Nielsen finds connected TV viewing remains higher than pre-COVID-19 levels, despite lockdowns lifting

The significant increases in TV watching and streaming services that were seen during the COVID-19 lockdowns in the U.S. may represent the new normal, new data from Nielsen suggests. During the height of the lockdowns, the weekly time spent watching connected TVs grew alongside overall media use, rising by over a billion hours in the passing weeks. But now that government restrictions and shelter-in-place orders are lifting, connected TV usage continues to remain well above pre-COVID-19 normals, the firm has found.

Connected TVs, which include things like smart TVs, internet-connected devices, and even game consoles, allow users to access a variety of entertainment beyond traditional broadcast or cable channels. They also offer access to sources of over-the-top content, streaming apps, games, and other subscription video services. Because of this wealth of content, connected TV usage grew during the pandemic while traditional TV usage in early May still hadn’t grown much over 2019 levels.

As of March 2020, 76% of U.S. homes had at least one connected TV, Nielsen data found. But that doesn’t necessarily correlate to usage. In January 2020, those homes with connected devices streamed a collective 12.5 billion of hours per month.

Shortly after COVID-19 spread in the U.S., that usage grew. The total number of hours spent with the devices was up 81% year-over-year, equating to an increase of nearly 4 billion hours of connected TV use per week.

Specifically, usage of the devices grew in the living room as families spent more time watching together, with “co-viewing,” as it’s called, growing to account for 62.5% of the share of minutes watched in early March to 64.1% by the end of the month.

Outside of the connected TV space, co-viewing across broadcast, cable and syndicated TV also grew by 2 percentage points (from 34% to 36%) from early March to early May.

What’s most notable about the data, however, is that the trend towards increased connected TV viewing isn’t being significantly impacted by the lifting of government lockdowns. Although people have the option to leave their homes and go to more places, they’re still choosing to spend time indoors watching TV.

In the first week of March, connected TV households spent a combined 2.7 billion watching TV. That continued to grow as restrictions went into place, peaking at nearly 4 billion hours during the week of April 6-12, 2020, in the U.S. By early May, however, when stay-at-home orders lifted across numerous states, connected TV usage had only dropped to 3.5 billion hours per week — higher than before the lockdowns began.

It may seem obvious that consumers would be more cautious about venturing out in the world when there’s no vaccine for COVID-19 and reported cases to continue to climb. But this is hard data that points to the potential longer-term impacts the pandemic will have on the way U.S. consumers behave.

“With 49 of the U.S. states now re-open at least partially, the continued high CTV usage is a testament to consumers’ attraction to the variety of options available and the connectivity they have to it,” said Nielsen. “So in this new normal, we see that connected TV and co-viewing are a big part of the new media consumption equation,” the firm said.

 

How to attract more than 10 million TikTok followers in 5 months

Imagine going from zero followers to 10,000,000+ followers in less than five months. I have watched somebody do exactly that.

My brother Topper Guild is already reaping the benefits of fame: People stop him in the street for photos and he’s been offered thousands of dollars to promote brands and befriend celebrities.

In less than 150 days, he went from being a high school sophomore to earning more than a Harvard MBA and working with his idols like boxer Ryan Garcia. In time, he also leveraged his following to score more than 100,000,000 views for direct-to-consumer brands like FashionNova and NUGGS.

How did he do it? And how would he advise you?

Consumer startups can apply these same strategies, tactics and ideas to grow quickly on TikTok, which is not nearly as saturated as Instagram and offers faster growth rates.

Let’s dive right into the principles he used to grow (that you can use too).

Do what works

BBC releases first beta of its Beeb voice assistant to UK Windows Insider members

Back in August 2019, the BBC made some waves with the news that it was developing a voice assistant called Beeb, an English language “Alexa” of its own that could interact with and control its array of radio and TV services, and its on-demand catalogue, and able to understand the array of accents you find in across the BBC’s national footprint to boot.

Ten months on, it’s releasing its first live version of the service in the form of a beta to a select group of early adopters: UK-based members of the Windows Insider Program, a beta-testing, bug-seeking, early-adopter group popular in the Windows community, with over 10 million users globally.

The idea with the limited release beta — according to Grace Boswood, COO of BBC Design and Engineering — will be to get Insiders to try out various features and stress test Beeb in the early beta, while at the same time giving the BBC a trove of usage data that can help it continue to train Beeb further, ahead of a wider release. The BBC is not naming a date yet for the general release.

