How listening to uninterrupted noise helped millions to focus

How listening to uninterrupted noise helped millions to focus

Enlarge (credit: Juan Pablo Machado)

Who among us isn’t depressingly familiar with the constant tug of war between putting off tasks that require focus, and, like a moth to a flame, being drawn to distraction?

Sometimes we blame ourselves, cursing our tendency to procrastinate. But we should give ourselves a break. We’re living in an unprecedented age where billions of dollars have been made by machines designed to tempt us away from doing what we had planned to do.

These thoughts are hardly new. But something happened recently, which—ironically—has captured no small amount of attention and provided me with a glimmer of hope that the Internet that has rewired our minds could also be used to untangle them.

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#gaming-culture, #lofi-beats, #lofi-girl, #policy, #streaming

NFL+ is here, but it’s probably not what you’re looking for

The NFL is hugely popular in the US, but the streaming and broadcast rights are uniquely complicated.

Enlarge / The NFL is hugely popular in the US, but the streaming and broadcast rights are uniquely complicated. (credit: velo_city)

After months of rumors and teases, the National Football League has launched a new streaming video service. Unfortunately, the new service has limitations, as it’s caught up in a tangled mess of arrangements with different services.

NFL+ replaces NFL Game Pass, which offered more utility but was $99.99 annually. NFL+ costs $4.99 monthly or $39.99 per year. TechCrunch reports that NFL Game Pass subscribers will be automatically moved to NFL+.

The new service “offers access to live out-of-market preseason games, live local and primetime regular season and postseason games (phone and tablet only), live local and national audio for every game, NFL Network shows on-demand, NFL Films archives and more,” according to the NFL’s press release.

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#football, #national-football-league, #nfl, #sports, #streaming, #tech, #tv

Amazon Prime Video finally gets a desperately needed redesign

This is Amazon Prime Video's new look.

Enlarge / This is Amazon Prime Video’s new look. (credit: Amazon)

Amazon Prime Video may have a compelling value proposition and some great original series to watch, but its interface has always been hideous compared to what competitors offer. Granted, the current state of affairs is what it is partly because the one we’re using now is a decade old, give or take. But it wasn’t all that attractive even back then.

Fortunately, Amazon is completely overhauling the Amazon Prime Video design at long last. The updated interface will start rolling out to users this week.

At first glance, the redesign is all about modernizing the look and making the experience more similar to what you get with just about every other streaming service. But it also addresses one of the biggest user complaints that isn’t just about looks: It offers a more elegant way to tell which videos are available free to Prime subscribers, and which ones you have to pay a la carte for.

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#amazon, #amazon-prime, #amazon-prime-video, #streaming, #tech, #tv

Bad news for cable: A major sports league will stream exclusively on Apple TV

Major League Soccer is coming to Apple TV.

Enlarge / Major League Soccer is coming to Apple TV.

Today, Apple and Major League Soccer (MLS) announced that the Apple TV app will offer streaming video of every MLS match for the next 10 years.

Apple claims that viewers “around the world” can “watch all MLS, Leagues Cup, and select MLS NEXT Pro and MLS NEXT matches in one place—without any local broadcast blackouts or the need for a traditional pay TV bundle.”

This will all be part of a “new MLS streaming service” that will become available in early 2023, with matches offered up through 2032. It will offer both live and on-demand video.

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#apple, #apple-tv, #cable-tv, #cord-cutting, #football, #major-league-soccer, #mls, #soccer, #sports, #streaming, #tech

Microsoft’s plans for an Xbox streaming stick head back to the drawing board

It might be a while until you can stream <em>Halo Infinite</em> to a TV using just a small dongle.

Enlarge / It might be a while until you can stream Halo Infinite to a TV using just a small dongle. (credit: Microsoft)

Last year, Microsoft officially confirmed years of rumors and announced plans for “standalone streaming devices” that could stream Xbox games through the company’s Xcloud service. Now, though, the company says it’s essentially going back to the drawing board and “pivot[ing] away from the current iteration” of that streaming-focused hardware.

In a statement to Windows Central, a Microsoft spokesperson reconfirmed that the company has “been working on a game-streaming device, codenamed Keystone, that could be connected to any TV or monitor without the need for a console.” At the same time, that spokesperson suggested that it may be a while until we see that hardware being finalized and released:

As part of any technical journey, we are constantly evaluating our efforts, reviewing our learnings, and ensuring we are bringing value to our customers. We have made the decision to pivot away from the current iteration of the Keystone device. We will take our learnings and refocus our efforts on a new approach that will allow us to deliver Xbox Cloud Gaming to more players around the world in the future.

Microsoft’s statement comes weeks after a GamesBeat report suggested that Microsoft’s game-streaming device would be released “in the next 12 months,” citing “people familiar with [Microsoft’s] plans.” That report also said that certain Samsung smart TVs would be getting an Xbox cloud streaming app in the same time period.

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#gaming-culture, #microsoft, #streaming, #xbox, #xcloud

Review: New Chip ‘N Dale movie hilariously spoofs classic games, cartoons

When there's danger!

Enlarge / When there’s danger! (credit: Disney)

Traditionally, when Disney films skip theaters and go straight to video, it’s not a good sign. That’s changed somewhat now that the Disney+ content beast needs to be fed, yet the company still differentiates between “triple-A television” like The Mandalorian and “cheap, kid-friendly movies” like the Air Bud series.

Hence, today’s Disney+ premiere of Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangersa PG-rated reboot with little in the way of advance press screenings—had us assuming the worst, despite of its comedy pedigree. The Lonely Island (“Lazy Sunday,” “Mother Lover”) is all over the film’s credits, but how much of the group’s boundary-pushing Saturday Night Live work could survive the family-friendly demands of a straight-to-Disney+ launch?

I’m here with surprisingly good news. Chip ‘N Dale is a self-aware comedy romp that families will appreciate. What’s more, it knows exactly when and how to toy with ’80s and ’90s gaming, cartoon, and pop-culture references without losing character development and physical comedy.

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#ars-shopping, #chip-n-dale, #disney, #disney-afternoon-collection, #disney-animation, #disney-plus, #film-review, #film-reviews, #gaming-culture, #streaming

“Friday Night Baseball” on deck for Apple TV+ subscribers

“Friday Night Baseball” on deck for Apple TV+ subscribers

Enlarge (credit: Apple)

At its Peek Performance event Tuesday, Apple announced that it will be streaming live sports for the first time. “Friday Night Baseball,” a weekly baseball doubleheader, will step up to the plate once the Major League Baseball season begins. (Owners locked out the players in December 2021 and have canceled a week’s worth of games as a result of their work stoppage.)

Beyond Friday Night Baseball, Apple will offer a 24/7 livestream of highlights, replays, news, and talking heads for subscribers in the US and Canada. Apple TV+ subscribers will also be able to tune into “MLB Big Inning,” which Apple describes as a “live show featuring highlights and look-ins airing every weeknight during the regular season.”

Most notably, “Friday Night Baseball” will be available in all markets—local broadcast restrictions will not apply to Apple’s new service.

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#apple, #apple-tv, #baseball, #sports, #streaming, #tech

Report: Apple mulling bid for NFL Sunday Ticket package

Derek Wolfe #95 and Von Miller #58 of the Denver Broncos celebrate after Wolfe sacked Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 24, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.

Enlarge / Derek Wolfe #95 and Von Miller #58 of the Denver Broncos celebrate after Wolfe sacked Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 24, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (credit: Dustin Bradford | Getty Images)

The past two decades have seen Apple transform itself from a maker of expensive computers to a hardware, software, and entertainment Goliath. Live sports may be next on the agenda—according to a report in Front Office Sports, Apple is eying a multibillion-dollar bid for the National Football League’s Sunday Ticket package.

Sunday Ticket, which broadcasts out-of-market NFL games, has been carried by Directv since its launch in 1994. The rights to Sunday Ticket expire after the 2022 season, and with Directv hemorrhaging both subscribers and money, Sunday Ticket is going to have a new home for the 2023 season.

In addition to selling the rights to Sunday Ticket, the NFL is also seeking an investment partner for NFL Media, which includes the league’s website, NFL Network, and NFL RedZone. Apple would also become a minority shareholder in NFL Media, in addition to getting the streaming rights to out-of-market NFL games.

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#apple, #apple-tv, #gaming-culture, #nfl, #sports, #streaming, #sunday-ticket, #tech

In a strategic shift, Roku plans to make its own TV sets

A Roku streaming box.

Enlarge / A Roku streaming box. (credit: Ars Technica)

TV-streaming platform Roku is looking to expand beyond dongles and software deals to make its own TV hardware, according to a report in Insider.

The story appears to be based on two sources with different levels of familiarity with Roku’s plans. The first is someone who participated in a Roku focus group. “They showed different models, feature sets, and names, sizes, price points,” the participant said.

Second, the article cites an executive who says that making TVs has been on Roku’s roadmap for over a year. The executive is quoted briefly and provides a little more detail, saying, “The analysis has been done. They recognized that owning the last bit of branding made a lot of sense, particularly if you are going into content.”

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#insider, #roku, #roku-os, #streaming, #tech, #tv

Want to delete Spotify? These are the alternatives

Today, Spotify is the dominant streaming music platform in several regions, including the United States. But lately there has been a lot of interest among Spotify users in trying something new.

Some are just curious to see what else is out there since they’ve used Spotify for a long time while its competitors have continued to mature. Some are seeking to make a change because of controversies around the platform’s deal with podcaster Joe Rogan or its financial relationship with artists.

Whatever your reasons, there are several well-established competitors that offer many of the same features as Spotify. We’ll quickly run down what distinguishes them.

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#amazon-music-unlimited, #apple-music, #ars-buying-guide, #ars-shopping, #bandcamp, #deezer, #music, #podcasts, #soundcloud, #spotify, #streaming, #tech, #tidal, #youtube-music

Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings TV series gets a name and a teaser video

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power teaser video.

Amazon has been hyping its Lord of the Rings TV series for a while now, but details have been scarce. That changed a bit this week, as Amazon finally announced the name of the series and released its first teaser video.

The name of the series is The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

The title is a mouthful (and maybe redundant), but it ties in with the time period in which the show is set. Amazon has previously said the series is set in the Second Age, the era preceding the events depicted in author J.R.R. Tolkien’s most famous books (The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy).

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#amazon, #amazon-prime, #amazon-prime-video, #fantasy, #gaming-culture, #j-r-r-tolkien, #streaming, #the-lord-of-the-rings, #the-lord-of-the-rings-the-rings-of-power, #tv

#Brandneu – 9 junge Startups, die wir ganz ganz genau beobachten präsentiert heute wieder einmal einige junge Startups, die zuletzt, also in den vergangenen Wochen und Monaten an den Start gegangen sind, sowie Firmen, die zuletzt aus dem Stealth-Mode erwacht sind. Übrigens: Noch mehr neue Startups gibt es in unserem Newsletter Startup-Radar.

