IMDb Bows ‘What to Watch’ Streaming App

Amazon-owned IMDb May 5 announced the launch of a free IMDb What to Watch app for the ecommerce behemoth’s Fire TV streaming device.

The app offers a series of interactive games to help families, friends, or those playing individually discover and decide what to stream. Available to Fire TV devices in the U.S., users receive customized movie and TV series recommendations across multiple streaming services tailored to their current moods and interests.

“Hundreds of millions of customers rely on IMDb when deciding what and where to watch,” Nikki Santoro, IMDb chief operating officer, said in a statement. “The app makes it easy, fun, and fast for customers to discover trending titles and hidden gems, find the perfect movie or TV series to fit any mood, and get the most out of their streaming services on Fire TV.”

Using proprietary and authoritative IMDb data, the app suggests a selection of movie and/or series picks with key details for each title, including genre, trailer, and plot summary. For those looking for input from other entertainment fans, recommended titles also display IMDb user ratings for movies and TV shows, which help customers make informed viewing decisions.

By enabling the “Your Services” feature, users can customize the app settings to prioritize titles available from their preferred streaming services. Every pick also displays the runtime, so viewers can plan their couch time accordingly. Once a viewing decision has been made, customers will be shown where they can stream the title.

The following games are available to play now on the app via the Fire TV Alexa voice remote:

  • Quick Draw: For players who enjoy the element of chance, virtual “playing cards” shuffle through movie and series options, revealing a trio of picks in seconds. Players can click “deal cards” for a fresh set of picks.
  • Watch Challenge: Players are invited to watch, rate, and collect digital stamps as they view curated IMDb lists of titles, including the IMDb Top 250 movies list, award-winning titles, and popular franchises. Themed lists will be updated frequently.
  • This or That: Players will answer a series of simple “This or That?” questions to find the perfect movie or TV series to suit their mood, whether they are seeking an epic romance, a G-rated family title, a supernatural horror film, or a slapstick comedy. Players can refresh choices, including desired viewing time, before their picks are revealed.

 

IMDb will continue to launch new games on the app, including “Build-a-Cast” and “Time Machine.”

The app is available now to download for free from the Fire TV Appstore. Users who sign into their IMDb accounts on the app will receive updates on new features and games, can sync their personal ratings across IMDb and the app.

Comcast-Owned Sky Bows Smart ‘Glass’ TV That Doesn’t Require Satellite Hookup

Taking a page from the Roku playbook, Comcast-owned subsidiary Sky Oct. 7 announced the launch of a branded television that connects with streaming apps without the requirement of its namesake satellite dish.

Called “Sky Glass,” the new streaming TV will be available to buy in the U.K. Oct. 18 with monthly subscriptions starting at £13 (plus the cost of the TV), and will launch in Sky’s other European markets in 2022. The Sky Glass HDTVs come in 43-inch, 55-inch and 65-inch screen sizes. A separate “Sky Puck” enables users to access Sky Glass via third-party devices.

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The TVs feature Ultra HD and Quantum Dot technology, 360-degree Dolby Atmos sound with built-in speakers and sub-woofer. Users can talk to their TV to find what to watch. Sky claims the units to be the world’s first TV to be certified as a “CarbonNeutral” product.

“Sky Glass is the streaming TV with Sky inside, providing the total integration of hardware, software and content,” CEO Dana Strong said in a statement. “Built on over 30 years of understanding what our customers want, this is a TV that only Sky could make. We believe this is the smartest TV available, and that customers will love it.”

Strong said the streaming revolution has brought a “whole new set of challenges” underscored by increased cord cutting by traditional pay-TV subscribers.

“Most people use multiple apps to find content but these experiences can feel fragmented and we end up spending more time searching for content than sitting back and enjoying it. In our already complex lives, we need things to be simple and this will dramatically simplify experiences and transform the role of TV in the home.”

The technology mirrors what Roku did in 2014 when it launched a line of Chinese-made TVs that don’t require a separate streaming device or cable, satellite connection.

Google Play Store Looking to Stop Third-Party Apps From Avoiding Revenue-Sharing

The days of free co-existence among tech platforms and third-party media apps is coming to an end. Google is telling apps holders on its Google Play Store it would no longer allow them to direct subscribers to their own websites to avoid paying a 30% revenue-sharing agreement for in-app purchases.

Writing in a Sept. 28 blog post, Sameer Samat, VP of product management for Google, said Google Play’s billing system provides an efficient means for Android users to transact using their local, preferred method of payment. He said the platform (specifically Google Play Store) has become a trusted source for the safe, secure and seamless interaction with third-party apps, including Netflix and Spotify.

While only 3% of Google Play Store apps involve fiscal transactions, Samat said some apps automatically re-direct users to their websites rather that going through Google’s paywall — a move that avoids the app holder from paying Google any share in revenue.

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“We only collect a service fee if the developer charges users to download their app or they sell in-app digital items, and we think that is fair,” he wrote. “Not only does this approach allow us to continuously reinvest in the platform, this business model aligns our success directly with the success of developers.”

Google is giving app developers until Sept. 30, 2021, to integrate their billing with the Android platform.

