Amazon Steps Up The Game: Free Music Streaming Service With Ads Now Available


Image Source: Amazon

The music streaming industry has long been dominated by the three companies Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music. Since its creation, Amazon Prime Music was only available for use by the companies Prime members. In a move that many media researchers believe is to step up the game against Spotify and Apple, Amazon is now offering its music streaming service for free to anyone (none-prime members) who download the application on IOS/Android devices, Fire TV, and online.

Of course like its competitors, the free download and use of the music streaming service comes with advertisements in order to continue to listen to music.  The service will be available to anyone in the U.S., U.K. and Germany and offers the same 2-million song catalog as Prime Music, with the exception of Prime Music being ad-free for users that are subscription members to the companies services.

Interestingly enough, Spotify’s stock price dropped almost 5% following Amazon’s announcement of their free music streaming service intended to take in more users to compete against Spotify’s astonishing 140 million users a month.

“Expansion of the free-with-ads Amazon service will expose more consumers to Amazon’s music, who can then be promoted to join Prime to get the ad-free Amazon Music free — or to upgrade to Amazon’s more premium music services” (Lukovitz).

With the addition of the add-supported Amazon Music service to its lineup, the company now offers four different versions of music streaming with Prime Music, Amazon Music Unlimited (50 million song catalog) and Amazon Music HD which features its largest catalog and quality music streaming.

Many believe this expansion of the free-with-ads service will expose more people to Amazon, which in turn will lead to the promotion of these consumers to become a prime member for ad-free music or maybe even taking it a step further to the Unlimited or HD service.

I believe that the music streaming service is only becoming more popular with many of these media giants targeting their members with subscription based services in order to gain revenue and customer loyalty which is essential in today’s digital world. All three of these leading music streaming services constantly are looking for an upper hand to their competitors, and Amazon appears to have just moved towards leveling the playing field.



National TV Ad Spending Skyrockets As New Streaming Services Release


Image Source: AP Photo/Richard Drew

Today is a significant day in media history as the brand new streaming service Disney + dropped at midnight. Apple TV’s streaming service also was made available to consumers within the past couple of weeks leaving many researchers asking questions on what the future of streaming will hold as some of the top media organizations in the world now operate fully functional media streaming services.

One of the biggest outcomes we have been seeing from these new platforms being released is a massive jump in television advertisements by organizations like Walt Disney preparing for their products release. Disney Plus in specific over the last two months has spent around $24.9 million dollars on TV advertisements with 21 different creative pieces that aired a total of 2,516 times.

This kind of aggressive marketing by the Walt Disney organization comes with hopes that Disney + will catch fire with its loved and box office breaking film/television selections including popular production companies they own such as Marvel Studios, Pixar, and National Geographic. Apple TV in contrast has made an even bigger mark in television ad spending over the past couple of months, leading the industry with an astonishing $47.7 million dollars spent and over 3,176 total airings.

Both Disney + and Apple TV commercials have been appearing during similar program slots that contain a high quantity of ratings such as NFL Football, MLB World Series, The 71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, and The Walking Dead.

Although brand new releases, Disney + and Apple TV are not the only streaming platforms that have caused the dramatic spike in TV ad spending recently. Other platforms well established in the industry such as Amazon Prime Video ($36.6 million total spending) and Hulu ($28.2 million total spending) have also been marketing themselves aggressively since September. Many believe this comes in response to these companies trying to compete with Disney + and Apple TV’s new platforms and try to remain the top subscription platforms in media.

I am personally very curious to see how the introduction of new streaming platforms will change how/who consumers will subscribe to. Clearly after industry leaders like Netflix and Hulu have made millions of dollars off of media streaming, other major players want a piece of the pie. Over the past couple of years platforms like Netflix offered content from many different media production companies including Disney. Thus, as these giant contracts begin to expire in the next coming years, it is anticipated that the companies like Walt Disney will make their productions exclusive and only capable of being accessed through a subscription to Disney +. Clearly the impact of streaming video and audio has changed the media world entirely and will continue to grow well into the future.




Netflix Allows Viewers To Skip Over Trump Jokes In Seth Meyer’s Comedy Special: “Lobby Baby”


Image Source: Netflix

We all know one of the tools Netflix has implicated within some of its programs is the ability for consumers to skip the introduction credits. While this ability is something we have seen the streaming platform use for a while, what if it is taken a step further?

