T-Mobile & Sprint Complete Merger, John Legere Steps Down

T-Mobile has completed its $30 billion merger with Sprint, creating what the company dubs the New T-Mobile (the formal name will remain T-Mobile). Chief executive John Legere stepped down before the April 30 date in the contract, and his successor, former chief operating officer Mike Sievert, has taken his place. The new business, now with about 100 million customers, plans to use the combined infrastructure to ramp up the transition to 5G, with the capacity to offer speeds up to 15 times faster in the next six years and 14 times the capacity, reaching 99 percent of the U.S. with 5G coverage.  Continue reading T-Mobile & Sprint Complete Merger, John Legere Steps Down

Facebook Gives $100 Million in Local News Grants, Marketing

Although news media have seen a rise in digital subscriptions during the coronavirus, advertising has plummeted. Facebook has stepped in with the announcement it will provide $25 million in grants to local news outlets, as well as spend $75 million in marketing. Examples of outlets hard hit include BuzzFeed and American Media, which are cutting employees’ salaries, and alt-weeklies that have laid off as much as 75 percent of their employees. Facebook fact-checkers, meanwhile, are fighting coronavirus misinformation. Continue reading Facebook Gives $100 Million in Local News Grants, Marketing

Coronavirus Leads to an Increase in TV Viewing and Streaming

Nielsen revealed that, as coronavirus cases rose in South Korea, TV viewership increased 17 percent. In Italy, it rose 6.5 percent, with a 12 percent spike in Lombardy, particularly hit hard by the virus. That trend has arrived in the U.S. where, said Nielsen, in the Seattle area total television use (which includes live TV, on-demand viewing, streaming and gaming) rose 22 percent on March 11 from the week before. Streaming also increased 20 percent globally. Still, it may be a short-lived panacea for many media companies. Continue reading Coronavirus Leads to an Increase in TV Viewing and Streaming

RIAA Study Shows Growing Dominance of Streaming Services

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) just released a study that revealed the degree to which streaming has the upper hand in music revenue. It now accounts for 79 percent of the industry, having grown 13 percent in 2019 from $9.8 billion to $11.1 billion in retail value. Another promising sign was that revenue from paid subscription services grew 25 percent year-over-year, to $6.8 billion. Such subscription services now account for 61 percent of all U.S. revenue for recorded music. Continue reading RIAA Study Shows Growing Dominance of Streaming Services

Netflix Grows Globally but Disney+ Takes Limelight at Home

New streaming service Disney+ signed up 10 million customers on the first day it debuted in November. Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings acknowledged the new streamer’s compelling content, saying that Disney+ “takes away a little from us.” It did: in Q4 2019, Netflix posted 420,000 new customers, less than the projected 600,000, noting that the slump may be due to Disney+. Disney, meanwhile, has moved up its launch date for Disney+ in the United Kingdom and parts of Western Europe, from March 31 to March 24. Continue reading Netflix Grows Globally but Disney+ Takes Limelight at Home

Supreme Court: App Store Customers Can Now Sue Apple

In what could become a landmark decision, the Supreme Court has ruled to allow individual iPhone users to sue Apple in antitrust violation cases related to the tech giant’s App Store. In a 5-4 decision written by Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court agreed with a lower court ruling that determined App Store customers could sue Apple for allegedly driving up prices by forcing them to purchase apps exclusively from the App Store. Apple lost its argument that was based on the contention that third-party developers set the prices for apps. While Apple holds steady in its belief that it does not represent a monopoly, the ruling could have future ramifications regarding consumers who seek to sue other app sellers for antitrust violations. Continue reading Supreme Court: App Store Customers Can Now Sue Apple

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

YouTube Expands its 7-Day Stories Feature to More Creators

YouTube expanded its Stories to more than 100,000 subscribers in its Partner Program, meaning they will appear more often in mobile users’ homepages. The trial for Stories began earlier this year with only a few channels. YouTube Stories last for seven days, appear for subscribers and non-subscribers, and allow creators to interact with fans that can leave comments or ask questions. First announced in November 2017, YouTube Stories appears to target channel promotion and community engagement rather than day-to-day updates. Continue reading YouTube Expands its 7-Day Stories Feature to More Creators

