Amazon Announces Six New Shows After Another Pilot Season

Amazon.com announced yesterday that it has picked up two dramas, two comedies and two kids shows from the batch of 10 television pilots it was testing with viewers. Amazon considered feedback and ratings submitted by users, as it did with an earlier pilot season. However, this time twice as many viewers (more than two million) were involved with the process. While Amazon’s streaming service normally does not include ads, the pilots were sponsored by Geico so they could be available to all users, not just Prime subscribers. Continue reading Amazon Announces Six New Shows After Another Pilot Season

Mixed Reports: Amazon Considering Streaming Media Service?

Yesterday The Wall Street Journal ran a report that insiders suggest Amazon is considering an ad-supported streaming TV and music-video service, separate from its $99-per-year Prime subscription service. Amazon reportedly outlined the proposed service to potential partners as one that could launch in coming months featuring original and licensed content. Amazon has since denied the plans. “We’re often experimenting with new things, but we have no plans to offer a free streaming media service,” said a spokesperson. Continue reading Mixed Reports: Amazon Considering Streaming Media Service?

Dish Chair Said to Approach DirecTV About Possible Merger

Insiders report that Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen recently contacted DirecTV CEO Mike White to discuss a potential merger of the two companies. DirecTV, the largest U.S. satellite TV operator, currently has about 20 million subscribers, while Dish, the No. 2 operator, has about 14 million. Ergen reportedly approached White in response to Comcast’s proposed $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable. However, White is said to be reluctant regarding formal talks out of concern that regulators would block a deal. Continue reading Dish Chair Said to Approach DirecTV About Possible Merger

Disney to Acquire Popular YouTube Network Maker Studios

It has been confirmed that Disney is acquiring Maker Studios, a top YouTube multichannel network, for $500 million, with a performance-based earn-out of up to $450 million. The deal is expected to provide Disney with insight into new patterns of discovery and interaction regarding short-form online videos, especially among millennials. Maker Studios was founded in 2009. The network generates more than 5.5 billion monthly video views from its 380 million subscribers. Continue reading Disney to Acquire Popular YouTube Network Maker Studios

Pandora Points to Royalty Costs for Jump in Subscription Rate

Pandora announced that it plans to increase the monthly subscription rate to its premium, ad-free Pandora One service by 25 percent for new subscribers starting in May (an increase from $3.99-a-month to $4.99-a-month). “The costs of delivering this service have grown considerably,” explains the Pandora Blog. “For example, the royalty rates Pandora pays to performers via SoundExchange for subscription listening have increased 53 percent in the last five years and will increase another 9 percent in 2015.” Continue reading Pandora Points to Royalty Costs for Jump in Subscription Rate

Pay TV Registers Decline for First Time Over Full-Year Period

According to a new report from research firm SNL Kagan, the U.S. pay-TV industry registered a decline in subscriptions during 2013. While the loss of 251,000 subscribers among cable, satellite and telco TV providers was quite small (just 0.02 percent of 110.2 million total pay-TV households), it raises concerns that cord-cutting may have a greater impact in the future. The report notes that younger American consumers are less likely to have pay TV than their parents. Continue reading Pay TV Registers Decline for First Time Over Full-Year Period

Billy Chasen Shutters Turntable.fm, Launches New Social App

Turntable.fm founder Billy Chasen announced that the service is officially closing, “ending one of the most compelling experiments in music discovery to ever hit the Web,” suggests The Verge. Chasen attempted to play by the rules, paying every time a song was streamed, which eventually proved to be too expensive. He believes that the music industry is stifling innovation and digital startups. For his next venture, Chasen is going social with Ketchup, a free app he launched last month. Continue reading Billy Chasen Shutters Turntable.fm, Launches New Social App

