Discovery May Target Cord Cutters With Streaming Service

Discovery Inc. revealed yesterday that it is considering a streaming service that would directly offer content from its collection of television channels to U.S. viewers. The company envisions “an opportunity to take content on a broader basis to mount an attack on those who are not existing cable subscribers,” explained CEO David Zaslav during Thursday’s earnings call with Wall Street analysts. Discovery is considering “aggregating all of our content in the U.S. and having something that looks very different.” Such a move would mark a major shift for Discovery, which has been comparatively cautious in providing content to consumers without cable subs. Continue reading Discovery May Target Cord Cutters With Streaming Service

Developers Accessed Private Data From Facebook Groups

Facebook is dealing with yet another privacy situation. Since April of last year, the company has been reviewing how individuals use the network to share data with third parties. In the process, Facebook opted to remove or restrict some of its developer APIs, including the Groups API. These changes were intended to improve the interface between Facebook and any apps used to integrate with groups. However, the ongoing review discovered that about 100 third-party app developers had access to the personal data of members of several groups, and “at least 11 partners accessed group members’ information in the last 60 days,” according to Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, head of platform partnerships for Facebook. Continue reading Developers Accessed Private Data From Facebook Groups

U.S. Investigates TikTok App Based on Security Concerns

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is conducting a national security review of Chinese company ByteDance’s acquisition of Musical.ly, in November 2017, for $800 million to $1 billion. ByteDance merged Musical.ly, an app popular among teens for making karaoke videos, with its similar service TikTok. Over the past year, TikTok has been downloaded 750+ million times, and U.S. lawmakers are concerned about its growing influence. One source said the U.S. has evidence TikTok sends data to China. Continue reading U.S. Investigates TikTok App Based on Security Concerns

Netflix Seeks Growth Abroad, Bumps into Local Censorship

Streaming services have operated worldwide, largely untouched by local censorship laws. As Netflix expands, however, it’s starting to encounter local sensitivities. So far, the company has experienced the impact of local laws in Turkey, India and Saudi Arabia. In its 2018 annual report, among business risks, Netflix listed “censorship” and “the need to adapt our content and users interfaces for specific cultural and language differences.” But with subscriber growth plateaued at home, Netflix must seek expansion abroad. Continue reading Netflix Seeks Growth Abroad, Bumps into Local Censorship

Apple Experiences Mixed Q3, Launches Apple TV+ Today

Apple’s revenue climbed 1.8 percent to $64.04 billion, due to sales in wearables and services such as apps, mobile payments and streaming-music subscriptions. Meanwhile, iPhone sales fell 9.2 percent and profit fell 3 percent to $13.69 billion. The company’s operating expenses have also risen 9 percent as it embraced facial recognition for the new iPhone and increased R&D spending. In advance of the Apple TV+ debut on November 1, Apple held a gala event for “The Morning Show” at New York’s Lincoln Center. Continue reading Apple Experiences Mixed Q3, Launches Apple TV+ Today

Zuckerberg Responds to Sorkin’s Open Letter of Criticism

Yesterday we reported that Jack Dorsey announced Twitter would ban all political ads, placing pressure on Mark Zuckerberg to reconsider Facebook’s laissez-faire approach to such content. As the CEOs’ opposing philosophies are generating a great deal of media buzz, screenwriter and director Aaron Sorkin published an open letter to Zuckerberg, criticizing the chief executive for not doing his part to stop the spread of misinformation on the social network. In response, Zuckerberg used lines from the Sorkin-penned 1995 film “The American President” to essentially call Sorkin a hypocrite. Continue reading Zuckerberg Responds to Sorkin’s Open Letter of Criticism

Creatives Are Concerned by Netflix Variable Speed Feature

Netflix is testing variable playback speeds with a small group of Android users, much to the dismay of many Hollywood creatives. Judd Apatow, Brad Bird and Aaron Paul were among those who spoke against the feature, with Apatow noting that “distributors don’t get to change the way the content is presented.” There is evidence that some users prefer to consume media at faster speeds, to improve concentration and cover more material. Netflix vice president Keela Robison said subscribers had “frequently” requested the feature. Continue reading Creatives Are Concerned by Netflix Variable Speed Feature