Seth Meyer’s new Netflix comedy special “Lobby Baby” which will debut on the platform tonight has a new feature built in it which has raised a significant amount of attention. For the first time ever, similar to the skip button used at the beginning of introduction credits, users will now have the ability to skip over certain parts of Meyer’s special when viewing it.

This ability to skip content in the special will only be available when Meyer’s turns to content that Netflix deemed as jokes directed towards President Donald Trump. Meyer’s in specific is known for his rather dark and non-hold back kind of humor especially in his routines towards Trump.

Even more interestingly enough, this idea and proposal for Netflix to integrate the skip button when Trump jokes are taking place in the special was requested by Seth Meyers himself. Many analysts were surprised by this move from the comedian as the platforms are usually the lead drivers of user interactivity and the ability to alter content’s playback speed instead of the talent/creator requesting it.

In an interview with CNN, Meyer’s remarked that it simply “occurred to him that it would be fun to use Netflix’s technology for a novel effect.” In fact, he believes this bold move will only contribute to the comedy behind the special because viewers will understand that the actual idea of allowing people who are sick of political humor to opt out is something to laugh at within itself. It is almost as if he is requesting Netflix to put in the skip button during Trump content to make fun of the individuals who may actually use.

Thus, as the special becomes available tonight for the first time, many predict this feature will not be used by many, as most of Meyer’s audience who enjoy his content also find humor in his aggressive political jokes towards the president.

Although in this instance it seems like this kind of ability to skip over content that may offend political beliefs is being used as part of the act, I believe this is far from the last time we will see this kind of action taken by Netflix and other popular streaming services. With streaming video becoming the most popular form of media consumption and only expected to continue in growth, so is the backfire that will come with some of this material being released. Many individuals and groups now more then ever are calling for the restriction of certain offensive material that may have to do with factors such as religion, politics, race, gender, etc.

The idea of the skip button for credits may be used much more in the future release of content especially comedy specials that target these kinds of sensitive topics in modern society. I feel as though this will introduce a very back and forth debate within the media world about content creators and delivery companies having the right to go after these sensitive topics while some may view it as a line that must be drawn.


YouTube and Channel Operators Sued Over Children’s Privacy: The Fight Against Targeted Ads


Image Source: Getty Images, BBC News

It is no secret in the modern digital age that tracking our data while online is happening. Many describe this process so sophisticated and in depth that data collectors essentially can create a digital identity of all online consumers from the information they are capable of collecting. The advertising industry is no stranger to these kind of tracking methods often paying large amounts of money to receive information from data mining companies in order to better target consumers on the web.

Recently, YouTube and a multitude of some of its biggest channel operators including Hasbro, Mattel, and Cartoon Network are being hit with a new lawsuit claiming these organizations have illegally tracked young children to serve them with targeted ads on the platform.

California resident Nichole Hubbard filed a class action complaint last week claiming her child who was a frequent consumer of Hasbro’s “My Little Pony Office” on YouTube has fallen victim to this tracking.

Google and the channel operators collected my son’s personal information for the purposes of tracking, profiling, and targeting him with advertisements” (Hubbard, U.S. District Court San Jose).

This is far from the first lawsuit filed by concerned parents claiming that giant media companies and data collectors have actively and “fraudulently” tried to hide their acts of tracking children of a certain age and using their data to target them with advertisements on popular platforms online. Researchers have expressed their findings that companies like Google use their algorithms to collect “ill-gotten” data from billions of children’s YouTube video views.

These allegations if proven true are a direct violation of The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act which “prohibits companies from knowingly collecting personal information — including web-browsing data that is used to target ads — from children under 13, without their parents’ permission” (FTC). Google has been a long time promoter of YouTube to children’s companies such as Mattel and Hasbro as a top platform to reach the eyes of young children.

While the investigation is ongoing, two months ago Google was involved in a similar lawsuit when they agreed to pay 170 million to settle allegations against the FTC and New York Attorney General when YouTube was found guilty for collecting data from children under the age of 13 on the platform.

Personally, I believe these lawsuits and arising issues are far from over in the new digital age that is arising, especially towards specific platforms that some field executives deem to be the most powerful influences in the world. Big data and the concerns behind it are only growing as countless companies are finding more precise and intrusive ways to not only target specific users, but sell it for high profit to third party vendors looking to use strategic advertising.

We are at a point in digital media and data information where a breaking point is on the rise. We essentially have two specific identities in the modern era that will follow us forever which is our physical entity, and our identity online. Media companies and data collectors are recognizing the ways they can now reach and impact our lives through the online network, therefore extremely strict and proper regulations/penalties must be set in motion by our governments to essentially save humans basic rights especially when it comes to children.




