HBO, Netflix Find Success With Series Companion Podcasts

HBO’s limited series “Chernobyl” not only won 10 Emmys last month — it’s also been a huge hit as a behind-the-scenes podcast. The first episode of the podcast aired in early May, and — to the shock of everyone involved in it — quickly became the No. 2 podcast across all categories in iTunes. Now, said HBO senior vice president of digital marketing and content Jim Marsh, the podcast has generated more than 10 million plays. Netflix has also found stellar success with its “Behind the Scenes: Stranger Things 3” podcast. Continue reading HBO, Netflix Find Success With Series Companion Podcasts

Why This Reviewer Hails Mastodon as a Refuge From Twitter

For people who may be growing tired of Twitter, there is Mastodon, an open-source community-run microblogging website that first appeared in 2017. The social media platform lets users post “toots” and “boost” other users’ posts. The decentralized network exists as numerous “instances,” each of which has its own rules and administrators and which together form a “federation.” There is no central server, so if one “instance” stumbles in some way (for example, forgets to pay for the Internet), none of the other instances are harmed. Continue reading Why This Reviewer Hails Mastodon as a Refuge From Twitter

Google Takes a Major Step in TV Ad Delivery With CBS Deal

In pursuit of a piece of the $72 billion U.S. TV advertising market, Google has its first big win in getting TV and video companies to embrace its video ad tech software. The company inked a partnership with CBS to provide the technology to deliver ads for its latest original “Star Trek: Discovery” series, the main attraction for CBS All Access, its new streaming subscription service. The new deal is a hoped-for win-win for both Google and CBS, and a challenge to other ad tech systems. Google also debuted an ad buying software tool last spring. Continue reading Google Takes a Major Step in TV Ad Delivery With CBS Deal

CBS Bets on Digital, Expanding All Access Streaming Service

CBS is assertively growing its digital operations, with an expansion of its CBS All Access streaming service to global territories and the planned launch of a digital sports network in the U.S. later this year. By doing so, the company is following the money: Q2 results this year showed unexpectedly high sales and earnings, boosted by streaming subscription services and college sports. CBS All Access, available in the U.S. for $5.99 per month, is scheduled to launch in Canada in early 2018 and other international markets soon after. Continue reading CBS Bets on Digital, Expanding All Access Streaming Service

HPA Tech Retreat: Washington Update Examines IP, FCC, FAA

At the HPA Tech Retreat, Thompson Coburn attorney Jim Burger delivered his annual Washington Update, opening with a clip of President Trump suggesting that his government is operating like a well-oiled machine. “I have nothing to say,” said Burger in response, reporting that Marco Rubio told him, “every day something is new in the Senate.” Burger’s update focused on intellectual property issues, including litigation, as well as actions of the FCC regarding net neutrality and set-top boxes, and the FAA regarding drones. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Washington Update Examines IP, FCC, FAA

CBS Debuts Ad-Free Version of All Access Streaming Service

CBS has introduced an ad-free, $9.99 per month option for its All Access on-demand service. The new option eliminates nearly all advertising, except for promotional interruptions during select series. The original version of the service, with reduced commercials, costs $5.99 per month. “The addition of a commercial-free plan gives our subscribers even more ways to customize their CBS viewing experience — from which devices to whether they watch in or out of the home, and now with commercials or without,” said Marc DeBevoise, president and COO of CBS Interactive. Continue reading CBS Debuts Ad-Free Version of All Access Streaming Service

Amazon Gets Echo, AWS IoT Buttons into Developers’ Hands

With smart speaker Echo and its voice assistant Alexa, Amazon turned its attention to voice-controlled devices, forging partnerships with startups and other companies. With Echo, users can control thermostats from Ecobee, talk to Invoxia SAS’s portable speaker and, soon, open the garage or start the engine of a Ford automobile. As more developers integrate Echo into their products, Amazon is better able to compete against Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and similar technology that Google is presently working on. Continue reading Amazon Gets Echo, AWS IoT Buttons into Developers’ Hands

