How Content Creators Thrive in the Direct-to-Consumer Era

Last year there were several rounds of rumors about the possibility of Netflix users losing their easy access to high-profile sitcoms. In June, streamers despaired at the American version of The Office  leaving Netflix. In December, they fretted over Friends.

The rumors proved to be unfounded, but not impossible due to the rise of one of the biggest trends in the media marketplace — direct-to-consumer content models.

As the cord-cutting economy matures, major content creators are following suit. HBO has managed its own streaming content for years through HBO Go, while CBS All Access has been gaining ground, and NBC confirmed in January it would release a streaming service in 2020. Disney said it would release a streaming app in 2019 that would feature not just classic Disney properties but Star Wars and Marvel content as well.

Content creators will thrive when they effectively build their brand in a competitive streaming market. Along with disrupting the marketplace, the major streaming services have contributed to the changes in how content is produced. Content creators should prepare for the future now.

1. Learn new skills and tricks in the workflow of film and TV production

While many are anxious, this is a great time to learn new skills and take advantage of the shifts in the content development process.

For example, editors now are generally being asked to do other tasks beyond their normal job description. The lines between pre- and post-production tasks are blurring. With the rise of CGI and motion capture, arguably the biggest innovation in 21st century film, the distinct phases of filmmaking are changing; those involved in pre-production often must think about the visuals of the finished product more often. Nothing is happening in the same order that it used to happen. There is more outsourcing around the globe for these jobs, and many, many more freelancers.

At NAB Show, from April 6 to April 11 in Las Vegas, there will be a large number of technologists that can help you identify a path of new skills that you might need to learn. Being able to wear many hats will make workers indispensable in the new content job market.

Knowing a broad set of skills will set you up to succeed in the new landscape, where streaming platforms have set up their own content studios and studios are launching their own streaming platforms. This is true even on the local level, as broadcasters are hustling with ATSC 3.0, so they can deliver localized content to both digital device users and the latest generation of television sets.

As artificial intelligence reaches maturation, it is going to have a huge impact on workflow in the broadcasting field, and we’re already starting to see its influence on content curation and creation. Not only has AI been used to create personalized movie trailers, for example, AI is being harnessed to study trailers to predict what films audiences will want to see.

NAB Show has an entire theater dedicated to AI including discussions on how content is colliding with machine learning, the blockchain, and cloud technologies. The AI+Cloud Campus will provide you with the information to take on trends today.

2. Acquire business acumen

Because of all the disruption, there is an opportunity in the content industry for those who are willing to embrace the challenge.

If you are interested in starting or needing to grow your own production company, NAB Show has a dedicated track as part of  Post | Production World, that would help you get started. Focused on providing hands-on training for content creators interested in refining their craft, Post | Production World also includes a Business Track that features sessions about working as a freelancer in the industry and even crowdfunding projects.

The Business Track is ideal for people trying to work independently in the industry, and even includes important discussions about the psychological toll of this work, such as a session on imposter syndrome. One of the most essential sessions of the track is called “Launching Your Creative Business,” an in-depth exploration of the business, financial and tax side of operating a young creative business. The session will be important for any new entertainment entrepreneur because it will go into the details of incorporating your business and handling issues with the IRS. Another important session, “Successful Strategies for Distributing Your Creative Product,” will educate attendees on how to get your creative work out into the world.

Distinguished contract lawyer Seth Polansky will lead another useful session in the Business Track, “Contracts for Creatives.” Polansky will provide tips for reading and understanding contracts for content creators; he will also outline contract red flags you should look out for.

3. Make one-on-one connections

Having a far-reaching network is now becoming extremely important for everyone involved in the content creation and distribution industry. It is more important than ever to connect one on one with actual people. This means that you should go to events — physical events attended by other skilled people — like NAB Show.

Because more people are freelancing in this environment, more people are working from home. Not only are workers in independent silos, content companies are becoming silos themselves as their content libraries become more specialized. 

A very exciting element of NAB Show is its Birds of a Feather (BoF) gatherings, where industry experts and attendees gather to discuss and learn about various hot topics. These are great opportunities to not just learn about industry trends, but to actually meet and engage other members of your community.

The Community Mixers at NAB Show are more informal networking events, ideal for passing out business cards. Aimed at women working in the technical fields of film and video production, #GALSNGEAR will host several pop-up panel discussions and networking sessions at NAB Show, too.

