DramaFever to launch new platforms for documentaries and horror movies


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New York-based streaming video startup DramaFever will launch new verticals for documentaries and horror movies in the coming months, DramaFever co-founder Seung Bak revealed during a panel at the TV of Tomorrow Show in San Francisco on Wednesday. Bak said that the company plans to launch a dedicated platform for documentaries later this year and a horror movie channel in early 2015. DramaFever made its name by importing and subtitling Korean dramas, which the company is making available to paying subscribers on its website, mobile devices and through connected platforms. The company also offers a more limited, ad-supported tier and has licensing deals with Hulu, Netflix and others. Initially, DramaFever focused just on content arbitrage, which means that the company has been licensing content from foreign broadcasters who otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach audiences in the U.S.. But Bak said Wednesday that the company is now also co-producing content, and that its paying subscribers are watching DramaFever for two hours a day on average. “What we really are doing is next-generation television channels,” he said. Check out my previous interview with Bak below:




The seven most interesting things BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti said to Felix Salmon in his massive interview


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BuzzFeed may still be primarily known for producing “snackable” content that’s easy to consume and/or share quickly, but an interview that former Reuters blogger Felix Salmon did with founder Jonah Peretti and posted to Medium is the exact opposite: it runs more than 20,000 words and the site estimates that it will take 91 minutes to read. So in the interests of saving you some time — and as a kind of tribute to the aggregation methods used by BuzzFeed and Huffington Post — I’ve picked out some of the most interesting and/or important parts:

On the future of media:

Peretti said that his famous viral email exchange with Nike — over his attempt to make a personalized pair of shoes that said “Sweatshop” on them — was the trigger that started him thinking about how media works in the age of the social web:
There wasn’t a concept of things going viral. It’s funny how that’s become so normalized where people say, ‘Oh, maybe that will go viral.’ At that time, nobody ever said, ‘This thing could go viral.’ That wasn’t part of anyone’s consciousness. It was this giant, unfolding, complex problem with different areas that you could spend a whole lifetime thinking about and working on from the structural mathematical sense of networks. All those things working together started to feel like the way the media industry’s going to work… It doesn’t necessarily have to be a broadcast pipe or printing press and trucks driving around newspapers.

On the birth of Huffington Post:

The secret to the success of The Huffington Post (which he helped build before BuzzFeed), Peretti says, was partly the celebrity bloggers who came from Arianna Huffington’s network and partly link-sharing inspired by The Drudge Report:

I knew [celebrity bloggers] would create a sensation, that some people would hate it, and that some people would love it, but that it would be an incredibly exciting development that every blogger would have to watch, and be excited to watch, and want to form an opinion on. That was what would generate the viral spike… and one of the stickiest sites on the Internet was the Drudge Report. With always-fresh headlines and splashes and things like that, people would come back every single day. There were these two models that we just kind of bolted together.

Huffington Post Obama HP

On the value of aggregation:

Peretti noted that The Huffington Post and BuzzFeed have been criticized for “over-aggregation” of content from other sites, but said as a user or consumer of media content, this kind of aggregation clearly provides a service:
Say The New Yorker writes a really long 12,000 word piece on Scientology. That takes lots of reporting and lots of investment… the average person who hears about that story doesn’t want to read the whole story. They’re at work, most likely. They do a Google search because they’ve heard about this Scientology scoop or long form piece. Their first result is the HuffPost link, not a New Yorker link. They look at it. It summarizes what the article is about. The problem with that example is that from the perspective of the user, it’s a better experience to land on the summary… because that’s as much as most people want.

On the New York Times:

Peretti said that he thinks the recent innovation report from the New York Times (which was leaked to BuzzFeed) was a little too hard on the technology team and not hard enough on the editorial side:

There was this bedrock assumption that The New York Times’s content is just the best content. I think that they do a lot of tremendous journalism. They have a lot of great stuff. It’s just sometimes, the stories are boring… and I was a little bit surprised that the report didn’t spend much time tackling the hardest issue, which is why do they need to have so much revenue? It’s because their cost structure is made for print. The challenge that they’re facing moving forward is how do they move into a post-print world.

New York Times building logo, photo by Rani Molla

On BuzzFeed’s evolution:

BuzzFeed began as a side project to HuffPo — a way to experiment with viral content — but Peretti says around the time that Huffington Post was bought by AOL, he and his investors decided to get serious:
Soon after we hired [former Politico writer] Ben Smith, that was really the moment we went from being a tech company experimenting with content to being a company that took editorial seriously. Not just serious editorial, but that took entertaining content seriously, and news content seriously, and had a more ambitious editorial mission. We had this huge hole…. it was like, “Okay, the web is growing up. The social web is growing up. We need to grow up. And we need to add capacity to do all kinds of stuff that we’re not doing now.

On the value of media metrics:

Peretti said that BuzzFeed may have plenty of analytics that it applies to its business, but he tries not to let those get in the way of the content:

It’s not that we celebrate maximizing the metrics. We want the stuff we do to reach the maximum audience it should reach, no less and no more. If we make a wonky political scoop, we want every political wonk to read it. When we have something that’s a hit, usually our response is not, ‘Let’s do more of those.’ Our response is, ‘Let’s figure why this is a hit and make variations of this.’… I feel like what you see in the industry now is people jumping around and trying to find the God metric for content. It’s all about shares or it’s all about time spent.

On doing media differently:

The biggest change that most media companies need to make, Peretti says, isn’t what they are writing about or even who they are appealing to, but how they are doing it. Many digital publishers are small, he said, because:

They look like print. Their basic unit is the same kind of article structure. Some of them might be shorter or longer, but the front page is programmed almost like a newspaper. The formats of the articles are more like a newspaper. The way to break through and to make something that can actually scale into something big is just to say, ‘What would this be if the readers and the publishers were not focused on making something similar to print?’ If they said, instead, ‘What should this be if mobile is the most important thing; if things can be more visual; if things can be more shareable; if length can be anywhere from 140 characters to 12,000 words? In that kind of world… what should a media company be?”

Post and thumbnail images courtesy of Flickr user Paul Zimmerman / Getty Images and Rani Molla




Dish’s upcoming internet TV service to target cord cutters and “cord haters”


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Dish wants to make inroads with people who are fed up with traditional pay TV with its upcoming internet-based TV service, said the company’s GM of Interactive and Advanced TV Adam Lowy at the TV of Tomorrow Show in San Francisco Wednesday. “Cord cutters, cord nevers and what we call cord haters” will be the target audience of the new service, said Lowy. Dish announced a deal with Disney in March to deliver live TV through a new service, and Lowy said Wednesday that his company is talking to all the networks that it also carries over its traditional satellite service about licensing their content for the new venture. Dish is currently working on setting up technical infrastructure to launch the service, which will initially be based on Dish’s existing infrastructure, but eventually be moved over to an all-IP infrastructure, Lowy said. “All this is being moved very fast,” he added. Lowy didn’t give any details on additional content agreements, but Fox Network SVP of Distribution Strategy and Development Sherry Brennan said that her company would like to sell its networks through all and any of these new services. Brennan admitted that some of the rights issues around content still have to be sorted out, but she argued that in the end, it wouldn’t matter to Fox whether its programming would get to consumers through a traditional or an internet-based TV service. “A pay TV operator is just a pay TV operator,” she said. Of course, there’s going to be one big difference: An internet-based service isn’t necessarily bundled with internet access from any existing provider, which will make it a whole lot easier for consumers to cancel the service and switch to a competing offering. “At any time, if you don’t pay, it’s over,” admitted Lowy, which is why he argued that the service would have to get it right in the first place, and be better than existing TV services. “The consumer is gonna win out in the end,” he said. Lowy made these remarks on a panel that also featured Eric Fitzgerald Reed, VP of Entertainment and Tech Policy at Verizon Communications. Verizon bought Intel’s OnCue internet TV service earlier this year, but recent remarks by Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam have cast doubts on the company’s plans to actually launch a full-blown TV service. McAdam recently said during an investor call that content rights for a linear TV service would be too expensive. Notably, OnCue boss Erik Huggers left the company two weeks after these remarks. Asked whether he could clarify Verizon’s plans for OnCue, Reed replied: “I don’t want to subscribe to just one particular business model right now.” Image courtesy of (CC-BY-SA) Flickr user joe.ross.