Roku buys Dataxu for 150 Million: The Strive to Become the Top OTT Platform Through DSP


Image by: Getty Images, Roku, DataXu

Over-the-top media services (OTT) are a growing form of media consumption platforms that offer users the ability to stream media directly over the internet. OTT media service giants such as Amazon Fire TV and Roku have competed to be the top platform for years in a growing world of streaming consumption.

Roku recently has shocked the industry buying the DSP, Dataxu, a marketing company that helps media professionals use data to improve their advertising. Dataxu goes off their company mission which is “Our software empowers you to connect with real people across all channels, including TV, capturing consumers’ attention when and where it matters most” (Dataxu)

The deal between the merger consisted of a 150 million in cash/stock deal. Roku intends with this deal to be able to use the data/marketing company to better be able to compete with other major OTT platforms like Amazon Fire TV who currently claims north of 34 million users. Roku has around 30.5 million users as of the summer of 2019, but one key feature has set Amazon Fire TV and Roku apart. Amazon currently has its own Demand-side platform (DSP) which is a system that allows buyers of digital advertising inventory to manage “multiple ad exchange and data exchange accounts through one interface” (Wikipedia).

As Amazon Fire TV has begun to allow video publishers to sell advertising through their own DSP, Roku hopes to use their newly acquired DSP, Dataxu, as a media-planning tool to help optimize their business outcomes since the software provides marketers with an automated self bidding, and self-serve platform for managing advertising campaigns.

Roku will not only now be able to compete more strongly with other OTT media services with Dataxu as as Demand-side platform to help them drive their number of users, but also receive profit from Dataxu’s current users all over the world.

Acquisitions such as these put an emphasis on the idea of media convergence as well as the importance of media companies to be innovative and involved in marketing/advertising technology, an area in which most of these giants make their revenue off of. Instead of integrating their own Demand-side platform like Amazon, Roku raised the stakes of the game by buying one to not only help their growing media service platform, but increase company profit/share in the technology realm significantly.




Gen Z Women Driving the Digital World: A Look At The Ambivalence and Open-Mindedness Behind It


Image Source: Pew Research Center

Its been known since the beginning shift of the digital world and its relentless growth that young consumers are typically the most digitally connect. Yet, after conducting studies researchers have found that Gen Z women (mid-1990’s to early 2000’s) generally prefer products that offer the latest technology, but interestingly enough are very ambivalent to them despite their partake in use. Gen Z women’s interest and adaption of new digital technology is “eight percentage points more than American women overall, and five points more than millennial women” (Mahoney).

Despite this prominent trend of Gen Z women being one of the most adaptive users of innovative technology changes, marketers looking to sell their products have also noticed these women are much less likely to want to always be reached and hold strong opinions that new technological advancement is greatly hurting society (opinions you wouldn’t expect from a group that greatly uses new technology).

After noticing these kinds of demographic and psycho-graphic trends in Gen Z women, what does this mean for marketers, advertisers, researchers, inventors etc. who are looking to target their products to this large market segment? Well to start, they will have to begin focusing on digital devices and other services that Gen Z women can appreciate and view as a solution to some of their opinions. This could include devices that are aware and programmed to reflect this groups desire for privacy at times and helps diminish their skeptical view on technology’s overall well-being to humanity.

“Only 34% of Gen Z women say they’re optimistic about tech’s impact on society, 15 points below U.S. women overall, and 16 points below millennials” (Mahoney). Large technology companies will have to gradually adjust their products in order to stay ahead of this curve in the market. Tech giant Apple has already shown some progress towards this factor by incorporating applications on their market dominating product, the iPhone, which allows users to monitor and track their daily time spent on the device, which essentially helps counteract Gen Z women’s view of the problematic amount of time spent on digital devices.

It is clear how much time and money is implemented on researching different market segments in order for these companies to develop products that not only appeal to these groups, but understand their opinions and viewpoints especially on the digital age’s effect on society. If these businesses are looking to continue to gain the approval and use of specific groups for their products, innovation and recognition must come into play.




Consumer Video Streaming Spending Expected To Skyrocket


Image: Apple Website

It’s the time in streaming that everyone has been waiting for. Four of the world’s largest media companies will release their own major premium video streaming service (Apple TV +, Disney +, HBO Max, and NBC Peacock). As cord cutting progresses and consumer markets move towards paying for media through streaming services, major players in the industry have recognized this shift and made moves towards innovation.

