Twitch Announces New Policies on Harassment, Hate Speech

Amazon-owned Twitch debuted tougher guidelines on sexual harassment and hateful conduct, broadening its definitions of both offenses and separating them into a new category that will be subject to more aggressive action. Under the new rules — its biggest update in almost three years — the live-streaming platform frequented by video-game players will ban unsolicited links to nudity, lewd or repeated comments about anyone’s physical appearance, comments about immigration status and displaying the Confederate flag. Continue reading Twitch Announces New Policies on Harassment, Hate Speech

ETC Executive Coffee: A Discussion with Verizon’s Albert Lao

To kick off ETC@USC’s eight-part Executive Coffee with… series, Verizon’s Albert Lao led a Zoom discussion on September 23. “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 the framing question for a wide-ranging discussion. Three students each from the cinema school and the engineering school, plus two students from the business school participated. Lao set up the discussion by showing a brief video explaining 5G and edge computing, and describing how they would impact entertainment creation, distribution and analytics. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: A Discussion with Verizon’s Albert Lao

Twitch Responds to a Flood of Copyright Takedown Notices

Last month, the Recording Industry Association of America, the Recording Academy, the National Music Publishers Association, the Music Managers Forum, the American Association of Independent Music and SAG-AFTRA chastised Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos for his company Twitch’s copyright violations. Twitch finally conceded that it ignored the use of unlicensed recorded music by its video creators and issued a blog post urging them to no longer do so and to delete any older VODs and Clips with unlicensed music. Continue reading Twitch Responds to a Flood of Copyright Takedown Notices

EA and Learfield IMG College Launch a New eSports League

Electronic Arts and university licensing company Learfield IMG College teamed up to debut Level Next, an intercollegiate eSports league that will involve up to 2,500 colleges. The league aims to “unify competitive play at universities,” and will kick off on November 9 with “Madden NFL 21.” The first eight-week tournament will offer a $150,000 prize pool. At least one of EA’s eSports franchises will be featured each season. Level Next will host multiple seasons each year and feature games from different publishers. Continue reading EA and Learfield IMG College Launch a New eSports League

Music Groups Accuse Twitch of Streaming Unlicensed Music

A group of U.S. music organizations — including the Recording Industry Association of American (RIAA), the Recording Academy, the National Music Publishers Association, the Music Managers Forum, the American Association of Independent Music, and a dozen more — penned an angry letter to Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos and Twitch chief executive Emmett Shear. Their complaint is that the Amazon-owned Twitch, a popular live-streaming platform, is not securing synch and mechanical licenses for its Soundtrack tool. Continue reading Music Groups Accuse Twitch of Streaming Unlicensed Music

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

Twitch Inks Live-Streaming Deal With Indie Music Companies

Amazon-owned Twitch, which now has 17.5 million average daily visitors, responded to the escalating problem of its users being hit with music copyright takedowns. Under pressure by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), Twitch debuted a beta version of Soundtrack by Twitch, an in-platform music streaming service featuring 1+ million copyright-cleared songs by independent artists that can be used legally and free of charge as background music. Continue reading Twitch Inks Live-Streaming Deal With Indie Music Companies

Amazon Music Offers Free Podcasts, Develops New Programs

Amazon Music now offers 70,000+ free podcasts and is also developing new podcast programming, making it the latest streaming music service to dive into the genre. Although the field is dominated by Apple Podcasts and Spotify, Amazon executives believe its offering will be competitive because it will be able to bring in new podcast listeners, especially via its Echo home speakers. Amazon’s free podcasts are available for all of its Music tiers and debuted first in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Japan. Continue reading Amazon Music Offers Free Podcasts, Develops New Programs