(Those interested in trying out the early beta need to apply for the Insider Programme. When you are a member in the UK, you have to be using the latest release of Windows 10, and then you download Beeb BETA form the Windows App Store.)

The BBC today has integrations with a number of major voice assistants that power home hubs, smartphone interactions and other connected devices, and a spokesperson said that its Alexa skill (the customised mini-apps that you use with Amazon’s voice service) is one of the most popular skills in the UK. So why the BBC building its own assistant?

The short answer is independence and autonomy — and as a result, what the BBC hopes will be a better service for more people.

“An assistant of our own will give the BBC the ability to build and develop services like this, as well as the freedom to experiment with new programmes, features and experiences without someone else’s permission to build it in a certain way,” the spokesperson said Tuesday. “It will also allow us to be much more ambitious in the content and features that listeners can enjoy.”

The interactive voice market today is dominated by a group of tech giants — specifically, Amazon, Google, Apple and Microsoft — but even what looks like a relatively small list speaks of lengthy fragmentation.

Building a service for any one of them requires specific customisations, and even small changes require approvals from platform owners. Given that several on this list are also building (or already have) hefty entertainment and other content catalogues of their own, the BBC effectively is handing over the critical link between user and service to a business competing for those users’ attention (and for their usage data, itself a hot commodity these days).

On that subject, it’s notable that the BBC has chosen Microsoft as its development partner. Not only is it a longtime partner of the BBC, but it’s the only one of the four that doesn’t have a big content play of its own at the moment that stands to compete against the BBC. Beeb is being built leaning heavily on Microsoft’s Azure AI, among other services and tech.

The other side of the coin is the public service remit of the BBC. The corporation — “Auntie,” as a lot of people over here like to fondly (or sometimes sarcastically) refer to it — is funded by public money, and so it has a mandate to build services that continue to keep it as accessible as possible.

Some of that accessibility is coming in the form of delivery: Beeb is programmed from the get-go to understand all kinds of different accents (we sure have come a long way since Received Pronunciation). And some of that accessibility is coming in the form of functionality.

While a skill on Alexa will let you interact with a third-party app, these are never as good as using a service directly (in my house, we’ve lost track of the amount of times we’ve given up on trying to find something on Spotify we know is there, but Alexa cannot fish out). So to really make a voice service accessible, to use it to truly dive into the BBC universe, regardless of the platform you’re using, it has to be something built from the ground up by the BBC itself.

That also means a much more BBC experience overall. There will be jokes on Beeb written by BBC comedy writers, QI facts from Sandi Toksvig, and Mash Reports for your daily dose of news satire.

(And again, with data being a huge asset in itself, even if the BBC will never sell ads or charge users in the UK, building a platform that lets it amass and learn from what users are directly asking for, saying and consuming without an intermediary will give the BBC a huge trove of information that it can in turn use in its international services, which do generate a lot of income.)

Still, some of this feels a bit like putting the cart before the horse. Voice-based interactive services are not exactly ubiquitous today — as of last year only one in five households in the UK had a smart speaker, according to research from Strategy Analytics, and my guess is that many people are not using them all too frequently — yet it’s still a market that is growing. Building a voice-based interface is, like the now-huge iPlayer the BBC built many years ago to interact with its on-demand catalog, a smart piece of future proofing.

The Roku Channel expands to include over 100 live channels, adds a Live TV guide

Roku is expanding its free live, linear channel lineup that’s part of its free movies and TV hub, The Roku Channel. In the U.S., Roku customers will now be able to stream from over 100 live channels, including those offering free access to news, sports, movies, TV, kids and family programming, lifestyle content, and Spanish-language programming. Along with the expansion, Roku is also launching a new Live TV guide to make it easier to browse through its free content.

The update would seem to position Roku as a more of a direct challenger to rival free video streaming services, including Pluto TV and XUMO. The former was acquired by Viacom (now ViacomCBS) in 2019 for $340 million while XUMO was bought by Comcast earlier this year for over $100 million.

But instead, Roku is working in partnership with those companies — its free live channels include content that’s powered by XUMO as well as Pluto TV.

Also among the new additions are a video news channel from Reuters and A&E’s streaming networks Lively Place and Crime360.

Roku has been rapidly expanding The Roku Channel hub since its launch in September 2017. While it initially focused on offering of a selection of free, ad-supported movies — similar to Vudu’s “Movies on Us” or TUBI, for example — it has grown to include a range of free content, including TV, news, sports and even live channels, as well as add-on premium subscriptions.

