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Apple and Amazon Boost Sound Quality of Streaming Music, Targeting Spotify, While Bullish on OTT, Execs Shift Strategies, and other top news

Apple and Amazon Boost Sound Quality of Streaming Music, Targeting Spotify, While Bullish on OTT, Execs Shift Strategies, and other top news

Few key things happened around the Ad Tech & Media Tech world this week.

Apple and Amazon Boost Sound Quality of Streaming Music, Targeting Spotify

The battle for digital music listeners is going to 11. On Monday, both Apple (ticker: AAPL) and Amazon.com (AMZN) announced quality upgrades for their streaming music services, as they ratchet up the competition with category leader Spotify Technology (SPOT). Apple (ticker: AAPL) on Monday said it is adding support for Dolby Atmos, an audio standard for “spatial audio,” which creates the sense of being surrounded by sound. Apple Music subscribers will have access to more than 75 million songs in “lossless audio,” as close as possible to the way the songs were recorded. The upgrades will be provided at no additional cost. Apple Music by default will play Dolby Atmos tracks on all AirPods and Beats headphones with the company’s H1 or W1 chips, as well as through built-in speakers on the latest versions of the iPhone, iPad and Mac. Users of the latest version of Apple Music can choose different resolutions for different connections such as cellular, Wi-Fi, or for download. (Given larger file sizes and associated bandwidth requirements, users might not always want the highest possible quality.) …More

While Bullish on OTT, Execs Shift Strategies

Media executives are not only bullish on the streaming business, nearly half say they are budgeting for growth to exceed 50% this quarter, according to a new survey from Applicaster. Overall, 84% are planning for streaming growth to continue in 2021 and a surprising three-quarters of the respondents say they will change or are considering a change to their monetization model this year. Applicaster’s “The State of OTT Revenue 2021” also found that the shift to new, often more complex business models, is being driven by the expansion of the increasingly competitive streaming industry, with audiences expecting customized experiences from streaming platforms, both in terms of viewing and pricing. “The study clearly shows top media executives are diversifying streaming and revenue models amidst this tsunami of digital content demand,” said Ido Hadari, CEO of Applicaster, which works with broadcasters, content publishers and OTT providers to drive their digital strategy, engage with audiences, and monetize media assets. “Covid-19 changed how we consume media, and brands are getting increasingly creative in mixing and matching different revenue models to be able to serve the expanding number of cord-cutters, cord-nevers and cord-shavers.” …More

Streaming Revenue Will Reach $40 Billion This Year

Another day, another report on rising streaming service revenue and declining pay-TV subscribers. New data from research group Convergence estimates streaming revenue grew 35% to $29.6 billion in 2020, led by powerhouse OTT services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. This year is on track to grow 35% to reach $39.9 billion. Currently, the average consumer household subscribes to 4 different streaming services, up from last year. That number is only projected to increase again next year. “We forecast average OTT subscriptions will increase to five per broadband household in 2023 from three in 2020,” read the report. With an average of five streaming services per household, the total streaming revenue number is projected to reach $59.4 billion in 2023, nearly double that of 2020. As the popularity of cord cutting rises, it’s only natural that pay-TV is suffering at the hand of OTT services. The report estimates that 2019 saw a decline of 6.36 million domestic TV subscribers and another 6.49 million in 2020…More

Streaming giant Netflix is expanding its podcasting footprint

Netflix is diving deeper into the podcast space in a bid to keep audiences invested in its shows and movies. The Los Gatos-based streaming giant is expanding its podcasts, taking pitches from outside producers and is looking to hire an executive to lead its audio push, according to people familiar with the plans who were not authorized to comment publicly. “Podcasts are an excellent way for fans to connect with our stories and talent, and our marketing team plans to make more of them,” Jonathan Bing, spokesman for Netflix, said in a statement. Bing declined to elaborate on the company’s plans and types of podcasts it would produce. Netflix faces plenty of competition. Apple last month launched a new podcast subscription platform, while Amazon recently snapped up West Hollywood podcast publisher Wondery, maker of the popular “Dr. Death.” In the last couple of years, Sweden’s Spotify has been rapidly expanding, acquiring a series of podcast networks and producers, including Gimlet Media and Parcast. Although Netflix executives have stressed that they’re not eager to diversify beyond their core business of streaming, some podcast producers are hoping the company could still emerge as a bigger financial backer for audio creatives…More

VPNs are getting better at streaming – here’s why

In the past, unblocking the top streaming sites with a VPN has been nothing short of a usability nightmare. If a service worked at all, it might be only on one or two servers, and you’d left working through the full list to find a location which got you in – Chicago? No. Detroit? No. Miami? No. New Jersey? No…This inconsistency across locations is a big pain, so we’ve been keeping a special eye out during our most recent testing to see how bad the problem is in 2021. Even if a streaming VPN has a specialist server for unblocking Netflix, say, we test it at least three times, ensuring we have three different IPs, to get an idea of how reliable its unblocking might be.

In our most recent round of VPN testing that translated to three checks for each of four core unblocking test sites, across more than 20 VPNs, or over 250 checks in total – so a good sample of what’s going on.As usual, unblocking success rates varied drastically between providers – some were great, others were feeble – but in terms of consistency, our test group scored very well, with only four tests out of 92 where a company got us into a streaming platform with one IP address, but failed with another…More

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