Netflix Tests Instagram Stories-Like Feature in its Mobile App

Netflix is currently testing a new feature in its mobile app that helps users stay connected with shows via trailers, alerts, videos and photos. Those who are in the test group will see an “Extras” tab positioned between Search and Downloads at the bottom of the screen. Rather than the vertical scroll of the current Coming Soon section, users navigate through the Extras feed horizontally, similar to the Instagram Stories model. Videos will play automatically, but require pressing a button to activate sound. Netflix has confirmed testing the new feature, but not whether it will become a permanent addition. Continue reading Netflix Tests Instagram Stories-Like Feature in its Mobile App

Apple Divides iTunes Features into Music, Podcast, TV Apps

Apple executives announced the end of iTunes at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) this week. But iTunes features will live on in three apps: Apple Music, Apple Podcasts and Apple TV. The iconic iTunes was created 18 years ago as a so-called digital jukebox that allowed users to import and organize music and burn custom mixes. It evolved into a music store, where an enormous variety of songs sold for 99 cents. In 2003, Steve Jobs declared that “people want to buy their music on the Internet by buying downloads.” Continue reading Apple Divides iTunes Features into Music, Podcast, TV Apps

Social Listening: Spotify Developing a Shared Music Queue

Spotify is working on a new feature called “Social Listening” that would allow multiple people to add tracks to a social queue so they could all listen to the same songs from different devices in different locations. According to screenshots shared by an app researcher, users can add songs to the real-time playlist for a communal listening experience after scanning their friends’ QR-style Spotify Social Listening codes. The feature, not yet released, is essentially a jazzed-up version of Spotify’s Collaborative Playlists for now, but in the future Spotify could possibly upgrade it for synchronized playback. Continue reading Social Listening: Spotify Developing a Shared Music Queue

Majority of Hulu Subscribers Opt For the Ad-Supported Plan

Hulu, which recently revealed that it has 28 million customer accounts, has provided additional details on its subscribers. The streaming video service offers an ad-free $11.99 per month tier, but the majority of its users pay $5.99 per month for the ad-supported plan. Hulu claims 82 million total viewers (2.9 viewers per account), of which 70 percent pay for the ad-supported plan. The company generated nearly $1.5 billion in ad revenue last year. Since advertising is vital to keeping its subscribers, Hulu strives to present ads via viewer-friendly models. Continue reading Majority of Hulu Subscribers Opt For the Ad-Supported Plan

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

Sony Unit to Produce Movies, TV Shows Based on Games

Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) has launched PlayStation Productions to transform the company’s 100+ video games into film and television projects. The production company, headed by Asad Qizilbash, is at work on its first projects on Sony Pictures’ Culver City lot. SIE Worldwide Studios chair Shawn Layden, who also oversees the new production company, noted that, with 25 years developing games, the company believes “now is a good time to look at other media opportunities across streaming or film or television.” Continue reading Sony Unit to Produce Movies, TV Shows Based on Games

Microsoft, Sony Announce Partnership for Gaming Services

Facing new threats from video game rivals, Microsoft and Sony announced something that some might find surprising: they’re teaming up to work on cloud and game-streaming technologies together. Through the partnership, Sony will consider using Microsoft’s Azure cloud service for streaming its game content, acknowledging the need for a strong cloud solution for game makers. There’s also room within the agreement for a potential collaboration involving Microsoft’s artificial intelligence and Sony’s image sensor clips.
Continue reading Microsoft, Sony Announce Partnership for Gaming Services

Amazon Fire TV Widens Its Lead at 34 Million Active Users

Back in January, Amazon announced that its Fire TV streaming platform had more than 30 million users. Today, Fire TV has grown to more than 34 million active users, according to an announcement made by Amazon this week during a panel titled ‘The Battle for Your Living Room: Sticks, Boxes, and Smart TV Platforms’ at The Pay TV Show in Denver. This indicates that Amazon’s lead over rival streaming platform Roku is widening. Roku grew to 29.1 million active users per its latest earnings report from this month.

