New Netflix Hire Signals the Service’s Push into Video Games

As part of its plan to expand into gaming, video streamer Netflix has hired former Electronic Arts and Facebook executive Mike Verdu as its vice president of game development. At Facebook, Verdu worked with developers to bring virtual reality games and other content to Oculus headsets. At Netflix, Verdu will report to chief operating officer Greg Peters and is mandated with bringing video games to the Netflix platform within the next year. Sources said that Netflix does not plan on charging subscribers extra for gaming content. Continue reading New Netflix Hire Signals the Service’s Push into Video Games

Instagram Aims to Help Creators Monetize Exclusive Content

Instagram head Adam Mosseri posted a video to his Instagram and Twitter accounts explaining that the former is no longer a photo-sharing app. Instead, he said, after seeing the success of entertainment and video on TikTok and YouTube, he plans to “lean into entertainment” by focusing on “Creators, Video, Shopping and Messaging.” Instagram is also creating its own version of Twitter’s Super Follow, which will allow online creators to publish — and monetize — exclusive content on Instagram Stories available only to their fans. Continue reading Instagram Aims to Help Creators Monetize Exclusive Content

Spotify Introduces Live Audio App and Plans Its Creator Fund

Music streaming service Spotify launched its live audio app, Greenroom, for iOS and Android. Built on Locker Room — the app focused on sports content created by Betty Labs and acquired by Spotify in March — the Greenroom app is similar to Clubhouse in that it allows users to host live conversations about music, sports and other topics. Branded with Spotify colors and a new logo, Greenroom features native recordings, which can be distributed as podcasts. Although users can sign in with Spotify credentials, it is not required to use the app. Continue reading Spotify Introduces Live Audio App and Plans Its Creator Fund

Twitch’s Business Model Lets Musicians Monetize Fan Loyalty

Amazon’s live-streaming platform Twitch was a haven for musicians during the COVID-19 pandemic, attracting “an average of 30 million visitors a day,” who watched 1+ trillion minutes of content last year. More importantly, its economic model, unlike that of Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube, allows musicians to monetize fan interactions. Musicians cultivate a loyal base that, in turn, patronizes them, to the tune of several thousand dollars a month. In contrast, last year, 97 percent of Spotify’s artists earned less than $1,000. Continue reading Twitch’s Business Model Lets Musicians Monetize Fan Loyalty

MoviePass Settles with FTC Over Fraud, Data Security Issues

MoviePass, which shut its doors in January 2019, just settled with the Federal Trade Commission over allegations that it prevented customers from using the service as advertised and did not protect their data privacy. The company offered users one movie ticket per day for any movie at any theater for $9.95 a month but soon had to raise subscription fees and limit movie tickets. The FTC accused the company of deceptively marketing its services, invalidating customer passwords to prevent users from obtaining tickets, and failing to secure user data. Continue reading MoviePass Settles with FTC Over Fraud, Data Security Issues

Facebook Plans to Expand Live-Stream Pay-Per-View Events

Social giant Facebook wants to transform its live online events into a pay-per-view opportunity for the sports leagues already streaming games on its platform. The company sees the possibility of smaller leagues and even high school sports teams using the model to make money on “virtual” attendance and plans to invest in the live-streaming events that collects money for a “virtual” ticket. The social platform’s plan is similar to the long-standing practice of media networks like HBO charging pay-per-view fees for boxing events. Continue reading Facebook Plans to Expand Live-Stream Pay-Per-View Events

YouTube Revenue Could Surpass Netflix Numbers This Year

Google’s YouTube earned $6.01 billion in advertising revenue in Q1, a 49 percent growth from the $4 billion a year ago. In Q4, YouTube’s growth rate was 46 percent. But, more notably, its current growth rate is almost twice that of Netflix’s, which reported a 24 percent revenue bump in Q1 and anticipates 19 percent growth in Q2. Market data provider Refinitiv reported that, should the trajectory continue, YouTube is on track to take in between $29 billion and $30 billion in revenue in 2021, compared to Netflix’s expected $29.7 billion. Continue reading YouTube Revenue Could Surpass Netflix Numbers This Year

Nielsen Debuts Ratings Tool That Measures Streaming Video

Nielsen debuted its Streaming Video Ratings, which will measure streaming activity including how the different platforms compare, the devices being used and the streaming behavior of different audience cohorts. Nielsen stated 10 services will be tracked although it initially didn’t name them. But, since last summer, it has included Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu and Netflix in its weekly content ratings. The syndicated Nielsen Streaming Video Ratings is powered by Nielsen’s NPower audience insights platform. Continue reading Nielsen Debuts Ratings Tool That Measures Streaming Video

