CES 2020: From Smart TVs to Intelligent Digital Gateways

Though not the driving force they once were, TVs are still a staple at CES. This year’s show is overflowing with display technologies like microLEDs and curved OLEDs from high-end to budget manufacturers alike. The “Smart” moniker has been just as ubiquitous. Thanks to beefier processors, additional sensors, the cloud and Dolby, however, “Smart” is no longer just an alias for “Internet-Ready.” Multiple manufacturers are showcasing technologies meant to marry personalization with creative intent while establishing a new digital gateway for the home. Continue reading CES 2020: From Smart TVs to Intelligent Digital Gateways

CES 2020: Launch of First ATSC 3.0 NextGen TV Products

The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) launched 20 ATSC 3.0-enabled TV models. CTA chair of the video division board John Taylor introduced ATSC president Madeleine Noland, NAB president/chief executive and former Republican senator from Oregon Gordon Smith, and CTA president/chief executive Gary Shapiro. “This year NextGen TV joins the roster of new product announcements, with TV stations building out enhanced TV systems,” said Noland. “ATSC is proud to exhibit at CES for the first time — and we’ll be back next year.” Continue reading CES 2020: Launch of First ATSC 3.0 NextGen TV Products

Netflix Tests Feature to Skip Browsing and Begin Streaming

Netflix started a global test of a new feature — dubbed Watch Now — that allows users to skip browsing titles and begin streaming immediately. The new feature will appear as a button on the profile selection page that opens when the Netflix app launches on a smart TV or streaming device. Netflix is well known for testing features with specific local markets, device categories or audiences. Watch Now is being tested for a month or two with a small worldwide audience on TVs and TV-connected devices including Roku and Fire TV. Continue reading Netflix Tests Feature to Skip Browsing and Begin Streaming

TV Maker Vizio to Sell Ads on SmartCast Operating System

Television manufacturer Vizio is forming Vizio Ads to sell advertising on its Internet-connected SmartCast TV operating system. To do so, the company plans to hire “about two dozen” ad salespeople across the U.S. next year. Senior vice president Mike O’Donnell, who revealed that six salespeople have already been hired, stated that Vizio Ads will be housed with Vizio’s TV data unit Inscape, both of which reside in the company’s “platform business.” Currently, advertising is sold by companies whose programming streams on SmartCast. Continue reading TV Maker Vizio to Sell Ads on SmartCast Operating System

Apple Drops More on Ads for iPhone Than Its OTT Platform

Apple’s debut of its streaming service, Apple TV+, has garnered outsized attention. But an examination of Apple’s spending on marketing indicates the Silicon Valley company’s main priority is its new iPhone. In September and October this year, Apple spent a total of $71.9 million on iPhone ads and $40.3 million on Apple TV+ ads. In October, for example, Apple spent $19.9 million on television commercials for Apple TV+, but, according to measurement company iSpot.tv, only $38.6 million on the new iPhone. Continue reading Apple Drops More on Ads for iPhone Than Its OTT Platform

Streaming Video Competition Heats Up, Threatens Price War

Major entertainment entities entering the streaming video market have collectively spent $2+ billion on classic TV shows as they jockey for position ahead of a looming battle for dominance. The services, which include Apple TV+, Disney+, WarnerMedia’s HBO Max and, newcomer NBCUniversal’s Peacock, are also busy spending money to sign talent for new original programs. All these services are scheduled to launch between November and April; the activity also points to the potential for a price war. Continue reading Streaming Video Competition Heats Up, Threatens Price War

Study Suggests Early Interest in Disney Streaming Service

According to a new study by UBS, more U.S. consumers plan to subscribe to the Disney+ streaming service than the company earlier projected. The study found that 43 percent of respondents plan to subscribe to the service, which is rolling out November 12. Of the 43 percent, UBS learned that 57 percent plan to cancel at least one other subscription service after they sign up for the new Disney offering (37 percent said they would likely cut pay TV; only 19 percent referenced dropping networks such as HBO or Showtime). Meanwhile, Disney revealed that consumers who sign up for the D23 Official Disney Fan Club and are willing to commit to a three-year Disney+ subscription, will be offered a significant discount. Continue reading Study Suggests Early Interest in Disney Streaming Service

Facebook Plans to Test Selling VOD Subs Directly to Users

Facebook will launch a small-scale test in the U.S. over the coming weeks to sell video subscriptions directly to its users for BritBox from BBC Studios and ITV, Dropout by CollegeHumor, Motor Trend On Demand and Tastemade Plus. Facebook will initially test the waters with these four smaller services. While no major streaming video services are scheduled to be part of the test, Facebook has contacted networks such as HBO and Showtime about selling their OTT services on the social platform and has reportedly talked with Disney, Hulu and Netflix about offering their streaming services via a new TV chat device rumored to be launching this fall. Continue reading Facebook Plans to Test Selling VOD Subs Directly to Users

