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Tag Archives: content

Roku’s free, ad-supported streaming channel is now live on the web

Roku is today bringing its free, streaming entertainment destination, The Roku Channel, to non-Roku devices for the first time, with a launch on both the web and on select Samsung smart TVs, ahead of a wider cross-platform rollout. The channel, which offers free, ad-supported movies and TV shows, will be available across PCs, mobile phones and tablets, the company says. In addition, Roku is updating the navigation on its own devices, including Roku players and Roku TVs, to include a new feature called “Featured Free,” which will directly point users to free content from The Roku Channel, as well as other apps, like ABC, The CW, CW Seed, Fox, Freeform, Pluto TV, Sony Crackle, Tubi and more. The Roku Channel first launched last September , as a way for Roku to differentiate its connected media devices and TVs running Roku software from rivals like Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Chromecast. Despite Roku’s popularity — it’s leading the internet video streaming device market — the company hadn’t really used its platform to promote its own content — the way Amazon pushes Prime Video shows on Fire TV owners, for example — until then. The channel itself is populated with movies that Roku gained access to through licensing deals with studios like Lionsgate, MGM, Paramount, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Warner Brothers. However, it also leveraged Roku’s strength as a platform by pulling in free content from its existing channel partners (with permission), including American Classics, FilmRise, Nosey, OVGuide, Popcornflix, Vidmark and YuYu. The content itself is monetized through advertising, which Roku’s in-house ad sales team is in charge of selling, with some portion going to partners. The company’s goal has been to smartly place the ads to respect the content they interrupt, and not to inundate viewers with the same ad over and over again. With the channel’s expansion to the web and other TV platforms, Roku can further grow its advertising business, while also making the case for itself as a device platform. For existing Roku device owners, the channel is just another value-add for being a Roku user — and one that may keep them from jumping ship to another player in the future. “Roku is the leading platform for free entertainment and our users love it

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Viacom acquires youth-focused AwesomenessTV

AwesomenessTV, an online video company owned by Comcast, Dreamworks, Hearst and Verizon, began as a YouTube channel aimed squarely at millennials and teens. It expanded into more traditional media and was the driving force behind DreamWorksTV on YouT...

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YouTube CEO’s latest update details its growth, glosses over content problems

YouTube highlighted its growth and promised better communication with creators about its tests and experiments, the company announced today in its latest of an ongoing series of updates from CEO Susan Wojcicki focused on YouTube’s top five priorities in 2018. The majority of her missive today – which was also released in the form of a YouTube video – were wrap-ups of other announcements and launches the company had recently made, like the new features released at this year’s VidCon including Channel Memberships, merchandise, and Famebit. However, the company did offer a few updates related to those launches, including news of expanded merch partnerships. But YouTube didn’t detail the crucial steps it should be taking to address the content issues that continue to plague its site. YouTube said one way it’s improving communication is via  Creator Insider , an unofficial channel started by YouTube employees, which offers weekly updates, responds to concerns, and gives a more behind-the-scenes look into product launches. In terms of its product updates, YouTube said that Channel Memberships, which are currently open to those with more than 100,000 subscribers, will roll out to more creators in the “coming months.” Meanwhile, merch, which is now available to U.S.-based channels with over 10,000 subscribers, will add new merchandising partners and expand to more creators “soon.” At present, YouTube is partnered with custom merchandise platform Teespring, which keeps a cut of the merchandise sales while YouTube earns a small commission. The company didn’t say which other merchandise providers would be joining the program. YouTube’s Famebit, which connects creators and brands for paid content creation, is also growing. YouTube says that more than half of channels working with Famebit doubled their YouTube revenue in the first three months of the year. And it will soon launch a new feature that will allow YouTube viewers to shop for products, apps, and tickets right form the creator’s watch page. (This was announced at VidCon, too.) Content problems remain There was little attention given to brand safety in today’s update, however, beyond a promise that this continues to be one of YouTube’s “biggest priorities” and that it’s seeing “positive” results. In reality, the company still struggles with content moderation. It even fails to follow-up when there’s a high-profile case, it seems.

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Brat raises $30 million to reboot scripted television for the Gen Z crowd

We are in the era of peak TV . Hundreds of expensive, scripted television shows are splayed across streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Netflix itself is now expected to spend $13 billion on original content this year . And yet, these networks can struggle to reach viewers outside of the core adult market. That’s where Brat hopes to make its mark. The LA-based production studio and media company makes scripted dramas such as Chicken Girls on platforms like YouTube targeting a purely teen audience. And unlike Netflix, Brat is built from the ground up to keep production costs low: Rob Fishman, co-founder of Brat, says that “We are spending in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for every season” for their shows, instead of what can be seven figures an episode in the Netflix world. Wide distribution to a young audience and that cost-effectiveness has proven to be a compelling elixir for investors, who handed the company $30 million in capital. The fundraise was led by Anchorage Capital, and comes just a few months after the company’s previous $10 million fundraise last year. For Fishman and his co-founder Darren Lachtman, this is familiar terrain.