Amazon Seeks Efficiency While Investing in New Businesses

After decades of unreliable profits, Amazon has had four consecutive quarters with profits over $1 billion, and a net income of $2.9 billion in Q3. Although the numbers exceeded analysts’ expectations, the e-commerce giant also revealed that revenue in its core retail business was below expectations, with sales up 29 percent to $56.6 billion, and sales in its online store rose only 11 percent over the last year, half the pace of a year ago. As a result, discontent investors recently dropped shares 7 percent in aftermarket trading. Continue reading Amazon Seeks Efficiency While Investing in New Businesses

Amazon and Apple Turn Up the Heat in the Audiobook Market

According to the Association of American Publishers, in the first eight months of 2017, based on data from 1,200 publishers, revenue from audiobooks grew 20 percent, compared to print books sales increasing a mere 1.5 percent and e-books losing 5.4 percent. Amazon, which bought Audible in 2008, has been the dominant player, with Audible carving out a unique and profitable portion of the market. But Apple is now attempting to take on its rival with a redesigned iBooks e-book reading application for iPhones and iPads. Continue reading Amazon and Apple Turn Up the Heat in the Audiobook Market

Facebook to Debut Feature for Enabling Media Subscriptions

According to sources, Facebook is readying the launch a feature that will allow users to subscribe to The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post and other publications, directly from the mobile app. The feature, which is expected to debut by the end of the year, is still under discussion internally. Among the unresolved issues are whether Facebook will limit stories to those published natively to Facebook via Instant Articles, the payment model and whether Facebook would get a percentage of revenue. Continue reading Facebook to Debut Feature for Enabling Media Subscriptions

Podcast Companies Try Out Subscription Model to Replace Ads

Some podcasts are experimenting with paid subscriptions rather than advertising as the way to generate revenue. Swedish-based podcast app and ad network Acast unveiled a service, Acast+, to enable that, taking a share of the revenue for letting podcast creators set their own prices and sell content directly to listeners without ads. Although current podcasts use the platform to hawk exclusive bonus content, Acast’s plan is to entice social media stars and celebrities to create new podcasts for their fans. Continue reading Podcast Companies Try Out Subscription Model to Replace Ads

Netflix Ban on VPNs Impacts Growth Abroad, May Spur Piracy

For many years, Netflix subscribers living outside the U.S. have accessed content not available in their regions via a VPN (virtual private network) that hid their location. In January, Netflix began blocking VPNs, in part to mollify Hollywood studios by showing it respects regional licensing agreements. But Netflix subscribers aren’t happy about the new state of affairs and have even started a petition — with 36,000 signatures and counting — to overturn the ban. One study shows piracy as a consequence of the new policy. Continue reading Netflix Ban on VPNs Impacts Growth Abroad, May Spur Piracy

Advertisers Seek New Ways to Combat Growth of Ad Blocking

For advertisers, ad blocking is a problem that’s quickly getting bigger, as more consumers download ad-blocking apps and browsers. Mobile marketing company Tune just released a new report that predicts that ad blocking could comprise 80 percent of smartphone owners by Q3 2017. In response, advertisers are exploring ways to block the ad blockers. Digital advertising trade group Interactive Advertising Bureau has written a primer on how to block the blockers, and even The New York Times is testing ways around them. Continue reading Advertisers Seek New Ways to Combat Growth of Ad Blocking

Spotify Introducing Video Content to Music Streaming Service

Spotify will debut video content on its Android app this week, and the iOS app by end of next week, in the U.S., the U.K., Germany and Sweden. Originally, the music streaming service planned to offer video in May, but has focused on testing videos on its apps with less than 10 percent of its users in the four launch markets. The content is mostly comprised of short clips from ESPN, Comedy Central, the BBC, Vice Media and Maker Studios, among others. Some companies, like Tastemade, are creating original, music-themed series. Continue reading Spotify Introducing Video Content to Music Streaming Service

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