Wide-ranging industry events like NAB Show don’t happen all the time, so take advantage of this opportunity to expand your business network. An estimated 100,000 industry insiders attend the show, which provides an efficient use of your time with easy access to innovators in media, entertainment and technology.

There is a huge list of exhibitors already signed up to take over the floor. What is unique about NAB Show is the diversity of experiences and the depth of the collective knowledge base there.

The breadth of the film and television industry will be at NAB Show, and so should you.

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Evaluating Multi-Vendor vs Single Vendor Approaches for Your OTT Service

One of the biggest decisions businesses face when rolling out new services is whether to use a single, end-to-end platform vendor or a multi-vendor approach. When it comes to video solutions, though, the benefits of an end-to-end platform outweigh the disadvantages, making it the preferred choice of many companies. Here are a few reasons why:

Reduced Complexities

One of the biggest advantages of an end-to-end platform is increased compatibility. Using a multi-vendor approach, there’s always the possibility — and sometimes the inevitability — that individual components or solutions will be incompatible with one another. Even worse, as video technologies continue to evolve and mature, companies juggling multiple vendors may find themselves using a mishmash of products and services that don’t support seamless integration.

In contrast, by using an end-to-end approach, companies can ensure maximum compatibility, offering a consistent, streamlined array of video features to their customers. 


All too often, multi-vendor approaches rely on products and services that were created with a specific project in mind. This can lead to services that may perform one task very well, but fall behind in other tasks, lack key features, or is incompatible with alternative video formats. Further, companies taking a multi-vendor approach must have employees or third parties manually connect or map data between respective product components, which can be extremely time consuming (we will touch upon this below). Taking a single vendor approach, gives you the flexibility for agile development and the ability to move quickly on new projects.

Streamlined Workflows

The management of video services is complicated. Customers using a multi-vendor approach often find themselves overwhelmed by these challenges. With an end-to-end solution, however, the workflow becomes the responsibility of the platform provider, who has the single focus of delivering high-quality video services. Companies using an end-to-end approach can leave the technical aspects of multi-platform management and support to their platform provider and instead focus on delivering great, high quality content to customers, regardless of the devices they use. Companies no longer have to worry about writing code or creating interfaces between each component.

End-to-end solutions result in an improved video workflow. Too often with multi-vendor strategies, valuable time and resources can be spent just trying to make various parts of the process work smoothly, even when there are seemingly no inherent incompatibilities. Different development processes, backgrounds, and goals can result in wildly different approaches to various steps, making it harder for your company to focus on what’s really important.

With an end-to-end solution, every step of the process shares a common lineage, making it much easier to establish effective, streamlined workflows — no headaches or misunderstandings involved. 

Time-to-Market and Reduced Costs

With an end-to-end solution, you don’t have to spend time negotiating individual video and software licensing agreements. Even more, your IT department doesn’t have to spend precious time and resources integrating and supporting various components and services. For example, the process of integrating data either manually or programmatically is often very time consuming. Best of all, this streamlined process greatly speeds up time-to-market with new features and abilities, helping you stay competitive and take advantage of new opportunities. In short, end-to-end solutions save you — and, by extension, your customers — money.

Of course, your company won’t reap any of the benefits of a single vendor approach unless you choose the right end-to-end solution. As managed service providers are hard to come across with very few existing in the industry, selecting the right partner that doesn’t rely on any third-party vendors or components is key. This will allow you to leave all the technical aspects to the service provider, and focus on your content.

For more information about evaluating the multi-vendor vs. single vendor approaches, download our NeuLion’s latest e-Book, “Does Your OTT Service Have Too Many Moving Parts?”

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Engaging the Active Viewer in the Age of the Smartphone

Co-authored by Tom Segal

Stop me if you’ve heard this before (no doubt, you have): media consumption, particularly video-based media, is increasingly becoming an active experience for viewers; and in order to create compelling media moving forward in the era of the smartphone, producers must account for this new paradigm in consumption habits.

Despite the narrative of the lazy millennial, the reality is that young consumers thrive on perpetual engagement – both through the customization of their content and through constant decisive stimulation, like any good video game. What seems at a distance to be a kid staring dead-eyed into a rectangular iVoid is in fact a person rapidly acquiring new information on the fly. Chuck Klosterman recently commented on the effectiveness of Twitter being the idea that, any time you look away, there is something wonderful and fresh to be found when your gaze returns to your feed: a distinctly 2018-level psychology that has now seeped its way into any form of content worth consuming.

