Apple partners with A24, the studio behind ‘Moonlight’ and ‘Hereditary’

Apple has signed a multi-year agreement with A24, which will see the film studio producing multiple movies for Apple.

Not much else is known about the deal yet — not the number of films, their genres or the talent involved. Still, the deal suggests that Apple is going to be investing seriously in original films, along with TV shows. Over the past year or so, Apple’s been releasing a steady drumbeat of content announcements, for shows like an adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” novels, a drama set in the world of morning TV starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon and a series from “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle. What’s less clear is how Apple plans to distribute theses shows and movies, though there have been reports that it will give the content away for free to people who own iOS and tvOS devices. A24, meanwhile, is a relatively
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Spotify alums create Canopy content suggester that won’t steal your data

Personalization comes at a steep price. All your data gets sucked up into a company’s servers where they can do whatever they want with it. But Canopy is a new content discovery startup that’s invented impressive technology that lets it learn about you anonymously while all your data stays on your device. Built by the co-founder and CTO of Echo Nest, the music data startup Spotify acquired to power its recommendations, Canopy wants to turn privacy into a competitive advantage. It plans to equip any content app with its tech that crunches your biographical and behavior data on your phone or computer so all it sends along are clues to what you want to see or hear next.

But first, Canopy will launch its own proof of concept app early next year that suggests long-form articles and podcasts based on your taste and activity. “There hasn’t been a great solution
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Sweet Escape connects travelers to photographers for truly Insta-worthy holiday pics

The rise of smartphone cameras and social media in recent years has fuelled a new level of marking and sharing memories using photos, but one startup is betting that people are prepared to go the next level and spend money to hire professional photographers to make their photos even better.

Focused on travel, Sweet Escape is an Indonesia-based startup that to work with over 2,000 photographers across over 400 cities in some 100 countries. The idea is simple. If you’re traveling — overseas or locally — and want high quality photos of your trip, or just part of it, you can use Sweet Escape to find and book out a local snapper for you and your group. Photo shoots last for two hours and are charged at $300, Sweet Escape founder David Soong told TechCrunch in an interview, while activities vary from regular holiday snaps, to weddings and honeymoons, proposals, anniversaries,
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The Correspondent launches campaign to bring its ad-free journalism to the U.S.

De Correspondent, a Dutch news organization aiming to “unbreak the news,” is planning to launch in the United States next year as The Correspondent. To fund its efforts, it’s hoping to raise $2.5 million from future readers.

Co-founder and CEO Ernst Pfauth (a former tech journalist who previously served as editor in chief at The Next Web) said this campaign is meant to test the waters of whether U.S. readers are interested in The Correspondent’s journalism. If it raises the money, it will launch in the U.S. next spring. If it doesn’t, it will reconsider those plans. “We want there to be a critical mass that supports this,” Pfauth said. “We don’t want to launch, then see if enough people are interested.” What the company has developed in the Netherlands, and what it’s hoping to replicate in the U.S., is a news organization with
The Correspondent
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Wattpad launches a new program offering paid access to exclusive stories

Steve Jobs famously once said that people don’t read anymore, but it turns out younger people are, in fact, reading quite a lot – just in different ways than expected. Case in point: 70 million readers log in to online community Wattpad each month, where they spend over 22 billion minutes engaged in its original stories. 80 percent of that user base is either Millennial or Gen Z and 70 percent are female. Today, Wattpad is going after its most avid readers with the launch of new program offering exclusive stories, called Wattpad Next.

Currently in beta, Wattpad Next will initially be available to Wattpad’s 13 million monthly users in the U.S. It will then roll out to Spanish-speaking countries, followed by a global launch in 2019. The company has also tested the program before today in Canada, Great Britain, Mexico, and the Philippines. The program offers users a
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China’s NetEase raises $600M for its music streaming business

As Tencent Music, China’s largest streaming firm, reportedly stalls on its proposed U.S. IPO, one of its closest challengers is doubling down.

NetEase Cloud Music, a rival operated by games and publishing giant NetEase, just closed a fresh $600 million injection from a bevy of investors that include Baidu and General Atlantic, the company announced this week. NetEase will maintain a majority share in the company following this deal although it isn’t clear what the valuation is. The business is already valued at over $1 billion, that landmark was reached last year when it raised 750 million RMB, that was around $108 million at the time. Tencent Music operates a constellation of streaming and live-streaming music apps which Tencent claims reach a cumulative audience of 800 million users. That’s quite a generous figure since China’s official stat keeper recognizes that the country has 800 million internet users
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YouTube VR finally lands on the Oculus Go

Today, Google’s YouTube VR app arrives on the $199 Oculus Go, bringing the largest library of VR content on the web to Facebook’s entry-level VR device.

YouTube brings plenty of content in conventional and more immersive video types. It’s undoubtedly the biggest single hub of 360 content and native formats like VR180, though offering access to the library at large is probably far more important to the Oculus platform. One of the interesting things about Oculus’s strategy with the Go headset is that gaming turned out to be the minority use case following media consumption. If you find it hard to believe that so many people are out there binging on 360 videos it’s because they probably aren’t. Users have kind of co-opted the device’s capabilities to make it a conventional movie and TV viewing device, there are apps from Netflix and Hulu while Facebook has also built Oculus
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What’s next? The top media executives on the job market

Keep an eye out for the next moves by these entrepreneurs and executives. A number of the biggest names in media left their jobs over the last year (or announced they will be leaving soon), including a handful of now-billionaires who have resources, ambition, and time on their hands to explore something new.