Toshiba Fire TV Model Lowers Price Barrier for Dolby Vision

Amazon and Toshiba are launching a line of Fire TV Edition sets that include support for Dolby Vision. The 4K televisions, which will be sold exclusively through Amazon and Best Buy, come in a 55-inch model ($499.99) that is available today, followed by 43-inch ($329.99) and 50-inch ($379.99) models to be released on June 30. Dolby Vision’s HDR format is regarded as superior to HDR10 because it allows scene-by-scene adjustments to picture quality. The Amazon-Toshiba sets mark the first time that Dolby Vision will be available in more affordable Fire TV Edition models. Continue reading Toshiba Fire TV Model Lowers Price Barrier for Dolby Vision

VOD Platform Inks Licensing Deals With Hollywood Studios

Los Angeles-based startup ROW8 has signed licensing deals with Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. as part of its strategy to compete with transactional VOD offerings from the likes of Apple and Amazon. The streaming movie service, which launched last year with foreign and indie titles, is now targeting mainstream audiences with library titles and new releases from major Hollywood studios. It is taking an industry standard approach with $5.99 new-release rentals and $2.99-$3.99 catalog titles, but is also adding a feature that offers customers the ability to receive future credits for movie rentals they did not enjoy. Continue reading VOD Platform Inks Licensing Deals With Hollywood Studios

NBC Targets News Junkies With Ad-Supported OTT Service

NBC News is introducing its free, ad-supported streaming video service with an eight-hour programming day (3:00-11:00 pm Eastern, Monday through Friday) and a mix of news content. “NBC News Now” hopes to attract a new generation of information aficionados with a blend of short-form “Briefly” updates, live reports and in-depth stories. “We want to be the premiere place for viewers who are news junkies — news savvy, digitally savvy, but may not be watching on traditional platforms or have access to cable service,” explained Rashida Jones, SVP of specials for NBC News and MSNBC, who is overseeing the initiative. Continue reading NBC Targets News Junkies With Ad-Supported OTT Service

Digital Agency Exec Details Why Set-Top Box Needs to Die

At an NAB 2019 panel moderated by the organization’s vice president of advanced technology So Vang, Jason Brush detailed the case for why today’s set-top box needs to die. Brush, who is the global EVP for experiences and innovation at WPP’s flagship digital agency known as POSSIBLE, has designed interfaces for set-top boxes (as well as the Sony PlayStation 4 game console and Sony Xperia X10 mobile phones among others). His perspective on the topic arose from an epiphany he had looking at his cable bill. Continue reading Digital Agency Exec Details Why Set-Top Box Needs to Die

A Deep Dive into Media & Entertainment in China and India

China and India are the world’s most populous nations. Although most people in the industry know at least a bit about media & entertainment in these countries, an NAB 2019 panel brought in two native experts to paint a fuller, more realistic and even surprising picture. A discussion moderated by Corto founder/chief executive and ETC project lead Yves Bergquist brought together two leading experts: Whistling Woods’ Chaitanya Chinchlikar from India and Dr. Charles Lee from China, both of whom gave in-depth presentations. Continue reading A Deep Dive into Media & Entertainment in China and India

TRON Plans to Revive BitTorrent Live as Social Media App

BitTorrent, purchased by blockchain startup TRON last year, plans to re-introduce BitTorrent Live, an OTT service first debuted in 2011 and shuttered in 2017. The new BitTorrent Live will be an Android/iOS social media app, whereas the original version provided access to free and paid TV channels. The company, which has put out a call for beta testers, has positioned the new app as similar to Snapchat and ByteDance’s TikTok in that it will encourage users to create and share content with like-minded people. Continue reading TRON Plans to Revive BitTorrent Live as Social Media App

Consumers Frustrated by the Number of Streaming Options

The massive growth of streaming entertainment options may present a downside. According to Deloitte’s latest annual Digital Media Trends survey, 47 percent of U.S. consumers indicate they are becoming frustrated with the increasing number of subscriptions and services required to access the media content they want. In addition, 57 percent say they are also frustrated when their favorite movies and TV shows are no longer available due to the expiration of licensing agreements. There are more than 300 over-the-top options for video in the U.S. today, a number continuing to rise. Continue reading Consumers Frustrated by the Number of Streaming Options

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