In Europe, Some Film/TV Industries Tweak Release Windows

The film industries in Italy, France and Spain — European countries the hardest hit by the coronavirus — are enduring tough times, with the postponement of dozens of film releases. More worrisome is the future prospects of theaters in markets where indie distributors already contend with the dominance of U.S. content. In France, for example, Hollywood movies accounted for 59 percent of its 213 million theater admissions in 2019. One potential solution is to stream or air indie films on-demand. Continue reading In Europe, Some Film/TV Industries Tweak Release Windows

With NASCAR, Formula One, Racing Becomes Virtual eSport

With the absence of live sports on TV during restrictions due to the coronavirus, FOX Sports and NASCAR together came up with the idea of virtual races. On March 22, the first ever eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race was a huge hit, drawing 903,000 viewers on FS1, making it the highest-rated eSports TV program to date as well as the most-watched broadcast on FS1 since the cancelation of live sports events and broadcasting. As a result, FOX Sports plans to simulcast the remainder of the NASCAR iRacing series on FOX, FS1 and the FOX Sports app. Continue reading With NASCAR, Formula One, Racing Becomes Virtual eSport

FaceBank Group and fuboTV Announce a Merger Agreement

Florida- and New York-based FaceBank Group, Inc. — developer of hyper-realistic digital humans for use in artificial intelligence, entertainment, productivity and social media — is merging with OTT live TV streaming service fuboTV, which currently touts “more top Nielsen-ranked sports, news and entertainment channels for cord cutters than any other live platform.” The combined digital entertainment company, to be led by fuboTV CEO and co-founder David Gandler, will be named fuboTV, Inc. with plans to offer a premium viewing experience across a global distribution network. Continue reading FaceBank Group and fuboTV Announce a Merger Agreement

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

Broadcast TV Programmers Move Upfronts to Online Platforms

Due to concerns regarding the coronavirus, broadcast TV programmers have canceled their in-person Upfront pitches to advertisers, scheduled for May in New York City. Viacom’s CBS, NBCUniversal, Fox Corp. and ABC parent Disney are calling off their annual stage shows, although advertisers will still seek to ink deals with them. NBCUniversal’s chair of advertising and partnerships Linda Yaccarino noted that, “this year’s Upfront presentation will ensure everybody’s safety, while allowing us to give fans and marketers a preview of the upcoming season.” Continue reading Broadcast TV Programmers Move Upfronts to Online Platforms

E3 Joins Growing List of Canceled Media & Technology Events

The Entertainment Software Association announced that E3 2020, slated for June 9-11 in Los Angeles, has been canceled. “After careful consultation with our member companies regarding the health and safety of everyone in our industry — our fans, our employees, our exhibitors and our longtime E3 partners — we have made the difficult decision to cancel E3 2020,” explained ESA in a statement. “Following increased and overwhelming concerns about the COVID-19 virus, we felt this was the best way to proceed during such an unprecedented global situation.”  Continue reading E3 Joins Growing List of Canceled Media & Technology Events

FCC Approves Plan to Pay Satellite Firms to Vacate Airwaves

The FCC, in a 3-2 vote, approved chair Ajit Pai’s plan to pay satellite companies to free up airwaves for 5G usage. Satellite companies will retain enough to continue their TV/radio distribution services. The FCC earlier released a plan to pay Intelsat, SES and other satellite companies $9.7 billion if they left the airwaves quickly, with another $3.3 billion to $5.2 billion to reimburse costs of making the move. Pai suggested that Intelsat receive as much as $4.85 billion, SES about $4 billion and Eutelsat $468 million. Continue reading FCC Approves Plan to Pay Satellite Firms to Vacate Airwaves

HPA Tech Retreat: Evolving Security for Media & Entertainment

An increasing concern over content security was the subject of HBO/WarnerMedia productions and content security head Marc Zorn’s talk on “Why Traditional Information Security Doesn’t Fit in Most of Media & Entertainment.” “Film security was based on physical controls,” he said. “Post production began after photography, and threats were primarily from post onwards.” Once the workflow became digital, he added, threats to digital media looked like IT security, “from an IT security professional’s perspective.” Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Evolving Security for Media & Entertainment

HPA Tech Retreat: The DPP’s Report on Next Gen Production

The Digital Production Partnership (DPP) is a London-based media industry business network, with a membership of 400+ companies representing the entire content supply chain. Eighteen months ago, the DPP issued the Production Business Survey report, detailing the operations of 57 production companies vis-à-vis the cloud. What it found was discouraging, so the DPP set its sights on another survey on Next Generation Production. At the HPA Tech Retreat, managing director Mark Harrison presented the findings. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: The DPP’s Report on Next Gen Production

HPA Tech Retreat: Perceptual Difference Between 4K and 8K

Warner Bros. vice president of technology Michael Zink described the results of a test, conducted with several partners, to resolve questions about the impact of higher resolution displays with larger screen sizes on the user experience. The test did so by assessing the perceptibility of 4K vs. 8K on a consumer 8K TV displays at a typical viewing distance for various types of content. Partners included the ASC, with content from Pixar and Amazon Prime, and LG for its 88-inch 8K OLED TV display. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Perceptual Difference Between 4K and 8K

Google Fiber Will No Longer Offer Its Traditional TV Bundle

Alphabet’s Google Fiber, a service that provides fiber-to-the-premises IPTV content, is shutting down its bundle offering news, sports, local and premium channels. Existing subscribers to Fiber with TV will not see any changes to their service, but new customers won’t have the option. A company blog post explained that the service would return its focus “to where we started — as a gigabit Internet company.” It added that, “customers today just don’t need traditional TV … [because] the best TV is already online.” Continue reading Google Fiber Will No Longer Offer Its Traditional TV Bundle

Verizon Adds More Wireless Subscribers via Disney+ Offer

Verizon Communications added 790,000 prepaid phone connections during Q4 2019, compared with 653,000 during the same period a year earlier, surpassing the expectations of JPMorgan Chase analysts who predicted 750,000 such connections. A free one-year Disney+ subscription for Verizon wireless customers may have helped lure new customers. AT&T added 229,000 postpaid connections and T-Mobile US added 1,000,000. Postpaid customers typically pay monthly under longer-term contracts and are less likely to change providers. Continue reading Verizon Adds More Wireless Subscribers via Disney+ Offer

Snap’s Bitmoji TV Features Users’ Avatars in Short Videos

In Snapchat’s animated series Bitmoji TV, which launches February 1, the user’s avatar stars — and the last person he Snapchatted co-stars — in various TV scenarios, including sitcoms, soap operas and reality competitions. This first season will debut 10 three-to-four-minute episodes, unveiled on Saturday mornings. As Bitmoji founder/chief executive Ba Blackstock puts it, “we’re bringing back Saturday morning cartoons.” The series takes off from Bitmoji Stories, which stars the user’s avatar in funny situations. Continue reading Snap’s Bitmoji TV Features Users’ Avatars in Short Videos

Docomo to Unveil 8K VR Live for Concerts, Events in March

In March, Japanese wireless company NTT Docomo will debut an 8K VR streaming service that relies on next generation 5G technology for its bandwidth and low latency capabilities. The 8KVR Live service will become part of Docomo’s Shinkansen Live Connect; the name refers to the country’s bullet trains. The new service will enable pay-per-view access to live venues such as concerts. Users with VR headsets and 5G smartphones will be able to watch the live event from a viewing angle of their choosing. Continue reading Docomo to Unveil 8K VR Live for Concerts, Events in March

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

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