YouTube TV Aims to Convert Cord-Nevers to New Subscribers

YouTube TV has premiered in several cities with 40+ channels of entertainment, news and sports at $35/month. The aim is to entice so-called cord-nevers — millennials who have never paid for cable — to subscribe, to watch on-demand on any device. YouTube has already reached one billion viewers, so if even a tiny fraction signs up, it could be a win for advertisers and YouTube owner Google. Among its competition in the Internet TV market are Dish’s Sling TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now and Sony PlayStation Vue. Continue reading YouTube TV Aims to Convert Cord-Nevers to New Subscribers

HTC Unveils Subscription Service for Vive VR Headset Users

Taiwanese phone manufacturer HTC has rolled out its anticipated monthly subscription service for virtual reality content, including video games and short interactive films. For a $7 per month fee, users can download up to five VR titles a month from the online Viveport store. HTC is positioning the new service as a way for customers to try out an app before they decide to purchase it. The service is only available to owners of the HTC Vive VR headset. Among the titles initially available are “Everest VR” and “Mars Odyssey.” Continue reading HTC Unveils Subscription Service for Vive VR Headset Users

Apple Pursues Premium Bundle to Sell HBO, Showtime, Starz

In its latest pay TV proposal, Apple wants to offer a premium bundle that combines HBO, Showtime and Starz, three channels it already sells individually (sources say Apple does not yet have a deal with any of the networks for a package deal). The bundle would be different than a traditional subscription level offered by a conventional pay TV operator, since Apple could offer its proposed premium bundle as a “standalone product, delivered via its iOS devices and its Apple TV set-top box,” reports Recode. “Sony, AT&T and Dish all sell Web TV packages, and Google and Hulu have announced plans to sell their own.” Continue reading Apple Pursues Premium Bundle to Sell HBO, Showtime, Starz

Netflix Dominance Pushing Studios to Earlier Release Window

Big spending digital players Netflix and Amazon are shaking up traditional TV stalwarts. Netflix is expected to spend $6 billion on original and acquired programming this year, up $1 billion from last year. That figure is five times more than what cable outlets FX (owned by 21st Century Fox) and Showtime (owned by CBS Corp.) spend and more than twice that spent by Time Warner’s premium channel HBO. TV actors are demanding $250,000 an episode, twice their previous rate, and there’s a feeding frenzy for A-list below-the-line crews. Continue reading Netflix Dominance Pushing Studios to Earlier Release Window

Vudu’s Mobile App Converts DVDs, Blu-rays into Digital Copies

Vudu will now let people convert their DVD and Blu-ray Disc content into digital copies for use on various Internet-connected devices by simply scanning the UPC barcode via their smartphones. One caveat, however, is that the Vudu Mobile Disc-to-Digital feature requires the user to be physically located at their home billing address. That requirement is an anti-fraud measure put in place by Walmart, which bought the premium video-streaming service in 2010. The feature is also limited to transfer 100 titles per year per account. Continue reading Vudu’s Mobile App Converts DVDs, Blu-rays into Digital Copies

Hulu TV Service Will Likely Offer Simultaneous Streams, Alerts

Hulu’s upcoming live TV service will compete for cord cutters with offerings such as Dish’s Sling TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now, Sony’s PlayStation Vue and YouTube TV. While details of the new service have been limited, the company’s marketing site (where it’s currently taking sign-up requests) has teased a few tidbits. The service will likely offer a combination of Hulu’s on-demand content with the option of live TV for a monthly fee below $40. It will also feature a DVR option; a new interface with user profiles, guest profiles, and recommendations; the ability to pause a live TV show for later viewing; real-time custom alerts for events and programs; and support for multiple, simultaneous streams on live TV. Continue reading Hulu TV Service Will Likely Offer Simultaneous Streams, Alerts

Sony Holds Lead in Console Market, Platform Subs on the Rise

IHS Markit reports that Sony led the gaming hardware, software and service market last year, nearly doubling the share of Microsoft and its Xbox One. Sony is expected to continue its dominance through 2017. According to IHS, Sony captured 57 percent ($19.7 billion) of spending by gamers in 2016, “thanks to growth of digital console games,” notes VentureBeat, adding, however, “that the overall console game market shrank in 2016, and Nintendo is newly competitive this year with the launch of the Switch game console.” Additionally, Microsoft may experience a rebound this year with the launch of its PS4 competitor, Project Scorpio. Continue reading Sony Holds Lead in Console Market, Platform Subs on the Rise

