New Music Streaming Ads Being Tested

Music streaming sites are starting to pick up in popularity, and now some of them really want to take advantage from an advertising point, without flooding the site with a bunch of unnecessary ads. SoundCloud may have found the ideal way to do that by introducing a series of new ad products that it believes will draw new revenue for the site, along the same lines as Spotify and Pandora.

Ads from the likes of Red Bull, Sonos, Comedy Central, Jaguar and Squarespace will be available over the next few weeks, as part of a new campaign called On Sound Initiative. With it, promotions will feature the labels and distributors, comedy networks, independent artists and other programming. As mentioned, the ads won’t overlap the interface, and as a result of taking part content creators will receive part of the profits.

The introduction of this campaign could bring about new subscription pricing for the site. “We’re introducing advertising into the service now,” said Jeff Toig, Chief Business Officer at SoundCloud. “In the coming months, we’re going to introduce a subscription offering that allows people to remove ads if they want to remove ads, and it will have other features.” And, as expected, it will be completely optional for those who just want to sit back and chill with their favorite tunes.

As part of the campaign, there will also be promoted tracks, which provide a push to certain content through the desktop and mobile music streams. “Similar to (how a Promoted) Tweet on Twitter is a real tweet, it’s just promoted, these native ads are actually tracks that Squarespace will upload and then we promote,” said Dan Gerber, head of sales over at SoundCloud.

Squarespace currently offers a ten percent discount off its services through the campaign, while Red Bull is highlighting six individual artists through its set-up as well. So it sounds like it benefits quite a lot more than the usual business partners.

Audio ads are also being introduced, and these cannot be skipped, as they play out for about 15 seconds before the start of a song — similar to how YouTube sets up some of its videos. This program has already kicked off, as a few listeners may have already noticed.

What do you think Is this a smart promotional move for SoundCloud

Source: Adweek

Movie Theaters Go Interactive

Interacting with movies isn’t really that big a thing right now, even with Disney’s previous screening of The Little Mermaid where it invited viewers to “tweet along” with what was going on with the movie. However, Audience Entertainment could be introducing a new way to interact with the films people love.

With a new SDK the company is making available, audiences would be allowed to play along together, controlling actions on the movie screen with body motions.

Audience’s founder and CEO Barry Grieff, who brings big-time ad experience with his work at National Lampoon Magazine, Rolling Stone and Interpublic Group, believes that the idea comes from “a sea change in content creation,” shying away from the usual content in favor of better interactivity. By installing cameras that can track motion and sound, he believes that audiences can play along with certain experiences – and it’s not just limited to movie theaters, as concert venues and arenas can also take part.

The company’s software development kit enables third parties to create content for these platforms, which it plans to launch at the end of September during Advertising Week. Those interested in signing up for a kit can do so here.

This is the latest attempt to get audiences to “interact” with their movies, and while it’s too soon to tell if it’ll be any kind of success, it could very well get more people involved when it comes to pre-shows. Audience Entertainment already confirmed that it intends to bring the technology to 3,000 screens worldwide, thanks to a new partnership with digital cinema company Barco. No word yet on which theater chains will pick it up, but you can bet that some parties may be interested.

What do you think Are you ready to play along with the movies, or do you just want to sit back and enjoy the show After all, Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t going to play itself.

Source: TechCrunch

OUYA Brings Games Service To China

While the OUYA has struggled to find footing in the ever-growing video game console market with its affordable Android console and game service, there’s no question that there’s potential for growth. One recent indication to this is the company’s recent news that it’ll be bringing its game service (but not its game console) to China, through a forthcoming partnership with Xiaomi.

Ouya has teamed up with the smartphone seller to bring its library of independent and popular games to living rooms, through Xiaomi’s streaming devices and smart TV’s. Xiaomi has been rapidly gaining market share in China, with many describing it as the Apple of China with its emphasis on design  — much of it based on Apple’s clean design language, but built around Android.

The deal benefits Xiaomi as well, since it just made its way into the TV and set-top box market last year, following its heightened success with selling smartphones.

