New Amazon Studios Head Is Charting an Ambitious Course

Four months ago, Jennifer Salke, previously NBC president of entertainment, replaced Amazon Studios chief Roy Price, who was ousted after a sexual harassment scandal. Now, she’s moving forward to clarify the studio’s message on the kinds of content it wants, as well as get more productions into the pipeline. Salke is making a strong play for Hollywood creatives to work with the studio, noting that, “there is a lot of talent out there looking for a home … [and] we have the resources.” Continue reading New Amazon Studios Head Is Charting an Ambitious Course

Federal Judge Rules in Favor of AT&T-Time Warner Merger

Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court in Washington has approved the proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner, despite the Justice Department’s claim that the deal would stifle competition. Judge Leon ruled the Justice Department did not prove that AT&T’s $85.4 billion takeover of Time Warner would result in fewer consumer choices and higher prices for Internet and TV services. While AT&T aims to move forward with the transaction, the DOJ is reportedly considering its options. The decision is expected to impact the future of media and telecom industries, and spur additional mergers and related deals. Continue reading Federal Judge Rules in Favor of AT&T-Time Warner Merger

Hulu Draws 800,000+ Subscribers to its New Live TV Service

In an interview with CNBC, Hulu CEO Randy Freer revealed that his company’s $40 per month Internet streaming service, Hulu with Live TV, which launched a little more than one year ago, has surpassed 800,000 subscribers. Dish Network’s Sling TV reached 2.3 million customers at the end of Q1, and AT&T’s DirecTV Now has about 1.46 million subscribers. Other competitors in this space include Google’s YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue from Sony, and the sports-focused fuboTV. In total, Hulu has more than 20 million paying customers (half subscribe to the ad-free $11.99 monthly package). Continue reading Hulu Draws 800,000+ Subscribers to its New Live TV Service

FCC’s O’Rielly Asks Amazon, eBay to Remove ‘Rogue’ STBs

FCC commissioner Michael O’Rielly is urging Amazon and eBay to pull listings from their sites for “rogue” set-top boxes that enable consumers to watch pirated TV shows. On Friday, the commissioner sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and eBay CEO Devin Wenig noting that the STBs in question often falsely feature the FCC logo, and are responsible for encouraging “intellectual property theft and consumer fraud.” O’Rielly recognized that the companies have been working to address the problem, but wrote “despite your good work in this area, devices continue to make it to consumers through your websites.” Continue reading FCC’s O’Rielly Asks Amazon, eBay to Remove ‘Rogue’ STBs

Viewers Not Warming to Recommendations by Video Services

According to research from UserTesting, the personalized viewing recommendations offered by video streaming services are failing to gain traction with most consumers. While results varied across services, only 29 percent of participants indicated that they watch content recommended to them. In addition to relevant recommendations, the study rated services based on metrics such as speed, availability of content, episode scanning, and overall ease-of-use. With a total score of 89.5, Netflix led the field, followed by Hulu (86.8), Amazon Prime (85) and YouTube TV (80.7). Continue reading Viewers Not Warming to Recommendations by Video Services

The Obamas Are the Latest to Sign Production Deal with Netflix

Netflix yesterday announced a multi-year partnership with former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to produce original content for the streaming service. The Obamas created production company Higher Ground Productions for the Netflix deal, which is reportedly valued in the high eight figures. According to Netflix, the partnership may include scripted, unscripted and docu-series, in addition to documentary and feature films. Two months ago, the Obamas signed a joint book deal with Penguin Random House worth a reported $65 million for their respective memoirs. Continue reading The Obamas Are the Latest to Sign Production Deal with Netflix

Amazon Channels Making a Splash in Subscription Video Sales

According to The Diffusion Group (TDG), Amazon is now responsible for 55 percent of a la carte direct-to-consumer video subs. Amazon Channels is “the company’s platform for reselling subscription services like HBO and Showtime,” explains Variety. TDG’s new research indicates that “53 percent of all consumers who don’t get HBO through their pay TV provider are purchasing it via Amazon Channels,” notes the article, adding that “72 percent of Showtime subscribers get the network’s direct-to-consumer offering via Amazon Channels, and 70 percent of Starz a la carte subscribers receive it from Amazon.” Continue reading Amazon Channels Making a Splash in Subscription Video Sales

