Struum to Aggregate Content from Many Streaming Services

Co-founded by former Discovery and Disney executives, Struum is a new entrant to the streaming space that, rather than offering its own content, instead hopes to find a niche in helping viewers manage the flood of content available from hundreds of streaming services. It will provide viewers á la carte access to shows and movies without having to subscribe to each platform, giving visibility to smaller services. Former Disney chief executive Michael Eisner’s The Tornante Company is Struum’s main financial backer.

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LG’s Major Stake in Alphonso Boosts Its Streaming Ad Goals

Just prior to CES 2021, LG Electronics stated it spent $80 million to take a 60 percent stake in Alphonso, an advertising technology, data and measurement company, to advance its aim of building a streaming-TV advertising business. LG is buying out Manifest Investment Partners and other existing Alphonso investors. Founders, current and former employees and “various advisers” will hold onto the remaining shares. The company, which had a pre-money valuation of about $125 million, has raised $6.3 million thus far. Continue reading LG’s Major Stake in Alphonso Boosts Its Streaming Ad Goals

Google Tests Making YouTube an E-Commerce Marketplace

Google has plans to turn YouTube into a major marketplace and has already asked creators to tag and track products on their videos via YouTube software. Google will then link that data to shopping tools and analytics. According to sources, Google is also partnering with Shopify to test an integration for selling items on YouTube. A spokesperson, who confirmed the company is testing the features “with a limited number of video channels,” added that creators will maintain control over the products displayed. Continue reading Google Tests Making YouTube an E-Commerce Marketplace

Facebook Rolls Out New Messenger Feature, Watch Together

Facebook launched Watch Together, a feature for Messenger and videoconferencing platform Messenger Rooms, to allow users to watch videos in real time with family and friends on Apple and Android mobile devices. Users choose videos to view through Facebook’s video hub, Facebook Watch. The push to promote yet more video comes at a time when, due largely to COVID-19, more people than ever are at home watching content. Facebook Messenger allows up to eight people on a video call, and Messenger Rooms tops out at 50 people. Continue reading Facebook Rolls Out New Messenger Feature, Watch Together

Spotify’s Ad Business and User Activity Are Trending Upward

With the COVID-19 pandemic, music streaming and media services provider Spotify Technology experienced deep losses in the quarter ending June 30 including declines in daily active users and listening time as well as payroll taxes that were higher than expected. Now the Stockholm-based company reported that its advertising business is improving just as its listeners’ time spent on the app reached pre-pandemic levels. In fact, by the end of the same quarter, all regions served by Spotify — with the exception of Latin America — returned to those levels. Continue reading Spotify’s Ad Business and User Activity Are Trending Upward

Justice Department Probes Requirements of Apple App Store

The Justice Department is scrutinizing Apple’s App Store rules, specifically the requirement that app developers use Apple Pay, which takes up to a 30 percent cut. Since mid-2019, lawyers have been interviewing app developers about their experiences with Apple. Developers have pushed back by blocking subscriptions and payments on their apps or charging higher rates on iPhone apps. The DOJ’s antitrust resources are focused on Google’s dominance in digital advertising, which may result in a case as early as this summer. Continue reading Justice Department Probes Requirements of Apple App Store

Pay-TV Providers Feel the Impact of Increase in Cord-Cutting

The COVID-19 pandemic is speeding up the ongoing trend of cord-cutting, according to industry experts. The major reason that consumers still hold on to pay-TV subscriptions is to watch live sports. Now, with all professional and college sports events on hold, that reason has disappeared. Additional reasons to cut the cord are high unemployment and an increasing number of free streaming options for entertainment. Cable, virtual cable and satellite TV companies have posted significant losses at the end of the last quarter. Continue reading Pay-TV Providers Feel the Impact of Increase in Cord-Cutting

Roku Users and Streaming Hours Skyrocket During Pandemic

Roku benefited from the rise in streaming due to the COVID-19 pandemic, adding 2.9 million accounts in Q1 2020, up 37 percent year over year. The company now has 39.8 million active accounts, with 13.2 billion streaming hours in the quarter, representing a 37 percent year-over-year increase. This, however, was a smaller increase than its 68 percent jump in Q4 2019 and a decline from 16.3 billion hours in the same quarter. Roku also warned that advertising revenue will also likely drop in 2020. Continue reading Roku Users and Streaming Hours Skyrocket During Pandemic

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

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