Glenn Britt, the former CEO of Time Warner Cable, has died


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Glenn Britt, the former CEO of Time Warner Cable, passed away at his home in New York City. He was 65. Britt had stepped down from the role of CEO in January and was replaced by Rob Marcus, who agreed to sell Time Warner Cable to Comcast less than two months after his appointment. Britt, who took on the CEO role in 2001, had a 41-year career in the cable TV industry, watching it grow from a TV-focused product to one that included broadband and voice. While Britt helmed Time Warner Cable when it famously tried to implement usage-based pricing (with plans ranging from 5 GB to 40 GB a month) in 2008, he also revised the plan after a public outcry and later abandoned the plan when New York State lawmakers put pressure on the company. In many ways, I considered Britt the least objectionable of the cable executives and generally felt lucky to have Time Warner Cable as my ISP in the last few years (in recent months, that feeling has dissipated). While broadband caps have spread across the industry, Britt kept Time Warner Cable broadband free of usage caps or tiers and began extolling the value of services like Netflix as a way to get consumers to sign up for faster and more expensive broadband. He also experimented with bringing in Roku set-top boxes and even had a deal back in 2007 with FON for sharing Wi-Fi. His retirement signaled a loss of the old guard, used to dealing with the pay TV business and struggling to figure out how to deal with the looming impact that broadband would have on that business. He oversaw the transition from analog cable to digital and the development of the TWC internet products. After his retirement from the CEO role the company moved quickly to consolidate with Comcast, a company that has a much more mercenary view of the role demand for broadband has to play in its business. Time Warner Cable has created an comprehensive tribute page to Britt that also acts as a history of cable TV over his career. There’s some good content there, such as the video below of Britt discussing the birth of TWC’s internet products.




It’s not just Hachette — Amazon stops taking pre-orders on Warner Bros. movies, too


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Book publisher Hachette apparently isn’t the only media company facing delayed shipping and unavailable pre-orders as it negotiates with Amazon over a new contract. Warner Bros. is facing similar actions on upcoming DVDs like The Lego Movie and 300: Rise of an Empire, the New York Times noted Tuesday. The DVD edition of The Lego Movie, for instance, is supposed to be released June 17, but Amazon isn’t taking pre-orders for it even though it’s available on sites like Barnes & Noble. Kottke.org noticed that the movies were unavailable for preorder a few weeks ago, and complaints in the customer forums dating back to mid-May. The titles can still be purchased and streamed through Amazon Instant Video, and that option is prominently displayed in search and on product pages. Lego Movie Amazon Warner Bros Titles distributed by Warner Bros. are also affected. One post in the Amazon customer forums, for instance, pointed to a Facebook post in which anime distributor VizMedia noted, “Our products are distributed by Warner Brothers, and currently they’re in contract negotiations with Amazon. Pre-orders are disabled while that goes on, but we’re hoping it will be resolved soon.” The battle with Hachette has drawn criticism from high-profile Hachette authors like Stephen Colbert, who dedicated two segments of a recent episode of “The Colbert Report” to it. It’ll be interesting to see whether any actors start weighing in.




Sony’s new $99 PlayStation TV box could be key to its TV service plans


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Sony announced a new $99 gadget at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles Monday that could play an interesting role in the company’s plans to offer its own pay TV service. The new PlayStation TV, which will be available in the U.S> and Europe this fall, is primarily touted as a slimmed-down game console, capable of playing videos games from the company’s upcoming Sony Now cloud gaming service as well as pair with a PlayStation 4 to play PS4 games via remote play — a feature that was first introduced with the portable PlayStation Vita. However, Sony Computer Entertainment America President and CEO Shawn Layden also mentioned during the company’s E3 keynote that the PlayStation TV “will give you access to video and music streaming services.” Asked about further details, a Sony spokesperson sent me the following statement:
“PlayStation TV in the United States will support TV and movies via Video Unlimited and streaming music via Music Unlimited. We’ll announce additional services in the future.”

Music Unlimited is Sony’s Spotify-like music subscription service, while Video Unlimited is the name of the company’s iTunes-like transactional video rental offering. However, the company has bigger plans for TV content, and announced at CES earlier this year that it intends to launch a pay TV service that could replace cable TV for its customers in the future. Sony’s still-unnamed TV service will offer subscribers access to live television, video on demand and cloud DVR features, and deliver it to a variety of devices. It’s a safe bet to assume that PlayStation TV will be among those devices, which would turn the device into much more than just a lightweight game console. Instead, it would compete directly with a variety of video streaming boxes including Apple TV and Amazon’s Fire TV, which also comes with a big focus on gaming. And with a less expensive device, Sony would be able to give consumers a way to access its TV service on multiple TVs within their house without the need to connect a full-blown PlayStation to each and every one of them.




In win for libraries, court rules database of Google-scanned books is “fair use”


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A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that the HathiTrust, a searchable collection of digital books controlled by university libraries, does not violate copyright, and that the libraries can continue to make copies for digitally-impaired readers. The decision is a setback for the Authors Guild and for other groups of copyright holders who joined the lawsuit to shut down the HathiTrust’s operations. By contrast, it is a victory for many scholars and librarians who regard the database as an invaluable repository of knowledge. More broadly, the appeals court decision is the latest in a series of rulings about how copyright law should apply to digital versions of the tens of millions of library books scanned by Google.

Access to millions of books

The unanimous ruling this week by three judges of the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a 2012 decision that preceded last year’s landmark ruling that declared that Google’s Book scanning project was fair use and had “many benefits.” The HathiTrust itself is an offshoot of the Google project, which involved the search giant paying workers to scan the collections of major university libraries like Stanford University and the University of Michigan. Under the scanning arrangement, Google provided the partner libraries with a digital copy of each book it scanned. A group of the university libraries, in turn, grouped their collection together under the HathiTrust name. The Trust retains four copies of each digital book: one copy on servers at the University of Michigan and at Indiana University, and two that it keeps as encrypted back-up tapes. The HathiTrust allows the general public to search the contents of its entire collection but doesn’t display pages or even “snippets” as Google Books does. Instead, it only shows how many times a given search query appears in a book and on what page. And in a related program, the HathiTrust allows the visually impaired to obtain a large print or spoken-word version of the books in its collection. Under the terms of the HathiTrust, a library can also turn to the collection to reproduce a new physical copy in the event that a book it once possessed is lost, destroyed or unavailable at a reasonable price. Despite the limited availability of the HathiTrust collection, the Authors Guild and other writers’ organizations have been waging a prolonged legal campaign against it, arguing that the university libraries violated authors’ copyrights and that the HathiTrust is insecure and susceptible to hacking.