Bei Unosecur aus Berlin dreht sich alles um Cloud Security und Cloud-Berechtigungslücken. “Eliminate cloud permissions gap and maintain continuous security across multi-cloud environments and SaaS platforms”, schreiben die Gründer Santhosh Jayaprakash (Ankercloud-Gründer) und Wesam Iwas.

Die Berliner Jungfirma Leila bezeichnet sich als “digitale Plattform für ganzheitliche Kinderwunschmedizin”. Das Unternehmen, das von Caroline Mitterdorfer, Silvia Hecher und Theresa Vilsmaier gegründet wurde, möchte vor allem die Diagnostik von Fruchtbarkeitsstörungen automatisieren”.

Gaming Stars
Das junge Berliner Startup Gaming Stars, das von Artem Morgunov gegründet wurde, bietet Hobby-Gamer:innen die “Möglichkeit, mit ihren Gaming-Fähigkeiten Geld von zu Hause aus hinzuzuverdienen. Gespielt werden derzeit Games für Playstation, Xbox und PC”.

Die junge Berliner Jungfirma Cultway positioniert sich als “kultureller Guide fürs Museum und Zuhause”. Cultway bietet Museen unter anderem einen Baukasten zur Erstellung einer digitalen Präsenz sowie eine “hochwertige App” für die Besucher:innen an.

Das Berliner Startup konfetti vermittelt Events und Kurse. Die Bandbreite reicht von “Online Gin Tasting für Einsteiger” über “Action-Painting gestalten” bis hin zu “Falte meditativ Papiertulpen”. Das Unternehmen wurde von Tobias Fezer und Wolfgang Mauer gegründet. 

Das Team von flace tritt an, um die Bürowelt zu digitalisieren. “With flace you enable your employees to work when, where and how they want. Let them easily book a space to work when they really need it. Learn how the office of the future is going to be used with powerful analytics”, schreiben die Macher:innen.

Bei jooli werden Produkte in kurzen Videos präsentiert. “User navigieren per Swipe durch ein breites Produktportfolio diverser Marken und erhalten personalisierte Shopping- und Geschenkideen”, heißt es zum Konzept des Startups, das von Juwelo-Macher Wolfgang Boye gegründet wurde.

Sosho aus Berlin setzt auf Livestream-Shopping mit Influencer:innen. Die Berliner schreiben dazu: “Das i-Tüpfelchen dabei: die Marken und Produkte, um die es in unseren Shows geht, kannst du nicht nur live shoppen, du kannst dich auch live mit unseren Moderatoren und Influencern dazu austauschen”.

Frats möchte gerne das Müllaufkommen auf Partys und Großveranstaltungen reduzieren – und zwar mithilfe eines Bechers. Der spülmaschinentaugliche Becher soll dabei Getränke zwei bis drei Stunden kühl halten. Die Kühlfunktion ist möglich durch eine Kühlflüssigkeit, die nicht schädlich sein soll.

Tipp: In unserem Newsletter Startup-Radar berichten wir einmal in der Woche über neue Startups. Alle Startups stellen wir in unserem kostenpflichtigen Newsletter kurz und knapp vor und bringen sie so auf den Radar der Startup-Szene. Jetzt unseren Newsletter Startup-Radar sofort abonnieren!

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): Shutterstock

#aktuell, #berlin, #bonn, #brandneu, #cultway, #cyber-security, #e-health, #flace, #frats, #games, #gaming-stars, #jooli, #konfetti, #leila, #live-shopping, #mannheim, #remote-work, #sosho, #streaming, #unosecur

#Brandneu – 9 ziemlich spannende (neue) Startups aus München präsentiert heute wieder einmal einige junge Startups, die zuletzt, also in den vergangenen Wochen und Monaten an den Start gegangen sind, sowie Firmen, die zuletzt aus dem Stealth-Mode erwacht sind. Übrigens: Noch mehr neue Startups gibt es in unserem Newsletter Startup-Radar.

servail aus München entwickelt eine “adaptierbare Robotik-Plattform die sich im Gleisschotter bewegt”. Die Gründer schreiben dazu: “The robots move along the tracks and collect data that describes the condition of tracks, trains, track surroundings and the interaction of train and track itself”.

Das Münchner Unternehmen Unikube möchte Entwickler:innen dabei helfen, “sich auf das zu konzentrieren, was sie am besten können: Code schreiben”. Mit Unikube müssen sich Entwickler:innen “nicht mehr in die komplexe Kubernetes-Logik einarbeiten oder mit Infrastruktur beschäftigen”.

Das Jungunternehmen Libati möchte chronisch kranken Menschen den Aufenthalt in Restaurants, Hotels etc. erleichtern. Nutzer:innen geben in der App ein, von welcher Krankheit sie betroffen sind oder welche Lebensmittel sie nicht vertragen, daraufhin liefert die App Ortsvorschläge, die zu diesen Bedürfnissen passen. 

Das Münchner Startup Floy greift Mediziner:innen unter die Arme. “Our first AI product helps radiologists to detect rare and deadly diseases that are typically overlooked in medical images”, teilt die Jungfirma mit. Das Startups wurde von Benedikt Schneider und Leander Märkisch gegründet.

finanzrecruiter aus München positioniert sich als “Matching-Plattform für Finanzdienstleister, Makler, Versicherungen und Unternehmen”. finanzrecruiter übernimmt dabei “das komplette Matching, die Kunden können sich auf ihr Kerngeschäft konzentrieren”.

Flexxi aus München möchte sich als “Alternative zu Vermittlungsagenturen in der Pflege” etablieren. “Flexxi verbindet über eine Buchungsplattform selbständige Pflegefachkräfte und Krankenschwestern mit Krankenhäusern, Pflegefirmen und pflegenden Angehörigen zum kurzfristigen Einsatz”, schreibt das Team.

Das Münchner Startup Lesido lässt sich am besten als digitale Bilderbuch-Bibliothek, die mittels Video-Chat funktioniert, beschreiben. “Jetzt können Großeltern ihren Lieben Lauras Stern, Fiete oder die Olchis vorlesen. So fördern sie – auch digital – die kognitive und sprachliche Entwicklung der Kinder”, schreiben die Münchner.

Detailify bietet nachhaltige Fahrzeugpflege, die binnen 28 Tagen biologisch abbaubar sein soll. Die Produkte sind für die Reinigung und Pflege von Fahrrädern, Motorrädern und Autos entwickelt worden. Aktuell ist die umweltfreundliche Pflege online und in ausgewählten Baumärkten sowie Fahrradhändlern erhältlich.

Oh my Fantasy
Oh my Fantasy bietet Erlebnisboxen für Paare. In jeder Box ist ein “Date Guide” enthalten, der unter anderem Hinweise zur Vorbereitung, stimmungsvolle Playlisten und Audio-Anleitungen bietet. Nutzer:innen können aus 15 verschiedenen Boxen auswählen, die jeweils mit Sex-Toys und Accessoires bestückt sind.

Tipp: In unserem Newsletter Startup-Radar berichten wir einmal in der Woche über neue Startups. Alle Startups stellen wir in unserem kostenpflichtigen Newsletter kurz und knapp vor und bringen sie so auf den Radar der Startup-Szene. Jetzt unseren Newsletter Startup-Radar sofort abonnieren!

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): Shutterstock

#aktuell, #app, #brandneu, #d2c, #detailify, #e-health, #finanzrecruiter, #flexxi, #floy, #hardware, #hr, #lesido, #libati, #medien, #munchen, #oh-my-fantasy, #pflege, #robotik, #servail, #streaming, #unikube

Amazon is nearing a deal to make a Mass Effect TV series

A galaxy

Enlarge / The galactic setting of Mass Effect, as seen in the teaser trailer for the next game in the series. (credit: EA)

Amazon is nearing a deal with Electronic Arts to develop a TV series for the Prime Video streaming service based on the beloved Mass Effect video game franchise.

The revelation can be found buried midway through a recent Deadline article about the performance of the recent Wheel of Time series premiere on Prime Video and Amazon’s overall programming strategy.

Specifically, the piece dives into Amazon’s focus on genres like fantasy to drive viewers and says that will be a focus for Prime Video moving forward. “You will see us continuing to invest in fantasy genre of all kinds, we have a genre-focused team on the ground in Studios who work tirelessly with our creative partners on those slates, and you can look forward to more,” Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke told Deadline.

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#amazon, #amazon-prime-video, #bioware, #ea, #gaming-culture, #mass-effect, #streaming, #tv

Star Trek: Discovery is tearing the streaming world apart

Pictured: Oyin Oladejo as Lt. Joann Owosekun, Sonequa Martin Green as Burnham, and Emily Coutts as Lt. Keyla Detmer of the Paramount+ original series <em>Star Trek: Discovery</em>.

Enlarge / Pictured: Oyin Oladejo as Lt. Joann Owosekun, Sonequa Martin Green as Burnham, and Emily Coutts as Lt. Keyla Detmer of the Paramount+ original series Star Trek: Discovery. (credit: Michael Gibson | ViacomCBS)

Dan Leckie has been a Star Trek fan since he pressed play on a VHS tape of the original TV show during Christmas of 1991. Leckie, from Aberdeen, Scotland, was instantly hooked on the sci-fi series and its subsequent iterations and regularly attends conventions to meet up with fellow fans. But on November 16 he noticed something weird: Netflix had stopped promoting the first three seasons of Star Trek: Discovery—and previews of season four, due to launch on November 18, had also vanished.

What Leckie had spotted would soon become a point of outrage for Star Trek fans the world over: Netflix had lost the rights to the fourth season of Discovery outside of the US, and the previous seasons, too. They would now appear on Paramount+, the streaming service formerly known as CBS All Access and owned by ViacomCBS—but not until 2022, and even then, not everywhere. (In the US, Star Trek: Discovery has always streamed exclusively on Paramount+/CBS All Access.) And Star Trek is just the beginning. What’s bad news for Discovery fans now is yet another glimpse of the increasingly muddled future of streaming.

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#gaming-culture, #netflix, #paramount, #star-trek, #star-trek-discovery, #streaming

Netflix begins reporting viewer numbers for its biggest hits

<em>Squid Game</em> is currently the most popular non-English-language television show on Netflix.

Enlarge / Squid Game is currently the most popular non-English-language television show on Netflix. (credit: Netflix)

Netflix will begin regularly reporting viewership numbers for its top programs and films, a major shift in strategy for the streaming company that has carefully guarded its data over the past decade.