As far as live programming goes, sports is clearly the king. The Super Bowl (and NFL in general) dominates like no other. Social media as a vessel for discussion and reflection on the action in real time has become the default method of viewing for many. The NBA in particular has embraced the value of an active fan base excitedly sharing ideas and videos – while providing free advertising for the product and presenting additional opportunities to be marketed to by paying advertisers – to the point that “NBA Twitter” has become a defined culture of its own.

It should come as no surprise that fantasy sports has become a multi-billion dollar industry, and one that is increasingly becoming a core element of the sports viewing experience. Fantasy sports presents its own form of customization outlet – build your own team and show how much better you are than everyone else! After being treated as something of a nerdy sideshow for years, broadcasters and leagues now directly incorporate fantasy elements into their product on the front end. NFL broadcasts now prominently display updated fantasy stats on the ticker at the bottom of the screen and feature in-game updates geared toward the fantasy player: a desperate attempt to steal the gaze of the viewer who is otherwise furiously refreshing their ESPN Fantasy app on their phone or scrolling through the myriad browsers opened on their computer.

Then there are video games, whose effect on all-things consumption continues to accelerate. Ask any teacher about the term “gamification” and prepare for a sigh. And video games themselves continue to evolve as a format: this effect will soon be reflected in other video content. Video games were once a linear experience – literally. Think about the early Mario games, where the goal was simply to get from one side to another; from the left side of the screen to the right. And now consider what modern Mario environments (or GTA, or any number of story-based first person games) look like – massive worlds ripe for exploration where the user may not even follow the directive storyline allotted to their character.

The next logical direction is for a sports league to integrate all of these use cases – fandom, fantasy sports, video games, etc. – into a single product, where a digitized, decentralized front office maintains complete control over decision-making and is compensated for successful engagement accordingly. Someone should look into this…

This active viewer model goes beyond even sports, as fictional television series continue to understand the value to be derived from an active viewer through hashtags capturing user-generated promotions and apps that literally guide viewers through the stories that they are watching – anything to avoid the fate of a DVR-induced fast-forward through advertising. In order to create truly rich stories, there is a complexity inherent that sometimes requires groupthink to fully embrace. Who among us could possibly have understood what was going on in Westworld without Reddit threads? Good content increasingly relies on an audience getting itself educated, particularly those broadcast in serial format.

And let’s not forget the massive integration of live viewer voting into such unscripted competition ratings hits as NBC’s The Voice, which has been leading the way since 2013.

Even MBA courses at Harvard have live-tweeting as a requirement.

According to an eMarketer survey on consumption habits, 51% of television viewers in 2014 used their smartphone while simultaneously watching their favorite shows or sports (the so-called “second-screen experience”). By 2017, that figure grew to 74%, and that total will undoubtedly approach 100% moving forward (until Jeff Bezos or Mark Zuckerberg has figured out how to merge these experiences into one seamless screen, RIP Google Glass).

We are embarking on a cultural revolution wherein technology and connectivity allow us to capture ideas, energy, and dollars like never before. We also have a new generation whose life experience necessitates immediate and seamless engagement. This combination presents an unparalleled opportunity for content creators and distributors. The audience will increasingly become receptive toward opportunities to interact, and in fact will demand that this be a natural component to their video consumption experience. It is only a matter of time before cinemas drop that disclaimer at the beginning of all movies telling you to put your phone away, though this remains the last bastion of freedom from the connected viewer.

The smarter we can be about implementing intelligent engagement practices on the front end, the more likely we can avoid a fate of Mike-Judgian proportions in this brave new world.

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Technology is Creative

Leading a global multimedia agency offers a brilliant opportunity to collaborate with a diverse range of media partners. As a content producer, we get to contribute to our clients’ journey of maintaining success and relevancy for their audiences – online and on-air.

Today, Ruptly works with over a thousand media brands globally. It is incredibly rewarding to see footage provided by our journalists in international coverage across the world – resonating with a varied audience groups in multiple regions.

Getting to this point over the past five years, as “Change” and “Disruption” became the key words in the media landscape, has been a challenge. Yet it was the challenge that provided the most opportunities for the growth of our business, as clients across broadcast media attempted to engage, attract and develop new platforms for their brands, they required content and collaborative business relationships to offset this growth and scale new audiences. This allowed Ruptly to enter a market and scale a company globally as clients looked for alternative providers that had exclusive access in news hot spots, engaging content across light news verticals to drive traffic, new experiences in VR or delivery that needed to be on demand to social channels.