Consumer video streaming spending is forecasted to continue its rapid growth into the next year rising from 14.1 billion to an astonishing 22 billion. This 25% growth rate is one of the largest spending increases seen by media companies in history. The Consumer Technology Association believes this year will be the sharpest increase in consumer video streaming spending as new platforms are released, which will eventually lead to a steady level-off in the next coming years.

In addition to consumer subscription spending, researchers also predict the sales of popular smart TV’s will also see a significant 4% increase in sales to around 29 million. Though many have a positive outlook on smart TV’s, the increase in sales is significantly lower then streaming platform spending due to the fact that not all smart TV app software includes the large selection roster of channels that platforms like Hulu, Netflix, and Disney + have.

Another interesting area in streaming that media analysts are anticipating to see in the next coming year is growth in “free ad-supported” video streaming from popular companies such as Tubi, Pluto TV, and Xumo. Though not as profitable as their competing counterparts, many are interested to see how these companies will fair in this industry shift.

Many are calling this enormous growth phase in how consumers receive and choose their media one of the most influential events in media history. What is interesting to see is the amount of selections and control these companies are giving to its customers and the level of satisfaction they will seek from these platforms. A large question that still lingers going forward as these new platforms such as Disney + and Apple TV + unveil their services is how hard will it be to access specific content without these paid subscriptions?

For example, if an individual desires to watch popular TV shows such as “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” which is a production by FX Network (a television unit of the Walt Disney Company), will the famous series only be available through a subscription to Disney +? These kind of questions are what could potentially be make or break for the streaming industry and will place a heavy focus on the strategy and marketing of these media giants software moving forward.



“Descript” Application Revolutionizing Podcasting: And Possibly The Spread Of Misinformation

5d820a8cd66da6fb0adc4771_commenting   Descript Website


Whether an amateur or even professional podcaster, all these individuals are well aware of the painstaking process of editing that takes place behind the scenes. Specifically, the copious errors behind human speech patterns and the precise editing to correct these mistakes require large amounts of time/experience to fix.

“Load up the audio. Listen. Drag. Delete. Listen again. Restore the original audio. Hone. Delete again. Re-listen. It’s exhausting. And that’s just for the little things. There’s a better way” (Laforme, p.1).

Descript has become one of the most popular and innovative editing platforms specifically for the production of podcasts. This tool creates a text transcript of audio files and as users delete or rearrange the transcript, the same tool edits the audio file to match it exactly essentially eliminating a whole area of editing required to produce clean production. Formerly, the application required users to pay for every new production they would create, but recently the company has moved towards paid monthly subscriptions for unlimited edits/projects.

The application announced over the weekend that its new version update will add a number of new autonomous podcast editing tools, but most importantly  the software is also being integrated with Lyrebird, a “text-to-speech tool that the internet lost its mind over in 2017.” Podcast editors who use Descript will now have the ability to simply type text into the application and have a custom audio generated sound produced.

While this new integration with Lyrebird could prove to help editors drastically such as allowing them to fill in a missed word or two on their audio tracks, many are worried about this software that could allow users to “clone” someone else’s voice.

Misinformation has been a growing problem over the internet and news sources as the spread/access of information continues to grow increasingly more powerful every day. Podcasters using Descript have expressed significant amounts of concern towards this new update in fear that auto generated voicing could lead to editors cloning other individuals voices and releasing their productions online.

A great example of this potential danger could be unleashed in the upcoming Democratic candidate race. With leading candidates such as Biden topping the boards, this kind of auto voice generation could make it easy to clone the sound of his voice releasing false statements all over the internet. Though many can refute this concern by saying the voice generation was fake, a cloud of misinformation and productions could make it increasingly more difficult to differentiate between fact or fiction.

Descript claims to have recognized this potential threat in media and released an ethics statement on its new update saying “We are committed to modeling a responsible implementation of these technologies, unlocking the benefits of generative media while safeguarding against malicious use” (Descript).

Although still early in its development/innovation, auto voice generation software is growing increasingly more strong and clean, making it easy to mimic another entities voice. When combined with a growing media industry such as podcasting and presented with the motivation of saving time on editing, the spread of misinformation could hit the industry like a title wave. Accurate information and statements is a growing area of concern in today’s society and media experts believe applications like Descript although intending to do good, are potentially pushing this issue further.



