TikTok Launches New Music Streaming Service

The logo of TikTok, a short-form video-sharing app that has proved wildly popular in 2018 and 2019

TikTok’s parent company ByteDance is trialing a new music streaming app called Resso to rival Apple Music and Spotify. This new app is being trialed in India and Indonesia, two markets that are potentially untapped by the American companies. While this app has been trialed for 6 months, it was only recently revealed that it was TikTok’s parent company was actually the owner.

ByteDance has had a lot of success with their app TikTok accumulating 500 million users since its launch in 2016. Resso has 27,000 users which is clearly a huge difference. Despite this difference, ByteDance is finding new ways to integrate TikTok mechanics into this new app. One feature included is swiping to skip a song, a feature very familiar on TikTok as users scroll through videos. The app is also a lot more communal, making it easier to share, comment, and create gifs using certain songs on the platform. The company has been rumored to be talking with the major music labels like Sony Music, Warner Music, and NBCUniversal to bring as many songs as possible when it drops in the US.

This article is interesting because the  company is looking into untapped markets internationally. In addition to that, I wonder how this will affect music streaming. TikTok is a very fast paced platform where people consume 15 seconds of content until the video is over, which makes me wonder if music will be the same way. I find that apps like TikTok lower attention spans for consuming content, and I wonder of this will make music more interesting in the beginning to ensure people listen to the entire song. Either way, the effects of this new competitor will be interesting.

Article: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/tiktok-resso-music-stream-app-bytedance-spotify-a9248831.html


Netflix’s New Marketing Strategy

Image result for scoops ahoy baskin robbins

One of the main benefits of Netflix is being able to watch your favorite shows uninterrupted by ads. While this is great for consumers, Netflix is clearly missing out on the potential revenue that other platforms can benefit from like Hulu. Despite 158 million global subscribers, Netflix is in a whopping 12 billion dollars in debt. Not only that, being able to compete in the digital market is becoming more and more difficult as new networks launch their own streaming platforms. Because of this, Netflix has looked to a different strategy to make more money.

As Netflix resists commercials, they are finding new ways to work with brands to promote their shows. Last month, Netflix worked with Subway, a sandwich fast food chain, to serve Green Eggs and Ham sub (spinach-dyed eggs, sliced ham, guacamole, cheese) to promote their new show Green Eggs and Ham based off the book by Dr. Seuss. Earlier in the summer, Netflix converted a Baskin’ Robins into a Scoops Ahoy to promote season 3 of Stranger Things. By integrating these shows into shops Netflix hopes to get more people to subscribe to the service. “We believe we will have a more valuable business in the long term,” Netflix said, “by staying out of competing for ad revenue and instead entirely focusing on competing for viewer satisfaction.”

According to reports Netflix has been actively beefing up their marketing department and becoming more flexible with the other brands they work with. Even though this seems like a great idea, I find this counterproductive to Netflix’s problem. While I think this is a genius marketing tool to get people excited about the shows, the bottom line is that Netflix is in debt by a lot of money, and until they know for sure t’s increasing subscriber counts, this almost seems like gimmicks. I feel as though product placement could be a lot more sustainable because the bottom line is Netflix needs money and marketing will only get you so far.

Article: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/16/business/media/netflix-commercials.html

Hulu Rewards Binge Watching

Makers Hulu

Hulu announced recently that they will be introducing a new system of advertising that will reward people for binge watching episodes in one sitting. They packaged it as a reward by offering a special deal through Hulu or allowing the episode to be ad free because of a specific sponsor. Because the Hulu revenue model relies on ads, Hulu is giving an incentive to make the ads more palatable while maintaining support from the advertisers. Hulu announced they will be partnering with advertisers like Kellogg’s, Maker’s March, and Georgia-Specific for this new system.

Hulu will use data on viewers to predict which shows are about to be binge watched and will serve, “contextually relevant messaging from our brand partners that acknowledges a binge-watching session has begun.” For example, Cheez-It Snap’d will show an ad that corresponds with the binge watch session by saying, “Another episode? Snack it to me!”

In 2007, all the major media companies owned a share of Hulu, but now Disney owns a majority of the company. Comcast handed over operational control to Disney and plans to sell 33% of their stock to Disney by 2024.

I find this interesting because I totally agree with this method of advertising. The biggest annoyance when binge watching shows is the constant interruption from advertisements. Personally, I like the idea of getting the longer ad out of the way and experiencing the whole episode uninterrupted instead of short periods that occur every 15 minutes. I think this is a really smart thing and will be very beneficial to the platform. I wonder how the platform will change now that Disney will own Hulu in the future as networks pull the shows, but the new advertisement system is interesting nonetheless.  

Article: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/12/12/hulu-new-ad-type-will-reward-binge-watchers.html

FTC Cracking down on Facebook… Again

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Facebook is taking heat again by the US government as it attempts to integrate WhatsApp and Instagram into the Facebook platform. According to various sources, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the federal government’s main business regulator, has been constantly looking over the company’s dominance in the advertising and social media space. This FTC could seek an injunction since Facebook is weaving its platforms together, and the FTC wants to ensure Facebook does not have too much power.

