Paramount CTO Likens Present State of AI to Early Days of Internet

LAS VEGAS — Artificial intelligence (AI) is not a product or a service but, rather, a technology that is part of a larger platform, Streaming Summit chair Dan Rayburn noted April 14 during his welcome remarks at NAB Show 2024 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

“AI is important,” he said, “However, what’s important is seeing actual practical use cases today. For any of the vendors running around the show floor saying they’re selling AI, they’re wrong. You can’t buy AI. You can buy a platform that has AI functionality in it.”

The topic of AI, as it pertains to entertainment, Hollywood and streaming, was discussed further in a “fireside chat” with Phil Wiser, EV, CTO and head of multiplatform operations at Paramount Global.

“People get a little confused about whether this is hype or whether this is reality, so let me pull back a little bit,” Wiser said. “Let’s look at this the way we always look at technology trends, which is when is it going to impact our business, when is it going to impact my company, and how much hype versus reality is there in the market.

“We did this for blockchain, we did this for NFT a couple of years ago, and that clearly doesn’t have utility other than for people who still believe in buying numbers.”

But AI is different, Wiser maintains. He said he’s been following AI his entire career, from his early days working in a neurosystems lab, “focused on encoding and understanding how the brain processes media … and watching the progression over that time frame, and then now, looking at the level of investment, this is very, very real. When I look at other similar technology trends, I look back to the internet, and the reality is, 30 years ago, when Netscape launched, that Web 1.0 is kind of where we’re at right now. So all the companies out there saying they’re AI-based, 90% of them will be gone. But after that there’s this rationalization of the market, and if you look out the 10-year window, it’s going to fundamentally change the way we operate.”

Wiser said AI is currently studied mostly for how it will be used in production, “and that’s the area where people get very concerned.”

But he sees AI as more of “a very interesting tool” rather than a substitute, and ultimate replacement, for human creativity. AI, for example, could be used for text-based functions such as script analysis, helping executives weed through the thousands of scripts they receive, instead of actually writing a script.

“We’ve done experiments with that, with AI writing the next episode of this show versus with what we can do with our writing team, and it’s very boring,” Wiser said. “So I think you have to be very sensible about what it can create from scratch.”

Wiser sees a bigger potential for AI in marketing, including image creation. “Marketing is a huge opportunity,” he said. “A media company’s two big investments are content and marketing. And marketing is based on derivative works, which AI is really good at — ‘take this image and turn it into a video’ or ‘take this video and cut it down to a section that’s 30 seconds and has these characteristics.'”

Wiser notes that AI already is being used to personalize recommendations, “based on what it knows about you.”

Asked whether the personalization capabilities of AI could be stretched to the point where the technology could be used to create custom episodes of series, based what the viewer likes and doesn’t like, Wiser said he doubts it will ever get to that point. 

Down the road, Wiser said, he could see AI and AR (augmented reality) work together, noting that  AR is becoming increasingly popular.

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“It’s now showing up on many screens,” he said. “If you look at what we did with the Super Bowl and Nickelodeon, we went in and replaced the sportscasters with SpongeBob and other characters, and we just had a lot of things going on in the stadium.

“I think that’s going to continue to advance, and when you add that with AI and what AI can do to naturally put other scenes on top of it — we’ve seen what it can do with deep fakes, although there are a lot of concerns with that in this election year — I think they’re going to merge a little bit and AR and AI will create new experiences.”

Survey: Almost 50% of Streamers Like AI-Curated Content Recommendations

Artificial Intelligence, or AI-driven content, may have been a motivating force in the 2023 Hollywood labor strikes, but the technology is slowly being embraced by streaming video subscribers.

A new study from founded that a almost 50% of respondents approve of their streaming services’ AI-curated content recommendations. The results, based on a Feb. 27 online survey of 1,117 adults, found that only 8% said they were dissatisfied with the AI suggestions, and 19% were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied.

AI content recommendations were most appreciated by subscribers of online TV services, including 44.4% using Fubo, Sling TV (42.5%), DirecTV Stream (40%) and Philo (39.5%).