YouTube Splits Red into YouTube Music and YouTube Premium

Changes are afoot at YouTube. The company plans to debut a new version of its music service and charge more to view original shows. YouTube Red, an on-demand subscription service that offered music and original programming without ads debuted two years ago for $10 per month. Next week, the company will launch YouTube Music, which adds personalized playlists based on YouTube history and will eventually replace Google Play Music. YouTube Music will cost $10 per month after a trial period. Continue reading YouTube Splits Red into YouTube Music and YouTube Premium

Hulu Upgrades Mobile Apps With Live TV Guide, Vertical Video

Hulu will soon debut upgraded iOS and Android mobile apps with a new live TV program guide and a vertical video player that will let live TV viewers stream linear programming while browsing the channel guide. The streaming service’s iPhone and iPad apps will also get support for HDMI-out and Android apps will enjoy improved performance on Chromecast. Users will also be able to improve personal recommendations by deleting entries from watch history and removing certain kinds of programs. Continue reading Hulu Upgrades Mobile Apps With Live TV Guide, Vertical Video

TiVo DVRs Add Support for Amazon’s Virtual Assistant Alexa

TiVo is introducing voice control to its DVRs with support for Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa. Consumers who have TiVo devices including the Premiere, Roamio and Bolt boxes will be able to interact with Alexa for basic remote control commands such as skipping commercials with SkipMode, changing channels, and launching video apps like Netflix. TiVo joins companies including DirecTV, Dish and Verizon in adding hands-free, voice control features. At CES in January, TiVo announced its plans to add support for Alexa and Google Assistant. Continue reading TiVo DVRs Add Support for Amazon’s Virtual Assistant Alexa

Apple Plans to Sell Streaming Video Subs via its Own TV App

Apple plans to make it easier for viewers to watch its TV app, and boost its use on Apple TV, iPhones and iPads. Rather than make users purchase subscriptions through various apps in its App Store, Apple will sell subscriptions to some of these services directly through its own TV app, and also centralize streaming from its own app, rather than through third parties. Sources say the feature will roll out next year. Apple has focused on growing its services business, which is slated to generate $50 billion a year in revenue by 2021. Continue reading Apple Plans to Sell Streaming Video Subs via its Own TV App

TaTaTu: Blockchain-Based Entertainment and Social Platform

TaTaTu is a new blockchain-based platform that integrates entertainment viewing with social media. The brainchild of producer Andrea Iervolino, TaTaTu rewards viewers for watching content including movies, TV shows, sports, and gaming — and adds rewards when their friends also watch. The first platform, without social media, will be released in three weeks; the complete version will debut Q1 2019. AMBI Media Group will be amongst the first content providers (Iervolino is AMBI Media’s co-founder and CEO). Additional partnerships will be announced soon. Continue reading TaTaTu: Blockchain-Based Entertainment and Social Platform

Wireless Oculus Go, at $199, Opens Door to Widespread Use

Facebook has debuted Oculus Go, its standalone $199 VR headset that the company hopes will launch more widespread engagement with virtual reality. Unlike the Oculus Rift, Oculus Go does not require a high-end smartphone or computer, has no wires or cables, and is ready to use out of the box. Early reviews give the VR headset a thumbs-up for its simplicity and convenience, and such features as speakers built into the strap. Also at its F8 developer conference, Facebook debuted a new version of Oculus Rooms. Continue reading Wireless Oculus Go, at $199, Opens Door to Widespread Use

Amazon Will Raise the Price of Prime Membership Next Month

Amazon announced that it plans to raise the price of its annual Prime membership from $99 to $119 in the U.S. The move marks the first increase since 2014 when the shipping and entertainment membership program cost $79 per year. New subscribers will pay $119 a year starting May 11, while the new fee will apply to current members beginning with renewals on June 16. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently revealed that Prime has more than 100 million global members. The company surprised investors this week with news that it had more than doubled its quarterly profits to $1.6 billion. Continue reading Amazon Will Raise the Price of Prime Membership Next Month

Amazon Inks 15-Year Lease of the Historic Culver Studios Lot

Amazon Studios just cut a ribbon on its 15-year lease of the historic 14-acre Culver Studios lot from landlord Hackman Capital Partners, which has owned the property since 2014. Hackman enticed Amazon to rent the property with a plan to invest $600 million in seven new buildings and other upgrades in the next three years. Before inking a deal for the Culver City lot, Amazon Studios had been housed in offices in Santa Monica. Amazon began moving its 700 entertainment employees into the Culver City lot in late 2017. Continue reading Amazon Inks 15-Year Lease of the Historic Culver Studios Lot

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