PlayStation Now Service to Support Streaming of PS4 Games

Sony’s cloud-based PlayStation Now service currently offers subscribers access to 483 PS3 titles for streaming via PS4 consoles and Windows PCs. The service is about to expand its offerings with support for a new platform. In the next few weeks, the company will launch a private test of PlayStation 4 games on PS Now (select subscribers will receive emailed invitations). This means that gamers will no longer need a PlayStation 4 to experience the platform’s games. According to Sony, additional details will be shared “as we get closer to launch.” Continue reading PlayStation Now Service to Support Streaming of PS4 Games

Eye-Catching Products Displayed at Mobile World Congress

Consumer electronics companies from all over the world debut their newest gadgets at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and this year some of the most notable new devices were not phones. The interactive HoloCube by Merge, for example, is an AR system that displays games and educational content on a toy cube. Roborace built a self-driving car that can reach speeds of 200 mph. Additional gadgets that made a splash this year include a new 12-inch Samsung tablet, the 5x Dual Camera Zoom prototype from Oppo, and Giroptic’s 360-degree, live-streaming camera. Continue reading Eye-Catching Products Displayed at Mobile World Congress

Sony Smartphones Tout Premium Cameras and 4K Displays

Sony’s Xperia series smartphones — the flagship XZ Premium, the smaller XZ, and the large XA1 Ultra — now feature impressive imaging capabilities, including an option to shoot video at 960 frames per second to enhance the phones’ slow motion capture feature. The lens improvements adjust the lighting to better illuminate nighttime scenes and all images are displayed in ultra-high definition 4K. Beyond the camera, Sony struck a deal to stream Amazon content on Xperia phones without the need for clunky third-party apps. Continue reading Sony Smartphones Tout Premium Cameras and 4K Displays

Record-Breaking Launch Weekend for New Nintendo Console

The new Nintendo Switch hybrid video game console had the highest first weekend sales in the U.S. of any system in Nintendo’s history, beating a record previously held by the Nintendo Wii. “Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” the first major title for Switch, is also the best-selling launch title in the first two days of sales. The initial numbers are promising for Nintendo, but the challenge is to keep the momentum to reach its goal of selling more than 100 million Switch consoles. That kind of success hasn’t been seen since Nintendo’s Wii console, but so far, the Switch is off to a solid start. Continue reading Record-Breaking Launch Weekend for New Nintendo Console

Mixed Reality Technology Is Coming to Xbox Game Consoles

Microsoft plans to integrate its Windows Mixed Reality technology into the Xbox One and the next iteration of the Xbox (currently codenamed “Project Scorpio”), coming out next year. Windows Mixed Reality tech powers Microsoft’s HoloLens AR headset, as well as AR and VR headsets from other manufacturers. Acer is making a Windows Mixed Reality headset that can support both VR and AR experiences. Microsoft will compete with Sony’s Playstation VR and others in the VR gaming space. Continue reading Mixed Reality Technology Is Coming to Xbox Game Consoles

Twitch Moves to Digital Delivery, Microsoft Game Site to Debut

Amazon’s live streaming video platform Twitch plans to begin delivering computer games digitally. Starting this spring, the user will see a “buy” button on website broadcasts of computer games from 20 companies; players can download the game and other goods, such as expansion packs, directly from the site. According to comScore, in the U.S., Twitch is now No. 8 among the top 500 visited websites in terms of average time spent per visitor. Also this spring, Microsoft will debut subscription-based Xbox Game Pass. Continue reading Twitch Moves to Digital Delivery, Microsoft Game Site to Debut

Apple’s 10th Anniversary iPhone to Tout Curved OLED Screen

One model of Apple’s upcoming new iPhones will feature a flexible OLED screen, similar to those used by Samsung Electronics, say sources. The Wall Street Journal reported in November that the Silicon Valley company had asked manufacturers to produce prototype screens. Now, say those sources, Apple has ordered enough components for mass production. With an OLED screen, Apple would have the ability to bend the screen in a variety of ways, including adding a curve at the edge of the phone. Continue reading Apple’s 10th Anniversary iPhone to Tout Curved OLED Screen

Facebook Drops Price of its Rift VR Headset to Spur Adoption

In an effort to jumpstart sales, Facebook-owned Oculus VR is slashing $100 off the price of its Rift virtual reality headset and its Touch motion controllers. The Rift headset will be lowered to $499, while the Touch drops to $99. Consumers will still need a computer with enough power to support the Rift. When the headset launched last spring, consumers were surprised by the $599 price tag. According to Jason Rubin, Oculus VR head of content, recent surveys indicate that cost has been the primary obstacle to sales. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg believes VR will take at least 10 years to become our next computing platform. Continue reading Facebook Drops Price of its Rift VR Headset to Spur Adoption

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