Disney+ Headed Towards Streaming Service Launch Date: Now Offering Preorders


Image: Disney

As many await the arrival of a new streaming service era of media, companies such as Disney have been putting in new tactics to try to separate themselves from its competition. Many are familiar with streaming platform giants Netflix and Hulu which pushed the industry towards a “cord-cutting” environment. In other words many are leaving their traditional cable and satellite television packages and using streaming  services to access their favorite television series, movies, live TV, games, etc. Media companies such as the Walt Disney Corporation, WarnerMedia, and Apple have followed in the footsteps of this shift and are releasing their own streaming platforms in the next coming months.

Disney+ in particular, which is set to release on November 12, is gaining wide spread attention and could potentially become a top contending steaming platform in the industry. Recently the company announced that they will be offering a preorder promotion for the standalone app which includes a seven day free trial. The free trial will actually begin on the release date of the service and following that subscribers will pay a price of $6.99 a month ($69.99 per year)

The preview site advises those who want the app “as part of a $12.99-per-month bundle with Hulu and ESPN+ to wait until November 12 to sign up” (Disney+). This preorder and bundle reflects similar prices of other streaming services in the industry leaving it entirely up to the consumers the platform they wish to use and the content they feel as though they want to be paying a low monthly fee for.

Disney+ representatives believe their streaming service will have an edge in the field and attraction to new consumers because of the platform’s stress on “the best stories in the world from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic.” Additionally, subscribers will have the capabilities of having unlimited downloads, simultaneous streaming on a maximum of four different devices, and up to seven profiles.

Disney+ is entering the streaming world in November confident that they will be part of the 2 to 3 monthly subscriptions that the average viewer is paying for each month as the cord-cutting shift grows stronger. Disney in particular compared to its competition also has a vast library of original content to offer that other services will not be able to have as contracts expire such as Disney Studios, 21st Century Fox, Marvel, Lucasfilm, etc.

News stories such as Dinsey+ offering promotions like early preorders is just the beginning of the wave of options and outreaches to media consumers to try out new streaming platforms. For the past couple of years Hulu and Netflix have been the dominant streaming services in the industry but as their contracts run out for content from other media companies such as WarnerMedia and Disney, these companies are looking to dip their feet in the large profit as well.

The real question that remains is as households switch from cable to streaming for their media needs, how many subscriptions will they be paying a month and most importantly which platforms will they choose? Will streaming platforms work together and accept customers using multiple platforms or will they try to offer one entire package to fit all of a specific individuals needs?


Google Search Integrates Links To Specific Moments In Online Video


Google, who has been one of the main drivers behind the constantly changing methods to search engines, announced Sunday that they will be implementing a big change when it comes to searching for information online. Google Search will now allow users to have access to links that will bring them to specific moments in videos that match what they typed in the search bar. Essentially, Google’s search engine will be able to give online users the power to scan and find the exact moments in videos that addresses what they typed in.

Innovation such as this has left many individuals shocked and excited to try it out for themselves. Before, Google’s search engines were only capable of displaying links to entire videos that matched what was entered in the search bar. By allowing users to access specific moments in videos that relate to their searches, Google employees believe individuals will be able to save countless amounts of time when browsing the web.

“People can now search for content and scan a video to determine whether a video has specific content. This change also makes video content more accessible for those using screen readers” (Laurie Sullivan).

According to an updated forecast released by Publicis Media, time spent watching online video is expected to expand more than 20% in the next two years reaching a peak average of 100 minutes daily. Google appears to be recognizing this trend and moving towards making video content much more accessible and easy to find for all of its users.

YouTube creators have also been working in parallel with this innovation movement in search engines by having the ability to add time-stamp information to link important areas/points in the description section of their videos. Google’s new search technology will be able to recognize the text and time-stamp YouTube creators have put in their description therefore bringing users to that specific point in the video.

This is just another clear example of the increasing processing power and ability of online search engines that we use every single day. Clearly, there is a large amount of benefit from these improvements such as researchers being able to find specific video content they are looking for much easier or even marketers gaining the ability to show users their important content in different points of videos. Yet, I believe a critical eye/analysis should be cast on these changes to consider the consequences that may come. With online users expecting to increase as well as the time spent on these platforms, “internet addiction” could spike drastically. Our generation is moving towards this kind of hyper-reality where the power to access information and data through stronger technology is rising. At what point will this ability be too much or rather too dangerous in a sense? Technology will never stop improving so we must be prepared for the pros and cons that will most certainly come with it.