Among top subscription streaming VOD platforms, AI-curated content recommendations remain less popular. Only 16% of Hulu subs said they are likely to be “very satisfied” with their recommended content. The percentage was only slightly better for Netflix, Prime Video, and Disney+,  with 17% of respondents claiming satisfaction with their AI content recommendations.

“Although some may not realize it, AI has already snuck into our daily streaming lives,” wrote Sarah Osman-Mikesell, author of the report.

Separately, a majority of respondents (55%) said they would not like to watch AI-generated movies and TV shows, while less than 20% believed AI content would be “somewhat-to-much-better” than human-created content.

Again, Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video subscribers were the least likely to watch watch AI-generated movies or TV shows. Just 12% of respondents said they would be “very likely” to watch AI content.

Almost 20% of respondents believe AI content would be better than human-generated movies and TV shows. Another 24% believe AI content will be similar in quality to human-generated content, while 10% of respondents said they were indifferent to AI content.

“Most people (47%) feel the resulting shows or movies will be worse than human-created content,” read the report.

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Documentary ‘Nova: A.I. Revolution’ Debuts on PBS March 27

The “Nova” program “A.I. Revolution” will debut on PBS, and the PBS app March 27.

The documentary asks the question: Can we harness the power of artificial intelligence to solve the world’s most challenging problems without creating an uncontrollable force that ultimately destroys us? ChatGPT and other new A.I. tools can now answer complex questions, write essays, and generate realistic-looking images in a matter of seconds. They can even pass a lawyer’s bar exam. Should we celebrate? Or worry? Or both? Correspondent Miles O’Brien investigates how researchers are trying to transform the world using A.I., hunting for big solutions in fields from medicine to climate change.

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“There’s been a lot of media coverage of people’s fears of A.I. and the idea that it could one day turn against us,” Nova co-executive producer Julia Cort said in a statement. “At the same time, many scientists we’ve talked to are excited and optimistic, convinced that A.I. will help us build a substantially better, healthier future. We hope this film will provide audiences with a deeper understanding of the technology, so they can make informed decisions about the best path forward.”

“The conversation around A.I. in our world is changing rapidly every day,” O’Brien said in a statement. “‘A.I. Revolution’ aims to show people what this new technology is capable of, as well as some of the concerns that emerge when you are creating something that has the power to perceive things far beyond the scope of our own understanding of the world.”

The program dives into how scientists have modeled A.I. to mimic the human brain in so-called neural networks on powerful supercomputers. The film highlights the development of AlphaGo, software created to play the Chinese board game, Go — a notoriously complex strategy game. Tasked with beating reigning champion Lee Sedol, A.I. researcher Mustafa Suleyman details the strategies that the team at DeepMind employed to coach AlphaGo to victory — taking inspiration from the way human brains work. Researchers trained AlphaGo with a large data set of expert Go games so that it could learn how the game is played. Then, the software played against itself millions of times. Not only did AlphaGo beat Sedol, but the software made a completely novel move — so creative that some initially believed it to be a mistake.

The power of A.I. to recognize complex patterns and make predictions has already grown beyond the capacity of the human brain in several key areas, opening up major opportunities in many fields, including medicine. Using pattern recognition software similar to AlphaGo along with deep learning models, theoretical chemist Petrina Kamya and her team at biotech startup Insilico Medicine are developing new drugs by predicting protein structures significantly faster than human researchers were previously able to. Additionally, the film follows Miles — whose left arm was amputated after an accident a decade ago — as he visits a bioengineering company called CoApt. The company has developed a machine learning algorithm that can interpret faint electromyographic (EMG) signals from amputees to allow them more control of myoelectric limbs. CEO Blair Lock attached Miles to a virtual prosthetic depicted on a screen, in order to begin the process of training the AI model which will be in his new arm.

Beyond drug discovery and prosthetics, the film explores several other ways that A.I. is transforming science. Computer scientist Regina Barzilay at Massachusetts General Hospital has trained a neural network to detect breast cancer from mammograms years before they are detectable by human eyes with over 85% accuracy. A.I. is also being used to help detect lung cancer. Lives are even being saved from natural disasters, as A.I. is now being deployed in California to detect wildfires early before they rage out of control. 