Amazon STB Expected to Be a Dongle That Also Streams Games

The long-rumored Amazon set-top box, an expected rival to Roku and Apple TV, is reportedly going to be produced by Lab126 and take the form of a dongle or stick similar to Google’s Chromecast. Amazon’s device could also compete with game consoles such as the Xbox and PlayStation, as it is expected to support streaming for full PC game titles. Streaming games could provide Amazon with a competitive advantage over rivals in the STB space and, if bundled as an Amazon Prime member benefit, could help justify its subscription cost increase. Continue reading Amazon STB Expected to Be a Dongle That Also Streams Games

Amazon Prime Bumped to $99, Retailer Considers Music Service

Insiders say that Amazon is hoping to introduce an on-demand music-streaming service for its growing number of Amazon Prime customers. While the company has negotiated with record companies and music publishers in regards to licensing, financial terms are said to remain an obstacle. The music service is expected to be one of several new possible features the company may bundle with Prime as it raises the annual membership fee from $79 to as much as $119. Amazon already announced a $20 increase to take effect in April. Continue reading Amazon Prime Bumped to $99, Retailer Considers Music Service

Comcast Uses Chicago Cable Service to Launch Wi-Fi Hot Spots

Comcast has started to use hundreds of thousands of homes in the Chicago area to create more hotspots for its publicly accessible wireless network. The company will continue to roll out this service to more areas in the next few months. The service will use Comcast-issued home equipment, and separate the Wi-Fi signal to allow anyone within range to get Internet reception. Comcast claims that since the two services are separated, the Comcast users’ signals will not be disturbed. Continue reading Comcast Uses Chicago Cable Service to Launch Wi-Fi Hot Spots

Aereo: Internet TV Service on Hold in Denver and Salt Lake City

TV startup Aereo has temporarily shut down its service in Denver and Salt Lake City. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit refused to overturn a preliminary injunction granted by a Utah District Court judge that prohibits Aereo from operating in Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming. Aereo is issuing full refunds for this month to customers in the two cities. Despite the setback, Aereo continues its expansion with a recent launch in Austin, Texas one week before the SXSW conference. Continue reading Aereo: Internet TV Service on Hold in Denver and Salt Lake City

OnLive Shifts Strategy Beyond Simply Streaming Games Online

OnLive, a startup that provides users with online video game streaming, is shifting its strategy to allow users to play games that are purchased from other services, as well as access games without being connected to the Internet. OnLive’s original goal was to enable users to play sophisticated games over the Internet, and eliminate the need to buy hardware or install software to play them. OnLive’s service could be compared to Netflix, but for video games instead of movies. Continue reading OnLive Shifts Strategy Beyond Simply Streaming Games Online

HBO Chief Exec on a Standalone Version of HBO GO Service

During a Q&A session at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in San Francisco yesterday, HBO CEO Richard Plepler indicated that the company has considered offering a standalone version of its HBO GO service. However, the prospect of offering broadband-only distribution will depend largely on demand, and only a small percentage of subscribers currently use HBO GO. The traditional model is still working for the premium channel, which reported subscriber gains of 2 million in 2013. Continue reading HBO Chief Exec on a Standalone Version of HBO GO Service

Dish Programming Deal with Disney Resolves Auto Hop Dispute

As part of a new long-term programming deal with Disney, Dish will curtail the use of its DVR ad-skipping feature, Auto Hop, for ABC shows. The deal will also provide Dish with online video rights to Disney’s flagship TV channels for a planned Internet-based TV service. The rights deal, confirmed by both companies Monday, marks a first of its kind for Disney. ABC and other major broadcasters have been involved in litigation over the Auto Hop feature since it launched in 2012. Continue reading Dish Programming Deal with Disney Resolves Auto Hop Dispute

GameFly Will Take On Netflix with New Movie Rental Service

Video game rental service GameFly is launching a movie rental service (currently in beta) that aims to compete with the Netflix disc-by-mail business. GameFly will offer DVD and Blu-ray discs to subscribers, with the option of renting one or two movies at a time. While Netflix has predicted that shipping costs would bring an end to its own disc-based rental service, this may not be an issue for GameFly since mail rentals remain its core business. Continue reading GameFly Will Take On Netflix with New Movie Rental Service