Music Is the Focus in Spotify’s New ‘Original Shows’ Format

In response to learning that listeners want to discover and save music in their favorite podcasts, Spotify is debuting “Original Shows,” a new spoken word format that combines music with particular themes featuring a monologue or conversation with guests. But, unlike a typical podcast, each song inside an Original Show will redirect the listener to that artist’s Spotify official audio files. That means the artist will make the same money as if a listener sought out his or her music. Listeners can also like and save a song while they’re listening to it. Continue reading Music Is the Focus in Spotify’s New ‘Original Shows’ Format

In Major Reorg, Disney Moves Streaming Services to Center

The Walt Disney Company is reorganizing to put more emphasis on its streaming video services Disney+ and Hulu. The company is creating content groups for movies, general entertainment and sports, with a distribution unit that will determine the best platform — streaming, TV network, movie theater — for every piece of content. According to Disney chief executive Bob Chapek, the move acknowledges that consumers now are more likely to watch content on a streaming service than broadcast and cable channels or movie theater screens. Continue reading In Major Reorg, Disney Moves Streaming Services to Center

Viewers Turn to Xumo and Other Ad-Supported VOD Services

Despite the focus on successful subscription streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+, free ad-supported TV services have actually been growing at a faster clip. AVOD (ad-supported video on demand) or FAST (free ad-supported TV) is flourishing largely via large media companies. Fox’s Tubi, ViacomCBS’ Pluto TV and Xumo, now owned by Comcast, are all performing well. Xumo has skyrocketed 2.5 times, reaching 24 million U.S. monthly active users. Comcast acquired Xumo in February 2020 from Panasonic and Meredith Corp. Continue reading Viewers Turn to Xumo and Other Ad-Supported VOD Services

ETC Executive Coffee: Verizon’s Albert Lao & USC Students

“How will advances in network technology over the next 36 months impact the way we watch movies, play video games, and create and produce immersive and engaging experiences?” was addressed during the first “ETC Executive Coffee with…” Zoom session. The September 23rd meeting was hosted by Albert Lao, executive director of solutions architecture for the Americas, Verizon Business Group, who took time to speak with a group of USC students. After a short video describing Verizon’s plans for 5G and edge computing, Lao led a discussion on the future of streaming media, the post-pandemic theatrical experience, immersive media, and other topics related to entertainment and technology. You can watch a 22-minute highlight reel of the one hour discussion or start with a 4-minute preview video. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Verizon’s Albert Lao & USC Students

Watch-Party Startup Scener Gets $2.1 Million in New Funding

Two-year startup Scener, which has been offering co-viewing watch parties, just brought in $2.1 million in new funding. Its usage spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic, even as Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and other services also debuted watch-together features. Scener, which unveiled with a web-browser overlay for Netflix, now supports 10 streaming platforms, including, in addition to Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Funimation, Vimeo, YouTube, Alamo On Demand and Disney’s Hotstar. Continue reading Watch-Party Startup Scener Gets $2.1 Million in New Funding

Unions and Studios Agree to New Rules for Safe Productions

Hollywood unions and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers inked new safety protocols to enable the return of film and TV productions after six months of inactivity due to COVID-19. The Directors Guild of America, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Basic Crafts unions and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists inked the deal after months of negotiation. On June 12th, the unions adopted the “Safe Way Forward” protocols. Continue reading Unions and Studios Agree to New Rules for Safe Productions

AT&T to Launch Ad-Supported HBO Max and Mobile Service

AT&T plans to introduce a lower-cost, ad-supported version of HBO Max in the spring, said chief executive John Stankey, who added that it would be a “light ad load.” Some shows, however, would only be available to subscribers who pay for the full-price version. With the move, HBO Max is joining Hulu and NBC’s Peacock that also offer a free or lower-price version that comes with commercials. Stankey also revealed the company is considering ad-supported wireless phone plans as soon as a year from now. Continue reading AT&T to Launch Ad-Supported HBO Max and Mobile Service