In addition to these hopeful stories, “A.I. Revolution” also presents some of the threats that A.I. poses to our society. Miles speaks with Hany Farid, a professor of computer science at U.C. Berkeley, on the rise of A.I.-generated deep fake videos featuring false impersonations of any individual. To demonstrate, Hany creates two deep fake videos of Miles — one showing an exact replica of Miles speaking words that the real Miles never spoke, and another placing Miles’s face on “The Terminator” from the blockbuster science-fiction franchise. Hany shares his concern that A.I. generated photos and videos will lead people to distrust the world around them.

While deep fakes are already starting to fool people, some fear that A.I. could cause far greater harm. Yoshua Bengio, a pioneer of A.I., deep learning, and neural networks, says that he has now shifted his research to focus solely on the threat A.I. poses to humankind. He, along with many other experts, signed a public statement saying that mitigating the risk of extinction from A.I. should be a global priority.

“This is the perfect time for Nova to lift the veil on A.I. and provide a clear picture of what this technology is, how it works, what it can — and cannot — do, and explore the key potential risks and benefits,” Nova co-executive producer Chris Schmidt said in a statement. “‘A.I. Revolution’ is the newest installment in a story Nova has been following over the last fifty years, at a moment where researchers are at a crossroads — confronting thorny issues around regulation and ethics.” 

Experts in the program include Inflection AI CEO Mustafa Suleyman, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) director Daniela Rus, MIT CSAIL computer science professor Manolis Kellis, CoApt CEO Blair Lock, MIT CSAIL professor for AI and health Regina Barzilay, MIT CSAIL researcher Alexander Amini, head of AI Platforms and president of Insilico Medicine Canada Petrina Kamya, U.C. Berkeley professor of computer science Hany Farid, Cal Fire’s staff chief for fire intelligence Phillip SeLegueg, and, founder, and scientific director of the Mila-Quebec AI Institute Yoshua Bengio.

Deluxe Strikes Partnership with AI/Machine Learning Company AppTek

Deluxe on March 12 announced it has entered into a strategic partnership with Applications Technology LLC, a company in the artificial intelligence/machine learning space.

Deluxe has acquired a non-controlling interest in AppTek and becomes the exclusive reseller of AppTek products and services to the global media and entertainment industry.

AppTek’s suite of products allows Deluxe to offer studios and other content distributors diverse, integrated AI solutions to meet their content needs. 

“Innovative technology has always been core to the products and services that Deluxe offers,” said Chris Reynolds, EVP and GM of localization and fulfillment at Deluxe. “We’ve been working closely with AppTek for several years and have been impressed by their technology and breadth of experience.”

Reynolds said AppTek’s technologies “can provide access to content that hasn’t previously been localized, while also addressing workflow challenges for translators and other localization and creative professionals to scale more efficiently.”

“Deluxe is built upon human creativity as the cornerstone of effective storytelling and believes the use of AI can be sensibly applied to empower content translators, voice artists, and other localization professionals to further open up new markets and diverse content types to broader regions around the world,” he said.

Through this partnership, Deluxe can also offer customers and media professionals AI professional services to develop custom high-performance AI tools and models that are exclusive to them. Custom solutions can be directly integrated into a customer’s technical environment or consumed through Deluxe’s platforms. 

Chris Reynolds

For example, a live news channel may want custom ASR models built that are trained on their newscasters’ voices to improve ASR accuracy for live transmission. They may also want to offer live translation via a custom MT model that is trained on their past broadcasts so that it is fine tuned for their use. In that example, they may wish to host the ASR and MT models and infrastructure in their own environment, or they may choose to call a Deluxe API that is set up with their models for their exclusive use.

“AppTek has long believed in pushing the boundaries of artificial intelligence and its real-world applications, and Deluxe brings the same passion in content transformation and accessibility,” said AppTek CEO Mudar Yaghi. “We are beyond excited to partner with a media services company that has such a rich legacy in the media and entertainment industry.”

Since being acquired by Platinum Equity acquired the business in 2020, Deluxe has made nine acquisitions and strategic partnerships. The company helps studios and film distributors prep their content for digital distribution. Founded in 1915 as a film processing lab, Deluxe soon established itself in the home entertainment business as one of the biggest DVD replicators during that format’s heyday in the early 2000s. Today, Deluxe is known as one of the only end-to-end service providers in the media and entertainment space, servicing theatrical content all the way to streaming.

