The Guardian writes that as Shazam hits 250 million mobile app users, it’s expanding US-based social features. All shows can now be tagged, versus just networks or producers that have a marketing deal with it. Soon, Shazam also plans to link its app to Facebook, permitting people to publish tags to their newsfeeds.
“With more than a quarter of a billion people who have used Shazam worldwide, no other app has our scale when it comes to offering the opportunity to engage with the media that interests them the most, whether it’s music or television,” stated chief executive Andrew Fisher.
Some background: people typically use Shazam to identify — and therefore tag — any music track in its database. Now you can do the same thing with ads of partner brands and American TV shows. According to Shazam, over 160 channels have been covered for the latter.
When you tag a show, you’ll receive cast info, soundtrack details, trivia and news, as well as Twitter updates and data from IMDB and Wikipedia.
“With our expansion into television, we’ve seen a surge of activity due to recent Shazam-enabled events such as the NBC Olympic broadcast, where more than one million people tagged the closing ceremony,as well as the US Open tennis grand slam event on CBS earlier this month,” said Fisher.
“We think that broadening our television service and offering more comprehensive social features will continue to drive activity and engagement.”
Expanded features are expected to launch in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain “in the coming months”. Until then, those countries can tag ads from partner brands, including Renault, Reebok, Unilever, Pepsi and Microsoft.
Shazam reports that users produce about 10 million tags daily. It claims to have generated about $300 million in sales of digital goods for the music industry alone (as it enables users to purchase songs they like from iTunes). It hopes to do the same for producers and broadcasters in the TV industry.
“Cutting the cable”. It’s all the rage in America. It means ending your cable subscription (which can cost $100/month) and opting for Netflix or similar instead (which costs a maximum of $15). Thing is, channels like HBO are so chained to cable operators that they won’t offer Game of Thrones and co. to anyone who doesn’t have cable. Hence rampant piracy.
Not so in the UK, where BSkyB, the country’s largest cable/satellite TV provider, potentially undercut itself yesterday by launching Now TV, which offers all-you-can eat on demand films, via streaming, for £15 (€20). Standard Sky subscription not necessary. Considering the cheapest of these is £34, that’s quite a bargain.
Well, not compared with Netflix (£6/month) or Amazon’s Lovefilm streaming-only offer (£5); but Now TV has the distinct advantage of offering the most recent films of the three, as it has the first “pay TV window”, i.e. it gets first dibs on movies, given the size of its standard subscriber base & owner BSkyB’s massive clout. Netflix may be stronger on the TV front (Now TV has yet to offer TV shows) and Lovefilm may well be the cheapest; but neither offer recent films.
Perhaps the most surprising in all this is that all three services only offer SD quality for now. Could HD be a bandwidth problem? Still, very much early doors — Gizmodo’s handy comparison piece suggests Brits should try out all three services for now — but the option now exists for Uk cords to be cut left, right and centre.
And to that, we say: hurrah!
Pic lifted from The Guardian
Android console Ouya makes a million in 12 hours. But will that be enough?Ouya, the Android-based console which tech blogs have been tripping over themselves to cover just now, has raised a million dollars on - you guessed it - Kickstarter. Could this be the end of gaming as we know it? YES… - It’s backed by some heavyweights, namely Yves Behar, designer of the Jambox, and by Ed Fries, one of the three original creators of the Xbox - It offers free or nearly-free games on your TV; the same ones you can get on Android phones and tablets, but in big-screen glory - It costs just $99 - It has a nifty-looking menu system, albeit totally copied off Xbox 360’s - Few other Kickstarter projects have raised so much so quickly (the initial target, set 12 hours ago, was $950,000) - Most importantly, traditional gaming is f*cked. Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony games cost too much to make and to buy. Angry Birds and co have completely disrupted that system, offering addictive mobile gaming for free/€5 a pop. It only makes sense to apply this new ethos to the lounge, especially as the big 3’s sales are hurting bad, waiting for the next generation of consoles - Cliffy B, the genius producer of blockbuster Gears of War, is just one of the many gaming stars raving about Ouya right now, on Twitter and elsewhere. That’s some high-level support. BUT… - Played many Android games? They’re mostly rip-offs of more famous console games (as the bug developers are tied to their traditional platforms). Plus the platform is buggy compared with iOS. Mid-game crashes, anyone? - The history of gaming is littered with consoles that tried to take on the incumbents and failed. Remember the Jaguar? Or the Dreamcast? Even supposedly-revolutionary cloud-based console/system OnLive is failing to make waves right now - Console and game development is ridiculously expensive. Legendary game maker Tim Schafer recently raised over $3m to make his studio’s new title: he himself said it wasn’t a huge amount in gaming terms. Ouya will burn through that million in a few months. So whilst we warmly welcome a new player to a huge gap in the market, Ouya’s work is very much cut out. Good luck, guys & gals…
OK, so Amazon was serious: $40k just thrown at first Studio projects
As we reported here, the online retail juggernaut announced a while back that it was going to fund TV-type shows. Now, Amazon Studios has revealed the first four projects it’s giving 10 grand each in development funding. They are “Magic Monkey Billionaire” (above), an animated series which is hoped to deliver Itchy & Scratchy-esque LOLs; “Doomsday” and “The 100 Deaths of Mort Grimley”, the former being a “laugh out loud mockumentary” and the latter a “dark animated comedy” (all quotes from Amazon Studios’ own blog, linked to above: includes links to each projects’ bibles, if you’re interested).
Not forgetting the only kids’ pick of the crop, “Buck Plaidsheep” seems to take an animated superhero slant on Sean the Sheep. Sort of.
