Developers to Build Widgets and Skill Cards for Alexa Devices

Amazon stated that it would allow third-party developers to create widgets for its Alexa devices, or what it said will be “rich, customizable, glanceable, self-updating views of skill content.” It won’t be an advertising service, according to Amazon Alexa Skills vice president Aaron Rubenson, but users will see personalized results based on the signals they send Alexa. Comedy Central will be one of the first featured skill cards. Amazon also announced that most Echo smart speakers will support the Matter open standard for smart home devices. Continue reading Developers to Build Widgets and Skill Cards for Alexa Devices

U.S. Turns to Open Standards to Launch New 5G Equipment

According to researcher Dell’Oro Group, the U.S. efforts to stop Huawei progress led to 60+ percent of the global wireless gear market to restrict or consider restricting that Chinese company’s products. Now the U.S. government may offer financial support to a domestic cellular equipment industry that has lagged behind for years. In the last five years, said Dell’Oro, Huawei, Sweden’s Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia accounted for 20 percent of the wireless gear market, with no rival even reaching 10 percent of the market. A new competitive landscape and building 5G equipment based on open standards could have a major impact on the industry. Continue reading U.S. Turns to Open Standards to Launch New 5G Equipment

ETC Executive Coffee: Warner on Future of Virtual Production

Ryan Beagan, vice president of virtual production at WarnerMedia, met virtually with USC students on April 21 for the fifth installment in ETC@USC’s Spring 2021 Executive Coffee with… series. Beagan engaged a group of six students and one recent alumnus in a one-hour discussion on “The Post-Pandemic Future of Virtual Production.” Graduate and undergraduate students in computer science, industrial engineering, theater, applied data, and film and television production discussed topics including sophisticated game engines, collaborative processes and new tools, and adapting to evolving compliance rules. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Warner on Future of Virtual Production

ETC Executive Coffee: Warner Executives Discuss AI, Ethics

“AI and Ethics” was the topic of ETC@USC’s March 30th Executive Coffee with… discussion, the third installment of the Spring 2021 series. WarnerMedia’s Renard Jenkins, vice president of content transmission and production, and Michael Zink, vice president of emerging and creative technologies, led the discussion with 12 graduate and undergraduate USC philosophy, cinema, engineering and innovation majors. They explored how diversity and bias impact AI development, and how AI is expected to impact entertainment experiences. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Warner Executives Discuss AI, Ethics

Media Transition Enables AT&T to Focus on Building Out 5G

Earlier this week, AT&T announced a $43 billion deal to merge WarnerMedia with Discovery, three years after its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner. The move marks AT&T’s pivot to a focus on its deployment of 5G. AT&T chief executive John Stankey said the company plans “to continue the momentum in our mobility business by stepping up our investment in our wireless network.” Other telcos have adopted a similar strategy, with Verizon selling AOL and Yahoo for $5 billion, and T-Mobile shuttering its T-Vision streaming service. Continue reading Media Transition Enables AT&T to Focus on Building Out 5G

ETC Executive Coffee: Verizon Execs Discuss Life After Zoom

During ETC@USC’s second Executive Coffee with… installment of the Spring 2021 series, Sanyogita Shamsunder, VP of product strategy, innovation and operations at Verizon engaged a group of eight USC students from cinema, engineering and business in a one-hour discussion of the question: “What comes after Zoom and entertainment apps?” Shamsunder, whose team is focused on new technology innovation and bringing new products and experiences to consumer and enterprise customers, was joined by team members Andrew Herson, who is focused on B2B2C applications, and Zachary Drossman, who heads concept development at Verizon’s 5G Labs. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Verizon Execs Discuss Life After Zoom

ETC Executive Coffee: Verizon on the Future of Entertainment

To kick off ETC@USC’s five-part Spring 2021 Executive Coffee with… series, Serhad Doken, executive, innovation and product realization at Verizon, led a Zoom discussion on March 15. “Expectations for the Future of Entertainment and UI/UX design” was the framing question for a wide-ranging discussion. Six students from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, Viterbi School of Engineering, and the Iovine and Young Academy participated. Topics included user experience expectations, VR and 5G, “gaming” the algorithm, recommendations versus serendipity, artists earning a living, and what experiences have yet to be adopted. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Verizon on the Future of Entertainment

AT&T Creates Media Giant: Merges WarnerMedia, Discovery

AT&T announced today that it plans to combine WarnerMedia with Discovery. The deal, expected to to take effect in mid-2022 subject to regulatory approval, is a significant move for one of Hollywood’s largest studios to compete with top streaming players such as Netflix and Disney since it would combine the HBO Max and discovery+ streaming services. Under the agreement, WarnerMedia will be spun off and merged with Discovery as a new media company separate from AT&T, which could be valued as high as $150 billion. Discovery chief exec David Zaslav will run the combined business, which will be named shortly. Continue reading AT&T Creates Media Giant: Merges WarnerMedia, Discovery

