Microsoft and NBA Sign Multiyear Deal for AI, Cloud Services

Microsoft and the National Basketball Association have inked a multiyear deal to build a consumer-facing digital platform to debut with the 2020-2021 season. The NBA will utilize the tech company’s Azure cloud computing and artificial intelligence capabilities to customize games and experiences. The deal’s terms were not revealed, but it covers all NBA properties including the Women’s National Basketball Association and USA Basketball. To win the deal, Microsoft bested cloud competitors Amazon and Google. Continue reading Microsoft and NBA Sign Multiyear Deal for AI, Cloud Services

Disney Tops a Million Subscribers for Streaming ESPN Service

Disney announced that its new ESPN+ streaming-only service, which launched five months ago in April, has already reached the milestone of more than one million paying subscribers. While it does not carry live streams from ESPN’s television channels, the $4.99-per-month streaming service offers original studio programming and sports content including MLB and NHL games, college football and international soccer matches, in addition to Top Rank Boxing and UFC mixed martial arts. Continue reading Disney Tops a Million Subscribers for Streaming ESPN Service

Intel Plans to Live-Stream Free MLB Games in Virtual Reality

Under a three-year deal with Major League Baseball, Intel plans to live-stream one free out-of-market game each Tuesday in virtual reality. Starting next week, the games, on-demand replays and post-game highlights will be made available via the Intel True VR app on Samsung Gear VR headsets. The “Intel True VR Game of the Week” will provide baseball fans with the option of viewing a produced VR broadcast or selecting angles from up to four cameras. The experience will also feature exclusive commentary and live player and team stats. Continue reading Intel Plans to Live-Stream Free MLB Games in Virtual Reality

Samsung Schedules Live VR Broadcasts of Sports and Music

Samsung is looking to expand virtual reality applications beyond gaming to the world of broader entertainment and, hopefully, mainstream adoption. A few months after unveiling its updated Gear VR headset, the company announced plans for live VR broadcasts from UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), the X Games and Live Nation. Samsung will debut VR Live Pass by broadcasting the UFC Featherweight Championship bout between José Aldo and Max Holloway on June 3 from Rio de Janeiro. VR Live Pass will then offer the X Games from Minneapolis July 13–16 and a major concert performance from Live Nation in August. Continue reading Samsung Schedules Live VR Broadcasts of Sports and Music

New FOX Sports GO Brings Multi-Screen Viewing to Apple TV

FOX Sports GO is now available on Apple TV, with a full slate of more than 3,000 live events, hundreds of hours of studio content and originals, and a variety of other features. Coverage includes NFL, MLB, UFC, NASCAR, Big 12 and Pac-12 Football, Big East Basketball, FIFA World Cup, and UEFA Champions League soccer. In some areas, viewers will be able to access hometown MLB, NBA and NHL telecasts. Fox previously had an iOS app, but Apple TV viewers will now be able to enjoy multi-screen viewing among other innovations. Continue reading New FOX Sports GO Brings Multi-Screen Viewing to Apple TV

CES: Broadcasters and Execs Gather at 2nd Screen Summit

The 2nd Screen Society — formed to address the companion screen viewing of TV and home entertainment — hosted the 2nd Screen Summit on January 5 during CES. Television network, production and creative tech execs gathered at the Encore Las Vegas to discuss this year’s theme — It’s all about the data: “Data is going to be the currency that fuels the entertainment industry in the years ahead and 2nd screen will be the way that data is collected.” The event featured a series of thought-provoking keynote discussions and panels. Continue reading CES: Broadcasters and Execs Gather at 2nd Screen Summit

E3 2014: Electronic Arts Puts Focus on Conceptual Prototypes

In addition to games it plans to produce this year, Electronic Arts offered a glimpse of the future at its E3 press conference. CEO Andrew Wilson promised “raw prototypes of what’s to come over the next few years” and “thoughtful reflections on what’s inspiring the future.” Early prototype footage was shown for “Star Wars Battlefront” from DICE, a new game in the “Mass Effect” series from BioWare, and an unnamed first-person game with helicopters, motorcycles and skydiving from Criterion. Continue reading E3 2014: Electronic Arts Puts Focus on Conceptual Prototypes

UFC Discusses Its Big-Data Strategy at the HPA Tech Retreat

The HPA Tech Retreat was in full swing on Tuesday, and one of the most intriguing presentations was a case study in the use of Big Data, given by Christy King, VP digital technology and R&D at the Ultimate Fighting Championship. King, co-presenting with journalist Deborah McAdams of TV Technology outlined the methods that UFC employs to collect and analyze data about its fans and viewers, including how they use that data to make decisions about marketing and expansion. Continue reading UFC Discusses Its Big-Data Strategy at the HPA Tech Retreat

HPA Retreat: Leveraging Analytics in a Multi-Platform Universe

Media organizations are behind the curve when it comes to making the most of analytics: 97 percent don’t have automated real-time media analytics solutions and 94 percent leverage social media only for marketing purposes. In an HPA Tech Retreat panel that looked at better leveraging of social media and analytics, HP Enterprise Services’ Steve Poehlein, who moderated, pointed out that, “there’s a deluge of all these different ways to see content.” “What do analytics mean to the entertainment industry?” he asked. Continue reading HPA Retreat: Leveraging Analytics in a Multi-Platform Universe

Fox Takes On ESPN Saturday with Launch of Sports Channels

Tomorrow morning, the Speed and Fuel networks will be transformed into the much-hyped Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 channels, in a move intended to compete with ESPN. Fox has landed deals with college conferences Pac-12 and Big 12 football and basketball, Big East basketball, NASCAR, the UFC, Major League Baseball, World Cup soccer and, most recently, the U.S. Open golf championship. The TV everywhere companion app Fox Sports Go will not launch concurrently, as it continues its testing phase. Continue reading Fox Takes On ESPN Saturday with Launch of Sports Channels

Ultimate Poker: Real Money Online Gambling Returns to U.S.

Real money online poker has been reintroduced in the U.S. with the launch of UltimatePoker.com, the country’s first legal online gambling portal since regulators shut down gambling sites in 2011. The site is operated by Ultimate Gaming, a subsidiary of Fertitta Interactive that also runs the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Currently, only users in Nevada will have access, since Ultimate Gaming plans to track IP addresses in order to keep the site secure. Continue reading Ultimate Poker: Real Money Online Gambling Returns to U.S.

FOX Sports 1 to Launch in August: All-Sports Cable Network

Media magnate Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corp., has plans to take on ESPN with a new national cable sports network. FOX Sports 1 is expected to launch in August in the United States, with plans to broadcast football, motor sports, baseball and much more. Murdoch hopes that the all-sports network will be as successful in the U.S. as Sky Sports has proven in the United Kingdom. Continue reading FOX Sports 1 to Launch in August: All-Sports Cable Network