Cineverse Announces AI-Powered Movie Search Platform cineSearch

Entertainment and streaming company Cineverse Feb. 14 announced the forthcoming launch of cineSearch, an AI-powered movie search platform

According to the company, its goal is to revolutionize the search and discovery experience to answer audiences’ most pressing question: “What do you want to watch?”

The public beta of cineSearch will be available within the Cineverse streaming platform in Spring 2024 (users can join the waitlist for the public beta starting today at  It will then be made more widely available in partnership with OEM and third-party streaming platform partners in the near future.

The cineSearch service was developed by Cineverse using Google Cloud’s Vertex AI Search. The underlying core cineSearch technology was built as an adaptive layer on top of the PaLM 2 Large Language Model (LLM) with the intent to craft a chatbot specifically tuned for feature film and television entertainment.

As part of the new service, Cineverse is introducing a new “artificial intelligence-based video advisor” that will be known as “Ava.”

According to the company, the launch of the AI-powered search feature will utilize the first proprietary movie industry-specific AI model tuned with an extensive set of metadata — both standard metadata as well as computer vision-based enriched, contextual metadata (such as weather or setting) — across more than 100,000 Hollywood movies and television shows.

“CineSearch offers a single unified search engine with support for dozens of search dimensions such as theme, tone, mood, setting, music score, plot, micro-genre, and many more traits for films available across all streaming services,” according to a press release.

The cineSearch service will also utilize scene-specific metadata and a viewer’s previous viewing history as well as their location, the current date, the local weather conditions, and other factors to recommend titles, according to Cineverse. Viewers will be able to conduct searches across a plethora of characteristics at the film and scene level. In addition, if a particular movie is not available within Cineverse’s extensive catalog, Ava will recommend films available elsewhere — and provide direct links to access films available across other streaming services.

“Effective search and discovery is currently the most pressing problem for users of streaming services today,” Tony Huidor, chief technology offficer and chief operating officer of Cineverse, said in a statement. “We first developed cineSearch as an answer to our own problem. Using Google Cloud’s Vertex AI platform, we now have the ability to expand this feature well beyond our initial expectations. We feel this is a great example of leveraging the power of AI to not only create better user experiences, but to also help aid in the discovery of great films that fans may not have otherwise found.”  

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“Generative AI has the potential to fundamentally transform the media industry, fueling a new era of cloud-enabled capabilities that can significantly improve the consumer experience,” Anil Jain, global managing director of strategic consumer industries at Google Cloud, said in a statement. “By leveraging Google Cloud’s leading gen AI capabilities, cineSearch can further personalize and streamline the user experience, providing viewers a vastly improved way to discover new content, with relevant recommendations  for movies and television shows at their fingertips.”

CES 2024 Highlights AI TV Advancements

LAS VEGAS — CES 2024 ended its four-day run here on Jan. 12 with a total count of 135,000 attendees and more than 4,300 exhibitors, up 17% and 34%, respectively, from the 2023 show.

The exhibitor count is close to the pre-pandemic high of 4,400 at CES 2020, while attendance is still significantly short of the more than 170,000 who attended the show four years ago. But Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, which produces the annual show, is quite pleased with the numbers.

“The resurgence of CES proves that face-to-face conversations and meetings are a necessity for the technology industry,” Shapiro said. “For more than 20 years, I’ve said that every company must become a tech company, and the diversity of exhibitors at CES 2024 proves it. The CES footprint and conference programming span the entire tech ecosystem.”

See our EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS from CES 2024 here!

Shapiro noted that the show’s footprint of more than 2.5 million net square feet of exhibit space was 15% bigger than CES 2023, while more than 40% of the attendees came from outside the United States, representing 150 countries, regions and territories.

The big buzz at the show was artificial intelligence, which was embraced by legacy consumer electronics exhibitors such as Hisense, LG, Samsung, TCL, Sony, and Panasonic to make their smart TVs even smarter.