Gray to Buy 17 Meredith TV Stations, Will Reach 113 Markets

Gray Television inked a deal with Meredith Corporation to acquire 17 TV stations for $2.7 billion, bringing its number of outlets to 101 stations serving 113 markets and reaching 36 percent of U.S. TV households. It is acquiring Meredith TV stations in Atlanta; Phoenix; Nashville; Portland, Oregon and other mid-sized markets. Meredith is refocusing its efforts on magazine publishing and digital assets. Gray will become the No. 2 U.S. broadcaster after Nexstar, with its 116 stations reaching 62 percent of U.S. TV households.

Continue reading Gray to Buy 17 Meredith TV Stations, Will Reach 113 Markets

Verizon Is Selling AOL, Yahoo and Its Media Brands to Apollo

Telecom giant Verizon announced today that it is selling AOL, Yahoo and its Verizon Media assets, including its advertising technology business to New York-based private equity firm Apollo Global Management for $5 billion. LionTree LLC, a global investment firm focused on media and tech, was lead advisor on the deal and will join Apollo as an investor. The new company will keep the Yahoo name and will be led by Guru Gowrappan, the current CEO of Verizon Media Group. Verizon plans to keep a 10 percent stake in the overall business. Continue reading Verizon Is Selling AOL, Yahoo and Its Media Brands to Apollo

AT&T: Gains in HBO and HBO Max Subs, Wireless Customers

AT&T has experienced an increase in HBO and HBO Max subscribers and wireless customers. Its number of domestic HBO and HBO Max subscribers grew from 41.5 million three months ago to 44.2 million today, including those who signed up for the new streaming service and others who subscribed via a cable TV provider. The company has also added 595,000 postpaid phone subscribers and a net gain of 207,000 prepaid phone subscribers. The telco cut expenses by increasing online customer service and promoting simpler plans. Continue reading AT&T: Gains in HBO and HBO Max Subs, Wireless Customers

Senators Press Ad-Auctioneers for Personal Data Sales Info

Senate Finance Committee chair Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) heads a bipartisan group of U.S. senators attempting to understand more about digital advertising auctions and their relationship to personalized ads. The group sent a letter to the largest companies that run these auctions, including AT&T, Index Exchange, Google, Magnite, OpenX Software, PubMatic, Twitter and Verizon Communications. The senators want the names of all foreign clients gaining access to user data through the auctions, citing concerns of national security. Continue reading Senators Press Ad-Auctioneers for Personal Data Sales Info

T-Mobile Swaps TVision for Its Partner Google’s YouTube TV

Five months ago, T-Mobile debuted its TVision streaming service. Now, the company explains that its three live channel bundles — Live, Live Plus and Live Zone — will end April 29th. That’s due to its new partnership with Google and YouTube, in which YouTube TV will “now fill the role of its live TV solution.” Customers who subscribed to one of the TVision Live packages will get one free month of YouTube TV, and all T-Mobile subscribers can save $10 on the YouTube TV monthly rate of $64.99 and get three free months of YouTube Premium. Continue reading T-Mobile Swaps TVision for Its Partner Google’s YouTube TV

Verizon to Launch Media Hub with Yahoo Branded Products

Verizon Media Group has three million subscribers across its Yahoo-related products such as Yahoo Fantasy and Yahoo Finance. In the future, explained Verizon Media head of consumer Joanna Lambert, the company’s media products will all be rebranded under the Yahoo rubric and reside in a subscription hub dubbed Yahoo Plus. Lambert said its non-Yahoo brands will, over time, also be centralized around Yahoo. For example, RYOT has already been rebranded Yahoo Ryot Lab and the women’s media brand MAKERS will be known as MAKERS by Yahoo. Continue reading Verizon to Launch Media Hub with Yahoo Branded Products

HPA Tech Retreat: ETC Details Its Executive Coffee Program

During the HPA Tech Retreat, ETC Immersive Media Initiative program lead Phil Lelyveld presented highlights from the Entertainment Technology Center’s “Executive Coffee With…” program, a series of discussions between ETC industry members and USC students on a range of topics related to the future of entertainment. To date, executives from Verizon, Universal, Fox, Equinix, Vubiquity and Dolby have posed questions to the USC students, on topics from production during COVID-19 to the future of the theater experience. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: ETC Details Its Executive Coffee Program

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