An injunction by the FTC at this point is not considered to be typical behavior because the companies have already merged. In 2012, Facebook acquired Instagram, and in 2014, Facebook acquired WhatsApp, a very popular messaging app. Mark Zuckerberg, The CEO of Facebook, announced in January that he would like to merge all the platforms to create a more seamless messaging service.

Many critics of Facebook claim the merge is happening to make it harder to break up the company. Senator Richard Blumenthal even commented saying, “The FTC & DOJ cannot continue to leave Facebook’s provocations & anti-competitive conduct unchallenged. Action is overdue.”

I find this article interesting because I find it funny how the FTC is looking into this now. Many traditional media companies merge all the time, yet the FTC is looking very closely at Facebook. I think personally, because of Facebook’s data breach last year, the FTC is concerned with data and privacy rather than the actual merge. If people really had a problem, I wonder why this injunction did not occur sooner since the merge with WhatsApp occurred in 2014. I wonder why the integration of the apps is the problem since the companies merged so long ago.  

Article: https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/facebook-wants-integrate-instagram-whatsapp-u-s-government-may-try-n1101146

Is a Disclaimer Enough?

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“This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions”

Disney has decided to put disclaimers before classic movies that portray racial stereotypes on their new streaming service Disney+. These movies include Dumbo, Peter Pan, and The Jungle Book, along with other movies that contain any racial undertones. While some people see the disclaimer as a great tool to address these issues and warm consumers about the offensive characters, some people argue this step isn’t enough. A chairwoman of American studies at the University of Maryland named Psyche Williams-Forson argues that the company “needs to follow through in making more robust statements that this is wrong, and these depictions were wrong.”

“This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions,” is the current disclaimer that appears before each viewing. On a mobile device or tablet, the disclaimer appears in the description of the program rather than displaying it before the movie starts.

In addition, Disney has decided to completely remove “Song of the South”, a 1946 hit that actually won an Oscar for the song “Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah”. This movie features a character named Uncle Remus who strolls through a plantation and clearly contains racist depictions. Interestingly enough though, movies like Pocahontas and Aladdin do not feature the disclaimer, really blurring the lines of what exactly is socially acceptable.

I find this article interesting because it brings up a lot of questions about classic movies and if they are acceptable to play in a modern setting. I agree with what Disney has down because they are at least acknowledging what they did was wrong without completely removing the movies altogether. With that being said, I feel like more movies should feature this disclaimer because it seems like they only care about the movies with explicit racism, but the ones with subconscious undertones are fine. I guess everyone needs to ask what is the line, and when does Disney cross it?

Article: https://time.com/5730892/disney-plus-content-warnings-racist-movies/

Twitter Bans Political Ads for 2020 Election

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It was announced on Wednesday that Twitter will be banning all political ads regarding the 2020 election in hopes to counter the spread of fake news and misinformation. Starting in November, Twitter will no longer allow political ads from the any source, including legitimate political actors and figures.

In a series of tweets regarding the ban, CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey stated, “While internet advertising is incredibly powerful and very effective for commercial advertisers, that power brings significant risks to politics, where it can be used to influence votes to affect the lives of millions.” Dorsey is well aware of the power of tailored ads in the internet landscape, so instead of marking ads like they did in June, he decided to remove the ads from the equation. Interestingly enough, Twitter has decided not completely to remove past ads or tweets already on the platform, but they will be marking them down as fake or political.

This article interests me because it’s one of the first times a tech company has decided to take a stand against false advertisements. Facebook took a different approach stating that they shouldn’t be a platform of political agendas, which is funny because Facebook is the largest online social media site which probably has the most ads. I think Twitter’s new rules will be an improvement to the platform considering all the people who have a desire to see politics when scrolling through social media. It’s only a matter of time when every social media company will have to address this issue as the election looms closer every day.

Netflix Isn’t Done Just Yet

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With the introduction to new services like Apple TV and Disney+, people are constantly wondering how Netflix will stand among these competitors. One of the few ways that consumers can monitor this is the stock exchange, and Netflix isn’t taking the hit Wall Street projected.

In the third quarter of the year, Netflix actually rebounded from the previous one after it faced a 21% loss in shares. However, with the release of additional seasons of Stranger Things and 13 Reasons Why, Netflix was able to overcome this loss and gained an additional 6.77 million subscribers, which was more than the expected number given by IBES data. In addition, the new installment of The Crown, along with the release of The Irishman, Netflix is expecting an additional 9.4 million gain in users.

With the release of all the other steaming services coming soon, Netflix is still thinking ahead and planning for the future. A letter to Netflix’s investors stated, “In our view, the likely outcome from the launch of these new services will be to accelerate the shift from linear TV to on demand consumption of entertainment.” While the future is still unknown to how Netflix will handle the new competition, it seems like Netflix still has a fighting chance.