We are experimenting with new content forms at TechCrunch. This is a rough draft of something new —provide feedback directly to the author, Eric Peckham (@epeckham), our columnist focused on the intersection of media and technology. Most notably, there are Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch (with rumored plans to launch a VC firm), Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine, VICE founder/CEO Shane Smith (who transitioned to a Chairman role), Oculus co-founder Brendan Iribe, and Oath’s CEO Tim Armstrong. There’s also a long list of other names you may not
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Facebook Portal needs more. At least it just added YouTube

To offset the creepiness of having Facebook’s camera and microphone in your house, its new Portal video chat gadget needs best-in-class software.  Its hardware is remarkably well done, plus Messenger and the photo frame feature work great. But its third-party app platform was pretty skimpy when the device launched this week.

Facebook is increasingly relying on its smart display competitors to boost Portal’s capabilities. It already comes with Amazon Alexa inside. And now, Google’s YouTube is part of the Portal app platform. “Yes, YouTube.com is available through an optional install in the ‘Portal Apps’ catalog” a Facebook spokesperson tells me. You can open it with a “Hey Portal” command, but there currently seems to be no way to queue up specific videos or control playback via voice.

The addition gives Portal much greater flexibility when it comes to video. Previously it could only play videos from Facebook Watch,
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Disney to invest in more original content for Hulu, expand service internationally

In addition to plans to launch its own Netflix rival, Disney+, next year, the company says it also plans to increase investment in its other streaming service, Hulu. Thanks its buyout of 21st Century Fox, Disney now own 60 percent of the TV streaming service, which it gives it “considerable say” in how Hulu is run, noted Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger on this week’s earnings call with investors. He said the plan now is to invest in more original content for Hulu and expand the service internationally.

Disney would also be open to acquiring more of a stake in Hulu, the CEO later said. Disney sees the value in both Hulu’s IP and talent, particularly on the television and movies side, Iger told investors. And it plans to use the television production capabilities of the now combined company to “fuel Hulu with a lot more original programming,” he added. This,
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David Attenborough to voice Netflix’s nature conservation series, Our Planet

Netflix has persuaded everyone’s favorite naturalist, David Attenborough, to voice its forthcoming original nature documentary series, Our Planet, which is slated to put conservation squarely in the frame, not just offer glorious animal eye-candy.

It’s a timely moment to focus on conservation with climate change posing existential threats to global biodiversity — unless humans act to limit temperature rises. Since the 1970s Attenborough has voiced and fronted myriad major BBC nature documentaries, including the recent critically acclaimed Blue Planet series. Some of his output has been available to stream on Netflix. But now the on-demand video platform has signed the 92-year-old to voice an eight-part original nature series it’s been creating in collaboration with Silverback Films — whose director, Alastair Fothergill, was the creator of both Blue Planet and the also critically acclaimed Planet Earth documentary series — and conservation charity WWF . Our Planet is due to premiere on Netflix on April
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David Attenborough to voice Netflix’s nature conservation series, Our Planet

Netflix has persuaded everyone’s favorite naturalist, David Attenborough, to voice its forthcoming original nature documentary series, Our Planet, which is slated to put conservation squarely in the frame, not just offer glorious animal eye-candy.

It’s a timely moment to focus on conservation with climate change posing existential threats to global biodiversity — unless humans act to limit temperature rises. Since the 1970s Attenborough has voiced and fronted myriad major BBC nature documentaries, including the recent critically acclaimed Blue Planet series. Some of his output has been available to stream on Netflix. But now the on-demand video platform has signed the 92-year-old to voice an eight-part original nature series it’s been creating in collaboration with Silverback Films — whose director, Alastair Fothergill, was the creator of both Blue Planet and the also critically acclaimed Planet Earth documentary series — and conservation charity WWF . Our Planet is due to premiere on Netflix on April
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Roku expands its free streaming channel with entertainment and live sports

Roku’s ad-supported free streaming channel is expanding. No, not to more platforms — it already did that. But rather, it’s expanding its content lineup. While before the channel offered free-to-stream movies and news, it will now feature live and linear sports and entertainment content, the company says.

As of earlier this year, The Roku Channel added live news from ABC News, Cheddar, Newsmax, Newsy, People TV, Yahoo and, most recently, The Young Turks, from the TYT Network. It will now add entertainment content from partners including TMZ, AFV, FailArmy, People Are Awesome, Pet Collective and more. As with the channel’s other offerings, none of these streams will require a subscription. Meanwhile, the channel will also begin to stream live sporting events from the Adventure Sports Network, COMBT GO, EDGEsport, Stadium and Wham Network, among others. The additions come on the heels of Roku’s Q3 earnings, which saw the company beat Wall
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Disney’s new streaming service will be called Disney+

We knew Disney was building its own on-demand streaming service, à la Netflix or HBO GO, but we didn’t know the name.