OUYA chief executive Julie Urhman said details are still being worked on before the deal will be closed, but in the end, the service is likely to have its own devoted channel through Xiaomi software, available for installation on the devices. From there, gamers can shop to their heart’s content and try over 600 different titles available. Ouya’s titles have been optimized for use with a game controller, giving them an advantage over standard Android games that only work with touch screens.

“For the likes of Xiaomi’s MiTV, its set-top boxes and other Android set-top boxes that are entering the market, this could be a turning point … in bringing great content and developers to gamers and into a region that they have never had access to before,” Uhrman told Reuters.

As part of the deal, Xiaomi will probably play a part in marketing OUYA games as well, possibly opening up a large new revenue channel for the company, assuring its success moving onward. It needs every bit it can get, as the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One still take up a majority of the market with their respective next-gen hardware.

Considering the growth of the Chinese game market ($14 billion last year alone), this is a partnership that’s sure to pay off over time. “The whole industry is still in a very early development stage,” said Uhrman. “There is an opportunity for both” companies, she believes.


N3twork App Makes Online Video TV-Like

There is no shortage of video-based applications available for download, between Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and other services that allow you to watch streaming video on the go. But how many actually come across feeling like a TV-style experience That’s what N3twork is looking to provide with the launch of its application.

The service, which launched last week, is a new video service that caters to those looking for videos that consumers wouldn’t find through the normal video channels. “There is amazing content out there,” said Neil Young, the creator of the N3twork app. “You’re just never going to find it.”

The focus of N3twork, according to Young, is the “fat middle,” reserved for channels that do occupy space on a basic medium, but still don’t quite find the audience as intended through the algorithms of other applications.

The app provides a number of categories to root through, including sports, business, technology, food and others. After the user selects a video channel, a video will show through a broader channel, offering a secondary category such as photography or art and design, to name an example.

Over the course of its use, N3twork keeps track of the videos viewers watch, then caters to what they’re looking for, instead of focusing on videos that are skipped past. The saved videos take top priority, although general viewing habits are also watched.

The channel utilizes about 1,000 hours of video a day, according to Young, from across 6,500 unique online sources, including specific YouTube channels, as well as more popular services like BBC and Bloomberg.

Sharing said videos to N3twork isn’t a violation of their appearance on the original source sites, as it doesn’t really remove any advertising that was built in to its applications. It merely sources the video into its feed and allows the user to play it. In addition, users can create their own custom channels, even ones devoted to their housepets and children, if they prefer.

N3twork is still gaining some ground when it comes to building a user audience, but it could change the way that people look at online videos in the future. We certainly wish them the best of luck.

Source: Wired

GameStop Rides The Next-Gen Wave

GameStop has had a wild ride in the last few years, with its fortunes tied so closely to the console business. The company bumped downward as consoles and console games decline in the years since 2008, and many observers wondered if GameStop was going to be the new Blockbuster Video, a victim of the evolution of the game industry to digital distribution.

Well, the naysayers are apologizing today as GameStop turned in a quarterly performance that beat its own estimates. Total global sales for the second quarter of 2014 were $1.73 billion, a 25.1 percent increase compared to $1.38 billion in the prior year quarter. A key performance indicator for any retail store is how well stores that have been established for more than a year did compared to last year; GameStop saw that consolidated comparable store sales increased 21.9 percent.

When it comes to profits, GameStop saw them more than double. “GameStop’s net earnings for the second quarter were $24.6 million, a 134.3 percent increase compared to net earnings of$10.5 million in the prior year quarter. Diluted earnings per share were $0.22, a 144.4 percent  increase compared to diluted earnings per share of $0.09 in the prior year quarter,” the company said.

Investors drove GameStop shares higher on the news, with the share price up over 5 percent this morning. They may be feeling a little better about the company’s prospects, but navigating the turbulent waters expected over the next few years is still going to be difficult. Although GameStop had a great quarter, it did not lift its guidance for the full year. The company is being cautious, watching so many big software titles get pushed out to 2015 — and it’s still not clear just what the long-term sales level will be for this new generation of consoles.

Analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities is still positive on GameStop, looking for the shares to hit $60 (they are currently a little over $42). Colin Sebastian at Baird Equity Research is positive as well, looking for the shares to hit $52. Both analysts see GameStop riding the wave of next-gen well, and continuing to expand into technology businesses. “Q2 mobile sales were $112.1 million (up 85 percent from last year’s $60.6 million), with Technology Brands accounting for $70.1 million (roughly 63 percent) and $7.1 million of the company’s operating income (roughly 19 percent). The contribution highlights how important the new business will be to the company’s profitability in quieter periods for the video game industry,” Pacheter said in his note to investors.

GameStop’s terrific results were driven by mainly by next-gen hardware sales, which were up 125 percent. As well, new software sales rose 15.6 percent, which was roughly twice the growth of the overall industry. While that was great, GameStop also did well in other areas. “For the quarter, our digital receipts rose 18 percent, with console digital increasing 13 percent and PC digital increasing 24 percent,” said president Tony Bartel. “On a year to date basis, we have grown our digital receipts by 13 percent, which is essentially in line with the mid-teens digital growth rates of our top four publishers.”

Software sales for next-gen consoles are building as key titles make their way to market, albeit more slowly than anyone would wish. “The attach rate is still building, as publishers release more new titles. GameStop’s attach rate is now above four, which is 75 percent higher than the rest of the industry,” said Mike Hogan, EVP of strategic business and brand development. “In the nine months since launch, category-wide sales of next-generation hardware are 70 percent higher than the same period following the PS3 and Xbox 360 launch, and GameStop’s sales are plus 140 percent. During the same timeframe, category-wide next-gen software sales are plus 26 percent versus the prior generation launch and GameStop’s are plus 103 percent.”

Hogan also noted that GameStop is doing very well with its games division, both online and mobile. “In the second quarter, Kongregate, our mobile and casual games platform, hosted very strong results, growing plus 123 percent over the prior year,” Hogan said. “We currently have 12 games active on the IOS App Store and Google Play Store, with a total of 20 games expected to be launched by year end. We have multiple games running above a $10 million annual rate, and expect Kongregate to be a top-10 third-party mobile games publisher this year.”

All told, it looks like GameStop is growing its range of businesses very well while it rides the wave of next-gen consoles as far as it goes. The Technology Businesses (buying and reselling mobile devices, opening retail stores like Simply Mac) has been growing rapidly, and provides a hedge against a downturn in console sales. Perhaps most importantly, GameStop has been able to significantly capitalize on selling digital goods in-store, which many deemed a near-impossible task. It turns out, though, that knowledgeable advice at the retail point of sale is a great way to sell additional content for games.

While digital distribution is growing, GameStop is doing what it can to be a key place for gamers to get the info (and products!) they desire. Yes, we can now order a game through our console. But when we want advice on which one, or whether or not a map pack is worthwhile, maybe a trip to GameStop s indicated. And hey, if I need some money for a new game, I can sell some of my old ones that I’m really not playing any more. Besides, whenever I go into GameStop I always see something cool that I didn’t even know was out there, right

GameStop has many challenges ahead, but keeping a focus on the customers should help them through it. The GameStop Expo is in Anaheim in a few weeks, where GameStop will bring all of its managers together for a look at the hot upcoming titles and to get ready for the holiday season. Then GameStop throws open the doors to consumers, where tens of thousands of eager fans will get a chance to go hands-on with the big titles coming for the holidays. The [a]listdaily will be there, and talking with some GameStop executives to get their insights into the market ahead.

Comcast to Launch Internet TV Service For College Kids (AKA ‘Cord-Nevers’)

by Sahil Patel

What’s the biggest thing scaring the cable companies right now? The growing — and it is growing — threat of “cord-nevers,” otherwise known as millennials who have never paid for television, and as a result are not likely to once they are living on their own.

It’s a serious issue. According to a recent study by nScreenMedia, 19 percent of millennials currently live without pay-TV, and 98 percent of those have no intention of signing up in the next three months.

To date, most attempts by the cable companies to combat this issue has come in the form of TV Everywhere services, which allow customers to stream content across a number of digital devices — as long as they still pay for those channels. Some companies are also attempting to launch “internet TV” services, which would offer a smaller bundle of TV channels over the web at a cheaper price.

In essence, TV companies aren’t willing to let go of the TV model.*

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that the latest attempt to get millennials to pay for TV is the same story, but in a slightly different packaging.

