Facebook Launches Dedicated Gaming Tab on Updated App

With an eye to the 700 million worldwide users it says play video games on its site, Facebook is updating its mobile app to feature a dedicated Gaming tab. The tab will be located in the main navigation bar, so that users can go directly to news, streams, gaming groups and other related content. The tab also points users to instant games they can play with friends, eSports organizations, videos from popular streamers, and game publishers. The new tab is built on Fb.gg, the gaming destination Facebook debuted last year. Continue reading Facebook Launches Dedicated Gaming Tab on Updated App

Microsoft Closer to Consumer AR, Streaming Games Service

Magic Leap and Apple are the two technology companies currently at the forefront of augmented reality, but, behind the scenes, Microsoft has also been working on AR for years. It’s easy to discount Microsoft, since its HoloLens AR headset is squarely aimed at the enterprise sector. But the company also has its sights set on the consumer market. In addition, Microsoft has started to leak details about its upcoming Project xCloud cloud-based game streaming system. Project xCloud will enter beta testing this year. Continue reading Microsoft Closer to Consumer AR, Streaming Games Service

Twitter Introduces its New In-App Camera Feature at SXSW

Twitter unveiled its new camera feature at SXSW this week, 12 years after the social micro-blog made its initial splash as a hot new app at the Austin, Texas conference. Over the next week, Twitter users on iOS and Android devices will start to have access to the in-app camera for recording and sharing photos and short videos. It also includes the option to livestream from the user’s location, while Twitter will recommend nearby locations to tag and relevant event hashtags if geolocating services are turned on. Additionally, the upgrade allows users to add captions and change the tweet text background color. Continue reading Twitter Introduces its New In-App Camera Feature at SXSW

Netflix VP Says Viewers Can Expect More Interactive Series

Following the global success of its choose-your-own-adventure style “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch,” Netflix plans to produce more such interactive content. During his keynote at the FICCI-Frames conference in Mumbai, VP of content Todd Yellin explained that new interactive approaches could include, for example, a romantic comedy in which viewers determine whether characters get together. Yellin told the crowd that “Bandersnatch” is “a huge hit” in India and “around the world, and we realized, wow, interactive storytelling is something we want to bet more on.” Continue reading Netflix VP Says Viewers Can Expect More Interactive Series

Disney to Move Its Classic Movies to New Streaming Service

At Disney’s annual meeting, chair/chief executive Bob Iger made several upbeat announcements to shareholders. First, he assured them that regulatory approval of the 21st Century Fox acquisition will close “soon” and that the expanded company will “hit the ground running.” He also revealed that Disney will debut its immersive Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge experience earlier than expected: May 31 at in Disneyland, and August 29 at Disney World. Other big news was that Disney Plus (also known as Disney+) will carry the company’s entire “Vault” program. Continue reading Disney to Move Its Classic Movies to New Streaming Service

NBC News Plans to Launch Free Streaming Service in May

NBC plans to launch its free, ad-supported NBC News Now streaming service in early May. The service will be available to everyone, whether or not they subscribe to NBCUniversal cable networks. “It will be something you can access on Apple TV or Roku or any of those other boxes,” NBC News president Noah Oppenheim told a crowd at SXSW in Austin, Texas. “We are going to launch with 8 hours of programming, including live updates at the top of every hour, and when breaking news mandates, we’ll go up live as well.” Continue reading NBC News Plans to Launch Free Streaming Service in May

Tech Companies Appeal an Increase in Songwriter Royalties

Spotify, Google, Pandora and Amazon have joined forces to appeal a decision of the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) they believe “harms both music licensees and copyright owners.” In separate filings, the companies are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review the decision regarding “recently issued … U.S. mechanical statutory rates” that they said “raises serious procedural and substantive concerns.” With the rule as it stands, songwriters would receive a 44 percent increase in payments. Proponents suggest the rule is necessary for songwriters in a digital age. Continue reading Tech Companies Appeal an Increase in Songwriter Royalties

Survey Finds That Podcast Listening Continues U.S. Growth

Edison Research and Triton Digital just published the results of their latest annual survey, noting that the number of podcast listeners is on the rise. According to the 2019 edition of “The Infinite Dial,” more than half of U.S. consumers have listened to a podcast, while almost one out of three now listen to at least one podcast per month (up from one in four the previous year). “That’s the biggest growth we’ve seen, and we’ve been covering podcasts since 2006,” said Tom Webster of Edison Research. Interestingly, the survey found that consumers over age 55 are warming to podcasts. Continue reading Survey Finds That Podcast Listening Continues U.S. Growth

