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

Netflix Considers Movie Chain Buy, Passes on Landmark Deal

Netflix recently looked at buying the Los Angeles-based Landmark Theatres, co-owned by Mark Cuban, say sources who added that Netflix dropped plans to seek a deal because its executives thought the price too expensive. But the search for a theater chain is likely not over since Netflix, despite its growing success, still struggles to find theatrical distribution. Recently the Cannes Film Festival banned movies from competition that didn’t play in French movie theaters, leading Netflix to pull out of the festival. Continue reading Netflix Considers Movie Chain Buy, Passes on Landmark Deal

AT&T Plans to Introduce New Sports-Free Streaming Service

AT&T chief exec Randall Stephenson announced last Thursday that the company plans to introduce the AT&T Watch live TV service in the coming weeks. The streaming service will offer a sports-free, skinny bundle of channels to general consumers for $15-per-month and for free to AT&T Wireless subscribers. “At this price point,” explains TechCrunch, “the service would be one of the lowest on the market — less than Sling TV’s entry-level, $20-per-month package, and just a bit less than Philo’s low-cost, sports-free offering, priced at $16 per month.” Continue reading AT&T Plans to Introduce New Sports-Free Streaming Service

Apple Reportedly Prepping a Subscription-Based News Product

According to sources, Apple, which acquired the magazine app Texture, now plans to integrate it into Apple News and launch it as a premium subscription product. Texture let users subscribe to more than 200 magazines for $9.99 per month. Apple cut 20 Texture employees, and brought the rest onto the Apple News team. The premium subscription version of Apple News, which will reportedly debut in the next year, will give publishers a cut of the subscription revenue. Apple did not comment on the story. Continue reading Apple Reportedly Prepping a Subscription-Based News Product

Netflix Marks Strong Q1 Subscriber Growth, Beating Forecasts

Netflix’s latest quarter showed subscriber growth exceeding its own forecast and Wall Street expectations. Wall Street analysts predicted Netflix would add 6.5 million new subscribers in Q1; in fact, it added 7.41 million subscribers in that quarter, of which 5.46 were international. In response to the news, shares rose 4.9 percent to $322.85 in after-hours trading. This follows a 1.2 percent decline during regular hours on Monday, representing shareholder concern over the imminent announcement of stalled growth. Continue reading Netflix Marks Strong Q1 Subscriber Growth, Beating Forecasts

Netflix Is Not Planning to Compete at Cannes Fest Next Month

Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos says the streaming giant will not be heading to the Cannes Film Festival in May. This is in response to the festival banning films from playing in competition if they have not had theatrical distribution in France. “Netflix could screen some of its upcoming movies out of competition,” reports Variety, “but Sarandos says that doesn’t make sense for the streaming service.” “We want our films to be on fair ground with every other filmmaker,” he noted. “There’s a risk in us going in this way and having our films and filmmakers treated disrespectfully at the festival.” Continue reading Netflix Is Not Planning to Compete at Cannes Fest Next Month

NAB 2018: Potential Impact of AI on Storytelling, Moviemaking

Do Androids dream of making movies? That was the provocative question posed in a conversation at the Future of Cinema conference track at NAB. Universal Pictures head of creative technologies Annie Chang led a discussion with ETC@USC data scientist Yves Bergquist, who is also chief executive of the AI firm Novamente, and IBM Watson Media senior product manager David Kulczar. Bergquist began with the definition of AI: “the design of optimal behavior of agents in known or unknown computable environments.” Continue reading NAB 2018: Potential Impact of AI on Storytelling, Moviemaking

ETC@USC to Present Sessions at the NAB Show in Las Vegas

ETC is participating in a restructured/streamlined NAB Show schedule (April 7-12, Las Vegas Convention Center). ETC directors Yves Bergquist (data & analytics), Phil Lelyveld (immersive media) and Seth Levenson (adaptive production) have programmed sessions for the Next-Generation Media Technologies education track, focusing on AI and machine learning, immersive media and cloud technology. The sessions are scheduled for Monday-Wednesday in North Hall 257. In addition, ETC will present Future of Cinema sessions in South Hall 222/223 on Sunday, April 8, prior to Monday’s official NAB Show floor opening. Continue reading ETC@USC to Present Sessions at the NAB Show in Las Vegas

Number of OTT-Only Households in the U.S. Continues to Rise

According to a new report from the Video Advertising Bureau, the number of households in the United States that are now using only OTT streaming services to watch movies and TV shows has reached 14.1 million, a figure that has almost tripled over five years. However, that number makes up just 11 percent of all U.S. TV households. The report also found that over-the-top services are often used in tandem with pay TV subscriptions; 70 percent of those with OTT services also pay for cable, satellite or telcos.

Continue reading Number of OTT-Only Households in the U.S. Continues to Rise

Google Play Makes It Easy to Track Streaming Movies and TV

This week, Google is rolling out an updated Google Play Movies & TV app, including changes to the Google Play Store that will help consumers more easily identify which streaming services feature their desired content and whether that content is available for rent or purchase. “The end result is something that’s similar to Apple’s own TV app,” reports TechCrunch, “which combines users’ own library of movies and TV with the ability to seek out what’s trending and available in the world of online video.” Continue reading Google Play Makes It Easy to Track Streaming Movies and TV

Startup Using AI to Help Create Effects for Movies, TV, Games

Palo Alto-based startup Arraiy is developing methods for automating part of the often-tedious process of producing visual effects for movies, TV shows and video games. “Filmmakers can do this stuff, but they have to do it by hand,” said CTO Gary Bradski, who has worked with tech companies such as Intel and Magic Leap. The Arraiy team, led by Bradski and CEO Ethan Rublee, “are building computer algorithms that can learn design tasks by analyzing years of work by movie effects houses,” reports The New York Times. “That includes systems that learn to ‘rotoscope’ raw camera footage, carefully separating people and objects from their backgrounds so that they can be dropped onto new backgrounds.” Continue reading Startup Using AI to Help Create Effects for Movies, TV, Games

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