Spotify Still Dominates Podcast Space, Acquires The Ringer

Spotify, reporting its Q4 results, revealed that it now has 271 million subscribers, up 31 percent from a year ago, with paying subscribers up 29 percent to 125 million. The company’s overall revenue reached $2 billion, up 24 percent from the previous year, with a gross margin of 25.6 percent. Spotify is still posting operating losses, with Q4’s pegged at $85 million, with its loss per share now at $1.26. Spotify also acquired Bill Simmons’ sports and pop culture website and podcasting network The Ringer. Continue reading Spotify Still Dominates Podcast Space, Acquires The Ringer

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

Free Video-Sharing App Byte Aims to Compete with TikTok

Byte, a video-sharing app created by Dom Hofmann, debuted Friday and hit No. 1 for free iOS apps in Apple’s U.S. App Store. Byte, which targets rival ByteDance’s TikTok, is a reboot of the former Vine video-sharing service Hofmann co-founded in 2012 and sold to Twitter that year. Twitter couldn’t find a way to make Vine profitable and shuttered it in 2016. In its short life, Vine became a “cultural touchpoint” as users took on the creative challenge of the six-second format. Byte is also the top free iOS app in Canada. Continue reading Free Video-Sharing App Byte Aims to Compete with TikTok

Instagram Removes the IGTV Button From Its Main Screen

Instagram has removed the IGTV button from the main screen of its app because so few people use it, instead “finding IGTV content through previews in Feed, the IGTV channel in Explore, creators’ profiles, and the standalone app,” according to the company. Instagram, which launched IGTV in 2018 as a way to post long-form video, has not stated whether it will replace the icon with another. IGTV allows video uploads of up to one hour for celebrities and influencers and 10 minutes for everyone else. Continue reading Instagram Removes the IGTV Button From Its Main Screen

ByteDance Building a Gaming Division to Take On Tencent

ByteDance has quickly built up a gaming division to enter a mobile arena currently dominated by Tencent Holdings. The company purchased gaming studios and exclusive rights to title distribution as well as building a team of 1,000 people by hiring and poaching talent. Its first two games will be released this spring to a global market. ByteDance first debuted Toutiao, a Chinese news aggregation app and launched TikTok and its Chinese version Douyin. Via the latter app, ByteDance has access to 400 million daily active users. Continue reading ByteDance Building a Gaming Division to Take On Tencent

CES: Samsung Engineers Sero TV to Display Vertical Video

During CES in Las Vegas, Samsung introduced its new Sero TV, which is designed to rotate 90 degrees in order to display vertical video content — the portrait mode that is commonly recorded via today’s mobile phones. The format is increasingly popular on social media platforms (such as Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram and YouTube), and will soon become a focus of Quibi, the short-form streaming video service from Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman. The 43-inch 4K Sero TV — “designed for the mobile generation” — has the ability to sync with Samsung smartphones and can automatically rotate based on the content being viewed. Continue reading CES: Samsung Engineers Sero TV to Display Vertical Video

Disney+ Service Has Strong Start With 41 Million Downloads

Since its debut two months ago, the Disney+ mobile app has been downloaded from the Apple Store and Google Play 41 million times — four times as many as HBO Now — earning nearly $100 million, reports Sensor Tower. That news sent Disney shares up two percent to $146.72. In Q4 2019, Disney+ was downloaded 30 million times, more than twice that of TikTok. According to a YouGov survey, 76 percent of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with Disney+ compared to 48 percent for Apple TV+. Continue reading Disney+ Service Has Strong Start With 41 Million Downloads

CES: Quibi Pitches Streaming Short Video for Small Screens

During CES in Las Vegas last week, Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and chief executive Meg Whitman revealed more details about their streaming content venture fueled by $1.4 billion in venture capital funding. A portmanteau for “quick bites,” Quibi plans to offer short content — under 10-minutes — for mobile phones. In other words, the enterprise is entering the streaming wars, looking for a sweet spot between the heavy-hitter long-form providers like Netflix and HBO and the free, varied content of YouTube and TikTok. Continue reading CES: Quibi Pitches Streaming Short Video for Small Screens