Startup Substack Invests $1 Million in Local News Journalism

Substack is home to writers who establish their own publications. Now the email newsletter startup will spend $1 million total for one-year stipends for up to 30 journalists interested in covering local news. A few writers already use Substack for subscription-based local news sites and co-founder Hamish McKenzie said there are “encouraging signs” that the model works for reporting and local news. Former Vanity Fair editor Jon Kelly is building an online newsletter where writers will share in the subscription revenue. Continue reading Startup Substack Invests $1 Million in Local News Journalism

Square Acquires Majority Stake in Jay-Z’s Tidal Music Service

Digital payment firm Square is spending $297 million in cash and stock for a majority share of the subscription-based Tidal streaming music service. Tidal owner Jay-Z, born Shawn Carter, will join Square’s board. Now, musicians on Tidal will be able to use Square’s Cash App payment service to digitally store and transfer money. Square hardware lead Jesse Dorogusker, who will temporarily lead Tidal, said, “we’re interested in a 360-degree view of artists as small-business owners,” noting live performances, merchandise and collaborations. Continue reading Square Acquires Majority Stake in Jay-Z’s Tidal Music Service

Twitter Innovates to Lure New Users, Double Revenue by 2023

Since launching in 2006, popular social service Twitter has remained largely unchanged. The company is now planning a wide-ranging series of new products with the goal of attracting new users. They include ephemeral content, an audio chat service, a newsletter platform, moderation tools and, most recently, new options to pay for exclusive content from some users and to launch communities for specific interests. By 2023, the company hopes to double its user base from its 2019 level and its revenue from 2020 levels. Continue reading Twitter Innovates to Lure New Users, Double Revenue by 2023

Spotify to Introduce Hi-Fi Option, Paid Podcast Subscriptions

Spotify will debut a Hi-Fi option later this year, the company announced during its recent “Stream On” presentation. Chief executive and co-founder Daniel Ek also revealed that the company paid $5 billion in royalties during 2020, and chief content officer Dawn Ostroff added that, over the last four years, 800+ recording artists have made more than $1 million a year in recording and publishing, up over 82 percent. About 7,500 artists made more than $100,000 a year, up 79 percent. Spotify also announced that it will launch paid podcast subscriptions. Continue reading Spotify to Introduce Hi-Fi Option, Paid Podcast Subscriptions

Amazon Will Debut New UI for Fire TV Stick 4K, Fire TV Cube

Next month, Amazon is slated to launch a new Fire TV interface for its Fire TV Stick 4K and Fire TV Cube streaming devices. In 2016, Amazon pioneered the “content-first user experience,” which listed rows of movies and TV shows from various streaming apps on the home TV. This idea was picked up by many others in the industry, including Google, Vizio and LG. But, as the number of streaming services has expanded, this model has become unwieldy and chaotic — and Amazon is about to rein it in via a simplified navigation bar. Continue reading Amazon Will Debut New UI for Fire TV Stick 4K, Fire TV Cube

More First-Time Entrepreneurs Launching Online Businesses

More Americans are opening small online businesses, and many of them are subscribing to Shopify for tools to build their websites, accept online payments and ship and track orders. This boom is fueling Shopify’s growth, but analysts say two factors could slow it down: fewer e-commerce businesses as the pandemic dies down and the failure of many of the nascent small businesses that are subscribers. Meanwhile, Amazon has acquired Shopify rival Selz, an Australia-based company that supports small- and medium-sized e-commerce businesses. Continue reading More First-Time Entrepreneurs Launching Online Businesses

Spotify Reports Q4 Subscriber Growth, Focuses on Podcasts

Spotify Technology SA posted unexpectedly strong subscription growth during Q4 2020, to 345 million monthly active users, up 27 percent from a year earlier. Paid subscriptions grew 24 percent above the same period last year to 155 million. But average revenue per subscriber fell 8 percent to €4.26 ($5.13) due to discounted plans and lower rates in India and Russia. The company’s 2021 outlook takes into account that such growth could diminish in 2021. Shares of the company fell 9 percent to $315. Continue reading Spotify Reports Q4 Subscriber Growth, Focuses on Podcasts

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