Today, the hub offers over 100,000 titles, including free movies and TV reaching Roku’s estimated 36 million users.

The hub makes Roku a top choice for cord-cutters, as it centralizes access to free streaming content. The ad-supported content, meanwhile, contributes to Roku’s bottom line. The company today generates more money from its platform business than its device sales. Even amid the pandemic which saw advertisers pulling back, Roku booked $232.56 million in platform revenue in Q1, which includes ads and licensing fees, versus just $88.21 million in device sales.

Roku says the hub continues to grow substantially faster than its overall platform, with a greater than 100% increase in streaming hours year-over-year in Q1.

The launch of the Live TV Channel Guide will make accessing the expanded lineup channels easier, via a new “Live TV” tile on The Roku Channel. In addition, users can press left on their remote at any time to bring up the guide.

“Now more than ever it’s important for our users to have easy access to free content, such as news, and the ability to find it quickly,” said Ashley Hovey, Roku’s Director of AVOD Growth, in a statement. “We’re excited to enhance the streaming experience through a Live Channel TV Guide and bring more free content from The Roku Channel to the forefront.”

 

The Roku Channel expands to include over 100 live channels, adds a Live TV guide

Roku is expanding its free live, linear channel lineup that’s part of its free movies and TV hub, The Roku Channel. In the U.S., Roku customers will now be able to stream from over 100 live channels, including those offering free access to news, sports, movies, TV, kids and family programming, lifestyle content, and Spanish-language programming. Along with the expansion, Roku is also launching a new Live TV guide to make it easier to browse through its free content.

The update would seem to position Roku as a more of a direct challenger to rival free video streaming services, including Pluto TV and XUMO. The former was acquired by Viacom (now ViacomCBS) in 2019 for $340 million while XUMO was bought by Comcast earlier this year for over $100 million.

But instead, Roku is working in partnership with those companies — its free live channels include content that’s powered by XUMO as well as Pluto TV.

Also among the new additions are a video news channel from Reuters and A&E’s streaming networks Lively Place and Crime360.

Roku has been rapidly expanding The Roku Channel hub since its launch in September 2017. While it initially focused on offering of a selection of free, ad-supported movies — similar to Vudu’s “Movies on Us” or TUBI, for example — it has grown to include a range of free content, including TV, news, sports and even live channels, as well as add-on premium subscriptions.

Today, the hub offers over 100,000 titles, including free movies and TV reaching Roku’s estimated 36 million users.

The hub makes Roku a top choice for cord-cutters, as it centralizes access to free streaming content. The ad-supported content, meanwhile, contributes to Roku’s bottom line. The company today generates more money from its platform business than its device sales. Even amid the pandemic which saw advertisers pulling back, Roku booked $232.56 million in platform revenue in Q1, which includes ads and licensing fees, versus just $88.21 million in device sales.

Roku says the hub continues to grow substantially faster than its overall platform, with a greater than 100% increase in streaming hours year-over-year in Q1.

The launch of the Live TV Channel Guide will make accessing the expanded lineup channels easier, via a new “Live TV” tile on The Roku Channel. In addition, users can press left on their remote at any time to bring up the guide.

“Now more than ever it’s important for our users to have easy access to free content, such as news, and the ability to find it quickly,” said Ashley Hovey, Roku’s Director of AVOD Growth, in a statement. “We’re excited to enhance the streaming experience through a Live Channel TV Guide and bring more free content from The Roku Channel to the forefront.”

 

India’s richest man built a telecom operator everyone wants a piece of

As investors’ appetites sour in the midst of a pandemic, a three-and-a-half-year-old Indian firm has secured $10.3 billion in a month from Facebook and four U.S.-headquartered private equity firms.

The major deals for Reliance Jo Platforms have sparked a sudden interest among analysts, executives and readers at a time when many are skeptical of similar big check sizes that some investors wrote to several young startups, many of which are today struggling to make sense of their finances.

Prominent investors across the globe, including in India, have in recent weeks cautioned startups that they should be prepared for the “worst time” as new checks become elusive.

Elsewhere in India, the world’s second-largest internet market and where all startups together raised a record $14.5 billion last year, firms are witnessing down rounds (where their valuations are slashed). Miten Sampat, an angel investor, said this week that startups should expect a 40%-50% haircut in their valuations if they do get an investment offer.

