Weekly Roundup: April 27th

Uncategorized April 27, 2014 9:44 am

*I’ve gotten lazy at reposting my weekly roundups! But have no fear, I’m still reading way too much and posting my musings on the most newsworthy articles of the week on R/GA FutureVision. Happy reading!

Entertainment News: Netflix and Amazon Battle for Supremacy

  • What’s the future of TV? While we don’t have a definitive answer, there were three major events this week that point to a complete reconfiguration of the current broadcast industry. HBO made headlines by signing a licensing deal with Amazon, making popular shows like The Sopranos, The Wire, and Girls available to stream (legally) for the first time. Cord-cutters won’t be able to catch up on current seasons of favorite shows like Game of Thrones or True Detective, as shows will only come online after three years of airing. So rather than a radical business model shift for HBO, it’s a small– but important– step for a company who has had a history of closely guarding its content. Cord-cutters are still screaming for the ability to have an HBO GO subscription without cable, and this crack into HBO’s vault could help pave the way. (These amazing new ads might also help)
  • Amazon may be the bigger victor than HBO in the exclusive content deal, which may help the company solidify its position in the streaming business against competitors like Netflix and Hulu. Unlike Netflix, Amazon’s original content has failed to find success. But unlike Netflix, this doesn’t really matter given Amazon’s ecosystem. HBO content will be available free to prime subscribers, making the $99 yearly fee (and recent $20 price hike) more attractive… and giving Amazon even greater authority as the “everything store.”
  • Netflix isn’t going down without a fight, and made a fairly significant announcement of their own this week: for select cable subscribers, Netflix will soon appear as if it’s a regular TV channel. The streaming service has secured a deal with three smaller cable providers- RCN, Grande Communications, and and Atlantic Broadband- that puts Netflix on a TiVO set-top box. Cable subscribers will also have to be Netflix subscribers, but instead of having to have a smart TV, Chromecast, or watch Netflix on a computer, they’ll simply have to point their remote to the Netflix channel. Digital meets traditional, and the TV Box gains new life as providers adapt to changing consumer behavior.
  • The Netflix vs. HBO/Amazon battle played out while Aereo went to the (Supreme) court this week against broadcast networks. Aereo allows subscribers to stream live broadcast TV on the Internet, which they claim is similar to having rabbit ears and no cable subscription. Broadcasters don’t agree, and the court decision could quite literally change how Americans watch TV and how the TV industry is structured. Stay tuned.

Social Updates: There’s No Escaping Facebook

  • Reporters cry, “Facebook use is declining!” Facebook responds, “Who cares!” Two recent announcements by the social network show that unless you’ve entirely deleted your account, your’e still a valuable member even if you only log-in on occasion. The first: a mobile ad network that will leverage Facebook data to deliver highly-targeted ads across the web. So unless your profile is completely blank and you never visit the site (or use FB log-in for other sites), there is a wealth of information the social network can provide others for re-targeting. Scared? It gets worse: Facebook just acquired activity-tracking app Moves and announced Nearby Friends, which will allow users to see where friends are offline. This gives Facebook demographic + location targeting data = Facebook will know who you are, where you go, and who you’re with. There’s no escaping Facebook, and no escaping soon-to-be highly targeted ads, no matter where you are or what service you’re using.
  • In other social news, Pinterest introduced Guided Search in an effort to help users navigate the 30 billion pins on the social network. Guided search will help users with a broad query find specific items- something that Google search can’t do.

Data/Stats + Data Viz: The Rise of the Mobile Addict, Mapping Popularity

  • Flurry’s new report, The Rise of the Mobile Addict, may make you want to ditch your phone and head to detox camp:
    • The number of mobile addicts, users who open apps 60+ times a day, have grown 123% in the past year.
    • There are now 176M mobile addicts. And the surprising fact? While teens overindex as mobile addicts, the biggest culprits are MOMS.
  • Where are the most popular biking and running routes, and what are the most popular Uber routes? Ok, these two data visualizations aren’t related but they are an interesting way to splice up cities. Strava has released detailed maps of where people bike and run around the US– unlike FlowingData’s earlier “Where People Run” map, this data visualization is a lot more accurate.
  • Uber has released maps of popular routes in the 100 cities in which it operates, showing that the service is popular in wealthier, younger neighborhoods. Pair a look at the maps with this GQ article about the appeal of Uber.
Best-Of: Top Technologies and Designs of the Year
  • MIT Technology Review has released its annual list of milestone technological innovations; this year’s list includes agricultural drones, the Oculus Rift, ultraprivate smartphones, and microscale 3D printing.
  • The Design Museum has announced the seven category winners that will compete for the Design of the Year. Although they didn’t make the final cut, the Aerosee drone and Oculus Rift are among the nominees that mirror innovations on the MIT Technology Review list.
Long Reads
  • What does it mean to be a celebrity? NY Mag explores the “Weird Wide World of Internet Celebrity” and how platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Tumblr are shifting the paradigm of what it takes to be “famous.”
  • Airbnb’s Brian Chesky writes about the most important piece of advice he’s received: “Don’t F*ck Up the Culture.”
  • Has the Sharing Economy increased trust? (with a particularly entertaining comments section)
  • Adult supervision no longer needed: The Untold Story of Larry Page’s Incredible Comeback.
  • Bonus: Check your floppy disk; this one from 1985 contained lost art from Andy Warhol.

image sources by appearance: Uber, Design Museum, NY Mag

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