Roku Dominates ‘March Madness’ Streaming

With the 2021 NCAA College Basketball National Championship Tournament, a.k.a. March Madness, readying for the Sweet 16 elimination rounds, sports fans are increasingly streaming games via standalone media devices and connected televisions. The opening round set new records with more than a billion minutes streamed across 32 games in just two days, according to new data from Conviva.

The tournament thus far reveals an ongoing trend streaming games on the big TV screen. Historically the first day of round one sees the most viewership. This held true this year as day one netted 15% more time spent streaming than day two, according to the report.

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Streaming on television increased significantly in the first two rounds to 68% share of time spent in round one, from 48% in 2019 and just 41% in the opening days of 2018. While streaming games on the PC lost market share, the increase in TV consumption comes primarily at the expense of mobile viewing, which decreased to less than half the share held during the previous March Madness. The report attributed this to the pandemic-trend of in-home viewing and the overall, multiyear trend of increased streaming via televisions.

More than 40% of the tournament thus far has been streamed on TVs through Roku devices, followed by Amazon Fire TV (26%), Samsung TV (10%), and Apple TV with 8% share. LG TV and Xbox each tallied 4% share, with Chromecast picking up 3%. Irvine, Calif.-based Vizio, Android TV, and PlayStation lagged behind the field with under 2% share of viewing time.

Conviva reported that social media engagements per post rose an average of 164% for teams in round one as compared to the regular season. Teams tallied 3 million total cross-platform engagements over just two days in the first round of the tournament, with Wisconsin, Syracuse, and Illinois taking the top three spots for total cross-platform engagements.

March Madness often vaults unexpected teams into national view. This year it’s Oral Roberts with 15 times the number of social media engagements per post versus the regular season, and leading in cross-platform, Twitter, and Instagram engagement rates.

Disney+ Available on LG CineBeam Projectors

LG Electronics USA has launched Disney+ on select LG CineBeam 4K Projectors, the company announced at virtual CES.

Owners of LG CineBeam Projectors HU85LA and HU70LA can subscribe to Disney+ directly through the projector’s webOS 4.5 platform on up to a 140-inch screen.

LG CineBeam is the first projector to offer access to the Disney+ app.

“Enjoying life at home has taken on a much greater role in peoples’ lives these days,” said Peggy Ang, LG USA’s VP of marketing, in a statement. “The arrival of the Disney+ app on our LG CineBeam 4K projectors provides consumers with a unique opportunity to bring the excitement of movie-going into their own home featuring the phenomenal content of Disney+ on stunning, ultra-large screens. This takes family movie night to whole new level.”

The HU70LA LG CineBeam LED Projectors feature a 4K UHD picture up to 140 inches (measured diagonally), and brightness of 1500 ANSI lumens. LG’s wheel-less technology enables each model produce an expanded color gamut with greater accuracy than traditional Digital Light Processing (DLP) projectors that use color wheels, and works to eliminate distracting visual effects such as the rainbow effect, clouding and color distortion, according to LG..

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The HU85LA CineBeam Laser Projector is LG’s first 4K Ultra Short Throw model, generating 2,700 ANSI lumens to deliver images up to 120 inches (measured diagonally) from placement of 7.2 inches away from the wall. The HU85LA also employs a wheel-less system, but uses a three-channel laser as the light source.

LG Announces New TV Lineup at Virtual CES

LG Electronics on Jan. 11 touted OLED, QNED MiniLED and NanoCell TVs on opening day of the virtual CES.

The lineup includes CES 2021 Best of Innovation Award winner (model OLED 48C1) as well as several Innovation Award honorees.

LG’s premium TV lineup has been upgraded with technology and features such as a new OLED panel, a new advanced LCD panel structure that combines Quantum NanoCell Color Technology with mini LED backlighting for enhanced brightness, deeper black, and brilliant color, and an upgraded AI processor and redesigned webOS, according to the company..

LG’s G1 series features OLED evo, “delivering better luminosity for bright and punchy images with amazing clarity, detail and realism,” according to LG.

The LG C1 series boasts a range of size options from the 48-inch version to the 83-inch model.

