Netflix Rolls Out Audio Quality Upgrade For Its Programming

After noticing that the audio in episodes of the Netflix series “Stranger Things” wasn’t as crisp as it should be, the company’s internal sound technicians took steps to address the issue. For the past several months, they’ve been working to enhance the sound quality of all Netflix programming, original and licensed. This week and moving forward, subscribers will have access to what’s simply being called “high-quality audio.” The upgrade, which will not require Netflix users to change their Internet service speeds, is optimized for devices that support Dolby 5.1 and Dolby Atmos sound.

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Hulu Has 28 Million U.S. Users, Announces Original Content

At the Digital Content NewFronts in New York City this week, Hulu revealed that its streaming video service now has 26.8 million monthly paid subscribers in the U.S., plus 1.3 million promotional accounts. That’s an increase from about 20 million total users this time last year. Hulu announced a new “binge advertising experience” that intends to be a less intrusive way to target binge viewers. Hulu also detailed new content deals, including a multi-year partnership with Vox Media Studios for food-centric programming and two new live-action series from Marvel for 2020. Continue reading Hulu Has 28 Million U.S. Users, Announces Original Content

MLB Plans to Live Stream Games to YouTube, YouTube TV

This week, YouTube announced a new partnership with Major League Baseball that will allow the video streaming site to exclusively live stream a total of 13 MLB games to both YouTube and YouTube TV for free to viewers in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. Dates and times are forthcoming, but the games will stream on the MLB YouTube channel along with a temporary pop-up channel on YouTube TV specific to MLB. While YouTube and MLB have worked together in the past, they’ve never struck a deal related to exclusive streaming.

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Spotify at 100 Million Paid Subscribers, Expands Podcasting

Music streaming giant Spotify exceeded analysts’ quarterly expectations when it announced it hit the coveted 100 million paid subscriber mark, a first for any music streaming company. That news, combined with a growing podcast business, enabled the company to narrow its loss in the most recent quarter, during which Spotify acquired podcast companies Gimlet Media and Anchor, as well as announced plans to acquire podcast producer Parcast. Spotify plans to spend as much as $500 million on non-music deals this year.

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Walmart Plans to Launch Original Content For Vudu Service

As the world’s largest retailer, Walmart is known for selling many things, including TVs. However, it’s not typically known for what consumers watch on those TVs. That could soon change. This week, Walmart will unveil a sampling of a new slate of original programming to advertisers in New York with the goal of driving viewership to its Vudu streaming service. Unlike other streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon, Walmart doesn’t plan to sell subscriptions. Instead, it wants to use shows to advertise products directly.

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Verizon, ThirdEye Gen Partner on 5G Mixed Reality Glasses

Verizon is teaming with ThirdEye Gen to offer its first official mixed reality smart glasses for 5G. ThirdEye has been awarded two patents for OLED displays and low-latency data streaming. The partnership is ThirdEye’s first with a wireless provider, said company founder Nick Cherukuri, who noted that the “advanced 5G use cases … will bring about a new era of hands-free human interaction.” One example would be an auto mechanic who could scan a “complex motor” and send the image to a remote expert for real-time help. Continue reading Verizon, ThirdEye Gen Partner on 5G Mixed Reality Glasses

Industry Group Updates OpenAP Advanced Ad Marketplace

An industry coalition made up of Viacom, Fox, Comcast NBCUniversal and Univision has updated OpenAP, a marketplace that offers advertisements for over-the-air and streaming TV. The new system, which was created in response to marketers’ need for advertising capabilities that included Internet platforms, will be available in time for the fall TV season. Advertisers increasingly allocate part of their marketing budget to such sites as Facebook and Google, to be able to target consumers more specifically. Continue reading Industry Group Updates OpenAP Advanced Ad Marketplace

Verizon Partners With Google to Offer YouTube TV Service

Verizon announced a deal with Google yesterday that will bring YouTube TV to Verizon’s wireless, 5G Home and Fios broadband customers across the platforms of their choosing. “We were first in the world to bring commercial 5G to our customers and now another first on the content front as we offer our customers access to YouTube TV on whatever platform they choose,” said Erin McPherson, head of content strategy and acquisition for Verizon. YouTube TV offers 70 networks worth of live TV that is viewable on smartphones, tablets, computers and TVs. Continue reading Verizon Partners With Google to Offer YouTube TV Service