Comcast, the largest cable company in the US, is launching Xfinity On Campus, a new service that will let college students watch live and on-demand TV programming across web-connected devices like laptops, tablets, and smartphones while on campus.

The service is launching with several colleges on board, including Bridgewater College, Drexel University, Emerson College, Lasell College, and the University of Delaware, as well as others like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Hampshire that are “trialing” the program with students in the fall.

Xfinity On Campus will offer approximately 80 channels, including every major broadcast network as well as cable favorites like AMC, Bravo, Comedy Central, ESPN, FX, and MTV. Students will also be able to check out TV shows on-demand via Xfinity On Demand, as well as upgrade to premium channels like HBO, Showtime, and Starz.

And if students happen to be off campus, they will be able to use their university credentials to authenticate and access TV. Everywhere apps like WatchESPN and FX Now. Soon, Comcast will also launch a cloud-based DVR service that will allow students to record and watch their favorite shows on devices, as well as “check-out” recordings by downloading them to the device for offline viewing.

Students won’t have to pay for the service — at least not directly; it will be included as part of room and board for those living in on-campus housing.

The hope, rather obviously, is that these students get accustomed to having cable TV as part of their daily lives, and will continue that practice once they leave college.

The party line is that services such as this are in response to viewing habits among younger consumers. “Xfinity on Campus lets students watch TV on their own terms,” said Marcien Jenckes, EVP of consumer services for Comcast Cable, in a statement. “With this younger generation, more and more viewing is happening away from the traditional TV set and we have evolved our products and services to better engage them.”

But the truth is, the issue isn’t delivering content to the devices that consumers are increasingly on, but getting them to continue paying the way they always have been.

* Because that’s still where the money is.

This article was originally posted on VideoInk and is reposted on [a]listdaily via a partnership with the news publication, which is the online video industry’s go-to source for breaking news, features, and industry analysis. Follow VideoInk on Twitter @VideoInkNews, or subscribe via for the latest news and stories, delivered right to your inbox.

Meeker Highlights Emerging Internet Trends

Mary Meeker, an analyst who currently works with venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, made a presentation earlier this summer, titled the Internet Trends presentation. With it, she broke down the growth of emerging markets, as well as how they’ll be utilized when it comes to Internet use in the future.

While the full report can be found online here, the five key points Meeker made are as follows:

The strength of Android
According to Meeker, Android now holds 80 percent of the global smartphone market, which is almost a four-times share increase over the last three years alone. Adoption has been huge in emerging markets, with higher growths in APAC, Africa and Latin America. Meanwhile, in Indonesia and the Philippines, the penetration reached more than 80 percent, while in India, over 91 percent of the country’s 156 million smartphones use such technology. That’s impressive.

A decrease in cellphone costs
Since 2008, the price of cellphones has dwindled dynamically, going down from $430 in price to around $335, nearly a $100 difference. The introduction of such brands as Micromax and Karbonn in India have really made a difference, and other markets have benefitted as well, making the devices affordable to hundreds of millions of customers. By the end of this year, it’s predicted that prices for low-end phones could go as low as $20, maybe even lower.

Smartphones are the new primary screen
Meeker believes that the significant of smartphones in countries where laptops aren’t as convenience is rather low. With that, they’ve become the new primary screen for various purposes, including television viewing and web surfing. Indonesia, Philippines, China, Brazil, Vietnam and Nigeria have all seen tremendous growth, with the top two countries first mentioned exceeding over 100 minutes a day in usage.

Sustained smartphone growth
The growth of cellphones in emerging markets has continued to increase, and will continue to do so as the price of said units go down. China, India, Brazil, Indonesia and Russia alone are set to ship just over 600 million smartphones this year alone, with more expected next year, if the emergent markets stay the course.

A shift to mobile
Finally, Meeker believes that mobile will account for 35 percent of general Internet usage by 2015, with a continuous 1.5 annual growth in smartphones, or acceleration in availability of products. The emerging markets will see the most growth, although other markets are certain to follow.