Now we do. Disney’s new streaming service will be called Disney+. While there’s been a few rumored names (it was misreported, at one point, to be “Disney Play”), word of this name comes straight from the Mouse House:

Disney+ will launch in “late” 2019 — which makes sense, as that’s right around the time Disney’s remaining contractual ties with Netflix come to an end. Disney also dropped news about two new series:

IAC reorg makes Vimeo and DotDash standalone segments, adds new acquisition Robokiller

IAC is changing the way its business is organized, the company reported during its Q3 2018 earnings on Wednesday. The company’s video platform Vimeo and DotDash (previously About.com) will become their own separate segments at IAC starting in Q4. That means they’ve reached the point their revenues can stand on their own.

The company beat on third quarter revenue expectations in the quarter with a revenue increase to $1.1 billion from $828.4 million a year ago, ahead of FactSet analyst expectations of $1.07 billion. However, net income was $145.8 million, or $1.49 a share, down from $179.6 million, or $1.79 a share, a year earlier. The drop was attributed to a tax benefit that it received in the year-ago period. Vimeo’s revenue growth in the quarter increased 29 percent, and it grew its subscriber base by 10 percent to 932,000,
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Spotify debuts an analytics service for music publishers

Spotify’s artist dashboard already allows musicians and their managers a way to track the success of their tracks and album releases, as well as view other data about their fans. Now, the streaming music service is debuting its first analytics tool aimed at music publishers. The new tool is launching into beta this morning, and will allow publishers to track daily streaming stats, including playlist performance, and view data across all the songwriters on their roster.

“We know that there are usually many more people involved in the creation of your favorite song than just the artist whose face appears on the billboard,” explains the company, in its announcement. “Spotify Publishing Analytics is the first analytics tool from a music streaming service built specifically for publishers, so they can better serve their songwriters.” The platform was built in collaboration with partners, including BMG and Reservoir, who offered statements of
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White House shares manipulated Infowars video to justify CNN press ban

Read this slowly: The White House’s press secretary has tweeted a manipulated video shared by the editor-at-large of conspiracy theorist outlet Infowars to attempt to justify its decision to suspend the press credentials of CNN’s chief white house correspondent.

CNN’s Jim Acosta had his press pass pulled by the White House earlier today after press secretary Sarah Sanders claimed he had “plac[ed] his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job”. Acosta disputes this.

The journalist had being trying to continue asking president Trump questions during a contentious exchange at a White House press briefing. During this exchange Trump cut over him verbally — saying “that’s enough” — at which point a female White House intern moved towards Acosta and attempted to take the microphone out of his hands. The journalist dodged and then blocked

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Sling TV’s growth further slows in Q3, but still leads rivals in terms of subscribers

It appears Dish’s live TV streaming service, Sling TV, has been impacted by the increased competition from rivals like YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now, and others. Sling TV still leads the market with 2.37 million subscribers for its TV service aimed at cord cutters, Dish reported in its Q3 2018 earnings, but its momentum is slowing.

In the first quarter of the year, Sling TV added 91,000 subscribers, followed by 41,000 in Q2, and now just 26,000 additions in Q3, according to Dish’s earnings results out today. That allows it to retain its first place position, but that lead may not last for much longer. AT&T’s DirecTV Now had been catching up to Sling TV in recent months, leading some to believe it would surpass Sling TV by year-end. Launched two years ago, DirecTV Now added 49,000 subscribers in its Q3, it
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China’s obsession with short videos has its internet giants worried

Take a subway ride in China and expect to see a lot of commuters’ eyes glued to TikTok videos on their phones.

Video clips like TikTok’s are now consuming nearly nine percent of Chinese people’s time online, a 5.2 percent jump from 2017, according to app analytics firm QuestMobile. Apps such as TikTok — which is operated by ByteDance, the world’s highest valued startup at $75 billion — have become popular among previously camera-shy users. Those who lack editing experience can now easily add beautifying filters and music to spice up their work.
tiktok gif 1

Elderly couple having a moment on Douyin / Credit: Douyin ID @淘气陈奶奶

It also helps that smartphone data became cheaper and internet penetration kept growing in recent years — China now has 800 million smartphone users, according to government data. In 2013, just under 40 percent of China’s online population streamed videos on their phones, according to
tiktok douyin
tiktok douyin
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Original Content podcast: We’re left a little cold by Netflix’s new ‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’

It seemed like the ingredients were there for “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” to win us over.

After all, at least one of the hosts of the Original Content podcast is a fan of “Riverdale,” and this comes from the same creative team, with a similar approach — instead of a noir version of Archie, it’s a show that takes the “witch” side of Sabrina the Teenage Witch a little more seriously, with genuine spookiness and scares. We didn’t hate the show, but we didn’t love it either — too many of the characters felt flat, there were some annoying visual tics and it’s just not as much fun as “Riverdale.” Our guest host Jon Shieber probably liked it the most, finding rich thematic material (and surprising parallels with “The Haunting of Hill House”) hidden beneath the monsters, the mythology and the teen angst. We also offer some
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