The company said it will report every week how many hours people spent watching its top 10 TV shows and movies, for both English and non-English titles, including Netflix originals and content licensed from third parties.

In its first release of viewer numbers on Tuesday, Netflix said its subscribers last week spent 149 million hours watching Red Notice, the action film starring Gal Gadot, making it the most popular piece of English-language content on the platform.

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#disney, #gaming-culture, #netflix, #nielsen, #streaming

#Brandneu – 5 neue Startups: Industrial Technology and Witchcraft, Upmin,, clime, bluplanet präsentiert heute wieder einmal einige junge Startups, die zuletzt, also in den vergangenen Wochen und Monaten an den Start gegangen sind, sowie Firmen, die zuletzt aus dem Stealth-Mode erwacht sind. Übrigens: Noch mehr neue Startups gibt es in unserem Newsletter Startup-Radar.

Industrial Technology and Witchcraft
eWings- und Mister Spex-Gründer Thilo Hardt setzt mit Industrial Technology and Witchcraft nun auf das Thema Games. “Not any games, but games kids will remember their entire life”, schreibt der Berliner Seriengründer zum Konzept seiner neuen Unternehmung.

Das Berliner PropTech Upmin, das von Henning Frank unter dem Namen Hausio im Hause Zenhomes ( gegründet wurde, positioniert sich als digitaler Immobilienverwalter. Nach der Übernahme von Zenhomes durch Scout24 wurde Hausio als Upmin ausgegründet.
Echte digitale Fan-Erlebnisse schaffen: Das will aus Berlin schaffen. Die “Fan Experience” von Live-Konzerten, Meet-and-Greets, Schallplattenläden und Merchandise-Ständen soll dabei in einen gemeinsamen digitalen Raum übertragen werden. 

Das junge Berliner Startup clime, möchte Unternehmen helfen, den Co2-Abdruck ihrer Mitarbeiter:innen zu reduzieren. In der Selbstbeschreibung heißt es: “We help all employees reduce their CO2-footprint and offset the rest with individually selected climate projects”.

Hinter bluplanet verbirgt sich ein “Marktplatz und Reseller für Cloud-Lösungen von Salesforce, AppExchange und mehr”.Die Berliner schreiben dazu “bluplanet kann Ihr Unternehmen dabei unterstützen, Prozesse zu optimieren und zu automatisieren, damit jeder effizienter und konsistenter arbeiten kann”.

Tipp: In unserem Newsletter Startup-Radar berichten wir einmal in der Woche über neue Startups. Alle Startups stellen wir in unserem kostenpflichtigen Newsletter kurz und knapp vor und bringen sie so auf den Radar der Startup-Szene. Jetzt unseren Newsletter Startup-Radar sofort abonnieren!

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): Shutterstock

#aktuell, #b2b, #berlin, #bluplanet, #brandneu, #climatetech, #clime, #digitalstage-io, #games, #industrial-technology-and-witchcraft, #proptech, #streaming, #upmin

Film studios sue “no logs” VPN provider for $10 million

Your at-home entertainment studio.

Enlarge / Your at-home entertainment studio. (credit: Ella Don)

Dozens of movie production companies sued LiquidVPN this year over the VPN provider’s marketing efforts that could be perceived as promoting piracy. These companies, which are now seeking $10 million in damages, claim that the “no log” policy of LiquidVPN is not a valid excuse, as the VPN provider actively chose to not keep logs.

And because LiquidVPN’s lawyers failed to show up in court, the plaintiffs are pushing a motion for a default judgment to be granted.

Fiery marketing that backfired

At what point does a netizen’s right to privacy and anonymity cease is the crux of the lawsuit brought forth against LiquidVPN. LiquidVPN is a no-log VPN provider that, over the course of its business activities, has been observed to… almost encourage online piracy.

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#biz-it, #copyright, #dmca, #film-industry, #lawsuit, #piracy, #streaming, #tech, #vpn

#DealMonitor – Sinch zahlt 48 Millionen für MessengerPeople – Babbel verschiebt IPO – Hanse Ventures investiert in clime

Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 22. September werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.


+++ Der Hamburger Investor Hanse Ventures, Invisible Hand Ventures und Sevenbee Ventures investieren eine ungenannte Summe in clime – siehe LinkedinDas junge Berliner ClimateTech, das 2021 von Lennart Pantlen, Jannis Possekel und Oktavio Port gegründet wurde, möchte Unternehmen helfen, den Co2-Abdruck seiner Mitarbeiter zu reduzieren. In der Selbstbeschreibung heißt es: “We help all employees reduce their CO2-footprint and offset the rest with individually selected climate projects”. Hanse Ventures investierte zudem kürzlich auch in So’Use, ein digitales Bestellsystem aus Leipzig. Das Startup wurde 2018 von Ben Kamran Wollscheid, Joachim Müller und Thomas Niermann gegründet. 

+++ Next Media Accelerator (NMA) und Wacken-Macher Holger Hübner investieren eine sechsstellige Summe in musicube. Das Hamburger Startup entwickelt mit Hilfe von Künstlicher Intelligenz ein System, das das Finden von Musik einfacher machen soll. Zielgruppe sind dabei Streaming-Dienste, Labels und Musik-Profis. Sony Music Deutschland setzt bereits auf das junge Unternehmen, das von David Hoga gegründet wurde.


+++ Das schwedische Unternehmen Sinch, ein Anbieter von Cloud-Kommunikation für Mobile Customer Engagement, übernimmt MessengerPeople. Die Jungfirma aus München, die sich als Software-as-a-Service-Unternehmen für Conversational Messaging positioniert, wurde 2015 von Franz Buchenberger, Peter Pock, Kristof Nast-Kolb und Maximilian Tietz als WhatsBroadcast gegründet. Sinch lässt sich die Übernahme 48 Millionen Euro kosten – davon 33,6 Millionen Euro in bar und 14,4 Euro in Form von Sinch-Aktien. Der High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF), Müller Medien, media + more venture, Wessel Management und “weitere namhafte Geldgeber” investierten 2019 rund 5 Millionen Euro in den damaligen Chatbotdienst. Mehr als 700 Kunden – darunter TUI Deutschland, Women’s Best und die Regierung des indischen Bundesstaates Telangana – nutzen MessengerPeople derzeit. Das Unternehmen beschäftigt über 40 Mitarbeiter:innen. “In the year ending December 2021, MessengerPeople is expected to generate revenues of EUR 5.1 million, Gross Profit of EUR 4.5 million, and Adjusted EBITDA of EUR 0.6 million. Underlying revenue growth compared to the previous year is expected to reach 35 percent”, teilt Sinch zur Übernahme mit.

+++ Das Familienunternehmens Kupfer, das unter anderem “Original Nürnberger Bratwürste” vertreibt, übernimmt Bugfoundation – siehe Linkedin. “Die Marke Bugfoundation gesellt sich damit in ein Portfolio aus veganen und fleischhaltigen Produkten und wird damit weiter in professionellen und hingebungsvollen Händen bleiben”, heißt es im Beitrag des Unternehmens. Das Osnabrücker Unternehmen Bugfoundation, das 2014 von Baris Özel und Max Krämer gegründet wurde, bietet einen Insektenburger, bestehend aus Buffalokäferlarven sowie vegetarischen Zutaten, an.

+++ Die YK Group, die bisher aus Yieldkit und digidip besteht, übernimmt shopping24. Der Hamburger Otto-Ableger kümmert sich seit 1997 um die Themen “Produktsuchmaschinen, Shopping-Portale und White-Label-Lösungen für Händler, Publisher und Advertiser”. “Die YK Group wird mit ihrer Buy-and-Build-Strategie von Waterland Private Equity finanziert, die sich im Februar als Mehrheitseigentümer an Yieldkit beteiligt hat”, teilt das Unternehmen mit.


+++ Der Berliner Sprachlerndienst Babbel, der sich über den Verkauf von Abos finanziert, verschiebt überraschend seinen Börsengang. Man habe gemeinsam mit den Aktionären beschlossen, das Vorhaben aufgrund der derzeit ungünstigen Marktbedingungen zu verschieben, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Eigentlich wollte Babbel an der Börse zeitnah rund 180 Millionen Euro einsammeln. Die Zeichnungsfrist sollte bis zum 22. September laufen. Babbel wollte an der Börse eine Bewertung von bis zu 1,26 Milliarden Euro erzielen. Der Umsatz des Unternehmens stieg 2019 um 16 % von 106,4 Millionen Euro auf 123,9 Millionen. Der Konzernjahresfehlbetrag lag 2019 bei rund 3 Millionen. Im Vorjahr waren es noch 12,4 Millionen. 2020 erwirtschaftete Babbel einen Umsatz in Höhe von 147 Millionen Euro. Mehr über Babbel

Achtung! Wir freuen uns über Tipps, Infos und Hinweise, was wir in unserem #DealMonitor alles so aufgreifen sollten. Schreibt uns eure Vorschläge entweder ganz klassisch per E-Mail oder nutzt unsere “Stille Post“, unseren Briefkasten für Insider-Infos.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): azrael74

#aktuell, #babbel, #bugfoundation, #climatetech, #clime, #food, #hamburg, #hanse-ventures, #insekten, #invisible-hand-ventures, #ipo, #leipzig, #messengerpeople, #munchen, #musicube, #musik, #next-media-accelerator, #osnabruck, #sevenbee-ventures, #shopping24, #sinch, #souse, #streaming, #venture-capital, #whatsbroadcast, #yk-group

Roku OS 10.5 announced alongside new Streaming Stick 4K

the roku streambar sound bar in a 3.1 audio setup

Enlarge / Roku Streambar owners can use their device as a center audio channel in a 3.1 or 5.1 speaker configuration. (credit: Roku)

Today, Roku announced a new streamer in its lineup, the Streaming Stick 4K, alongside a “plus” version of the device with a better remote. The company also confirmed that Roku OS 10.5 will begin rolling out “in the coming weeks,” bringing new audio features and improved search and voice capabilities to compatible Roku devices.

The Roku Mobile app also boasts a few new functions, including a feature to fix audio delays on wireless earbuds paired to Roku streamers. We also have a preview of a new wireless soundbar from TCL and a refresh to the Walmart-exclusive Roku Ultra LT.

Roku OS 10.5 and the Roku Mobile app

Sound is a big theme in Roku’s latest release. The mobile app’s new audio/video sound sync feature is aimed at fixing delays for those using wireless headphones with their Rokus. It works by first attempting to fix sync issues automatically, via a headphone-specific troubleshooter. If the issue persists, users can activate their smartphone camera from within the Roku app to visually assist in syncing audio. A preloaded video will play on-screen as it instructs you to point the phone camera at it to allow the app to attempt to properly sync the audio and video.