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LG’s processor, the α (Alpha) 9 Gen 4 AI, revamps the performance on the newest LG OLED TV models in the G1 and C1 series, LG QNED MiniLED TV models QNED99 and QNED95 and LG NanoCell TV models NANO99 and NANO95, according to a release. The processor leverages deep learning to analyze and optimize content. The α9 Gen 4 processor features AI Picture Pro, which recognizes content, removes noise, and optimizes picture quality. The new Scene Detection feature can analyze the type of scene being shown and improve the picture accordingly.

The processor incorporates a new version of LG’s AI Sound Pro which boasts two major additions for 2021. Virtual 5.1.2 surround sound up-mixing delivers an immersive audio experience via the TV’s built-in speakers while the Auto Volume Leveling feature maintains a consistent level of volume when switching between channels or streaming apps.

LG’s OLED TVs feature the company’s updated webOS 6.0 smart TV platform. With a completely redesigned New Home screen as well as performance and feature improvements, webOS 6.0 provides faster access to apps and simpler content discovery capability with more personalized recommendations paired with an improved Magic Remote that includes hot keys for popular content providers.

2021 LG OLED TVs, with self-lit pixel technology, feature offer perfect blacks and have been certified as having 100 percent color fidelity by the global product testing agency Intertek, according to the company.

LG’s TVs support Dolby Vision IQ and Dolby Atmos.

LG’s 2021 OLED TVs are equipped with new features such as Game Optimizer along with a 1 millisecond response time, low input lag and four ports supporting the latest HDMI specifications. 6 Not only does Game Optimizer lets users access all game-related settings in one place and automatically applies the best picture settings according to the type of the game being played, whether it is a first-person shooter, role-playing game or real-time strategy title, according to LG. LG OLED TVs are G-SYNC Compatible, FreeSync Premium supported and feature variable refresh rate (VRR), all of which can be managed within the Game Optimizer.

LG also expanded the number of TV models that will support HDMI 2.1 features in 2021, with enhanced audio return channel (eARC) and automatic low latency mode (ALLM) being supported across the full lineup. LG’s QNED90 MiniLED, and NANO90 NanoCell TVs will also support variable refresh rate (VRR).

“Our commitment to raising the industry bar and increasing value for consumers are both clearly evident in the 2021 LG OLED TV lineup,” said Park Hyoung-sei, president of the LG Home Entertainment Co. in a statement. “Featuring LG OLED evo, our most advanced panel technology yet, our newest OLED TVs are in a league of their own, delivering another level of viewing experience we feel confident in saying is second to none.”

LG Takes Stake in TV Data and Measurement Firm

LG Electronics, through U.S. subsidiary Zenith Electronics, has taken a controlling stake of more than 50% in TV data and measurement firm Alphonso Inc.

The move is designed “to bring together the two TV industry leaders’ technologies and innovations in LG’s smart TV lineup,” the companies announced. 

“LG has made understanding customer tastes and consumer trends one of its highest priorities as part of its digital transformation strategy to deliver better customized services,” according to a press release.

LG plans to utilize Alphonso software and services — including Alphonso’s data analytics, media planning and activation, and Video AI capabilities — with its home entertainment products.

Alphonso’s combined offerings will enrich consumer services including content recommendations and LG’s own streaming service, LG Channels, to create a robust owned and operated first-screen, cross-device advertising platform with integrated analytics for the smart TV marketplace generally and for LG smart TVs specifically, according to the companies. 

Alphonso will continue to operate as an independent business under its current brand and leadership based in Silicon Valley.

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“Our investment in Alphonso is a key component of our digital transformation strategy focusing on AI, big data and cloud to fundamentally change how consumers interact with their devices,” said Park Hyoung-sei, president of the LG Home Entertainment Company, in a statement. “With Alphonso’s TV data analysis capabilities, LG will be able to better fulfill consumers’ needs by providing them even more customized services and content. We are proud to welcome Alphonso to the LG family.” 

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“LG and Alphonso have a shared vision for advancing the smart TV ecosystem through innovative software and services oriented toward modern new consumer experiences on one end, and highly flexible, lucrative advertising, planning, and measurement offerings for brands, agencies, and broadcasters on the other,” Ashish Chordia, founder and CEO of Alphonso, said in a statement.

“Becoming part of LG Electronics gives Alphonso the backing of one of the world’s leaders in home entertainment products, with access to a massive global inventory of connected TV screens,” he added. “We can now maximize our mutual impact on the TV marketplace as we bring our products together and deliver immense value for the ecosystem.”