Jack Dorsey Announces Twitter’s Plan to Ban Political Ads

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey revealed yesterday that the social platform would ban all political advertisements. Dorsey believes such content has “significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle,” and that manipulated videos and the spread of misinformation are creating challenges at an “overwhelming scale.” The move adds another layer to the debate over online advertising, social media and free speech — especially in the political arena — and increases the pressure on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to reconsider his laissez-faire approach. Continue reading Jack Dorsey Announces Twitter’s Plan to Ban Political Ads

Major Tech Firms Are Taking Action to Combat Deepfakes

Ahead of next year’s U.S. Presidential election, social platform Twitter is planning to introduce a new policy that intends to help curb manipulated media including altered videos known as “deepfakes.” Twitter plans to create its first ever such policy regarding deepfakes and will seek feedback from the public in doing so. Meanwhile, Amazon Web Services has joined Facebook, Microsoft and others in the Deepfake Detection Challenge (DFDC) and will serve as a tech partner and committee member helping to oversee the challenge. Continue reading Major Tech Firms Are Taking Action to Combat Deepfakes

Verizon Offers Free Disney+ for Unlimited Data Customers

Verizon Communications, the largest U.S. wireless provider, will provide a year of free access to Disney+ for its customers who have unlimited data plans. About half of Verizon’s 100+ million customers currently pay for an unlimited data plan. Disney’s new film and television streaming service will debut November 12 and cost $6.99 per month. Verizon will also offer a year of free Disney+ to its FiOS Internet and 5G home broadband subscribers. Disney+ is one of several new streaming services targeting Netflix’s dominance. Continue reading Verizon Offers Free Disney+ for Unlimited Data Customers

Nielsen Includes Amazon Prime Video in Its SVOD Ratings

Nielsen began tracking a second subscription streaming service — Amazon Prime Video — in its SVOD Content Ratings, which debuted in October 2017 with Netflix. For both services, Nielsen tracks only connected-TV viewing, excluding desktop and mobile devices, and only measures viewing in the United States. Nielsen released data points for Amazon Prime’s eight-episode “The Boys” produced by Sony Pictures Television, stating it reached nearly eight million viewers in the first 10 days of its premiere. Continue reading Nielsen Includes Amazon Prime Video in Its SVOD Ratings

KidHQ: Walmart and Mattel Renting Space in Virtual Store

Online toy shopping is getting increasingly creative, as digital reality tools rise in popularity among retailers and consumers. Walmart and Mattel are now leasing “floors” at the BuzzFeed-produced interactive video experience KidHQ, a virtual reality store that allows users to browse products via choose-your-own-adventure-style videos. Both companies are looking ahead to the holiday season as they try to sell toys ranging from Barbies to “Frozen 2” merchandise, and are using interactive video to connect with consumers to do so. 

Continue reading KidHQ: Walmart and Mattel Renting Space in Virtual Store

Hulu Advances Personalization With Like/Dislike Buttons

Ahead of the launch of two new streaming services, Disney+ and Apple TV+, Hulu is taking steps to add more personalization to its platform. After launching an enhanced recommendation engine that takes into account what viewers watch and when, it’s now introducing Like and Dislike buttons that will enable more personal and accurate content recommendations. The new buttons now appear across the Hulu platform. When using a living room device, you’ll see them on the Details page; when using a computer, you’ll see them on the Homepage.

Continue reading Hulu Advances Personalization With Like/Dislike Buttons

Facebook Falls, Amazon Rises, and Apple Holds Top Spot

In Interbrand’s latest Best Global Brands report, Facebook fell out of the top ten, dropping to 14th due to an estimated declined value of 12 percent. Amazon moved up to 3rd and The Walt Disney Company moved up to 10th. Apple remains in the top spot, with Google right behind. Previously, Facebook had grown in value each year of its existence up until 2017, when it came in 8th place on the list. But with incidents like the Cambridge Analytica scandal on its heels, the company’s value has dipped. 

Continue reading Facebook Falls, Amazon Rises, and Apple Holds Top Spot

Hulu Joins the Streaming Competition in Offering 4K Video

After removing it in 2018, Hulu once again has 4K content available via its service. This time around, 4K content can be accessed through Xbox One devices (Hulu will soon add 4K support for Amazon Fire TV, LG webOS and others). Formerly, Hulu had only made 4K content available via Apple TV 4K and Chromecast Ultra, and the content selection had been somewhat limited compared to rivals like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Now, Hulu has more original content under its belt to offer in 4K, including hits like “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The First,” “Castle Rock,” and others. 

Continue reading Hulu Joins the Streaming Competition in Offering 4K Video

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