US telecom AT&T has just dropped a cool $48.5 billion on Direct TV, a satellite television broadcaster with over 40 million customers in the US and South America. AT&T will gain a host of media content, including exclusive rights to every American football game played on a Sunday. The move comes after the recent Comcast and Time-Warner merger, and Ericsson’s acquisition of Red Bee, as tech corporations try to keep up with the post-broadcast age of on-demand media.
Meanwhile, widespread reports claim Google’s Youtube division to be in talks to acquire Twitch, a fast-growing live-streaming service provider with a focus on videogame culture. The acquisition would bolster Google’s existing Youtube Live service, which streams a range of video content, including Felix Baumgarter’s supersonic swan dive.
Despite it’s comparably niche audience base, Twitch can draw up to 44% of live-streaming traffic by volume, far more than Youtube Live streams. In March of this year, the site grew to fame through the viral Twitch Plays Pokemon, a social experiment in which hundreds of thousands of users collaboratively played the 1998 Gameboy game ‘Pokemon Red’, voting on gameplay actions by entering commands into Twitch’s chat system. A total of 55 million views were recorded over its 16-day timespan. Twitch users are particularly engaged in commenting and sharing content, and view streams for very extended periods of time, in contrast to Youtube’s bite-sized consumption: behaviours which are extremely valuable to advertisers.
Where Apple go, the world follows, and we’ve seen several more tech+music stories hot on the heels of their recent Beats purchase.
Shutterstock, the stock image database, announced it will begin creating and selling stock music to capitalise on the huge demand created by user-created video content. 7digital, the digital content provider that aims to do right by the artist, was bought by UBC Media Group for a cool £16.5m (must have been that recent rebrand…). Deadmau5 has released a subscription-based music app, and Silicon roundabout darling This Is My Jam, conceived to be the remedy to big data music recommendations, was officially released this week (after what feels a long time in beta). Their interview in the Guardian reveals how the service centers around human curation and statistics gained from active participation – or “notable data” – as opposed to the behind-the-scene data-crunching that powers Last.FM.
It’s nice to see that despite what the data or mega budgets enable, the brands focused on human curation and creation of music can use this to differentiate in the competitive digital music space.
Smart Gun, Dumb Law
Ernst Mauch, the creator of the ‘smart gun’ or Armatix iP1, wrote an impassioned article in the Washington Post promoting the safety of the controversial device. Mauch poses the smart gun as an answer to the fierce gun-control debate in the United States. Smart weapons feature biometric locks which prevent children from using their parents’ guns, undermine the market for stolen guns, and protect police from having their guns used against them. Opponents of smart firearms note the increased chance of failure inherent in anything technological, and the huge price difference compared to traditional firearms.
New Jersey passed a law way back in 2002 stating that all firearms sold in the state must be pre-approved smart-guns – within 3 years of the first being created and sold. So far, none have been sold, as a result of anti-gun-control groups putting enormous pressure on local gun dealerships to prevent them selling smart firearms, culminating in one shop-owner experiencing death-threats.
As the Washington Post article states, “The reality is that firearm safety has not meaningfully advanced in the past century. Nearly every other industry has transformed its safety features — often multiple times — in that same period.” In a world where smart phones, watches and wearables proliferate, it’s surprising there is one industry that has successfully resisted change, despite support from legislators and community groups.
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“When you wake up, it yawns, when you blow into the microphone, her hair blows back.”