A searchable database is “quintessentially transformative”

The appeals court’s decision to uphold the lower court’s finding of “fair use” was widely expected, especially after the same court last year more or less instructed the judge presiding over the Google Books case to declare the scanning didn’t infringe copyright. In the new ruling, the court recites a familiar four-part test that looks at factors like the “purpose of the use” and the effect the use has on the market for the original work. Unsurprisingly, the appeals court concludes that “the creation of a full‐text searchable database is a quintessentially transformative use” that doesn’t pose any harm to existing or future markets of the copyright owners. The court also concluded that the HathiTrust’s policy of providing access to visually-impaired patrons was also a fair use — and that, in any case, the libraries were protected by the “Chafee Amendment,” which is a law that permits libraries to make reproductions to help “print-disabled individuals.” Other portions of the ruling swatted away the Authors Guild’s objection that the creation of four copies was excessive, and pointed to “extensive security measures the Libraries have undertaken to safeguard against the risk of a data breach.” The court, however, declined to rule on whether the HathiTrust’s preservation policy was fair use, instead sending it back to the lower court to determine if any of the copyright owner’s works had actually been affected by the program. And, in a final blow to the Authors Guild, the appeals court ruled that the group had no standing to bring the case in the first place, and that such lawsuits have to be filed by actual copyright owners like publishers or writers. The judges did, however, let writers groups from Quebec and Scandinavia continue to pursue part of the case in the lower court. It’s unclear if the Authors Guild, which is in the midst of an improbable appeal of last year’s Google Books decision, will challenge the ruling that it has no standing. The group has come in for criticism for its aggressive approach in the Google case and for its decision to sue the libraries:

Fate of “orphans” unclear, defining “transformative”

The appeals court’s decision in HathiTrust is mostly a dry and mechanical affair, but it does contain a nugget or two that will be of interest to copyright geeks and publishing types. These include a discussion of the HathiTrust’s aborted program to address “orphan works,” which is the term used to describe books whose copyright owner can’t be located. As the court explains, the HathiTrust attempted to push some of the “orphan works” into broader circulation by first calling for the copyright owners to come forward and then, after a period of time, releasing the books to the general public. The Authors Guild had sought an order forbidding the HathiTrust from doing that, but the court declined to rule on the issue since the orphan program has been discontinued. This means the HathiTrust could relaunch the initiative (though the authors could then sue it anew). Finally, the decision provides new guidance about the concept of “transformativeness,” a notion that some have come to consider (wrongly) as synonymous with fair use. While upholding large parts of the initial judge’s decision, the appeals court did take issue with his definition of “transformative,” noting that:

Contrary to what the district court implied, a use does not become transformative by making an “invaluable contribution to the progress of science and cultivation of the arts.” [...] Added value or utility is not the test: a transformative work is one that serves a new and different function from the original work and is not a substitute for it.

The “transformative” comments may be welcomed by some lawyers, who are even debating among themselves about what exactly the concept means in a digital age. You can read more details in the ruling below. I’ve underlined some of the relevant parts:

2nd Circuit on Hathi – Authors Guild






Surprise! Cisco data says we still use a lot of broadband (mostly for video)


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Lots of users. Lots of devices. Lots of video. This is the formula that will lead to global internet traffic reaching an estimated total of 1.6 zettabytes in 2018 — or 13 times the total internet traffic from 2008. A zettabyte is a trillion gigabytes, which in itself is almost meaningless to most people. The figure, provided by Cisco as part of its annual visual networking index, is part of an effort to track the growth of the internet and overall IP traffic. Cisco has been doing this for nine years, and is generally sound when it comes to forecasting the overall traffic (its more granular estimates can be less accurate). Besides the zettabytes, video and the growing constellation of devices are the star of this year’s forecast. Cisco estimates that video will comprise 79 percent of all IP traffic in 2018, up from 65 percent in 2013, and that people will own an average of 2.7 devices, up from 1.7 in 2013. About 52 percent of the global population, or 4 billion people, will be online. globaltraffic All of this means more traffic. But it’s worth digging into the subtle data about video usage and the data on connected devices and individual usage. Let’s take a look. First up are the devices. We have more of them, and depending on what they are, they might have a serious impact on overall IP traffic. A connected door lock or a home full of sensors might generate a noticeable amount of data in aggregate, but Cisco is really worried about video — especially 4K video, which it notes requires 18 Mbps streams and can consume 22.9 GB per month. (That actually seems a little low given that a 2-hour HD stream consumes 4 GB, but there may be a compression advantage to 4K.) iptrafficbydevice Next is a two-part breakout involving video. There will be a lot of it, and the rise in overall video consumption will help change broadband usage profiles for people significantly. If the estimates below are accurate, it’s kind of scary to think that Comcast is currently testing 300 GB per month data caps (but, uh, Comcast would like you to know it doesn’t have a cap). avgperuser The other data involving video shows that despite faster speeds, only a few countries have seen skyrocketing over-the-top video usage. In part, this is because pay TV providers are letting customers watch shows on demand and on whatever devices they want. It probably also relates to usage caps, peering fights and other ISP actions that can make it painful or expensive to watch video via internet-based services like Netflix and Hulu. videoconsumption:speed The rest of the index is chock-full of stats and charts about broadband usage that are also worth digging into. So check out Cisco’s presentations and data to see how much and how we’re going to be using our broadband networks four years out.




Where to watch the 2014 FIFA World Cup live online, and how to stream it without cable


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The 2014 FIFA World Cup is about to start in Brazil this week, and with it, fans around the world will be scrambling to watch games while at work, on the go, or even at home after they cut the cord and got rid of their cable subscription. Luckily, there are a number of streaming options out there, and plenty of opportunities for cord cutters to make sure they’re in on the action. For everything you need to know about the when and how, check out our ultimate 2014 World Cup viewing guide:

When to watch: the 2014 World Cup schedule

The official FIFA website hosts the schedule for all matches as currently standing, and also offers a handy tool to help you switch between local time in Brazil and your own time zone.

Where to watch if you’re in the U.S.

ESPN: The sports network will be streaming all 64 games from the first kick-off to the finale through its WatchESPN apps, which are available for iPhones and iPads, Android phones and tablets, Kindle Fire tablets and Windows 8 tablets and PCs. Users can also access the stream through the WatchESPN website as well as through dedicated apps for Amazon’s Fire TV, Roku streaming boxes, Apple TV, Xbox One and Xbox 360, and both the Android and iOS app can cast the streams to Google’s Chromecast streaming stick. ESPN will offer these streams in English, Portuguese and Korean, and online viewers will apparently be able to switch between multiple camera angles. However, ESPN only makes these streams available to viewers that pay for TV service and have ESPN as part of their channel lineup. Streams are also limited to customers of pay TV providers that have so-called TV Everywhere deals with ESPN, which includes Comcast, AT&T, Dish and Cox, but not DirecTV and a few others. Check ESPN’s website  to see if your operator is on ESPN’s friendlies’ list, otherwise you’ll have to check for other options. Univision: Spanish-language broadcaster Univision will also stream each and every game on its website as well as through dedicated apps for iPhones and iPads as well as Android phones and tablets. Univision’s broadcasts as well as the apps themselves will be in Spanish, so it may be time to polish up your vocabulary, especially if you’re a cord cutter: Univision will stream the first 56 games without the need to sign in with a pay TV provider login. However, the quarterfinals, semifinals and the finale will only be made available to customers of pay TV providers the network has a deal with, which at this point include AT&T, Bright House, Optimum, Cox, DirecTV, Dish, Time Warner Cable and Verizon, but not Comcast. And there is a silver lining for cord cutters: Univision will broadcast all of the games for free, over the air via local Univision affiliates, so all you need is an antenna. Fifty-six games, including all of the ones that have streams restricted to pay TV customers, will be available via Univision over the air, and be simulcast on the Univision Desposportes cable network. Eight games will only air on the broadcaster’s UniMás network (and simulcast on the Galavisión cable network), which is available over the air in some, but not all markets. You can visit this channel calculator to see whether you have access to Univision and UniMás. TuneIn: Can’t watch the games, but still want to follow along live? There’s always radio: ESPN Radio will be broadcasting all 64 games. You can listen to it via your local affiliate, or through TuneIn, which aggregates all the games on its site and also streams them through its iPhone, iPad and Android apps. Aereo. Another way to stream the games is Aereo, the service that relays over-the-air broadcast TV to mobile devices, Chromecast sticks and Roku boxes. Aereo won’t offer access to ESPN, but will be able to stream 10 games that will air on local ABC affiliates, including the finale. The service will also offer access to Univision’s programming. However, Aereo is only available in select markets, and is currently being sued by broadcasters.