ABC and Warner Bros. Ink Deal for Network’s Digital Platforms

ABC just struck a deal with Warner Bros. Television to make all in-season episodes of any future series from the studio available on ABC digital platforms. That’s a victory for the network over other streaming services, in particular Netflix, which often insists on exclusivity, thus blocking networks from securing so-called stacking rights, or five rolling episodes of a current show. The ABC-Warner Bros. deal means that ABC will have more relevant content for its own time-shifted options, including the revamped WatchABC app. Continue reading ABC and Warner Bros. Ink Deal for Network’s Digital Platforms

Programming Free-for-All Favors Consumer Power of Choice

Traditional TV networks are pulling out all stops to succeed with their non-traditional streaming platforms. CBS is launching a new “Star Trek” series in 2017, which will air exclusively on its CBS All Access app; HBO inked a deal with former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart to create new content for HBO Now; and NBCUniversal is cranking out original series and specials for its Seeso comedy channel, due to launch in January. Meanwhile, Vice Media plans a 24/7-cable channel with A+E Networks. Continue reading Programming Free-for-All Favors Consumer Power of Choice

Fan-Built Virtual Reality Starship Has Trekkies Wanting More

Sci-fi fans and others have tried before to recreate the Enterprise-D starship from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” in virtual reality. Although some of these VR experiences have been impressive, another one has just arrived on the scene that stands far above the rest, say some VR enthusiasts. The Enterprise Construction Project is spearheaded by a 3D artist identified only as Jason, whose obsession is to create a VR version of the entirety of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D and all its 42 decks. Continue reading Fan-Built Virtual Reality Starship Has Trekkies Wanting More

DirecTV is the First Pay TV Provider to Offer 4K Ultra HD VOD

DirecTV has added 19 4K Ultra HD titles to its video-on-demand service. Along with Sony, M-Go, and Netflix, DirecTV is one of the first to offer the new video format, which is nearly four times the resolution as traditional 1080p. The company plans to begin offering Ultra HD television channels next year. So far, just a relatively small group of consumers have the Ultra HD TVs needed to watch the content. While only 800,000 Ultra HD TVs shipped in the U.S. this year, analysts project interest is on the rise. Continue reading DirecTV is the First Pay TV Provider to Offer 4K Ultra HD VOD

Google Acquires Effects Startup Zync, Takes on Amazon Cloud

Google plans to make special effects more affordable and accessible. Yesterday, the company announced that it has purchased Boston-based Zync, the maker of cloud-based rendering software Zync Render, which has been used in movies such as “Flight,” “Looper,” “Star Trek Into Darkness” and the “Transformers” series. While terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed, Google is expected to integrate Zync’s data and tech into its Google Cloud Platform, and move Zync off Amazon Web Services. Continue reading Google Acquires Effects Startup Zync, Takes on Amazon Cloud

Cable Operator Comcast Has Plans to Sell Hollywood Movies

Sources confirm that Comcast, the nation’s largest cable operator with nearly 22 million video subscribers, plans to expand from renting to selling major studio movies directly through its cable boxes by the end of the year. Comcast will join streaming services such as iTunes and Vudu in offering the option to purchase titles in an evolving new window known as “early EST.” While viewers typically pay about $5 to rent a movie through VOD, digital purchases run $15-$20. Continue reading Cable Operator Comcast Has Plans to Sell Hollywood Movies

CBS Mobile App Now Offers New Shows Eight Days After Airing

CBS viewers now have the option for watching new shows on their smartphones and tablets. The network announced that it will make all new episodes of its fall primetime line-up available via its mobile app just eight days after the programs air on TV. In response to app users who expressed concerns regarding limited content, CBS will be offering new and returning primetime titles, in addition to some classic shows. The app will also be available for Android and Windows 8. Continue reading CBS Mobile App Now Offers New Shows Eight Days After Airing