With the opportunity to learn first-hand from our partners, we saw a real demand in a content provider that is able to be flexible, agile and open to experimentation. For example, last year we have enabled dozens of media outlets to source and use 360 content for the first time as we introduced the format to our platform. Furthermore, we have launched a live streaming platform that offers an out of the box simple three step delivery method to client platforms, be it breaking news or fun viral content, this allowed us to be faster than the completion in delivery, and importantly offer lower cost. No longer do you need large scale budgets to go live across the world as a small or medium entity. This was an important step to attempt to level the market in terms of price points for small and medium clients. 

The platform lets users broadcast or stream multiple live events simultaneously, including lives in 360 degrees. 

I strongly believe that technology is creative. Simplifying the process for broadcasters and publishers, who otherwise would not have been as keen on introducing a new format to their coverage as easily as they did – is a result of a creative approach to developing technology.

All signs indicate that in the coming years the ability to experiment, adapt and stay flexible is going to become increasingly important for a healthy media business. There is definitely a responsibility on the video agencies to apply all that to content production, delivery and monetization models.

Learn more about here.

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Without AI, You’re ‘Behind the Competition,’ Startup Exec Says

Entrepreneur Adam Spector issues a stark warning to media and digital companies that are lagging behind in adoption of artificial intelligence.

“If a company today has not already implemented AI in some part of their business, then they are behind the competition,” says Spector, co-founder and head of business at San Francisco-based AI startup LiftIgniter. “The challenge with AI is that the value you receive from it increases exponentially, so your competitors who are using it are not just a little ahead of you, they are likely light-years ahead.”

To offer an idea of how much impact AI is having and will have on the media and digital sectors, Spector says you should consider the effect that mobile has had. Then, he says, multiply that effect by 1,000, and you’ll have a sense of the sweeping changes that AI is ushering in. Except, Spector adds, the impact of AI is quicker and more profound.

Spector’s company is among four AI startups that’ll be exhibiting at NAB Show Las Vegas, April 7 to 12, 2018. The others are Graphika, ICX Media and Valossa.

“Stop redesigning your site. Stop putting more money into marketing,” Spector says. “Create the best user experience—which has to be personalized via AI—and all other metrics will improve. Everything else you could do for your site, for your revenue, for your users is secondary to applying intelligent, automated AI.”

Without built-in AI, a media or digital property “will cease to exist,” Spector says.

“Users have come to expect personalization everywhere. Users are also lazy: They don’t want to spend time trying to discover something,” Spector adds. “YouTube, Facebook and Netflix have trained them to expect the perfect piece of entertainment with near-zero effort.”

“Without personalization, they will not stick around, they won’t share your content and they won’t care about your site.”

With its technology, LiftIgniter enables content creators to place the best content in front of an online visitor.

“Digital properties spend huge amounts of time and money to get visitors to their site or app but then fail to personalize, which reduces your return on investment,” says Indraneel Mukherjee, co-founder and CEO of LiftIgniter. “At our core, LiftIgniter is a machine-learning and math company built to provide a true personalization layer to the internet that enhances the end-user experience and increases positive outcomes for our customers’ business goals.”

LiftIgniter says its AI-powered technology allows clients to push beyond our current perceptions of personalization.

“While AI does make basic personalization features … possible, the future is all about individualization,” LiftIgniter says on its blog. “We’re talking about tailoring the experience to each and every user. Intelligently adapting content, tone and even design to make each user feel like they’re receiving personal attention every time they use our website or app.”

Here’s a brief look at the three other AI startups exhibiting at NAB Show Las Vegas 2018.


New York City-based Graphika’s AI-fueled technology helps customers understand the context of social conversations via articles, media, websites and hashtags that are spurring online conversations. Graphika’s technology helps clients in media, health care, news, politics and other industries make “strategic business decisions.”

ICX Media

Through “data-inspired storytelling,” Washington, D.C.-based ICX Media says it’s transforming the way video is created, distributed and monetized. Its customers include marketers, media companies and video creators.

ICX Media says its real-time insights pave the way for businesses and organizations to quickly generate high-quality, cost-efficient branded video content in a scalable fashion.


Finland-based Valossa’s AI-based video-identification technology allows, in real time, the identification of more than 10,000 concepts—people, places, objects, themes and so forth—from any video stream. This helps companies deliver personalized video content, Valossa says. Put another way, Valossa’s AI software understands video like a person does, according to founder and CEO Mika Rautiainen.