Where to watch if you’re in other countries

The World Cup is being broadcast by TV networks around the globe, many of which will also stream the games live online. We can’t possibly list links for every country on earth here, but you should check this Wikipedia article if you want to know which broadcaster has the rights for the event in your country. Here are a few select broadcasters from countries with English-language programming: Australia: SBS will stream each and every game on its website as well as through its iOS and Android apps. Canada: CBC will stream all 64 games of the World Cup on its website as well as through its iOS and Android apps — no pay TV subscription required. Ireland: RTÉ will stream all 64 games live on its website as well as through its mobile apps, including 8 that won’t be broadcast on TV. U.K.: The BBC and local broadcaster ITV streams each and every game for free and without the need for a pay TV subscription online. BBC games are accessible through the broadcaster’s  iPlayer, which is available on the web as well for iOS, Android, Chromecast as well as a variety of game consoles, connected TV platforms and TV set-top boxes. ITV games are available through the ITV Player, which is available on the web as well as on Android and iOS. A detailed schedule showing which games air on which broadcaster is available on the BBC’s website (thanks, Grumbledook!). We will update this list with other worthwhile links throughout the World Cup, and we’ve turned off comments because every time we publish one of these guides, we’re inundated by links to streams of questionable propriety and legality. However, feel free to contact us if you think we did forget something worthwhile.  




Netflix to suspend its controversial ISP error messages


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Netflix will stop blaming your ISP when your Orange is the New Black stream starts to stutter, at least for now. The company announced Monday that it will suspend the display of messages that specifically blame individual internet providers for congestion within its apps by next week. In a blog post, Netflix communications VP Joris Evers wrote:
“We started a small scale test in early May that lets consumers know, while they’re watching Netflix, that their experience is degraded due to a lack of capacity into their broadband provider’s network. We are testing this across the U.S. wherever there is significant and persistent network congestion This test is scheduled to end on June 16. We will evaluate rolling it out more broadly.”

Reports about these types of error messages first surfaced on Twitter earlier this month, when users reported that they were told by their Netflix app that Verizon’s network was “crowded.” Verizon called the messages a PR stunt, and went on to send Netflix a cease-and-desist notice, demanding to put a stop to the messages. At the core of the spat is a long-running dispute about peering, with Verizon and other ISPs demanding that Netflix pays them to provide adequate peering capacity. Netflix has begrudgingly signed commercial peering deals with Verizon and Comcast, but at the same time continues to insist that it shouldn’t have to. In Monday’s blog post, Evers wrote:

“Some large US ISPs are erecting toll booths, providing sufficient capacity for services requested by their subscribers to flow through only when those services pay the toll. In this way, ISPs are double-dipping by getting both their subscribers and Internet content providers to pay for access to each other. We believe these ISP tolls are wrong because they raise costs, stifle innovation and harm consumers. ISPs should provide sufficient capacity into their network to provide consumers the broadband experience for which they pay.”






Netflix to suspend its controversial ISP error messages


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Netflix will stop blaming your ISP when your Orange is the New Black stream starts to stutter, at least for now. The company announced Monday that it will suspend the display of messages that specifically blame individual internet providers for congestion within its apps by next week. In a blog post, Netflix communications VP Joris Evers wrote:
“We started a small scale test in early May that lets consumers know, while they’re watching Netflix, that their experience is degraded due to a lack of capacity into their broadband provider’s network. We are testing this across the U.S. wherever there is significant and persistent network congestion This test is scheduled to end on June 16. We will evaluate rolling it out more broadly.”

Reports about these types of error messages first surfaced on Twitter earlier this month, when users reported that they were told by their Netflix app that Verizon’s network was “crowded.” Verizon called the messages a PR stunt, and went on to send Netflix a cease-and-desist notice, demanding to put a stop to the messages. At the core of the spat is a long-running dispute about peering, with Verizon and other ISPs demanding that Netflix pays them to provide adequate peering capacity. Netflix has begrudgingly signed commercial peering deals with Verizon and Comcast, but at the same time continues to insist that it shouldn’t have to. In Monday’s blog post, Evers wrote:

“Some large US ISPs are erecting toll booths, providing sufficient capacity for services requested by their subscribers to flow through only when those services pay the toll. In this way, ISPs are double-dipping by getting both their subscribers and Internet content providers to pay for access to each other. We believe these ISP tolls are wrong because they raise costs, stifle innovation and harm consumers. ISPs should provide sufficient capacity into their network to provide consumers the broadband experience for which they pay.”






Netflix to suspend its controversial ISP error messages


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Netflix will stop blaming your ISP when your Orange is the New Black stream starts to stutter, at least for now. The company announced Monday that it will suspend the display of messages that specifically blame individual internet providers for congestion within its apps by next week. In a blog post, Netflix communications VP Joris Evers wrote:
“We started a small scale test in early May that lets consumers know, while they’re watching Netflix, that their experience is degraded due to a lack of capacity into their broadband provider’s network. We are testing this across the U.S. wherever there is significant and persistent network congestion This test is scheduled to end on June 16. We will evaluate rolling it out more broadly.”

Reports about these types of error messages first surfaced on Twitter earlier this month, when users reported that they were told by their Netflix app that Verizon’s network was “crowded.” Verizon called the messages a PR stunt, and went on to send Netflix a cease-and-desist notice, demanding to put a stop to the messages. At the core of the spat is a long-running dispute about peering, with Verizon and other ISPs demanding that Netflix pays them to provide adequate peering capacity. Netflix has begrudgingly signed commercial peering deals with Verizon and Comcast, but at the same time continues to insist that it shouldn’t have to. In Monday’s blog post, Evers wrote:

“Some large US ISPs are erecting toll booths, providing sufficient capacity for services requested by their subscribers to flow through only when those services pay the toll. In this way, ISPs are double-dipping by getting both their subscribers and Internet content providers to pay for access to each other. We believe these ISP tolls are wrong because they raise costs, stifle innovation and harm consumers. ISPs should provide sufficient capacity into their network to provide consumers the broadband experience for which they pay.”






Netflix to suspend its controversial ISP error messages


This post is by from paidContent


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Netflix will stop blaming your ISP when your Orange is the New Black stream starts to stutter, at least for now. The company announced Monday that it will suspend the display of messages that specifically blame individual internet providers for congestion within its apps by next week. In a blog post, Netflix communications VP Joris Evers wrote:
“We started a small scale test in early May that lets consumers know, while they’re watching Netflix, that their experience is degraded due to a lack of capacity into their broadband provider’s network. We are testing this across the U.S. wherever there is significant and persistent network congestion This test is scheduled to end on June 16. We will evaluate rolling it out more broadly.”

Reports about these types of error messages first surfaced on Twitter earlier this month, when users reported that they were told by their Netflix app that Verizon’s network was “crowded.” Verizon called the messages a PR stunt, and went on to send Netflix a cease-and-desist notice, demanding to put a stop to the messages. At the core of the spat is a long-running dispute about peering, with Verizon and other ISPs demanding that Netflix pays them to provide adequate peering capacity. Netflix has begrudgingly signed commercial peering deals with Verizon and Comcast, but at the same time continues to insist that it shouldn’t have to. In Monday’s blog post, Evers wrote:

“Some large US ISPs are erecting toll booths, providing sufficient capacity for services requested by their subscribers to flow through only when those services pay the toll. In this way, ISPs are double-dipping by getting both their subscribers and Internet content providers to pay for access to each other. We believe these ISP tolls are wrong because they raise costs, stifle innovation and harm consumers. ISPs should provide sufficient capacity into their network to provide consumers the broadband experience for which they pay.”






