Facebook Tests Web-Based Audio Q&A Application ‘Hotline’

Facebook’s R&D group NPE Team (New Product Experimentation) debuted the public beta of Hotline, a web-based application that allows creators to speak to an audience that can pose questions via text or audio. The first to try out Hotline was real estate investor Nick Huber who, via a livestream, talked about investing in industrial real estate as a secondary income. NPE Team identified Huber as an ideal Hotline user who would use it to expand professional skills or finances. Hotline is led by Facebook product developer Erik Hazzard. Continue reading Facebook Tests Web-Based Audio Q&A Application ‘Hotline’

Pew Research Study Finds Social Media Use Remains Stable

A new report from the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of U.S. adults use social media, a number that has been stable over the past five years. The survey drilled down into use of a variety of individual sites and apps, finding that YouTube and Facebook still are dominant, with 81 percent and 69 percent respectively of those surveyed reporting using those sites. YouTube and Reddit were the only platforms that saw “statistically significant” growth since 2019. Forty percent said they ever use Instagram. Continue reading Pew Research Study Finds Social Media Use Remains Stable

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

More Brands Consider TV/Film Sponsorship in COVID-19 Era

One lesser-known story of COVID-19’s impact on the entertainment industry is how brands have turned to filmmaking. “The Day Sports Stood Still,” a documentary about the NBA shutdown, started as an idea that NBA player Chris Paul brought to producer Brian Grazer and his Imagine Entertainment. The documentary, which debuted on HBO and HBO Max, also drew in Nike’s production entity Waffle Iron Entertainment. “The best partnership you can have is a marriage where the themes between the company and the story are aligned,” said Grazer. Continue reading More Brands Consider TV/Film Sponsorship in COVID-19 Era

YouTube Debuts Would-Be TikTok Rival ‘Shorts’ in U.S. Beta

YouTube Shorts, intended to rival video-sharing social media platform TikTok, rolled out in beta to a small group of U.S. users, after debuting first in India last fall. Shorts project lead Todd Sherman said the company plans to experiment with advertising and monetization features for creators “later this year.” In beta, Shorts offers the ability to add text to points in the video and sample audio from other Shorts. Similar to TikTok, YouTube Shorts is focused on music. Shorts, however, integrates with the larger YouTube platform. Continue reading YouTube Debuts Would-Be TikTok Rival ‘Shorts’ in U.S. Beta

Creators Launch Audio Collective to Support New Community

Clubhouse, the popular audio chat app, has inspired other social media platforms to follow in its footsteps. In the process, the nascent audio creation space now has its own influencers. In response, 40 audio creators have established the Audio Collective to serve this cohort. The Collective has positioned itself as a one-stop shop for event planning, brand consulting, support and community. The founders also plan to ask Clubhouse for better moderation policies, insights and performance metrics as well as monetization tools. Continue reading Creators Launch Audio Collective to Support New Community

Streaming Now Makes Up 83 Percent of Total Music Revenue

In its year-end report, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) stated that, in the U.S., recorded music revenues grew 9.2 percent to $12.2 billion at estimated retail value, the fifth consecutive year of growth. Paid subscription services, ad-supported on-demand platforms and digital radio added $10.1 billion in revenue, a 13.4 percent jump. Paid subscriptions to on-demand services such as Apple Music and Spotify represented the majority of recorded music revenue, growing 14.6 percent to $7 billion in 2020. Continue reading Streaming Now Makes Up 83 Percent of Total Music Revenue

Google Roils Digital Advertising Ecosystem with New Policies

Google revealed plans to stop individualized tracking to serve digital ads. Since it is the largest global purveyor of digital advertising, Google’s move will doubtless have an impact, possibly moving the entire industry away from the practice, which has been criticized by privacy advocates. Rather than build alternative tracking systems, Google is developing new technologies to target ads without collecting individuals’ information. One analyzes browsing habits and allows targeting of “cohorts” rather than individuals. Continue reading Google Roils Digital Advertising Ecosystem with New Policies