Hisense, the Chinese CE giant that in the first half of 2023 became the world’s second-biggest television manufacturer, got a jump on its competitors with a press conference the day before the show opened highlighting its new line of ULED and ULED X TVs. The star attraction: the 110UX, which in addition to its 110-inch screen size is five times brighter than the average high-end set and incorporates AI technology to dynamically adjust contrast and depth depending on the scene. The company’s Hi-View Engine PRO chipset — featured exclusively in the U7 and U8 series — leverages deep learning and innovative technologies to create lifelike skin tones, refine HDR detail, and significantly improve image detail.”

Not to be outdone, LG Electronics unveiled its new line of QNED TVs, powered by the α8 AI Processor. AI Picture Pro offers picture quality based on deep learning, according to the company. The feature distinguishes faces, objects, and backgrounds within a scene, enriching the texture and fine details. Dynamic Tone Mapping Pro splits the picture into blocks and analyzes each in real-time to detect the darkest and brightest areas, elevating the details with precise HDR optimization to deliver three-dimensional image quality, according to LG. With Personalized Picture Wizard, users can customize the image quality by simply selecting a few preferred images from a given selection that are intelligently set up through deep learning.

Samsung Electronics in a press conference unveiled its “AI for All” vision, which holds that AI technology will enable people to experience their devices more intuitively and conveniently than ever before. The new Samsung Neo QLED 8Ks feature a built-in AI processor that can automatically upscale low-resolution content to 8K quality. The AI Motion Enhancer Pro automatically detects the type of sport being watched and uses deep learning to help viewers visually track fast-moving objects likes baseballs and footballs with crystal clarity. Samsung Neo QLED 8Ks also feature Active Voice Amplifier Pro, which uses AI to analyze voice and background noise and optimize the TV listening experience.

On the content side, Netflix returned to the CES show floor for the first time in six years with a glitzy mirrored booth where guests were being given an immersive preview of the sci-fi drama series “3 Body Problem,” which starts streaming on March 21. Guests donned a shiny silver gaming headset — modeled after the one in the series — and were taken on a wild cinematic ride rich with special effects, as well as a preview of the new full-length trailer.

“3 Body Problem” is an ambitious epic from “Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss, along with Alexander Woo, that was adapted from Chinese author Liu Cixin’s Hugo Award-winning book trilogy. The eight-episode series is set in a fictional past, present and future in which Earth encounters an alien civilization from a nearby system of three stars that orbit one another, a nod to the three-body problem in orbital mechanics.

Evolving with the Home Entertainment Business

Walking the show floor at CES never gets old.

Every year, there is a new array of technological marvels on display as well as the proverbial “shiny new toy” that captivates everyone’s attention — and then either fades away (3D), has its moment in the sun (VHS, DVD, Blu-ray Disc), or becomes part of everyday life (flat-screen TVs, smart everything).

This year, the buzz is about artificial intelligence, or AI, in which machines essentially “learn” to mimic the human mind, and the mind’s reasoning process, in solving problems and making decisions and even predictions. This one’s going to stick and integrate itself into virtually every aspect of our lives. Some predict AI will one day find a cure for cancer.

On the home entertainment front, CE manufacturers such as Hisense are enabling AI into their TVs to recognize scene content and adjust clarity, brightness and color tone accordingly.  It takes the term “smart TV” to a whole new level.

The one constant at CES over all these years has been change. There’s always something new, something different, something unusual. And while a good percentage of the products shown, or talked about, at CES never make it to market, it’s good to float these ideas and have these conversations. Innovation will never go out of style.

As we begin our seventh year as Media Play News, we’re also changing, innovating and evolving with the home entertainment business, a broad term that encompasses both streaming and the traditional transactional model.

Believing launch and release dates are every bit as important as news about when deals are signed, we are now covering announcements about new streaming and FAST channels as comprehensively as we’ve been covering new transactional digital and disc releases. We want you to know exactly when you can start streaming that hot new Netflix series everyone’s talking about, or when that Warner Bros. Pictures theatrical blockbuster is making its debut on Max.

Last November, we published our second annual “40 Most Important People in Streaming” feature, a subjective listing of the executives we believe are not just winning at streaming, but leading it to the next level.