Netflix to suspend its controversial ISP error messages


This post is by Janko Roettgers from paidContent


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Netflix will stop blaming your ISP when your Orange is the New Black stream starts to stutter, at least for now. The company announced Monday that it will suspend the display of messages that specifically blame individual internet providers for congestion within its apps by next week. In a blog post, Netflix communications VP Joris Evers wrote:
“We started a small scale test in early May that lets consumers know, while they’re watching Netflix, that their experience is degraded due to a lack of capacity into their broadband provider’s network. We are testing this across the U.S. wherever there is significant and persistent network congestion This test is scheduled to end on June 16. We will evaluate rolling it out more broadly.”

Reports about these types of error messages first surfaced on Twitter earlier this month, when users reported that they were told by their Netflix app that Verizon’s network was “crowded.” Verizon called the messages a PR stunt, and went on to send Netflix a cease-and-desist notice, demanding to put a stop to the messages. At the core of the spat is a long-running dispute about peering, with Verizon and other ISPs demanding that Netflix pays them to provide adequate peering capacity. Netflix has begrudgingly signed commercial peering deals with Verizon and Comcast, but at the same time continues to insist that it shouldn’t have to. In Monday’s blog post, Evers wrote:

“Some large US ISPs are erecting toll booths, providing sufficient capacity for services requested by their subscribers to flow through only when those services pay the toll. In this way, ISPs are double-dipping by getting both their subscribers and Internet content providers to pay for access to each other. We believe these ISP tolls are wrong because they raise costs, stifle innovation and harm consumers. ISPs should provide sufficient capacity into their network to provide consumers the broadband experience for which they pay.”






Meet ROK Mobile: It wants to be both your mobile carrier and your digital music service


This post is by Kevin Fitchard from paidContent


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




A new no-contract, prepaid carrier called ROK Mobile is joining the ranks of mobile service providers in the U.S., launching patriotically on July 4th. But instead of just offering big buckets of data on the cheap like many of its virtual carrier peers, ROK has added a twist: It isn’t just a gateway to the internet, it’s a mobile music service. ROK Mobile logoROK is combining the business models of a prepaid mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) like Straight Talk or Republic Wireless with that of streaming music service outfit like Spotify, but from the customer’s perspective it’s all one service. It will offer a single plan at a single price that includes unlimited voice, SMS and data as well as unlimited access to a 20 million-song music catalog. And what will that price be? ROK is keeping that number close to its vest until its official launch next month, but ROK co-founder and chairman Jonathan Kendrick and COO Gabriel René sat down with me recently to talk about their plans. First off, ROK founders aren’t coming from your typical tech or telecom background. ROK’s other co-founder John Paul DeJoria heads up John Paul Mitchell Systems, which creates the Paul Mitchell hair-care line, and he co-founded premium tequila distiller Patrón Spirits in 1989. Kendrick started the ROK Group with DeJoria, which has launched or invested in companies selling everything from mobile TV to mineral water.
John Paul DeJoria (Source: ROK Mobile)

John Paul DeJoria (Source: ROK Mobile)

Kendrick is no telecom novice. The first iteration of ROK developed the prepaid voucher technology for BT Cellnet (now O2) that is now a key component of any prepaid service. But Kendrick acknowledged that ROK’s primary strength is in marketing, which is exactly what an MVNO is about. MVNOs are network-less operators, selling other carriers’ minutes and megabytes but repackaging and branding the service in a way to appeal to different demographics.

Making music the centerpiece

In the case of this MVNO, ROK is clearly targeting the growing audience for mobile music and online streaming. This a group that’s more tech savvy — they all own a decent smartphone — but one that’s increasingly reluctant to pay for music by the album or by the song, Kendrick said. Thus digital entertainment services began offering music by the subscription, Kendrick said, but consumers have become increasingly frustrated with those subscription options: You either get a limited service laced with ads or you pay a monthly fee. Paying to make ads go away is like making a negative purchase, Kendrick said. “It’s like buying a non-alcoholic beer because you’re driving,” he said. “You have to, but it hardly seems worth it.” ROK will appeal to an audience that feels music should be a basic feature of any mobile internet service, Kendrick said, just like SMS or voice.
Jonathan Kendrick (Source: ROK Mobile)

Jonathan Kendrick (Source: ROK Mobile)

There’s definitely already a forerunner for this kind of business model. Regional operator Leap Wireless launched Muve Music, a subscription song download service included in its higher-end mobile plans. It had a hit on its hand, growing to 1 million users in two years, making it the second largest subscription service in the U.S. behind Spotify despite the fact it was available only in Leap’s limited regional footprint. (AT&T bought Leap and is now looking to sell Muve.) Muve, however, is a bolt-on feature to what was essentially a voice-driven prepaid service marketed at low-income consumers and minorities, René said. It is also limited, offering songs by the download only with no streaming or radio features. The fact that Leap was so successful with Muve, despite those limitations, shows there’s pent-up demand for this kind of combination of music and mobile, René said. ROK’s plan is to refine that model, he said, targeting a mainstream audience with more sophisticated technology. Samsung Suede Muve Music Key to that strategy will be ROK’s music app. It built the service in-house with a development team drawn from the entertainment and mobile industries and it aims to combine many of the best elements of other streaming services on the market, René said. As with Spotify, ROK customers will be able search and stream any song, create playlists and collections and download music for listening when no data connection is available. ROK is also using algorithm-based personalization technology like Beats Music and Pandora to offer internet radio services based on specific songs or artists as well as music recommendations. And according to René, ROK has developed some features that will make its service stand out from the rest. It has created “filters,” which customers can apply to playlists and music to further personalize their music streams. René wouldn’t go into too many details ahead of ROK’s launch, but as an example, he said, listeners would be able to filter song lists by their moods. Though it won’t be available at launch, ROK is developing a web app that will let customers access the service from a browser so they’re not tied down to their smartphones. René said ROK also plans to build other music-related apps available exclusively to it customers, though he wouldn’t reveal any specifics.

Now, here’s the weird thing…

ROK’s app won’t be tied to its phones, but its service will. Anyone will be able to download the app from iTunes or Google Play and even launch a 14-day free trial subscription. But to continue to use the service, you need to become a ROK Mobile phone customer. That’s a key component to its marketing strategy. Potential customers can test the service before they make the big decision to switch carriers. But ROK isn’t interested in launching an independent music streaming service. It wants ROK Music tied directly to ROK Mobile, the same way Apple’s core services are tied to the iPhone and Mac. When ROK goes international, it will go international as an MVNO, Kendrick said. Speaking of the iPhone, ROK will sell it along with a complement of mid-range and high-end Android handsets. But it’s also encouraging customers to bring their own phones. ROK is actually working with two mobile operators, one GSM and one CDMA, to make its service available on a much wider variety of devices that consumers already own. Kendrick wouldn’t name those carriers, but we can make an educated guess: T-Mobile and Sprint are the only two U.S. carriers that will allow MVNOs to sell unlimited data plans. And by unlimited, Kendrick said he means unlimited. The plans will have fair-use data policies attached them so if you use your phone as your home broadband connection you’ll get cut off, but customers are free to use data on their phones anyway they like, Kendrick said. To help offset its data costs, ROK is tapping Devicescape’s crowdsourced Wi-Fi network.
Beats headphones are sold along side iPods in an Apple store on May 9, 2014 in New York City. Apple is rumored to be consideringing buying the headphone company for $3.2 billion. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Beats headphones are sold alongside iPods in an Apple store on May 9, 2014 in New York City (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Will it work? ROK seems to have something compelling, but other carriers have gotten wise to the potential of mobile music as well. Sprint and AT&T are partnering with Spotify and Beats respectively, offering discounts and crafting shared music subscriptions that can be used across multiple devices. ROK’s success or failure likely depends on the one factor we don’t yet know: price. The current breed of MVNOs have carved a market for themselves with a simple proposition: cheap smartphone data. If ROK can add a compelling music service on top of an unlimited data plan and still undercut the major carriers on price, then it could have a winner on its hands. That model certainly worked for Muve. This post was updated at 9:15 AM PT to clarify Kendrick’s statements on consumer attitudes to purchasing music. 