YouTube to Launch Restricted Version for Tweens and Teens

Google’s YouTube is rolling out a version of its video service that will allow parents to supervise the viewing of tweens and teens that have outgrown YouTube Kids but aren’t quite ready for the unrestricted video platform. Currently, children under the age of 13 in the U.S. are legally barred from regular YouTube. The new option lets parents set up a managed account for children and teens that will prevent them from uploading videos or commenting. Parents will also have different content filters to restrict video viewing. Continue reading YouTube to Launch Restricted Version for Tweens and Teens

Facebook and Google Respond Differently to Australian Law

Against strong pushback from Facebook and Google, Australia is on the cusp of passing a law proposed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission that would force both companies to pay publishers for the content on their sites. The two companies have taken significantly different paths in response to the looming law. Google debuted a three-year global agreement with News Corp to pay for content, and Facebook stated it would restrict users and publishers from viewing and sharing news links, effective immediately. Continue reading Facebook and Google Respond Differently to Australian Law

YouTube to Offer a 4K Option and Shorts That Mimic TikTok

YouTube in unveiling a suite of new features, including the launch of its YouTube Shorts, which will enable users to create short-form vertical videos similar to those featured on video-sharing platform TikTok. The company will also introduce an option for its pay-TV service YouTube TV that will enable subscribers to watch in 4K, stream programs to an unlimited number of devices and download content for offline viewing. YouTube also plans to expand its new e-commerce feature so viewers can buy products from creators’ channels. Continue reading YouTube to Offer a 4K Option and Shorts That Mimic TikTok

Quantum Computing Experts Call for Conversation on Ethics

Quantum computing experts, including executives and scientists, are calling for ethical guidelines, since the technology can advance human DNA manipulation and create new materials for use in war. “Whenever we have a new computing power, there is potential for benefit of humanity, [but] you can imagine ways that it would also hurt people,” said UC Santa Barbara physics professor John Martinis, a former Google chief scientist of quantum hardware. Quantum computing is moving to the forefront; Microsoft, for example, recently debuted a public preview of its Azure Quantum cloud-based platform. Continue reading Quantum Computing Experts Call for Conversation on Ethics

Google Breaks Revenue Records, Boosts Cloud Investments

Due largely to robust online holiday shopping, Google’s parent company Alphabet reached a record-breaking $56.9 billion in revenue for Q4, up from $43.2 billion in the same quarter last year. The numbers represent an ongoing recovery in ad spending, which was hard hit in early 2020. FactSet reports that analysts predicted the company would post $52.7 billion in revenue, including $42.3 billion from advertising. Chief financial officer Ruth Porat said Google Search and YouTube led the positive performance numbers. Continue reading Google Breaks Revenue Records, Boosts Cloud Investments

Short-Form Video App Clash Acquires and Merges with Byte

Short-form video app Clash, which debuted in August, just acquired Byte, another short-form video app released a year ago. Byte creator Dom Hofmann was a co-founder of Vine, the once-popular six-second video app that shut down operations in 2016. Clash CEO and co-founder Brendon McNerney, formerly a star on Vine, explained that it is “more of an IP acquisition where we’re going to be taking over the community.” Byte and Clash will debut “in a few short months” as one product with monetization tools for creators. Continue reading Short-Form Video App Clash Acquires and Merges with Byte

CES: Masks, Sensors, Robotics and Fitness in the COVID Era

As we continue to contend with a global pandemic that has led to numerous changes involving remote work and learning, telemedicine, home fitness, social distancing, online shopping, and more, it should come as no surprise that devices and services showcased at this year’s all-digital CES focused on a range of COVID-related issues. From high-tech masks designed to comfortably combat spread of the coronavirus and sensors that alert wearers of flu-like symptoms, to robots that disinfect work spaces with UVC light and televisions that take personal training to a new level, many companies touted wares for the COVID era consumer. Continue reading CES: Masks, Sensors, Robotics and Fitness in the COVID Era

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