Facebook’s $5.7 billion investment valued the company at $57 billion. But U.S. private equity firms Silver Lake, Vista, General Atlantic, and KKR — all the other deals announced in the past five weeks — are paying a 12.5% premium for their stake in Jio Platforms, valuing it at $65 billion.

How did an Indian firm become so valuable? What exactly does it do? Is it just as unprofitable as Uber? What does its future look like? Why is it raising so much money? And why is it making so many announcements instead of one.

It’s a long story.

Run up to the launch of Jio

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani gave a rundown of his gigantic Indian empire at a gathering in December 2015 packed with 35,000 people including hundreds of Bollywood celebrities and industry titans.

“Reliance Industries has the second-largest polyester business in the world. We produce one and a half million tons of polyester for fabrics a year, which is enough to give every Indian 5 meters of fabric every year, year-on-year,” said Ambani, who is Asia’s richest man.

What to expect in digital media in 2020

As we start 2020, the media and entertainment sectors are in flux. New technologies are enabling new types of content, streaming platforms in multiple content categories are spending billions in their fight for market share and the interplay between social platforms and media is a central topic of global political debate (to put it lightly).

As TechCrunch’s media columnist, I spoke to hundreds of entrepreneurs and executives in North America and Europe last year about the shifts underway across everything from vertically-oriented video series to physics engines in games to music royalty payments. Looking toward the year ahead, here are some of the high-level changes I expect we will see in media in 2020, broken into seven categories: film & TV, gaming, visual & audio effects, social media, music, podcasts and publishing.

Film and TV

In film and television, the battle to compete with Netflix continues with more robust competition than last year. In the U.S., Disney is off to a momentous start with 10 million Disney+ subscribers upon its launch in November and some predicting it will hit 25 million by March (including those on free trials or receiving it for free via Disney’s partnership with Verizon). Bundled with its two other streaming properties, Hulu and ESPN+, Disney+ puts Disney alongside Amazon and Netflix as the Big Three.

Consumers will only pay for so many subscriptions, often one, two, or all of the Big Three (since Amazon Prime Video is included with the broader Prime membership) then a smaller service that best aligns with their personal taste and favorite show of the moment.

AT&T’s HBOMax launches in May with a $14.99/month price tag and is unlikely to break into the echelon of the Big Three, but could be a formidable second tier competitor. Alongside it will be Apple TV+. With a $4.99/month subscription, Apple’s service only includes a small number of original productions, an HBO strategy as HBO gets bundled into a larger library. CBS All Access, Showtime, and NBCUniversal’s upcoming (in April) Peacock fall in this camp as well.

Across Europe, regional media conglomerates will find success in expanding local SVOD and AVOD competitors to Netflix that launched last year — or are set to launch in the next few weeks — like BritBox in the UK, Joyn in Germany and Salto in France. Netflix’s growth in coming from outside the U.S. now so its priority is buying more international shows that will compel new demographics to subscribe.

The most interesting new development in 2020 though will be the April launch of Quibi, the $4.99/month service offering premium shows shot for mobile-first viewing that has already secured $1 billion in funding commitments and $150 million in advertising revenue. Quibi shows will be bite-size in length (less than 15 minutes) and vertically-oriented. The company has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into commissioning established names to create dozens of them. Steven Spielberg and Guillermo del Toro each have Quibi programs and NBC and CBS are creating news shows. The terms it is offering are enticing.

Quibi, which plans to release 125 pieces of content (i.e. episodes) per week and spend $470 million on marketing this year, is an all-or-nothing bet with little room to iterate if it doesn’t get it right the first time; it needs hit shows that break into mainstream pop culture to survive. Billionaire founders Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman have set expectations sky-high for the launch; expect the press to slam it in April for failing to meet those expectations and for the platform to redeem itself as a few of its shows gain traction in the months that follow.

Meanwhile, live sports remains the last hope of broadcast TV networks as all other shows go to streaming. Consumers still value watching sports in real-time. Streaming services are coming for live sports too, however, and will make progress toward that goal in 2020. Three weeks ago, DAZN secured the rights to the 2021/22 season of Germany’s Champions League, beating out broadcaster Sky which has shown the matches for the last 20 years. Amazon and YouTube continue to explore bids for sports rights while Facebook and Twitter are stepping back from their efforts. YouTube’s “YouTube TV” and Disney’s “Hulu with Live TV” will cause more consumers to cancel cable TV subscriptions in 2020 and go streaming-only.