Meet ROK Mobile: It wants to be both your mobile carrier and your digital music service


This post is by Kevin Fitchard from paidContent


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




A new no-contract, prepaid carrier called ROK Mobile is joining the ranks of mobile service providers in the U.S., launching patriotically on July 4th. But instead of just offering big buckets of data on the cheap like many of its virtual carrier peers, ROK has added a twist: It isn’t just a gateway to the internet, it’s a mobile music service. ROK Mobile logoROK is combining the business models of a prepaid mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) like Straight Talk or Republic Wireless with that of streaming music service outfit like Spotify, but from the customer’s perspective it’s all one service. It will offer a single plan at a single price that includes unlimited voice, SMS and data as well as unlimited access to a 20 million-song music catalog. And what will that price be? ROK is keeping that number close to its vest until its official launch next month, but ROK co-founder and chairman Jonathan Kendrick and COO Gabriel René sat down with me recently to talk about their plans. First off, ROK founders aren’t coming from your typical tech or telecom background. ROK’s other co-founder John Paul DeJoria heads up John Paul Mitchell Systems, which creates the Paul Mitchell hair-care line, and he co-founded premium tequila distiller Patrón Spirits in 1989. Kendrick started the ROK Group with DeJoria, which has launched or invested in companies selling everything from mobile TV to mineral water.
John Paul DeJoria (Source: ROK Mobile)

John Paul DeJoria (Source: ROK Mobile)

Kendrick is no telecom novice. The first iteration of ROK developed the prepaid voucher technology for BT Cellnet (now O2) that is now a key component of any prepaid service. But Kendrick acknowledged that ROK’s primary strength is in marketing, which is exactly what an MVNO is about. MVNOs are network-less operators, selling other carriers’ minutes and megabytes but repackaging and branding the service in a way to appeal to different demographics.

Making music the centerpiece

In the case of this MVNO, ROK is clearly targeting the growing audience for mobile music and online streaming. This a group that’s more tech savvy — they all own a decent smartphone — but one that’s increasingly reluctant to pay for music by the album or by the song, Kendrick said. Thus digital entertainment services began offering music by the subscription, Kendrick said, but consumers have become increasingly frustrated with those subscription options: You either get a limited service laced with ads or you pay a monthly fee. Paying to make ads go away is like making a negative purchase, Kendrick said. “It’s like buying a non-alcoholic beer because you’re driving,” he said. “You have to, but it hardly seems worth it.” ROK will appeal to an audience that feels music should be a basic feature of any mobile internet service, Kendrick said, just like SMS or voice.
Jonathan Kendrick (Source: ROK Mobile)

Jonathan Kendrick (Source: ROK Mobile)

There’s definitely already a forerunner for this kind of business model. Regional operator Leap Wireless launched Muve Music, a subscription song download service included in its higher-end mobile plans. It had a hit on its hand, growing to 1 million users in two years, making it the second largest subscription service in the U.S. behind Spotify despite the fact it was available only in Leap’s limited regional footprint. (AT&T bought Leap and is now looking to sell Muve.) Muve, however, is a bolt-on feature to what was essentially a voice-driven prepaid service marketed at low-income consumers and minorities, René said. It is also limited, offering songs by the download only with no streaming or radio features. The fact that Leap was so successful with Muve, despite those limitations, shows there’s pent-up demand for this kind of combination of music and mobile, René said. ROK’s plan is to refine that model, he said, targeting a mainstream audience with more sophisticated technology. Samsung Suede Muve Music Key to that strategy will be ROK’s music app. It built the service in-house with a development team drawn from the entertainment and mobile industries and it aims to combine many of the best elements of other streaming services on the market, René said. As with Spotify, ROK customers will be able search and stream any song, create playlists and collections and download music for listening when no data connection is available. ROK is also using algorithm-based personalization technology like Beats Music and Pandora to offer internet radio services based on specific songs or artists as well as music recommendations. And according to René, ROK has developed some features that will make its service stand out from the rest. It has created “filters,” which customers can apply to playlists and music to further personalize their music streams. René wouldn’t go into too many details ahead of ROK’s launch, but as an example, he said, listeners would be able to filter song lists by their moods. Though it won’t be available at launch, ROK is developing a web app that will let customers access the service from a browser so they’re not tied down to their smartphones. René said ROK also plans to build other music-related apps available exclusively to it customers, though he wouldn’t reveal any specifics.

Now, here’s the weird thing…

ROK’s app won’t be tied to its phones, but its service will. Anyone will be able to download the app from iTunes or Google Play and even launch a 14-day free trial subscription. But to continue to use the service, you need to become a ROK Mobile phone customer. That’s a key component to its marketing strategy. Potential customers can test the service before they make the big decision to switch carriers. But ROK isn’t interested in launching an independent music streaming service. It wants ROK Music tied directly to ROK Mobile, the same way Apple’s core services are tied to the iPhone and Mac. When ROK goes international, it will go international as an MVNO, Kendrick said. Speaking of the iPhone, ROK will sell it along with a complement of mid-range and high-end Android handsets. But it’s also encouraging customers to bring their own phones. ROK is actually working with two mobile operators, one GSM and one CDMA, to make its service available on a much wider variety of devices that consumers already own. Kendrick wouldn’t name those carriers, but we can make an educated guess: T-Mobile and Sprint are the only two U.S. carriers that will allow MVNOs to sell unlimited data plans. And by unlimited, Kendrick said he means unlimited. The plans will have fair-use data policies attached them so if you use your phone as your home broadband connection you’ll get cut off, but customers are free to use data on their phones anyway they like, Kendrick said. To help offset its data costs, ROK is tapping Devicescape’s crowdsourced Wi-Fi network.
Beats headphones are sold along side iPods in an Apple store on May 9, 2014 in New York City. Apple is rumored to be consideringing buying the headphone company for $3.2 billion. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Beats headphones are sold alongside iPods in an Apple store on May 9, 2014 in New York City (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Will it work? ROK seems to have something compelling, but other carriers have gotten wise to the potential of mobile music as well. Sprint and AT&T are partnering with Spotify and Beats respectively, offering discounts and crafting shared music subscriptions that can be used across multiple devices. ROK’s success or failure likely depends on the one factor we don’t yet know: price. The current breed of MVNOs have carved a market for themselves with a simple proposition: cheap smartphone data. If ROK can add a compelling music service on top of an unlimited data plan and still undercut the major carriers on price, then it could have a winner on its hands. That model certainly worked for Muve. This post was updated at 9:15 AM PT to clarify Kendrick’s statements on consumer attitudes to purchasing music. 