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#roku, #streaming, #streaming-stick, #streaming-stick-4k, #tech

#Interview – “Das eigene Smartphone gibt keiner gern einem kleinen Kind”

Das Hamburger Startup tigermedia bietet mit der tigerbox Touch eine kindgerechten Streamingbox für Hörspiele an. “Das funktioniert entweder mit einer fast quadratischen Karte, der tigercard, die in die Hörbox eingesteckt wird, oder per Fingerdrück auf einen Mini-Bildschirm, das Touchdisplay”, sagt Martin Kurzhals, der das Unternehmen gemeinsam mit Till Weitendorf gegründet hat. Die Jungfirma beschäftigt derzeit 14 Mitarbeiter:innen. Bisher konnte tigermedia rund 100.000 seiner Hörboxen verkaufen.

“Ursprünglich sind wir 2013 als erste deutschsprachige Kindermedienplattform an den Start gegangen, die vor allem interaktive E-Books und wenige Hörspiele führte. Aufgrund der intensiven Nutzung und Nachfrage nach mehr Hörmedien, nahmen wir mehr und mehr Hörspiele & -bücher in unser Repertoire auf. Mit Aufkommen der ersten Streamingdienste waren wir bereits der Überzeugung, dass das Konzept auch wunderbar für Kinder funktionieren würde”, blickt Kurzhals zurück.

Im Interview mit spricht der tigermedia-Macher zudem über Hörerlebnisse, Chips und Vertragsverhandlungen.

Wie würdest Du Deiner Großmutter tigermedia erklären?
Wir haben einen Lautsprecher in Form eines Würfels entwickelt, mit dem Kinder eigenständig tausende Hörspiele, Hörbücher und Kinderlieder abspielen können: die tigerbox TOUCH. Das funktioniert entweder mit einer fast quadratischen Karte, der tigercard, die in die Hörbox eingesteckt wird, oder per Fingerdrück auf einen Mini-Bildschirm, das Touchdisplay. Denn mit der tigerbox TOUCH kann man ins Internet gehen und dort in unserer Audiothek, aber auch nur da, damit es für die Kinder sicher ist, aus mehr als 7.000 Hörmedien, zum Beispiel Hörspiele oder -bücher von Paul Maar, Astrid Lindgren, Cornelia Funke und vielen mehr wählen.

Hat sich das Konzept, das Geschäftsmodell, in den vergangenen Jahren irgendwie verändert?
Ja, ursprünglich sind wir in 2013 als erste deutschsprachige Kindermedienplattform an den Start gegangen, die vor allem interaktive E-Books und wenige Hörspiele führte. Aufgrund der intensiven Nutzung und Nachfrage nach mehr Hörmedien, nahmen wir mehr und mehr Hörspiele & -bücher in unser Repertoire auf. Mit Aufkommen der ersten Streamingdienste waren wir bereits der Überzeugung, dass das Konzept auch wunderbar für Kinder funktionieren würde. Wir entwickelten 2017 eine erste tigertones-App für Hörmedien und stellten schnell fest, dass es ein kindgerechtes Device brauchte. Das eigene Smartphone oder Tablet gibt keiner gern für längere Zeit einem kleinen Kind. Da musst Du als Elternteil immer ein Auge drauf haben, damit sich das Kind nicht in andere Apps reinklickt. Oder Du musst ständig neue Titel für die Kinder auswählen. Das macht auch keinen Spaß – dazu nutzt man die Devices normalerweise ja gern selbst. Wir arbeiteten deshalb an einem kindgerechten Endgerät und launchten 2019, passend zu unserem Streamingdienst tigertones, den es schon seit Ende 2017 gibt, die tigerbox TOUCH.

Wie genau funktioniert euer Geschäftsmodell?
Unser Starter-Set enthält eine tigerbox TOUCH und ein gratis tigerticket für 14 Tage, um den Streamingdienst tigertones auszuprobieren. Dazu gibt es tigercards, das sind Einzeltitel oder Musikalben, und wildcards, Leerkarten zum selbst bespielen. Langfristig verdienen wir an dem Verkauf der tigercards und tigertickets, wobei letztere besonders stark nachgefragt werden. 75% nutzen mittlerweile den Streamingdienst, der über das tigerticket für 1, 3, 6, 12 oder 24 Monate freigeschaltet werden kann und mit Ende der Laufzeit ähnlich einem Prepaid-Guthaben automatisch ausläuft. Alternativ können unsere User auch ein Abo über unsere App tigertones abschließen. tigercards eignen sich hervorragend zum Verschenken, Tauschen und Sammeln und sind vor allem für die Jüngsten spannend. Ältere Kinder nutzen die Mediathek intensiv. Diese befüllen wir regelmäßig mit neuem Content.

Die Corona-Krise traf die Startup-Szene zuletzt teilweise hart. Wie habt ihr die Auswirkungen gespürt?
Wie so viele Unternehmen, hatten wir Schwierigkeiten innerhalb der Lieferkette. So konnten wir zeitweise keine Chips ordern und Hörboxen kamen zu spät an. Dadurch konnten die Einzelhändler weniger Boxen verkaufen, was insbesondere zur Weihnachtszeit ungelegen kam. Hinzukam, dass viele unserer Fachhändler Lockdown-bedingt schließen mussten.

Wie ist überhaupt die Idee zu tigermedia entstanden?
Till und ich haben unsere Wurzeln im Verlag Friedrich Oetinger, in dem zum Beispiel die Geschichten von Astrid Lindgren, Cornelia Funke, Sven Nordqvist und anderen bekannten Kinderbuchautor:innen zuhause sind. Mit der Gründung von tigermedia wollten wir diese in die digitale Welt überführen, damit sie bei dem riesigen Angebot an neuen Kinderserien nicht in Vergessenheit geraten. Gleichzeitig gibt es auch unter den neuen Kinderformaten so viele tolle Hörmedien. Wir wollten also eine Audio-Mediathek für Kinder schaffen, die sowohl die wunderbaren Kindheitshelden von früher, als auch eine Vielfalt an neuen Produktionen bereithält. So ist für jedes Kind etwas Passendes dabei. Die tigerbox TOUCH ist dabei unsere Lösung für kindgerechten Hörspaß. Während Erwachsene ganz selbstverständlich beim Hören zu Streamingdiensten mit Flatrate-Modellen greifen, gab es, bis wir mit der tigerbox TOUCH kamen, keinen sinnvollen Weg ins Kinderzimmer. So entstand die Idee, eine Hörbox zu entwickeln, die sowohl mit digitalen Einzelmedien, als auch mit einer Streaming-Mediathek bedient werden kann und dazu altersgerecht und sicher ist. So bieten wir Kindern und Eltern unbeschwerte Hörerlebnisse.

Nun aber einmal Butter bei die Fische: Wie groß ist tigermedia inzwischen?
Unser Team besteht mittlerweile aus 14 Mitarbeitern und wir haben in weniger als 1,5 Jahren bereits 100.000 tigerbox TOUCH verkauft. Dazu haben wir 84 tigercards gelauncht und mehr als 7.000 Hörspiele, -bücher und Kinderlieder sowie einen eigenen Podcast, die tigershow, in unserer Mediathek. 75 % der Hörbox-Besitzer:innen nutzen den Streamingdienst und rund 20 % haben sich bereits eine zweite Box zugelegt. Im Schnitt läuft die tigerbox TOUCH drei Stunden am Tag, zu Hochzeiten über Weihnachten und in Zeiten von Home Schooling sogar rund 4,5 Stunden.

Blicke bitte einmal zurück: Was ist in den vergangenen Jahren so richtig schief gegangen?
Viel ist glücklicherweise nicht schief gegangen. Als uns klar wurde, dass wir unseren Fokus stärker auf Hörmedien legen wollten, haben wir begonnen, Content zu sammeln und an einem eigenen Device zu arbeiten. Das hätte natürlich schneller gehen können. Aber Vertragsverhandlungen und Softwareentwicklung brauchen nun mal ihre Zeit. Als, von Natur aus, eher ungeduldige Menschen, war das für uns beide nicht immer leicht. Gleichzeitig wollten wir natürlich auch unseren Ansprüchen und vor allem denen der kleinen Hörer:innen und ihrer Familien genügen. Daher stimmt wohl der Spruch: Gut Ding will Weile haben!

Und wo habt Ihr bisher alles richtig gemacht?
Wir entwickeln Produkte für Familien, daher war und ist uns der enge Austausch mit Eltern-Communities immer wichtig. So können wir direkt Ohr anlegen und herausfinden, womit Eltern struggeln oder an welcher Stelle ihnen etwas fehlt. Dabei haben wir die tigerbox TOUCH so gestaltet, dass sie Kinder bereits ab 3 Jahren bedienen können. Der Touchdisplay wird über große Symbole und Hörspiel-Cover bedient. Lesen müssen Kinder dafür noch nicht können. Dazu hat die Hörbox einen schützenden Bumper, falls sie doch mal runterfällt. Dann gibt es eine Reihe von Features, die Eltern den Alltag erleichtern, wie die Sleep-Timer-Funktion und Alterseinschränkungen. Durch das zeitlose Design, die digitale Funktionsweise und die breite Auswahl an Inhalten, ist die Hörbox aber auch noch für 10- bis 12-Jährige spannend. So wächst die tigerbox TOUCH mit und verbleibt über lange Jahre in den Kinderzimmern.

Wo steht tigermedia in einem Jahr?
In einem Jahr wollen wir dreimal so viele Kinderzimmer mit unseren vielfältigen und wertvollen Hörmedien unterhalten, die natürlich nicht nur in Zeiten von Lockdown und Home Schooling eine klasse Unterstützung bei der Nachwuchsbetreuung sind. Das erreichen wir unter anderem über den flächendeckenden Roll-out im Einzelhandel. Viele Buch-, Spielwaren- und Elektronikhändler im DACH-Raum sind schon jetzt Partner. Die Power für den weiteren Roll-out haben wir nun mit Hilfe von alpha venture solutions, die uns im Vertrieb tatkräftig unterstützen.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): Shutterstock

#aktuell, #audio, #hamburg, #interview, #medien, #streaming, #tigerbox-touch, #tigercard, #tigermedia, #tigerticket, #tigertones

Apple Music is using Shazam to solve the streaming industry’s problem with DJ mixes

Apple Music announced today that it’s created a process to properly identify and compensate all of the individual creators involved in making a DJ mix. Using technology from the audio-recognition app Shazam, which Apple acquired in 2018 for $400 million, Apple Music is working with major and independent labels to devise a fair way to divide streaming royalties among DJs, labels, and artists who appear in the mixes. This is intended to help DJ mixes retain long-term monetary value for all creators involved, making sure that musicians get paid for their work even when other artists iterate on it. And, as one of Apple’s first major integrations of Shazam’s technology, it appears that the company saw value in

Historically, it’s been difficult for DJs to stream mixes online, since live streaming platforms like YouTube or Twitch might flag the use of other artists’ songs as copyright infringement. Artists are entitled to royalties when their song is played by a DJ during a live set, but dance music further complicates this, since small samples from various songs can be edited and mixed together into something unrecognizable.