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Entertainment Takes a Deeper Dive into Podcasting

Seeking to capture the success of viral hits like Serial and S-Town, the relationship between entertainment and podcasting has continued to expand in intriguing and often surprising ways.

For instance, music-streaming service Spotify recently rolled out a multimedia format called Spotlight, which adds visual elements to the listening experience for podcasts, audiobooks and other audio content. “Spotlight gives fans a deeper insight to their favorite artists, playlists, books, publishers and more by offering contextual visual elements, such as photos, video and text, that appear as users move through each episode,” Spotify says in a blog post.

Meanwhile, superhero storyteller Marvel New Media recently teamed up with podcasting service Stitcher for Marvel’s first-ever scripted podcast, Wolverine: The Long Night, a 10-episode series that will debut in spring 2018.

“Wolverine: The Long Night brings our fans a whole new way to experience our iconic characters and the Marvel universe…. We’re excited to continue to explore the dynamic possibilities of the podcast medium,” Dan Silver, vice president and head of platforms and content at Marvel New Media, says in a news release.

A host of activities at NAB Show in Las Vegas, April 7 to 12, 2018, will dive into the state of podcasting in entertainment and other industry segments, and a number of well-known podcasters will offer their insights. Highlights include the Podcasting Studio (Grand Lobby, Las Vegas Convention Center) and the Podcasting Pavilion (South Hall Upper), designed to help both established and beginning podcasters improve their craft.

Also, on April 11, four sessions on podcasting will generate buzz at NAB Show:

  • “Ahead in 2018: This Year in Podcasting,” featuring Steven Goldstein, CEO of Amplifi Media; Brendan Monaghan, CEO of Panoply; and Rob Walch, vice president of podcaster relations at Libysn
  • “The Mechanics of a Quality Podcast,” featuring Jared Easley and Dan Franks, co-founders of Podcast Movement; and Erica Mandy, host of theNewsWorthy
  • “The Podcast Aircheck,” featuring Seth Resler, digital dot connector at Jacobs Media Strategies
  • “The Anatomy of a Podcast Hit,” featuring Rob Greenlee, head of content at Spreaker; Donald Albright, co-founder of Tenderfoot TV; Payne Lindsey, co-creator and host of Up and Vanished; and Meredith Stedman, a creative producer and podcast co-host of Tenderfoot TV

Entering the American Media Landscape

Companies like Marvel and Stitcher are striving for podcast hits as the entertainment business steps up its commitment to podcasting.

“Podcasting is an incredible, intimate medium that’s perfect for telling stories…. The arrival of Wolverine and his many fans to podcasts and Stitcher is truly a signal that this medium is a major part of the American media landscape,” says Erik Diehn, CEO of Midroll Media, the parent company of Stitcher.

Over at Spotify, the content partners for Spotlight include BuzzFeed News, Cheddar, Crooked Media, Lenny Letter, Genius, The Minefield Girl, Refinery29, Uninterrupted and Gimlet Media.

Gimlet Media is the company behind Crimetown, a podcast series from the creators of HBO’s miniseries The Jinx. Each season examines the culture of crime in a different city. And in a testament to the crossover appeal of podcasting in entertainment, the FX cable TV network is developing a series based on Crimetown, according to Variety.

While Hollywood certainly is elbowing its way into podcasting, the country’s other entertainment capital—New York City—is staking its claim in the podcasting biz.

Big Apple vs. L.A.

A report released in August 2017 by the New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment proclaimed the Big Apple’s status as the “epicenter” of podcasting. The report says the number of podcasts made by New York-based networks was up nearly 75 percent in two years, representing 1.3 billion downloads in 2016.

“New York City is at the forefront of the dynamic and rapidly expanding podcasting industry,” says Julie Menin, the city’s media and entertainment commissioner.

Not to be outdone, Los Angeles is making its case for prominence as a top-tier podcasting player.

According to Built in Los Angeles, L.A. is home to a number of startups that are helping shape the future of podcasting. They include Midroll Media, Stitcher’s parent; Crooked Media, co-founded by Jon Favreau, former speechwriter for President Barack Obama; and Parcast, creator of true crime podcasts like Serial Killers and Unsolved Murders.