Continue reading Amazon Fire TV Widens Its Lead at 34 Million Active Users

Disney Finalizes Deal with Comcast to Take Control of Hulu

Comcast, which owns roughly one-third of Hulu, has agreed to sell its stake in the streaming video service to Disney. The deal calls for Comcast to sell its interest for Hulu’s fair market value no earlier than 2024. The Hulu joint venture launched nearly 12 years ago with the goal of providing a legal platform for television content that would serve as an alternative to YouTube and pirate sites. The platform has since become a major Netflix competitor. Disney’s share increased with its recent $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox’s movie and TV studios. AT&T, which picked up 9.5 percent of Hulu with its $85 billion deal for Time Warner, recently sold back its share to Hulu for $1.43 billion. Continue reading Disney Finalizes Deal with Comcast to Take Control of Hulu

Spotify Testing New ‘Storyline’ Feature, Similar to ‘Stories’

Somewhat similar to its “Behind the Lyrics” feature, music streaming giant Spotify is now launching “Storyline,” a new feature meant to offer artists a platform to share insights, inspiration and more about their creative processes and the meanings of lyrics, songs and albums. The new feature is also similar to the “Stories” format that has been popularized by social apps like Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and others, opening up a potential avenue for Spotify to create original content via a popular format.

Continue reading Spotify Testing New ‘Storyline’ Feature, Similar to ‘Stories’

Details Continue to Emerge on Disney+ Subscription Service

Disney is continuing to invest in its ESPN+ streaming service and expenses are mounting for the company’s upcoming Disney+ subscription offering as it finances productions such as the “High School Musical” series and exclusive “Star Wars” spinoff “The Mandalorian.” Shareholders learned yesterday that the company posted a quarterly loss for its direct-to-consumer division as a result, but that revenue increased 15 percent, beating Wall Street projections. Disney also announced yesterday that its blockbuster, record-breaking hit “Avengers: Endgame” will debut exclusively on Disney+ this December. Continue reading Details Continue to Emerge on Disney+ Subscription Service

WWDC: Apple to Unveil Apps, Software, Development Tools

When Apple’s 5-day Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) kicks off June 3 in San Jose, the company is reportedly planning to introduce an array of new apps, software features and development tools. According to those familiar with the plans, Apple is expected to introduce operating system updates for its Apple TV, Apple Watch, iPad, iPhone and Mac computers. The new iOS 13, codenamed “Yukon,” will offer new and updated features — while iOS14, codenamed “Azul,” will launch next year to support 5G wireless and new AR functions. Continue reading WWDC: Apple to Unveil Apps, Software, Development Tools

YouTube to Roll Out Free Originals, Measurement Analysis

At IAB’s Digital Content NewFronts in New York City last week, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki revealed that 2 billion monthly global users now watch more than 250 million hours of YouTube content on TV screens daily. The video hub is actively working on brand safety issues, plans to integrate Nielsen Catalina analysis to measure increases in offline sales, and — in a significant strategy shift — announced it would remove the paywall for some of its ad-supported original programming. Starting this year, all of the platform’s new original series and specials will be available for free. Continue reading YouTube to Roll Out Free Originals, Measurement Analysis

Spotify Tests Voice-Enabled Ads on Mobile Devices in U.S.

If you — like millions of others — log into Spotify via a free mobile account (and if you’re in the U.S. and have enabled voice controls), you might start noticing something new: voice-enabled ads. As part of increased investment in voice technology, the streaming service started a test period of these new ads, which encourage listeners to say verbal commands to take action based on the ad’s content. For now, Spotify is focused on promoted in-app content like branded playlists and podcasts, instead of directing listeners outside the app.

Continue reading Spotify Tests Voice-Enabled Ads on Mobile Devices in U.S.

YouTube Aims For Trending Videos to Come From Own Site

On the heels of a controversial quarter, YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki sent a newsletter to YouTube users and creators announcing that half of all featured videos on the site’s trending tab will come from YouTube itself. This assurance is meant to alleviate worries from some of YouTube’s most popular content creators who have concerns over copyright challenges, advertising policies, and video monetization, particularly related to YouTube’s favoring of more traditional content (movie trailers, TV clips) on its trending tab.

Continue reading YouTube Aims For Trending Videos to Come From Own Site

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