Apple Music already hosts thousands of mixes, including sets from Tomorrowland’s digital festivals from 2020 and 2021, but only now is it formally announcing the tech that enables it to do this, even though Billboard noted it in June. As part of this announcement, Studio K7!’s DJ Kicks archive of mixes will begin to roll out on the service, giving fans access to mixes that haven’t been on the market in over 15 years.

“Apple Music is the first platform that offers continuous mixes where there’s a fair fee involved for the artists whose tracks are included in the mixes and for the artist making those mixes. It’s a step in the right direction where everyone gets treated fairly,” DJ Charlotte de Witte said in a statement on behalf of Apple. “I’m beyond excited to have the chance to provide online mixes again.”

Image Credits: Apple Music

For dance music fans, the ability to stream DJ mixes is groundbreaking, and it can help Apple Music compete with Spotify, which leads the industry in paid subscribers as it surpasses Apple’s hold on podcasting. Even as Apple Music has introduced lossless audio, spatial audio, and classical music acquisitions, the company hasn’t yet outpaced Spotify, though the addition of DJ mixes adds yet another unique music feature.

Still, Apple Music’s dive into the DJ royalties conundrum doesn’t necessarily address the broader crises at play among live musicians and DJs surviving through a pandemic.

Though platforms like Mixcloud allow DJs to stream sets and monetize using pre-licensed music, Apple Music’s DJ mixes will not include user-generated content. MIDiA Research, in partnership with Audible Magic, found that user-generated content (UGC) — online content that uses music, whether it’s a lipsync TikTok or a Soundcloud DJ mix — could be a music industry goldmine worth over $6 billion in the next two years. But Apple is not yet investing in UGC, as individuals cannot yet upload their personal mixes to stream on the platform like they might on Soundcloud. According to a Billboard report from June, Apple Music will only host mixes after the streamer has identified 70% of the combined tracks.

Apple Music didn’t respond to questions about how exactly royalties will be divided, but this is only a small step in reimagining how musicians will make a living in a digital landscape.

While these innovations help get artists compensated, streaming royalties only account for a small percentage of how musicians make money — Apple pays musicians one cent per stream, while competitors like Spotify pay only fractions of cents. This led the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) to launch a campaign in March called Justice at Spotify, which demands a one-cent-per-stream payout that matches Apple’s. But live events remain a musician’s bread and butter, especially given platforms’ paltry streaming payouts — of course, the pandemic hasn’t been conducive to touring. To add insult to injury, the Association for Electronic Music estimated in 2016 that dance music producers missed out on $120 million in royalties from their work being used without attribution in live performances.

#apple, #apple-inc, #apple-music, #apps, #artist, #audible, #audible-magic, #billboard, #computing, #disc-jockey, #entertainment, #media, #mixcloud, #music-industry, #online-content, #operating-systems, #shazam, #soundcloud, #spotify, #streaming, #streaming-media, #technology, #twitch

Roku’s first original film continues NBC’s canceled series ‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’

Roku’s expansion into original content continues with news that the streaming platform and device maker will debut its first original feature-length film during the 2021 holiday season. In partnership with Lionsgate, Roku announced it will introduce a movie based on the Emmy-winning TV series “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist,” which will air on its free streaming hub, The Roku Channel later this year.

The new movie, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas,” will continue where the series left off following its season 2 finale and series cancellation, which had upset fans who had taken to social media in hopes of saving the show by finding it a new home. Roku, as it turns out, is that home — not only will it air the new film, it will also make all 25 episodes of the series available to stream for free on The Roku Channel in the U.S. later this fall.

The feature film, meanwhile, begins production this month in Vancouver, and will see a number of actors reprising their roles, including Jane Levy, Skylar Astin, Alex Newell, John Clarence Stewart, Andrew Leeds, Alice Lee, Michael Thomas Grant, Kapil Talwalkar, David St. Louis, Mary Steenburgen, Peter Gallagher, and Bernadette Peters. Details of the film’s plot are still limited, however, noting only that it will be a continuation of Zoey’s journey as she “navigates work, family, love and everything in between.”

While a significant move for fans who simply wanted more of their favorite show, it’s a bigger step forward for Roku and its original content strategy. The company had already tested consumers’ appetite for original series by acquiring the content catalog from the short-lived streaming service Quibi earlier this year, whose shows then launched to The Roku Channel as the company’s first set of Roku Originals. The debut lineup included 30 titles, but Roku is continuing to roll out more shows as the year progresses. Last month, for instance, it released 23 more of those shows to its collection.  The company also recently decided to reinvest in at least one previously Quibi-owned series by greenlighting a second season of “Most Dangerous Game.

But until now, Roku has not invested in full-length movies.

Movies make a good fit for The Roku Channel, of course, as the free streaming is supported by advertising — and movies, due to their length, offer more ad slots to be filled. In fact, The Roku Channel got its start as free movies hub, before later expanding to include TV shows and other types of content, like news and sports.

So far, Roku’s original programming seems to be connecting with viewers. The company says its top 5 streamed TV shows this summer (May 20-July 18) were all Roku Originals.

The new film is produced by Lionsgate in association with the Tannenbaum Company, Feigco Entertainment, and Universal Music Group’s Polygram Entertainment and Zihuatenejo Productions. The series creator Austin Winsberg will write and executive produce. Richard Shepard, who filmed the show’s pilot, will direct. Kim Tannenbaum, Eric Tannenbaum, Paul Feig, David Blackman, and Daniel Inkeles will also serve as executive producers.

The movie will air on The Roku Channel during the holidays in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.

#canada, #christmas, #internet-radio, #internet-television, #lionsgate, #mass-media, #media, #now, #roku, #social-media, #streaming, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #universal-music-group, #vancouver, #zoeys-extraordinary-playlist

Hulu is raising the price on its on-demand plans by $1 starting Oct. 8

Following last year’s price hike on its Live TV service, Hulu is now preparing to raise prices again. Starting on October 8, 2021, Hulu will raise the price for both its on-demand plans, Hulu and Hulu with No Ads. However, unlike the earlier price hike which had clocked in at $10 more per month for each of its two Live TV plans, the new price increase will be just $1.00.

That means the ad-supported version of Hulu will increase from $5.99 to $6.99 per month, while Hulu with No Ads will increase from $11.99 to $12.99 per month. This will apply to both existing and new subscribers. Hulu says none of the October increases will impact its Live TV service or any plan where Hulu is bundled with Disney+. (Disney took full control of Hulu after buying Comcast’s stake in 2019).

Today, Hulu is offered with Disney+ and ESPN+ for $13.99 per month. This subtle shift in pricing for Hulu’s standalone service may make that bundle look attractive to those not in the market for Hulu’s live TV.

Hulu’s on-demand service accounts for the majority of its subscriber base today. In Disney’s fiscal third quarter earnings, announced last month, Hulu’s subscription video on-demand business had grown 22% year-over-year to reach 39.1 million subscribers, while its Live TV service (which also include the on-demand offerings), had grown just 9% to reach 3.7 million subscribers. Combined, Hulu had 42.8 million total subscribers, up 21% compared to the same period from the prior year.

This is slower growth, however, than Disney+ — that service saw more than 100% year-over-year growth, jumping from 57.7 million subscribers as of Disney’s Q3 2020 to 116 million in Disney’s Q3 2021.

Including Disney’s EPSN+, the company’s direct-to-consumer business had a total of nearly 174 million subscribers by the end of the quarter, the company said.

However, although Hulu trails Disney+ in subscriber count, it’s ahead on average monthly revenue per user (ARPU).

In Q3, ARPU declined from $4.62 to $4.16 due to a higher mix of Disney+ Hotstar subscribers compared with the prior-year quarter, Disney said. Hulu’s on-demand service, meanwhile, saw ARPU climb from $11.39 to $13.15 year-over-year and its Live TV service (+SVOD) grew from $68.11 to $84.09.

Hulu’s on-demand business includes a combination of licensed content and original programming, like newer arrivals “Nine Perfect Strangers,” “Only Murders in the Building,” and “Vacation Friends.” The company also just added thousands of Hotstar Specials and Bollywood hits, as of September 1.


#companies, #disney, #disney-channel, #disney-plus, #espn, #hotstar, #hulu, #hulu-live-tv, #mass-media, #media, #streaming, #streaming-service, #svod, #tc, #television, #the-walt-disney-company, #tv, #video

Streamers are boycotting Twitch today to protest the platform’s lack of action on ‘hate raids’

Over the last month, Twitch users have become increasingly concerned and frustrated with bot-driven hate raids. To protest Twitch’s lack of immediate action to prevent targeted harassment of marginalized creators, some streamers are going dark to observe #ADayOffTwitch today.

Per the protest, users are sharing a list of demands for the Amazon-owned Twitch. They want the platform to host a roundtable with creators affected by hate raids, allow streamers to approve or deny incoming raids, enable tools to only allow accounts of a certain age to chat, remove the ability to attach more than three accounts to one email address, and share a timeframe for when comprehensive anti-harassment tools will be implemented.

TechCrunch asked Twitch if it has plans to address these demands. Twitch responded with a statement: “We support our streamers’ rights to express themselves and bring attention to important issues across our service. No one should have to experience malicious and hateful attacks based on who they are or what they stand for, and we are working hard on improved channel-level ban evasion detection and additional account improvements to help make Twitch a safer place for creators.”

Twitch Raids are a part of the streaming platform’s culture — after one creator ends their stream, they can “raid” another stream by sending their viewers over to check out someone else’s channel. This feature is supposed to help more seasoned streamers support up-and-comers, but instead, it’s been weaponized as a tool for harassment.

In May, Twitch launched 350 new tags related to gender, sexual orientation, race and ability, which users requested so that they could more easily find creators that represent them. But at the same time, these tags made it easier for bad actors to harass marginalized streamers, and Twitch hasn’t yet added tools for streamers to deal with increased harassment. In the meantime, Twitch users have had to take matters into their own hands and build their own safety tools to protect themselves while Twitch works on its updates. Twitch hasn’t shared when its promised anti-harassment tools will go live.  

As recently as December, Twitch updated its policies on hateful content and harassment, which the platform said have always been prohibited, yet vicious attacks have continued. After facing targeted, racist hate raids on their streams, a Black Twitch creator RekItRaven started the #TwitchDoBetter hashtag on Twitter in early August, calling out Twitch for its failure to prevent this abuse. While Twitch is aware of the issue and said it’s working on solutions, many users find Twitch’s response to be too slow and lacking.