I think this article is interesting because it shows that Netflix is still being able to compete. It’s also interesting to see the data analytics of the Netflix stock rise even though they are still collecting debt from investing in new projects. One thing this article proves is how, in the end of the day, content and shows is what drives the sales. People will cancel their subscription or renew it based on the release of shows, and the quality is what drives this activity. I think this practice of subscribing for a month and then canceling is something that’s going to be used a lot more as more streaming services come out. I honestly think the future is going to be subscribing to certain shows, rather than the entire service making an even more tailored experience for the user.

Article: https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/netflix-shares-jump-subscribers-grow-ahead-disney-apple-competition-n1067726

Google Unveils New Privacy Changes

Google has just released its new privacy tools to help users hide their digital footprint online. In an attempt to maintain their user traffic, Google is now offering a bunch of new changes relating to Google maps, Password saves, and YouTube.

Storing Passwords, while convenient, is one of the main reasons people get hacked and their data becomes breached according to Google. In addition to that, an estimated 59% of people reuse or recycle old passwords, creating an increased risk of a data breach. In attempt to combat these bad practices, Google is now recommending its users to change their passwords and advising them to make definitive changes once they create one using Chrome.

Along with this heightened awareness towards stronger passwords, Google is now deleting past searches from its Google Assist extension on Chrome and Google Home devices. Google Assist, Google’s voice-functioned helper, similar to Alexa, will now automatically delete questions it was asked the week prior in an attempt to make users feel more secure when using it.

One thing that Google offers in their Chrome browser is an “incognito mode”, a mode that does not record your search history and does not track the websites you visit. Due to the success of this mode, Google has made a version for YouTube and Google Maps. Plans of releasing this for Android and IOS are also in the works to bring this mode to the applications.

While all of this seems nice, I think the reasoning behind these added functions is very interesting. I get the impression that Google only did this to make sure its users continue to use Google products instead of actually wanting to limit the data tracking. According to the article, a heightened awareness of tracking appeared when Apple updated its IOS and notifications appeared on a user’s iPhone. While I appreciate to idea, I still question if the incognito mode actually stops tracking all together. I think this trend of technology companies releasing modes that ban tracking is only going to become stronger as data becomes a more popular topic.  

Article: https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/google-just-upped-its-privacy-game-will-allow-users-delete-n1061486

FIFA 20 and Sports Video Games

EA (Electronics Arts) just released its newest edition of their most popular video game franchise “FIFA”, named after the international soccer governing body. This game, for those unfamiliar, allows players to control computer copies of real professional soccer players from around the world in soccer matches against other teams. The new game, “FIFA 20”, came out last Friday with better graphics, an improved line up, and a new mode that changes the setting from sports arenas to common areas like city streets. While the release was much anticipated, it reintroduces the concept of sports games and how they never fail to sell copies.

Video games that fall under the sports genre have become the highest selling video games of the year consistently. “FIFA” has been the number one sports game globally while “Madden” tops the chart in the US every year. In addition, “FIFA” has been responsible for 14% of EA’s profit every year, making it the reason EA is able to stay in business.

Obviously, the story itself isn’t all that groundbreaking, but I find the sports video game genre so interesting. Personally, I don’t see the appeal of buying the same version of a game annually, but every year the games become the highest selling games. One person in the article commented saying, “New players, new roster, new rules team and stadiums all encourage the annual release timing.” In addition to that, the Reddit related to FIFA has 260,000 subscribers with daily traffic and 2 million-page views a day, so obviously the momentum is not stopping any time soon. The biggest competitor for “FIFA” is “NBA 2K”, but none has topped “FIFA” for the past couple of years.

Article: https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/27/tech/fifa-20/index.html

HBO Max Snags The Big Bang Theory

The Meteorite Manifestation

The streaming wars have begun, and HBO Max just became a major contender. With every major media company launching a new streaming service, the battle to obtain IP has commenced. Just recently, Time Warner’s streaming service, HBO Max, announced it will feature all 279 episodes of The Big Bang Theory at its launch in the Spring of 2020. The streaming service will have a rumored starting price of $15.00 a month. However, TBS has confirmed it will continue to air the show until 2028.

While all the services are in a bidding war, Robert Greenblatt, the chairman of Warner Media, is very excited since The Big Bang Theory is one of the biggest show on broadcast television in the in the last decade globally. HBO Wow has also confirmed it will have Friends available to stream.

In the last week, many shows have been sold to a variety of streaming services. The Office, which was previously on Netflix, will be switch to Peacock, NBC Universal’s streaming service, while Netflix snagged Seinfeld, which was previously on Hulu.

I find this so interesting how all the streaming services are in a fight to gather as much IP as possible. The only frustrating thing for me is how much money all of these services are going to cost. While some argue that being able to pick and choose which streaming service to subscribe to is beneficial, I find it to be a burden. These services just feel like cable with less steps. With all that being said, I am excited to see who buys what and which streaming services will survive the war.

Article: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/all/hbo-stream-big-bang-theory-warnermedia-prepares-take-netflix-n1055276