Streaming media Stories November 17, 2015

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T-Mobile is extending its popular Music Freedom service, which allows unlimited use of Google Play Music and other streaming music services without eating into your data allowance, to MetroPCS prepaid customers – albeit under a slightly different name. T-Mobile said that its Music Unlimited service would be available on a range of plans, starting from just $40/month.

Music Unlimited includes more than 30 music streaming services, including Apple Music, Pandora, Spotify, Slacker, iHeart Radio, and Google Play Music. Music Unlimited is available to new and existing MetroPCS customers on Metro’s new $40, $50, and $60 unlimited plans.

The company is also offering a Binge On equivalent, known as Data Maximizer. This compresses streaming video streams down to DVD quality to allow customers to stream three times as much video content for the same data usage …  expand full story

Streaming media Stories June 26, 2015

Meerkat continues to fight for live-streaming ubiquity, releases an embeddable player

Meerkat, the mobile live-streaming app that competes with Twitter-owned Periscope, continues to move fast with new products that make its streams more accessible, today releasing an embeddable player.

Embeddable players allow anyone with some basic understanding of how to add HTML to a website to include widget-like objects on their sites. What this means in regards to Meerkat is that anyone who live streams using the company’s mobile app can now have their streams viewable from their own websites. We could, for example, host a 9to5 live stream on Meerkat and include the stream in this very post so you wouldn’t have to download an app to see it.

One of Meerkat’s partners with this launch is Discovery Channel, the media giant behind behind Shark Week, the annual week-long programming block all about, well, sharks. And since Shark Week starts on July 5th, the partnership includes Discovery Channel streaming clips all throughout the week of shark-based festivities from their @SharkWeek Meerkat account and through an embedded player on their website. The new embedded web player looks like this:

The player can be customized before it’s embedded – comments can be shown or hidden, there are three sizing options for the player, and if you’re not live it will show your next upcoming stream if you’ve scheduled one. Otherwise if you haven’t scheduled an upcoming stream it’ll show the stats from your last stream.

Even though competitor Periscope is owned and has its salaries paid by Twitter, who’s public market value is $22 billion, Meerkat has managed to stay nimble and ahead in the race to build out features that expand the potential audience of its streams. The company back in May released a developer platform and API upon which others could build their own Meerkat experiences – maybe a full-screen, leanback experience like YouTube TV, for example. The company also released its Android app ahead of Periscope.

The company has been fighting an uphill battle against Periscope ever since the Twitter-owned product launched, however, even though it had a month head start. In many countries including the United States, Periscope ranks much higher in overall downloads as well as in the social networking category, in both Google Play and Apple’s App Store.

It’s hard to say whether mobile live streaming is a winner-takes-all space, or both can live alongside each other in harmony. Periscope has the benefit of one today being more closely integrated with Twitter’s social network, the best in the world for following real-time news. But at the same time it only has roughly 300 million monthly actives, much less than Facebook and on-par with Instagram. How much of a competitive advantage that may be is uncertain. Only time will tell.

Streaming media Stories May 1, 2015

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Meerkat may have had the launch of its live video streaming app rather overshadowed by Twitter’s official app, Periscope, but it has today made it to Android ahead of its competitor.

Meerkat allows you to live stream video from your phone to all of your Twitter followers at once. Press ‘Stream’, and instantly your live video stream shows up in your follower’s Twitter feeds.

When your followers have the app, they will also get pushed notified with your live stream, watch, comment and interact with it using the app.

It’s officially a beta, so don’t expect everything to work perfectly, but TechCrunch says that it appears to work well …  expand full story

Everyone can use an Echo Dot: Just $50!

Streaming media Stories December 2, 2014

Google’s diminutive and cheap Chromecast is making strong headway against its competitors according to a report today by Parks Associates. Priced at $35 but now going for just over $20, the dongle, which is controlled by Apps on iOS and Android devices rather than a traditional remote has passed the almost forgotten Apple TV and is closing in on the king of streamers, the Roku.  Roku and AppleTV represented two thirds of the market last year but with entrants like Chromecast and Amazon’s Fire TV/Stick, the two dropped to around half the market.

The research finds Roku is still the leading brand with 29% of sales, but Google Chromecast (20%) has supplanted Apple TV (17%) in second place. New entrant Amazon Fire TV is in fourth place with 10%. Consumer content choices are also increasing, with Showtime and Sony planning to launch their own OTT video services to compete with Netflix and HBO.

“Nearly 50% of video content that U.S. consumers watch on a TV set is non-linear, up from 38% in 2010, and it is already the majority for people 18-44,” said Barbara Kraus, Director, Research, Parks Associates. “The market is changing rapidly to account for these new digital media habits. Roku now offers a streaming stick, and Amazon’s Fire TV streaming stick leaves Apple as the only top player without a stick product in the streaming media device category.”

Sticks are where it is at it would seem. Conversely, Google’s Nexus Player, introduced in October, has yet to make a blip but it might also show up in results next year.

Streaming media Stories August 18, 2014

We’ve been hearing rumors of a YouTube streaming music service for quite a while, but now Android Police has published a report detailing Google’s streaming music plans. The report claims that Google will soon launch a new service called YouTube Music Key, as well as rebrand Google Play Music All Access to Google Play Music Key.

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Streaming media Stories July 23, 2014

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Frustrations over delays in launching YouTube’s long-awaited subscription-based music service are the reason the company has just lost its second head of music in less than a year, reports the WSJ.

Chris LaRosa, YouTube’s product manager in charge of music, will be leaving Google this Friday to join a startup. A YouTube spokesman confirmed LaRosa’s departure but didn’t say which startup LaRosa would be joining.

We’ve been hearing rumors about YouTube’s plans to launch the service since last October – the rumors then suggesting it would launch that year. Then it was going to be the first quarter this year. And then the second quarter – which just ended, still with no sign of the service nearing launch …

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