While New York and L.A. may be duking it out over the “podcasting capital” title, Nieman Lab notes that other podcasting nodes in the U.S. include Boston, Chicago, Atlanta and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Casting a Wider Net

No matter where podcasters are plying their craft, it’s hard to ignore the rise of podcasting in entertainment and other genres. A 2017 survey by Edison Research and Triton Digital found that podcasting is booming, with 40 percent of Americans age 12 and over saying they’d ever listened to a podcast and 24 percent saying they’d listened to one in the past month.

With the growth in podcasting comes growth in advertising revenue for entertainment and other platforms.

U.S. podcast advertising revenue was projected to exceed $220 million in 2017, up 85 percent over the $119 million recorded in 2016, according to a first-of-its-kind study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Randall Rothenberg, president and CEO of IAB, says the study “proves two things—the whole world is listening, and brands are taking notice. From the remarkable growth of podcast ad revenue, we’re seeing an ancient axiom being proved yet again: Great rewards go to those who surprise and delight their fellow humans.”

And if industry forecasters are a good barometer, many of those podcasting rewards and surprises will be coming from the entertainment end of the business. In 2018 podcasting predictions laid out by Pacific Content, industry insiders expect:

  • More podcasts will garner TV and movie deals
  • More podcasts will benefit from exchanges of intellectual property
  • More blockbuster scripted podcasts will be on the way
  • More limited-run podcast series will pop up

“Podcasting is still in its infancy,” Pacific Content says, “and 2018 will see a great deal of experimentation with different formats, different genres and shows designed for nontraditional podcast audiences.”  

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Where the Battle Against Fake News is Headed in 2018

While 2016 may be remembered as a year the American public was under siege by “fake news,” 2018 may go down in history as the year the vast social media networks that connect billions around the world did something about it.  

Although the problem of misinformation remains stubborn, Facebook, Google and Twitter have identified solutions and are renewing their continued commitment to do something about fake news. This year’s NAB Show in Las Vegas, April 7 to 12, covers broadcast across all platforms, including some of the most critical topics related to news production.

Fake News About ‘Fake News’

Even the definition of fake news can be controversial—some public officials use the term to blast news stories they take umbrage with. In general, though, most agree that the concept of fake news is defined by purposeful misinformation that is either fully fabricated or sourced from unsubstantiated rumors.

The Pizzagate controversy a year ago is a troubling example of how online fake news can have real-world impacts. A rumor based on an invented pizza-themed cipher claimed leaked emails from Democratic officials revealed that a pedophile ring was being run out of a Washington, D.C., restaurant. The fake news was potent enough to convince one man to shoot off a gun inside the pizzeria to find out the supposed truth revealed by the code. No one was hurt, fortunately, but it showed how fake news can sometimes be really dangerous.  

Misinformation has always been around, whether it takes the form of made-up news stories or urban legends or gossip scrawled on walls. It will never be fully stamped out, but the recent problem of hoaxes spreading like epidemics and impacting democracy in nations across the globe is something the big tech companies believe they can halt.

The Growing Trustworthiness of AI

Now that fake news online has finally been identified as a major cultural and political problem, developers are racing to create artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions.

One product,, partners with advertisers to help them avoid placing ads alongside fake news and other problematic content, like nudity or malware. The creators of have put the programming through a battlefield of tests and it showcases the sophistication of the next generation of AI.

Not only can AI identify misinformation, it can recognize satire like The Onion and understand the political biases of news outlets like Breitbart.

However, considering the vast amount of knowledge about the world needed to determine the truth, researchers say AI works best in conjunction with human fact-checkers.

“I think there’s a chance to algorithmically identify things that are more likely than not to be ‘fake news,’ but they will always work best in combination with a person with a sharp eye,” New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen told Wired.

Machine learning is being implemented as a weapon against misinformation by Google, Twitter and Facebook, although the rollout has not been without its growing pains.

Facebook’s Fake News Epiphany

In January 2018, Facebook, with its user base of 2 billion, published a series of articles authored by executives and scholars that determined the company was not doing enough to prevent fake news from spreading throughout its platform.

Blog posts, admitted Facebook, and other forms of social media, can be problematic for democracy.

“With each passing year, this challenge becomes more urgent,” product manager for civic engagement Samidh Chakrabarti wrote in a post. “Facebook was originally designed to connect friends and family—and it has excelled at that. But as unprecedented numbers of people channel their political energy through this medium, it’s being used in unforeseen ways with societal repercussions that were never anticipated. In 2016, we at Facebook were far too slow to recognize how bad actors were abusing our platform. We’re working diligently to neutralize these risks now.”