Sling TV Feature Integrates Over-the-Air Broadcast Channels Into Guide on LG Smart TVs

Sling TV announced a feature that integrates free, local over-the-air (OTA) broadcast channels into the Sling TV guide on 2020 LG Smart televisions with webOS 5.0, without the need to switch inputs or applications.

The channel tuning feature, available on all 2020 LG OLED and LG NanoCell TVs, allows consumers to access their local broadcast networks, including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and PBS, directly within the Sling TV app when connected to an OTA antenna.

“The best value in TV today is Sling TV plus free live locals,” Jon Lin, VP of product at Sling TV, said in a statement. “We’re making it easier than ever to watch free local channels directly within the Sling TV app, making 2020 LG Smart televisions an amazing value for those who appreciate a quality viewing experience, live local programming and OTT content from Sling TV.”

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To begin watching local broadcast networks in the Sling TV experience, owners of compatible LG Smart TVs connect an OTA antenna directly to their television and begin the one-time channel scanning process. To scan for channels, consumers access the TV’s settings tab, select “All Settings,” “Channels,” “Channel Tuning” and finally “Auto Tuning.”

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Once Sling TV receives the tuner’s signal, all available local channels will appear within the interface like any other channel. Consumers can further customize their Sling TV experience by filtering for local channels within the guide or adding local channels to “My Channels.”

For more information on the integration with LG Smart TVs, visit Sling.com/LG or the Sling TV Help Center for a step-by-step setup guide.

The average American household today can receive 44 local OTA channels at no cost, resulting in hundreds of dollars in annual savings, according to Sling TV. Cord cutters interested in learning which live locals are available in their area can now use the Sling TV local channel finder tool. To search, type in a street name and zip code and click “View My Locals” to see a comprehensive list of channel results for any desired location in the United States.

Pluto TV Inks Deal to Bring AVOD Platform to LG Smart TVs

ViacomCBS-owned AVOD service Pluto TV has inked a global distribution deal with LG Electronics to bring its platform to LG’s smart TVs.

Pluto TV is now available on LG 2020 smart TV models in the United States, with rollouts on 2016 to 2019 models to begin in fall 2020. Expansion plans to other regions will be announced at a later date. Pluto TV currently has a global footprint spanning 22 countries.

Pluto TV content is featured via LG’s proprietary LG Channels feature offering access to more than 200 free streaming channels. Once fully integrated later this year, more than 99 Pluto TV channels will be available on LG smart TVs, according to the service.

“We’re thrilled to be able to bring Pluto TV and our leadership in free, ad-supported streaming television to LG’s lineup of critically-acclaimed smart TVs,” Brendon Thomas, VP of distribution for Pluto TV, said in a statement. “Through this partnership, we are excited to have another opportunity to accelerate our mission to entertain the planet by bringing an unparalleled lineup of programming, with instant discoverability through the LG Channels experience, to millions of LG users, for free.”

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“In the highly unusual times we are living in, people are turning to home entertainment in even larger numbers than ever before,” Matt Durgin, director of North America partnerships at LG Electronics, said in a statement. “With the debut of Pluto TV on LG smart TVs, our customers now have access to an even more expansive and diverse roster of free streaming content that will keep everyone entertained and engaged at home.”

Pluto TV delivers 100,000-plus hours of free content to an audience of more than 24 million monthly active users in the U.S. alone, according to the service. It includes hundreds of channels and tens of thousands of titles on demand featuring content from more than 200 major media partners.

Movies Anywhere App Available on LG Smart TVs

The Movies Anywhere app is now available on LG smart TVs, including LG OLED TVs, LG Electronics USA and Movies Anywhere announced.

Movies Anywhere lets users enjoy their purchased or redeemed digital movies combined in one personal collection. The service includes more than 7,900 titles.

LG is the first TV manufacturer to offer the streaming app.

With the Movies Anywhere app, in addition to streaming movies on LG smart TVs, users can also stream or download on LG smartphones, joining a wide array of other devices.

Additionally, with Screen Pass beta, Movies Anywhere is set to allow users to share their movies with others in a seamless way.

Movies Anywhere offers movies from Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Pictures (including DreamWorks and Illumination Entertainment), The Walt Disney Studios (including Disney, Pixar, Twentieth Century Studios, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm) and Warner Bros. Entertainment.