“We will require Google’s apps that do not already use Google Play’s billing system to make the necessary updates as well,” Samat wrote.

Fox News Digital Eyes Double-Digit Viewing Increase in April

Fox News Digital said it finished the month of April with double-digit viewership increases, including multiplatform views (up 26% from April 2019), multiplatform minutes (19%) and multiplatform unique visitors (20%).

Fox attributed the increase to viewer interest in the coronavirus pandemic.

The network, citing ComScore data, also reported new highs in multiplatform unique visitors (121.5 million), total multiplatform views (1.9 billion) and total multiplatform minutes (4.5 billion minutes). This April marked the second-highest month of multiplatform unique visitors, coming only behind March 2020, as well as notched the network’s fifth consecutive month with over 100 million multiplatform unique visitors.

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Fox said its branded mobile news app topped CNN’s app in viewers with 8.7 million unique visitors compared to 7.3 million for CNN.

Multi-Platform Total Minutes
Fox News Digital – 4.5 billion (up 19%)
CNN.com – 5.4 billion (up 90%)

Multi-Platform Total Views
Fox News Digital – 1.97 billion (up 26%)
CNN.com – 2.93 billion (up 100%)

Multi-Platform Unique Visitors
FOX News Digital – 121.5 million (up 20%)
CNN.com – 165 million (up 33%)

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TiVo Adds Amazon Prime Video App

TiVo Dec. 3 launched the Prime Video app on select TiVo devices to its pay-TV operator customers nationwide, making Amazon Originals, movies and TV shows easier to find.

Pay-TV subscribers with an Amazon Prime membership can stream content via the Prime Video app on select TiVo devices. With the TiVo Voice Remote, users can find what they are looking for by simply saying the name of the show, movie, or an actor’s name into the remote.

For example, saying “Find the show with John Krasinski” will display “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” where the viewer can select from a list of episodes. Customers can also use a TiVo feature that gathers every episode of a series available from anywhere, to bookmark episodes for later viewing.

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“Adding the Prime Video app means fueling fandom for great content that reaches millions of households,” TiVo CEO Dave Shull said in a statement.

The Prime Video app on TiVo includes enhanced experiences, such as select 4K Ultra HD and High Dynamic Range (HDR) content and a behind the scenes look at movies and TV shows with X-Ray, powered by IMDb.

“Providing Prime members with great content and offering them an excellent viewing experience has always been our priority,” said Andrew Bennett, director of worldwide business development for Amazon Prime Video. “By making the Prime Video app available for select TiVo pay-TV operator customers, we can further expand the number of people that can enjoy Prime Video’s popular movies, hit TV shows and exclusive Amazon Original series as part of a seamless viewing experience.”

Google Bows $4.99 ‘Play Pass’ Video Game Platform

Google Sept. 23 announced the launch of “Play Pass,” a $4.99 monthly service offering access to more than 350 apps and video games. All games are free of ads and upfront payments.

Subscriptions include a 10-day free trial. For a limited time (12 months), Play Pass costs $1.99/month, then $4.99/month thereafter.

Play Pass apps and games can still be found on the Play Store. All apps and games found on the Play Pass homepage or throughout the Play Store with the ticket are completely unlocked with your subscription.

“Play Pass helps encourage people to try new experiences they would not have otherwise,” Maria Sayans, CEO of Ustwo, said in a statement.

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Netflix Stock Up as App Downloads Surge

Shares of Netflix are up 3% Sept. 9 in midday trading following a Wall Street report outlining a surge in downloads of the SVOD behemoth’s app.

Apps are indicative of video streaming outside the traditional in-home television on portable devices such as cell phones, tablets and laptops.

Data from Bank of America Merrill Lynch found that app downloads in the current third quarter (ending Sept. 30) are up 18% from the previous-year period and 30% from Q2 (ended June 30).

Domestic app growth is up 6% year-over-year and 13% from Q2, while Netflix’s global app downloads are up 21% from last year and 34% from Q2.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch attributed the third season bow of original series “Stranger Things” in June for the stock bump.

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Consumer SVOD Mobile App Spending Rose 77% in 2017

Consumer spending on the top 10 mobile apps for subscription video-on-demand services via the App Store and Google Play rose 77% in 2017 to about $781 million compared to 2016, according to new data from Sensor Tower. Revenue grew almost 88% just in the fourth quarter to $242 million.

As expected, Netflix topped all SVOD apps, generating $290 million in revenue in 2017, up 113% from 2016. Notably, apps from YouTube, Starz and CBS All Access grew even more at 154%, 147% and 128%, respectively.

The data underscores the brand strength of Netflix generating revenue from alternative sources. The SVOD pioneer generated total 2017 revenue of $11.67 billion, including $3.28 billion in Q4.

The report suggests programing plays a big part in app use. HBO Now saw revenue peak to $67.3 million in Q3 when season seven of “Game of Thrones” aired. Revenue declined 21% in Q4 to $53.2 million.

CBS touted Star Trek reboot “Star Trek: Discovery” as a revenue driver. And it didn’t disappoint. Spending increased 105% in Q3 to $4.1 million compared to $2 million in the previous-year period. Revenue grew 33% to $5.4 million into Q4.