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Netflix redesigns its TV interface with new navigation, full-screen trailers

Netflix this morning announced the launch of a new interface for those who watch the streaming service on TV. The updated design is aimed at improving navigation by way of a remote control, making it quicker to get to the content you want to watch. The change involves relocating some of Netflix’s key features like the “Search” button and users’ “My List” over to a ribbon menu on the left side the screen which pops out when you navigate over. Here, it has also added new shortcuts to “Movies” and “TV” to filter its catalog by films and shows, as well as a button to see what’s “New.” Related to this change, when you browse into a given section,  you’ll now see a full-screen preview of a top show or movie autoplaying above the rows of content suggestions. The company says the redesign was based on “rigorous research and testing” and should make Netflix simpler and more intuitive in a number of ways. The changes should be fairly welcome by TV viewers – except for those who despise auto-playing trailers, of course. As Netflix’s catalog has expanded over the years, it’s gotten more difficult to find something what to watch due to the paradox of choice. The service makes recommendations based on your past viewing history, and offers thematic groupings, like “Trending Now,” “Comedies,” “TV Dramas,” plus things like your “Top Picks”  and more, which will have you scrolling down endless rows of suggestions. But when you decide you want to start over and go back to your List or start a new search, you have to click, click, click on the remote to move back to those options. With the redesign, you’ll only have to click over to the side. It’s an obvious change – and Netflix even admits that – but says that it still took “extensive research, testing and technology improvements” to make it happen. The larger goal in simplifying navigation is to reduce the time users spend browsing, thereby increasing their viewership hours.

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YouTube launches new tool for finding and removing unauthorized re-uploads

Re-uploading videos on YouTube is a favorite of scammy channels that try to profit from other people’s work. Copyright owners already have a number of ways to protect their content, but today , the service is introducing a new tool that automatically scans every newly uploaded video to check if it’s a re-upload of an existing one or “very similar” to a video that’s already on the site. It’s worth noting that this new tool, dubbed “copyright match,” won’t work for clips, only full videos. YouTube also notes that it’s important that the creator is the first person to upload the video because the time of the upload is how it shows matches. When the tool finds a match, the creator can choose what to do. The options here are either doing nothing and feeling flattered that somebody would care about your mediocre cat video, get in touch with the other creator and have a nice chat about what happened or ask YouTube to remove the offending video (which is probably what most people will opt for). Now a lot of this sounds like YouTube’s existing Content ID program, and while it uses very similar technology underneath, the company stresses that this tool is explicitly meant to recognize unauthorized re-uploads. Content ID, however, is mostly meant for the copyright owners of music and music videos, trailers and recordings of performances. Starting next week, the new copyright match tool will roll out to all creators with more than 100,000 subscribers. The company plans to roll it out to a wider base of users over the next few months.

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Facebook alerts 14M to privacy bug that changed status composer to public

Facebook has another privacy screw-up on its hands. A bug in May accidentally changed the suggested privacy setting for status updates to public from whatever users had set it to last, potentially causing them to post sensitive friends-only content to the whole world. Facebook is now notifying 14 million people around the world who were potentially impacted by the bug to review their status updates and lock them down tighter if need be. Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan wrote to TechCrunch in a statement: “ We recently found a bug that automatically suggested posting publicly when some people were creating their Facebook posts. We have fixed this issue and starting today we are letting everyone affected know and asking them to review any posts they made during that time. To be clear, this bug did not impact anything people had posted before – and they could still choose their audience just as they always have. We’d like to apologize for this mistake. ” The bug was active from May 18th to May 22nd, but it took Facebook until May 27th to switch people’s status composer privacy setting back to what it was before the issue. It happened because Facebook was building a “featured items” option on your profile that highlights photos and other content. These featured items are publicly visible, but Facebook inadvertently extended that setting to all new posts from those users. The issue has now been fixed, and everyone’s status composer has been changed back to default to the privacy setting they had before the bug. The notifications about the bug leads to a page of info about the issue, with a link to review affected posts. Facebook tells TechCrunch that it hears loud and clear that it must be more transparent about its product and privacy settings, especially when it messes up. And it plans to show more of these types of alerts to be forthcoming about any other privacy issues it discovers in the future.

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