Meet ROK Mobile: It wants to be both your mobile carrier and your digital music service


This post is by Kevin Fitchard from paidContent


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




A new no-contract, prepaid carrier called ROK Mobile is joining the ranks of mobile service providers in the U.S., launching patriotically on July 4th. But instead of just offering big buckets of data on the cheap like many of its virtual carrier peers, ROK has added a twist: It isn’t just a gateway to the internet, it’s a mobile music service. ROK Mobile logoROK is combining the business models of a prepaid mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) like Straight Talk or Republic Wireless with that of streaming music service outfit like Spotify, but from the customer’s perspective it’s all one service. It will offer a single plan at a single price that includes unlimited voice, SMS and data as well as unlimited access to a 20 million-song music catalog. And what will that price be? ROK is keeping that number close to its vest until its official launch next month, but ROK co-founder and chairman Jonathan Kendrick and COO Gabriel René sat down with me recently to talk about their plans. First off, ROK founders aren’t coming from your typical tech or telecom background. ROK’s other co-founder John Paul DeJoria heads up John Paul Mitchell Systems, which creates the Paul Mitchell hair-care line, and he co-founded premium tequila distiller Patrón Spirits in 1989. Kendrick started the ROK Group with DeJoria, which has launched or invested in companies selling everything from mobile TV to mineral water.
John Paul DeJoria (Source: ROK Mobile)

John Paul DeJoria (Source: ROK Mobile)

Kendrick is no telecom novice. The first iteration of ROK developed the prepaid voucher technology for BT Cellnet (now O2) that is now a key component of any prepaid service. But Kendrick acknowledged that ROK’s primary strength is in marketing, which is exactly what an MVNO is about. MVNOs are network-less operators, selling other carriers’ minutes and megabytes but repackaging and branding the service in a way to appeal to different demographics.

Making music the centerpiece

In the case of this MVNO, ROK is clearly targeting the growing audience for mobile music and online streaming. This a group that’s more tech savvy — they all own a decent smartphone — but one that’s increasingly reluctant to pay for music by the album or by the song, Kendrick said. Thus digital entertainment services began offering music by the subscription, Kendrick said, but consumers have become increasingly frustrated with those subscription options: You either get a limited service laced with ads or you pay a monthly fee. Paying to make ads go away is like making a negative purchase, Kendrick said. “It’s like buying a non-alcoholic beer because you’re driving,” he said. “You have to, but it hardly seems worth it.” ROK will appeal to an audience that feels music should be a basic feature of any mobile internet service, Kendrick said, just like SMS or voice.
Jonathan Kendrick (Source: ROK Mobile)

Jonathan Kendrick (Source: ROK Mobile)

There’s definitely already a forerunner for this kind of business model. Regional operator Leap Wireless launched Muve Music, a subscription song download service included in its higher-end mobile plans. It had a hit on its hand, growing to 1 million users in two years, making it the second largest subscription service in the U.S. behind Spotify despite the fact it was available only in Leap’s limited regional footprint. (AT&T bought Leap and is now looking to sell Muve.) Muve, however, is a bolt-on feature to what was essentially a voice-driven prepaid service marketed at low-income consumers and minorities, René said. It is also limited, offering songs by the download only with no streaming or radio features. The fact that Leap was so successful with Muve, despite those limitations, shows there’s pent-up demand for this kind of combination of music and mobile, René said. ROK’s plan is to refine that model, he said, targeting a mainstream audience with more sophisticated technology. Samsung Suede Muve Music Key to that strategy will be ROK’s music app. It built the service in-house with a development team drawn from the entertainment and mobile industries and it aims to combine many of the best elements of other streaming services on the market, René said. As with Spotify, ROK customers will be able search and stream any song, create playlists and collections and download music for listening when no data connection is available. ROK is also using algorithm-based personalization technology like Beats Music and Pandora to offer internet radio services based on specific songs or artists as well as music recommendations. And according to René, ROK has developed some features that will make its service stand out from the rest. It has created “filters,” which customers can apply to playlists and music to further personalize their music streams. René wouldn’t go into too many details ahead of ROK’s launch, but as an example, he said, listeners would be able to filter song lists by their moods. Though it won’t be available at launch, ROK is developing a web app that will let customers access the service from a browser so they’re not tied down to their smartphones. René said ROK also plans to build other music-related apps available exclusively to it customers, though he wouldn’t reveal any specifics.

Now, here’s the weird thing…

ROK’s app won’t be tied to its phones, but its service will. Anyone will be able to download the app from iTunes or Google Play and even launch a 14-day free trial subscription. But to continue to use the service, you need to become a ROK Mobile phone customer. That’s a key component to its marketing strategy. Potential customers can test the service before they make the big decision to switch carriers. But ROK isn’t interested in launching an independent music streaming service. It wants ROK Music tied directly to ROK Mobile, the same way Apple’s core services are tied to the iPhone and Mac. When ROK goes international, it will go international as an MVNO, Kendrick said. Speaking of the iPhone, ROK will sell it along with a complement of mid-range and high-end Android handsets. But it’s also encouraging customers to bring their own phones. ROK is actually working with two mobile operators, one GSM and one CDMA, to make its service available on a much wider variety of devices that consumers already own. Kendrick wouldn’t name those carriers, but we can make an educated guess: T-Mobile and Sprint are the only two U.S. carriers that will allow MVNOs to sell unlimited data plans. And by unlimited, Kendrick said he means unlimited. The plans will have fair-use data policies attached them so if you use your phone as your home broadband connection you’ll get cut off, but customers are free to use data on their phones anyway they like, Kendrick said. To help offset its data costs, ROK is tapping Devicescape’s crowdsourced Wi-Fi network.
Beats headphones are sold along side iPods in an Apple store on May 9, 2014 in New York City. Apple is rumored to be consideringing buying the headphone company for $3.2 billion. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Beats headphones are sold alongside iPods in an Apple store on May 9, 2014 in New York City (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Will it work? ROK seems to have something compelling, but other carriers have gotten wise to the potential of mobile music as well. Sprint and AT&T are partnering with Spotify and Beats respectively, offering discounts and crafting shared music subscriptions that can be used across multiple devices. ROK’s success or failure likely depends on the one factor we don’t yet know: price. The current breed of MVNOs have carved a market for themselves with a simple proposition: cheap smartphone data. If ROK can add a compelling music service on top of an unlimited data plan and still undercut the major carriers on price, then it could have a winner on its hands. That model certainly worked for Muve. This post was updated at 9:15 AM PT to clarify Kendrick’s statements on consumer attitudes to purchasing music. 




Guess what: Some people are on Amazon’s side in Amazon vs. Hachette


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from paidContent


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




In Amazon and Hachette’s ongoing battle over a new contract, Amazon has received most of the blame — and that’s probably not surprising since it’s the party cutting off pre-orders, messing with search and shipping Hachette books with multiweek delays. Authors, in particular, have come out on Hachette’s side — John Green, J. K. RowlingJames Patterson and Malcolm Gladwell (who shall henceforth be known as Explaino the Clown). So nobody’s on Amazon’s side, right? Stephen Colbert Amazon Hachette Well, actually… To every backlash there is a counter-backlash, and in recent days some pro-Amazon sentiment has trickled out — or if it’s not fully pro-Amazon, exactly, it’s at least … conflicted. So who’s saying what? Here are the general themes:

Hachette is a big company, too

Amazon isn’t the monopoly we have to worry about, Hugh Howey, the author of the bestselling self-published Wool trilogy (which Simon & Schuster publishes in print), wrote at the Huffington Post. “The real monopoly, once you start examining business practices and attitudes, is Big Publishing itself,” he said, citing low digital royalties (17.5 percent on most titles, compared to the 70 percent that KDP authors [though not Amazon Publishing authors] receive) and the recent Random House-Penguin merger as evidence that “not only do the major publishers collude and act as one, they are slowly becoming one as well.”
The new Penguin Random House logo.

The new Penguin Random House logo

From this perspective, Amazon is a savior: “The culture of the Big 5, which was built by gobbling up successful small presses and rolling them into imprints, left the door wide open for Amazon, a company that dared to sell direct to consumers, innovate the way we read, and pay authors a living wage. You know, the first company to actually compete.”