Along with streamers LuciaEverblack and ShineyPen, RekItRaven organized #ADayOffTwitch to put pressure on Twitch to make its platform safer for marginalized creators.

“Hate on the platform is not new,” Raven told WYNC’s The Takeaway. But bot-driven raid attacks are more difficult to combat than individual trolls. “I’ve had people come in with bots. It’s usually one or two people who program a bunch of bots, you bypass security measures that are put in place and just spam a broadcaster’s chat with very inflammatory, derogatory language.”

While Raven said they have since had a discussion with Twitch, they don’t feel that one conversation is enough.

As part of #ADayOffTwitch, some streamers are encouraging their followers to support them financially on other platforms through the #SubOffTwitch tag. Twitch takes 50% of streamers’ revenue, so creators are promoting their accounts on platforms like Patreon and Ko-Fi, which take a much smaller cut. Though competitor YouTube Gaming takes 30% of revenue, and Facebook Gaming won’t take a cut from creators until 2023, Twitch remains dominant in the streaming space. According to Streamlabs and Stream Hatchet, Twitch represented 72.3% of the market share in terms of viewership Q1 2021.

Still, popular creators like Ben Lupo (DrLupo), Jack Dunlop (CouRage), and Rachell Hofstetter (Valkyrae) have recently left Twitch for exclusive deals with YouTube Gaming. If Twitch remains unsafe for marginalized creators, others might be swayed to follow their lead, exclusive deals or not.

#apps, #bullying, #cyberbullying, #games, #gaming, #harassment, #hateful-content, #justice, #raids, #social-justice, #streamers, #streaming, #trolling, #twitch

YouTube to roll out Picture-in-Picture viewing for all U.S. iOS users, starting with Premium subscribers

Though YouTube has supported picture-in-picture viewing on Android devices since 2018, YouTube told TechCrunch today that it plans to launch the feature to all iOS users in the U.S. on both iPhone and iPad. For now, YouTube is inviting Premium subscribers to test this feature, which lets users watch picture-in-picture videos in a mini player while browsing other apps. The testing period for Premium users ends on October 31, but YouTube does not have a timeline to share on when all U.S. iOS users will gain access to the feature.

Though this is a mobile feature, Premium subscribers must enable the ability to test it via the YouTube experiments website on the desktop. Last year, YouTube made opting into experiments a Premium perk.

If you scroll down on the experiments website, you’ll see “Picture-in picture on iOS” with the option to try it. Then, if you watch a video on the YouTube app, you should see a picture-in-picture display of the video when you navigate out of the app.

Once viewing a video via picture-in-picture, you can adjust where the video appears on your screen and how big it is. When you tap on the video, you’ll return to the YouTube app. If you lock your phone, the video will pause.

Some users have reported that you might need to delete and reinstall the YouTube app to get it to work.

This feature is different from existing picture-in-picture functionality on the YouTube iOS app because it allows you to continue watching a video even while navigating elsewhere on your phone. Similar features already exist on streaming apps like Netflix.

#apps, #entertainment, #ios, #picture-in-picture, #streaming, #youtube

Hulu launches support for HDR on select original content

For the first time, Hulu has started adding support for HDR viewing, years after some of its competitors. The gradual rollout of HDR support began on August 19, Hulu told TechCrunch, and should be available to all users with HDR-compatible devices in the coming days.

So far, Hulu has only enabled HDR viewing on high-profile original content, like “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Nine Perfect Strangers,” but the streaming service said that it will continue adding HDR support to both new and existing content over time.

If a viewer is using an HDR-compatible device, a badge will appear on a show’s details page, indicating that it can be streamed in HDR. Per Hulu’s support page — which is where users spotted the feature’s quiet rollout — HDR content on the Hulu app is supported with HDR-compatible models of Roku, Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Fire TV Cube, Apple TV 4K, Vizio, and Chromecast Ultra. Hulu told TechCrunch that “it is recommended that viewers update their devices to the latest version for the best experience.”

Hulu has historically been slower than its competitors to enable support for technology like HDR, which provides an enhanced viewing experience. HDR isn’t a resolution like 4K, but rather, it creates a more natural-looking image by expanding its contrast ratio and color palette. YouTube rolled out HDR support in 2016, while Amazon and Netflix enabled the feature within the previous year. Though Disney+ and Hulu share a parent company in Disney, Disney+ has already supported HDR for some of its content.

Some streaming services like Netflix offer pricier monthly subscription plans for access to HD or Ultra HD content, but as of now, Hulu doesn’t charge a premium for access to higher-quality streaming.

#cord-cutting, #entertainment, #hdr, #hulu, #streaming

Netflix sets ‘Tudum,’ its first ever virtual global fan event, for September 25

Netflix has announced Tudum, a global virtual fan event set for September 25 that will showcase exclusive news and first looks at some of the streaming giant’s original content. Tudum, which is named after the sound users hear when they press play on Netflix, will feature stars and creators from over 70 Netflix series, films and specials.

“It’s our first ever global Tudum event, and our goal is simple: to entertain and honor Netflix fans from across the globe,” a spokesperson for Netflix told TechCrunch in an email.

The event will feature interactive panels and conversations with the creators and stars of some of Netflix’s most popular shows, including “Stranger Things,” “Emily in Paris,” “The Witcher,” “The Crown,” “Cobra Kai” and “Bridgerton.” Netflix will also feature some of its popular films including “Red Notice,” “Don’t Look Up,” “Extraction,” “The Harder They Fall,” “The Old Guard” and more.

Netflix is among several other major companies that have started hosting their own virtual events during the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift towards livestreamed programming. Disney+, for instance, held a special event to honor National Streaming Day earlier this year in May. These types of events are becoming the new way for companies to showcase their original content, whereas in previous years they would do so at various in-person fan conventions.

With this new fan event and other similar ones such as Geeked Week, Netflix is no longer relying on other programming or conventions to promote its original content as it can now host its own events. Tudum also seems to be a way for Netflix to acquire more subscribers by promoting popular returning shows and teasing upcoming content.

The virtual livestream for the three-hour Tudum event starts at 12 pm EST/9 am PST on Saturday, September 25. The event will be broadcast on YouTube, Facebook and Twitch. Netflix is also hosting special pre-shows to showcase its Korean and Indian original series and films along with its anime content at 8 am EST/5 am PST.

Netflix’s event announcement comes as the streaming giant has spent the past year expanding its service and adding new features. Recently, the platform has launched a new “Play Something” shuffle feature, a new section to help users track upcoming releases and a new ‘Downloads For You’ feature that automatically downloads content you’ll like. In terms of the future, Netflix has said its gaming push will begin with mobile and that it plans to bring spatial audio to the platform’s iPhone and iPad apps.

#netflix, #original-content, #streaming, #tc

Years after its competition, Hulu begins streaming in HDR

A man and a woman converse in a dimly lit room.

Enlarge / Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, now available in HDR on some devices. (credit: Hulu)

HDR has been a standard feature of new TVs for years now, and you’d be hard-pressed to find many 4K TVs that don’t support HDR. But even as Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, HBO Max, and others have rolled out HDR support for some content, Hulu hasn’t. That finally changed, with a support page on Hulu’s website announcing HDR support for select shows and devices.

These are the devices on which Hulu says it now offers HDR streaming:

  • Roku (HDR compatible models)
  • Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Fire TV Cube devices (HDR compatible models with Fire OS 7 or later)
  • Apple TV 4K (Gen 5 or later)
  • Vizio (HDR compatible models)
  • Chromecast Ultra (HDR-compatible models)

Hulu says that the supported formats include HDR-10, HDR-10+, and Dolby Vision. Content that supports HDR will carry a special badge so viewers know what they’re getting.

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#dolby-vision, #hdr, #hdr-10, #hulu, #streaming, #tech, #tv

Netflix reveals premiere date, first images for live-action Cowboy Bebop series

Netflix has announced that its long-delayed, live-action adaptation of the influential and popular classic anime series Cowboy Bebop will premiere on Friday, November 19.

The streaming service also released the first images from the show, giving fans some sense of what to expect from a live-action series based on an animated one famous for its visual flair.

The images show actor John Cho (Star Trek, Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle) as the series’ lead character, Spike Spiegel. The series will also star Alex Hassell (Suburbicon), Daniella Pineda (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom), and Mustafa Shakir (Luke Cage), among others.

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#anime, #cowboy-bebop, #gaming-culture, #netflix, #streaming, #tv, a video clipping service for gamers, enters the livestreaming market with acquisition, a short-form video clipping service and social network for gamers, is entering the live streaming market with the acquisition of, a Twitch rival based in Dubai, which had raised around $1 million to date. The seven-figure, all cash deal will see two of Rawa’s founders, Raya Dadah and Phil Jammal, now joining Medal and further integrations between the two platforms going forward.

The Middle East and North African region (MENA) is one of the fastest-growing markets in gaming and still one that’s mostly un-catered to, explained CEO Pim de Witte, as to his company’s interest in Rawa.

“Most companies that target that market don’t really understand the nuances and try to replicate existing Western or Far-Eastern models that are doomed to fail,” he said. “Absorbing a local team will increase Medal’s chances of success here. Overall, we believe that MENA is an underserved market without a clear leader in the livestreaming space, and Rawa brings to Medal the local market expertise that we need to capitalize on this opportunity,” de Witte added.’s community had been asking for the ability to do livestreaming for some time, the exec also noted, but the technology would have been too expensive for the startup to build using off-the-shelf services at its scale, de Witte said.

“People increasingly connect around live and real-time experiences, and this is something our platform has lacked to date,” he noted.

But Rawa, as the first livestreaming platform dedicated to Arab gaming, had built out its own proprietary live and network streaming technology that’s now used in all its products. That technology is now coming to

Image Credits:

The two companies were already connected before today, as Rawa users have been able to upload their gaming clips to, and some Rawa partners had joined Medal’s skilled player program. Going forward, Rawa will continue to operate as a separate platform, but it will become more tightly integrated with Medal, the company says. Currently, Rawa sees around 100,000 active users on its service.

The remaining Rawa team will continue to operate the livestreaming platform under co-founder Jammal’s leadership following the deal’s close, and the Rawa HQ will remain based in Dubai. However, Rawa’s employees have been working remotely since the start of the pandemic, and it’s unclear if that will change in the future, given the uncertainty of Covid-19’s spread. detailed its further plans for Rawa on its site, where the company explained it doesn’t aim to build a “general-purpose” livestreaming platform where the majority of viewers don’t pay — a call-out that clearly seems aimed at Twitch. Instead, it says it will focus on matching content with viewers who would be interested in subscribing to the creators. This addresses on of the challenges that has faced larger platforms like Twitch in the past, where it’s been difficult for smaller streamers to get off the ground.