Source: Jana

Brands Are Beginning To Show An Interest With ‘The Whistle’

The sports-focused multi-channel network The Whistle celebrated its recent success of accumulating 6.7 million subscribers earlier this month by opening a brand new studio in Dallas in addition to their existing offices in New York and LA. This YouTube allstar has garnered over 1 billion views, has a carefully curated network of 135 partner channels, and is now pushing to conquer the YouTube sports platform even further by attempting to team up with Xbox.

Last Friday, The Whistle launched its own free native app for Xbox featuring exclusive video content from their partner networks. The Whistle holds partnerships with some of the most popular sports creators on YouTube and has even configured deals with most major league sports, including the NFL,, MLS, the PGA Tour, NASCAR, The Harlem Globetrotters, Major League Lacrosse and the Association of Volleyball Professionals–all of whom are scheduled to provide content for the app.

Considering Xbox and the Whistle already share a similar target demographic, with a platform that is also known for sports gaming, the potential crossover is highly appealing.

According to The Whistle’s EVP Brian Selander, the company’s goal is to “bring compelling sports content to the platforms where fans are spending their time.”

Brands are already showing interest in The Whistle’s new community. For example, Subaru has decided to sponsor the launch of the app, as well as collaborate with Whistle partner and Ultimate Frisbee star Brodie Smith on a video that will be featured on the platform to promote the launch.


Oculix Introducing Movies To Oculus Rift

A lot of developers have spent a great deal of time creating games and technical-related goods for the Oculus Rift, but very few have wandered “outside the box” in terms of multimedia. However, a group of Netflix employees may have just created a service that fans may just want.

During the Netflix Hack Day event, the group created a new program called Oculix, which allows for the browsing and watching of certain Netflix programs through the VR-related device. With this program, users can look around in the Rift to see what’s available for viewing, then use Leap Motion to scroll down to their choice and view away. The video below shows just how the program works.


Pikachu May Be The Next Consumer Icon

For years, the Pokemon brand has proven highly successful in all fronts, including card games, video games, movies and TV shows. So it should be no surprise that the franchise’s main star, the electrically charged hero Pikachu, could very well be turning into a recognizable icon, along the same lines as Mickey Mouse, according to Polygon.

Part of Pikachu’s success lies in the ongoing sales of the Pokemon brand. It hasn’t shown any signs of dwindling since its debut back in 1996, while other brands, like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers, have faded a bit in popularity, even with the release of new films. The video games by themselves have managed to sell more than 260 million copies globally, and there have been more than 21.5 billion cards picked up by fans.

“Time Magazine said he was one of the most beloved animated characters,” said Dr. Arnold Blumberg, who serves as an expert in media and pop culture studies over at the University of Baltimore. “There are plenty of people that have put him in the list of most iconic, most recognizable, and yet, what’s interesting about that is he’s only been around since the 1990’s.”

He probably won’t yet reach the popularity of Disney’s Mickey Mouse, who’s been around since the 1920’s, but he’s getting there, becoming globally recognized in different markets, even to those who usually don’t deal with Pokemon products. “It’s quite an astonishing achievement,” Blumberg added.

When it comes to Pikachu’s appeal, it lies in a combination of being both adorable and tough, especially when taking on rival Pokemon and other enemies. “Being cute doesn’t hurt,” said Blumberg. “Then there’s reliability, and I know that might be weird for a character that (only) says its name, but in a way, that’s simplicity.”

Fans can even recognize the powerful Pikachu just from a silhouette, the same way they would Mickey Mouse and other similar characters. “When you look at the Pikachu or Mickey silhouette, it’s cute, it’s energetic, it’s child-like and there’s innocence to it,” said Blumberg. “All those things go together and make something powerful and iconic in pop culture.”

But how is Pikachu able to stay so popular after so much time “Think of a band like The Rolling Stones, or a character like James Bond, or a fictional creature like Dracula, or a concept like the zombie, or a comic book character like Batman or Superman, or a game like football, or a food like KFC,” said Rob Weiner, popular culture librarian at Texas Tech University. “They’re all iconic because they’ve embedded themselves in our popular culture in a way that transcends trends and history and age.”

Expect more Pikachu goodness in Pokemon products for years to come. CHUUUUUU!

Source: Polygon