If authors hate Amazon so much, they should pull their books from it

How can someone condemn a company’s evil, monopolistic, culture- and livelihood-destroying ways … while continuing to make millions of dollars working with that company?” author Barry Eisler — who has self-published, traditionally published and published with Amazon Publishing — wrote at the Guardian. It’s a good question. (Digital Book World also suggested that Hachette pull all of its books from Amazon.) In the past, I have asked a couple of big publishers if they’d ever pull their books from Amazon and received responses along the lines of “are you insane?” It would hurt the publishers and readers far more than it would hurt Amazon, these people said. Perhaps more to the point, it’s not actually possible for publishers to remove print books from Amazon: As consultant Mike Shatzkin explained recently:
“Hachette, and all other publishers, sell both directly to retailers and through wholesalers. The wholesalers sell to whomever they want. So Amazon could always get James Patterson books, even at a slightly higher price, by ordering them from Ingram or Baker & Taylor. It is not in the power of any publisher to actually withhold their product from any retailer the way your [milk] producer could from Walmart.”

Ebooks are also complicated: I’ve heard some publishers’ contracts with Amazon prohibit them from pulling their ebook files from the site.

It’s complicated

Stephen Colbert's sticker campaign

Stephen Colbert’s sticker campaign

“Amazon wants to make money. Publishers want to make money. You want things more cheaply,” author Chuck Wendig — who, like Eisner, has published with Amazon — wrote on his blog. And, he said, “it’s vital to resist” good vs. evil categorization:
“I’ve seen what indie authors call Amazon Derangement Syndrome, which is when folks in the traditional system decry anything Amazon does as being some kind of Lovecraftian Evil — any change in the way they do business is just them building a throne out of the bones of innocent children. But I’ve seen the opposite, too — where indie authors cannot abide criticism of Amazon, as if Amazon is like, a pal they hang out with at a bar somewhere. ‘Amazon will never betray me,’ the indie author says, even as Amazon breaks a bar glass and quietly cuts off the indie writer’s fingers because it hungers for fingers.”

The answer, he suggested, is to diversify both book buying and book publishing: “Do not be married to a single ecosystem.” Buy your books from multiple sources, and publish them through multiple outlets. This post was updated Friday evening with additional information about the difficulties of removing ebook files from Amazon.




Guess what: Some people are on Amazon’s side in Amazon vs. Hachette


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from paidContent


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




In Amazon and Hachette’s ongoing battle over a new contract, Amazon has received most of the blame — and that’s probably not surprising since it’s the party cutting off pre-orders, messing with search and shipping Hachette books with multiweek delays. Authors, in particular, have come out on Hachette’s side — John Green, J. K. RowlingJames Patterson and Malcolm Gladwell (who shall henceforth be known as Explaino the Clown). So nobody’s on Amazon’s side, right? Stephen Colbert Amazon Hachette Well, actually… To every backlash there is a counter-backlash, and in recent days some pro-Amazon sentiment has trickled out — or if it’s not fully pro-Amazon, exactly, it’s at least … conflicted. So who’s saying what? Here are the general themes:

Hachette is a big company, too

Amazon isn’t the monopoly we have to worry about, Hugh Howey, the author of the bestselling self-published Wool trilogy (which Simon & Schuster publishes in print), wrote at the Huffington Post. “The real monopoly, once you start examining business practices and attitudes, is Big Publishing itself,” he said, citing low digital royalties (17.5 percent on most titles, compared to the 70 percent that KDP authors [though not Amazon Publishing authors] receive) and the recent Random House-Penguin merger as evidence that “not only do the major publishers collude and act as one, they are slowly becoming one as well.”
The new Penguin Random House logo.

The new Penguin Random House logo

From this perspective, Amazon is a savior: “The culture of the Big 5, which was built by gobbling up successful small presses and rolling them into imprints, left the door wide open for Amazon, a company that dared to sell direct to consumers, innovate the way we read, and pay authors a living wage. You know, the first company to actually compete.”

If authors hate Amazon so much, they should pull their books from it

How can someone condemn a company’s evil, monopolistic, culture- and livelihood-destroying ways … while continuing to make millions of dollars working with that company?” author Barry Eisler — who has self-published, traditionally published and published with Amazon Publishing — wrote at the Guardian. It’s a good question. (Digital Book World also suggested that Hachette pull all of its books from Amazon.) In the past, I have asked a couple of big publishers if they’d ever pull their books from Amazon and received responses along the lines of “are you insane?” It would hurt the publishers and readers far more than it would hurt Amazon, these people said. Perhaps more to the point, it’s not actually possible for publishers to remove print books from Amazon: As consultant Mike Shatzkin explained recently:
“Hachette, and all other publishers, sell both directly to retailers and through wholesalers. The wholesalers sell to whomever they want. So Amazon could always get James Patterson books, even at a slightly higher price, by ordering them from Ingram or Baker & Taylor. It is not in the power of any publisher to actually withhold their product from any retailer the way your [milk] producer could from Walmart.”

Ebooks are also complicated: I’ve heard some publishers’ contracts with Amazon prohibit them from pulling their ebook files from the site.

It’s complicated

Stephen Colbert's sticker campaign

Stephen Colbert’s sticker campaign

“Amazon wants to make money. Publishers want to make money. You want things more cheaply,” author Chuck Wendig — who, like Eisner, has published with Amazon — wrote on his blog. And, he said, “it’s vital to resist” good vs. evil categorization:
“I’ve seen what indie authors call Amazon Derangement Syndrome, which is when folks in the traditional system decry anything Amazon does as being some kind of Lovecraftian Evil — any change in the way they do business is just them building a throne out of the bones of innocent children. But I’ve seen the opposite, too — where indie authors cannot abide criticism of Amazon, as if Amazon is like, a pal they hang out with at a bar somewhere. ‘Amazon will never betray me,’ the indie author says, even as Amazon breaks a bar glass and quietly cuts off the indie writer’s fingers because it hungers for fingers.”

The answer, he suggested, is to diversify both book buying and book publishing: “Do not be married to a single ecosystem.” Buy your books from multiple sources, and publish them through multiple outlets. This post was updated Friday evening with additional information about the difficulties of removing ebook files from Amazon.




Close to half of all U.S. households subscribe to Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu Plus


This post is by Janko Roettgers from paidContent


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Survey says: we are a Netflix nation. Forty-seven percent of all U.S. households subscribe to Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime or a combination of these services, and 49 percent of all households have at least one TV connected to the internet, according to a new study from the Leichtman Research Group about emerging video services. Four years ago, only 24 percent of all households had an internet-connected TV. That combination of connected TVs and internet video subscriptions is increasingly shaping what we are watching. Forty-nine percent of all Netflix subscribers watch online video programming on a connected device every week, compared to only eight percent of viewers who don’t subscribe to Netflix. And 78 percent of all Netflix subscribers watch their videos on a TV. Thirty-four percent of the people quizzed for this study said that they watch online video every day, and 61 percent do so every week. The big and hotly debated question is once again: What effect does all of this have on cable TV? Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has said time and again that his company’s service is complementary to, and not replacing, traditional pay TV — but the Leichtman Research numbers seem to suggest that is is starting to change: In 2010, 88 percent of Netflix subscribers also had pay TV. Fast forward to 2014, and that number is down to 80 percent. At the same time, the number of cord cutters who also subscribe to Netflix is rising, from 16 percent in 2010 to 48 percent in 2014. Leichtman’s numbers are echoed by a recent Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) study about the market for U.S. television services. 45 percent of all U.S. TV households watch internet content on their TVs, according to that study. The use of internet TV programming steeply increased from 28 percent in 2013. Only five million U.S. TV households rely exclusively on internet TV, according to the CEA, but 10 percent of all TV households said that they’re likely to cancel that service in the next 10 months. Altogether, a total of 17 million TV households already don’t subscribe to traditional pay TV, but instead rely on antennas, the internet or a combination of both for TV programming.