In our most recent “Women in Home Entertainment” feature, published in October, we shone the editorial spotlight not just on leaders from the studios and major streamers,  but also tech giants such as Microsoft and Google, as well as innovative companies such as Premiere Digital, Whip Media, Vizio and others.

We have expanded our market research section to include all the different ways consumers watch movies or shows on demand.  We are by no means giving up our legacy disc sales and rental charts — we believe physical media remains a very important part of the business. But as the only entertainment publication to focus exclusively on the distribution of content to the home, as well as the nuts and bolts of content sales and licensing, we need to be as inclusive as we can, treating all channels with the appropriate level of diligence and respect.

And in recognition of the fact that a growing number of our readers  want to read our news in all formats 24/7, we are ramping up our social media activity with the hiring of a new social media marketing director, who is charged with making sure all our news is constantly appearing on all major platforms, including Instagram and TikTok, with the language and visuals that the next generation expects.

We haven’t yet turned to AI to write news stories or reviews — we’re still relying on a talented team of writers, editors and journalists who know this business inside and out.

But I have brought on a virtual assistant to help me out with phone calls, which I still make from time to time.

You might have heard of her: They call her “Siri.”

Vintage AI Comedy ‘Computer Chess’ Coming to Blu-ray Disc Nov. 14 by Kino Lorber

Kino Lorber on Nov. 14 will release a 10th anniversary Blu-ray Disc of the AI comedy Computer Chess, a 2013 independent film written and directed by Andrew Bujalski that premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize.

Computer Chess is set during a weekend tournament for chess software programmers in the early 1980s. Shot in black-and-white with analog video cameras, the film was cast with nonprofessional actors who were knowledgeable in computer technology. The film transports viewers to a time when the contest between technology and the human spirit was in its early stages, and artificial intelligence was still the stuff of science-fiction novels and movies rather than a practical reality.

Bonus features on the Blu-ray Disc release include archival interviews with Bujalski, Wiley Wiggins and Alex Lipschultz; a 2019 Q&A with the Austin Film Society, audio commentary by Deep Blue programmer Murray Campbell, and the original crowdfunding appeal video. Also included are the Sundance Film Festival promo and a tutorial for the 1969 Sony  AVC-3260 video camera.

AI Hailed as Discovery Solution

At last month’s OTT.X Summit, speakers bemoaned the clunky discovery mechanisms for the vast and growing volume of streaming content.

Philippe Guelton, chief revenue officer of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, called the current FAST (free ad-supported streaming TV) system “a big mess.”

“I think we need to give the user a better experience than scrolling up and down,” he said.

He called for discovery to “be more like TikTok.”

Erick Opeka, president and chief strategy officer at Cineverse, agreed that the way TikTok adapts, learns and feeds personalized content is a good model — and that by “leveraging AI” (artificial intelligence) streaming could do the same.

“The current discovery mechanisms are quite antiquated,” he said. “All of the social video platforms are feed-based mechanisms that adapt to your preferences.”

Michele Edelman, head of growth at Premiere Digital, said in the future better discovery will be “dependent on AI search.”

“You’re going to have something called a watch list and everything will be fed to you,” she said.

“You won’t go to the channel; the channel will come to you,” said OTTera’s Larry Schwartz of the  discovery future.

Strangely, while much of striking Hollywood is bemoaning the future use of AI in making content, streaming executives are hailing its promise for finding it.

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Study: Quarter of Americans Don’t Like Idea of AI-Written Film, TV Content

A quarter of Americans in a new survey reported they do not like the idea of TV show and/or movie scripts being written by generative AI — a point of contention between the streamers/studios and the striking writers.

Meanwhile, 30% were unsure about whether they would still watch, according to the survey conducted by free global streaming media platform Plex.

Other findings include:

  • 13% would still consider watching TV shows and/or movie written by AI;
  • 12% would not watch TV and/or movies written by AI;
  • 30% are indifferent towards using AI when writing TV show and/or movie scripts; and
  • 49% agree that generative AI will make it easier to search and find TV, movies and music across streaming services.


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The survey was conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Plex May 15-21, 2023, with a panel of 2,000 Americans who subscribe to a streaming service.