Consortium Unveils Blockchain Platform for Financial Services

More than 70 of the world’s biggest financial institutions publicly released Corda, a blockchain platform that may become an industry standard. R3, a New York-based financial tech company, created a consortium that is behind Corda. Blockchain, which evolved from the digital currency Bitcoin, is similarly a digital means of replacing the use of hard currency with a Web-based transaction system. Via a “shared record” of data in a secure network, Blockchain avoids the need for third-party verification. Continue reading Consortium Unveils Blockchain Platform for Financial Services

Google Launches Jump Camera Rig and 3D Video Assembler

In fall 2014, Google began developing a project it just unveiled: the Jump 3D video capture and production platform for virtual reality. Just as the newly released Daydream View makes the VR headset affordable, with Jump, the company hopes to make VR production both less expensive and, with 3D, more immersive. Although 3D has lost popularity, its use for virtual reality creates more of a “you are there” experience by emulating the way human vision works. Most 360-degree videos are currently still shot in 2D. Continue reading Google Launches Jump Camera Rig and 3D Video Assembler

Walmart to Ramp Up Online Operation, Google Opens Pop-Up

Walmart told its investors that it was opening fewer brick-and-mortar stores in favor of investing in online operations, a strategy that was initiated when Walmart chief executive Doug McMillon paid about $3.3 billion for e-commerce startup Jet.com. That company’s founder, Marc Lore, will lead the initiative. The company predicts online sales will grow 20 percent to 30 percent in the next three years. Still, it’s a risky gambit since Amazon is increasing its dominance in the U.S. consumer space. Continue reading Walmart to Ramp Up Online Operation, Google Opens Pop-Up

Netflix, iPic to Simultaneously Offer Movies Online, in Theaters

Netflix is continuing its push into cinema by signing a deal with luxury theater-chain iPic Entertainment. The agreement would allow Netflix original films to screen theatrically the same day they are made available via the streaming service. Ten Netflix movies over the next year will screen in iPic theaters in New York City and Los Angeles, according to Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, who indicates the deal could be extended. The agreement also includes the option for films to screen at the chain’s 13 other locations or independent theaters. Continue reading Netflix, iPic to Simultaneously Offer Movies Online, in Theaters

Sony PS Vue Offers HBO, Cinemax as Standalones or Bundle

Following Sony’s recent announcement that the company’s PlayStation Vue streaming service would offer HBO and Cinemax, both premium cable channels are now available as standalones for $15 per month or as part of a new bundle. In addition, the HBO Now app launched yesterday on PS3 and PS4 consoles. According to The Verge, “the new Ultra bundle will include all of Vue’s current offerings, including HBO and Showtime, for $64.99 per month in most locations, and $74.99 per month in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, and Miami. PlayStation says Vue is the first streaming service to offer live programming from HBO and Cinemax without a bundle subscription.” Continue reading Sony PS Vue Offers HBO, Cinemax as Standalones or Bundle

NBA, Oculus Release 25-Minute VR “Story of the NBA Finals’

Oculus, the NBA and a production company called m ss ng p eces (as in “missing pieces”) just released a 25-minute virtual reality film, “Follow My Lead: The Story of the 2016 NBA Finals.” About the dramatic game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, the film, narrated by actor Michael B. Jordan, is the NBA’s first major VR effort. Previously, in early 2015, the NBA worked with Samsung to create 360-degree videos, and the Cavaliers’ LeBron James starred in a VR short produced by Felix & Paul. Continue reading NBA, Oculus Release 25-Minute VR “Story of the NBA Finals’

GoPro Doubles Down on Entertainment with 32 New Programs

GoPro has been in the content business for some time, making money with branded video (including partnerships with Ford and Wimbledon), a content licensing portal (especially action-sports clips shot with GoPro), and a YouTube channel with more than 4 million subscribers and 1.25 billion video views. Now, GoPro is committing to entertainment in a new way: launching 32 short-form shows through the end of 2016 and into early 2017. The company is differentiating itself from rivals by offering video editing tools in the cloud. Continue reading GoPro Doubles Down on Entertainment with 32 New Programs