Luminary Launches With Plan to Be the Netflix of Podcasts

Luminary is a podcast startup that has debuted with more than 40 exclusive shows and no ads. The company also has almost $100 million in funding and, for $8 per month, subscribers will get full access to the content lineup, which includes a new show from Lena Dunham and series from Conan O’Brien, Malcolm Gladwell and Trevor Noah. Co-founder/chief executive Matt Sacks stated that Luminary aims to be “synonymous with podcasting in the same way Netflix has become synonymous with streaming.” Continue reading Luminary Launches With Plan to Be the Netflix of Podcasts

Steven Spielberg Criticizes Oscar Noms for Streaming Films

As the Academy Governor representing directors, filmmaker Steven Spielberg is intent on changing the rules so that movies made by streaming content creators won’t be eligible for Oscars but would only be considered for Emmys, along with other TV fare. Spielberg — and the studios — were motivated most recently by how close Netflix-produced “Roma” came to winning Best Picture. As it was, “Roma” director Alfonso Cuarón won Academy Awards for best director and best cinematographer. One complaint is the lopsided spending for Oscar competition. Continue reading Steven Spielberg Criticizes Oscar Noms for Streaming Films

RIAA Reports On the Rising Dominance of Streaming Music

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)’s annual report revealed that, for the third year in a row, music revenue has been growing robustly. In 2018, music revenue enjoyed an 11.9 percent jump from 2017 for a total of $9.8 billion. The reason behind such growth, said the experts, is streaming services, which accounted for 75 percent of the revenue, equaling $7.4 billion. The RIAA also reported that sales of downloaded songs and albums have slumped significantly, below the sale of CDs and vinyl records. Continue reading RIAA Reports On the Rising Dominance of Streaming Music

Department of Justice Revisits 1941 Music-Licensing Rules

The Department of Justice will soon ask for public input on the status of two legal agreements that have been the foundation of music licensing since 1941, said sources. Advocates of overhauling the rules said that artists are harmed, earning less in the digital age. Those who believe the regulations should stay in place counter that the rules have created a stable marketplace. The review of these music licensing rules comes as the DOJ revisits consent decrees written decades ago for several different industries. Continue reading Department of Justice Revisits 1941 Music-Licensing Rules

Study Indicates Streaming Services Losing Revenue to Piracy

A study by CordCutting.com suggests that up to 20 percent of consumers are using another person’s account information to stream video from Netflix, Hulu or Amazon. “Netflix tends to be pirated for the longest period — 26 months, compared with 16 months for Amazon Prime Video or 11 months for Hulu,” reports TechCrunch. “That could be because Netflix freeloaders often mooch off their family instead of a friend — 48 percent use their parents’ login, while another 14 percent use their sister or brother’s credentials.” The reports estimates monthly revenue losses at $192 million for Netflix, $45 million for Amazon, and $40 million for Hulu. Continue reading Study Indicates Streaming Services Losing Revenue to Piracy

HTC Unveils Its First 5G-Ready Smart Device in Barcelona

At this week’s MWC Barcelona (formerly Mobile World Congress), HTC is showcasing its new 5G Hub — a smart device with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor that acts as a smart display, Android entertainment device and 5G hotspot for up to 20 users. It connects to 5G networks and enables low-latency gaming, 4K video streaming, and more. Pricing has yet to be revealed, but the company says it will be available Q2 2019. Currently compatible with the Sprint network, the device will likely run on other networks in the future. Continue reading HTC Unveils Its First 5G-Ready Smart Device in Barcelona

Odeon Cinema and Telia Test 5G-Connected Movie Theater

Odeon Cinema Center in Oslo and Norwegian mobile firm Telia teamed to operate the first 5G-connected movie theater, presenting films streamed over the next-gen network. The plan was announced in December, with the introduction of a 5G “test network.” The two companies are still in test mode with the launch of the 5G-enabled Odeon, to demonstrate how 5G will replace 4G and at least some wired broadband services. The Odeon is in fact using 5G to transfer the films to its own server, and said the system “works excellently.” Continue reading Odeon Cinema and Telia Test 5G-Connected Movie Theater

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