The winners in the film & TV sector right now are top production companies. The war for streaming video dominance driving several of the world’s wealthiest companies (and individuals) to pour tens of billions of dollars into content. Large corporations own the distribution platforms here; the only “startups” to enter with strength — DAZN and Quibi — have been launched by billionaires and started with billion-dollar spending commitments. The entrepreneurial opportunity is on the content creation side — with producers creating shows not with software developers creating platforms.

Gaming

The gaming market is predicted to grow nearly 9% year-over-year from $152 billion globally in 2019 to $165 billion in 2020, according to research firm Newzoo, with more than two billion people playing games each year. Gaming is now widespread across all demographic groups. Casual mobile games are responsible for the largest portion of this (and 45% of industry revenue) but PC gaming continues to grow (+4% last year) and console gaming was the fastest growing category last year (+13%).

The big things to watch in gaming this year: cross-platform play, greater focus on social interaction in virtual worlds and the expansion of cloud gaming subscriptions.

Fortnite enticed consumers with the benefits of a cross-platform game that allows players to move between PC, mobile and console and it is setting expectations that other games do the same. Last October we saw the Call of Duty franchise come to mobile and reach a record 100 million downloads in its first week. This trend will continue and it will spread the free-to-play business model that is the norm in mobile games to many PC and console franchises in the process.

Gaming is moving to the social forefront. Many people are turning to massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) like Fortnite and PUBG to socialize, with gameplay as a secondary interest. Games are virtual worlds where players socialize, build things, and own assets much like in the real world. That results in an increasingly fluid interplay between socializing in games and in physical life, much as socializing in the virtual realms of social apps like Instagram or Twitter is now viewed as part of “real world” life.

Expect VCs to bet big on the thesis that “games are the new social networks” in 2020. Large investment firms that a year ago wrote off the category of gaming as “content bets” not fit for VC are now actively hunting for deals.

On this point, there are several startups (like Klang Games, Darewise Entertainment, Singularity 6 and Clockwork Labs) that raised millions in VC funding to create open world games that will launch (in beta at least) in 2020. These are virtual worlds where all players exist in the same instance of the world rather than being capped at 100 or so players per instance. Their visions center of digital realms where people will contribute to in-game economies, create friendships and ultimately earn income just like their “real-world” lives. Think next-gen Second Life. Expect them to take time to seed their worlds with early adopters in 2020 before any of them gain mainstream traction in 2021.

Few are as excited about social interaction in games as Facebook, it seems. Eager to own critical turf in the next paradigm shift of social media, Facebook will accelerate its gaming push this year. In late 2019, it acquired Madrid-based PlayGiga — which was working on cloud gaming and 5G technology — and the studio behind the hit VR game Beat Saber. It also secured exclusive rights to the VR versions of popular games like Ubisoft’s “Assassin’s Creed” and “Splinter Cell” for Oculus. Horizon, its virtual world for social interaction within VR, is expected to launch this year as well.

Facebook is betting on AR/VR as the paradigm shift in consumer computing that will replace mobile; it is pouring billions into its efforts to own the hardware and infrastructure pieces which are several years of R&D away from primetime. In the meantime, the consumer shift to social interaction in virtual worlds is occurring in established formats — mobile, PC, and console — so it will work to build the bridge for consumers from that to the future.

Lastly, cloud gaming was one of last year’s biggest headlines with the launch of Google Stadia and you should expect it to be again this year. By moving games to cloud hosting, consumers can play the highest quality games from lower quality devices, greatly expanding the market of potential players. By bundling many such games into a subscription offering, Google and others hope to entice consumers to try many more games.

As TechCrunch’s Lucas Matney argued, however, cloud gaming is likely a feature for existing subscription gaming platforms — namely Playstation Now and Xbox Game Pass — more so than the basis for a new platform to differentiate. The minor latency inherent in playing a cloud-hosted game makes it unattractive to hardcore gamers (who would rather download the game). Next to Sony and Microsoft’s offerings, Stadia’s limited game selection fails to stand out. The competition will only heat up this year with the entry of Amazon. Google needs to launch the Stadia integration with YouTube and the Share State feature that it promoted in its Stadia announcement to really drive consumer interest.

Visual and audio effects

Pandora shares up 8% after surprise earnings beat

Pandora’s quarterly earnings report was music to investor’s ears.