CBS All Access Will Be Rebranded Paramount+ Early in 2021

ViacomCBS plans to roll out Paramount+, a new version of its flagship streamer CBS All Access, that will take advantage of a larger program catalog created by last year’s merger of CBS and Viacom. Among the original shows exclusive to Paramount+ are “Lioness” from “Yellowstone” creator Taylor Sheridan and “The Offer,” a scripted series about the making of “The Godfather” saga. CBS All Access costs $5.99 per month with ads and $9.99 per month without them, but ViacomCBS didn’t release pricing for Paramount+. Continue reading CBS All Access Will Be Rebranded Paramount+ Early in 2021

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

Video: NAB Panel on ETC Film Project and Virtual Production

Last week, NAB and sponsor Grass Valley hosted a day of online sessions covering various “Production in a Pandemic” topics. ETC@USC’s Erik Weaver moderated a compelling panel during which industry experts discussed the methods used to produce the short film “Ripple Effect,” a live-action project testing the limits of virtual production. The production focused on how Previz, Techviz and Safetyviz can help limit crew and cast to create a safer work environment. Video of the panel — “In Harm’s Way: Using Safetyviz to Mitigate Onset Liability” — is now available on the NAB Show site. Continue reading Video: NAB Panel on ETC Film Project and Virtual Production

Smart TV Makers Want a Bigger Slice of Streaming Ad Market

The COVID-19 pandemic has fueled a shift to streaming media, creating opportunities for TV manufacturers. In late 2019, Vizio TV, one of the biggest TV makers in North America, began selling ads for streaming movies, TV shows and digital videos on its screens. It now wants to build out this new business unit to create a recurring revenue source separate from TV set sales. Sources said that Vizio’s platform revenue this year comes mostly from advertising, which appears to be on track to double year-over-year. Continue reading Smart TV Makers Want a Bigger Slice of Streaming Ad Market

International Agencies Arrest Members of Global Piracy Ring

Three members of the Sparks Group, a sophisticated global piracy ring, were arrested on federal charges of international piracy of movies and TV shows distributed online prior to their release dates, said acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss. British citizen George Bridi was arrested in Cyprus, American Jonatan Correa was arrested in Olathe, Kansas and a third man, Umar Ahmad of Norway, is still being sought. TorrentFreak founder Ernesto van der Sar said, “the charges are significant.” Continue reading International Agencies Arrest Members of Global Piracy Ring

Advertising Opportunities Emerge for Mobile During Pandemic

App Annie reported that, in the first half of 2020, users spent 1.6 trillion hours on mobile devices, a big leap from the same period in 2019. App Annie market insights director Amir Ghodrati stated that, even if millions of people are out of work, it’s crucial for brands and companies to advertise on mobile devices, to acquire new users and enable them to set up new app habits. According to App Annie, psychologists say it takes an average of 66 days to form a habit. As the coronavirus pandemic continues, those habits are solidifying. Continue reading Advertising Opportunities Emerge for Mobile During Pandemic

Pirate IPTV Subscription Services Now a $1+ Billion Industry

Digital Citizens Alliance and NAGRA released a joint report revealing that illegal piracy subscription services — Internet Protocol Television (PS IPTV) — are now a $1+ billion industry. “Money for Nothing” describes an ecosystem of retailers and wholesalers enabled by legal businesses and consumed by at least nine million U.S. households. The report also looks into its infrastructure, supply chain, and ad-supported business models. Piracy injures consumers via malware among other risks. Continue reading Pirate IPTV Subscription Services Now a $1+ Billion Industry

Disney’s Streaming Services Hit 100 Million Subscriber Mark

Disney’s new streaming businesses — Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ — have now accrued more than 100 million subscribers worldwide. With the release of blockbuster “Hamilton” on Disney+, that service hit 60.5 million subscribers after only nine months. That was a (low-end) number that Disney originally hoped to achieve at the end of five years. Disney has also announced that it would release its $200 million feature “Mulan” on Disney+, on a premium basis rather than movie theaters, in the U.S., Canada and parts of Europe. Continue reading Disney’s Streaming Services Hit 100 Million Subscriber Mark

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