Amazon Rebrands Twitch Prime in Shift to Gaming Strategy

Amazon debuted Prime Gaming this week, a rebranding of its first foray into the video game industry, Twitch Prime, which offers exclusive game content and free subscriptions to Twitch, the live-streaming site. There, users could enjoy free games from small studios, discounts for bigger titles like “Grand Theft Auto” and in-game gear. Prime Gaming will include those features and offer more titles and exclusive content, accessible without a Twitch account. Meanwhile, a group of artists has demanded that Amazon pay to license music streaming on Twitch. Continue reading Amazon Rebrands Twitch Prime in Shift to Gaming Strategy

Facebook at a Crossroads as More Advertisers Join Boycott

As the advertiser boycott of Facebook grows over its policy to allow hate speech, Facebook is showing the first signs of concern. Last week, its top advertisers — including Coca-Cola, Pfizer and Unilever — paused advertising to signal their displeasure over the social media platform’s stance. In a virtual meeting, said sources, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg doubled down, telling these advertisers that he won’t back down. Now communications chief Nick Clegg stresses the company is trying to curb hate speech. Continue reading Facebook at a Crossroads as More Advertisers Join Boycott

Microsoft Closes Mixer and Partners With Facebook Gaming

Less than a year ago, Microsoft’s Xbox unit signed two very popular streamers to its Mixer video game streaming platform: Ninja (Tyler Blevins) and Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek. But their presence didn’t build the huge global fan base for Mixer that Microsoft hoped for. It’s therefore no surprise that Microsoft is shuttering Mixer, but more surprising, perhaps, that it will partner with Facebook on its xCloud mobile game service. From July 22, visitors to Mixer will be diverted to Facebook Gaming. Continue reading Microsoft Closes Mixer and Partners With Facebook Gaming

Hulu Launches Watch Party Feature to Enable Social Viewing

Hulu is the first major streaming platform to launch a built-in Watch Party feature that allows its subscribers to watch a show in a group chat room. During COVID-19 shutdowns, watch parties have become increasingly popular, although most are enabled by third-party apps and services rather than built-in social viewing features. The Hulu Watch Party feature is now available to web users who subscribe to the platform’s ad-free plan. Plex also launched a Watch Together feature that works with the user’s own media and the company’s on-demand content. Continue reading Hulu Launches Watch Party Feature to Enable Social Viewing

Scener Offers Virtual Theater and Video Chat for HBO, Netflix

WarnerMedia’s HBO has partnered with Seattle-based Scener to allow HBO Now and HBO GO subscribers to create a private virtual theater, including video chat, for up to 20 people. Scener already allows co-viewing for Netflix accounts. This is HBO’s first significant partnership with an online co-viewing platform. Scener co-founder Joe Braidwood said the company saw a “crazy surge in demand” for the product with the COVID-19 pandemic. The partnership, which began in March, includes a new design for the site and update for Google Chrome browsers. Continue reading Scener Offers Virtual Theater and Video Chat for HBO, Netflix

Amazon Games’ Relentless Studios to Roll Out First AAA Title

Amazon Game Studios will release “Crucible” — its first big budget original game — on May 20. In the free-to-play PC hero-shooter developed by Amazon’s Relentless Studios, the user plays as one of ten hunters, each with his or her own weapons and abilities, all of them battling for Essence, a resource that enhances those abilities. Amazon has game studios in Seattle, San Diego, Orange County (Southern California) and San Francisco, with such home-grown executives as vice president of games Mike Frazzini, who has been with Amazon for 16 years. Continue reading Amazon Games’ Relentless Studios to Roll Out First AAA Title

Facebook Bumps Up Release of Mobile App for Live Gaming

Facebook will release its free Facebook Gaming mobile app, moving up the original June launch as people are sheltering in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The app, tested in Southeast Asia and Latin America for 18 months, is designed for creating and watching live game play, a burgeoning sector of the $160 billion global games industry. Having invested in gaming to shed a once-drab reputation, Facebook stated that now 700+ million of its 2.5 billion monthly users engage in gaming. Its rivals in live gaming include Amazon’s Twitch, Google’s YouTube and Microsoft’s Mixer. Continue reading Facebook Bumps Up Release of Mobile App for Live Gaming

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