Pinterest Buys Instapaper, Next Step in Becoming Media Portal

Pinterest is acquiring Instapaper, the app that allows consumers to save content for later viewing. The deal provides San Francisco-based Pinterest with access to vital behavioral data and technology that could help it better target content and ramp up its capabilities to compete with Facebook as a next-generation, insular media portal. Instapaper is expected to remain a standalone app, and Pinterest will invest in its further development. The majority of Instapaper’s team, including CEO Brian Donohue and community manager Rodion Gusev, will relocate from New York to California. Continue reading Pinterest Buys Instapaper, Next Step in Becoming Media Portal

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

New York Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Daily Fantasy Sports

New York passed a bill in June legalizing daily fantasy sports, enabling popular services such as DraftKings and FanDuel to operate in the state. Yesterday, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law. “Daily fantasy sports have proven to be popular in New York, but until now have operated with no supervision and no protections for players,” explained Cuomo. “This legislation strikes the right balance that allows this activity to continue with oversight from state regulators, new consumer protections, and more funding for education.” Continue reading New York Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Daily Fantasy Sports

MikMak Combines Comedy and Sales with E-Shopping Videos

Brooklyn-based startup MikMak is launching a shopping network that combines comedic 30-second “minimercials” and the ability to click and buy products. Founder/chief executive Rachel Tipograph notes that, while infomercials may have a bad reputation, the idea simply needs to be remade for the modern era. The network’s diverse cast of quirky hosts are improv comedians who promote oddball products, including an inflatable strawberry-doughnut pool raft and a waterproof Bluetooth shower speaker. Continue reading MikMak Combines Comedy and Sales with E-Shopping Videos

Live Streaming Will Get its Own Upfronts in NYC This October

“Today” show host Al Roker’s newly-formed Roker Media is teaming up with Brave Ventures to launch the “Live Fronts.” The NewFronts-style event, which will provide live-video companies with the chance to pitch to advertisers, will be held in New York City in October. Attendance will be open to “anyone in the business of live-streaming,” said Brave Ventures co-founder Jesse Rednis. Advertising Age describes the event “as a way to showcase the opportunities for marketers and content producers on platforms like Facebook Live, Periscope and YouNow, while at the same time hanging the open-for-business sign.” Continue reading Live Streaming Will Get its Own Upfronts in NYC This October

The VOID Debuts its First Mixed Reality Attraction in New York

The VOID has opened its “Ghostbusters”-themed experience inside Madame Tussauds wax museum in Times Square. “For $50, visitors can strap on a VR headset and a backpack computer fashioned into a ‘Ghostbusters’ proton pack, pick up a matching gun-shaped plastic prop, and act out a cinematic fantasy in real life,” explains The Verge, which describes “Ghostbusters: Dimension” as “stunningly intricate.” The experience utilizes tracking markers to create full-body avatars of guests and haptic feedback to add unique physical sensations. As Road to VR notes, its success “has something to do with its ‘4D’ components (e.g., the Slimer-cued mist, mock-rickety platforms, the vibrating vest)” and “the user engagement prompted by walking around in and interfacing with a semi-real virtual space.” Continue reading The VOID Debuts its First Mixed Reality Attraction in New York

Dish Unveils New Sling TV Packages and Adds More Channels

Dish announced it is updating its Sling TV streaming service to include popular channels such as Bravo, BBC America, NBC, Syfy and USA. Sling TV will also offer new price packages intended to attract those without pay TV service. “Dish has named its basic $20 single-screen package Sling Orange, and added Sling Blue, a $25 multiscreen package, which will feature local NBC broadcasts in 10 cities,” reports Bloomberg. “Customers can buy a combination of Blue and Orange for $40 a month.” Sling currently has more than 700,000 subscribers. Continue reading Dish Unveils New Sling TV Packages and Adds More Channels

New MoviePass CEO Hopes to Get Theater Owners on Board

Mitch Lowe, a Netflix co-founder and former Redbox president, is now chief executive at New York-based MoviePass, a company that pitches a subscription service for moviegoers. The user gets a debit card, which starts at $30 a month, to attend as many movies as she likes, in movie theaters that cover 90 percent of the country. But movie theater owners are reluctant to fully adopt the non-traditional idea. To gain acceptance, Lowe plans to launch the company’s first major marketing campaign, expand its services and raise more money. Continue reading New MoviePass CEO Hopes to Get Theater Owners on Board

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