CTA: Tech Sales to Reach New High of $401 Billion in 2019

The Consumer Technology Association forecast that U.S. consumer technology sales will grow 2.2 percent to $401 billion in 2019, due to AI-enabled devices, streaming services, and in-vehicle and other technologies. CTA chief executive Gary Shapiro noted that 5G will provide the faster connectivity that will help boost sales of new technologies, but warned, however, that “unnecessary tariffs — taxes paid by American consumers and businesses — threaten to slow down our nation’s economic momentum.” Continue reading CTA: Tech Sales to Reach New High of $401 Billion in 2019

WarnerMedia’s Streaming Service Will Be Called HBO Max

AT&T completed its $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner last year, in part to take on phone service competitors and streaming giant Netflix. Now, WarnerMedia has confirmed that its upcoming streaming video service will be called HBO Max. A beta version is expected by the end of this year, with a full launch slated for spring 2020. The subscription service will feature 10,000 hours of content at launch, including films from the Warner Bros. library, HBO series and movies, exclusive streaming for all 236 episodes of “Friends,” The CW’s upcoming “Batwoman” and “Katy Keene” series, original movies from Greg Berlanti and Reese Witherspoon, full libraries of “Pretty Little Liars,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” and more. Continue reading WarnerMedia’s Streaming Service Will Be Called HBO Max

Robotics-as-a-Service Rises, California Puts Limits on Bots

Up until now, massive conglomerates have dominated robotics, but that’s about to change, as the cost of hardware production plunges (due to globalization) and computing and cloud solutions become cheaper, more powerful and easy to ramp up. That’s given rise to Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) solutions, in which vertical-specific hardware and software are bundled and sold in monthly subscription packages. At the same time, California enacted a new law that would require a bot to reveal its “artificial identity.” Continue reading Robotics-as-a-Service Rises, California Puts Limits on Bots

Spotify’s Soundtrap Expands its Free Toolset for Podcasters

Acquired by Spotify in 2017, cloud-based audio recording studio Soundtrap just expanded its free tier for podcasters, now offering access to an unlimited number of projects and 2,210 loops. All creators using Soundtrap will now have unlimited free storage for podcasts and songs. Founded in 2012, the Swedish-based company has offered four subscription tiers, ranging from $10 to $17 per month, all supporting an unlimited number of projects, 550 instruments and 4,100 loops. Soundtrap’s free tier previously limited users to five projects and 900 loops. The number of available instruments will remain the same. Continue reading Spotify’s Soundtrap Expands its Free Toolset for Podcasters

Latest Sandler Film Sets New Viewership Record for Netflix

Netflix announced yesterday that “Murder Mystery,” starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, was viewed by nearly 30.9 million households in the film’s first three days of availability, setting a new opening weekend record for a Netflix original. According to the company, 13,374,914 accounts in North America streamed the new film, while 17,494,949 worldwide accounts represented the additional viewing figures. Netflix says it only counted views if members watched at least 70 percent of the film. Netflix inked a four-picture deal with Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions in 2015, and renewed for another four movies two years later. Continue reading Latest Sandler Film Sets New Viewership Record for Netflix

Amazon, Target, Walmart Ramp Up Their Delivery Services

Walmart launched Delivery Unlimited, which offers consumers a subscription grocery delivery service for $98 per year or $12.95 per month, with a 15-day trial period. Per-order fees run $9.95 or less. The new subscription service is priced competitively, with Shipt and Instacart charging $99 per year. Prime Now costs $119 per year, but touts all of the benefits of Amazon Prime, including fast shipping and streaming media content. Target, which bought Shipt, now offers shoppers same-day delivery and a first-time $9.99 per order fee.

Continue reading Amazon, Target, Walmart Ramp Up Their Delivery Services

Ubisoft to Launch Its Uplay Plus Game Subscription Service

At the E3 conference in Los Angeles this week, Ubisoft announced its entrance into subscription PC gaming with Uplay Plus, which will offer 100 titles published by Ubisoft. The service is slated to launch on September 3 and is designed as a monthly fee in exchange for unlimited access to the games. Although that model is similar to Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass and EA’s Origin Access, Uplay Plus is more expensive, at $14.99 per month. Among the games available on Uplay are “Assassin’s Creed” and “Rainbow Six” titles, which will also be on Google’s Stadia service next year. Continue reading Ubisoft to Launch Its Uplay Plus Game Subscription Service

Hulu Strategizes Ad Sales as Marketers Migrate Back to TV

Streaming video service Hulu, co-owned by The Walt Disney Company and Comcast and controlled by Disney, began lowering its CPM advertising rates (the amount charged to reach 1,000 viewers) to lure marketers to commit dollars to its site, according to several sources. Hopeful to boost ad sales, the company is implementing this strategy as major broadcast television networks are expected to secure increased ad commitments for the fall prime time schedules. Although viewers are migrating to streaming video services, marketers have been returning to broadcast TV, which is a known and trusted outlet. Continue reading Hulu Strategizes Ad Sales as Marketers Migrate Back to TV

Deloitte: More Millennials Subscribe to Games Than Pay TV

According to Deloitte’s 13th annual digital media trends survey, more millennials in the U.S. currently subscribe to a game service than to a traditional pay TV service. Approximately 53 percent of those born 1983-1996 pay for gaming services, while 51 percent from the same age group pay for television. Last year, Deloitte found that 44 percent of U.S. millennials had paid subscriptions for video games and 52 percent for television. Results of the latest survey were revealed as new game services from the likes of Apple, Google, Microsoft, Ubisoft and others have recently debuted or are planned to launch soon. Continue reading Deloitte: More Millennials Subscribe to Games Than Pay TV

Disney’s Hotstar: India’s Dominant Video-Streaming Platform

The dominant video-streaming provider in India is Hotstar, which debuted four years ago by media conglomerate Star India. Its 300 million monthly users gravitate to the mobile-first platform to watch cricket, TV shows and movies. Now owned by The Walt Disney Company, Hotstar’s usage is 10 percent larger than that of YouTube, India’s second largest video streaming platform. Only three million of Hotstar’s users are paying subscribers, but that’s still more than those paying for Amazon and twice as many as those subscribed to Netflix. Continue reading Disney’s Hotstar: India’s Dominant Video-Streaming Platform

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

Cable Providers Hope Wireless Deals Will Curb Cord-Cutting

New York-based cable provider Altice USA is planning to compete in the crowded wireless market by launching a new mobile service that offers consumers unlimited data at a $20-$30 monthly price point per phone, according to individuals familiar with the plans. Employees will test the new service, likely to be named Altice Mobile, in the coming weeks, with plans for a summer launch. The company will be joining cable rivals Charter and Comcast in offering wireless deals to subscribers. Cable providers are hoping that offering wireless service will discourage their customers from cord-cutting. Continue reading Cable Providers Hope Wireless Deals Will Curb Cord-Cutting

ByteDance Targets Emerging Markets With Music Service

Beijing-based ByteDance plans to debut a paid music service for its video app TikTok in fall 2019, aimed at poorer countries where the industry’s dominant services, Apple Music and Spotify, have not yet taken root. Executives at India’s two largest labels, T-Series and Times Music, reported that ByteDance has already acquired rights. TikTok and its Chinese equivalent Douyin, have been downloaded more than 500 million times; TikTok popularized the world’s No. 1 song for the past month, “Old Town Road.” Continue reading ByteDance Targets Emerging Markets With Music Service

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