TikTok Catapults to Level of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube

TikTok has exceeded 1.5 billion downloads — half of them in the past year — and, in the process, has become a genuine competitor of Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Chinese AI firm ByteDance, owner of TikTok, is valued at $75 billion, one of the world’s most valuable startups. The company is reportedly looking into an IPO in Hong Kong in 2020. Now that it has commanded widespread attention, ByteDance is also under scrutiny over how it stores personal data and if it follows orders from the Chinese government to censor content. Continue reading TikTok Catapults to Level of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube

TikTok Intros Top 100 Video List, Pushes ‘Hotbed of Talent’

TikTok released its TikTok 100, the top videos in areas including beauty and style, sports, pets and dance trends. According to The New York Times, among the niche memes are #TikTokChecks (where users show off locations/objects as “markers of their identity”), VSCO girls (a “subculture consisting of scrunchies, Hydro Flasks and environmentalism”) and “walk a mile” (people creating high heels out of odd objects, to an Iggy Azalea riff. Among its successes, TikTok has made an impact on the music industry and played a role in the breakout success of Lil Nas X. Continue reading TikTok Intros Top 100 Video List, Pushes ‘Hotbed of Talent’

TikTok Is a Hit in India: 400 Million Downloads in Two Years

Although U.S. lawmakers are suspicious of the popular Chinese app TikTok, in India, people are mad for it, particularly those who are young, unemployed and new to the Internet. To stoke the growing enthusiasm, TikTok owner’s ByteDance has pledged to invest $1 billion and build a data center. TikTok India director of sales/ partnerships Sachin Sharma reported that users range from farmers to rich people showing off their Lamborghinis. TikTok is ideal for a market that avoids English and is uncomfortable with search. Continue reading TikTok Is a Hit in India: 400 Million Downloads in Two Years

U.S. Investigates TikTok App Based on Security Concerns

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is conducting a national security review of Chinese company ByteDance’s acquisition of Musical.ly, in November 2017, for $800 million to $1 billion. ByteDance merged Musical.ly, an app popular among teens for making karaoke videos, with its similar service TikTok. Over the past year, TikTok has been downloaded 750+ million times, and U.S. lawmakers are concerned about its growing influence. One source said the U.S. has evidence TikTok sends data to China. Continue reading U.S. Investigates TikTok App Based on Security Concerns

TikTok Draws Concerns of U.S. Lawmakers, Growth Slows

Chinese short video app TikTok has had a total of 1.45 billion installs since debuting two years ago. It’s been installed 564 million times this year, and parent company ByteDance is considered the world’s largest startup, with a valuation of $75 million according to CB Insights. But, according to Sensor Tower data, Q3 2019 is the first quarter TikTok has seen a slowdown of user downloads, 4 percent from last year, to 177 million first-time users. U.S. lawmakers want to know if the app is a national security risk. Continue reading TikTok Draws Concerns of U.S. Lawmakers, Growth Slows

Quibi Video Platform Inks Deals With ESPN and 60 Minutes

Quibi, the short-form video platform co-founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, signed two new content partners. The Walt Disney Company’s ESPN will provide a daily sports highlights show, which will debut with Quibi’s April launch and be part of that platform’s Daily Essentials. According to Katzenberg, Daily Essentials will curate content and “make it convenient” to viewers. CBS News’ “60 Minutes” will also create “60 in 6,” a version of original news stories condensed into six-minute long episodes specifically for Quibi. Continue reading Quibi Video Platform Inks Deals With ESPN and 60 Minutes

New NFL-Facebook Contract Will Run Through 2020 Season

The NFL and Facebook renewed their video deal through the 2020 season. In the original deal, inked in 2017, the NFL provided recaps from all 256 regular season games plus other content for Facebook Watch. The NFL will continue to supply the season recaps, along with original content, content related to the NFL’s 100th anniversary and material from the NFL Films archive featured on “NFL Throwback.” Facebook says that, in 2017 and 2018, over 22 million people watched at least a minute of an NFL recap. Continue reading New NFL-Facebook Contract Will Run Through 2020 Season

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