The company also said it will remain narrowly focused on serving the gaming community as opposed to venturing into non-gaming content, as others have done. Again, this differentiates itself from Twitch which, over the years, expanded into vlogs and even streaming old TV shows. And it’s much different from YouTube or Facebook Watch, where gaming is only a subcategory of a broader video network.

The acquisition follows’s $9 million Series A led by Horizons Ventures in 2019, after the startup had grown to 5 million registered users and “hundreds of thousands” of daily active users. Today, the company says over 200,000 people create content every day on Medal, and 3 million users are actively viewing that content every month.

#apps, #clips, #digital-media, #dubai, #exit, #gamer, #gamers, #games, #horizons-ventures, #livestreaming, #ma, #mass-media, #media, #mena, #middle-east, #mobile, #new-media, #player, #social-network, #startups, #streaming, #streaming-media, #twitch, #video, #video-clipping, #video-games

FandangoNOW and Vudu merge into a new streaming service with titles to rent, buy or stream free

Last year, movie ticketing and discovery business Fandango, a division of NBCUniversal, bought the on-demand video streaming service Vudu from Walmart, after the retailer had failed to capitalize on the service it had first acquired in 2010 for $100 million. Today, Fandango is taking the next steps with Vudu by merging the service with its existing streaming platform, FandangoNOW. The newly combined service will continue to use the name Vudu and will feature over 200,000 new release and catalog movies and TV shows to rent or buy without a subscription, as well as “thousands” of free-to-stream titles.

The company tells us it chose to stick with “Vudu” as its name because it’s already a popular brand with a loyal following and is significantly larger than the FandangoNOW service.

Despite the changes coming to the service, existing FandangoNOW customers won’t lose access to any of the content they already purchased. Both their movies and TV series will be automatically transferred over to the new Vudu service starting today.

Currently, Vudu’s on-demand library competes with Apple iTunes, Amazon Prime Video and Google Play/YouTube, as well as similar services from various telecos. In particular, these types of services appeal to those who want to watch new releases and have the option to own favorite movies and shows — rather than subscribe to services where such content comes and goes as licensing deals expire.

At launch, the newly merged Vudu will include new releases like “F9: The Fast Saga,” Pixar’s “Luca,” “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It,” “Peter Rabbit 2,” “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” “A Quiet Place Part II,” Disney’s “Cruella,” “Godzilla vs. Kong,” “In the Heights” and others. Next Tuesday, it will also gain access to Marvel Studios’ “Black Widow” — the title that’s now the subject of a breach of contract lawsuit filed on behalf of actress Scarlett Johansson, who’s suing Disney for sending what was supposed to be a theatrical release directly to its streaming service Disney+ on opening day.

Image Credits: Fandango

Many titles are available in 4K Ultra HD and support formats such as Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision, the company notes.

Vudu already has a large, built-in audience for its movie and TV marketplace. Fandango claims the service has over 60 million registered users and reaches “millions” on a daily basis.

By way of its expansive platform support, it’s capable of reaching over 75 million U.S. TV-connected device households, per NPD Group data. This includes Vudu’s support for Samsung, LG and Vizio smart TVs; the Roku platform, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Xfinity X1 and Xfinity Flex, PlayStation, Xbox, Tivo and others.

Following the merger and rebranding, the new Vudu service will also take FandangoNOW’s place as the official movie store on the Roku platform, where consumers can rent or purchase using Roku Pay.

Vudu joins Fandango’s existing digital network, which will continue to include Fandango’s movie ticketing business,, Flixster, Movieclips and Rotten Tomatoes. While the merger of the two services at least clears up some overlap within the Fandango division, NBCU parent company Comcast continues to have its own overlap issues when it comes to streaming. Comcast acquired ad-supported streaming service Xumo in February 2020 and, via NBCU, runs the year-old streaming service Peacock. As of yet, it hasn’t made any moves to centralize those efforts.

#fandango, #internet-television, #ma, #media, #movie, #movies, #nbcuniversal, #rentals, #roku, #streaming, #streaming-service, #television, #tv, #united-states, #vudu

The Lord of the Rings TV series has finished filming, and it has a release date

The first live action promotional image for Amazon's new <em>The Lord of the Rings</em>-related series.

Enlarge / The first live action promotional image for Amazon’s new The Lord of the Rings-related series. (credit: Amazon Studios)

Today, Amazon Studios announced that its new TV series based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings has finished filming its first season. The season is expected to premiere on September 2, 2022, “with new episodes available weekly,” Amazon says.

Additionally, Amazon tweeted out one of the first visuals from the series, seen above. It depicts a person standing in a field looking out at a spectacular fantasy landscape.

Thirteen months might seem like a long gap between the conclusion of filming and the airing of the series, but a series like this is likely to have many visual effects that could contribute to a prolonged post-production period.

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#amazon, #amazon-prime, #amazon-prime-video, #gaming-culture, #streaming, #the-lord-of-the-rings, #tv

Netflix bleeds subscribers in US and Canada, with no sign of recovery

Netflix bleeds subscribers in US and Canada, with no sign of recovery

Enlarge (credit: LPETTET | Getty Images)

Netflix lost 430,000 subscribers in the US and Canada in the second quarter and issued weaker than expected forecasts for later in the year, rekindling investor doubts over how the streaming group will fare after the economic reopening.

The California-based company predicted it would add 3.5 million subscribers in the third quarter, disappointing investors who were looking for a stronger rebound in the second half of the year. Analysts had forecast that Netflix would add 5.9 million subscribers during the third quarter.

In the past year and a half, Disney, Apple, WarnerMedia, Comcast and others have launched streaming platforms, and there are more than 100 streaming services for consumers to choose from, according to data company Ampere.

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#financials, #gaming-culture, #netflix, #streaming

Carlyle to acquire live broadcasting and streaming tech outfit LiveU for over $400M, say sources

Streaming is the name of the content game these days, and now one of the companies that builds tech to do this from anywhere in the world is getting acquired. LiveU — whose satellite/cellular hardware and software for capturing and delivering live streaming and broadcasting video is used by over 3,000 large media organizations — is going to be acquired by private equity firm Carlyle, multiple sources tell TechCrunch, for a value of over $400 million.

LiveU is based in Israel, and the deal was reported to be in the works by local press. Our sources say that the acquisition is in the final stages of closing and could be announced as soon as today or tomorrow. A LiveU spokesperson declined to comment on the story, and a Carlyle spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

What is notable is that this is the second time that LiveU has changed hands in the space of two years: the company was previously acquired by Francisco Partners, another PE firm, for at $200 million.

The quick jump in valuation, more than doubling in 25 months, is due in part to the huge surge of interest we’ve seen for video content.

It was not that long ago that you only watched live video on television, using a limited set of broadcast channels. Now, we have live, or near-live, or on-demand moving pictures coming at us from everywhere. On-demand and live streamed video can be found on apps (both those dedicated to broadcasting, and those that offer it alongside other content like YouTube, Facebook, and more) and websites; and not just TVs but phones, tablets and computers. It has become the primary medium for informing and entertaining people today and accounts for more than 80% of all IP traffic.

So it makes sense that a company building technology to make the process of capturing and delivering that video easier, cheaper and at a better level of quality would catch attention. (LiveU has been used for a lot of high-profile coverage, from tennis championships through to the Derek Chauvin trial.)

The other reason for the hike, it seems, is that LiveU itself has grown in size through an acquisition of its own. Earlier this year it snapped up its channel partner in the UK market, Garland Partners, for an undisclosed sum, to get closer to its customers in the region. One of our sources noted that this consolidation helped set the course both for LiveU to get acquired itself, and for its valuation.

It’s not clear whether there were other bidders interested in the company at the same time as Carlyle but the PE firm has been a pretty active buyer and growth-stage investor in the last year, which has been a heady one for funding in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting shifts in consumer and business behavior.

Other acquisitions in Europe (specifically the UK) have included 1e, a hybrid working startup based out of the UK, in deal that valued 1e at $270 million; and gaming company Jagex for around $530 million. Investments meanwhile have included a $200 million stake in South Korean mobility-as-a-service startup Kakao Mobility. LiveU would appear to be its first deal in Israel.

Israel has been a big benefactor of that activity. Avihai Michaeli, a Tel Aviv-based senior investment banker and startup advisor. estimates that startups in the country collectively raised $11 billion in the first six months of 2021, and that has already grown to $12 billion as of today. PE firms are a regular shopper when it comes to Israeli exits, he said, “to improve them from within, and then sell them for an even higher value.” Other examples have included Francisco Partners acquiring MyHeritage in February for around $600 million.

We’ll update this story as we learn more.

#broadcast, #fundings-exits, #live-broadcast, #liveu, #ma, #media, #private-equity, #sports, #streaming

Common Sense Networks launches Sensical, a free, hand-curated streaming service for kids

Common Sense Media has made a name for itself among parents as a useful resource for vetting entertainment and technology in terms of its age-appropriateness. Now, the organization’s for-profit affiliate, Common Sense Networks, is taking inspiration from those kid-friendly recommendations with the launch of new streaming service called Sensical. The service offers age-appropriate, entertaining, and educational videos for children ages 2 through 10.

At launch, the free, ad-supported service includes over 15,000 hand-curated videos and over 50 topic-based channels for children to explore. And unlike other platforms, like Netflix or YouTube, Sensical doesn’t use algorithms to make content recommendations. Instead, kids are encouraged to follow their own interests and passions across over 50 topic-based channels. This includes things like Adventures, Animals, Arts & Crafts, Music, Science, Sports, Video Games, and other sorts of kid-friendly topics.

Kids can star these channels, or individual videos or series, in order to keep up with their favorite content in a dedicated Favorites section within the app.

Kids will see a selection of these channels based on their age, but the company is working to expand the channel lineup so there will be even more specific categories in the future. For example, instead of just “sports,” there could be channels like “soccer” or “gymnastics.” Instead of “Arts,” there could be “drawing” or “origami.” Instead of just “science,” it could include channels like “geography” or “robotics,” and so on.

Image Credits: Common Sense Networks

The app also features a Live TV section, which is programmed throughout the day with kid-friendly content so kids don’t have to browse to find something to quickly watch.

While other streaming services on the market offer kid-friendly content — as that’s a huge selling point for subscribers — it’s not always organized in a way that makes sense. Sometimes, all the content gets lumped into a general “Kids” category where videos for little kids are mixed in with content for older children. Sensical, meanwhile, curates the content recommendations into three different experiences, including preschool (2-4), little kids (5-7), and big kids (8-10).