The company has implemented a number of experiments meant to curb fake news, including posting publisher information alongside news articles and adding features that focus on hyper-local news.

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The Changing Face of TV Across the Globe

The cord-cutting trend that has been watched for years in the United States is quickly going international, with the global over-the-top (OTT) media services market rapidly heating up. OTT is video content streamed over the internet, with services like Netflix or Hulu, through computers, mobile devices and digital media players like Apple TV.

It has only been a few years since Netflix introduced the idea of original content for big streaming companies with House of Cards, but the streaming industry is now shifting again as social media behemoths like Facebook introduce content and more traditional media corporations like ESPN and Disney are poised to introduce their own standalone streaming platforms.

Global Streaming Revenues Expected to Double

Perhaps even more exciting, this revolution is happening on a worldwide scale, with international players and local favorites competing to reach streamers everywhere from Hong Kong to Havana. A report released late last year by analyst firm Research and Markets found that revenues from streaming online television episodes and movies across 138 countries will hit $83 billion in 2022. This figure is more than double the $37 billion in international revenues in 2016; the analysts predicted $9 billion more will have been made in 2017 than in the previous year.

Americans will remain the largest consumers of streaming, but that is also shifting. “The U.S. will remain the dominant territory for online TV and video revenues by some distance,” the report said. “However, the U.S. share of the global market will fall from 51 percent in 2016 to 40 percent in 2022. Contributing half the Asia Pacific total, China will add a further $7.6 billion, with its total revenues reaching $12 billion in 2022.”

U.S. companies Netflix, Amazon and Disney, alongside Chinese giant Alibaba, are expected to continue their domination over OTT, but the global market has openings for other outfits, too.

Social Media Goes to Hollywood

Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, which will be mostly owned by Disney after its acquisition of Fox in December 2017, now represent the old guard of streaming original content. Social media services like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat are beginning to move from hosting user-generated video content to partnering with studios and broadcasters to bring exclusive content to their combined billions of users.

Even Apple has promised to invest $1 billion in creating original streaming content in 2018, including a new Reese Witherspoon-produced Kristen Wiig half-hour comedy.

Of course, social media’s collision with streaming content is set to change the experience of watching television itself – Facebook has plans to produce shows that incorporate a virtual reality element. Google’s YouTube Red is already producing episodes that defy formats like the half-hour comedy and the one-hour drama that have long defined television.

“Facebook’s strategy involves producing two categories of shows, which include long-form traditional programs such as Netflix’s flagship program House of Cards, and shorter, less expensive shows that go for about five to 10 minutes, and refresh every 24 hours,” analyst Steve Tulman wrote about Facebook’s announcement. “It is uncertain how Facebook intends to monetize through this platform, but I suspect that they will rely on advertising revenue from in-show ads, rather than follow Netflix’s paid subscription model.”

Not Just Netflix

Although U.S. companies will likely dominate the international streaming market for at least the next few years, broadcasters from across the globe are exploring how to engage local audiences through OTT.

Television Broadcasts (TVB), the largest broadcaster in Hong Kong, launched an OTT platform last year and inked deals with Chinese companies like Tencent and iQiyi to produce original content including a new drama series.

HBO is also seeing its international portfolio of channels explode in activity across Latin America and Asia. The company produces original content for specific audiences in nations spanning from Mexico to Hungary and Myanmar. Much of the growth is with OTT, particularly for millennials.

“The growth in OTT is really fueling the growth of HBO Europe,” HBO Europe CEO Herve Payan told Variety. “The traditional [linear] business is also growing, but OTT is booming.”

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An Exciting New Reality: Location-Based VR

Location-based virtual reality, which enables immersive VR experiences at brick-and-mortar spots like shopping malls and movie theaters, has become the place to be in VR these days. In fact, China already has more than 3,000 VR arcades, which often have “fully loaded setups—with ‘stunning booths that stand out by an extensive use of hardware like special seats and reproductions of vehicles,’” according to Forbes.

Even in the United States, location-based VR continues to show promise as a way to monetize VR and boost adoption. Greenlight Insights, a market research firm specializing in VR and augmented reality (AR), predicts spending on VR hardware, software, content and services at away-from-home entertainment venues will reach $1.2 billion by 2021.

Location-based VR is likely to be a big part of the buzz at the Immersive Storytelling Pavilion during the upcoming NAB Show, April 7 to 12, in Las Vegas.