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The app enables consumers to sync digital retail accounts, including Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu/Walmart, Xfinity, Google Play/YouTube, Microsoft Movies & TV, FandangoNow and Verizon Fios TV.

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LG OLED TVs include support for Dolby Vision IQ high dynamic range, Dolby Atmos, and the UHD Alliance’s Filmmaker Mode. With the webOS smart TV platform, the new LG OLED and LG NanoCell 4K and 8K UHD TVs provide access to apps and services such as Apple TV, Disney+, Netflix and LG Channels in addition to Movies Anywhere.

LG Expands Apple TV+ App to 2019 Smart TVs

LG Electronics is expanding compatibility with the Apple TV+ app to its 2019 smart televisions in more than 80 countries. The South Korean CE manufacturer unveiled Apple TV+ functionality with its 2020 smart TVs.

The Apple TV+ app gives LG TV users the ability to subscribe and stream the video subscription service featuring original shows such as “The Morning Show,” “See,” “Servant” and “Little America.”

The Apple TV app affords LG smart TV owners access to their iTunes video library and the ability to buy or rent over 100,000 movies and TV shows.

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LG’s 2019 TVs also support Apple AirPlay 2, which allows users to share or mirror content from their iPhone, iPad or Mac directly to an LG TV. Customers can also play music on the TV and sync it with other AirPlay 2 compatible speakers anywhere in the home.

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“LG continues to offer the best home entertainment experience through technological innovations that support the delivery of high quality viewing and user convenience,” Park Hyoung-sei, president of LG Home Entertainment Co, said in a statement. “By bringing the Apple TV app and Apple TV+ to even more TV models, we are once again demonstrating our determination to meet consumers’ needs and add value to our products.”

 

NAB Show to Bow ‘Streaming Experience’ Content Showcase

The NAB Show is introducing The Streaming Experience, a new content showcase curated by streaming and online video expert Dan Rayburn that will feature more than 50 OTT platforms and streaming devices.

The showcase, which will give NAB Show attendees a first-hand look at the latest streaming video services, according to organizers, will be located in the Central Lobby of the Las Vegas Convention Center and is open to all registered attendees during exhibit hours starting April 19.

The NAB Show takes place in Las Vegas April 18-22.

A living-room setting will allow attendees the opportunity to test OTT services side-by-side to compare content, video quality, ad formats, playback features and delivery methods. The Streaming Experience will feature hardware from Amazon, Apple, Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, LG, TCL and Samsung. Streaming services on display will include Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video, CBS All Access, Disney+, Hulu, NBC Sports, Netflix and YouTube TV, among others. New services from HBO Max, Peacock and Quibi may also be showcased, dependent on their launch dates, according to organizers.

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“Streaming is a major focus of the 2020 NAB Show, and the new Streaming Experience is the largest showcase of its kind in the industry,” said NAB EVP of conventions and business operations Chris Brown in a statement. “We are excited for attendees to join their industry peers in this living room environment and experience nearly every live and on-demand streaming service on the market today.”

Additional details of the Streaming Experience, including renderings of the new space, can be found here.

 

LG Touts Filmmaker Mode at CES

LG Electronics touted support for the UHD Alliance’s Filmmaker Mode Jan. 6 at CES with video testimonials by directors Chris Nolan and Christopher McQuarrie hailing the feature that brings the home viewing experience closer to the filmmakers’ intention.

“We’re proud to be among the first to embrace the UHD Alliance’s new Filmmaker Mode,” said Tim Alessi, senior director of product marketing at LG Electronics.

Current TVs use advanced video processing capabilities to offer consumers a broad range of options in viewing various types of content, ranging from sports to video games. Filmmaker Mode allows viewers to enjoy a more cinematic experience on their UHD TVs when watching movies by disabling all post-processing (e.g. motion smoothing, etc.) so the movie or television show is displayed as it was intended by the filmmaker, preserving the correct aspect ratios, colors and frame rates.

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LG also showed a 65-inch, 20mm thick TV; its rollup OLED TV, which Alessi said would be introduced this year; and support for DolbyVision IQ.

In addition, the electronics company touted Nvidia G-Sync-compatible TVs that can play games in 4K with up to 120 Hz. Alessi noted that game playing capability on TVs is increasingly important to consumers.

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