Cable Providers Update Boxes to Retain Fleeing Customers

With its Xfinity X1, Comcast has remade the traditional cable box, with a voice-enabled remote that allows search across live TV, on-demand and sources such as Netflix. It combines the multiple apps, passwords and monthly fees of streaming services into one place, with one bill. Perhaps we don’t need to get rid of cable, but rather to improve it. With the advent of ever-more choices from Apple, Amazon, Roku to Verizon and T-Mobile, the major cablecasters have the chance to bring their services into the modern TV age. Continue reading Cable Providers Update Boxes to Retain Fleeing Customers

Fraunhofer Compression Tech Used to Stream VR Over 5G

German research organization Fraunhofer, known for its extensive work in applied sciences, including its contributions to compression tech used for today’s MP3 audio and MP4 video, is now working on 5G virtual reality streaming software. Last year, Fraunhofer revealed its high-speed VR microdisplay hardware. It is now demonstrating new video compression software based on the MPEG-OMAF standard, which allows for streaming of 360-degree video over 5G networks. The goal is to minimize the problems related to resolution, compression artifacts and latency commonly experienced when streaming VR content over 4G and Wi-Fi networks. Continue reading Fraunhofer Compression Tech Used to Stream VR Over 5G

Amazon and Google Offering Ad-Supported Music Services

Spotify has new competition. Amazon just introduced an ad-supported version of Amazon Music available in the U.S. via Alexa devices. To jumpstart the service, Amazon has reportedly offered to pay some record labels per stream for music licenses, separate from ad sales. The catalog is limited, but listeners can access some of Amazon Music’s “top playlists.” Google also announced that YouTube Music will be free on Google Home smart speakers and Google Assistant devices in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and parts of Europe. Continue reading Amazon and Google Offering Ad-Supported Music Services

Vimeo Acquires Magisto, Makes Move Toward Social Video

IAC-owned video platform Vimeo, which largely serves small businesses and individual creators, has acquired short-form video specialist Magisto for $200 million. The deal, Vimeo’s fifth in the field, is expected to help the platform grow its presence in social video, and will move Magisto’s employees based in Israel and California to Vimeo’s office in New York. “Magisto’s proprietary technology enables cutting edge mobile apps and AI-powered editing tools which, combined with Vimeo’s scale and unmatched creator community, will empower more people to tell compelling stories through video,” said Vimeo CEO Anjali Sud. Continue reading Vimeo Acquires Magisto, Makes Move Toward Social Video

Netflix Facing New Competition as Domestic Growth Slows

Subscription video service Netflix is still growing, but the new subscription numbers come largely from the international market. In the U.S., Netflix reported 1.7 million new subs in Q1 2019 out of a total of 9.6 million new customers. The streaming giant’s slowed domestic growth — including predictions for a slower Q2 globally — is likely due to increased competition as well as its recently raised subscription fees. Netflix investors are also concerned that the company cannot maintain what has thus far been rapid growth. Continue reading Netflix Facing New Competition as Domestic Growth Slows

Hulu Positioned to Become Most Serious Netflix Competitor

Amazon, Apple, AT&T and Disney aim to compete against Netflix, the current giant in streaming video. The one contender that rises above is Hulu, which has gone through several owners (Disney, 21st Century Fox, Comcast and Time Warner). AT&T sold Time Warner’s stake, and with the purchase of Fox, Disney is now Hulu’s majority owner. Hulu originally streamed shows from other networks, but its profile changed with “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which became the first “streaming-native” show to win an Emmy for best drama series. Continue reading Hulu Positioned to Become Most Serious Netflix Competitor

Top 25 Game Companies Generated $107 Billion Last Year

The top 25 public game companies, which represent almost 80 percent of the $134.9 billion worldwide gaming market, generated $107.3 billion in revenue in 2018. According to researcher Newzoo’s Global Games Market Report, this marks the first time that the top 25 companies have surpassed $100 billion in a single year. China’s Tencent ($19.7 billion) took the No. 1 spot for the sixth consecutive year, followed by Sony ($14.2 billion), Microsoft ($9.8 billion), and Apple ($9.5 billion). Collectively, the top 10 companies experienced 19 percent growth last year. Continue reading Top 25 Game Companies Generated $107 Billion Last Year

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