilots on Twitch, which ordinarily hosts game competitions to 10 million daily users. With that user base, Twitch is now an ideal venue for Amazon to test new original shows before committing to a full season. Audiences voted on one of the two comedy pilots: comic book superhero spoof “The Tick” or “Jean-Claude Van Johnson,” starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. Continue reading Amazon Debuts Pilots on Twitch, Remaking It as Test Platform

Latest Chips from Intel Designed for Playing 4K Video on PCs

Intel just debuted its seventh generation of PC chips, featuring a built-in ability to play and edit Ultra HD and 4K video. The chips reflect the fact that an increasing number of younger consumers use portable computers as their go-to device for viewing video content. Although Netflix, most notably among others, has created 4K video programs, consumers have been limited in their ability to see it in its native resolution. The new chips accommodate both HEVC and VP9 compression and support copyright protection software. Continue reading Latest Chips from Intel Designed for Playing 4K Video on PCs

Viewer Satisfaction with Streaming Video Varies, Says Report

A new study from J.D. Power examined the levels of consumer satisfaction with streaming video services among subscribers to traditional cable or satellite services, cord shavers, cord cutters and cord nevers. The J.D. Power survey, conducted in June and July, relied on the responses of 4,000 customers. The cable and satellite industries will be heartened by the results: the happiest consumers are those that are using streaming services in addition to pay-television subscriptions. Continue reading Viewer Satisfaction with Streaming Video Varies, Says Report

YouTube Rolls Out TV App Designed for Living Room Viewing

YouTube just upgraded its TV application to be easier to use on actual television sets, a response to the growing popularity of cord cutting, smart TVs and streaming media players. The company’s latest app will feature a redesigned look and has organized its categories to better reflect how people use YouTube on bigger screen devices in the living room. More specifically, consumers who watch YouTube videos on TV screens rather than mobile devices or desktops, tend to browse for content. Continue reading YouTube Rolls Out TV App Designed for Living Room Viewing

SVOD Service Yuyu Offers Titles from Independent Publishers

New York-based Digital Media Rights is attempting to bridge the gap between cable networks and YouTube with the launch of its new Yuyu streaming service. Yuyu, which joins an increasingly crowded SVOD market, currently features more than 350 titles with an emphasis on content from independent publishers. The video aggregation company, which has more than 8,000 TV shows and movies under license and distribution deals with Hulu and Amazon Prime, plans to launch three more OTT services this year, adding to its portfolio that includes Asian Crush and Midnight Pulp. Continue reading SVOD Service Yuyu Offers Titles from Independent Publishers