What the child sees is based on how parents configure their profile. Plus, parents can use the service’s ParentZone in-app dashboard to set screen time limits, extend limits as needed, and view daily reports on what the child has watched.

The service’s best feature, however, is that the content is assured to be age-appropriate — even the ads.

This is possible because the curation approach Sensical takes, which is very different from YouTube Kids. YouTube’s app for kids leans on algorithms to filter out adult content from YouTube’s broader library, but the company doesn’t manually review all the videos it includes. It warns parents that some inappropriate content could slip through. (And it has). Common Sense Networks, meanwhile, says dozens of trained child development experts view, vet, and rate “every single frame of video” that goes live on its service using its proprietary IP and patent pending process. This system involves tagging content with specific child developmental benefits, too.

Sensical also vets its advertising, which is how the service is supported, with similar direct oversight. Its experts review the sponsor’s content to ensure it’s appropriate for children — an area that’s often overlooked on other services.

Image Credits: Common Sense Networks

To fill its library, Common Sense Networks partnered with dozens of studios and distribution partners as well as digital-first creators.

Studio and distribution partners include CAKE (Poppy Cat), Cyber Group Studios (Leo The Wildlife Ranger), The Jim Henson Company (The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss, Jim Henson’s Animal Show with Stinky and Jake), Mattel (Kipper, Pingu, Max Steel), Raydar Media (Five Apples’ limited series, Apple Tree House), Superights (Bo Bear, Handico), WildBrain (Teletubbies, Rev & Roll), Xilam Animation (Learn and Play with Paprika, Moka’s Fabulous Adventures), ZDF Enterprises (Lexi & Lottie, School of Roars), Zodiak Kids (Mister Maker, Tee and Mo), ABC Commercial, CBC & Radio-Canada Distribution, Jetpack Distribution, Nelvana, 9 Story Distribution International, Sesame Workshop, Serious Lunch, and Studio 100.

Digital creators, meanwhile, include ABCMouse, Aaron’s Animals, Alphabet Rockers, batteryPOP, California Academy of Sciences, GoldieBlox, The Gotham Group’s Gotham Reads, Guggenheim Museum, Howdytoons, Kids’ Black History, MEL Science + Chemistry, N*Gen, Pinkfong, Penguin Random House’s Brightly Storytime, Studio71 (Parry Gripp, Maymo, Hyper Roblox), Tankee, Ubongo Kids, Vooks, Bounce Patrol, Hevesh5, Mother Goose Club, StacyPlays, Super Simple Songs and The Whistle.

The service abides by the U.S. children’s privacy laws (COPPA), and is certified by the kidSAFE Seal Program.

Image Credits: Common Sense Networks

Having briefly toyed around with the mobile app, it appears Sensical works as described. If I had any complaints personally, it would only be that the experience could be dismissed as “baby stuff” by older kids approaching their tween years, due to the cute pictures and youthful iconography used in the app’s design. Kids in older age groups take issue with being treated as if they’re younger — and they take particular notice of anything that does so. The same complaint goes for the Live TV programming, which was clearly aimed at littler kids when we checked it out, despite testing the app as child profile whose age was set to “10.”

I also think it would be nice if there was a better way to track Favorite channels and see when they’re updated with new videos, as kids moving to Sensical from YouTube will want to “feel” like they’re still connected to new and fresh content, not a library. But Sensical isn’t YouTube. There’s a trade-off between hand-curation and timeliness, and Sensical is favoring the former.

Sensical had been first introduced this spring during a closed beta, but is now publicly available to stream across web and mobile on iOSAndroid, RokuAmazon Fire TV and Apple TV. This summer, it will expand to more distribution platforms, including VIZIO.

#ad-supported-streaming, #apps, #avoid, #common-sense-media, #entertainment, #families, #kid, #kids, #media, #mobile, #parents, #streaming, #streaming-services, #united-states, #video, #videos

Concert livestreaming platform Mandolin raises $12M

Mandolin just marked its first birthday earlier this month, and yet the Indianapolis-based startup is already announcing a $12 million Series A. That’s a quick follow up to the $5 million seed it raised in early October of last year. Turns out the global pandemic is a pretty fortuitious time to launch and grow a concert streaming platform.

The oversubscribed round was co-led by 645 Ventures and Foundry Group and featured additional funding from existing investors like High Alpha and TIME Ventures (Marc Benioff).

The big question, of course, is what happens to a company like Mandolin when the world starts opening back up? Sure concert livestreams got a massive boost as fans and artists alike were seeking an outlet as touring ground to a halt. But what now that venues are starting to reopen.

“As artists return to performing in sold out venues, Live+ will undoubtedly become a can’t-live-without digital complement that amplifies live shows,” CEO Mary Kay Huse said in a release. “Our new round of financing will support us in driving innovation of our core solution, delivering new digital offerings, and reinforcing our routes to market, so that every show is Live+.”

Image Credits: Mandolin

Granted, that’s…pretty abstract. But the simple answer is the company has been looking toward enhancing the in-person event as well, ahead of an inevitable reopening. Essentially the company wants to build a companion app for shows.

Here’s what Huse told Variety last week, “I would love it if we could see upwards of 50% of in-person attendees experiencing something digitally while in the venue, as early as before the end of the year. It’s just creating a compelling content that makes them want to do it.”

The company will also continue to focus on streaming, which may see a hit, but certainly isn’t going away, post-pandemic. The news also sees 645 Managing Partner Nnamdi Okike joining the company’s board.

“During COVID-19, livestreaming has been a game-changer for fans who want to experience their favorite artists, and for artists and venues who want to bring exciting live events for their fans,” Okike said. “Mandolin provides the best technology platform to enable these experiences, and they’re also scaling a company to meet the needs of this fast-growing category.”


#apps, #concert, #entertainment, #mandolin, #music, #recent-funding, #startups, #streaming

Netflix once again introduces new features for Android, but not iOS (yet)

A screenshot of the Netflix downloads page on a smartphone.

Enlarge / A screenshot of the Netflix downloads page on a smartphone. (credit: Netflix)

The ability to download videos in their entirety to a mobile device has been a nice (yet lesser-known) feature of Netflix and similar services for a few years now, but the experience has not been without its frustrations. A new update to the Netflix mobile app aims to make the feature better.

Starting today, Android phone or tablet users on version 7.64 or higher can start viewing a video download in the Netflix mobile app, even if that video hasn’t finished downloading to a device. The company’s newsroom post announcing the new feature says it’s intended for times when “unreliable Wi-Fi or a maxed-out data plan” prevent a video from fully downloading.

So if you tried to download a movie on airport Wi-Fi before your coast-to-coast flight but only got to 80 percent before you had to board, you can now at least watch part of the movie while waiting for an opportunity to finish the download. Once you have a reliable connection again, the download can pick up where it left off, even if you started watching the video in the interim.

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#android, #app, #ios, #netflix, #streaming, #tech, #video

Happs raises $4.7 million for a multicast livestream platform creator community

Happs, an app that lets creators stream live video simultaneously across social platforms, has raised $4.7 million in a post-seed round. The product originally began as a platform for independent journalists, but expanded its mission last year to offer tools to all online creators while connecting them through a new social network.

The funding was led by Bullpen Capital and Crosslink, Goodwater, Corazon, Rob Hayes of First Round Capital and Bangaly Kaba, previously at Instagram and Sequoia, also participated.

What sets Happs apart from some established competitors in the space is the team’s desire to not only build tools that help video creators produce professional-looking online streams, but to cultivate a kind of meta-community that brings people together from across other social media sites.

“We kind of view this as the essence of what the creator economy is all about,” Happs CEO Mark Goldman told TechCrunch. “The idea of locking creators into an individual platform is a very traditional way of thinking about content creation.”

Happs app multistreaming

Like Goldman, the other co-founders, David Neuman and Drew Shepard, come from the media world. Goldman was the founding COO of Current TV, an experimental TV channel that dabbled in user-generated content and eventually sold to Al Jazeera in 2013.

“The whole idea was to democratize media and open it up,” Goldman said of his time working on Current TV, which he connects directly to his interest in building Happs. “[We] loved the creativity unleashed by that.”

Online creators tend to be siloed within the app where they’ve built the biggest community, but Happs wants to empower them to reach as many followers as possible in a platform-agnostic way. For creators, the appeal with multistreaming is maximizing reach while making content efficiently. There’s a risk of alienating YouTube followers at the expense of your Twitch community if you don’t play your cards right, but some savvy content creators have turned toward the model to grow their audiences.

Happs connects people across platforms in a few ways. For one, Happs users can broadcast live to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Twitch simultaneously. The app also collects live comments from all supported social media sites and beams them into its own interface where they appear in a continuous cross-platform stream.

The integrated comment feature is nice built-in option for anyone who’s straddled comments across multiple devices simultaneously while livestreaming, which is no easy feat. When you’re streaming live you can feature a comment so that followers can see it on the screen no matter what platform they’re watching on.

Other companies in the space like OBS, Streamlabs and Restream are focused on the tools part of the equation, offering power users a useful backend for pushing out multi-streamed live video. Streamyard also offers multistreaming to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other platforms through a simple browser interface.

Unlike those services, Happs feels more like a social network, with familiar features like user profile photos, follower counts and a feed next to a “go live” button. Anyone can use the multi-streaming platform through its iOS or Android apps or a web interface, whether they’re a creator signing up for the tools or a fan looking to support the content they love.

Happs lacks some of its competitors’ bells and whistles, stuff like fancy customized graphics and lower-thirds, but has a few interesting tricks of its own. While streaming live on Happs, you can invite someone else on the app to join your feed for a real-time collaboration. The social networking elements are meant to encourage cross-platform creativity, so a YouTuber and a Twitch personality could hang out together and boost both of their reaches, all while streaming to a bunch of other apps.

Happs also offers users monetization tools from the get-go, with no requirements before they can start making money. That speaks to the app’s appeal for creators who might be less established or just starting out. Happs could be a much harder sell for a popular creator deeply invested in a platform like Twitch, which has rules against multi-streaming for most accounts that are allowed to monetize.

There are a few different ways to monetize. One lets anyone on Happs sponsor a broadcaster through regular monthly payments. The other is a one-off option that lets you chip in an award for any livestream, or to the VOD (video on demand) after the fact. The in-app currency is a virtual coin that users can buy or earn through doing stuff on the app. There are no plans for ads (yet, anyway).

The company will take 30% cut of subscription earnings, though according to Goldman they’ll be waiving those fees for an unspecified period of time to attract people to the platform.

“We raised this round to really build up product and tech team [and] to make the platform much more stable and reliable,” Goldman said. The company is looking forward to leveraging the new resources to “really go out now and get in front of creators so they know Happs exists.”

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