The digital radio platform reported a better-than-expected first quarter report after the bell on Thursday, sending shares up 8% in after-hours trading.

Wall Street liked that the company showed a sizable increase in subscriber revenue, posting $104.7 million, a 63% increase from last year. Pandora has 5.63 million paid listeners, up 19% from the same timeframe in 2017.

By contrast, Apple Music says it has 40 million subscribers and Spotify has 75 million, so Pandora is a distant third in terms of paid users.

But the competition is already reflected in Pandora’s stock price. It closed Thursday at $5.75, which is up a buck for the past month. It’s also substantially beneath the $37 per share that the stock was trading at in 2014. Its market cap is currently $1.45 billion.

In addition to subscribers, Pandora makes money from its unpaid users via ads. The company had 72.3 million active listeners, bringing in $319.2 million in revenue. Analysts had expected $304.3 million.

Its adjusted loss per share was 27 cents, well above the negative 38 cents that Wall Street forecast.

“Pandora is exactly where we want to be: at the center of a growing market with huge potential,” said Roger Lynch, CEO of Pandora, in a statement.

 

 

 

Spotify tests consumer interest in a bundle with both Hulu and Scribd’s audiobooks

In April, Spotify and Hulu teamed up on a discounted bundle of both of their services for $12.99 per month, following a similar deal for students launched last fall. Now, it seems, the streaming service is considering expanding its entertainment bundle offerings to include one with Scribd’s audiobooks service, too.

In a consumer survey that recently popped up in Spotify’s mobile app, the company asks a lot of questions about audiobooks — and more specifically, about a bundle with Spotify, Hulu and Scribd combined.

The survey begins with questions about media consumption habits involving reading or listening to non-music content — like if the customer had listened to an audiobook or podcast in the past three months, or if they’ve read a physical book, magazine or e-book.

It then asks the customer how they listen to audiobooks, how often and using which format — downloads, borrowing, CDs or subscriptions.

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In a question about subscriptions, Spotify asks, “Which is your main audiobook subscription service taht you use?”

The survey taker can then choose from: Playster, Scribd, Amazon Prime, Downpour, Otto, Audiobooks.com, Kindle unlimited, Audible, Kobo and Other. 

But the most interesting question is the one where Spotify tries to get a feel for consumer interest in a Spotify/Hulu/Scribd bundle.

The bundle, the survey explains, would add an additional $2.99 per month on top of the existing Spotify Premium for Family subscription, which currently costs $14.99. Like the Hulu/Spotify deal, it would offer access to Hulu’s Limited Commercials plan along with a Premium subscription to Spotify — in this case, however, its family plan. But for an extra $2.99 per month — bringing the total to $17.98 per month — the customer would receive 1 free book credit per month from Scribd’s library of audiobooks. (Scribd usually is $8.99 per month for unlimited books).

These audiobooks would be ad-free and could be listened to offline, the survey notes.

Of course, a survey question doesn’t mean that a deal currently exists or is being offered to customers. It doesn’t even mean Spotify will follow through by offering a deal with Scribd. But it is an interesting signal about Spotify’s plans — especially given its recent partnership with Hulu, and its earlier comments about exploring different bundles in the future, which were made after its first bundle launched.

The issue facing Hulu and Spotify’s services — and Scribd as well, for that matter — is a war with platform giants like Amazon, Apple and Google, which are already bundling streaming services for music, video and, in Amazon’s case, books, magazines and audiobooks, and a host of other perks via Amazon Prime.

Apple, too, is exploring a magazine subscription service, according to reports; and its upcoming over-the-top TV service is expected to be bundled with Apple Music. Google, meanwhile, is planning a revamp of its music subscription service, which will incorporate YouTube video.

That means rivals like Spotify, Hulu and Scribd will have to fight back with deals of their own — and maybe even consolidation efforts through M&A at some point.

Reached for comment, a Spotify spokesperson responded, “We continuously test new products and features to better the on platform experience for our users. This is not an indication of an upcoming partnership at this time.” 

At this time. Yep. Noted.

Twitter Expands Moments To The U.K.

Twitter Moments Twitter is expanding Moments, its media rich, breaking news focused feed, to U.K. users today. The company debuted the feature in the U.S. back in October, and has since also rolled it out in Brazil. So this is not the first international expansion for Moments, but given the size of the U.K. market for Twitter it’s an important next step as it tries to ramp up mainstream interest in… Read More