Adding to that buzz is the recent rollout of location-based VR experiences, such as Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire. A startup called The Void, in conjunction with Lucasfilm’s ILMxLAB, is setting up VR “experience centers” based on the latest Star Wars installment, according to Variety. Already open or about to open are centers in London; Orlando, Florida; Anaheim, California; Glendale, California; and Las Vegas.

The Glendale and Vegas centers are being established in shopping malls owned by mall giant GGP. Offering participants premium content and a social experience in one, location-based VR can also reinvigorate mall spaces.

This kind of undertaking is part of what VentureBeat calls a “pivot” toward location-based VR.  

Another manifestation of this trend is the VR arcade, or VRcades, which are popping up at shopping malls, like the ones operated by GGP, as well as at movie theaters and casinos and even as standalone VRcades. Already flourishing in Asia, VR arcades allow customers to purchase and try a range of immersive, interactive entertainment experiences within one space.

At a recent panel discussion on VR arcades, Nicholas Cooper, chief creative officer at VR kiosk maker VRX Networks, emphasized that the quality of content is key for VR arcades. “If you have a great social experience or a singular experience where you’ve bonded with the characters or the game, that’s what’s going to keep people coming back,” Cooper said. “You go to old-school arcades, and you crank your dollars through, but it’s about how much fun you have with your son playing Whac-a-Mole or something like that. Emotional connection through customer experience, through the content in the games—all of that.”

Movie theaters are seeking to tap into that emotional connection with location-based VR. AMC Entertainment, the world’s largest chain of movie theaters, teamed up last year with Dreamscape Immersive, a startup specializing in location-based VR, to ramp up this new VR innovation.

As part of their partnership, AMC has invested $10 million in Dreamscape Immersive and is financing as many as six VR centers within AMC theaters or at standalone locations in North America and the United Kingdom over an 18-month period. AMC also is chipping in $10 million for a fund aimed at developing VR content.

Other investors in Dreamscape Immersive include Warner Bros., 21st Century Fox, MGM, IMAX, mall owner Westfield Corp. and Hollywood icon Steven Spielberg.

Dreamscape Immersive’s flagship location at Westfield Century City mall in Los Angeles is opening in the first quarter of 2018. Noting that audiences today can watch movies in three formats—2D, 3D and IMAX—Dreamscape says VR represents the fourth iteration of moviegoing.

Unlike other VR platforms, Dreamscape Immersive says it’ll offer a “social experience” enabling participants to interact with up to six people simultaneously, without being tied to a computer. “Now, audiences will have the ability to purchase a ticket, step inside of the story and experience it personally in a way never before imagined,” says Kevin Wall, co-chairman of Dreamscape.

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Increasing Business Agility with Automated Data Management

Rich analytics are essential to the optimal operation of a media business. With advanced business metrics driving strategic insights, media executives can be more effective in extracting maximum value from their content and from the complex media processes within today’s dynamic media marketplace.

As media enterprises combine information from multiple systems, data inconsistencies between those systems prevent detailed reporting and analysis. Furthermore, normal data entry errors and local operational requirements complicate consistent processing.

Until now, to solve this issue, organizations have focused on enforcing data entry standards across their different transactional systems. However, strict data entry policies slow down business. They delay new data entry. They create operational problems. They delay reconciliation.

Industry experience has shown that the magnitude of effort necessary to achieve standardized data entry is overwhelming and impractical. When standardization fails, the typical solution is to have IT fix data entry shortcomings. This invariably occurs only when inconsistencies are discovered.

The only viable solution is to create a central database that fully addresses the acquisition, creation, and maintenance of corporate records mapped to local values across each of the transactional systems, automatically integrating those transactional systems into the business workflow. Ideally, this should be done with the flexibility to change reporting relationships dynamically without disrupting the entire business. When this is the case, the entire enterprise is empowered to take advantage of accurate, consistent data.

A centralized data management solution can streamline and automate the entire mapping process, thereby eliminating complexity and dramatically reducing the need for manual intervention. It should have tools that continually search for and locate duplicate records, import new entries, identify unmapped values, and map records as needed. As a result, IT staff would be freed from the need to perform urgent, yet mundane, data maintenance tasks.

In short, a comprehensive master data management solution specifically tailored for media can make it easy for enterprises to acquire the sophisticated and accurate insights they need to adapt quickly to the constantly changing requirements of the modern media ecosystem. It gives them the tools to be more agile and more competitive a rapidly evolving marketplace.

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