More important than the ten smackeroonies each is the promise for each IP to become a full-blown series, should it test well on Amazon’s VOD network. TV’s future in the making, anyone?
Geeks slay Ikea TV. It’ll still be huge.
So Gizmodo has just done a great job at journalism 3.0, by copying a Swedish blog who says Uppleva, Ikea’s new TV/stereo/HDR/piece of furniture, is shit. Apparently (and this is me citing a blog citing another blog), the picture quality of the Chinese-made TV (aren’t all TVs made in China?) is pretty dire, and the smart TV interface is “paraplegic-slow” (how offensive is THAT?). Conclusion: buy a decent TV, a Roku box and a nice TV stand, and walk away with change from Uppleva’s asking price: a grand.
From what we can tell, the most shocking thing about Uppleva it that it comes with an 8Go USB key for recording things. An 8Go USB key?!!!
So of course, the Americans are ripping into Ikea right now, seeing as Uppleva’s available in certain EU countries, but won’t be Stateside until next year. Hence Conan’s cute send-up (above) and Gizmodo’s aggressivity. But aren’t these geeks totally out of touch with the masses?
Surely the zombie families who actually enjoy going to Ikea of a weekend will leap at the chance of purchasing a real TV (as opposed to those hollow plastic ones they must hope are real), giving nary a flying fôôk about how deep the picture’s blacks are, or that they can’t fit a whole season of The Voice on one USB key?
Uppleva, say we, is destined to become this decade’s netbook: accessible, i.e. on the 13th turn of the forced tour around your friendly neighbourhood store; cheap, as in ‘you get furniture and a stereo with it too’; and ‘designer’, as in poor man’s minimalism/”it’s Scandi so it must be icy cool”. And, like the netbook, doomed to become irrelevant in a few years’ time when something better comes along.
Don’t you think?
Xbox SmartGlass: Seamless 2screen TV, gaming & films. FTW!
OK, so the above is a promo rather than a video demo. But it rather snappily sums up why SmartGlass was the second sexiest thing at E3, after Watch Dogs.
Why? Well, M$oft - clearly more and more inspired as it gets older - has been keeping an eye on 2screen TV. You know, when you have extra content and conversations around a TV show on your smartphone or tablet, whilst watching. So it’s decided to go one step further, with extra, apparently ultra-rich content for your device - Apple and Android included - whilst playing music, games or movies.
With music, it’s a multimedia voice-controlled player (if you have Kinect); with games, a screen to show maps and extra commands (Wii U’s ouchscreen-equipped controller was clearly a major influence too); and with films and TV, your tablet shows biogs & backstories; as well as pausing content on your TV and watching the rest on the go.
WHICH MEANS YOU CAN WATCH GAME OF THRONES AND SEE THE CHARACTERS MOVING ABOUT ON A MAP OF WESTEROS! AND SEE WHICH ONE HAS A CLAIM TO THE THRONE AND WHY! AND DO YOUR ‘HOMEWORK’ IN THE CAR!
Frankly? We can’t wait…
TV one tipping point closer to total disruption
No sooner had SAI Business Insider kicked up an internet storm the other day by claiming the “TV business may be starting to collapse”; numerous recent reports suggest on-demand, non-TV-set viewing is overtaking scheduled viewing; and the rumour mill is running full whack on what TV plans Apple has up its sleeves than traditional TV got another kick in the teeth, from IHS Screen Digest.
The analysts’ latest report shows that Netflix has overtaken Apple’s iTunes in US VOD (video on demand) revenues. And perhaps the most arresting part is in the above chart: it has done so in just over a year! Netflix’s 2010 market share was 0.5%; in 2011, it had jumped to 44%, surpassing Apple in one fell swoop.
Furthermore, the streaming firm is leagues ahead of its competition: Hulu, its closest - and major-backed - competitor, is ten times smaller than Netfllix in market share terms. But others are snapping at its heels: Vudu, Wal-Mart’s Netflix-like service, has seen its market share triple of late.
No doubt the most exciting part of all this is the shift in media consumption we’re in the midst of right now. Download vs. streaming debates are currently rife in music too, and as they frequently point out, downloads - the iTunes paradigm - aren’t actually that different from selling DVDs or CDs. You pay once, you own the media, and the creator is paid once.
With new models such as Netflix or Spotify, you constantly pay a flat rate, and creators are paid - albeit no way near as much - for every play. It’s a massive change, and, as Screen Digest’s report shows, it’s now become the dominant model.
All eyes will as such be on Apple at its imminent developers’ conference. The TV app environment it is expected to unveil will at least grab the company back some content-distribution cred; but none of us will really be happy until we have our shiny new, all-in-one iTV.
With a Netflix app, of course!
Scared, Netflix? Amazon Prime is on Xbox 360
The dominant console in US homes already has Netflix. Now, it has Amazon Prime too. This means 17,000 films and TV series, including Downton Abbey, Mad Men and Mission Impossible 4 (Amazon calls it MI:3 in the press release ha ha!), all available through your M$oft console, with fancy Kinect menu scrolling if you like. One feature we like: WhisperSync. Like with Kindle books, you can stop a film on one device and pick up from the same point on another (eg. Kindle Fire or your laptop PC).
The cost: $80 (€65) a year, plus an Xbox Live membership ($50, but you’ve probably got that already if you’ve got an Xbox). Netflix’s streaming offer starts at $8/month, so, as our US homies would say, “do the math.”
Is this the end of Netflix’s dominance, or just the start of Amazon’s streaming adventure? We gather the Kindle Fire, the first device to feature Prime streaming, isn’t doing so well: so we’ll opt for the latter for now. Especially given the above so-keen-it’s-nearly-desperate video. Still, a space to be watched, if ever there was one.